رسائل أميركية: لا تعايش مع حزب الله

سياسة قضية اليوم هيام القصيفي الجمعة 24 كانون الثاني 2020

(هيثم الموسوي)

لم يعد حفظ الاستقرار عنواناً وحيداً للسياسة الأميركية في لبنان، لأن لبنان أصبح مرادفاً لحكومة إصلاحات وحل الأزمة المالية ووضع حزب الله. فما قاله وزير الخارجية الاميركي لا يتعلق بالوضع الحكومي فحسب، بعدما سبقته جملة رسائللم يكن لبنان الرسمي يحتاج الى تعليق وزير الخارجية الأميركي مايك بومبيو حول لبنان والوضع المالي والحكومة، لتصله الرسالة واضحة أمام الرأي العام الدولي والمحلي لأن كل ما قاله بومبيو ليس مفاجئاً لا بالطريقة ولا بالفحوى، إذا كان قد وصل الى مسامع عدد من المسؤولين الرسميين في أشكال مختلفة، إما من خلال زيارات الموفدين الأميركيين، أو من خلال رسائل وصلت إليهم في لبنان وفي واشنطن.

مصدر سياسي موثوق أكّد أنه في الأيام الأخيرة السابقة لتأليف الحكومة، طلب أحد المسؤولين من شخصية لبنانية مقربة من بومبيو استطلاع الموقف الأميركي حيال لبنان، في ضوء التطورات المحلية والإقليمية الأخيرة. كان الجواب أكثر صراحة مما قاله الوزير الأميركي علانية، إذ إنه أبلغ محدثه أن واشنطن لم تعد مقتنعة بأن «التعايش» مع حزب الله وقوى سياسية في لبنان مفيد، وأن واشنطن لم تعد تريد سماع وجهة النظر هذه وليست مقتنعة بها، ومن يرِد هذا التعايش ويستمر به، لا يسأل واشنطن عن رأيها. واستطراداً لا شأن لواشنطن بكل ما تحاول القوى السياسية القيام به بالتعاون مع الحزب، حكومياً أو غير حكوميّ، ومن يرد أن يتحالف مع الحزب ويستمر بالتعاون السياسي معه فهذا شأنه، لكن على هذه القوى أن تتحمل أيضاً مسؤوليتها في الموقف الذي تتخذه. واستطراداً، كانت لغة الوزير الأميركي صريحة في تحديد المسؤوليات لجهة «وضع حزب الله وتعاون أطراف سياسيين معه، الأمر الذي أدى الى هذا الانهيار الحتمي»، بعيداً عن كل مسار المفاوضات حول تأليف الحكومة والمشاركين فيها.

حين وصلت الرسالة الى لبنان، ورغم أن ناقليها أبلغوا جدية الموقف الأميركي، اعتبر المعنيون في بيروت أن الكلام الأميركي هو من باب التحذير ليس إلّا، للضغط في الملف الحكومي، وعدم مشاركة حزب الله في الحكومة. ورأوا أن واشنطن لا تزال ترعى الاستقرار السياسي والأمني في لبنان، ولن تتخلى عنه، وأن تشكيل الحكومة سيدفع بها حكماً الى أن تستمر في دعمها له، تحت سقف احتمال عودة التفاوض بينها وبين إيران.

تزامناً، تبلغ المعنيون في بيروت رسالة أميركية مفادها أن واشنطن لن تساعد لبنان مالياً واقتصادياً إن لم يساعد نفسه، وهي لن تقدم على خطوات مجانية، ولن تدفع أياً من الدول المانحة الى تقديم مساعدات، ما لم يلجأ لبنان الى خطط اقتصادية ومالية واضحة. وأي حكومة لا تقوم بإصلاحات لن تتلقى دعماً مالياً ومساعدات تمكّنها من تحقيق مشاريعها. مرة جديدة، قوبل الكلام الأميركي بالتجاهل، وسط تأكيدات القوى السياسية اللبنانية المعنية أنها لا تزال تستند الى شخصيات ودوائر أميركية فاعلة تؤكد أنه ليس في مصلحة الإدارة الأميركية التخلي عن لبنان اقتصادياً، وأنها ستحثّ الدول المانحة على تقديم مساعداتها، كي لا يتسبب الانهيار بمزيد من الفوضى. وتستند هذه التأكيدات الى الموقف الفرنسي الداعم لأي حكومة من أجل إطلاق متجدد لمؤتمر «سيدر»، وإلى حد ما إلى موقف بريطانيا والاتحاد الأوروبي الذي سيدفع حتماً الى احتضان أميركي للبنان، رغم تبدل مواقف وتدابير دول أوروبية تجاه حزب الله، كبريطانيا وألمانيا، والحملة الأميركية لتوسيع هذه التدابير، التي عبّر عنها السفير الأميركي في ألمانيا ريتشارد غرينيل المعروف بتصلبه تجاه إيران.

رأى المعنيّون في بيروت أن الكلام الأميركي هو من باب التحذير ليس إلّا

وتشير معلومات مصادر سياسية الى أن القوى السياسية فضلت تجاهل الرسائل، واكتفت بما هو قابل للتطبيق عملياً، أي الشق المتعلق بحماية التظاهرات الذي شددت عليه كل الرسائل الأميركية الدبلوماسية، وتسريع تشكيل الحكومة كإشارة اطمئنان لجلب المساعدة الدولية، فيما أبدت اطمئنانها الى أن لبنان على كل مستوياته الرسمية السياسية والأمنية سبق أن أعطى أجوبة لواشنطن حول حزب الله وموقعه في المعادلة اللبنانية، وكانت الدوائر الاميركية المختصة متفهمة للأجوبة اللبنانية، وهذا الأمر لا يزال قائماً حتى الساعة. لكن بحسب هذه المصادر، فإن هذه الأجوبة تتعلق بمرحلة سابقة، ودخلت عليها مؤشرات حديثة تتعلق بالعلاقة الأميركية الإيرانية، والتطورات اللبنانية الداخلية وانفجار التظاهرات على نحو غير مسبوق. لم تنظر واشنطن برضى الى أداء السلطة السياسية في تجاهلها للتظاهرات، وموقفها من تأليف الحكومة سبق أن حددته عبر القنوات المعتمدة أنه سيكون مشابهاً لموقفها من التسوية الرئاسية، مع خطوات متقدمة أكثر بسبب تغير المناخ اللبناني والإقليمي. أما بالنسبة الى الوضع المالي والاقتصادي، فهناك شقان، واحد يتعلق بالعقوبات التي لا تزال قائمة بحسب معلومات قوى لبنانية على صلة بواشنطن، في حق شخصيات لبنانية، وأنها ستعلن في الوقت المناسب. أما الشق الثاني فيتعلق بالانهيار المالي. فقد سبق أن أرسلت واشنطن مع وكيل وزير الخارجية دايفيد هيل، رسائل واضحة تتعلق بضرورة تشكيل حكومة قادرة على إجراء إصلاحات جذرية، وبعيدة عن مصالح السياسيين والأحزاب. ونبّه هيل بوضوح إلى أن الوضع المالي خطير ولا يحتمل المساومات التي تقوم بها القوى السياسية. وهذا الكلام عمره شهر تقريباً. ورغم أن بعض القوى السياسية حاولت إضفاء أجواء إيجابية على زيارة الموفد الأميركي وعدم دخوله في تفاصيل الحكومة وتعبيره عن رغبة واشنطن في حفظ استقرار لبنان، إلا أن هيل كان واضحاً في تحديد أجندة واشنطن وخاصة وزير الخارجية، ولم يكن التحذير من الانهيار المالي سوى أحد بنودها، ولا سيما أن المعلومات والتفاصيل حول مستويات التدهور الاقتصادي الداخلي أصبحت على طاولة كثير من الدبلوماسيين المعنيين مباشرة، وهم يتحدثون عنها تفصيلياً، ويلتقون مع واشنطن على فكرة أن لبنان يماطل في وضع حد للانهيار الاقتصادي وعدم المسارعة إلى إقرار خطة إنقاذ تكون على مستوى خطورة الأزمة.

