The Mozart Group: Ukraine’s Mercenaries

January 25, 2023

Designed by Abir Qanso

The Mozart Group is a private military company operating in Ukraine. It is a US-funded group that provides military training.

Game-Changing Russia

January 17, 2023


By Batiushka

Meanwhile, Circuses

While America is prepared to pay for the last Ukrainian to die for America – the Western world is talking about something else: Harry Windsor has revealed the family secret. The family secret was that Harry is an idiot, whose strings are pulled by an American actress. Now the secret is out. Harry has himself told the whole world he is an idiot whose strings are pulled by an American actress.

And Game-Changing Tanks?

While Western Europe is prepared to pay for the last Ukrainian to die for Western Europe – Germany, France, Finland, the UK and some other countries are prepared to get rid of some more of their old armoured vehicles and even tanks, palming them off on the Neo-Nazi Kiev regime. Thus, the UK is thinking of sending 14 of its 25-year old Challenger 2 tanks. How the UK will train Ukrainians to operate them, how it will supply enough ammunition for them to fire, how they will supply the mechanics and spare parts to repair them, how – and when – they will deliver them to Poland and then get them to the Kiev front, over 1,000 kilometres further away, nobody can tell us. Meanwhile, the British Army Chief of General Staff, Sir Patrick Sanders, is complaining. ‘Giving Kiev tanks means we won’t have enough for ourselves’. After all they do cost £8 million each and there are only 227 of them in the much-underfunded British Army anyway.

Nobody has told the British Army that after one Russian missile all 14 of these obsolescent ‘wonder-weapons’ will go up in smoke before they ever get to the front. £112 million gone. No wonder Ukrainian refugees are returning to Kiev to get proper medical treatment that the grossly underfunded and strikebound British Health System cannot provide them with. Nobody has told the British Army or any EU Army that Russia is fighting a war of attrition. Given Russian air superiority, far superior artillery, drones, missiles and its 15,000 tanks, the Kiev forces, their mercenaries and all their equipment are being wiped out. Worse still, none of the Western hack-journalists, presstitutes to the core, has yet explained why ‘the victorious Kiev forces’ need ever more Western armoured vehicles and tanks. You read it here first: It is because all the other ‘game-changing’ armoured vehicles, tanks and equipment have already been destroyed. Now at least astronomers know what a black hole looks like. It looks like the Kiev regime. Yes, black holes really are game-changing because you can get sucked into one.

The Score: Russia 27: Poland, Romania, Hungary 0

In the face of NATO (= US) aggression, surely there is only one choice left for Russia – to liberate all 27 Ukrainian regions (and maybe even elsewhere too). I have to confess that I was never in favour of Russia taking the far-west Galicia. ‘They can go to Poland’. I was thinking of the old Russian curse: ‘Go to hell – and take Galicia with you’. But, actually, I am now thinking that Russia should take the lot, Crimea and the four partially liberated ones nearly done, 22 to go. The fact is that as long as a single piece of the Ukraine is under Nazi control, it will be a threat to the Russian Federation.

A very reasonable but minimalist map of Russian options in the Ukraine I found on Big Serge thoughts on Substack. it shows all the regions which Batiushka suggests Russian might have to liberate.

A very reasonable but minimalist map of Russian options in the Ukraine I found on Big Serge thoughts on Substack. it shows all the regions which Batiushka suggests Russian might have to liberate.

On top of that a lot of the Nazi nasties have left anyway. Moreover, if Russia does liberate Galicia, the remaining Nazis will run away to Poland, so there will be none left and Russian forces can occupy the lot. It is a self-liberating process. Russia threatens and they go, all by themselves. In any case, why should Poland get anything out of it? What have they done to deserve it? Just like the Germans, we too have never believed in Greater Poland. Currently, the Poles are planning to build a wall along the border with the Russian Kaliningrad enclave. The Russians there are only too pleased and a local Russian company has offered to sell Poland the cement. Keeping the US-run ‘New Europe’ (as Rumsfeld called it) Poles out seems like an excellent idea. Especially if the Poles are going to do the job for us at their own expense.

Frankly, the same applies to Romania. Why should they get anything out of it? They allowed the Americans in. They claim North Bukovina, Chernovtsy, but that is mainly Ukrainian. Let it remain so. We do not believe in Greater Romania either. And why not liberate Moldova (minus Transdniestria) as well and make it an Autonomous Republic of the Russian Federation? Apart from the 15% in Moldova who are Russian and the 5% who are Gagauz and very pro-Russian, there are plenty of Moldovans who do not want to have anything to do with corrupt Romania and the corrupt EU and regret the old USSR. An Autonomous Republic of Moldova within the Russian Federation with cheap gas and oil sounds a lot more attractive than being a minor province of corrupt US-run Romania.

Then there is the case of ‘Zakarpatie’ – Transcarpathia, that extreme south-western province with its ridiculous Kievan imperialist name. There is only one place which is trans/across the Carpathians, and that is Kiev itself. Now the real name of Transcarpathia is Carpatho-Rus, though it has also been called Subcarpathian Rus and, in the West, Ruthenia, which is a corruption of ‘Rusinia’, the land of the Rusins (Ukrainians transliterate it as Rusyns), that is, the land of the Carpatho-Russians. The Rusins speak their own distinctive language, of which, arguably Slovak and Ukrainian are dialects. It is the historic cradle of Russian Orthodoxy, baptised a century before 988 and before Kiev. I have been to Carpatho-Rus, but on the Slovak side (the Polish side around Sanok was genocided or scattered by Fascist Poles in 1947), and there I have very good friends.

True, Hungary has been handing out Hungarian/EU passports there for some years (just as Romania sold virtually everyone in Moldova a Romanian/EU passport – cost $10 (1)). True, today’s Transcarpathia is basically run by the Balogh brothers and they are pro-Hungarian. Some say that Transcarpathia should return to Czechoslovakia, to which Woodrow Wilson attached it in 1919. However, the patronising and disliked Czechs ran it as a colony until 1938, when Hungary started running it again, as they had under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Czechoslovakia no longer exists anyway. As for Slovakia next-door, it appears to have no interest whatsoever in Carpatho-Russia, even though there is a Carpatho-Russian minority in Eastern Slovakia (2). Well, there are also quite a few people, like Fr Dmitry Sidor in Uzhgorod, who believe that Carpatho-Russia should be part of Russia, just as St Aleksij (Kabaljuk) pleaded it to be with Stalin in 1945.

However, apart from all this, there is another reason why the Russian Federation should take all the Ukraine. If it were to invade the Ukraine from the south-west, along the Black Sea coast west of Odessa, and from the north-western corner of the Belarussian border, Union forces could effectively cut the Ukraine off from the NATO/Nazi West permanently. Roll out the barbed wire along the border with Poland, Hungary and Romania. Letting the Nazis cross first, and then no Western armoured vehicles and tanks would have to be destroyed by the Russians. They would not even be able to get into the Ukraine and would remain stuck in Poland. Save your missiles! A strategic move like this would isolate Kiev from its Western puppeteers and all Russia would have to do is sit back until the cities of the Ukraine, Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa, Kherson, Nikolaev, Vinnitsa, Poltava and the rest, voluntarily surrendered one by one, without any street fighting or bombardments required.

But what do I know? Rumours abound that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is preparing an amphibious landing in the south-west near Odessa in order to liberate and protect Russian Transdniestria. Rumours abound that a joint Russian-Belarussian Union force is set to liberate the Ukraine from the north-west. A pincer movement, cutting all the Ukraine off from the Nazi West, making the whole of the Ukraine into a giant cauldron? Tempting, surely. But they are only speculations. Who knows outside the President and the General Staff? Of course, if Russia were now minded to take all of the Ukraine as a result of Western aggressiveness, perhaps it ought to liberate Moldova and the three Neo-Nazi Baltic statelets as well? But again, who knows? I may well be wrong.

The Future of Russia

Let us leave Nazi fantasists to their virtual world, the video-game in which they take over the universe, in which Kiev rules Russia and Taiwan rules China, and Iran, Afghanistan and Syria voluntarily surrender to US neocons, whom they worship as cargo-cult saviours. Let us rather turn our attention to reality.

The fact is that after over 300 years of fawning Russian obsessions with the West, to the point of creating its own inferiority complex, Russia is now totally disillusioned with the lieing, thieving, backstabbing, slanderous, devious and treacherous West. This is an amazing turnaround. It means that the USA and its vassal-states in Western Europe and chimpanzee-imitators elsewhere are going to be forced to eat humble-pie and accept the new reality, that they are not exceptional at all, that they are completely outcivilised, outclassed, outpeopled, outgunned and outresourced by the Global East, South and North. In the dedollarised world the West is isolated. The West’s defeat in the Ukraine is simply the last nail in the coffin of the arrogant, ignorant, ethnocentric, colonialist, triumphalist and thoroughly corrupted West of the last 500 years and more.

The contours of the future Russia are still not clear. The Westernised Russia of Peter I, where the aristocrats spoke French or latterly English by preference, and the Sovietised Russia of Lenin and Stalin, who spoke with the language of the grandson of a German Jewish rabbi by preference, and of the old Western Putin, who spoke of joining the concert of the Western Nations and even NATO, is finished. The Illusions that we must be like the West, that the West is our model, are gone. The West contemptuously turned up its nose at primitive and barbaric Russia, so Russia embraced China and the rest of the Non-Western world, and liked it.

What is clear, however, is that Russians want some things to remain from the past. The first thing is that they do not want any treacherous oligarchs/ aristocrats, but want a meritocratic elite that patriotically serves the nation rather than itself. They also want a fair social contract, greater equality between rich and poor, with a political system that is accountable and not corrupt, they want social justice, free education and healthcare, decent pensions, a working infrastructure and reasonable housing.

And they want protection for Russians outside Russia, Belarus and Malorossija (the New Ukraine). The New Russia is the only country that is leading the struggle for liberation from the Western Yoke, its foreign policy is leading the global majority of Non-Western countries. Eventually, it will lead Western Europe too, though that must first liberate itself from US tyranny and all its perversions and come to adopt a realistic view of itself and its limitations in the real world of today. Then there will be a Common European Home, but one run from Moscow and Berlin, which is also an integral part of Eurasia, not Euramerica. Russian prophecies say that after Putin comes a new Tsar. We shall see.

17 January 2023


1. A few years ago for a bet a Moldovan parishioner of mine paid the Romanians $10 for a passport in the name of Mickey Mouse. He duly got his passport and won his bet. So desperate were the Romanians to lay claim to Moldova.

2. From which Andy Warhol was descended.

Cuba’s hero, American spy: Ana Belen Montes

13 Jan 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen English

By Rachel Hamdoun 

The recently freed Puerto Rican-American will be remembered as Castro’s “exceptional person” and Cuba’s “respect and admiration” for infiltrating the Pentagon to prevent the US from destroying Cuba.

Puerto Rican-American spy Ana Belen Montes

The US calls her the “Queen of Cuba,” but the intention to brand her as a notorious figure of evil nature is something Western-entrenched to be avoided in this article. To say her name, Ana Belen Montes, is for her to be remembered for saving Cuba and its people so many times that so many innocent deaths of Cubans were avoided.

She is not a queen, nor a terrorist as the Americans describe her. She is a hero who singlehandedly saved lives by giving Cuba information about possible attacks by the US at a time when the US was carrying out a colonial campaign against Central America, due to fear of communist presence in the region.

