CrossTalk: White Helmets, Really?

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Syria : White Helmets … EXPOSED!

The Mosul Massacres: the Banality of Evil revisited.

The Mosul Massacres: the Banality of Evil revisited.

April 01, 2017

By Anwar Khan

What is the moral difference–if any– between the intentional shooting at fleeing civilians and using them as human shields on the one hand, and the flattening of entire neighborhoods, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, on the pretext of the presence of enemy fighters there-in, on the other? The answer is that there is no moral difference. Both are high crimes under any book, and it is being perpetrated on the people of Mosul as we speak. The first is done by ISIS– the Frankenstein that crept out of the Empire’s Research and Development labs, with the sole aim of destroying Muslim societies, disparaging the name of Islam, and advancing the march towards Full Spectrum Dominance— and the second is perpetrated by the Empire’s military might in broad day light, on the pretext of annihilating the very monster that it created. In between a most vicious massacre of innocent people is being perpetrated, with an almost complete media blackout.

(Side Note: Not that the knowledge of such crimes would bother much the moral nerves of the western world, who have come to accept scenes of dead Muslims as a phenomenon as normal as cloud formation. Between slavish work to pay for what they call life, celebrity worship, and the collective immolation of the soul that takes place in the dark temples we call cinemas— mirroring very much the darkness that encompasses the modern conscience—one wonders if idle time could be spared to show moral revulsion to such crimes. Yes, candles are lit and tears shed to the unfortunate victims at home, but the Muslim lands are simply too far, too unknown, and too “other” to cause any discomfort of the conscience)

While the Syrian and Russian offensive to retake Aleppo from the terrorists saw much crocodile tears from the Empire’s media, the Mosul offensive or Inherent Resolve—where Coalition air strikes have turned the city into a heap of rubble hiding a virtual urban graveyard inside its belly— is not even mentioned in passing. The amount of suffering that the people of Mosul have faced since the operation began is difficult to compare to anything in our times, including the Syrian war theatre which is as cruel as modern warfare can be. The scenes from Mosul Jadida(New Mosul) area are reminiscent of Dresden during the Second World War.

The Guardian reported Chris Woods, the director of monitoring group Airwars, to have said: “The Jadida incident alone is the worst toll of a single [airstrike] incident that I can recall in decades. The coalition’s argument that it doesn’t target noncombatants risks being devalued when so many civilians are being killed in west Mosul.” He is referring to a coalition airstrike that killed over 200 civilians mostly children, women and elderly seeking shelter in a building. The mounting human suffering and infrastructural destruction is of such a scale that the Iraqi Army, conducting the ground offensive, had to call off its advance fearing that the operation has slid into a catastrophe, thanks to the coalition’s Make America Great Again strategy.

(Side Note: You wonder where is Hollywood and George Clooney and their crocodile tears which they shed incessantly for the people of Sudan– who we were told were going through a “genocide”– eventually leading to imperial intervention and creation of South Sudan. How courageous of these celebrities to root for imperial causes and then hide in their holes when true courage is needed?)

Those who still harbor any doubts about the Empire being beyond redemption and salvation need to see its conduct in Mosul to realize how utterly indifferent it is to human suffering, or even to public opinion, which was of some concern, purely for PR reasons, not too long ago. But when the imperial hubris has reached such proportions that it cannot be even bothered to explain why shelters housing children and women are blown into oblivion for the sake of one ISIS fighter, you surely have entered what I call the Curse Stage, a particular stage in the stagnation of empires when there is not even a veneer of moral pretense behind its conduct. It is the homestretch of the unraveling. It cannot possibly be reversed.

“Once the Heavens cast the dice of fate, it shall not be reversed, even when a million supplication intersect its path”. Hafiz Shirazi

What is also there to be witnessed is that the same western world that always held Russia to be morally inferior to the ideals of the Enlightenment, part of “the primitive and cruel East”, have fared infinitely more inhumane and cruel in its conduct of warfare under very similar circumstances. The Russian method displayed in the Aleppo offensive was one that regarded avoidance of civilian suffering as the driving factor in its formation. Humanitarian corridors were formed with aid and shelter also being provided in some areas. It took months of meticulous planning and coordination with local partners, and even with the rebels to guarantee their and their families’ safe passage. It was a diplomatic and humanitarian master class of an act. Carpet-bombing of Aleppo would have been a rather easier choice. But the “primitive and cruel” Easterner had a soul after all.

The Coalition on the other hand, forbade the creation of any human corridors which would have allowed many inhabitants to leave the city. This was proposed by the Iraqi government but refused by the Coalition. Their rationale to the Iraqi government was that “they feared ISIS will trickle out of the city with the civilians”. They were told to have faith in the Coalition’s “precision strikes”. To the media they would say “well its ISIS that is not allowing civilians to leave, not us”, which actually is not entirely true. The fact is that they wanted to send a clear message to the world with the new administration’s military strategy in the Muslim lands, featuring Trump as Krishna: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. 

This article can go in many directions. I can begin with how Mosul fell in ISIS hands to begin with; the conduct of ISIS terrorists of systematic terror to “reform” its citizens; the role of Turkish, Gulf states and the Kurdish intelligence agencies with ISIS during its four year occupation (yes, even the “anti-ISIS” Kurdish leaders like Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani had intimate relationship with ISIS and often allowed them safe passages to conduct its operations. The ultimate Kurdish goal was to annex Mosul to Barzani and Talabani’s fiefdoms when the conditions were ripe). But today I have one concern only and that is the plight of the innocent civilians and the dead children under the rubble.

I am embedding a video here (with my edits and translation) that my Iraqi friends (whose families are still trapped in Mosul) sent me to watch, and help spread the word on the unspoken suffering that the people of Mosul have to persevere. I promised them to do my part, knowing well the fate of such writings when it meets the dead conscience of the modern media consumer. God forbid that the comrades here on this site have such a disposition. But the fact remains that in our times, no matter how deeply shocking an event comes to our knowledge, it does not stay long enough deep inside our conscience to bother the usual trajectory of our lives (this happens even to the most soft-hearted amongst us) But it has to be said nonetheless, whether it finds the desired place or not. That’s the least we owe to the dead children under the rubble–their little bodies still warm from the not too long ago association with life.

The Prophet of Islam is reported to have said “whosoever see an evil, let him stop it with his hand; if he is not able, then with his tongue, and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart— and that is the least of faith.” (The masculine pronoun is inclusive of the feminine, lest the more gender-sensitive raise an issue with that). I am doing the least of what the faith and humanity requires.

The video shows a government official inspecting the part of Mosul most affected by the coalition airstrikes, and gathering first-hand information on the nature of the offensive and plight of the people. Please do watch the entirety of it. I will leave you with one quote from her that sums up the Mosul offensive:

After meeting many people and hearing the reports from all sides, it has become abundantly clear to me, and I can swear to God on this, that there are no more than 6 or 5 ISIS fighters in the entire New Mosul area and they walk around freely in open streets and amazingly they are not targeted. Yet what is targeted are entire neighborhoods and houses containing shelter seeking civilians. And all this on the pretext of targeting these ISIS fighters. It is very clear that the idea is to just destroy Mosul and nothing else”. Basma Basem, President of Mosul Judiciary Council.

