It’s Nato that’s Empire-building, not Putin

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By Peter Hitchins and True Publica,

Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented. In Britain, the spreading of false information via the mainstream press and national broadcast media is universally accepted on topics such as bringing down the NHS for privatisation purposes, trashing foreign so-called enemy nation states such as Iraq, Libya et al and of course the really big foe of our time – Russia.

Unlike many so-called experts and commentators on Russia, Peter Hitchins was a former foreign correspondent in Moscow and Washington and understands the tension strings of the geo-political power plays being made against it.

Peppered with obligatory obeisances to western official narratives about Nato empire-building since 1990, Peter Hitchins – the self confessed reformed Thatcherite, deconstructs official state propaganda and gives clear personal insight into the realities and truth of these power plays.

The article below was originally published in March 2015 and as you will read, nothing for the better has changed but at least you get a sense that what you are being told officially – is a deception.


It’s Nato that’s empire-building, not Putin

by Peter Hitchins

The Spectator

March 2015

Just for once, let us try this argument with an open mind, employing arithmetic and geography and going easy on the adjectives. Two great land powers face each other. One of these powers, Russia, has given up control over 700,000 square miles of valuable territory. The other, the European Union, has gained control over 400,000 of those square miles. Which of these powers is expanding?

There remain 300,000 neutral square miles between the two, mostly in Ukraine. From Moscow’s point of view, this is already a grievous, irretrievable loss. As Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the canniest of the old Cold Warriors, wrote back in 1997,

‘Ukraine… is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.’

This diminished Russia feels the spread of the EU and its armed wing, NATO, like a blow on an unhealed bruise. In February 2007, for instance, Vladimir Putin asked sulkily,

“Against whom is this expansion intended?”

I have never heard a clear answer to that question. The USSR, which NATO was founded to fight, expired in August 1991. So what is Nato’s purpose now? Why does it even still exist?

There is no obvious need for an adversarial system in post-Soviet Europe. Even if Russia wanted to reconquer its lost empire, as some believe (a belief for which there is no serious evidence), it is too weak and too poor to do this. So why not invite Russia to join the great western alliances? Alas, it is obvious to everyone, but never stated, that Russia cannot ever join either NATO or the EU, for if it did so it would unbalance them both by its sheer size. There are many possible ways of dealing with this. One would be an adult recognition of the limits of human power, combined with an understanding of Russia’s repeated experience of invasions and its lack of defensible borders.

But we do not do this. Instead we have a noisy pseudo-moral crusade, which would not withstand five minutes of serious consideration. Mr Putin’s state is, beyond doubt, a sinister tyranny. But so is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey, which locks up far more journalists than does Russia. Turkey is an officially respectable Nato member, 40 years after seizing northern Cyprus, which it still occupies, in an almost exact precedent for Russia’s seizure of Crimea. If Putin disgusts us so much, then why are we and the USA happy to do business with Erdogan, and also to fawn upon Saudi Arabia and China?

Contrary to myth, the expansion of the EU into the former communist world has not magically brought universal peace, love and prosperity. Croatia’s economy has actually gone backwards since it joined. Corruption still exists in large parts of the EU’s new south-eastern territories, and I am not sure that the rule of law could be said to have been properly established there. So the idea that the recruitment of Ukraine to the ‘West’ will magically turn that troubled nation into a sunny paradise of freedom, probity and wealth is perhaps a little idealistic, not to say mistaken.

It is all so much clearer if we realise that this quarrel is about power and land, not virtue. In truth, much of the eastward expansion of Nato was caused by the EU’s initial unwillingness to take in backward, bankrupt and corrupt refugee states from the old Warsaw Pact. The policy could be summed up as ‘We won’t buy your tomatoes, but if it makes you happy you can shelter under our nuclear umbrella’. The promise was an empty assurance against a nonexistent threat. But an accidental arrangement hardened into a real confrontation. The less supine Russia was, the more its actions were interpreted as aggression in the West. Boris Yeltsin permitted western interests to rape his country, and did little to assert Russian power. So though he bombarded his own parliament, conducted a grisly war in Chechnya, raised corruption to Olympic levels and shamelessly rigged his own re-election, he yet remained a popular guest in western capitals and summits. Vladimir Putin’s similar sins, by contrast, provide a pretext for ostracism and historically illiterate comparisons between him and Hitler.

This is because of his increasing avowal of Russian sovereignty, and of an independent foreign policy. There have been many East-West squabbles and scrimmages, not all of them Russia’s fault. But the New Cold War really began in 2011, after Mr Putin dared to frustrate western — and Saudi — policy in Syria. George Friedman, the noted US intelligence and security expert, thinks Russia badly underestimated the level of American fury this would provoke. As Mr Friedman recently told the Moscow newspaper Kommersant, ‘It was in this situation that the United States took a look at Russia and thought about what it [Russia] wants to see happen least of all: instability in Ukraine.’

Mr Friedman (no Putin stooge) also rather engagingly agrees with Moscow that overthrow last February (2014) of Viktor Yanukovych was ‘the most blatant coup in history’. He is of course correct, as anyone unclouded by passion can see. The test of any action by your own side is to ask what you would think of it if the other side did it.