Are France’s unions even trying to win the General Strike?

Friday, 17 January 2020 11:47 AM  [ Last Update: Friday, 17 January 2020 12:07 PM ]

A banner reads in French, ‘General strike a fighting union’, as thousands of people take part in a demonstration in Nantes, western France, on January 16, 2020, as part of a nationwide multi-sector strike against the French government’s pensions overhaul. (Photo by AFP)

By Ramin Mazaheri

Due to a Western media blackout on the subject, many may be surprised to learn that France’s general strike has just begun its seventh consecutive week. It’s the longest labor movement in French history – and by half – but the Western Mainstream Media is ignoring France until this historic moment passes.

It seems about to pass soon.

French unions have done a woeful job leading the strike despite having everything going for them at the beginning.

The alleged superiority of the so-called “independent” union model – favored by the West but opposed by any country with a revolution after 1917 – is once again failing the nation, if maybe not their dues-paying members. 

The general strike is wobbling, and by January 24th the pension bill will be formally presented to the government. It is amazing rapacity, because presenting a bill amid such strikes is obviously rushing it into the safe arms of a system dominated by President Emmanuel Macron; it is also amazing duplicity, because Macron only released the pension scheme’s details just last week!

France: Clashes erupt in Lyon as unions march to oppose planned pension reform Nearly 16,000 people took to the streets of Lyon, as part of a new day of action against the government

Wasting time has been Macron’s main tactic during the general strike, despite the fact that workers and households are increasingly desperate after having gone without work for six full weeks. To be accurate, then: “wasting time” is not his tactic, but “increasing desperation”.

A simple recipe for the Macron era is: increase desperation + trace amounts of democratic discussion + rubber bullets + total control over Parliament = Macron’s deification outside of France and his vilification inside France.

But the so-called “centrist” Macron and his deviousness are well known by now – what happened to unions and their great leadership? Many French unionists have had the gall to tell me that countries with modern revolutions “have no unions” – so show us how it’s done then, Mr. Know-it-all?!

If unions can’t win this one for the nation, can they ever win one in the Western model?

This was supposed to be an easy one.

Domestic polls have never shown public support below 60% for the strike – from the start until today – nor disapproval of less than 70% for Macron’s unprecedented pension scheme.

But this was a “general strike” that lacked both “general” and “strike”

France’s transport strike drags on despite government compromise on pensionsA crippling French transport strike drags into its 39th day despite the government

.A general strike is something which union leaders never really wanted, I think. It was forced by three things, all of which were undermining the incredibly unjustified cultural faith France has in their Western union model: hospital strikes which had been going on for months (due to years of austerity cuts), wildcat train strikes that had sprouted (work-related accidents were increasing due to reduced working conditions, the result of years of austerity cuts) and the bravery and selflessness of the Yellow Vests.

Macron forced the issue with this radical pension scheme – this was to be his “Thatcher/Reagan moment”, and he wanted it that way. But unions didn’t even answer the first-round bell.

The “strike” turned out to be entirely placed on the backs of train conductors. The notable feature of this historic era is the 2-3 times longer work commutes for urban areas, as trains were shut down for weeks and over the Christmas holiday.

But where were the other labor sectors? The unions failed miserably by failing to call on them to join the “general” strike.

Unions only called six days of nationwide strikes and protests – if they really wanted to win they would have called that many in the first week alone. What this means is that most French have actually taken less than a week off to strike against the pension replacement.

General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union dockers and workers hold a banner reading ” Together for our jobs – Wages – Pension” during a rally in Marseille, southern France on January 14, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Instead of blocking the economy or, more importantly, blocking the functioning of society (no schools, no hospitals, no day care, no elder care, no anything as much as possible), unions decided only to block urban public commutes; small-town life in France has been barely touched by the general strike.

Their lack of mobilization feeds into the worst stereotypes of French laziness, but it is laziness of the bosses: it’s as if union chiefs said, “Let the public transport workers handle it all – we’re going on Christmas vacation.”

And they did!

Macron was only too happy to postpone negotiations for more than two weeks over the holiday period; union leaders incredibly outdid him by not calling for a nationwide strike or protest for nearly three weeks. I couldn’t understand it – so then why call a transport strike over the Christmas holiday at all? Why fragment your own forces?

France cheers on general strike for XmasA majority of France supports the general strike despite its extending into the holiday season.

Transport workers continued to shoulder the load alone, but why did union leaders not encourage anyone to join to them? Probably terrible leadership, strategy and organization.

France’s labor chiefs are not new, but they acted new on the job

As could have been predicted from their history, the Macron administration’s corruption gave them a golden chance to kill the pension system: Two weeks into the strike (December 17) the architect of the entire pension reform had to resign his ministry post due to allegations of corruption.

What else can you ask for?! What a gift! What a mistake from such an untested government!

A sustained, immediate, massive mobilization over such incredibly important corruption would have been hugely effective right then: How can the fruits of a corrupt minister be wholesome?

But unions did nothing to take advantage: they all went on Christmas vacation – everyone but train conductors.

All this prolongation gave the Macron administration more time to cut sweetheart deals with key labor sectors: just after the Western New Year airline pilots and cabin crews announced they had made a self-interested arrangement with the government and called off their planned strike.

Inaction from the unions gave Macron time to “divide and conquer” the strike, like always in France’s Age of Austerity, when they should have known from the beginning that this would be exactly their tactic.

The government then engaged in duplicity to sow confusion and stall. In addition to the radical “universal” and “points-based” system, the government wanted to increase the retirement age by two years. But this was always a fake poison pill – it was something the government could easily withdraw in order to appear like they were negotiating in good faith: the radical pension system is a far, far more lucrative prize for France’s 1%. On January 11 they announced they would suspend the age hike.

Then they said the suspension was only temporary.

Then they didn’t clarify when the temporary suspension would start or finish.

As clear as mud, and we all keep inching toward the January 24th formal presentation of the bill, when negotiations will be finished.

This week the participation of train conductors in the strike fell to their lowest levels – metro services in Paris are now functioning at about 20% of normal levels, but anyone using the rail service is obviously going against the strike.

But after six full weeks people tell me they have foot problems from so many long walks to and from work. Striking is hard, and unions should know that and thus pushed with all their might from the beginning. Instead, they are trying to do so now.

Out of increasing desperation, unions called for three days of national strikes this week, but attendance has been lackluster there as well.

No general sturdy enough to push past teenage anarchists

Back to the strike lacking a “general” – this became evident on the very first day of nationwide protest (December 5).

A few hundred Black Bloc protesters – who are either undercover police or anarchist idiots with daddy issues – held up 250,000 union-led protesters for four hours in Paris.

It was not an incredible show of strength by Black Bloc but an appalling display of poor leadership from unions. Yes the cops – who have way more guns, defensive armaments and training – did nothing to stop Black Bloc, but they never do: those are their orders from above, and this is old news.