{From God we come and to Him shall we return}–Common Muslim statement on hearing the news of death.

Post Script: Since this article, which was first written on March 20th, there finally has been some media coverage. RT has been especially active and credit should go to them. But the scale of suffering is still far from being portrayed accurately.

Also, the subtitles could have been more viewer friendly, alas, that’s the extent of my video editing skills.

Fake News: The Unravelling of US Empire From Within

Global Research, March 27, 2017

Setting the Stage of the Press-President War

US ruling ideology and Washington power have become unstuck as never before. A war of opposing certitudes and denunciations is waged day to day between the long-ruling US corporate media and the White House. Both continuously proclaim ringing recriminations of the other’s ‘fake news’. Over months they both portray each other as malevolent liars.

US bully pulpits are now beyond show disagreements and successful media inquisitions of the past. Slanderous accusations long confined to vilifying the designated Enemy have crept into accusations of the President himself. ‘The Russians are coming’ is returning as the final recourse of smear to stop deviations from the global program of hugely profitable enemy hate and perpetual preparations for foreign war.

The ruling big lies of the US money party and corporate globalization have divided into opposing camps. The Press and the President denounce each other non-stop on the public stage, while US dark state agents take sides behind the scenes.

Fake news is the medium of battle.

Tracking the Real Fake News Built into Corporate Globalization

Beneath the civil war of official narratives, cognitive space opens for truth long suffocated by ‘the Washington Consensus’. Even the US-led G-20 has recently agreed not to automatically condemn ‘protectionism’ as an economic evil. The battle slogan of transnational corporate rule over 30 years has been quietly withdrawn on the global stage.

Is the big lie of ‘free trade’ finally coming to ground? It has long led the hollowing out of societies and life support systems across the world in a false mass promotion as “freedom and prosperity for all”.  In fact beneath the pervasive fake news, a closed-door transnational corporate command system forces all enterprises across borders into a carbon-multiplying trade regime with thousands of rules to protect the transnational corporate looting and ruin of home economies and environments as the only rights enforced.

Propagandist names and fake freedoms are proclaimed everywhere to conceal the reality. The corporate-investor regime has stripped out almost all evolved protections of workers, ecologies and social infrastructures. Non-stop liquidations and roboticizations of local jobs and enterprises are reversed in meaning to ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ and ‘higher living standards’, the very opposite of the facts. Destabilization and bombing wars attack resource-rich and air-defenceless societies outside the circle of treaty subjugation.

False news allows every step. Even the happy-face Trudeau regime is taken aback by the tidal shift to national priorities. Its ministers scuttle around the US in near panic to find common cause for restoring the unaccountable regime. Multiplying carbon, disemployment and ecological plunder are ignored throughout in the longest standing fake news of all –‘economic growth”.

In fact, there is no real economic growth in universal life necessities or reduction of waste. The only growth is of volumes and velocities of transnational money exchanges, foreign commodities, and private profits to the top.

‘More prosperity for nations and the world’ means, decoded, more transnational corporate-state treaties to deprive nations of their rights to organization and production for citizens’ real needs as well as organically regulated protection of environments and ecosystems.

The consequences covered over by pervasively false cover stories are speeded-up ecocidal extractions, permanent disemployments, and wastes hemorrhaging into cumulatively more polluted oceans, air, atmosphere and life habitats. Corporate-state solutions of carbon markets for pollution rights have nowhere reduced any of these life-and-death crises, but only further and selectively enriched transnational corporations.

As for the Obama solution, “we need more Canadas”, fake news again conceals the reality. Beneath the global celebrity hype covering empty and broken promises, Canada’s Trudeau  regime is essentially a brand change of PM rhetoric to advance transnational corporate dictates as ‘free trade’ and to ensure oil pipelines out of the most polluting oil basin in the world, Alberta’s tar-sands, are built through water basins and indigenous lands across Canada and the US. One cannot help but observe this is Trump’s plan too, and overrides Trudeau’s promises to protect Canada’s first peoples.

I recently sent a letter to my local MP requesting evidence for what PM Trudeau promises over months of repetition that “more free trade” means “a better life for those in the middle class and those wanting to join the middle class”. As always, there is no evidence to support the non-stop false news from the PMO. Revealingly, the “middle class” turns out to be people making $180,000 a year slated to get significant tax cuts.

Trump’s rogue elephant charge on Washington-led lies, war, and dispossession of the working class is no solution to life-blind corporate globalization. Trump in office is a US nationalist oligarch commanding policies even more blindly rapacious in despoliation of the environment and transferring far more public wealth to the rich.

The common ground of all our lives, collective life capital, does not exist for any government in ‘the free world’ or any policy of ‘globalization’.  The lies that must be promulgated to advance the private corporate agenda are built into its transnational command system from the beginning.

Out of the Ruling Memory Hole with the Internet Commons

Joining the dots shows that every step of US money-party ‘globalization’ has, in fact, been driven by fake news.

No corporate media tolerance has been given in a quarter of a century to any voice demanding accountability to the common life-ground of citizens. A new game of numbers has proceeded instead. At most, a euphemistic ‘climate change’ has been endlessly debated while the totalizing destabilization of human and planetary life cycles remains without a name or collective response. Only more profitable market panaceas which do not reduce any pollution continue to divert from the deepest degenerate trends destroying the planetary life host.

On the upside, the big lies of ‘free trade’ and ‘humanitarian wars’ have been called into official question for the first time by the Trump presidential campaign, and he has been elected against the official line. Yet opposing camps are still at each other’s throats. So the perpetual fallback on accusing the long-designated foreign enemy is triggered by the fallen establishment. The fake news chorus of Russia’s aggressions now includes collusion of the Trump administration with its officials to win the US election. This mainspring diversion from reality is called back from the dead witch-hunts of the past. As then tool, facts do not count, only accusations do. The official media line is almost predictable: Russia is behind Trump’s election victory. As always, reverse projection is the mass-psyche operation to blame an official Enemy to divert attention from the life-and-death facts. The Enemy is once again accused of doing what the US has always done worse as the reason for attacking It. Russia is the usual placeholder in this reverse-blame operation. The 2016 US election of Trump is the latest variation.

Meanwhile throughout the election and its aftermath, the new transnational internet commons including Wiki-leaks over a decade has increasingly laid bare the greatest propaganda machine in history now in many-leveled crisis. The long normalized half-truths, one-sided slanting of the facts, and non-stop fallacies of inference are coming out into the open as never before.  The pretexts and lies for US imperial bullying and war are exposed beyond any corporate-media gate.

This time the accusation is “interference and attack on the US presidential election” with no evidence of wrongdoing or vote manipulation whatsoever. Yet as in the long past, the method is smear with no evidence for the accusations. Ever more media repetition and shadowy insinuation does the job. It has always worked before, why not again since all the other media buttons pushed on taking down the Trump peace initiatives with Russia and opposition to globalization of US jobs have failed.