If Russia didn’t grasp how angry Washington would get over Syria, did the West realise how furiously Russia would respond to the EU Association Agreement and to the fall of Yanukovych? Perhaps not. Fearing above all the irrecoverable loss to NATO of its treasured naval station in Sevastopol, Russia reacted. After 23 years of sullenly appeasing the West, Moscow finally said ‘enough’. Since we’re all supposed to be against appeasement, shouldn’t we find this action understandable in a sovereign nation, even if we cannot actually praise it? And can anyone explain to me precisely why Britain, of all countries, should be siding with the expansion of the European Union and NATO into this dangerous and unstable part of the world?

*

Featured image is from TruePublica.

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Who or What Is Feeding the Unrest in Iran?

Who or What Is Feeding the Unrest in Iran?

Who or What Is Feeding the Unrest in Iran?

There are two general theories about the protests that are taking place in Iran. One, unfavorable to the Iranian government and establishment, is that the widespread discontent and rioting is over mismanagement of the economy that has particularly hurt poorer Iranians. The other is that we are seeing a contemporary replay of 1953 Iran and the downfall of Mohammad Mossadegh, which was orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British MI-6.

The Iranian public’s expectation that the nuclear deal would lead to improvements in their lives were wrecked by Donald Trump’s decertification of the agreement and expectations that the pact would be wrecked by America’s renewing sanctions on Iran later this month. All of Trump’s advisers are hostile to Iran and it has also been reported that tearing up the agreement derived from a personal pledge made by Trump to Israeli/American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who also demanded that the US Embassy be moved to Jerusalem.

The vanishing nuclear deal and struggling economy bore fruit in the 2018 government budget that cut subsidies on food and government services while increasing fuel and commodity prices. Religious institutions controlled by the Supreme Religious Council and the business entities run by the Revolutionary Guards were reportedly spared the cuts, fueling popular anger.

If Donald Trump had really cared about the protesters or democracy, he would have said nothing about the protests. Instead, he appears intent on using the Iranian government suppression of the demonstrations to finally kill the nuclear deal by reinstating sanctions. He has tweeted five times, supporting the Iranian people who are seeking democracy but also giving the Tehran government a club to use against the demonstrators by claiming that they are tools of foreign governments, which is exactly what it is doing.

But given the history of foreign interventions in the Middle East, is the United States or Israel plausibly involved in the demonstrations? The answer to that is both yes and no. There is considerable evidence that the United States and possibly Israel, joined by Saudi Arabia, have set up several command centers in Iraq and Afghanistan to support the protests. They have been using social networking as well as radio broadcasts to encourage the people to get out and demonstrate. One such station called AmadNews, broadcasting from outside Iran, called on demonstrators to attack police stations and government buildings. It appears to be a US government front manned by Persian speaking Israelis. It’s actual ability to drive the demonstrations appears, however, to be questionable.

On the covert action front, neither the CIA or Mossad has the resources on the ground to infiltrate and direct crowds of people to act, so the Iranian government claim that there are outside agitators can largely be regarded as propaganda for its own domestic audience. The CIA’s infrastructure in Iran was devastated in the 1990s and was never effectively reconstituted. The Agency post-Director George Tenet also concentrated heavily on paramilitary activity and lost much of its ability to spot, assess, recruit, train and run agents. Developing a spy network in a country like Iran where the United States lacks any physical presence and does not even have an Embassy is a daunting task.

This is not to say that the US and Israel are not heavily focused on Iran. In a recent conference, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster claimed, completely inaccurately, that Iran is the source of sectarian violence and supports jihadist networks “across the Arab world.” Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s former senior director for intelligence had previously commented that the White House intended to use American spies to “regime change” the Iranian government.

With that objective in mind, in June new CIA Director Mike Pompeo created a special Iran combined task force under Michael D’Andrea, nicknamed the Dark Prince or Mike Ayatollah, a controversial but highly regarded Middle East specialist who is himself a convert to Islam. D’Andrea has reportedly been very active, but reconstituting a network takes time and is, of necessity, work done carefully and methodically. Pompeo, in his desire to relearn old fashioned spying and covert action, has more recently announced that the Agency will be working to recover its “viciousness,” but it is presumably not there yet.

Iran ‘Ground Zero’ for US Regime Change

Iranians chant slogans as they march in support of the government near the Imam Khomeini grand mosque in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017

There seems little doubt that the surge in New Year protests across Iran was, at least in part, following a regime-change agenda set by the United States.

Public statements issued by US President Donald Trump and his senior officials all made strident calls in support of protesters while denigrating the Iranian government as a “brutal oppressor.” Arguably, that amounts to audacious incitement of sedition in a foreign state, and such American misconduct should be legally sanctioned.

What’s remarkable too is just how close the recent turmoil in Iran seemed to follow a well-worn US formula for regime change, including political statements of condemnation; biased media coverage to undermine the legitimacy of the target government; and the apparent hijacking of peaceful protests by violent provocateurs.

Such a formula has been used by Washington and its allies in dozens of countries over the decades, including more recently in Syria during the 2011 unrest that led to an all-out war.What is acutely resonant is the historical background. Iran was probably the first nation to have been subjected to American regime-change operations in the post-Second World War period, with the CIA-led coup carried out in 1953.

But first, let’s look at the flagrant attempts by the US to destabilize the Iranian government through highly pejorative and misleading public statements.

Last week, the American ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley even claimed that “the Iranian people are crying out for freedom against their dictators.” A senior official in the US State Department also admitted that his government was communicating via social media with demonstrators in Iran.