What I want to know is: why did none of the union leaders have the skill to say, “We can’t let these skinny punks stop our first demonstration and provide the MSM with riot footage – that will scare the average person away from protesting and weaken our strike. Onwards! We march and Black Bloc can’t stop us!”

And Black Bloc would have stepped aside in two seconds. They don’t have weapons, they were vastly outnumbered and they are mostly trembling 21-year-olds. The violence that day was piddling – truly 1% of what a rough Yellow Vest demonstration was like.

But no union leader could grasp this reality, apparently.

Certainly, no union leader was willing to be at the front line to push ahead and tell Black Bloc that their democratic right to protest peacefully would not be denied. Cops would have never stepped in to prevent protesters from confronting Black Bloc – that would mean protecting Black Bloc openly.

Union leaders may feel their precious brains need to be protected at all costs, but their tactical capabilities are even worse than their leadership capabilities.

I don’t know what will turn around the general strike now?

Unions have fumbled away golden opportunities and failed to apply pressure when they could

have. They have, like Macron, ignored the importance of democratic public opinion.

Furthermore, there are right-wing unions and left-wing unions, after all – they do not all think alike. France’s largest union is right-wing. France is not a “socialist” country like the US claims – their political revolution was way before 1917, and it failed, too. And quickly.

The only winner here will be the Yellow Vests – their view that unions are indeed part the inept and/or corrupt mainstream political system will be vindicated if unions don’t right the ship.

Did the unions ever really want to win? Their tactics don’t give that impression – it looks more and more like this “general strike” was all to give the show of resistance, not to actually resist.

However, in the short term it’s not like Yellow Vests can provide a political solution to aid the average Frenchman – it took Italy’s Five-Star Movement eight years to win actual power.

Taking a longer, historical view, in 2017 France’s two mainstream parties were swept out of power for the first time in postwar history. If they continue on their losing track, 2020 may prove to have been the year the same broom was applied to unions. What comes after, that, is the question.

(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’)

Soleimani murder SITREP: reactions from around the world

January 04, 2020

Soleimani murder SITREP: reactions from around the world

January 04, 2020

Chris Faure for The Saker Blog

This previous sitrep is still valid as to the actions of Mr Trump and Mr Pomeo

Mr Pompeo’s twitter continues to contain just one statement after the other of calls that he is making around the world stressing that the US is committed to de-escalation and that this was defensive action.  It is quite a masterful performance of bluster containing nothing.

Mr Trump added a line to his ‘shtick’ saying that he did this to stop a war, not to start a war.  This is on the face of it idiotic, as Americans have been warned to leave Iraq as well as anything between 3,000 and 6,000 (conflicting reports) are being sent to the ME, so wanting to ‘stop a war’ is clearly not working out for him.

– Twitter Hashtags #WorldWar3 and #WWIII are trending

– Iran considers the assassination of Qassem Soleimani to be an act of war as well as blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.

– We are waiting for Iraq as according to reports, they would be voting as we speak whether to ask the US to leave Iraq or not.  Information still outstanding.

– A senior Iran analyst for the International Crisis Group (ICG) Ali Vaez stated: “Iran is a very powerful country. It has a network of proxies and partners around the region. It can go after US and US allies’ foreign interests all the way from Yemen to Saudi Arabia, to the UAE, to Iraq, to Lebanon, to Syria and Afghanistan.”  He also stated to Euronews that an all-out war between the US and Iran would make the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq look like a walk in the park and that in this event, the US would likely be alone if it were to go to war with Iran.

– Syria condemned the “treacherous American criminal aggression” that will only strengthen the resolve to continue down the path set “by the martyred leaders of the resistance against American interference in the affairs of the countries of the region.”

– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Trump “deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively.”

– Russia’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the killing and said it will increase tensions throughout the Middle East.

– China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that they are highly concerned and calls for all sides, especially the United States, to exercise “calm and restraint.”  This did not stop the impish Editor-in-chief of Chinese and English editions of the Global Times, Hu Xijin to state the following:

“The US humiliating Iran this way sent such a message to North Korea: If it were not for your nuclear weapons, we would be more brutal on you. Now North Koreans are probably thinking: We can lose anything, but not nuclear weapons.”

and

“US’ Middle East policy has largely failed. It paid costly price of life and money in Iraq and Afghanistan. But a pro-Iran regime has emerged in Iraq, Taliban has recaptured influence in Afghanistan. Eliminating Qassem Soleimani won’t solve US’ dilemma in the Middle East.”

– France – Macron wants to avoid a new dangerous escalation and called for restraint.

– Britain – Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated that the UK has “always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani” but the statement did not endorse or condemn the actions of the U.S. though he stated: “further conflict is in none of our interests.”

– Germany – calls for diplomacy and states that the situation has reached a “a dangerous escalation point”.

What seems to be filtering through from these reactions, is that the US will indeed be alone if it chooses to take any further action but it is early days and it is still the time to watch and analyze.

Please add any further reactions from your own countries in the comments.

Pilots break strike unity as Macron’s ‘Thatcher moment’ is right now

December 31, 2019

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

But nobody is making a sound about it, and not even Macron.

Maybe they will now: The first union has selfishly broken ranks – French pilots and cabin crews. It’s a “universal” pension system, sure… except for the groups who Macron has to buy off to break the strike.

French President Emmanuel Macron has barely said two words about the general strike, even though it has lasted four weeks and will soon become the longest general strike ever in French history.

And many French don’t even mind. It’s a quirk of the French system I cannot yet explain: they view it as normal that Macron has not commented on the general strike because that is the domain of the prime minister.

French contradictions abound, and they think the mystery makes them appear deep: France’s president is well-known to be closest thing to a constitutional dictator the West has, and yet the PM is supposed to be given much latitude on domestic policy?

I have heard this often, but never seen it action: the idea that Macron’s PM is not beholden to the ideas and orders of his boss on the pension plan is absurd. To me it has always seen like a way for the president to have someone to blame his unpopular policies on.

But Macron has given one press conference in 2.5 years, and he didn’t say the words “Yellow Vest” in public until after 23 Saturdays, and no one seems up in arms about it (besides the Yellow Vests), so… c’est la France.

Macron will probably make a rote plea for unity at his annual New Year’s Eve wishes – the guy is speaking at 8pm, so if all you have going is watching Macron’s press conference then take heart: 2020 can only get better than 2019 for you.

The coverage of the general strike from non-French media reminds me of France’s recent coverage of the resolution (one step below a law) which equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism: there was a decent amount of coverage AFTER the resolution became a fact.

This was obvious to predict, but there is an omertà regarding France’s general strike from Anglophone media – it’s almost as if they don’t want to ruin a good thing. If there was any room for leftism in the West’s “free speech means corporate media own all speech” now would be the time to be up in arms with keyboards in hands. But people repeatedly tell me they can’t find anything about it in non-French sources.

Honestly: This can’t go on in France any longer

Without any exaggeration, the French (and certainly the “French model”, aka “Capitalism with French characteristics) simply cannot sustain more austerity attacks which “re(de)form” it into an Anglo-Saxon model and here’s why: If you take home €2,500 a month in France you have a really good job (especially in 2019). If you take home $2,500 per month in the US (making about $20 per hour) your job is desirable but not really good.

Yes, 42% of Americans don’t even make $15 hour but the point is: the French model is based on low wages. The Swiss, Germans, UK, etc. – they all make much more than rich France.