Having wondered during the election campaign whether we could be “friends with Russia” and promoted diplomatic relations into his administration, Trump can be named as the enemy in hiding to be rooted out. The real problem the fake news never mentions is that he threatens the cornerstone of the US war state over 70 years.

So when Trump won the election with his heresy still intact, the ever-ready accusation of evil-Russia connection moves into high gear although the target is the opposite of communist and an epitome of capitalist riches and connections. We see here the historical mind-lock compulsion to blame the Enemy Russia and smear whoever dissents from it, even if it is a bully-capitalist president. There are very big stakes in keeping the game going.

Yet the no-profit and unpaid analyses from the internet commons have no such ulterior motive and interest in false accusations. With more objectively informed analysts than the commercial press and unimpeachable facts like WikiLeaks going to tens of millions of readers across the world, the genie is out of the bottle. The official grand narrative and its normalized big lies are coming apart at the seams.

So blame as usual is diverted onto the accepted Enemy, now conniving with Trump to attack the 2016 US presidential election. Beneath the fake news, the fact is that positive diplomatic relations with Russia not only threaten to stop the highly profitable permanent war against it, but spike the longest pretext for US war and military domination now moving through Ukraine.

The free internet commons cannot be gagged for telling the truth. Freedom of speech in the US cannot be openly stopped without fatal loss of legitimacy of rule.

So the rest follows. All the non-corporate and non-profit messages from the critical sites on the internet commons which are speaking against the US war state inside are now vilified as ‘fake news’. A third, unofficial protagonist has entered the battle with no private profit or career motive or corporate boss to serve and a wealth of proven professional knowledge and talent at work. It has to be denounced to sustain the big lies of the ruling money-war game which is in deepening crises and conflicts all the way to the unprecedented US President-Press civil war.

The Harvard Proclamation of a New Memory Hole

The innermost fount of US ideology and war, Harvard University, has now stepped in. It is officially naming and denouncing US-critical internet sites for ‘fake news’.

Not even the medieval Church went so far in its Index Librorum Prohibitorum of prohibited writings. It was at least innocent of scientific method and openly declared its dogmas. Not Harvard.

Underneath notice, all the sites it attacks are internet commons, and none are financed by private corporate donors and captive institutions while Harvard and the corporate media are. This is the real battle agenda underneath, the long war  to privatize the news for profit as everything else with anti-establishment internet criticism now the target.

In the background, Harvard University has long propagated an unexamined academic method. It normally cuts off any faculty or learned source of opposition to the private corporate rule of America and the wars of aggression to impose it on the world.  Accordingly, the underling grand narrative equations of the US is Good and the designated Enemy is Evil is not questioned. It is presupposed. Malevolent motives are always assumed of the designated Enemy, down to Harvard-produced geostrategic economic and war models. So when a host of internet commons sites challenge the grand narrative framework, Harvard and satellites denounce them to stop people reading them. A long list of critical sites is accused without criteria, proof or evidence as all spreaders of ‘fake news’.

What is not recognised here is that only on the internet commons can the process of truth be free from ruling pressures to control message for external sponsors.

Here there is no commercial-profit condition to speak and write, and no livelihood dependence on private profit. There is no inducement to avoid life-and-death issues in academic obfuscation or ad-vehicle style. Internet authors not on the payroll can be free of the game of all games behind the scenes – enriching the rich further with no life-coherent criterion of truth.

These underlying conditions of the internet commons and free speech itself cannot be recognised by the academy or the corporate press without undercutting their proclaimed status as the only legitimate founts of truth. The internet commons is a new world of competitive capacities to research, understand and disseminate not bound by private money patronage (as over centuries in Harvard University).

When challenged in this way, Harvard (and the official press) are set back on their heels. They cannot think the facts through because their instituted presumptions have long been what they must presuppose and not question to acquire their credentials and pay for public speech. They must attack what calls all this into question if it effectively speaks truth to power to expose or de-legitimate the ruling system narrative as false. Harvard and the US press thus follow the reigning method of reverse projection. They accuse the effective opposition of ‘fake news’.

The most revealing fact here is that Harvard authority as other academic administrations proceed in name-calling without any valid argument or demonstration – the very basis of reasonable conclusion. Yet this is such a long tradition of presumptive accusation allowed against anyone designated as the Enemy, and anyone else exposing the falsehood of the ruling US story of moral superiority over all others and God’s blessing to lead the world by force or money.

This is why only dissenting sites from the official storyline of US freedom and rightness in all things are accused as ‘fake news’. Accusation of opposing positions is so well-worn into conditioned brains that endless repetition locks it in as self-evident. This is why attributions of vile motive are automatic from Harvard or the New York Times for any outside leader opposing US interference in their countries including elections. US hypocrisy here is staggering, but unreported. In fact, Harvard’s life-blind elite of war criminal geo-strategists, economic modellers and so on are fawned upon within the wider corporate rule they serve.

None can engage critical facts and thought challenging the US moral superiority assumptions because they have never been required to consider them. So they denounce them as once the Church denounced apostasy. In the end, US system worship is a war-state religion. It eliminates all enemies to its right to rule. Its globalizing system institutes the market laws of God. War crimes are God-blessed justice.

Freedom of Speech, the Process of Truth, and the US Constitution

Led by senior academics, journalists and technical expertise, the internet commons provide for the first time impartial witness and free speech open to public examination and circulation across borders. They are free from corporate-rank dictate and private copy-right control.

In consequence, the internet commons are liberated from private corporate profit as controlling goal. Those who know what they are talking about can speak truth to dogma and power without words to appease editors, business boards and ad revenues. Truth itself is not defined, but its principle of process is a more inclusively consistent taking into account towards life-coherent conclusion

Despite Google black-holing of radical legal facts, CIA penetration of Wikipedia, and so on, the internet commons’ freedom of speech is far beyond anything guaranteed in the US constitution. In fact, the ‘sacred US Constitution’ that all presidents give oath to “preserve, protect and defend” guarantees in the end only freedom of public speech to private money demand.

Long before the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision reverse-titled as “Citizens United”, the US constitution was structured to one overriding end –  to remove prior limits to private-money right over all else, including to begin, the rule of British law and  the lands of the first nations West of the Appalachians.

This is why no common life interest exists in the US Constitution from the start. People’s universal human life necessities of water, food, protection and liveable environment are ruled out a-priori.  This is why civil rights themselves were first federally enforced by the ‘commerce clause’ protecting freedom of commercial bus passengers including blacks to cross borders.

It is also why the Fourteenth Amendment to protect the equal rights of freed slaves ended up being the legal basis for private-profit corporations and wealthy funds to acquire the constitutional rights of living persons (e.g., to freedom of speech for big money to buy elections and to avoid government access to financial records).