Washington’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, openly said in a media interview this weekend that his government is seeking “political transition” in Iran – or, in other words, regime change.

Also this weekend, the US called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in an attempt to censure the Iranian government for the dozens of deaths incurred during the week-long protests. Haley declared: “The world is watching what Iran does.”

Iran, Russia, and China have berated the US for violating Iranian sovereignty by interfering in the country’s internal affairs. The brazen attempt by the US to fuel protests in Iran is indeed a serious breach of the UN Charter forbidding interference in any nation’s political matters. US regime-change policy is arguably criminal conduct.

It remains to be seen just how actively involved on the ground US agencies were in stoking the recent protests in Iran. The initial demonstrations that first broke out on December 28 in the city of Mashhad quickly spread to dozens of other urban centers. Iranian authorities have blamed the US and other foreign enemies for being behind the disturbances.A legitimate part of the rallies was motivated by genuine economic grievances among the population. But at the same time, the rapid escalation of violence and armed attacks on police stations suggest that a subversive plot was being orchestrated.

The role of the US news media, and to lesser extent European, in covering the Iranian unrest was also indicative of a geopolitical agenda. The American media, in particular, tended to portray the protests in a benign light as an uprising against an autocratic regime.

Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the UN, dismissed Iranian claims of foreign subversion. Haley’s dismissal contradicts the public statements and admissions of the US president and other senior officials.

However, Iran has sound reason to suspect a pernicious agenda seeking to exploit social protests.

In 2013, some 60 years after the 1953 coup in Iran, the CIA was obliged to disclose classified documents that prove the agency was behind that infamous event. The CIA worked covertly with its British counterpart MI6 to carry out Operation Ajax to overthrow the elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh intended to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, thereby threatening American and British interests.The coup ushered in the rule of the pro-Western Shah Pahlavi who opened up Iranian oil fields to American and British companies. The CIA and US military were lynchpins in the Shah’s regime and its brutal repression of Iranians until he was finally overthrown in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. For this reason, Washington has never forgiven the Iranian people and is why the US political establishment is driven by regime-change obsession in Tehran.

What is telling are the similarities between events then and now. The CIA-led coup in 1953 involved a propaganda campaign using news media outlets to undermine the government. The New York Times labeled Mosaddegh a “dictator” and compared him to “Hitler” and “Stalin”. Britain’s state broadcaster, the BBC, was also involved in the campaign to undermine the Iranian authorities, as Mark Curtis recounts in his book Web of Deceit.

Back in Washington and London, the political leaders implemented an economic embargo on Tehran and denounced it as a Soviet stooge.

When the coup got underway, the CIA is now on record admitting that it paid thugs and provocateurs to launch street violence in Tehran, which was blamed on the authorities ostensibly showing a heavy-hand.From the CIA and MI6’s point of view, the coup was a stunning success. The regime change opened up big oil interests. For the Iranian people, it meant years of vicious repression under the Shah and his CIA-trained SAVAK secret police.

In 1953, the CIA was only newly formed in the aftermath of the Second World War. What the Iran coup marked was a fateful turning point for the agency, and the nature of American governments ever since, with global repercussions. In its original formation, the CIA was only intended to serve as an “intelligence gathering” service to aid US presidents to formulate foreign policy.

What the coup in Iran marked was the beginning of a “secret government” within the US; one that was above the law and unaccountable. US presidents would come and go in elections, but the “deep state” of the CIA would remain. It assumed the powers to carry out regime change against any foreign government regardless of international law. Subversion and political assassination would become tools of this new US statecraft.

Once the CIA got the habit of regime change in Iran it could not stop. Since 1953, the American “secret government” has gone on to conduct dozens of such dirty operations around the world with deadly and horrific consequences for masses of people.While the recent social protests in Iran have subsided, nevertheless there also seems to be another, more sinister dimension to the Iranian disturbances – an illegal agenda of regime change promoted by Washington.

Given that Iran is “ground zero” for America’s historical worldwide practice of regime change, the threat to national security from foreign interference is an understandable concern.

Russia and China have taken the correct position in warning the US to cease adding instability in Iran. The Iranian people must be safeguarded from external meddling to resolve their own internal problems. The laughable irony is that while American politicians and media complain hysterically about others meddling in their country, they have no qualms about brazenly poking into Iran.

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

Trump’s Failed Coup in Iran

Trump’s Failed Coup in Iran

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 07.01.2018

Trump’s Failed Coup in Iran

Eric S. MARGOLIS

Listen to the state-‘guided’ US media this past week and you’d believe a series of spontaneous anti-government protests broke out across Iran.  The protests, according to President Donald Trump and his Israeli allies, were caused by `anger over Iran’s spending billions on wars in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and helping the Palestinian movement Hamas.’ Trump tweeted that Iranians were finally rising up against what he called their hated, brutal regime.

Talk about manufactured news.  Most Iranians were elated and proud of their nation’s role in thwarting US plans to occupy much of Syria and overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.  By contrast, the other side in this long proxy war – the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Britain – was smarting with defeat and seeking ways to exact revenge on the hateful trio, Syria, Iran and Russia.

Interestingly, the so-called news of protests over Iran’s military spending did not apparently originate in Iran but rather in Washington which spread it far and wide to our state-guided media.  This was clumsy, but the US and Israel were so eager to get this piece of made-up good news out that they forget the basics of propaganda management: wait for the event before you proclaim it.