Sibling rivalries at the FBI

Ana Belen Montes was born in Nuremberg in what was then West Germany on February 28, 1957, on a US Army base where her father was stationed. After moving to the US, she received a Bachelor’s from the University of Virginia in International Affairs and was hired by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 1985 before acquiring a Master’s degree in the same specialty from Johns Hopkins in 1988. 
With her intelligence and hard work, she excelled and constantly got promoted until she was finally hired by the Pentagon in 1992 as an analyst specializing in Cuban matters. That was the door for her to gain access to files and documents related to Cuba by the CIA, FBI, and the National Security Agency (NSA). Of her three siblings, two were employed with the FBI: her brother Tito served as an FBI special agent and her sister, Lucy, also worked as a Spanish-language FBI agent who would later do the exact opposite of what Ana set out to do. 
During her position, Montes traveled to Cuba in 1993 on a “fact-finding” mission to study the Cuban military for intelligence study paid for by the CIA. She would later go on to have many more of these trips. She planned to achieve her goal during the time of Fidel Castro as Cuba’s leader and revolutionary hero, alongside Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and during Bill Clinton’s time as US President. 

Communication between Montes and Cuban officials was done via numeric messages transmitted over shortwave radio with the use of codes, and with Montes’ access to files and sensitive information, she was able to memorize everything at work and type them out at home to facilitate communication.

The cheat sheet used by Montes for communication (FBI Archives)

On February 23, 1996, American Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll visited Cuba as part of an American campaign to gradually control the island. The Cuban Ministry of Defense warned the US not to allow the “Brothers to the Rescue” planes to fly over Cuba as planned. The “Brothers to the Rescue” refers to the group formed by five Cuban exiles who were an anti-Castro opposition established in 1991 and protected by the US due to common interests naturally.

However, the US decided to continue poking the bear and let two of the planes fly over Havana the next day, which were then shot down. It was found that Montes was the one who arranged Admiral Carroll’s travel to Cuba and when asked about it, she stated that she chose that specific date because it was a free date available on the Admiral’s schedule – with the help of the Wasp Network, known as La Red Avispa in Spanish.  
The “Brothers to the Rescue” was infiltrated by the Wasp Network, and five of the activists pertaining to the Network were caught by the US in 1998 and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. They were caught with the help and treachery of Montes’ sister, Lucy, who was responsible for translating the wiretapped conversations. 

Snitch with a ‘gut feeling’ 

As a result of suspicion by a colleague in her department, she was subjected to two polygraphy tests, informally known as lie detector tests that check a suspect’s heart rate and respiration to determine if they committed a crime or not through lying. She passed both tests. Her colleague and DIA employee, Scott Carmichael, became a pest for the FBI after he built a whole file on Montes due to his ‘gut feeling’ and finally came through to lead agent Steve McCoy who opened the investigation against her. According to the Washington Post, FBI agents waited for her to leave town with her boyfriend to break into her apartment and came across the infamous Toshiba laptop. The hard drives containing all the sensitive information were confiscated, and the laptop was left as it was. 
In 1999, the NSA caught and deflected a Cuban communication message which revealed a top official associated with the DIA’s SAFE software system – indicating that the official was most likely an employee of the DIA. Not only so, but the official was discovered to have traveled to Guantanamo Bay back in 1996 and used a Toshiba laptop – Montes matched all the above. Montes was arrested in September 2001 at Bolling Airbase in Washington, D.C., and was convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage.
The moment she was captured, FBI agents had a nurse, oxygen tanks, and a wheelchair prepared, because they expected her to collapse and “be a wreck,” retired FBI special agent Pete Lapp said, as he added, “And I think she could have just carried both of us out on her back. She walked out that calm — I won’t say ‘proud’ — but with that kind of composure.”

She was sentenced to 25 years at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. At Carswell, she was placed in a special unit meant for offenders with mental and psychiatric problems, but it was never clarified as to why. During her trial 21 years ago, she stated that the US government’s policies against Cuba are very harsh, speaking out that she behaved according to her conscience rather than the law. She added, “I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it.”

She suffered inhumane imprisonment conditions in Carswell as she was not allowed to contact other inmates, receive external letters, read newspapers and magazines, or watch TV. Her basic and constitutional rights were violated at the prison.

Back home

In 2002, a year after her imprisonment, Fidel Castro was asked at the University of Informatic Sciences in Havana about her arrest by an American journalist. He responded by saying that a noble American who is against such an injustice and against a blockade of over 40 years, who was able to act in the manner that she did, is an exceptional person…. who “deserves respect and admiration.”

On January 7, a day before her release, Cuban-American Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, said, “[H]er treason against the US accomplished nothing for the Cuban people. On the contrary, by helping the criminal Castro regime, Montes strengthened the Cuban people’s worst enemy,” making it seem as if he is entitled to speak on behalf of the Cuban people who, according to him, prefer Cuba to remain silent while the US carries on its colonial endeavors. 
On January 8, Ana Belen Montes was released. Her lawyer, Linda Backiel, confirmed that she has reached her homeland Puerto Rico and relayed Montes’ letter to the public on her behalf.

“I am more than happy to touch Puerto Rican soil again. After two rather exhausting decades and faced with the need to earn a living again, I would like to dedicate myself to a quiet and private existence. Therefore, I will not participate in any media activities…. I encourage those who wish to focus on me to focus instead on important issues, such as the serious problems facing the Puerto Rican people or the US economic embargo against Cuba. February will mark the 61st anniversary of the economic embargo against Cuba, enacted by President John F. Kennedy and later tightened by the US Congress.” 

We contacted Ms. Backiel through email to find out more about Montes’ imprisonment conditions but have not received any comment yet. 

In a letter written by her sister Lucy and addressed to her in prison, she wrote, “You betrayed your family, you betrayed all your friends. Everyone who loves you was betrayed by you,” adding, “You betrayed your co-workers and your employer, and you betrayed your nation. You worked for an evil megalomaniac who shares or sells our secrets to our enemies.”

Her family has cut contact with her since her arrest and imprisonment over 20 years ago, given the fact that both her siblings and their spouses were all FBI agents. 

Ana Belen Montes should be a lesson to demonstrate how vulnerable and cowardly the US is, in the face of those who stand and fight against injustices toward innocent people through attacks, embargoes, and murders. Ana Belen Montes will be one for the books and a symbol of hope for the activist in everyone. 

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Intercept: Obama relates, CIA orchestrated Indonesia’s 1965 massacres

14 Jan 2023

Source: The Intercep

By Al Mayadeen English 

Declassified information reveals that the CIA has played a significant role in the Indonesia 1965 massacres and that former President Barack Obama has been influenced by the incident and has learned much from that experience.

Prisoners captured by the Indonesian Army during the Trisula Operation, Indonesia, 1965 (Museum Brawijaya).

“From our viewpoint, of course, an unsuccessful coup attempt by the PKI [Indonesian Communist Party] might be the most effective development to start a reversal of political trends in Indonesia,” explained Howard P. Jones, the American ambassador to Indonesia until April 1965 when discussing with the US State Department how to extract power from those refusing to put the Jakarta economy at the service of US multinationals.

On Wednesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo voiced his regret regarding a dozen instances of “gross human rights violations” that took place during Indonesia’s modern history.

One of these instances, Widodo explained, was the US-backed massacre executed by the Indonesian military during the 1965 coups and the era that followed.

The 1965 bloodbath was targeted against the Indonesian Communist party. It is worth noting that, according to The Intercept report, Indonesia was, at the time, the world’s sixth-largest population, and the PKI was the third-biggest Communist Party on Earth, preceded only by China and the Soviet Union.

President Sukarno, who governed over Indonesia from World War II until the successful CIA-backed coup, was not himself a communist. However, he was for a strong liberated Indonesia, which led him to shepherd the Indonesian resistance in the face of Dutch colonization and later helped create the Non-Aligned Movement of countries that wished to stay out of both the Soviet and US blocs.

Based on that, Sukarno, according to The Intercept, “did not leap to put the Indonesian economy at the service of U.S. multinationals.”

The abovementioned were reason enough, the report noted, for the US to seek to overturn Sukarno’s rule. Sukarno himself was not a communist, nor did the PKI have any intention of inciting violence, rather the main goal was to have a strong independent nation, both politically and economically.

The CIA was involved

The Intercept’s report noted that at least 500,000 Indonesians were slaughtered during the coup, many with machetes or knives. Shortly after the coup succeeded, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was crucial in assisting the massacre, referred to it as “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century.”

Former US President Barack Obama described the Jakarta coup in his 1995 autobiography “Dreams From My Father,” using analogous terminology. Obama said the 1965 Indonesia coup was “one of the more brutal and swift campaigns of suppression in modern times.” A matter that will later prove to show that the US has continued to use The Jakarta Method to maintain and grow its influence.

The Jakarta Method is a book written by journalist Vincent Bevins, in which he showed how the 1965 Indonesia coup “was one of the most important turning points of the twentieth century, eliminating the largest communist party outside China and the Soviet Union and inspiring copycat terror programs in faraway countries like Brazil and Chile,” adding “But these events remain widely overlooked, precisely because the CIA’s secret interventions were so successful.”

On this note, The Intercept report noted that “the US goal, then, was to extract Sukarno from power in favor of someone ‘reliable’ (from the American perspective), while creating a pretext for the Indonesian military to destroy the PKI.”

According to the report, Howard said, to a meeting of State Department officials in 1965, “From our viewpoint, of course, an unsuccessful coup attempt by the PKI might be the most effective development to start a reversal of political trends in Indonesia.” Howard believed, at the time, that such a move give the Indonesian army a “clear-cut kind of challenge that would galvanize effective reaction.”

Significantly, as shown in the report there was a British Foreign Office official involved who added to Howard’s approach and explained that “there might therefore be much to be said for encouraging a premature PKI coup during Sukarno’s lifetime.”

The plan: Make things up

The Intercept reported that during that the above-discussed premature PKI coup was triggered through a pre-planned narrative where “a group of young military officers kidnapped six Indonesian generals, claiming that they planned to overthrow Sukarno.” Obviously, the kidnapped generals were later murdered.

The plan was not just to kill the generals but to ignite internal strife. As such Suharto, an Army general, stated together with his allies, according to Bevins’ book as cited by The Intercept, that “the dead generals were castrated and tortured by female PKI members in a ‘depraved, demonic ritual’.” 

This plan succeeded when Sukarno was driven out of leadership and Suharto took over. Later, however, it was revealed that none of this story was true. The six generals, Bevins noted, were all shot but one. 

Under Suharto’s rule, the killing began in an operation that was known to the Indonesian army Operasi Penumpasan [Operation Annihilation].

Discussed, Revealed, Declassified

The US was not only cognizant of what was going on, but was also a willing accomplice, supplying the Indonesian military with names of PKI members. 

One US official, as cited by the report, revealed, “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad,” adding “There’s a time when you have to strike hard at a decisive moment.”

James Reston, the New York Times columnist, has also written on the topic. He noted that US citizens must understand that “without the clandestine aid [Indonesia] has received indirectly from here [US],” the Indonesian massacre would have never happened.

Several recently declassified documents prove that the US was indeed not only complicit but rather also an innovator in the Jakarta Method.

For example, a recently declassified memorandum recounts a conversation between Second Secretary of the Embassy Robert Rich and Adnan Buyung Nasution, an assistant to the attorney general, where Nasution told Rich that they must “continue to crack down on the Communists in order to break the back of the PKI power,” and that “the Army had already executed many communists but this fact must be very closely held.”

In another memorandum, US Ambassador Green explained that he would request that the Johnson administration “explore [the] possibility of short-term one shot aid on covert, non-attributable basis” as a sign of “US support, precipitating an expansion of US covert support for the Army which would include money, communications equipment, and arms.”