Even the iconic rights of “life, liberty and happiness” turn out to be in fact only private market rights which allow corporate ‘fictive persons’ to unlimited money wealth, protection against public redistribution, and the freedom of private wealth alone to  speak to America by buying corporate self promotions and election attack ads.

The US Constitution fix goes all the way back to 1787. As professor of constitutional law at Chicago’s iconic Kent College of Law, Matthew Stanton, explains in personal correspondence:

“[The fix] goes all the way back to the 1787 coup where the 39 signatories to the Constitution sequestered themselves in a Philadelphia meeting house, with locked doors and shuttered windows, to ostensibly make adjustments to the Articles of Confederation, but instead delivered an entirely new document that enabled creating a federal system centralizing control of the economy by  propertied wealth”.

Russia the Enemy: the Deus ex Machina of Fake News

We may recall that the corporate-press and Wall-Street-enriched candidate for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, started the accusation of ‘fake news’ to explain her defeat. As establishment mask of the politically correct masses with the money-war party as her paymaster, Clinton blamed her fall in the 2016 US election on the new enemy she saw arising against the official story and herself. When the ‘glass mirror’ story line did not take, she joined forces with the corporate media on another plane. ‘Fake news’ misled Americans. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the TV Networks, and other establishment tale tellers saw pay-dirt far beyond Clinton’s failed bid for president.

In fact, the corporate mass media were losing marketability by the escalating appeal of free social media. The once all-powerful press propaganda system has been increasingly deserted. The ‘fake news’ story provided a media base to condemn free internet news and commentary as immoral. The 2016 election became the leverage for a big market grab back.

Very soon it was not just ‘fake news’ to spike news cycles and subscriptions. War as peace and corporate globalization as freedom found its long place of rule – the enemy of Russia to blame. Now the news can be that Russia hacked and attacked the lost 2016 election. Russia may be a hollowed-out shell by global corporate and oligarch dispossession. But it can still continue as pretext for US-NATO war crimes and aggression reverse-blamed on it. As the European breadbasket and newly discovered fossil-fuel rich nation, Ukraine is a very big prize. Now in Ukraine’s US-led coup aftermath and ethnic civil war, evil Russia can be an ace card again to accuse for attacking the US election.

Since Russia led by Putin is drawing the line as in Crimea to support the Russia-speaking region against US-led war crimes under international law (documented in previous articles), all roads connect. “Russia’s uncontrolled aggression” is  reverse-projected onto the victim again in  a glorious new use. Reverse blame it  for interference in the US election of Trump and kill Russia-US peace initiatives at the same time. No fact is required to verify the accusation, and no law broken is needed to insinuate treason of whoever relates with Russia’s officials in peace initiative. It can work even against an elected US president.

At the same time, the US’s own record attacking other nations’ elections and societies is thereby erased as well – continually orchestrating mass-murder and dictatorship to sabotage the electoral process from Vietnam and Chile to Ukraine in 2010 and Latin America social democracies since.

If it were a story of reverse projection by a mass-murderous psychopath, it would be too much to believe. Yet it now runs the US news cycle as the big story unfolding with no evidence of US illegality, force, or non-compliance with international law. The accusations run by themselves in US media culture and across the empire. So as 2017 Spring breaks, endless media insinuations of treason seep into the populace from corporate media sites across borders with backrooms and Congress setting up for another presidential inquisition.

It is interesting to observe two precedents. Past inquisitions were unfolded soon after Bill Clinton said in India, “it’s time to level up rather than down in global trade” and Richard Nixon founded the Environmental Protections Agency, stopped corporations from outsourcing US jobs, and made peace with China as Trump sought with Russia.

The ludicrous hypocrisy, factual vacuum, and war-drums of blame-the-enemy go into high-volume operation again, led by an attack-dog media against the elected US president whose only action has been to have business-like relations with Russia. Few observe the immense stakes of the US media and war establishments in this process. Cui bono? – who benefits? – is the question never asked.

What’s new?  The perpetual red herring of ‘Russia aggression’ takes everyone’s eyes off the ball – including the continuing US-drone mass murder and ecological wars built into the Trump agenda. Canada’s oil and mining corps and big banks sneak behind the pervasive fake news with a smiling Trudeau front. NATO demands more money behind Trump now fulsomely praising what he earlier campaigned on as “obsolete”, as he has done with the CIA he also condemned. Those hoping for a new departure under Trump from the big lies and war crimes as normalized operations watch in a combination of horror and hilarity.

Who connects the dots? Beneath official notice, the ruling goal of US empire is blind to its consequences of human and planetary life ruin. It has to cover itself in false news to carry on. This is why fake news is not a temporary phenomenon of the Trump era. It is the necessary veil of illusion of an eco-genocidal system. The symptoms and trends are everywhere. But a US-led prism of false inversions of reality regulates consciousness, perception and reaction to ‘steer the course’.

This is true of both sides of the Trump divide, and also in corporate Canada as the US’s largest trading partner, branch-plant and resource cornucopia. What is new is that the ruling illusions are divided against themselves at the top of the US political and ideological system. The Trump phenomenon reflects the rupture. The US empire is in deep crisis from its cumulative destruction of social and natural life support systems. Its carcinomic multiplication of private money demand with no tie to the production of means of life is the reality beneath all the false news.

Nothing is life secure. The ‘global security system’ protects only money values and sequences through life hosts. Peoples everywhere compete to make it go faster to survive. The ruling concept of ‘economy ‘inverts the systematic depletion, degradation and despoliation of the life capital of organic, social and ecological life. Universal necessities of human and fellow life are stripped, polluted and wasted as ‘efficiencies’.

President Trump has gone into the political ring to fight it out with the political establishment on a nationalist capitalist level. He is losing money in the short term. But his program in office is completely eco-blind, and the opposing mass media follow suit. All they can focus on is demonizing normal relations with the official Enemy Russia. Meanwhile Trump has all but abolished the EPA and cut off all federal funding for restoration of the Great Lakes, the most important source of fresh water heritage on the planet.

These supreme crimes under international law are recognised by none on stage. In Canada, a Nazi progeny and neo-Nazi supporter of the violent coup and civil war in Ukraine is made Foreign Affairs Minister and hustles her connections throughout the US to keep the attack-Russia juggernaut going as in the past under  a continuous barrage of ethnic prejudices and fake news.

The pattern is clear but unspoken. The Enemy Russia is the auto-pilot of fake news to divert from US and client leadership failure on almost every level. Relations of mutual respect with Russia’s ambassador are ‘collusion’ and taboo.

The Reality Beneath the Questions not Asked

How does disclosure of Hillary’s Clinton’s apparatus theft of the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders get blamed on Russia? The question is not asked. The Washington mass media and visible Congress focus instead on accused “collusion with Russia” with very big stakes in the new inquisition show. Suspicions without substance run free in the mass media once the designated Enemy is smeared onto the target, even if elected president.

Who knows that the US joined the armed forces of Britain, colonial Canada and Japan to crush the 1917 Russian Revolution on behalf of the Czarist autocracy and Western capitalism? More deeply, who names the governing objective behind all the shows of force and accusation over a century since? To be managed successfully, attention must be diverted from the facts of US-led war crimes and public looting within and without US empire proclaimed as ‘world freedom’.