What in fact was going on in Iran where more than 21 demonstrators have died violent deaths?  As a very long-time Iran watcher allow me to explain.

Restive minority groups in Iran’s Kurdish, Azeri and Sunni Arab regions, most far from the big cities, have been demonstrating and protesting severe economic problems.  Iran is a big, resource-rich nation of 80 million people that should be booming.  But it has been under economic siege warfare by the US and its allies ever since a popular uprising in 1979 overthrew the US-British backed monarchy that was raping the nation and keeping it a vassal of the western powers.

Iran’s new Islamic Republic was deemed a dire threat to Western and Israeli strategic and military interests (think Saudi Arabia).  The very idea that the Islamic Republic would follow the tenets of Islam and share oil wealth with the needy was anathema to London and Washington.  Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, ran Iran’s dreaded, brutal secret police, Savak. The crooked royal family looted the nation and stored their swag in California.

The West’s first act was to induce Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to invade Iran, in Sept 1980.  The West (including the Gulf Arabs) armed, financed and supplied Iraq.  As I discovered in Baghdad, Britain and the US supplied Iraq with poison gas and germ warfare toxins. After eight years, 250,000 Iraqis were killed and nearly one million Iranians died.

Ever since the Islamic Revolution, the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs have been trying to overthrow the Tehran government and mount a counter-revolution.   CIA and Britain’s MI6 has ample practice: in 1953, the CIA and MI6 mounted an elaborate operation to overthrow Iran’s democratically-elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh who sought to nationalize Iran’s British-owned oil company.  Mobs of specially trained anti-Mossadegh plotters poured into Tehran’s streets. Bombs went off. Army commanders were suborned, lavish bribes handed out.

The 1953 coup went perfectly. Mossadegh was ousted with backing from the Army and Savak.  Iran’s oil remained safe in western hands.  The successful Iran uprising became the template for future ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Russia, Poland, and Romania.

But in 2009 a US-engineered ‘color revolution’ in Iran went badly wrong even though it used all the latest arts of social media to whip up protestors and deploy them in the streets.  Something similar happened in Iran this past weekend where mobs of 20-somethings, agitated by US and British covert social media, poured into the streets of dingy provincial towns.

As of now, this medium-sized uprising in Iran looks to be over, though it could re-ignite at any time. Young Iranians, at least 40% of the population, suffer due to 50% unemployment.   Iran’s $11 trillion economy is extremely fragile and in some cases barely functioning after decades of US-engineered economic warfare and boycotts.  High unemployment is a result of US economic warfare and bullying other nations not to do business with Iran, producing 13% overall unemployment and a 40% inflation rate. The latter and wide-scale corruption were the spark that ignited the latest riots.

In two more weeks, President Trump, who makes no secret of his hatred and contempt for Muslims, must decide whether to reaffirm the multilateral nuclear energy deal with Iran or heed Israel’s demands and refuse to certify it.  His cutoff this week of US military aid to Muslim Pakistan bodes ill for Iran.

 

Many Iranians observing the current US-North Korea nuclear standoff will wonder if their nation was not better off continuing its nuclear program and holding the Saudi oil fields at risk to deter a US attack.  Trump’s wild, inconsistent and often infantile responses on this issue are making matters murkier…and ever more dangerous.

 

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Ahed Tamimi, Joan of Arc, and the Stupidity of the Israelis

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Ahed Tamimi (left), and Joan of Arc–dressed in armor and holding a sword–from a painting dating to the late 15th century

By Richard Edmondson

A lot of people now seem to be likening Ahed Tamimi to Joan of Arc. I myself first made such a comparison in a post on December 19, the day of Ahed’s arrest–and the latest to draw the analogy is Israeli writer Uri Avnery.

In an article published at Haaretz on January 1, Avnery writes:

She’s 16, from a family of peasants in an isolated village. The foreign occupation outraged her, and she set out to fight it. Her actions excited her oppressed people, whose spirits rose from the depths of despair to renewed hope. She was captured by her occupiers, who imprisoned and prosecuted her.  You’re probably thinking I mean 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, who slapped the face of an Israel Defense Forces officer.

But actually, I’m referring to Joan of Arc, known as “the maid of Orléans.”

Avnery has it almost right. Joan was born in 1412 and was seventeen years old when she joined the battle against the British (who were indeed occupying substantial portions of her country) and gained her first audience with the young Charles VII, the legitimate heir to the French throne. This was during the Hundred Years War. Joan was an uneducated peasant girl, but it was said she had received divine visions instructing her to support Charles VII and to liberate France from English control, and it was also said that she worked miracles during the war.

The war at that time was going very badly for the French. Charles, in what was probably an act of desperation, sent the girl to accompany a contingent of French troops he dispatched to Orléans. The entire city was then under siege by the British. This was in the spring of 1429, and it turned out to be a pivotal turning point in the war, for Joan, though unable to read and write, reportedly dictated letters to be sent to the commanders of the British forces. As Wikipedia puts it:

Joan’s first mission was to join a convoy assembling at Blois, under the command of Marshal Jean de La Brosse, Lord of Boussac bringing supplies to Orléans. It was from Blois that Joan dispatched her famous missives to the English siege commanders, calling herself “the Maiden” (La Pucelle), and ordering them, in the name of God, to “Begone, or I will make you go”.