‘Power’ in US perception

In Obama’s 1995 published autobiography, he spoke of his time in Indonesia, given that he and his mother lived there for some time with his Indonesian stepfather, an engineer named Lolo.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner wrote that his mother told him, given that at her job as an English teacher for Indonesians affiliated with US embassy in Jakarta, that several of her pupils, many of which were journalists and government officials, “explained how Sukarno had frayed badly the nerves of a U.S. government already obsessed with the march of communism through Indochina, what with his nationalist rhetoric and his politics of nonalignment — he was as bad as Lumumba or Nasser! — only worse, given Indonesia’s strategic importance.”

The autobiography even went further to note that even back then, there was word that the “CIA had played a part in the coup.”

His mother, he explained, was shocked at the idea. He explained in the book that “the notion that history could be swallowed up so completely, the same way the rich and loamy earth could soak up the rivers of blood that had once coursed through the streets; the way people could continue about their business beneath giant posters of the new president as if nothing had happened.”

Later, the boy whose mother was terrified by the notion of massacres being covered up and life returning to normal following thousands of deaths, became President of the country that played an integral role in this specific massacre.

In an unintentionally revealing paragraph, Obama wrote “Power…In America, it had generally remained hidden from view until you dug beneath the surface of things; until you visited an Indian reservation or spoke to a black person whose trust you had earned. But here power was undisguised, indiscriminate, naked, always fresh in the memory.”

Obama believed that masked aggression was more accepted than open aggression. In other words, systematic genocide is a more easily ignored problem than the shocking sight of blood, even if the crime is committed by the same people.

One thing remained clear, Obama’s stepfather taught him a lesson he never forgot and it was not one of ethics and morality but rather one of power, superiority, and the rule of the jungle. 

Lolo taught young Obama “Men take advantage of weakness in other men. They’re just like countries in that way. … Better to be strong. If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong. But always better to be strong yourself. Always.”

Read more: Celebrating 70 years of British massacres!

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US killing of Soleimani ‘brazen attack’ on Iraq sovereignty: Iraqi PM

6 Jan 2023

Source: News websites

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Iraqi prime minister emphasizes that his government is working to lay a solid foundation for Iraqi sovereignty.

The coffins of Soleimani and Al-Muhandis were carried through Karbala, January 5, 2020. (Reuters)

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani has paid tribute to top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed three years ago in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport, calling their targeted killings a “brazen attack” on Iraq’s sovereignty.

“The crime of assassinating the ‘Commanders of Victory’ and their companions represented a flagrant violation of Iraq’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty. The targeted killings of the commanders, who had a leading role in the elimination of the scourge of terrorism, is an utter disrespect to bilateral agreements [signed between Baghdad and Washington],” Sudani said at a Thursday ceremony in the capital Baghdad in commemoration of the two commanders.

“We woke up on January 3, 2020 to hear the terrible news about the assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), and Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was on an official visit to Iraq,” he added.

The Iraqi prime minister went on to condemn former US President Donald Trump’s administration for its brazen attack on Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, pointing out that the fight against dark terrorism “requires power and resilience.” 

Read next: US occupation loots, smuggles 100 tankers of Syrian oil to Iraq

He emphasized that his government is working to lay a solid foundation for Iraqi sovereignty, that it is independent in decision-making, that it forges relationships based on common interests, that it protects the sovereignty of the country’s soil and territorial waters, and that it will go to any length to repel any act of aggression against the Iraqi nation and its guests.

Furthermore, Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council Chairman Faiq Zidane condemned the assassination of and Gen. Soleimani as a “vile and cowardly act.”

He emphasized that it is the responsibility of the Iraqi judiciary to shed light on all circumstances surrounding the US assassination, and he urged the country’s security institutions to provide judicial authorities with all relevant documents and findings.

‘Iraq judicial chief highlights arrest warrant for Trump’

Zidane went on to say that the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq has issued an arrest warrant for former US President Donald Trump in connection with the assassination of General Soleimani and the deputy chief of the PMU.

The president of the council stated that Trump has admitted to his “crime” in relation to the assassination of the “Leaders of Victory.”

Read next: US forces withdrew from Ein Al-Asad base in Iraq

He urged all Iraqi officials involved in the targeted killings investigations to do everything possible to identify all related architects, organizers, and perpetrators.

Two days after the attack, Iraqi lawmakers passed legislation requiring the government to withdraw all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

The struggle of the axes in the region and the consequences of the assassination of the two commanders, Soleimani and Al-Muhandis
documentaries | Victory leaders
Documentaries | Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis of Iraq – Part One
Documentaries | Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis of Iraq – Part Two

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    JANUARY 6TH, 2023


    By Ramzy Baroud

    Even before the new Israeli government was officially sworn in on December 29, angry reactions began emerging, not only among Palestinians and other Middle Eastern governments but also among Israel’s historic allies in the West.

    As early as November 2, top US officials conveyed to Axios that the Joe Biden Administration is “unlikely to engage with Jewish supremacist politician, Itamar Ben-Gvir.”

    In fact, the US government’s apprehensions surpassed Ben-Gvir, who was convicted by Israel’s own court in 2007 for supporting a terrorist organization and inciting racism.

    US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reportedly “hinted” that the US government would also boycott “other right-wing extremists” in Netanyahu’s government.

    However, these strong concerns seemed absent from the congratulatory statement by the US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, on the following day. Nides relayed that he had “congratulated (Netanyahu) on his victory and told him that I look forward to working together to maintain the unbreakable bond” between the two countries.

    In other words, this ‘unbreakable bond’ is stronger than any public US concern regarding terrorism, extremism, fascism, and criminal activities.

    Ben-Gvir is not the only convicted criminal in Netanyahu’s government. Aryeh Deri, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, was convicted of tax fraud in early 2022 and in 2000, he served a prison sentence for accepting bribes when he held the position of interior minister.

    Bezalel Smotrich is another controversial character whose anti-Palestinian racism has dominated his political persona for many years.

    While Ben-Gvir has been assigned the post of national security minister, Deri has been entrusted with the ministry of interior and Smotrich with the ministry of finance.

    Palestinians and Arab countries are rightly angry because they understand that the new government is likely to sow more violence and chaos.

    With many of Israel’s sinister politicians in one place, Arabs know that Israel’s illegal annexation of parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories is back on the agenda; and that incitement against Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem, coupled with raids of Al-Aqsa Mosque will exponentially increase in the coming weeks and months. And, expectedly, the push for the construction and expansion of illegal settlements is likely to grow, as well.

    These are not unfounded fears. Aside from the very racist and violent statements and actions by Netanyahu and his allies in recent years, the new government has already declared that the Jewish people have “exclusive and inalienable rights to all parts of the Land of Israel,” promising to expand settlements while distancing itself from any commitments to establishing a Palestinian State, or even engaging in any ‘peace process.’

    But while Palestinians and their Arab allies have been largely consistent in recognizing extremism in the various Israeli governments, what excuse do the US and the West have in failing to recognize that the latest Netanyahu-led government is the most rational outcome of blindly supporting Israel throughout the years?

    In March 2019, Politico branded Netanyahu as the creator of “the most right-wing government in Israeli history,” a sentiment that was repeated countless times in other western media outlets.

    This ideological shift was, in fact, recognized by Israel’s own media, years earlier. In May 2016, the popular Israeli newspaper Maariv described the Israeli government at the time as the “most right-wing and extremist” in the country’s history. This was, in part, due to the fact that far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman was assigned the role of the defense minister.

    The West, then, too, showed concern, warned against the demise of Israel’s supposed liberal democracy, and demanded that Israel must remain committed to the peace process and the two-state solution. None of that actualized. Instead, the terrifying figures of that government were rebranded as merely conservatives, centrists or even liberals in the following years.

    The same is likely to happen now. In fact, signs of the US’s willingness to accommodate whatever extremist politics Israel produces are already on display. In his statement, on December 30, welcoming the new Israeli government, Biden said nothing about the threat of Tel Aviv’s far-right politics to the Middle East region but, rather, the “challenges and threats” posed by the region to Israel. In other words, Ben-Gvir or no Ben-Gvir, unconditional support for Israel by the US will remain intact.

    If history is a lesson, future violence and incitement in Palestine will also be blamed mostly, if not squarely, on Palestinians. This knee-jerk, pro-Israeli attitude has defined Israel’s relationship with the US, regardless of whether Israeli governments are led by extremists or supposed liberals. No matter, Israel somehow maintained its false status as “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

    But if we are to believe that Israel’s exclusivist and racially based ‘democracy’ is a democracy at all, then we are justified to also believe that Israel’s new government is neither less nor more democratic than the previous governments.

    Yet, western officials, commentators and even pro-Israel Jewish leaders and organizations in the US are now warning against the supposed danger facing Israel’s liberal democracy in the run-up to the formation of Netanyahu’s new government.

    This is an indirect, if not clever form of whitewashing, as these views accept that what Israel has practiced since its founding in 1948, until today, was a form of real democracy; and that Israel remained a democracy even after the passing of the controversial Nation-State Law, which defines Israel as a Jewish state, completely disregarding the rights of the country’s non-Jewish citizens.

    It is only a matter of time before Israel’s new extremist government is also whitewashed as another working proof that Israel can strike a balance between being Jewish and also democratic at the same time.

    The same story was repeated in 2016, when warnings over the rise of far-right extremism in Israel – following the Netanyahu-Lieberman pact – quickly disappeared and eventually vanished. Instead of boycotting the new unity government, the US government finalized, in September 2016, its largest military aid package to Israel, amounting to $38 billion.

    In truth, Israel has not changed much, either in its own self-definition or in its treatment of Palestinians. Failing to understand this is tantamount to tacit approval of Israel’s racist, violent and colonial policies in Occupied Palestine over the course of 75 years.

    Islamic Jihad chief: Gen. Soleimani was champion on battlefield; Palestine was his main concern

    Friday, 06 January 2023 11:06 AM  

    [ Last Update: Friday, 06 January 2023 11:06 AM ]

    5 Jan 00:26 

    Source: Al Mayadeen English

    In this file picture, late top Iranian anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani (L) and leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement Ziyad al-Nakhalah attend the funeral of senior Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in Beirut, Lebanon, in February 2018.

    By Ali Jezzini 

    The leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement has hailed the late top Iranian anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani as an undisputed champion in various spheres of the resistance front, stressing that the Palestinian issue was his main area of concern.

    Ziyad al-Nakhalah made the remarks at a Thursday ceremony in commemoration of the two legendary commander in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut, where Iranian ambassador Mojtaba Amani, Lebanese and Palestinian resistance leaders, and a number of political and religious dignitaries were in attendance.

    Nakhalah said General Soleimani once referred to him as “a dear brother and an inspiring leader,” stressing that the former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had “intense relationship with all Palestinian resistance groups and was in close contact with us, no matter whether we were active in the occupied territories or in the diaspora.”

    The Islamic Jihad chief underscored that General Soleimani evolved from a national figure into an internationally distinguished personality turning the impossible into the possible.

    Iran’s parliament speaker: Gen. Soleimani brought power, dignity to Muslim world

    The speaker of Iran’s parliament says top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani brought dignity to the entire Muslim world.

    “He was primarily concerned with the Palestinian issue, strongly in unity within the Muslim world, and viewed Palestine and liberation of the occupied holy city of al-Quds as a gateway to such unanimity,” Nakhalah pointed out.

    “General Soleimani made great efforts to fortify and expand the Axis of Resistance,” he said, describing the launch of relentless barrages of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli communities, including Tel Aviv, in response to Israel’s 11-day military onslaught against the besieged coastal enclave in May 2021 as an obvious manifestation of such a fact.