The new President and his Exxon Secretary of State seek business-like relations with Russia. Very big powers are coming into conflict over business and war within the US empire. Big oil in both leviathan countries are pitted against the US Enemy-and-smear establishment which has long run the show with big oil formerly leading it. Now transnational big oil in the US and Russia are leading out of the blind alley of war against each other which has so totally failed to bring benefits to either side in the long term, and has almost reversed civilization.

The dots again are not joined. The completely counter-productive war against Russia to keep the US money-war state going is deepened by Wall Street. The falling price of oil is driven beneath notice by Wall Street which has successfully short-future-traded oil down to establish its money-printing powers by debt as supreme over its rival substitute, while diverting everybody’s attention from the greatest fraud in history still going. Observe that Wall Street remains untouched even from its multi-trillion dollar heist from public and pension coffers from 2007 on.

Blame Russia is the normal chorus which Wall Street benefits from as the ultimate leader of the ruinously anti-productive money-war system. It pays off so well to the money party in more public dollars appropriated by its control and issue of money debt for everything that exists; the pervasive military-industrial complex which never gets reversed even in the peace after the planned destruction of the ‘Evil Empire’; and the corporate mass media in front turning the fake news system over continuously to promote, idealize and divert from the global empire’s war and occupation powers. The neo-con and neo-liberal war strategists alike are built into the dark state as managers uniquely dependent on Russia as the Enemy.

So it is in all their self-maximizing interests to sustain perpetual accusations of some enemy’s evil as the great cover-up story of US empire and it inherited war-crime system. Joined to despotic local oligarchies, this axis dismantles ever more societies for corporate, bank and military plunder and jackal payoffs everywhere (including the academy). There is no limit or borders to the established system invasion, and all is at the expense of public treasuries and of life support systems across domains.

President Trump does not break the fatal ruling cycle. He demands that vassal states should pay for their US military protection, a new global extortion supporting new NATO oligarchies against change which accompanies his stripping of environmental protections to pay for more war powers. Trump behind his populist bluster is a paradigm example of instituted US capitalist greed and aggression. Yet the fact that hate of the Enemy is smeared even onto him for not hating Russia too reveals the ultimate pretext of the US-NATO war machine. Behind the US-led perpetual arms build-up, border threats and bombings of mostly innocents across the globe while blaming the terrorists for the horrors now built into the global ‘growth’ system is fake news as continuous cover story. The war-criminal drone mass murders continue on unnoticed. The bank looting of public wealth is instituted more broadly. The universities, health systems and public infrastructures are privatized for profit with no life criteria of outcomes.

Trump is dispossessing the American common wealth for big US money in line with the Reagan public-looting machine before him. It drained  public revenues into a black hole of US debt, blamed acid rain on trees, and portrayed orchestrated mass murderers of socialists in Afghanistan and Nicaragua as ‘freedom fighters’. What has changed in the corporate media’s fake-news today?

Trump in office is the opposite of the anti-establishment candidate he promised to be. He wars on the US Environmental Protection Agency (its only collective life protective organization). He fractions corporate taxes in a giveway to the rich beyond Reagan’s $500-billion tax cut. He privatizes the public’s falling infrastructure for speculators and developers’ long-term private tolls, profits and control for private profit at taxpayers’ expense.

Who in the corporate media or Congress questions any of it?

The Trudeau  regime to the north imitates the new massive scheme of privatizing public infrastructure. But it disguises it in terms of public investment in public goods. The big banks and speculators on both sides of the border are the winners whatever the corporate media and state cover story. The common wealth is sold off under pervasive fake news masquerading as responsible and for the public good. But the drive-wheel policy mechanisms for ever more dismantling of the living earth and redistribution of more public wealth upwards to the rich march on beneath conscious comprehension.

Trump does not hide the privatization for profit of America’s public infrastructure and stripping of public health and environmental protection policies once he has rising stockholder support in office. The Trudeau Liberal party masqueraded as the social democrat NDP in promising whopping public investment to win the election, but when in office lets the giant privatization boondoggle trickle out in sunny  avoidance of the facts.

The monumental schemes of robbing the commonwealth at every level are led by slanted and selective reports through every step across ever more domains. But a constant across US empire is Russia the Enemy to justify it all. In the deepening life support crises of this ruling axis, Russia’s projected ‘attacks’ still lead the show.

The Life-Blind Moral DNA of US Rule

With no common ground but belief in God’s blessing over all nations and the greatest killing machine in history to enforce it, US ideology may seem to be a psychopathic rationalization writ large.

Yet the US national morality tale governs perception so that the a-priori life-blindness is not recognised even by philosophers. The US continues to be ruled at home and abroad without life-value ground or compass. So as the US-led global market system multiplies its demands on organic, social and ecological life systems, it moves inexorably towards a few multibillionaires with more wealth than 99% of the population, steering planetary depredation to ruin as freedom and growth.

How else would a global cancer system behave? Yet almost none recognise that this system overrides life requirements at every level. The reformer Trump selects for even more wealth and power to the home rich. He attacks evolved environmental research and regulations with no better alternative. He seeks to repeal Obamacare with no public option considered. His nationalist and cost-cutting program is essentially life-blind.

The baseline of crisis goes all down to the moral DNA of the US project and its evolved economic, political and ideological system. The innermost value driver is long presupposed without question by even US moral philosophers and social scientists as the first principle of their models. Atomic self-maximization towards more private money-value without limit is the meta-program.

In consequence, the ‘global free market’ the US leads and imposes has no feedback loops to protect human or planetary life against hollowing them out for transient commodities, private profit and wastes on every level. The ruling system is structured only to ensure more money demand and commodities to those who have money to pay. Any accountability to universal life necessities is ruled out a-priori from the US Constitution, ruling market doctrine, and received theories.

As I have commented in articles prior to his presidency, “Trump is America come to meet itself”. But the US cover story has not yet been decoded in its master functions of legitimation and idealization. What makes the eco-genocidal system acceptable to human consciousness is an ultimate story line and moral syntax that transforms it into heroic liberty, individualism and moral supremacy.

This moral syntax has been imprinted into US empire since its original revolution against Britain to invade the America West to the Pacific Ocean to appropriate and  destroy all the life and life support systems of the developed first peoples there as ‘freedom’, ‘development’ and ‘self-defense’. What is required for the grand narrative’s success is to hide the reality of continuous eco-genocide by continuous false representations as the virtue and truth others fail to understand.

This first principle the justifying morality tale entails the second – that an alien Enemy must always be blamed for the system’s destructive attacks on barriers and resistance to it. Conversion of all life and life support systems to limitless self-maximization of the US system and its richest citizens then proceeds under cover of fake news with wars of acquisition and control represented as courageous and beneficent for all.