“Joan of Arc Enters Orléans,” by J.J. Sherer

In the fighting that ensued, the British forces at Orléans suffered nearly 1,000 dead and 600 taken prisoner. Avnery relates a bit of this history, noting that, “Dressed in armor and carrying a flag, Joan of Arc put herself at the helm of the overwhelmed fighters, and so inspired them that they won the critical battle for the city.”

“Joan of Arc in a West Bank Village”–is the headline that appears over Avnery’s piece, accompanied by what is rapidly now becoming a famous photo of Ahed–taken in the Ofer military court just as she was looking over her shoulder with the glimmer of a smile on her face.

As noted above, I mentioned the correlation in an article on December 19, but it wasn’t until after reading Avnery’s piece that I decided to put together the diptych, or two-paneled artwork, you see posted at the top of this page.

The right panel, depicting Joan with sword and armor, is a painting dating to the latter half of the 15th century. The artist is unknown, but according to Wikipedia, “the face has certain characteristic features known from her contemporaries’ descriptions, and the artist may have worked from indications by someone who had known her.”

If this is true, then there would seem to be a rather striking physical resemblance between the two women born roughly 600 years apart.

The general thrust of Avnery’s article is to compare the stupidity of the Israelis in regard to Ahed’s case with that exercised by the British, who in 1430 captured Joan of Arc. After a farcical trial in front of a kangaroo court similar to what you’d expect to find in an apartheid judicial system, Joan was convicted and finally burned at the stake, on May 30, 1431, at the age of 19.

The result of all this? The young girl was elevated to the status of martyr and heroine, and later was elevated to sainthood by the Catholic Church. The French ended up winning the Hundred Years War, while the British went home with their tails tucked between their legs.

The one-hundred year occupation was over.

Avnery doubts the Israelis will go so far as to burn Ahed at the stake. But he notes that the execution of Joan of Arc is “considered one of the worst blunders in British history,” and he believes the officials of his country are every bit stupid as the British were in the same situation.

Why did the oppressors in that case “act so stupidly”? he asks–and then offers his theory on the matter:

Actually, they had no choice. Hundreds of years later, Britain’s Lord Acton would say, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I would paraphrase this by saying, “Ruling power tends to make one stupid, absolute ruling power makes one totally stupid.”

And there is no stupider ruling power than an occupation regime.

Avnery also maintains that the soldier–the dude in the video who, after being slapped…and while clearly recognizing that video cameras were rolling on him…refrained from raising his gun and putting a bullet into Tamimi’s head–“is the only smart Israeli in this whole story.”

The rest have acted like ignoramuses.

This applies to the officials who made the decision to go to her home in the middle of the night, kidnap her and toss her into the stockade, and I would argue that it also appertains to the frenzied masses who’ve demanded the infliction of punishment and purgatory, including one bonehead who publicly called upon the 21st century heroine’s captors to “exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras.”

It applies as well to the judges and the legal system. On Monday, January 1, the Ofer military court formally indicted Ahed on 12 counts, including a charge of assaulting a soldier, as well as two counts of stone throwing. The stone throwing had nothing to do with the slap of the soldier, allegedly dating to earlier incidents–yet the charges are especially ominous given that under a law passed in 2015, the throwing of stones at Israeli soldiers can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

A 40-year prison sentence (20 years on each count) would pretty much be the modern-day equivalent of burning at the stake.

The Times of Israel, in a report on the indictments that was published Monday the 1st, notes that also among the 12 counts is a charge of “incitement,” this supposedly stemming from comments made by Ahed and live streamed by her mother over Facebook on December 15. The 15th, keep in mind, was the same day Ahed slapped the soldier. It was also the day on which her 14-year-old cousin was shot in the face by another soldier, and the same day soldiers had fired teargas canisters at locals during weekly protests in Nabi Saleh. Anyone’s inner peace surely would be put to the test under such conditions. No surprise, then, the day was capped off by the famous slap…with the livestream allegedly being uploaded sometime shortly thereafter.

And allegedly it included–again according to the Times of Israel article–a segment in which Nariman Tamimi asked her daughter what kind of message she wanted to convey to viewers. The news site furnishes no video evidence of this, apparently relying instead on words simply attributed to Ahed during the court hearing by the Military Advocate General. However, the attributed content isquoted, on faith and unquestionably, in two paragraphs within the story:

“I hope that everyone will take part in the demonstrations as this is the only means to achieve the result,” she said. “Our strength is in our stones, and I hope that the world will unite to liberate Palestine, because [Donald] Trump made his declaration and [the Americans] need to take responsibility for any response that comes from us,” Ahed added, apparently referring to the US president’s decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Whether it is stabbings or suicide bombings or throwing stones, everyone must do his part and we must unite in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine,” she concluded.

Again, the article includes no video evidence. Whether such evidence exists or not is unknown. But let’s suppose for a moment the quote is accurate.

Since we’re all about making comparisons here, it behooves us perhaps to go back to Joan of Arc and draw the analogy a bit further. Let’s compare Ahed’s words, as quoted by the Military Advocate General, to the words written by the Maid of Orléans and sent to the British siege commanders.