    General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), and their companions were assassinated in a US drone strike authorized by Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.

    Two days after the attack, Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill that required the government to end the presence of all foreign military forces led by the US in the country.

    Both commanders were highly revered across the Middle East because of their key role in fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

    Martyr Soleimani represents ideology, resistance against imperialism: Analyst

    General Qassem Soleimani played the central role in the axis of resistance from the eastern part of Asia to its western part, helping people liberate themselves and their lands and resources from Western imperialism, according to an analyst.

    On January 8, 2020, the IRGC targeted the US-run Ain al-Asad base in Iraq’s western province of Anbar with a wave of missile attacks in retaliation for the assassination of General


    According to the Pentagon, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrike on the base. The IRGC, however, says Washington uses the term to mask the number of the Americans who perished during the retaliation.

    Iran has described the missile attack on Ain al-Assad as a “first slap”.

    Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

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    أولى رسائل العام الجديد | «المقاومة» للأميركيين: قواعدكم على المهداف

     الخميس 5 كانون الثاني 2023

    أيهم مرعي

    (أ ف ب )

    الحسكة | تعرّضت قاعدة لـ«التحالف الدولي» في معمل غاز «كونيكو» شمال دير الزور، لأوّل استهداف صاروخي في العام الجديد على يد «المقاومة الشعبية»، وذلك بعد وقت قصير من الاعتداء الإسرائيلي الأخير على مطار دمشق الدولي، والذي أدّى إلى إخراجه عن الخدمة لعدّة ساعات. وينبئ هذا الاستهداف بأن «المقاومة» تنوي الحفاظ على قاعدة اشتباك رئيسة مع الأميركيين، باعتبارهم قوّة احتلال، وداعم استخباري رئيس للعدوّ على الساحة السورية، مفادها أن أيّ قصف إسرائيلي على منشآت الدولة السورية، سيقابله قصف على القواعد العسكرية الأميركية في شرق الفرات. ولم تكد تمرّ 48 ساعة على استهداف مطار دمشق، حتى جرى ضرْب ثاني أكبر قاعدة لـ«التحالف» في سوريا، يُعتقد أنها تضمّ أكثر من 150 جندياً أميركياً وفرنسياً وبريطانياً. وأقرَّ «التحالف»، في بيان، بتعرّض «مركز له في حقل كونيكو شمال شرقي سوريا للاستهداف بصاروخَين»، مضيفاً أن «القصف لم يؤدِّ إلى جرحى أو أضرار في القاعدة أو الممتلكات». ولفت البيان إلى أنه «بعد أن مسحت قوات سوريا الديموقراطية الموقع، تبيّن وجود صاروخ ثالث غير منفجر». من جهتها، أكّدت مصادر ميدانية، لـ«الأخبار»، أن «المنفّذين تعمّدوا استهداف القاعدة بأكثر من 5 صواريخ، للبعث بعدّة رسائل ميدانية مع مطلع العام الجديد، أهمّها أن وجود الاحتلال مرفوض، وعليه المغادرة». ورجّحت المصادر أن «تتواصل المقاومة الشعبية إلى حين تحقيق هدفها، بإخراج الاحتلال الأميركي من الأراضي السورية».

    وفي الوقت الذي اختار فيه الإسرائيليون تأكيد استمرارهم في استراتيجية «المعركة بين الحروب» في سوريا، مع مطلع العام الجديد، واصل الأميركيون، من جهتهم، إدخال أسلحة ومعدّات لوجستية إلى قواعدهم غير الشرعية، بالتوازي مع تنفيذ تدريبات عسكرية في كلّ من التنف ودير الزور، في ما يؤشّر إلى عدم وجود أيّ نوايا لديهم لتغيير سياساتهم تجاه هذا البلد.

    نظّمت قوات «التحالف» تمريناً على أسلحة مضادّة للطائرات

    وتُظهر أنشطة «التحالف» عزمه على العودة إلى قاعدة سابقة في «الفرقة 17» في الرقة، بعد رصد آليات هندسية تعمل ضمنها تمهيداً لاعتمادها ربّما كمهبط للمروحيات الداعمة لعمليات «قسد» المُفترضة ضدّ تنظيم «داعش» في مدينة الرقة وأريافها. كما أظهر «التحالف» استجابة تصعيدية تجاه أيّ محاولة مساس بوجوده في سوريا، بعد مضيّ كلّ من أنقرة ودمشق في خطوات «تصالحية» برعاية روسية، أوّل ثوابتها اعتبار الوجود الأميركي على الأراضي السورية غير شرعي، وداعم لكيانات تهدّد وحدة أراضيها. ومن هنا، أعلن «التحالف»، في بيان أول من أمس، «تنفيذ تمرين الجاهزية العملياتية، باستخدام المدفعية الرشاشة المضادة للطائرات في شرق سوريا، للتحقّق من فاعلية المنظومة والاحتفاظ بالجاهزية لتنفيذ المهام الأساسية التي تساعد على تعزيز الأمن والاستقرار الإقليميين». ولأن الأميركيين دائماً ما يكرّرون لازمة أن وجودهم على الأراضي السورية غرضه محاربة «داعش»، الذي لا يمتلك أيّ وسائل قتال جوّي، فيبدو أن الاختبار الأخير لمضادات الطائرات، هو رسالة استباقية ضدّ أي تنسيق ميداني سوري ــــ تركي، يهدّد الوجود الأميركي في شمال سوريا وشرقها.

    مقالات ذات صلة

    Iraqi Leaders Vow to Preserve Victories Secured by Martyrs Suleimani, Muhandis

     January 5, 2023

    Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani during a ceremony in Baghdad marking the third martyrdom anniversary of resistance commanders (Thursday, January 5, 2023).

    Iraq marked on Thursday the third martyrdom anniversary of anti-terror resistance commanders General Qassem Suleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, with leader pledging to preserve achievements secured by martyrs.

    A ceremony was held in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on the occasion, and was attended by PM Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani, Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbusi, and many other senior officials.

    “The commanders of victory foiled the enemies’ plots,” said Abdullah Al-Ilyawi, representing President Abdul Latif Rashid.

    He described the US strike which killed Gen. Suleimani and Al-Muhandis near Baghdad International Airport in January 2020 as a denounced crime.

    For his part, Al-Sudani said the strike was a flagrant aggression on Iraq, adding that it would have destabilized the entire region.

    “The blood of the honored martyred won’t go in vain. And for that purpose, the Iraqi Government is working to preserve its sovereignty.”

    Meanwhile, the head of the Supreme Judicial Council, Faeq Zaidan said Iraqi authorities won’t hesitate to take all measures against the perpetrators of the January 3 strike that killed the resistance commanders, including former president Donald Trump who ordered the attack.

    Source: Al-Manar English Website

    Qassem Soleimani in Venezuela: The lesser known motive behind his assassination

    January 03 2023

    Why was Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani assassinated by the US? His visit to Venezuela in 2019 may provide some answers.

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Hasan Illaik

    On 3 January 2020, the US military assassinated Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the elite Quds Force in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), along with his companion, the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

    Three years later, the motives for this decision – and its timing – are still being debated. The reasons for the US’s shock killing, however, may not be solely related to Soleimani’s role in regional conflicts, but could also arguably stem from his growing international clout.

    Why was Soleimani assassinated?

    Soleimani was reportedly responsible for leading Iran’s plan to surround Israel with an arc of missiles and precision drones in the West Asian region – from Lebanon to Syria, Iraq and Gaza, all the way to Yemen – which was viewed by Israeli officials as an existential threat to the Jewish state.

    The US has long accused Soleimani of being behind much of the resistance it faced after invading Iraq in 2003, as well as allegedly ordering operations against US forces in the period leading up to his assassination.

    The Quds Force commander – along with Muhandis – were critical in the Iraqi effort to defeat ISIS, outside of the control and agenda of the US and its regional allies, who often used the terrorist group to secure political and geographic gains.

    Furthermore, the US held Iran, and by extension Soleimani, responsible for the Yemeni attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities on 14 September, 2019. The Aramco attack was so massive that it disrupted half of Saudi oil production, and was the largest of its kind since former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

    A leader in the Resistance Axis

    Soleimani was the “keyholder” in the Axis of Resistance, according to an Arab politician with strong ties to decision-making circles in both Washington and Riyadh.

    “Hajj Qassem,” says the politician, was uniquely capable of making decisions and then implementing them, which is considered a “rare advantage” among leaders. He was able to achieve significant strategic results – rapidly – by moving freely and negotiating directly with various statesmen, militias, and political movements.

    Examples of this are rife: The Quds Force commander persuaded Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015 to intervene militarily in Syria, and organized the complex ‘frenemy’ relationship between Turkiye and Tehran through Turkish intelligence director Hakan Fidan.

    Soleimani played a pivotal role in preventing the fall of Damascus, maintained and developed important links with Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah in Beirut, led a region wide campaign to defeat ISIS, and successfully managed the delicate balances between various political components in Iraq. In Yemen, he was able to supply the Ansarallah movement with training and arms that arguably changed the course of the Saudi-led aggression.

    Together or separately, the aforementioned points made him a desired target of assassination for both the US government and the security establishment in Israel.

    A visit to Venezuela

    There may, however, be additional factors that contributed to the US decision to assassinate Soleimani on 3 January, 2022. While some analysts cite, for instance, the storming of the 2019 US embassy in Baghdad by demonstrators three days before the extrajudicial killing, US decision makers were unlikely to have mobilized its assassins in reaction to this relatively benign incident.

    More significant for them would have been Soleimani’s unannounced trip to Venezuela in 2019, which crossed Washington’s red lines within its own geographic sphere of influence.

    His visit to the South American country was publicly revealed more than two years later by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, during an interview with Al-Mayadeen in December 2021.

    Maduro stated that Soleimani visited Caracas between March and April 2019, during which time the US launched a cyber and sabotage attack on Venezuela, resulting in widespread power outages. He glorified the Iranian general as a military hero who “combated terrorism and the brutal terrorist criminals who attacked the peoples of the Axis of resistance. He was a brave man.”

    Although Maduro did not reveal the exact date of the visit, it can be assumed that it took place on 8 April, 2019, and that Soleimani came on board the first direct flight of the Iranian airline Mahan Air between Tehran and Caracas.

    At that time, the US attack on Caracas was at its peak: Washington’s recognition of Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela, comprehensive economic sanctions, and then, at the end of April, the organization of a coup attempt that succeeded only in securing the escape of US-backed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to the Spanish embassy.

    Expanding military ties with Caracas

    During Soleimani’s Caracas visit, military cooperation between Iran and Venezuela was likely a key topic of discussion. Prior to his visit, Maduro had announced the establishment of “Popular Defense Units,” or revolutionary militias, to maintain order in the face of US-backed coup attempts.

    Both Iranian and Latin American sources confirm that Tehran had a role in organizing these militias. However, the most significant military cooperation between the two countries has been in the field of military industrialization.

    Since the tenure of late, former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has been working on a project to manufacture drones. This was announced by Chavez on 13 June, 2012, noting that “We are doing this with the help of different countries including China, Russia, Iran, and other allied countries.”

    A few months earlier, the commander of the US Army’s Southern Command SOUTHCOM (its assigned area of responsibility includes Central and South America), General Douglas Fries, spoke about the same project, downplaying its importance by claiming that Iran was building drones with “limited capabilities” in Venezuela for internal security purposes.