For-profit private corporations are the ever more empowered legal vehicles of this transnational system which is set to select for systematic self-maximization of the rich by all market, state and war means that can be constructed to enable it, starting with the US Constitution (as explained above). This set-point is built into the legislative, judicial and executive branches so that today the system outcome is a constitutionally ordered money-party control of all three branches of government as well as the funding systems of social sciences and philosophy.

Fake news in the widest sense provides a continuous cover story to mask and justify the underlying program which is not seen – the money-war party’s limitless take from life within and without the US that depends on a designated Enemy as perennial pretext to strip the US and global commonwealth against effective opposition or change.

Prof. John McMurtry FRSC is the author of The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Solution  and the three-volume study, Philosophy and World Problems,  UNESCO Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Paris-Oxford. 

Speech of Lavrov at the Military Academy of the General Staff

March 24, 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during a lecture for senior officers of the Military Academy of the General Staff, Moscow, March 23, 2017

23 March 201714:21

http://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/2702537

For English subtitles click the ‘cc’ button on the bottom right.

 

Mr Kuralenko,

Comrade officers, colleagues, friends,

I am grateful for the invitation to speak at the Military Academy as part of the Army and Society series of lectures. The organisers are doing a great job supporting the tradition of unity of the people and the army, as it should be and has always been in the best years of Russia’s history. Today, we will focus on Russia’s role in international politics. This theme has always been of interest to our citizens, patriots, and all the more so to servicemen protecting our state.

How is the role of state determined in international politics? Just like in other social disciplines, there are specific fundamental values ​​and criteria in international relations for making judgments on that.

Geopolitical weight is among the most important ones. It is clear that a vast country like Russia, with its wealth of resources and unique geographical location spanning Europe and Asia, is unlikely to remain on the side, let alone be isolated from international processes, especially in the modern era when trade, economic, financial, information, cultural and human relations simply demand that our planet be united into one truly unified space.

I’m aware that some entertain the notion, which is eagerly picked up by Russophobes, that Russia’s vast geography took shape due to expansion resulting from an internal sense of insecurity. As if the Russians, who for several centuries expanded their territory, were trying to “push back” a potential aggressor. To this, I can say that the greatest misfortunes in the past centuries came to Russia almost always from the West, while Russia, according to Mikhail Lomonosov’s famous dictum, “expanded through Siberia,” bringing different peoples and lands in the East under its wing. Many centuries of experience of harmonious coexistence of different ethnicities and religions within one state now allow Russia to promote a dialogue and form partnerships between cultures, religions and civilisations, which is also what happens within the UN, the OSCE and other international and regional organisations.

Another hallmark associated with our vast Russian territory concerns respect for the state, which is the guarantor of the country’s unity and the security of its citizens. A strong state also underpins an independent foreign policy. In international relations, all of that is embodied in the notion of sovereignty.

The sovereignty of states, their equality as the main subjects of international relations, was substantiated and approved within the Westphalian system that took shape in Europe in the 17thcentury. Currently, these traditional notions are being questioned in a number of Western countries. They are trying to secure for themselves, for example, the ability to interfere in other people’s affairs under the pretext of non-compliance with all sorts of unilaterally engineered human rights concepts like the so-called “responsibility to protect.” We are against such a distorted interpretation of the most important universal international legal norms and principles. Healthy conservatism with regard to the inviolability of the stabilising foundations of international law unites Russia with most countries of the world.

Of course, it takes more than just the size of a country’s territory for it to be considered “big and strong” in today’s world. There is also the economy, culture, traditions, public ethics and, of course, the ability to ensure one’s own security and the security of the citizens under any circumstances. Recently, the term “soft power” has gained currency. However, this is power as well. In other words, the power factor in its broad sense is still important in international relations. Its role has even increased amid aggravated political, social, and economic contradictions and greater instability in the international political and economic system. We take full account of this fact in our foreign policy planning.

Thanks to its advanced nuclear deterrent capabilities, Russia plays an important stabilising role in global politics. At the same time, strategic stability for us is not confined to maintaining the nuclear balance between us and the United States. Given globalisation processes, the increasing mutual dependence of countries and the development of technologies, including military technology, we’re taking a broader view of this concept. In politics, strategic stability is a state of international relations that ensures strict compliance with international law by all countries and their associations, respect for the legitimate interests of all countries and peoples and non-interference in their political affairs. In the military context, it means consistently bridging the gap between military capabilities, ensuring a high level of confidence, transparency and predictability and abstaining from steps which may be perceived as a threat to the national security of other countries, forcing them to resort to retaliatory measures. We stand for the strengthening of all aspects of strategic stability which is the foundation for a lasting peace and reliable, equal and indivisible security for all.

Recently, there has been a push towards forcing the nuclear states to abandon their nuclear arsenals and banning nuclear weapons altogether. It is crystal clear that this is premature. Let me remind you that it wasn’t for nothing that the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty wrote into it that the nuclear arsenals had to be fully scrapped but only in the context of general and complete disarmament. We are prepared to discuss the possibility of further gradual reductions in nuclear capabilities but only if we take all the factors influencing strategic stability into account and not just the quantity of strategic offensive weapons. Another reason why we’re prepared to discuss this issue is the growing sense of urgency about making this process multilateral. The restrictions on nuclear capabilities which Russia and the United States have repeatedly accepted for many years have led them to a situation where, essentially, they cannot proceed doing this on the bilateral basis.

We take pride in the fact that there has been a qualitative change in the Russian Armed Forces’ capabilities in recent years. It’s particularly important to note that the position of Russia today is that force can only be used in strict compliance with international law and its own laws and commitments – not to conquer, and not to export political ideas as repeatedly happened in world history and in our past history, for that matter, but to defend our most vital interests, when all other means have been exhausted, or to help our allies and friends at their request, as is happening today in Syria at the invitation of the country’s legitimate government.

Regretfully, not all countries in the world are so scrupulous in providing legal grounds for the use of military force. We have noted cases of loose interpretations of the UN Charter and of removing any boundaries for designating something a threat to one’s own security.

The negative trend of using economic tools of coercion is accelerating in international relations. These are diverse kinds of unilateral sanctions and restrictions that clash with the UN Security Council’s positions and prerogatives. As we know, there are attempts to use these tools on Russia, on the assumption that we are especially sensitive to this kind of influence.

However, it is impossible, and will remain impossible to ignore the fact that Russia is among the largest and most stable economies in the world. It is hard to overestimate its role in some fields of the global economy, particularly in energy, including nuclear energy.

Whether some people like it or not, Russia remains the economic centre of gravity for the post-Soviet countries. This objective factor, not Moscow’s mythical urge to “revive the empire”, underlies the movement toward Eurasian integration. We and our partners in the Eurasian Economic Union are linked in today’s globalised world by centuries-long economic and cultural contacts and the intertwined destinies of our nations. We also advance the EAEU’s foreign contacts to implement President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to form a multilevel integration model in Eurasia. Interest in this initiative is growing steadily.