The reason France accepts lousy wages was their Nordic-level social safety net: so they had guaranteed work contracts (“CDIs”), 2-3 years of decent unemployment, 5 weeks paid vacation legal minimum, cheap schools from 3 months old to PhD, cheap medical care and a good pension. Make no mistake because I know you right wingers will: This is a system which is paid for by the French worker giving up 40% of their pay check every month, and then 10% annually in an income tax. I.e., low wages.

That concept is crucial to understand. A whopping 80% of the pension system is funded by taxes on individuals and bosses, and not the state. The French pension isn’t “unsustainable” at all: if it is “underfunded” it is only on the state side, and only because the state has purposely starved it of funds via funding cuts. With the stroke of a budget pen its minor deficit could be resolved. Baby Boomers will be dropping like flies by the 2030s reducing fiscal stress- the system works, and it can last.

This explains why all neoliberals can really come with to justify junking the ENTIRE system is that it is too “complex”. Why is complexity automatically a negative thing? I’m glad these guys didn’t take up physics. The other reason they deploy is that some people – like manual laborers, those who work in hard and/or dangerous conditions – retire early to avoid death/maiming on the job due to “you’re too old for this” syndrome. They have seized upon the “injustice” of these “special regimes”. All of a sudden neoliberals care about injustice….. Of course the one-size-fits-all, universal system is as regressive (not progressive) as a flat tax, and that’s why no nation does it.

But back to how this onslaught of “reforms” is just unsustainable: reduced services which used to be covered by the state, increased prices on everything, Housing Bubble II, new jobs are all one-month renewable contracts (CDDs), you have to work until 64 instead of 60 in 2009, your pension is going to leave you barely at poverty level – you cannot have this AND low wages in France.

It is just impossible, logically. Something has to give on one of the ends.

If they are going to make it so that all the state is provides is health care and education and then citizens are on their own – the glorious Apache-killing Arizona libertarian model (with a touch of European class) – then they have to vastly inflate wages.

But nobody is talking in France about raising wages to compensate for the worse pensions, nor for any of the austerity measures.

So this can’t go on.

And yet it will – Macron is tackling the unemployment system next, i.e. later this year. Is there going to be a General Strike Act 2?

If the US and UK are any example – no there won’t be. So this may be the end of “France”. Remember the US and UK prior to Reagan and Thatcher – sure was better back then, or at least far less unequal and unstable.

Can Macron get his wish? To be the youngest (despised) leader in Western capitalist history?

One can picture Macron just white-knuckling it right now – if he can just get break this strike… the dude will go down in right-wing history. Or is it “centrist” history for Macron?

When Thatcher died there was UK police brutality at the street parties celebrating her death. That sounded about right to me. The New York Times scolded us with superstition and expressed their fake shock in their pathetic Taboo on Speaking Ill of the Dead Widely Ignored Online After Thatcher’s Death.” This is a taboo in the West – since when? The West cares about taboos – since when? I know they don’t care about taboos because they need a loan word for this rather crucial social concept – the word itself is Tongan, and the English didn’t get to Polynesia until 1773.

As I led with, French pilots and cabin crews have called off a strike they had planned for January 3 – they got a sweetheart deal from Macron, and you can all go kick rocks for calling them “stewardesses”. The Macron administration has only negotiated en masse with unions for three days out of 26 consecutive strike days – they never wanted to make a broad deal but only a few small deals in order to “divide and conquer” and break the strike.

This has worked every time during the age of austerity. I have written this many times but I will say it again, cuz some of y’all think the Western system is the apex of everything political: This is what “independent” labor unions get you – sold out. The socialist model of “we’re all in one big union” means the workers are truly in the government, not against the government… and against the good of the People, and against their fellow workers, and against their fellow unions and against, against, against it’s called “capitalism” people.

But the West is “freer” than China, Iran, Cuba, etc. Sure, free to be unequal.

Back to France: it’s getting hard, having a commute 2-3 times longer for four weeks. I’m not breaking rocks all day, but it’s grating on people.

That’s really what the “general strike” has amounted to – public transport shutdowns. The burden of the national good is basically all on the backs of rail workers. The unions have only called 3 days of nationwide protest and strikes – this means that even politically-active people have probably only taken 3 strike days of lost wages, whereas “good” rail workers have lost a month. What a stupid system they have here? Plenty of protest marches and big talk but when it’s general strike time (finally!) it’s: “I can’t afford it – let the rail workers do it.”

Truly, before we had the Yellow Vests we only had the rail workers: in the age of austerity they were always the ones (along with some of us journalists) at the front lines getting gassed and beating back cops. They have led every major anti-austerity movement. Nobody really joined them when they tried to prevent the EU-forced privatisation of French rails (Same thing back then in the media: “The rail system is bankrupt!” No it’s not, it was purposely starved of state funding.) They led the huge 1995 strike as well.

Not the stewardesses and their Top Gun flyboys. They have left France in the lurch.

I guarantee that tonight many will have a few glasses of wine and say, “Zees solidarité ees all phony!”, just to appear smart and courageous (the French are always wishing each other “good courage”), and the strike will fall apart.

That’s the France I know – Windbag France, aka Faithless France.

But we have the Yellow Vests now. Maybe General Strike 2 is République Française VI? Tides turn, the moon waxes and wane, the meek inherit a decent pension.

General striking is hard, but just don’t be a stewardess. Excuse me, Airplane Cabin Executive. Gotta love that Western model….


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’

Trump’s Syria Missile Strike Was a Scandal

December 31, 2019

Peter HITCHENS

I suspect the Third World War will begin with a claimed atrocity — probably the use of poison gas by a ‘regime’ against ‘its own people’. Such things are now the favorite way to make wars where there was peace.

Border violations went out of fashion years ago. Invasions are illegal under the UN Charter. There are no Archdukes left to assassinate. ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ will forever evoke hollow laughter. But democracy needs a popular pretext for war, and righteous mass outrage about the inhumanity of the enemy is almost invariably effective.

This is why it is rather important that the people we trust to verify such claims are honest and trustworthy. For who will verify the verifiers? Ignore this little matter and we could obliterate the world by mistake, sooner than you think.

Hence this story of one of the least-covered major scandals of the moment. Apart from Tucker Carlson on his Fox show, no journalist in the United States has even touched it yet. Things are not that much better in Europe.

It begins on April 7, 2018, when social media, quickly followed by professional news organizations, began to spread harrowing reports of mass murder by gas in the Damascus suburb of Douma. Many deaths were reported. Urgent amateur films then appeared showing the dead, horrible to behold, some of them children, many foaming at the mouth. President Trump reacted swiftly, Tweeting ‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia, and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!’

In fact he did not wait for that verification. Within a week, the USA had showered Syria with missiles crammed with high explosives. France and Britain swallowed any doubts they may have had and added their own small salvoes, in the usual coalition of the sycophantic.

But then the problems began. It is actually illegal to bomb sovereign countries unless you have a clear justification. And nobody really knew what had happened in Douma. There were no independent Western sources there at the time of the alleged atrocity. They would have been killed or kidnapped if they had been, by the notoriously feral jihadi militia, Jaysh al Islam, which then held the area. The journalists who wrote so confidently about it were in no cases nearer than Beirut, 85 miles away. More of them were even more distant, in Istanbul, London and New York. The sources they quoted from the scene were unnamed and uncheckable. As for the films, there was no way of knowing for sure where they had been made, or how.

It is to resolve doubts such as this that most of the nations of the world — the USA among them — pay for the impartial verification services of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). From its toadstool-shaped headquarters in The Hague, capital of the Netherlands, the OPCW sent a small team of experts. The jihadis were gone. The area was clear. They were able to get swift access.