An archive of Joan of Arc’s letters can be found here, and you can go here to view a translation of the letter sent on March 22, 1429. In that letter Joan of Arc refers to herself in the third person, as “the Maiden,” and in addition to the siege commanders, she also addresses the King of England:

King of England, do right by the King of Heaven concerning His Royal line; had over to the Maiden the keys to all the towns which you have taken. She has come on behalf of God to support the Royal family, and is quite ready to make peace, if you are willing to do right, so long as you give up France, and make amends for occupying it. King of England, if you do not do so, I am a commander: wherever I come across your troops in France, if they are not willing to obey I shall make them leave, willing or not. And if they are willing to obey, I will have mercy upon them. Know that if they will not obey, the Maiden is coming to wipe them out.

History does not portray Joan of Arc as a terrorist. It in fact portrays her in a very heroic light. Yet there are Israelis now trying their utmost to paint Ahed Tamimi as a terrorist–all for the “crime” of slapping an Israeli soldier.

After her 14-year-old cousin was shot in the face.

Shot in the face by a rubber coated steel bullet.

A wound that necessitated the 14-year-old boy’s being placed in a medically-induced coma during which the projectile was surgically extracted from his skull.

“Tamimi is becoming the Palestinian Joan of Arc before our eyes,” Avnery asserts.

And he also expresses the view that: “In the end, this stupidity will bring us down.”

The village of Nabi Saleh, where Ahed and her family live, is in the West Bank–an area that has been under Israeli occupation for 50 years. Land theft, illegal settlements, home demolitions, skunk water spraying, checkpoint closures, arrests, detentions, walls that cut off farmers from their lands, killings, the cruel, mentally unhinged practice of withholding dead bodies from grieving families, and the infamous cemeteries of numbers–such things as these have not left the Palestinians, particularly their children, with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.

All of it is mass stupidity, of course–neurosis and dementia on the part of the occupiers, who have lost the ability to think clearly, assuming they ever had such in the first place. And while it’s true, Israelis have managed to convince much of the world they are serious about wanting peace with the Palestinians, I think those days–of being able to prop up their  charades through the power of the Zionist media–are rapidly coming to a close.

As news came out Monday of the military court’s indictments, social media erupted in response.

An Israeli judge asked ✌️🇵🇸, the Palestinian girl, “How did you slap one of our soldiers?”

She replied, “take off my handcuffs, I’ll show you”.😍

Legendary. https://twitter.com/Jeru_Saleem/status/947922246080909313 

A Facebook post–which I didn’t see myself but heard about from a friend–quoted a passage from the Old Testament Book of Micah promising doom for “Zion” and the “rulers of Israel.” The passage begins in chapter 3 verse 9 and reads:

Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.”

Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

It’s perhaps understandable if the Book of Micah is less popular with Zionists than the Talmud.

In the video above we see an artist painting a portrait of Ahed with the sound of explosions and a track from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony playing in the background. I’m not sure exactly what point the artist is trying to make, though it might have something to do with the fact that Beethoven’s Fifth has also been referred to as “the victory symphony.” In either event, the artist seems quite taken with Ahed Tamimi.

History’s favorable treatment of Joan of Arc suggests that among humanity there exists a “general consensus” that people have a right to resist occupation, a right to fight for the freedom of their homeland, and that every now and then, as such struggles progress and unfold, a figure such as Gandhi or Joan of Arc will emerge who thoroughly captures the public imagination. This is what’s happening now with Ahed.

Instead of imprisoning the young girl for the rest of her life (as one idiot cabinet minister has called for), the Israelis should not only free her, they should take it a step further and offer her a scholarship to attend the university of her choice. A step of this sort, yes, likely would result in a Dr. Tamimi returning to Palestine at some point in the future to advance the cause of her people, but it would completely defuse the current crisis.

Unfortunately, I doubt the screeching Zionist ignoramuses possess sufficient I.Q. to figure this out.

Robert Stuart: One Man’s Quest to Expose ‘Absolutely Historic’ @BBC Panorama ‘Fakery’

BBC Panorama ‘Fakery’ – Sputnik International

EXCLUSIVE: One Man’s Quest to Expose ‘Absolutely Historic’ BBC Panorama ‘Fakery’

For over four years, Robert Stuart has been forensically investigating the innumerable inconsistencies, contradictions, anomalies and apparent falsehoods in BBC Panorama documentary Saving Syria’s Children. Speaking exclusively to Sputnik, the former journalist shares his most troubling discoveries.

On the evening of August 29 2013, just as the UK parliament was quite literally voting on possible military intervention in Syria, BBC News at Ten broadcast a report by journalist Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway from Syria, which claimed a Syrian fighter jet had dropped an incendiary bomb containing a “napalm-type” substance — possibly thermite — on the playground of an Aleppo school.

After its broadcast, some viewers took to the internet to express concerns about the veracity of the report’s footage. Among them was Robert Stuart, a former journalist working for a small community organization in Islington, London.

Walking Dead?                                                                         

One scene in particular struck him as “extremely odd.” In it, males young and old, their skin apparently in tatters, race into a “basic hospital funded by handouts” to be treated for chemical burns. At one particularly disturbing point, a number writhe, drool and groan, apparently in great distress.

However, the men are initially “quiet and static,” before the central figure looks directly into the camera for several moments and raises his arm, at which point “they start rolling around in agony and wailing. It looks farcical, ridiculous,” Robert told Sputnik.

A GMC-registered practicing doctor, who’d worked with burns victims firsthand, believed the scene to be “an act.”