    Developing drones

    In fact, Iran, represented by Soleimani’s Quds Force, was busy increasing military cooperation with Venezuela by developing new generations of drones and providing Caracas with spare parts for its existing American-made aircrafts. Interestingly, the raising of the Iranian flag has become routine in the Venezuelan Air Force’s military ceremonies.

    On 20 November, 2020, President Maduro delivered a speech announcing plans to produce different types of drones. Near him, on display, was a miniature model of a drone which appeared to be that of the Iranian “Muhajer 6” aircraft that entered service in Iran in 2018.

    This issue was raised by then-Israeli Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, while receiving the heads of American Jewish organizations in February 2022.

    Soleimani’s legacy in Latin America

    These developments were the direct result of Qassem Soleimani’s efforts. A Venezuelan official has confirmed to The Cradle that the country’s drone project was built with full Iranian support: from training engineers to setting up research and manufacturing centers, all the way to production.

    In October 2019, the commander of US Southern Command, Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, warned that Russia, China, Iran and Cuba were operating in varying capacities in SOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility. He noted, specifically, that Iran’s influence and presence is being felt in South America.

    In March 2020, the US SOUTHCOM commander repeated the same warning, placing Iran at the “top of the list of countries” that have assisted Venezuela in skirting US sanctions.

    The US has long viewed Latin America as its “backyard” and has sought to prevent the influence of rival or hostile powers in the region through its adherence to the Monroe Doctrine. The influence of Soleimani in the western hemisphere may have been viewed as a threat to US interests and a crossing of this “red line.”

    His role in assisting Venezuela in developing military capabilities, including the production of drones, was seen in Washington as a qualitative leap in Iran’s foreign relations and was likely a factor in the decision to assassinate Soleimani.

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

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    Third Anniversary: Dozens of Thousands of Iranians Visit Martyr Suleimani’s Tomb in Kerman, Confrontation Won’t Stop

     January 2, 2023

    Former head of IRGC’s Quds Force General Qassem Suleimani, assassinated by a US drone strike in Baghdad in 2020.

    According to Al-Manar reporter in Iran, dozens of thousands of Iranians have visited Martyr Qassem Suleimani’s tomb in Kerman, paying tribute to his soul and recalling his feats.

    Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem said in a tweet on Monday that the confrontation will not stop, adding that Suleimani is a martyr, leader and role model.

    Martyr Suleimani achieved liberation in the battlefield, sustained people’s dignity, and set Palestine and Jerusalem as a major cause,  according to Sheikh Qassem.

    Meanwhile, Sheikh Qassem said that Trump is an unjust criminal killer, who kills aggressively and openly and supports the Zionist occupation without accountability.

    Large billboard-style posters honoring Martyr Commander Suleimani were installed across Gaza Strip in loyalty to his sacrifices he had made for the sake of the Palestinian cause.

    On January 3, 2020, a US drone attack claimed the two martyrs Suleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the former deputy chief of Hashd Shaabi Committee, after targeting their convoy near Baghdad airport.

    Source: Al-Manar English Website


    Iran: Indictment on case of Martyr Soleimani’s assassination near

    31 Dec 2022


    By Al Mayadeen English 

    The head of the Iranian special committee in charge of the case, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, says that the US committed an unforgivable crime.

    The head of the Iranian special committee responsible for pursuing the legal case of the assassination of Martyr Qassem Soleimani, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei.

    Iran is in the final stages of releasing an official indictment on the case of the murder of IRGC’s Quds Force Commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, by the United States back in 2020, according to an Iranian official.

    The head of the special committee in charge of the case, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, said on Saturday that the Judiciary in the Islamic Republic and the foreign ministry have taken measures to accurately follow the case.

    “In the criminal aspect, the indictment related to this case is nearing its final stages and we hope that it will reach good result,” he said.

    Kadkhodaei made the announcement during an event on the fight against terrorism and extremism in West Asia.

    On January 3 of 2020, the US carried out a drone strike authorized by former US president Donald Trump targeting a car carrying the commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC General Qassem Soleimani, and his Iraqi trench-mate and the second-in-command of Iraqi PMU (Popular Mobilization Units), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

    Martyr Soleimani was on an official visit to Iraq and was being transported in a car with Martyr al-Muhandis from Baghdad’s International Airport upon his arrival, before being assassinated by the US.

    “This is an unforgivable crime and the American officials who committed this crime and accepted responsibility for it must be tried and punished for their action,” Kadkhodaei, who is an advisor to the foreign minister, continued.

    “The US tries to resort to every means to secure its illegitimate interests.”

    During an address to the 77th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last September, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi raised a picture of the former commander of the Quds Force and called for punishing former US President Donald Trump, who ordered the assassination of Soleimani in a barbaric and illegal manner.

    “The previous president of the United States [Trump] effectively managed to sign the document of the savage crime, an illegal crime, an immoral crime,” he indicated.

    It’s noteworthy that earlier this month, former Iraqi PM Mustafa Kadhimi had local lawmakers contemplating his arrest for allegedly being involved in the assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani by the US in 2020.

    A senior official in the State of Law Coalition, Fadel al-Zerigawi, stated during an interview with Iraqi news outlet Shafaq News last Monday that Kadhimi is hiding inside the US embassy.

    Although Kadhimi previously vowed to expel all foreign military forces from the country, US troops remained but were given the option to “rename” their position as “advisory roles”.

    Read more: 

    Venezuela Opp. Officially Removes US-backed Guaido, Dissolves “Interim” Gov’t

    Dec 31, 2023 

    Source: Agencies

    By Janna Al-Kadri 

    By Staff, Agencies

    Venezuela’s opposition lawmakers have officially removed US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido and dissolved his so-called “interim government” amid reconciliation efforts with the democratically-elected government of Nicolas Maduro prior to the 2024 elections.

    The now-defunct opposition-controlled National Assembly agreed on Friday to eliminate the “interim government” of Guaido with 72 votes in favor, 29 against, and eight abstentions.

    Three of the four major Venezuelan opposition groups – Justice First, Democratic Action and A New Era – backed the ouster of Guaido as well as the creation of a five-member commission to manage the country’s foreign assets, especially US-based refiner Citgo, a subsidiary of state-owned oil company PDVSA.

    Guaido, whose Voluntad Popular party rejected the effort, had urged the lawmakers at the National Assembly to replace him instead of dissolving the “interim government.”

    The decision was made within the framework of peace talks between the Maduro administration and the country’s opposition groups to promote national unity and advance the recovery of the Latin American state from years-long US-imposed bans.

    Back in November, Maduro’s administration and the country’s opposition reached a long-delayed “social protection agreement” aimed at easing the drawn-out political and humanitarian situation in the country, with the deal focusing on education, health, food security, flood response, and electricity programs.

    Last year, the two sides held several rounds of negotiations with the mediation of Norway in Mexico, but practically it did not bring any favorable results.

    After the agreement, the two sides asked the United Nations to manage a fund, worth billions of dollars seized in foreign banks over US sanctions, in an effort to ease the country’s protracted political and humanitarian situation.

    Responding to the move, the US Treasury Department issued a license for Chevron, the second largest US oil company, to expand operations in Venezuela, allowing it to import Venezuelan crude into the United States.

    The oil-rich Latin American country began going through a downward spiral of poverty as well as social and developmental stagnation in 2018, when the West, led by the US, and its favored Venezuelan opposition contested Maduro’s victory in the presidential election.

    Following the election, Western countries began slapping Caracas with a slew of backbreaking sanctions, which have been responsible for spawning the dire economic situation in the country, with millions having fled Venezuela since the onset of the crisis.

    More than 7.1 million Venezuelans, as UN estimates show, have left their country and migrated to other Latin American countries or the US amid Venezuela’s high inflation as well as food and medicine shortages following Washington’s crippling sanctions.

    Iran, Syria, Yemen: Twitter’s collaboration with the US military in information warfare

    The damning exposure of collusion between the Pentagon and Twitter raises further suspicions about Washington’s ongoing online operations in West Asia.

    December 27 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Kit Klarenberg

    The Cradle has previously deconstructed the Pentagon’s online bot and troll operations targeting Iran. These wide-ranging efforts, over many years, sought to destabilize the Iranian government by disseminating and inciting negative sentiment against it, on a variety of social media platforms.

    Their exposure led to the White House demanding an internal audit of all Department of Defense (DoD) “psychological operations online.” Ostensibly, this was triggered by high-level concerns that Washington’s “moral high ground” was potentially compromised by the “manipulation of audiences overseas.”

    The audit was revealed in a Washington Post article, the details of which pointed to a very different rationale. One passage noted that representatives of Facebook and Twitter directly informed the Pentagon, repeatedly, over several years, that its psychological warfare efforts on their platforms had been had been detected and identified as such.

    Weaponizing social media

    Frustratingly, the focus wasn’t even that these operations were being conducted in the first place, but that the Pentagon got busted doing so.

    For example, Facebook’s Director of Global Threat Disruption, David Agranovich, who spent six years at the Pentagon before serving as the US National Security Council’s Director for Intelligence, reportedly reached out to the DoD in the summer of 2020, warning his former colleagues that “if Facebook could sniff them out, so could US adversaries.”

    “His point was, ‘Guys, you got caught. That’s a problem,’” an individual “familiar with the conversation” told the Washington Post.

    The obvious takeout from this excerpt – unnoticed by any mainstream journalist at the time – was that Facebook and Twitter staffers actively welcome their platforms being weaponized in information warfare campaigns, as long as it’s the US intelligence community doing it, and they don’t get caught in flagrante.

    Moreover, in the event they are compromised, those same social network luminaries readily provide intimate insight on how US spooks can improve their operational security, and better conceal their activities from foreign enemies. Unmentioned is that these “foes” include tens of millions of ordinary people who are the ultimate target of such malign initiatives, of which residents of West Asia are preponderant victims.


    Internal emails and documents from Twitter, published by journalist Lee Fang, have now confirmed that Twitter executives not only approved of the Pentagon’s network of troll and bot accounts, but also provided significant internal protection for them through “whitelisting.”

    This practice allowed these ‘superpower accounts’ to operate with impunity, despite breaking numerous platform rules and behaving egregiously. The “whitelist” status also effectively granted these accounts the algorithmic and amplificatory privileges of Twitter verification without a “blue check.”

    As The Cradle previously reported, these accounts over many years sought to influence perceptions and behavior across West Asia, in particular Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. In many cases, users had “deepfake” profile photos – mocked up pictures of realistic human faces generated by artificial intelligence.

    Target: West Asia

    In respect to Twitter-enabled activities against Tehran, multiple different personae were formed to attack the Iranian government from different ideological and political positions. These were not your standard ‘opposition’ accounts – the ops were more sophisticated. Some posed as ultra-conservative Shia Muslims critical of the administration’s “liberal” policies; others as progressive radicals condemning the extent of the Republic’s enforcement of Islamic code.

    Many users amplified Washington’s disinformation, disseminated by US government-funded Voice of America’s Farsi-language service, among a myriad of other US funded and directed propaganda platforms. All along, Twitter higher-ups were aware of these accounts, but did not shut them down and even protected them.

    The impact of the collaboration between Twitter and the Pentagon on the tweets that users around the world saw and did not see is unknown, but likely significant. Twitter staff were aware of what they were doing.

    For example, in July 2017, an official from the Pentagon’s central command for West Asia and North Africa (CENTCOM) emailed the social media network to request the “blue check” verification of one account and the “whitelisting” of 52 accounts that “we use to amplify certain messages.”