By late June of that year they had compiled their report. It contained no smoking gun. Rather the opposite. There was no trace at all of sarin — despite the fact that the corpses in the films showed symptoms normally associated with that cruel gas. And there was about as much chlorine there as you might find in your kitchen. It was present only in trace elements, parts per billion, and in forms so common that it could have come from household bleach.

And then the scientists discovered that they had come up with the wrong answer. Diligent fair inquiry was not wanted at all. Thanks to a courageous whistleblower, who passed on the details, I and a small number of other journalists reported this week that a disgraceful thing happened inside the OPCW. A new report had been prepared for publication. It was a travesty of what the investigators had written. Their careful, impartial work had been trashed by persons or persons unknown. Their document had been slashed and censored to remove crucial information, especially that the traces of chlorine were tiny.

There were protests. In response, a group of three unidentified US officials appeared unexpectedly at the OPCW’s high-security building. According to one scientist present, these men simply told them that the Syrian regime had conducted a gas attack. Even after this, the struggle for truth went on. Senior officials eventually promised — after much argument — to include the key information about the tiny traces of chlorine in the report that was about to be published. The promise was immediately broken.

The document that was finally issued was conveniently vague, and major news organizations rushed to decide, quite incorrectly, that it had said chlorine gas had been used. Actually, it said nothing of the sort. We have to wonder how so many agencies, broadcasters and major newspapers all reached this wrong conclusion from these few vague words ‘Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and 4’. But they did.

Now it has been established beyond doubt that the report was doctored. But most people still don’t know that, as it has barely been reported. Why is this? Is it possible that many in the media, just like many in politics, had invested so much in the original outrage that they now could not bear to find that there was, in fact, no proper evidence of the thing they had blazoned on their front pages and shouted in their bulletins? They had been furious and righteous and condemnatory. And now they were left without any proof that the thing had even happened.

We all know Hans Christian Andersen’s fable of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, which don’t exist, and of the little boy who cries out that the potentate is naked, and everyone in the town then joins in with the little boy. But experience in this case tells me this is all rubbish. In reality the Emperor’s secret police would have arrested the little boy and his father and told them to shut up. And of course, the imperial media would have kept quiet about the incident, providing detailed descriptions for their readers of the monarch’s sumptuous apparel. So it has been in the case of the OPCW. The whistle was blown, but hardly anyone heard it. Who is verifying the verifiers? Nobody is verifying the verifiers, who will one day take us to war — and hell — on a falsehood.

spectator.usThe views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.


Further Proof: U.S., UK, & France Committed War-Crime on 14 April 2018

December 29, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

U.S., UK, and French ‘news’-media hide the fact, but it is now incontestably a fact, that they committed an international war-crime on 14 April 2018. The OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) does everything they can to hide this fact. Therefore, starting with the latest, and then proceeding in chronological order, with the earliest and then the subsequent ones that had been issued prior to that latest one, here are the real and verified news-reports which have been published (none in the mainstream press), proving both this international war-crime, and the OPCW’s hiding of it:

https://www.rt.com/news/476965-opcw-wikileaks-leak-douma/

“Senior OPCW official ordered deletion of ‘all traces’ of dissenting report on ‘Douma chemical attack’ – WikiLeaks’ new leak”

F. 27 December 2019

The leadership of the chemical weapons watchdog [OPCW] took efforts to remove the paper trail of a dissenting report from Douma, Syria which pointed to a possible false flag operation there, leaked documents indicate.

In an internal email published by the transparency website WikiLeaks on Friday [see it here], a senior official [Chief of Cabinet] from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) ordered that the document be removed from the organization’s Documents Registry Archive and to “remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever.”

WikiLeaks@wikileaks

Email from the Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, demanding deletion of dissenting engineering assessment: “Please get this document out of DRA [Documents Registry Archive]… And please remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever in DRA”https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/#OPCW-DOUMA%20-%20Release%20Part%204 …

9:30 AM – Dec 27, 2019

The document in question [here ordered deleted] is a technical assessment written by [the chief] inspector Ian Henderson after a fact-finding mission [by Henderson] to Douma, a suburb of Damascus, in the wake of an alleged chlorine gas attack. Western politicians and media said at the time that the government forces had dropped two gas cylinders [on Douma] as part of an offensive against jihadist forces, killing scores of civilians.

The OPCW inspector [Henderson] said evidence on the ground contradicted the airdropping scenario [which had falsely implicated Syria’s Government as having dropped both from a plane] and that the cylinders could [and this was actually the only alternative scenario proposed] have been placed [there] by hand. Considering that the area was under the control of anti-government forces, the memo lands [RT meant “lends”] credence to the theory that the jihadists had staged the scene [in order] to prompt Western nations to attack their [the jihadists’] opponents [Syria’s Government forces, which the U.S., UK, and France, missile-attacked on 14 April 2018, in alleged retaliation for the alleged Syrian Government gas-attack].

The final report of the watchdog [the OPCW] all but confirmed that Damascus was behind the incident, but in the past months an increasing amount of leaked documents and whistleblower testimonies have emerged, pointing to [the alleged chemical-weapon event’s having been] a possible fabrication. The OPCW leadership stands accused [now is actually proven in this leaked document from the OPCW’s Chief of Cabinet] of withholding opinions [by the OPCW’s on-the-ground expert investigators] contravening the West-favored [actually its only] narrative and using misleading language to report what the inspectors [had] found on the ground.

ALSO ON RT.COM

New leaks provide further evidence that OPCW suppressed & altered findings on Douma ‘chemical attack’

https://www.rt.com/news/475926-opcw-leaks-report-syria-chemical/

15 December 2019

“A new cache of internal documents [from Wikileaks] reveal that members of the OPCW team tasked with probing the Douma “chemical attack” protested the organization’s final report on the incident, which they said misrepresented their conclusions. In a memo addressed to OPCW Director General Fernando Arias, one scientist who participated in the OPCW’s fact finding mission (FFM) wrote that there are “about 20 inspectors who have expressed concern” over how the OPCW presented its findings on the alleged Syrian chemical attack. According to the memorandum, the organization’s final report does not reflect the FFM’s findings, presented in their interim report, which is also part of the new document dump.”

The alleged [here RT.com is insinuating that Wikileaks could be releasing here a faked] email was written by Sebastien Braha, Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW. Its authenticity is yet to be confirmed, but the organization never said any of the previously leaked documents were not real. [RT.com is here alleging that Wikileaks’s publication of a document does not, in itself, constitute an official allegation by Wikileaks that the document is, in Wikileaks’s opinion, authentic — a bizarre and undocumented allegation by RT.com, asserting that Wikilweaks is untrustworthy. If RT considers Wikileaks untrustworthy, then isn’t RT obliged to provide some evidence of that?]

Another document published on Friday outlines a meeting with several toxicology experts and their opinions on whether symptoms shown and reported in alleged victims of the attack were consistent with a chlorine gas poisoning. “The experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure,” the document said, adding that the chief expert suggested that the event could have been “a propaganda exercise.” [The OPCW’s official published conclusion was that this event definitely wasn’t a sarin-gas attack but might possibly have been a chlorine gas attack. But now, Wikileaks has revealed that the OPCW’s technical experts, who had actually performed the investigation, said that it also wasn’t a chlorine gas attack, if there was, indeed, even any chemical-weapons attack there at all.]