Historical traditions should also be mentioned among the factors that determine a nation’s role in world politics. “History is the memory of States,” said Henry Kissinger, the theoretician and practitioner of international relations. By the way, the United States, whose interests Mr Kissinger has always defended, did not aspire to be the centre of the liberal world order for a greater part of its own fairly short history, and did not see that role as its preeminent mission. Its Founding Fathers wanted its leadership and exceptional nature to derive from its own positive example. Ironically, the American elite, which emerged as freedom fighters and separatists anxious to cast off the yoke of the British crown, had transformed itself and its state by the 20th century into a power thirsting for global imperialist domination. The world is changing, however, and – who knows – America might yet purify itself and return to its own forgotten sources.

Russia has its own experience with messianic fervour. Its current foreign policy is pragmatic, not ideological. Our country has its traditions and wholesome values, and we do not try to impose them on anyone. We warn our partners at the same time that when they are in Rome they should do as the Romans do.

After many centuries of trials, our country made it to the forefront of international and European politics under Peter the Great – his name graces one of the academies whose students, as I understand it, are here today – and then fully participated in European affairs during the Vienna Congress of 1814-1815. At that time, with the direct participation of Alexander I, a system for a balance of power that existed for many years and mutual recognition of national interests, precluding domination of any one state, was created in Europe.

The ensuing developments show us the futility of any efforts to drive our country out of the European or international arena. Resolving any pressing international issues without Russia became impossible. We can also see the major damage caused by such efforts to all the participants in this process. The collapse of the Vienna system (during which events such as the Crimean War of 1853-1856, the unification and the rise of Germany, and the final collapse of monarchy in France took place) resulted in the bloodletting of World War I. After it ended, Soviet Russia was left outside of the Treaty of Versailles, which largely predetermined its brief existence. The distrust of Western democracies and the reluctance to interact with us on an equal footing doomed the attempts to create collective security in Europe in the 1930s, which resulted in the even greater destruction of World War II. Only after it was over were the foundations of the international order laid with our active participation, which remain relevant to this day.

The UN is called on to play the central coordinating role in the international order. It has proved that there are no alternatives to it and that it enjoys unique international legitimacy despite all the shortcomings of this huge “organism” which unites almost 200 states. Russia supports ensuring the inviolability of the UN Charter’s key provisions, including those related to consolidating the outcomes of World War II. We support comprehensive efforts to expand the capacity of this international organisation to efficiently adapt to new international realities.

In modern Europe, the roots of many problems can be seen in the irrational and doomed desire to sideline Russia, the Eurasian power. NATO and EU expansion has reached the point where Ukraine and other CIS countries were all but presented a false choice: either you are with Russia, or with Europe. Such an ultimatum was beyond the capacity of yet inherently unstable Ukrainian statehood. As a result, a major crisis in the heart of Europe broke out directly on the borders of Russia and the West. Frankly, the prospects for its settlement and the implementation of the Minsk agreements have so far been bleak. First, this is due to the lack of political will and a realistic vision for the future of this country from the Ukrainian government, and due to its attempts to look for ways to resolve Ukrainian problems not on the basis of pragmatic interests in the name of national harmony and prosperity, but at the behest of external sponsors who have no regard for the aspirations of Russians, Ukrainians and Eastern Slavs, in general.

We do not see that our European partners are willing to work honestly in favour of creating a common security and cooperation space. A fair settlement of the Ukrainian crisis in line with the Minsk agreements, which we have consistently advocated, could become part of it. In general, the European Union has been tangibly “losing itself” recently. In fact, they are serving other people’s interests, failing to find their own unified voice in foreign affairs. We are patient people, and we will wait for our colleagues to realise that due to a number of reasons – including historical, geopolitical, economic, and cultural – we, Russia and Europe, need each other.

The historical, geopolitical, moral foundations that shape the foreign policy of Russia are solid and constant. They set the tone of our day-to-day diplomatic efforts which, in keeping with the Constitution, are guided directly by the President of the Russian Federation.

The world is really changing fast. Another “industrial revolution” is unfolding, and a new, more technologically advanced way of life is taking shape.  Uneven development, a wider gap in the wealth of states and nations, and the battle for resources, access to markets, and control over transport arteries are exacerbating differences. Competition is acquiring civilisational dimensions and becoming a rivalry of values and development models.

In the region of the Middle East and North Africa, the situation has reached a point beyond which lies the annihilation of states and of the regional political map. This widespread chaos has been conducive to an unprecedented increase in the threat of terrorism embodied by the aggression of the so called Islamic State and other similar groups. Global terror is a challenge to international security, and it can only be addressed by establishing a joint international coalition, acting on a solid legal basis — as Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested in his speech at the 70th United Nations General Assembly.

The redistribution of the global balance of power continues. We are witnessing new centres of economic power and associated political influence come into being in the world. The Asia-Pacific Region has established itself as the driver of the world economy. Latin American and African nations, which have considerable human and resource potential, are taking a more active role. These developments bring into stark relief the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world. The need to democratise relations between states is becoming a more pressing issue.

The formation of a polycentric international order is an objective process. It is in our common interest to make it more stable and predictable. In these conditions, the role of diplomacy as a tool to coordinate balanced solutions in politics, economics, finance, the environment, and the innovation and technology sectors has increased significantly. Simultaneously, the role of the armed forces as the guarantor of peace has increased too.

It is clear that there simply isn’t any other way except painstaking daily work to achieve the compromises necessary to peacefully overcome the numerous problems in the world. History shows that betting on hegemony and one’s own exceptionalism leads to greater instability and chaos.

There is an objective, growing need for Russia-advanced approaches to key modern issues that are free of ideology and rooted in the principles of multilateralism and respect for international law. More and more countries are coming to share these approaches, which strengthens Russia’s authority and its role as a balancing factor in world politics.

We do not favour confrontation or isolationism. Guided by the Foreign Policy Concept approved by President Vladimir Putin, we will continue to advance a positive agenda in our relations with our partners and neighbours, including the United States and the European Union.

Under the current circumstances, there is no alternative to an independent, pragmatic and multi-vector foreign policy based on the consistent defence of national interests along with the simultaneous development of equal cooperation with all who are interested in reciprocating. All our actions are aimed at protecting our sovereignty and creating conditions for the peaceful and sustainable development of Russia and the Russians.

Thank you for your attention. I will now take questions.

Question: Recent experience shows that, in terms of the damage they cause, aggressive actions in the media at times have consequences similar to the use of weapons of mass destruction. In your opinion, isn’t it time, at the UN, in the format of bilateral ties with other states, to move forward with drafting and signing a comprehensive treaty in this field, similar to strategic arms limitation treaties?

Sergey Lavrov: We’ve been working on this for several years now. Russia put forward an initiative that became known at the UN as International Information Security [Initiative]. It has been a subject of independent resolutions at a number of UN General Assembly sessions. While initially these resolutions were rejected by some of our Western partners, in recent years resolutions related to the UN contribution to international information security have been adopted unanimously.