    The official was concerned that some of these accounts, “a few” of which “had built a real following,” were no longer “indexing on hashtags.” He moreover requested “priority service” for several accounts, including the since-deleted @YemenCurrent, which broadcast announcements about US drone strikes in Yemen. The account emphasized how “accurate” these attacks were; that they only killed dangerous terrorists, never civilians – a hallmark of US drone war propaganda.

    Of course, US drone strikes are anything but precise. In fact, declassified Pentagon documents indicate there was “an institutional acceptance of an inevitable collateral toll,” and that innocent people were killed indiscriminately.

    In 2014, it was calculated that, in attempting to slay 41 specific, named individuals, Washington had murdered 1,147 people, among them many children – a rate of 28 deaths for every person targeted.

    ‘Misleading, deceptive, and spammy’

    In June 2020, Twitter spokesperson Nick Pickles testified to the US House Intelligence Committee on the company’s determined efforts to end any and all “coordinated platform manipulation efforts” on the part of hostile enemy states, stating these efforts were his employer’s “top priority.”

    “Our goal is to remove bad faith actors and to advance public understanding of these critical topics. Twitter defines state-backed information operations as coordinated platform manipulation efforts that can be attributed with a high degree of confidence to state-affiliated actors,” he declared.

    “State-backed information operations are typically associated with misleading, deceptive, and spammy behavior. These behaviors differentiate coordinated manipulative behavior from legitimate speech on behalf of individuals and political parties.”

    The following month, however, Twitter executives were invited by the Pentagon to attend classified briefings in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) to discuss the defense of the Pentagon’s “coordinated and manipulative” social media activities.

    Then-Twitter lawyer Stacia Cardille noted in an internal email the Pentagon may be seeking to retroactively classify its malign online activities “to obfuscate their activity in this space, and this may represent an overclassification to avoid embarrassment.”

    Jim Baker, then-deputy general counsel of Twitter and an FBI veteran, subsequently noted that the DoD had employed “poor tradecraft” in setting up numerous Twitter accounts, and was now covering its tracks in order to prevent anyone finding out multiple users “are linked to each other” or to the US government, one way or another.

    “DoD might want to give us a timetable for shutting them down in a more prolonged way that will not compromise any ongoing operations or reveal their connections to DoD,” he speculated.

    Free speech absolutism

    So it was the compromised accounts that were permitted to stay active, spreading disinformation and distorting the public mind all the while. Some even remain extant to this day.

    To say the least, Twitter executives were well-aware that their eager and enthusiastic support of Pentagon psyops would not be received well if publicized. Shortly before the September Washington Post report on the DoD’s audit of these efforts, Twitter lawyers and lobbyists were alerted by a company communications executive about the forthcoming exposé.

    After the Post story was published, Twitter staffers congratulated themselves and each other over how effectively the company concealed its role in covering up CENTCOM’s deeds, with one communications official thanking a welter of executives “for doing all that you could to manage this one,” noting with relief the story “didn’t seem to get too much traction.”

    Were it not for the series of #TwitterFiles disclosures since Elon Musk controversially took over the company, these dark, shameful secrets would likely have remained buried forever. The full extent of the company’s mephitic collusion with US intelligence agencies, and the comparable, simultaneous collaboration of every major social network, must now be told in full.

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

    The Martyrdom of Detainee Abu Hamid… A Time Bomb Detonated by Palestinian Anger

    December 22, 2022 

    By Mostafa Awada

    Palestinian detainee Nasser Abu Hamid was martyred on Tuesday due to lung cancer. The tumor’s symptoms started to appear in August 2021. Yet the Zionist enemy authorities delayed the medical tests Nasser required as part of the medical negligence policy pursued by the Zionist prisons’ administration.

    These factors led to the deterioration of the detainee’s medical condition, especially after he was transferred to the Ramle Prison clinic that lacks the minimum healthcare equipment. Ironically, it is one of the clinics specialized in the treatment of detainees who suffer from critical and serious diseases.

    The head of the Gaza Unit in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade “Abu al-Majd” affirmed in an interview with “Al-Ahed News” that “The stance on the martyrdom of detainee leader Nasser Abu Hamid is the same towards all detainees; however, what specializes martyr Abu Hamid is that he was a prominent leader of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the West Bank.”

    “The enemy, by withholding Abu Hamid’s body, seeks to start a confrontation with the resistance factions. However, we are aware of its plans, and we’ll retaliate for this assassination starting from the West Bank and reaching Gaza, in coordination between the Palestinian resistance factions that as part of the Joint Operations Chamber,” he added.

    “Abu al-Majd” further stressed that “the enemy will pay dearly had it initiated any aggression or military folly.” The scale of response to the enemy’s activities towards the Palestinian people isn’t controlled by geography or boundaries. It will rather cover all the Palestinian territories, he underlined.

    Meanwhile, the head of the Detainees Movement Mounir Mansour told Al-Ahed News that “The martyrdom of Abu Hamid ignited massive protests along the occupied Palestinian lands. And in particular, after the ‘Israeli’ occupation authorities declared their refusal to hand over the martyr’s body to his family.”

    “These protests have put the occupation entity on alert amid concerns about what things would reach in the next few hours. The martyrdom of the detainee Abu Hamid put all Palestinians on the verge of a volcano that is about to erupt at any moment, especially after the escalation of confrontations with the enemy in different Palestinian regions,” Mansour added.

    By the same token, Mansour noted that protests and confrontations aren’t organized by any side. They evolved from the vigor of our people and their refusal to the suppressive “Israeli” measures in prisons, pledging that the Detainees Movement will continue to fight for the rights of prisoners and detainees.

    In the same context, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club Qaddoura Fares, in comments to our website, considered that “the martyrdom of detainee Abu Hamid is a war crime against all Palestinians and a live example on the practices of the enemy’s apparatuses and authorities from the top of the pyramid till its base.”

    He further emphasized that “the cause of Palestinian detainees is not confined to any rights organization or faction. It’s the cause of all people of Palestine who must assemble their efforts to face the Zionist enemy in all fields to achieve freedom and protect their dignity and sanctities.”

    Qaddoura concluded his statement by praising protests and confrontations taking place between Palestinians and the enemy’s army to condemn Nasser Abu Hamid’s assassination. Likewise, he didn’t forget to call to continue these steps that drain the abilities of the occupation and put us on the track toward the complete liberation.

    It’s noteworthy that martyr detainee Nasser Abu Hamid was detained on 4/12/2002, life sentenced 7 times, and for 50 years. This detention wasn’t his first, as his prison journey had started in 1987, and he spent about 33 years behind ‘Israeli’ bars until his martyrdom on 20/12/2022.

    Additionally, Abu Hamid is a brother of a martyr and four other detainees in the ‘Israeli’ occupation prisons who are all sentenced to life. They spent long years in prisons. Besides, the ‘Israeli’ occupation had destroyed the family’s house as part of its collective punishment policy.


    US Interests ‘Legitimate Targets’ If Washington Keeps Supporting Saudi War on Yemen – Ansarullah

    December 17, 2022 

    By Staff, Agencies

    A senior member of Yemen’s Ansarullah resistance movement warned the United States against its continued support for the devastating Saudi onslaught and all-out blockade against the country, saying that Washington’s strategic interests in the region would be the “legitimate targets” of retaliatory strikes by Yemeni armed forces if American statesmen do not abandon the policy.

    US President Joe Biden’s administration pulled the plug on Senator Bernie Sanders’ bill to stop unconstitutional US participation in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which the US Senate was expected to vote on this week, Abdul Wahhab al-Mahbashi said in a statement on Thursday.

    He added that Biden presented himself as a dove of peace during his presidential campaign, and even pledged a halt to US support for the Saudi war in Yemen, but it is now fairly clear that the 80-year-old American politician wants to continue the aggression and is complicit in the Riyadh regime’s crimes against the Yemeni nation.

    Mahbashi emphasized that the Biden administration is deceiving the US public opinion as well as the international community, and obstructs any initiative aimed at cessation of the Saudi war.

    “There is no difference among US administrations, as they do not care about peace and human rights. They are terrorist administrations responsible for onslaughts on world states,” the senior Ansarullah official said.

    He noted that Washington’s strategic interests in the region would be the “legitimate targets” of retaliatory strikes by Yemeni armed force in the face of the substantial US support for the Saudi war.

    “The Saudi-led coalition of aggression has failed to break the willpower and perseverance of our nation. Our people are absolutely determined to endure all pains and suffering for the sake of final victory,” Mahbashi said.

    Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

    The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and crush the Ansarullah movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

    While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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    Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Weekly Update 08-14 December 2022)

     December 15, 2022

    Violation of right to life and bodily integrity:

    Five Palestinian, including 3 civilians, were killed and 7 others, including 2 children, were injured, while dozens of others suffocated in Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) attacks in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

    On 08 December 2022, as part of extrajudicial executions, IOF directly shot and killed three Palestinians: one was a civilian and the two others were members of Palestinian armed groups, in an IOF ambush in eastern Jenin. Before their withdrawal, IOF arrested three Palestinians. ( Details are available in PCHR’s press release).

    On the same day, IOF killed a child namely Diaa Irhamieh (16) and wounded 3 other Palestinians; one was arrested, in clashes at the main entrance to ‘Aboud village in Ramallah. (Details are available in PCHR’s press release).

    On 11 December 2022, IOF killed a 16-year-old Palestinian girl namely Jana Zakarneh and arrested three Palestinians, including two brothers, during IOF’s incursion into Jenin’s eastern neighborhood. (Details are available in PCHR’s press release). IOF admitted that following an initial inquiry it was determined that the girl might have been unintentionally shot by an Israeli sniper[1].

    Meanwhile, those injured were victims of excessive use of force that accompanied IOF’s incursion into the Palestinian cities and villages, or suppression of peaceful protests organized by Palestinian civilians, and they were as follows:

    On 08 December 2022, a Palestinian was shot with a rubber-coated bullet during clashes with IOF stationed near Detector Gate (104), which is established at the annexation wall, west of Tulkarm.

    On 09 December 2022, three Palestinians, including two children, were shot with rubber-coated bullets during IOF’s suppression of Kafr Qaddoum weekly protest in northern Qalqilya.

    On 10 December 2022, IOF suppressed a gathering organized by dozens of Palestinians at the Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem, in celebration of the winning of the Moroccan team in the World Cup. They also assaulted a person with a mobility impairment and arrested him in a detention center. He was then taken to a hospital for treatment.

    In the Gaza Strip, 9 shootings were reported on agricultural lands in eastern Gaza Strip, and 3 shootings were reported on fishing boats off the western Gaza shores.

    So far in 2022, IOF attacks killed 185 Palestinians, including 123 civilians: 37 children, 8 women, 2 Palestinians killed by Israeli settler and the rest were activists; 20 of them were assassinated. Also, hundreds of Palestinians, including women and children, were wounded in IOF’s attacks in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Moreover, 5 Palestinian detainees, including a woman, died in the Israeli prisons.

    Land razing, demolitions, and notices

    IOF demolished 5 houses, displacing 3 families of 16, including 5 children and 3 women. They also demolished 7 civilian facilities and handed notices to cease construction works in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Details are as follows:

    On 11 December 2022, IOF handed five Palestinians notices to cease construction works in three inhabited houses, a plot of land, and a tinplate shop selling construction materials in al-Zuwaidin Bedouin village in Yatta, south of Hebron, under the pretext of unlicensed construction.

    On 12 December 2022, in implementation of an Israeli municipality’s order, IOF forced a Palestinian to self-demolish his under-construction house built on an area of 100 square meters in Isawiya village in occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of unlicensed construction. On the same day, IOF dismantled a 100-square-meter agricultural nursery in Tuqu village in Bethlehem, under the pretext of unlicensed construction.  Also, IOF handed 18 notices to cease construction in 9 house, 4 agricultural rooms, 3 industrial facilities, and two plots of lands in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, west of Saflit, under the pretext of being in area classified as Area C.  The notices say that you may appeal the notices before 28 December 2022.