The Douma incident in April 2018 spurred Western governments into action, with the US, the UK and France delivering a barrage of [105] missiles at what was dubbed chemical weapons sites in Syria days after [on April 14th]. This didn’t prevent the government from seizing control over the neighborhood, but put the reputations of the three governments [U.S., UK, and France] at stake. The OPCW report [now discredited by the OPCW’s own technical experts] gave credence to [i.e., alleged to have been possibly a reaction to an actual war-crime by Syria’s Government] the Western show of force. [In other words: RT here is trying to assert that the “credence to” those three Governments’ 14 April 2018 missile-attacks against Syria is in doubt — instead of having been disproven — because the OPCW’s management had trashed and rewritten their technical investigators’ reports about the on-site findings, which were that there was no evidence whatsoever that any gas-attack at all had occurred in Douma on 7 April 2018, and that if one had been done, then it hadn’t been done by Syria’s Government (i.e., by air-drop).]

ALSO ON RT.COM

‘Journalism is dying’: US govt ‘has its tentacles’ in every part of media, reporter who quit over ‘suppressed’ OPCW story warns

https://www.rt.com/news/475940-media-controlled-us-govt-newsweek/

15 December 2019

“Tareq Haddad announced his resignation from Newsweek last week, claiming that his editors had shot down his attempt to report on a leaked email which casts doubt on the OPCW’s findings regarding an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, in April 2018. … ‘The US government, in an ugly alliance with those [that] profit the most from war, has its tentacles in every part of the media — imposters, with ties to the US State Department, sit in newsrooms all over the world. … Inconvenient stories are completely blocked. As a result, journalism is quickly dying. America is regressing because it lacks the truth.’”

“SUPPRESSED OPCW FINDING: War-Crime Likely Perpetrated by U.S. Against Syria on 14 April 2018”

Eric Zuesse, 19 May 2019

////

UPDATE: On 4 June 2019, WashingtonsBlog headlined at Zero Hedge “Eminent American Scientist: Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack Was STAGED” and Dr. Postol presented there a detailed analysis of who and how and why at the OPCW the report from their engineering team had been hidden from the public (prior to that team’s report having become leaked to the public on 13 May 2019 — and yet still suppressed by the press, just as Dr. Postol’s June 3rd report likely also will be).

////

On May 13th, Tim Hayward of the Working Group on Syria made public on his website an utterly damning document that had been suspiciously excluded from the final investigative report by the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) regarding the U.S.-and-allied allegation that on 7 April 2018 the Syrian Government had sarin-attacked residents in its town of Douma and had killed a large number of non-combatants. Seven days after that alleged incident, the U.S. and two of its allies, UK and France, massively missile-invaded Syria on April 14th, in alleged international ‘response’ to that alleged national war-crime on the part of Syria’s Government. It now turns out that that alleged national war-crime was totally staged by America’s own proxy-soldiers, Islamic terrorists who were trying to overthrow Syria’s Government, and so the attack against Syria on 14 April 2018 by U.S., UK and France, constitutes an international war-crime, an unequivocal violation of the U.N.’s Charter.

This excluded finding by the OPCW is proof that “the US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT”. That’s the way an independent detailed study by the two top U.S. experts had concluded their study of the U.N.’s evidence concerning the U.S.-and-allied allegations that there had been a 21 August 2013 sarin-attack by the Syrian Government against its town of East Ghouta. Their finding then was virtually identical regarding that U.S.-alleged sarin-use by Syria’s Government — identical to this recent OPCW finding. And that finding regarding the earlier ‘incident’ likewise was suppressed, instead of reported by the ‘news’-media. The two investigators in that earlier report, which was issued on 14 January 2014, were MIT’s Ted Postol and Richard Lloyd.

The clearest summary-report about the newer suppressed finding was “signed by Ian Henderson (an investigative team leader for the OPCW” and is best summarized by Kit Knightly’s May 14th “Leaked Report: Douma ‘Chemical Attack’ Likely Staged” at Off-Guardian.org (a terrific website of investigative journalism that exposes lies by mainstream ‘news’-media, such as Britain’s Guardian). As Knightly especially pointed out, that OPCW investigative team’s report to OPCW had concluded:

“In summary, observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being dropped.”

As we shall later show, that statement at the end of the OPCW team’s report, was a huge understatement: they had, in fact, proven that “both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations [by the anti-Government side, as a set-up to stage the event and blame it on the Government] rather than being dropped [by a plane, from the Government, as the U.S. alleged].”

So: that’s virtually a clone of the earlier Postol-Lloyd finding regarding the 13 August 2013 incident, except that, whereas the earlier incident was real and had been carried out by America’s Syrian proxy-forces (fanatic Islamists), this more recent ‘incident’ was (as now is clear not only from the latest revelation) entirely staged by the U.S.-and-allied side. It had not existed at all.

Obviously, if that finding is confirmed by an international tribunal not for internal war-crimes but for international war-crimes, then Donald Trump, Theresa May, and Emmanuel Macron, could be sentenced to prison, or worse, but is there any tribunal anywhere that could handle such cases? Almost certainly not. Leaders, such as those, stand above any law. And isn’t that the real problem here?

On 17 May 2019, Russia’s Tass news agency headlined “Militants preparing provocation with chemical weapons in Syria” and reported that, “Militants from Jebhat al-Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia) are preparing a provocation to accuse Russian servicemen of using chemical weapons in Syria, the Russian Center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides said on Friday [May 17th].” Jabhat al-Nusra is Syria’s branch of Al Qaeda, and U.S. President Barack Obama’s efforts to overthrow the Syrian Government depended very heavily upon that organization to train the non-Kurdish proxy-forces that the U.S. regime and its press called ‘rebels’ instead of jihadists (which they actually were). The U.S. armed and protected al-Nusra.

Back on 13 February 2018, less than two months prior to the faked 7 April 2018 Douma chemical ‘attack’, Russia’s RT had headlined “Tip-off received on Al-Nusra, White Helmets plotting chemical weapons provocation in Syria – Moscow”, and reported that:

Russia’s Center for Reconciliation in Syria says it’s been warned that Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorists brought in chlorine containers to a local village, where they aimed to work with the White Helmets to stage “a provocation.” … According to the source, on the afternoon of February 12, rebels from the Jabhat Al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front) terrorist organization brought three cars packed with more than 20 cylinders of chlorine along with personal protective equipment to Serakab. Additionally, according to the caller, representatives of the local branch of the White Helmets, wearing individual means of protection, conducted rehearsals of “giving first aid” to “local residents” who were supposedly suffering from poisoning.”

That appears to have been an accurate description of what the OPCW investigators found in Douma after the faked 7 April 2018 incident there. However U.S.-allied press didn’t report anything of the kind, neither before nor after that faked incident. The reality was suppressed instead of reported there. The latest suppressed finding by the OPCW is a repeat of that pattern.

Further indication of how clear the evidence actually is that the 7 April 2018 Douma incident was staged has been presented by the excruciatingly detailed May 12th document from the team of Paul McKeigue, David Miller, and Piers Robinson, headlined “Assessment by the engineering sub-team of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission investigating the alleged chemical attack in Douma in April 2018”. It explains “that the cylinders were manually placed in position is ‘the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene’,” BECAUSE (and this is quoting now directly from paragraph 32 of the OPCW Engineer’s suppressed report of his team’s findings) “The dimensions, characteristics and appearance of the cylinders, and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder being delivered from an aircraft. In each case the alternative hypothesis produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.”