“[They] were able to sit down, be touched by others, even talk. This is not how a severe burn victim would present. Most would be screaming the place down in agony even after treatment and all sorts of pain drugs, but they’re able to speak and breathe very well. Some are shown with skin hanging off but the flesh beneath actually looks like more skin. Also, if the poison was dropped from a plane, their hair would’ve been lost and patches would be evident — many still have full heads,” the doctor said.

This scene and other questionable aspects of the brief report prompted him to pen a letter to the BBC — as he was writing it, the BBC broadcast a Panorama documentary, Saving Syria’s Children, which expanded on the original report, and included further footage.

The documentary was said to have been intended to cover the work of two British doctors in Syria — but apparently completely by chance, while they were filming, the chemical attack occurred.

Ever since, Robert has repeatedly reviewed the program. As of December 2017, he’s identified contradictions, anomalies and areas of concern “almost too numerous to list.” At best, he believes the broadcast contains many scenes which are “largely, if not entirely, staged” — at worst, he suggests its content, and even the attack it allegedly covers, may be “fictionalized.”

​His correspondence with the UK’s state broadcaster about these issues has also continued — their response has been equal parts “stonewalling, evasion and misdirection.” Part of this effort, he alleges, includes the “diligent” blocking of every copy of Saving Syria’s Children on YouTube — as a result, one won’t find a “single scrap” of footage from the documentary on the platform. Anything uploaded is “taken down within hours,” which Robert claims isn’t the case with “any other” Panorama documentary.

Where, When, What, How?

One key source of confusion concerns the time of the attack. According to the BBC it took place August 26, 2013, although accounts of its timing “implausibly” span a range of six hours — Human Rights Watch states it occurred “around midday,” while the Violations Documentation Center places it at two in the afternoon.

Conversely, Pannell himself stated in BBC Complaints correspondence with Robert the strike occurred “at around 5.30pm,” while Conway places it between three and five. Alleged eyewitness Abu Yousef suggests it was closer to six, which is corroborated by a Turkish media article quoting a Syrian doctor who says it occurred at that time — although the chemical weapon was instead said to be a “phosphorus bomb.”

​Complicating the picture further, a team of Syrian investigators has researched the attack, contacting a former commander of the Al-Tawhid Brigade based in Aleppo province in August 2013. Despite having every reason to validate the claim, given it would offer useful propaganda against the Syrian government, they instead attested a “napalm bomb” attack did not happen that month, and none of the events depicted in the documentary actually occurred.

“We did not meet any air strike with the substance of napalm on Urum al Kubra or on any other region in the North West Aleppo countryside and the cheap fabrication of the BBC undermines the credibility of the Free Syrian Army. We’ve done a field investigation with the help of the delegate of the Free Syrian Red Crescent and [found] no victims, no traces and no memory with anybody of the alleged air strikes with the substance of Napalm,” the commander said.

The commander has agreed to provide a full statement to the BBC and offered to provide BBC journalists with safe transit from Antakya, Turkey to Urm Al-Kubra to interview witnesses and conduct their own investigation.

A July 2014 telephone conversation between two members of said Syrian investigative team documents the account of a local resident, who similarly affirms the alleged napalm bomb attack did not occur.

“He told me, ‘we didn’t hear about such a thing…we hear about rockets, there is a lot.’ When I told him it burns, he told me ‘we never had something like that, never, never. Nor did we ever hear about it.’ I asked him whether he was maybe out of the region at the specific time, and he said ‘even if I would have left the people keep on talking about this thing, I would have known about it’,” the investigator said.

Untroubled Journey

Almost every repeat viewing of Saving Syria’s Children raises further concerns and questions for Robert. A relatively recent discovery was reporter Pannell and cameraman Conway’s apparent embedment with jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham.

Approximately 10 minutes into the documentary, in a scene said to be shot the morning of August 25, Dr. Hallam sets off to “see what medical care is available for children closer to where the fighting is” — and Pannell follows.

“Western journalists have been targeted in Syria, so I have to travel with my own security. The doctors are able to be more low key and take their own vehicles,” he explains.

A number of vehicles are then shown setting off in convoy — among them a white pickup truck which, dashcam level footage reveals, bears the Ahrar al Sham emblem on its bonnet.

Ahrar al Sham has been accused of being involved in, or leading, numerous atrocities over the course of the Syrian crisis — a mere three weeks prior to Pannell’s trip, Human Rights Watch alleges the group were, alongside Daesh and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, “key fundraisers, organizers, planners, and executors” of an attack in which at least 190 killed and over 200 — “the vast majority women and children” — were kidnapped.

As the program enters its eleventh minute, Pannell’s van approaches a checkpoint held by a separate rebel faction, an experience common across the country at the time. After a brief and seemingly superficial inspection, the convoy is allowed to pass through unmolested.

As Pannell himself narrates, the faction in question is “ISIS…the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” At the time, the group was not subject to the extreme global notoriety it endures today — Robert suggests such a scene “simply wouldn’t be plausible now.”

“Conway is seemingly able to hop between vehicles with impunity at the checkpoint. As they reach it, Pannell instructs the cameraman — presumably Conway, the sole shooter credited on the documentary — to ‘put the camera down a bit’. Seconds later, in footage filmed from the rear of another vehicle, a Daesh guard inspects vehicles. How did they not end up in orange jumpsuits having their heads chopped off?” Robert told Sputnik.