    On 13 December 2022, IOF demolished a 135-square-meter house comprised of one floor in Al-Jiftlik village, north of Jericho, rendering two families of 9, including 3 children, homeless. In the same area, IOF demolished a 36-square-meter house, displacing a family of 7, including 2 children. Also, IOF demolished two under-construction houses; one built on an area of 165 sqms and comprised of two floors while the other built on an area of 100 sqms. Additionally, IOF demolished a tinplate barrack built on an area of 150 sqms and four plastic livestock barns built on an area of 240 sqms, under the pretext of illegal construction in Area C.

    On the same day, IOF demolished an under-construction house built on an area of 100 sqms in Furush Beit Dajan village in central valleys in Nablus, under the pretext of illegal construction in Area C. Also, IOF demolished a barrack used as an auto repair shop, a container, a barrack, an agricultural room, a fence, and a stone chain in an agricultural land in al-Jib village in occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of unlicensed construction.

    Since the beginning of 2022, Israeli occupation forces made 139 families homeless, a total of 821 persons, including 161 women and 373 children. This was the outcome of IOF demolition of 159 houses and dozens of residential and agricultural tents. IOF also demolished 116 other civilian objects, leveled vacant areas of land, and delivered hundreds of notices of demolition, cease-construction, and evacuation.

    Settler-attacks on Palestinian civilians and their properties:

    On 08 December 2022, Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles passing near Kedumim settlement square on the main street connecting Nablus with Qalqilya.

    On 10 December 2022, Israeli settlers uprooted 15 olive trees in the lands of Haris village, north of Salfit.

    Since the beginning of the year, settlers conducted at least 255 attacks. In two of the attacks, 2 Palestinians were killed.

    IOF incursions and arrests of Palestinian civilians:

    IOF carried out 168 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Those incursions included raids and searches of civilian houses and facilities and establishment of checkpoints. During those incursions, 117 Palestinians were arrested, including 9 children, and a Palestinian vehicle was confiscated.

    So far in 2022, IOF conducted 8,438 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, during which 4,698 Palestinians were arrested, including 466 children and 49 women. IOF also conducted 34 limited incursions into eastern Gaza Strip and arrested 105 Palestinians, including 64 fishermen, 32 infiltrators, and 9 travelers via Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing.

    Israeli collective punishment and closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement:

    Meanwhile, Israeli occupation maintains its illegal and inhuman 15-year closure on the Gaza Strip. Details available in PCHR’s monthly-update in the Gaza crossings.

    On 08 December 2022, IOF have banned 382 Christians from Gaza to travel to Bethlehem in order to join the Christmas celebrations after refusing to issue travel permits for them. Mr. Elias al-Jalda, Member of the Arab Orthodox Churchwarden Council in Gaza, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that those banned travel were on a list of 900 persons whose names were sent by the churches in the Gaza Strip to obtain travel permits.

    In the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, IOF continues to impose restrictions on the freedom of movement. On top of its 110 permanent checkpoints, IOF established 76 temporary military checkpoints in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem arrested 6 Palestinians at those checkpoints.

    On 08 December 2022, IOF closed the metal detector gate established at the western entrance to Husan village, west of Bethlehem.

    On 09 December 2022, IOF closed the metal detector gate established at the western entrance to Tekoa village, east of Bethlehem.

    So far in 2022, IOF established at least 4,342 temporary military checkpoints and arrested 197 Palestinians at those checkpoints

    A US tool against Iran: Kurdish militancy on the Iran-Iraq border

    US and Israeli-backed armed Kurdish separatists on the Iraqi border have participated in every incident of Iranian domestic strife, from 2009 to 2022.

    December 15 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By The Cradle’s Iraq Correspondent

    After hours of traveling around the Iraqi border between the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and Iran, you will come to a single conclusion: “This is a one-sided border.”

    Since April 2003, after the illegal US invasion of Iraq, West Asia transformed into a vast playground for an array of foreign states and entities. Among them are Iranian Kurdish separatist parties and organizations stationed in northern Iraq.

    Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) often targets the sites of these armed militias with airstrikes because of the separatist threat they pose. But why are these groups even based in Iraq, and do Baghdad and Erbil play any direct role in hosting militias that target Iranian territory?

    These questions persist – unanswered – bar the ever-present Iranian military responses, as in September when the IRGC carried out targeted drone and missile strikes against separatist Kurdish militias for 13 consecutive days.

    When the operation concluded on 7 October, the IRGC announced it had achieved its goals,” but warned that it “will resume its operations, if the threat to Iran’s national security returns again.”

    Iranian Kurdish separatists

    The most prominent of these Kurdish militias is the Kurdistan Free Life Party (Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistanê – PJAK), whose activities against Iranian interested suddenly escalated after the US occupation of Iraq.

    After 2004, PJAK appeared for the first time as an armed force, in the same areas controlled by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) led by Abdullah Ocalan. The PKK are primarily based in the Qandil Heights in the far north-east of Iraq, which lies within the Zagros Mountain range that extends deep into Iranian territory.

    The “East Kurdistan Forces” are the military arm of the anti-Iran Kurdish militia, and its fighters are estimated to be between 800 and 1,200, most of them from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Iran and various Kurdish regions.

    In a series of articles published in The New Yorker in 2006, journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that the US and Israel were training this party and supporting it financially and with intelligence in order to undermine Tehran.

    Shortly after its invasion of Iraq, the administration of US President George W. Bush began a covert program to train and equip PJAK, with Israeli assistance. “The group has been conducting clandestine cross-border forays into Iran,” Hersh reported, as “part of an effort to explore alternative means of applying pressure on Iran.”

    Taking advantage of social unrest

    The recent and on-going unrest witnessed in a number of Iranian cities following the death of the young Iranian-Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, while in police custody on 16 September, provided an opportunity for PJAK and other Kurdish separatist parties to step up their subversive activities.

    The Cradle’s Iraq correspondent was able to reach sites targeted by IRGC in the town of Koysanjak (60 km east of Erbil, the capital of the KRI) near the Iranian border, and to approach one of the largest camps of PJAK in one of the town’s valleys, surrounded by a mountain range.

    It is almost impossible for journalists to reach these sites, so we had to travel disguised, alongside local villagers and with a Kurdish coordinator who arranged our visit. The militia fighters often shop in villages surrounding the camp.

    However, “their goal is not to shop, but to carry out security and intelligence operations that the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party in Erbil turns a blind eye to,” confirms a shepherd who moonlights as a tobacco and fuel smuggler on both sides of the border.

    He estimates the number of fighters here to be just over 1,000, The mountains provide a comfortable and secure space to carry out their military activities, which include daily exercises and a live-fire military drill in the Autumn.

    ‘Dangerous dreamers’

    Our source calls the PJAK fighters “dreamers” because their military arsenal dates back to the 1950s, and includes light weapons, explosive devices, mortars, and anti-vehicle mines. “The Americans will not give these people modern weapons,” adds the smuggler, who fought in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and has experience in traversing the rugged border terrain.

    Nevertheless, he warns that these people are “dangerous,” with “Eastern Kurdistan Forces” now transitioning to security work and “management of operations” inside Iran. Their work is conducted in cooperation with special forces from the Peshmerga of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the “coalition” forces (which are mainly US troops).

    This cooperation is not new, and has accompanied every major incident of internal civil strife witnessed by Iran since at least 2009, including turmoil in 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, and most recently, 2022.

    In the past two years, PJAK’s activity has ceased to be purely military, and “we see its fighters accompanying guests. It is true that they disguise themselves, but we are not naive,” the Iraqi source says, adding, however, that the Kurdistan region “will not reap a profit from this game as usual.”

    Iraqi Kurdish links to PJAK

    Officially, the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which are the two main political parties in the Kurdistan region, deny any connection with PJAK. However, Kurdish leaders acknowledge the existence of “coordination,” “transmission of messages,” and “exchange of information” with the militia group. The KDP has previously called on PJAK and PKK to lay down their arms.

    Certainly, it would be difficult – if not impossible – for PJAK to manage activities of this magnitude on Iraqi territory, and to globally market themselves as “freedom fighters,” without the collusion and support of both Kurdish and Iraqi authorities.

    A high-ranking Iranian diplomatic source with experience in Baghdad for more than ten years, confirms the existence of a tripartite committee that includes representatives from Tehran, Baghdad, and Erbil to exchange information about the “subversive activities” carried out by PJAK against Iran.

    The committee does not, however, hold regular meetings, and the Iranians have become convinced that its trouble-shooting initiatives are not serious because of Baghdad’s ineptitude, and because of the involvement of foreign states in supporting the separatists.

    This has prompted Tehran to adopt a policy of “force to deter what threatens its national security,” with one or two officials in the Iraqi state being informed half an hour before any Iranian military strike operations commence.

    The diplomatic source, who has military experience, adds: “We constantly monitor everyone who visits PJAK sites, the movements of its fighters, all their steps, and the support they receive. We broadcast recordings of the moment of the bombing to assure the separatists and the intelligence services that support them that we know their locations very well.”

    Baghdad turns a blind eye

    Yet in Baghdad, official sources deny the existence of a tripartite committee, as well as any prior warning of Iranian airstrikes. In fact, a high-ranking Iraqi officer even informed The Cradle that there are headquarters and safe houses for Kurdish separatists and their leaders in both Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, with coordination between PJAK and the PKK.

    There is also evidence that the separatist militias are active in illegal, cross-border activities that generate revenues for PJAK which, in turn, enable it to pay its fighters’ salaries. Baghdad is aware of all this, sources say, but turns a blind eye.

    Safe-guarding Iran’s territorial integrity

    The high-ranking officer claims, nevertheless, that Iraq’s new Prime Minister Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani is serious about his initiative to establish a new Border Guards Force stationed between the region of Turkiye and Iran, and to prioritize supporting these forces with human resources, weapons, and modern equipment.

    But the source has also expressed pessimism over this border venture, and expects the continuation of PJAK’s activities in the mountainous area they know so well.

    He points out that Tehran “will not be convinced of the Iraqi field and military measures. The Iranians know our capabilities. The presence of the separatists at their borders will remain a source of security concern. And they told us that they will not stand hands folded in the face of this threat.”

    “Practically,” he concludes, “Tehran is the one that controls the borders in the area of ​​the Jasusan mountain range.”

    Needless to say, as a sovereign state Iran will adopt a proactive stance in confronting threats to its national security posed by foreign-backed, separatist groups – even though this may undermine the sovereignty of its weaker Iraqi neighbor.

    While it is collectively in the interests of Iran, Iraq and indeed Turkiye and Syria to co-ordinate over this mutual ethno-nationalist, separatist, security threat, Baghdad has been too slow to rise to the challenge.

    Instead, we may see this process begin first in the Northeast of Syria, where all four states are currently gathered in heightened concern over militarized Kurdish separatism, its foreign sponsors, and the imminent threat of a military confrontation. 