The full paragraph 32 opened by saying that “At this stage the FFM engineering sub-team cannot be certain that the cylinders at either location arrived there as a result of being dropped from an aircraft.” But when it went on to say “In each case the alternative hypothesis produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene,” that “alternative hypothesis” referred to the alternative to the cylinder’s “being dropped from a plane.” That “alternative hypothesis” refers to people on the ground having placed it there. That “alternative hypothesis” referred to the event’s having been staged by people on the ground. That “alternative hypothesis” referred to the U.S. side’s proxy-forces — America’s ‘Syrian rebels’) having staged this event and filmed its alleged aftermath so that the U.S.-UK-led White Helmets could then feed it to the U.S.-and-allied ’news’-media so as to enrage their publics against Syria’s Government enough for those publics to think that the subsequent U.S.-and-allied bombing of Syria, On 14 April 2018, was a ‘humanitarian’ action.

The OPCW’s Engineering team stated there, very clearly, that the U.S.-and-allied allegations that those cylinders had been dropped from a plane or planes “CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT,” as Postol and Lloyd had previously said about the U.S.-and-allied alleged Syrian Government 21 August 2013 sarin gas attack against East Ghouta. This is a tactful way of saying that the U.S. and its allied regimes had lied about it.

Britain’s Daily Mail headlined on May 16th “Strange News from the OPCW”, and Peter Hitchens, at his blog there, reported that “I have received the following reply from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.” It said that, “the OPCW Technical Secretariat is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised release of the document in question.” This had been an “unauthorized release”; no question was being raised as to the document’s authenticity.

Who will get the rope to hang Trump, May, and Macron? Of course, nobody. This is the type of world we are living in. Accountability and punishment are only downward, to the individuals below (and many of them are railroaded); credit and rewards are only upward, to the masters above; and so there is no ultimate downside for the people at the very top to perpetrate any crime. There really is no legal jeopardy for people in the positions of Trump, May, and Macron. Such people administer whatever laws actually apply to themselves. There is no accountability for such people, in our world. They are above the reach of any law. And their press say that they are a free press, and that their nation is a democracy. Has the term “democracy” now lost all significant meaning? Or is everything that’s important now, just propaganda, just lies? Is that what we should expect? How can democracy even function under such conditions? It obviously can’t.

The lengthy presentation and analysis of this Engineering report, that the group to which the document had been leaked issued, closed by saying “We thank the OPCW staff members who have communicated with us at considerable personal risk.” All of the decent people there must be terrified, much like a woman who has just been raped is. But this is on a much bigger scale.

“U.S., UK, & France, certainly committed an international war crime against Syria on 14 April 2018.”

Eric Zuesse, 6 November 2019

It is now clear that on 14 April 2018, the three Governments of U.S., UK, and France, fired over a hundred missiles against Syria, on no more ‘justification’ than staged videos that had been done by those regimes’ own proxy boots-on-the-ground fighters in Syria, who are trying to overthrow Syria’s existing, non-sectarian Government and replace it by a Sharia-law regime that would be selected by agents of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. In other words: the fighters whom the U.S., UK, and France, had been arming and training, had themselves created this pretext of a faked ‘gas attack’ having been perpetrated against civilians, as an excuse in order for those three national regimes (which Governments are those jihadists’ own foreign supporters and backers — the real  international “Deep State” imposing the empire of which they themselves are already a part as the empire’s proxy boots-on-the-ground army) to, additionally and now directly, invade Syria, by means of over a hundred missiles against Syria, on that date: 14 April 2018. The U.S.-and-allied Deep State worked in conjunction with these jihadists in order to wage their war against Syria. This international war-crime, of “aggression” against a sovereign state — or, in common parlance, unprovoked aggression, for conquest — is now clear, and will be fully documented in the following news-report, providing the evidence for prosecution of those three Governments, in an appropriate forum:

On 27 October 2019, Caitlin Johnstone posted to Twitter a 2:18-long audio clip from the BBC World Service in which Jonathan Steele, who specializes in reporting on the Midddle East, reported that now a second whistleblower from within the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) (the U.N.-authorized agency to investigate possible chemical-weapons attacks) is alleging that the OPCW’s final report, regarding the alleged 7 April 2018 chemical attack against Douma Syria, had lied in some significant ways in order to avoid concluding that the ‘attack’ (which had been the excuse for the 14 April 2018 invasion) had been staged and never actually occurred. Johnstone then posted to the American Herald Tribune and other non-mainstream online news-media, an article “The USA’s History Of Controlling The OPCW To Promote Regime Change”, saying:

When the Courage Foundation and WikiLeaks published the findings of an interdisciplinary panel which received an extensive presentation from a whistleblower from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation of an alleged 2018 chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, it was left unclear (perhaps intentionally) whether this was the same whistleblower who leaked a dissenting Engineering Assessment to the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media this past May or a different one. Subsequent comments from British journalist Jonathan Steele assert that there are indeed two separate whistleblowers from within the OPCW’s Douma investigation, both of whom claim that their investigative findings differed widely from the final OPCW Douma report and were suppressed from the public by the organization.

The official final report aligned with the mainstream narrative promulgated by America’s political/media class that the Syrian government killed dozens of civilians in Douma using cylinders of chlorine gas dropped from the air, while the two whistleblowers found that this is unlikely to have been the case. The official report did not explicitly assign blame to Assad, but it said its findings were in alignment with a chlorine gas attack and included a ballistics report which strongly implied an air strike (opposition fighters in Syria have no air force). The whistleblowers dispute both of these conclusions.

CONCLUDING NOTE: If this sort of thing doesn’t make clear why the U.S. and UK regimes have, for over a decade, imprisoned Julian Assange without trial, and are now slowly murdering him, in solitary confinement, then what ever possibly could make these dictatorships clear?


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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الحريري يقطع الطرقات

«لهجة هادئة» لهيل… ونحو حكومة طوارئ إنقاذية

سياسة الأخبار السبت 21 كانون الأول 2019

تبيّن من المشهد الميداني، أمس، أن الرئيس سعد الحريري يكيل بمكيالين. في السياسة يظهر تجاوباً وإيجابية مع تكليف الرئيس حسان دياب لتأليف الحكومة، وفي الشارع يُحرّك مناصريه لغاية لم تتّضح بعد… فهل يستمرّ دياب ويجتاز قطوع محاولة إسقاطه في الشارع؟بدت القوى السياسية كأنّها تنفّست الصعداء، للمرة الأولى منذ ما بعد «ضربة» الاستقالة التي وجّهها رئيس الحكومة السابق سعد الحريري في 29 تشرين الأول الماضي. هذه القوى التي لطالما غفت في الأيام الماضية على كوابيس سيناريوات الفوضى والفتنة، اعتبرت بعد تكليف الرئيس الجديد حسّان دياب لتأليف الحكومة أنها مرّرت «القطوع» بأقل ضرر… حتى الآن! التسمية التي أتت على عجل، بعد اعتذار الحريري عن عدم القبول بالمهمة، لا تعني طيّ الصفحة التي فُتِحت مع انطلاق الانتفاضة، وإدارة الأزمة على الطريقة التقليدية. وإن صحّ وصفها بـ«المدوزنة»، فإن رد الفعل عليها في الشارع لا يعطي انطباعاً بأن الأمر قد قُضي. لم يكد دياب يُنهي قراءة بيان التكليف من بعبدا، حتى بدأ الوجه المُعاكس لتيار المُستقبل يظهر في الشارع، إذ تجدّدت فصول قطع الطرقات والاعتصامات، التي بدأت أولاً من أمام منزل الرئيس المكُلف في تلّة الخياط، حيث كال المعتصمون الشتائم لدياب، وردّدوا هتافات التأييد للحريري كونه «الممثل الوحيد للسنّة، والطائفة لا تقبل بغيره بديلاً». ثمّ تطورت الأمور الى تجمعات متفرقة من بيروت الى البقاع والشمال وطريق الجنوب التي تسمّر فيها المواطنون لساعات منذ بعد ظهر أمس نتيجة قطع طريق الناعمة.