​Daesh also crops up elsewhere in the documentary — an ambulance bearing the group’s distinctive flag calmly transports victims of the apparent attack to hospital — a “marked contrast” from the “ostensibly tense” checkpoint scene.

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor

A recurring character throughout Saving Syria’s Children is Dr. Rola Hallam, a British doctor representing the charity Hand in Hand for Syria. She immediately jumped out to Robert due to the manner of her introduction — taking time out during the apparent mass casualty scenario to conduct a calm and coherent to-camera interview.

​Dr. Hallam also appeared on the BBC prior to the Panorama broadcast — interviewed on Newsnight August 30 2013, the day parliament voted against military action, she expressed disappointment at the result, suggesting the world had “failed the Syrian nation.”

Subsequent digging into the doctor’s background offered yet further indications she and the organization she represents harbor strongly interventionist stances.

For instance, her father is Dr. Mousa al-Kurdi — who, according to a February 2013 article written Dr. Hallam’s colleague Dr. Saleyha Ahsan, is “involved politically” with the controversial Syrian National Council.

Dr. Hallam has denied that allegation — nonetheless, in a 2012 Al Jazeera interview, he passionately advocated for the Syrian National Council’s recognition as the “sole representative” of all Syrians. He also boasted of how at that year’s Friends of Syria summit in Istanbul — attended by Hillary Clinton — he told the foreign ministers of several governments, including Victoria Nuland of the US State Department, “either you defend us or you arm the Free Syrian Army to defend us — you have the choice.”

Facebook banner of Faddy Sahloul, cofounder of Hand in Hand for Syria.
Facebook banner of Faddy Sahloul, cofounder of Hand in Hand for Syria.

Robert’s exploration into Hand in Hand for Syria also raised many serious anxieties. The UK Charity Commission states the organization exists for “the advancement of health or saving lives” — yet, he found until July 2014, the Facebook banner of cofounder Faddy Sahloul read “WE WILL BRING ASSAD TO JUSTICE; NO MATTER WHAT LIVES IT TAKES, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CATASTROPHE IT MAKES.”Moreover, he uncovered a photo of a Hand in Hand for Syria nurse, who also appears in the documentary, tending to the injuries of a child soldier.

Unidentified Hand in Hand for Syria worker with child soldier.
Unidentified Hand in Hand for Syria worker with child soldier.

“In September 2015, I formally raised my concerns with the Charity Commission, which ruled the cofounder’s bloodthirsty Facebook banner was a ‘historical issue’ that had since been addressed by the charity’s trustees, and the image of the nurse treating a child fighter was not ‘sufficient’ evidence Hand in Hand for Syria was ‘celebrating or supporting violence’,” Robert told Sputnik.

Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, poses with rocket launcher.
Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, poses with rocket launcher.

His battles with the Charity Commission did not end there — in March 2016, he submitted a further complaint, after uncovering images of Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, posing with a “shocking” array of armaments, including rocket launchers, sniper rifles, “hell cannon” mortars, tanks, and more.

Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, poses with a rifle.
Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, poses with a rifle.

However, for the Commission, the images “[did] not raise sufficient regulatory concern.”RIP BBC?

Despite official denials, Robert intends to continue his campaign until the truth has finally been revealed — his determination stems from a belief the alleged falsification was “absolutely historic, and unbelievably brazen.”

“It was clearly very carefully orchestrated and set up. I had few illusions about the corporate media and the BBC, the one remaining perhaps being they wouldn’t fake something outright. This is an absolutely historic case, and unique. Whatever criticisms you could level at state-owned media in Iran or North Korea, nobody has ever done this before,” he rails.

In March 2017, Robert’s efforts attracted the attention of leading TV and radio producer Victor Lewis-Smith. He raised troubling questions with the BBC about Saving Syria’s Children, threatening to literally tear up a contract for a forthcoming radio comedy pilot with the corporation unless top brass could offer satisfactory answers.

In response, the BBC alleged Ofcom had reviewed the program and confirmed the authenticity of the documentary. However, the organization’s ruling related to a news report by television channel RT, which featured Robert’s investigation.

The BBC complained to OfCom “the program presented information in an inaccurate and misleading way.” While Ofcom upheld the complaint, it acknowledged it did not “undertake an assessment of the accuracy and/or impartiality of the program” in reaching its decision. Robert states this was “in no way a clean bill of health” for the documentary.

“It was not possible or appropriate for Ofcom to attempt to prove or disprove the allegations made about the BBC in the program. Similarly, Ofcom had no statutory jurisdiction to assess the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC program. Rather, our concern in this case was solely whether [it] resulted in unfairness to the BBC,” the regulator wrote.

​Lewis-Smith didn’t accept their defense, again threatening to terminate his contract, and demanding Panorama release raw footage of the event in order to gauge its veracity.

The eventual statement issued by the BBC in response to these concerns did nothing to address his concerns, and his contract was shredded. ​He now intends to make a crowdfunded documentary investigating the program, with Robert’s assistance. Sputnik submitted requests for comment from the BBC, but as of December 30 2017 has received no response.

“If the extent to which the BBC manufactured this documentary was proven, it would be a watershed moment. There’d be no coming back from that. It would destroy their credibility globally. Pannell and Conway could go down in history as having destroyed the BBC,” Robert concludes.

The views and opinions expressed by Robert Stuart are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik. 

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