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

    سوريا: أميركا تصعّد حرب التجويع

    لا دواء… لا مواد أولية… لا قَطع أجنبياً: أميركا تصعّد «حرب التجويع» على سوريا

     الخميس 15 كانون الأول 2022

    فراس الشوفي

    لم تتضّح بعد الاستراتيجية التنفيذية للقانون العدائي الجديد ضدّ سوريا (أ ف ب)

    في إطار سياسة «الضغوط القصوى» الممارَسة على سوريا، تتّجه الولايات المتّحدة إلى تضييق الخناق على هذا البلد تحت ذريعة تحوّله إلى «دولة مخدرات». وفي ما يشبه تماماً الحملات التي استهدفت يوغسلافيا السابقة ودولاً في أميركا اللاتينية، بدأت الخطوات العملياتية على طريق تشديد الحصار على سوريا، التي تعيش أصلاً مأساة اجتماعية واقتصادية هائلة، في ظلّ هبوط حادّ في سعر العملة الوطنية، وفقدان للموارد

    يستمرّ الكونغرس الأميركي في سنّ القوانين الهادفة إلى تصعيد «الضغوط القصوى» الممارَسة على سورية، في سياسة مستدامة منذ عام 1970. آخر الخطوات على هذا الطريق، هي «قانون مكافحة الكبتاغون»، الذي من المفترض أن يقرّه الكونغرس ويوقّع الرئيس جو بايدن قريباً عليه، بعد عبوره مجلس النواب ولجنة القوات المسلّحة لمجلسَي النواب والشيوخ. وفيما تغرق سوريا، مع غياب الحلول السياسية، في مأساة اجتماعية واقتصادية هائلة، وهبوط حادّ في سعر العملة الوطنية جرّاء الحصار الأميركي الخانق وفقدان الموارد، يشكّل القانون مادةً جديدة لتشديد الخناق على الشعب والاقتصاد السوريَين، في ظلّ الحديث بشكل علني عن ضرورة منْع الحكومة من الحصول على القَطع الأجنبي، بذريعة تحوّل سوريا إلى «دولة مخدّرات». وتبدو الدعوات الصادرة عن نواب وسيناتورات أميركيين، فضلاً عن بعض وسائل الإعلام ومراكز الأبحاث، لإعلان سوريا «دولة مخدرات»، مُشابِهةً للحملة التي استهدفت يوغوسلافيا السابقة، بعد إضعافها بتزكية نيران الحرب في البلقان، وقبل تدميرها بعدوان مباشر من حلف «الناتو»، وتفكيكها إلى دويلات. كما أن هذه السياسات لا تختلف عن تلك المتّبَعة مع دول أميركا اللاتينية التي لا تخضع للمشيئة الأميركية.

    القانون الذي بُنيت استراتيجيته من ستّة بنود، يستند إلى التقارير الآتية من دول جوار سوريا، وإلى مجموعة من المواد الصحافية والإعلامية التي أسهمت طوال المرحلة الماضية في شيطنة هذا البلد، وتكريس اتّهام الدولة السورية و«حزب الله» بتغطية مختبرات إنتاج مادة الكبتاغون، وتهريبها إلى الخليج العربي ومصر، وحتى إلى أوروبا. باختصار، تشكّل البنود الستّة استراتيجية أمنية وسياسية واقتصادية متكاملة للتغلغل أكثر في محيط سوريا، وتطويقها وقطْع المواد الأوليّة عنها، بذريعة تفكيك «البنية التحتية لشبكات الكبتاغون للنظام السوري». ويكلّف القانون الإدارات الأميركية الأمنية المتعدّدة، تقديم الدعم والتعاون الأمني والديبلوماسي للجهات المعنية في دول الجوار السوري، ومساعدة وكالات مكافحة المخدّرات فيها على التطوّر وتقديم التدريب والدعم المادّي لها، واستهداف شخصيات وكيانات بالعقوبات، وممارسة الضغوط الاقتصادية على دمشق بالتعاون مع مؤسّسات وشركاء دوليين، وشنّ الحملات الإعلامية ضدّ الحكومة السورية. وبينما يضع القانون مهلة 180 يوماً أمام الإدارات التنفيذية لإنجاز استراتيجية تطبيق القرار الأميركي قبل عرضه مجدّداً على الكونغرس، يَظهر أن الخطوات العملية قد بدأت بالفعل.

    وكانت الحملة الإعلامية سبقت مشروع القانون بكثير، وانخرطت فيها العديد من وسائل الإعلام العالمية والعربية، في خطوات ممنهجة لربط تجارة الكبتاغون بأخصام الولايات المتحدة في سوريا، وخلْق غيمة من التشويه ضدّ شخصيات سورية. أمّا مسألة التعاون مع وكالات مكافحة المخدرات والإدارات الأمنية في محيط سوريا، فهذا الأمر يجري بشكل منتظم مع الأردن ولبنان والعراق والدول الخليجية. والدعم العسكري والاستخباراتي الأميركي للأردن يشتمل، ضمن ما يسمّيه الأميركيون خطّة طرْد إيران من الجنوب السوري، «مكافحة المخدرات»، وقد سبق للأردن أن أعلن مراراً توقيف مهرّبين على الحدود مع سوريا. أمّا في لبنان، فيزداد التواصل الأميركي والدعم للأجهزة الأمنية، فيما وسّعت إدارة مكافحة المخدرات الأميركية، وهي وكالة لإنفاذ القانون تابعة لوزارة العدل، اهتمامها بمكتب مكافحة المخدرات المركزي في بيروت، انطلاقاً من مكتبها الدائم في قبرص. وعلمت «الأخبار» أن الدعم المادّي الأميركي للمكتب سيُستأنف قريباً بعد توقّفٍ سبّبته اتهامات للأخير بحالات تعذيب تَبيّن أنها حصلت في مكاتب أخرى. في المقابل، سبق للمندوب السوري لدى مكتب الأمم المتحدة والمنظمات الدولية الأخرى في فيينا، السفير حسن خضور، أن أعلن أمام لجنة المخدرات في الأمم المتحدة في آذار الماضي، أن مشكلة المخدرات قد تنامت في سوريا بفعل سيطرة التنظيمات الإرهابية المدعومة من عدّة دول على بعض المناطق الحدودية، الأمر الذي خلق مناخاً ملائماً لنقل المخدرات وترويجها، ووفّر عوائد مالية ضخمة لتلك التنظيمات، مؤكّداً أن الجماعات الإرهابية تبتكر دائماً طرقاً للتهريب وهي تمتلك تقنيات. وطلب السفير السوري تعاوناً دولياً مع بلاده وتبادلاً دائماً للمعلومات، وتوفير القدرات الفنية والتجهيزات المخبرية وأجهزة الكشف على المعابر الحدودية.

    وعلى الرغم من أن الاستراتيجية التنفيذية للقانون العدائي الجديد ضدّ سوريا لم تتضّح بعد، وما إذا كان يتضمن توجيه ضربات عسكرية أو أعمالاً تخريبية أمنية بذريعة مكافحة المخدرات، عبّر عدد من المعارضين السوريين عن اعتراضهم على القانون كونه لا يتضمن خطوات عدائية أكثر وضوحاً ضدّ سوريا. لكن يجري حديث بالهمس يردّده مقرّبون من الأميركيين في بيروت، عن أن هناك نوايا لشنّ هجمات مجهولة الهويّة ضد مواقع لـ«إنتاج المخدرات» في سورية. إزاء ذلك، يلفت مصدر حكومي سوري، في حديث إلى «الأخبار»، إلى أن «هناك دائماً ذرائع كاذبة للاعتداء على سوريا كما يحصل من قِبل العدوّ الإسرائيلي»، مؤكّداً أن «الأجهزة السورية تسعى بكلّ قوتها لمكافحة المخدرات، وسوريا تاريخياً هي دولة عبور، إنّما بسبب الحرب استغلّت العصابات الإرهابية والجنائية المعارك العسكرية وانشغال الدولة بالحرب لتقوم بالترويج والتهريب والتصنيع، وبعضها يتلقّى دعماً غربياً وفي مناطق تحت سيطرة الأميركيين، لكن الدولة تستعيد قوتها وتعمل على ضرب هذه الأوكار وتحتاج إلى المساعدة والتعاون مع الدول الصديقة وليس إلى الحصار».
    وعدا عن تبرير التجسّس على سوريا، وتعميق التدخّل في دول الجوار، يضع القانون بعض المواد الأوليّة اللازمة لصناعات عدة، لا سيّما الأدوية، تحت حصار جديد، من شأنه إضافة مأساة أخرى إلى مآسي الأزمة الطبّية الهائلة في هذا البلد. إذ أشار أكثر من تقرير غربي وعربي، ضمن الحملة الأميركية، إلى أن بعض المواد المصنّعة يتمّ استيرادها إلى سوريا من الصين والهند، وهي بمعظمها مواد تدْخل في الصناعات الدوائية، القطاع الذي تعرّض لنكسة كبيرة خلال الحرب ولتدمير مقصود من قِبَل الجماعات المسلّحة.

    فيديوات ذات صلة

    Damascus focuses on reviving productive projects in the face of Western sanctions
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates: The American occupation forces and militias continue their systematic looting of basic resources

    مقالات ذات صلة

    As US looting of Syrian oil continues, Damascus turns to protect crops

    13 Dec 2022 22:05

    Source: The Cradle

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    It is no news that the US frequently loots tankers of Syrian oil.

    US looting Syrian oil

    The Cradle reported on Tuesday, citing official Syrian sources, that the US smuggled a new shipment of Syrian oil from the Al-Hasakah Governorate on December 12.

    According to the report, the convoy included 37 tanks carried by US military trucks and headed toward Iraq this morning via the illegal Al-Mahmudiyah border crossing in the far northeastern countryside of Syria.

    Just a week ago, the US had looted 66 tankers of Syrian oil from the Jazira region and smuggled them into their occupation bases in Iraq. 

    The report states that the lootings are in part fueled by an interruption of oil trafficking operations caused by Turkey’s offensive on the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which are mainly situated in oil-rich regions – in the north.

    They may have increased since Turkey began its offensive, but as already known, the lootings have been ongoing for years.

    A week ago, reports indicated that Turkish airstrikes targeting the SDF’s main sources of income included two US-occupied oil fields.

    According to an investigation by The Cradle, convoys pass weekly back and forth through illegal crossings. These convoys are often found to be guarded by US warplanes or helicopters.

    Shepherds in the area reportedly confirmed these claims as they witness the looting and smuggling of oil to Al-Harir military site in Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR); a region that is likewise reputed for being a recruitment hub for western spy agencies.

    The investigation further reveals that the oil is used to support the activities of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), as reported by The Cradle.

    The sprees also serve the US in maintaining a strong foothold in the region between Baghdad and Damascus, according to columnist Firas Al-Shoufi who conducted the investigation.

    On another note, the Lebanese news outlet Al-Ahed News revealed earlier today that the Syrian government is working to protect vast wheat fields in the Al-Jazira region from being plundered or damaged by US troops.

    According to the report, the US occupation has been offering adulterated grains to farmers claiming they are of better quality.

    But farmers were quick to realize that the seeds had severely damaged their soil as they were found to contain a “high percentage of infection with nematodes.”

    The Syrian government sought to respond to this situation by launching a program that sells wheat and barley seeds at affordable prices. 

    In a tweet on December 12, the USAID agency blamed the climate for the damage, in an attempt to downplay the US occupation role in damaging Syria’s soil.

    What is the US doing in Syria?

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

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

    The US interference in the crisis-stricken Middle Eastern country continues to be exposed, from occupation to military agenda and the theft of oil.

    Plundering Syria’s oil resources & depriving Syrians of resources

    It is noteworthy that Syrian state media has accused over and over again the US and the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) armed groups of occupying areas in the vicinity of oil-rich fields, smuggling resources to Iraq, and then siphoning them out.

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

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

    Read more: Syria: sanctions and oil looting cause fuel shortages, 4-day work week

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