المشهد الميداني أمس شكّل رسالة واضحة الى أن الحريري يكيل بمكيالين. من جهة، فرض نفسه سياسياً كمرجعية للطائفة السنية لا يُمكن تخطّي موقفها، ثم ذهب ليفرضها بعد ذلك في الشارع. فبعدما كان الحريري قد أعطى إشارتين إيجابيتين، الأولى بعدم تسمية مرشّح مقابل دياب، ومن ثمّ استقبال الأخير يوم أمس في وادي أبو جميل، جاءت دورة العنف في الشارع لتذكّر بيوم الغضب الذي دعا إليه تيار المستقبل، احتجاجاً على قبول الرئيس نجيب ميقاتي بتكليفه تأليف الحكومة عام 2011. بعد 8 سنوات، يتكرّر «يوم الغضب» مع مفارقة غير مسبوقة. ففيما كان الحريري يستقبل دياب، اتّسم خطاب المتظاهرين بالتحريض ورفع منسوب التوتر، لم تتوقف الهتافات التي كانت تستهدف حزب الله والعهد رفضاً للإتيان بـ«رئيس فارسي» للحكومة اللبنانية. ورأت أوساط سياسية أن المشهد الذي ارتسم، وتطوّر من تحركات الى مواجهات عنيفة بين المتظاهرين الزرق والقوى الأمنية كما حصل في منطقة كورنيش المزرعة، ما ترك انطباعاً سيئاً حيال المسار الذي سيسلكه التأليف، متخوّفة من أن يكون الحريري قد انتقل الى منازلة من نوع آخر لإفشال دياب والعودة الى رئاسة الحكومة، ولا سيما أن هوية المتظاهرين ليست خافية، بل منها من هو معروف بانتمائه التنظيمي الى تيار المستقبل، وقد تقدّم هؤلاء الساحات، فيما لم يظهر أثر للحراك المدني. وبينما تشير المعلومات الأمنية الى استمرار التحركات اليوم، والاستعانة بمتظاهرين من الشمال والبقاع للمشاركة في بيروت، اعتبرت الأوساط أن محاولة الحريري التهدئة ليست جدية «فالخروج من الشارع لا يتحقق عبر تغريدة على وسائل التواصل».


في الشأن الحكومي، شدد دياب أمس في حديث إلى قناة «الحدث» على أنه يرفض أنه يتم وصفه بمرشح حزب الله أو رئيس حكومة حزب الله، مؤكداً أن «هذه الحكومة لن تكون حكومة حزب الله ولا فئة أخرى، بل حكومة لبنان». ورأى أن «الحكم على النوايا غير دقيق، لذلك علينا أن ننتظر حتى تولد الحكومة لنرى ونفحص ميثاقية الحكومة». وجزم دياب بأنه «لم يتم أي تنسيق مع حزب الله ولم يعقد اجتماع لا في اليومين أو الأسبوعين أو الشهرين الماضيين بيني وبين الثنائي الشيعي (…) التقيت رؤساء الحكومات السابقين ورئيس حكومة تصريف الأعمال سعد الحريري، وأبدى كل استعداده للتعاون. كما أن دار الفتوى لكل اللبنانيين ولا مشكلة». وكشف أنه «بعد الاستشارات النيابية في مجلس النواب، سأدعو الحراك الشعبي وستكون هناك اجتماعات متتالية في الأيام المقبلة لكي آخذ برأيهم».


وحتى الآن، لم يتمّ الحديث بعد عن شكل الحكومة العتيدة ونوعية الوزراء الذين ستضمّهم. لكن في المبدأ العام هناك اتجاه لتشكيل حكومة طوارئ إنقاذية. وإذ أكد الرئيس نبيه بري أمس ضرورة مثل هذه الحكومة، كرر أمام زواره أنها «الوسيلة الأولى للخروج من الأزمة، وخاصة أن استمرار هذه الأزمة سيؤدي الى مخاطر كبرى لأن أمامنا تفليسة اقتصادية إن لم نعجل بتأليف الحكومة وإجراء الإصلاحات المطلوبة». وأشار بري الى أنه في اللقاء الثلاثي الذي جمع الرؤساء في بعبدا بعد التكليف «توجهت الى دياب قائلاً: المهم أن نعجل تشكيل الحكومة وأن تسعى لضم أوسع تمثيل ولا تستثني حتى أولئك الذين صوّتوا ضدك، من دون أن تغفل تمثيل الحراك».

دياب: أرفض وصفي بمرشح حزب الله

الى ذلك، أكدت وزارة الخارجية الفرنسية تعليقاً على تكليف دياب أن «المعيار الوحيد هو فعاليّة الحكومة من أجل إجراء الإصلاحات التي ينتظرها الشعب اللبناني».
من جهة أخرى، وعلى عكس التوقعات التي سبقت زيارة مساعد وزير الخارجية الأميركية للشؤون السياسية ديفيد هيل، أبدت أوساط سياسية استغرابها من «اللغة الهادئة التي تحدث بها هيل خلال لقاءاته المسؤولين»، وخصوصاً أنه «تحدث في الشأن اللبناني بشكل عام، مشدداً على الاستقرار والإصلاح»، فيما لم يأت على ذكر أي من الملفات الحساسة كترسيم الحدود كما كان متوقعاً. وبحسب المعلومات، فإن هيل الذي التقى أمس رئيسَي الجمهورية ومجلس النواب أكد «تمسّك بلاده باستقرار لبنان»، مكرراً «المطالبة بإجراءات جدية للخروج من الأزمة». وفيما استعرض بري أمام هيل مرحلة ما قبل استقالة الحريري، مبدياً تأييده لمطالب الحراك بقيام الدولة المدنية والقانون الانتخابي على أساس لبنان دائرة انتخابية واحدة على أساس النسبية ومحاربة الفساد، عرض مرحلة الاستشارات وسعيه مرات عدة لعودة الحريري الذي أصر على الرفض، مؤكداً «أننا اليوم نمرّ بمسار تشكيل حكومة جديدة مع الرئيس المكلف حسان دياب، وأول واجباتها الإصلاحات ومحاربة الفساد، والشفافية والإصرار على اخضاع كافة التلزيمات عبر مناقصات شفافة». وحول الوضع في الجنوب، شدّد رئيس المجلس على أن إسرائيل وحدها المسؤولة عن الخروقات للقرار الأممي 1701 وليس آخرها تحليق المسيرات فوق الضاحية الجنوبية». هيل كرر في عين التينة ما قاله في بعبدا خلال لقائه الرئيس ميشال عون وهو أن على اللبنانيين «القيام بالإصلاحات المستدامة لدعم الاستقرار في لبنان». وشدّد على أنّه «لا بدّ من وضع المصالح الحزبيّة والسياسيّة جانباً من أجل المضيّ قدماً بالإصلاحات»، مؤكّداً أنّه «ليس للولايات المتحدة دور في تحديد رئيس الوزراء أو الوزراء في الحقائب المختلفة».

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