Several years ago, a group of government experts was set up. It drafted a report that was approved by consensus at the UN General Assembly. The General Assembly expressed support for continuing this effort in the context of identifying specific cyberspace risks at present. Another government expert group was also formed, which is beginning to work. It is meant to prepare specific proposals in one and a half years.

I’d like to say right away that despite the apparently constructive participation of all states in this discussion, we are aware of the desire [of certain states] to limit themselves to discussions and not reach practical international legal agreements. So, alongside the work that I just mentioned, Russia and its partners, in particular in the SCO, have drafted a document entitled Code of Conduct for Cyberspace. It was also distributed at the UN and is designed to promote targeted dialogue on the legal aspects of this problem. Overall, we believe (and we have already submitted this proposal) that it is time to draft an international convention on cyber security, including the elimination of threats and risks related to hacking. We were the first to propose penalising and banning hacking within the framework of international law. We will see how those who are accusing Russian hackers of seeking to blow up the world in the style of James Bond will respond to this.

There is another important topic related to these issues. It concerns internet governance. For several years now a discussion on the democratisation of the internet and internet governance has been ongoing at the International Telecommunication Union. A very serious ideological struggle, if you will, is under way. Some people are upholding free market principles but there are also those who believe that farming out the internet to the free market is tantamount to giving it away to just one country. In this context, serious debate lies ahead.

We see all these problems. The majority of countries agree on the need to enforce some generally acceptable order. Focused work is under way but it is too early to expect any results yet.

Question: I am a participant in the Aerospace Forces’ operation in Syria, so my question is related to that country. The results achieved by the Russian centre for reconciliation in Syria show how effective it has been. At the same time such things as the search for missing persons and the return of POWs often encounter difficulties related to inter-agency coordination. Do you believe direct cooperation between the centre for reconciliation of opposing sides and the Russian Embassy in Syria in dealing with certain problems would be possible?

Sergey Lavrov: Actually, this comes as a surprise to me. I was under the impression (and I receive daily confirmation of it) that this cooperation exists. If you have facts pointing to insufficient cooperation in this respect, please let us know. The Russian Embassy in Damascus and the centre in Hmeymim are in daily contact on issues of both the centre’s practical operation and Syria’s international contacts with its foreign partners with our assistance. A delegation of MPs from Europe and the Russian Federal Assembly recently visited it. The Hmeymin centre and our Embassy were actively involved in organising that visit.

If you were somewhat concerned by the topic you mentioned – the exchange of POWs – perhaps the Embassy is not supposed to play a leading role in this process. As far as my colleague and friend Sergey Shoigu and I see our roles, the main objective here is to establish contact with those who are holding POWs who fought terrorists and extremists. The most important thing here is contact between military departments, intelligence services, the Hmeymim centre, our Turkish partners and other countries that have their special forces (or their representatives in other forms) on the ground and have influence with the militants. Politically, we actively cooperate with the Russian Defence Ministry through the Astana process. At the most recent meeting in Astana, a week ago, in addition to preparing constitutional reform, consolidating the ceasefire and developing a mechanism to respond to ceasefire violations, the topic of establishing dialogue between the parties to the conflict with the aim of exchanging POWs as a humanitarian confidence building measure was also addressed. I’m highlighting in particular the aspect you have mentioned. To be sure, things can always be better and communication can always be taken to a higher level. I assure you that the efforts of the Embassy and the Hmeymim centre are well coordinated.

Question: US President Donald Trump, in a recent statement, unexpectedly proposed revisiting the issue of reducing strategic arms as a platform for bargaining. Should strategic nuclear forces today be a subject of negotiations with the Americans or would it be advisable at this point to put them outside the bounds of Russian-US relations?

Sergey Lavrov: To a very large extent, President Trump’s position on the majority of key issues on the foreign policy agenda, including further steps to limit strategic nuclear weapons as you’ve mentioned, has yet to be finalised. By the way, if I remember right, Donald Trump mentioned the issue of cooperation with us in this field as an example. He was asked whether he would be prepared to lift sanctions on Russia. I believe that was the way the question was formulated. He responded by saying they should see if there were issues on which they could cooperate with Russia on a mutually beneficial basis in US interests, in particular, mentioning nuclear arms control. At the same time, as you know, the US president said the Americans should modernise and build up their nuclear triad. We need to wait until the military budget is finally approved under the new administration and see what its priorities and objectives are and how these funds will be spent.

As for our further conversation, I briefly mentioned in my address that we are ready for such a conversation but it should be conducted with acknowledgment of all strategic stability factors without exception. Today, those who propose implementing the so-called nuclear zero initiative as soon as possible, banning and destroying nuclear weapons and generally outlawing them absolutely, ignore the fact that since the nuclear bomb was made and this new kind of weapon began to be produced on a large scale in the USSR, the US, China, France and the UK, colossal changes have taken place in military science and technology. What is being developed in the US under the codename Prompt Global Strike are non-nuclear strategic weapons. If they are developed (and this work is moving forward very actively, with the objective of reaching any point in the world within an hour), of course, they will be more humane than nuclear weapons, because there will be no radiation, no Hiroshima or Nagasaki effect. However, in terms of military superiority, my friends at the Defence Ministry tell me the effect will be more devastating than from a modern nuclear bomb.

What’s more, our American partners are not abandoning the programme of deploying weapons in outer space, and they are essentially alone in voting against the initiatives co-sponsored by us, China and many other colleagues to commit not to do so. The Americans refuse to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which is also an important strategic stability factor. And of course the global missile defence system has an absolutely direct impact on strategic stability.

Another point: imbalances in conventional weapons, which are also being modernised very quickly. We always begin our dialogue with NATO by stressing the need to restore normal relations. We propose normalisation and agreements on mutual verification measures but before that, it is necessary to sit down and look at what each of us has deployed in proximity to each other, as well as in the entire Euro-Atlantic region. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered if we want not simply to ban nuclear weapons as idealists, but to ensure peace and security in the world and ensure strategic stability that will be sustainable and based on global parity. Everything that I’ve mentioned needs to be discussed. I may have missed some other factors.

I should also add that restrictions imposed by Russia and the US on each other have reached a point where it is hard to say that we will be able to do a great deal together anymore. All states that have nuclear weapons should be brought in – importantly, not only those that have them officially but also de facto.

Question: The United States started using the so-called managed chaos technology long ago. What can be used to counter such technology on the international scale? Is there a response to the concept of global stability and security management? Which countries could potentially initiate this project?

Sergey Lavrov: The concept of managed chaos appeared long ago as a method of strengthening US influence. Its basic premise is that managed chaos projects should be launched away from the United States in regions that are crucial for global economic and financial development. The Middle East has always been in the focus of politicians and foreign policy engineers in Washington. Practice has shown that this concept is dangerous and destructive, in particular for the countries where the experiment was launched, namely Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

In the case of Afghanistan, the United States launched its operation there with international support following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The UN Security Council unanimously confirmed the US right to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The US operation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda was supported by all countries. It’s another matter that after receiving the international approval, the United States and its NATO allies, which took over in Afghanistan, started acting rather inconsistently, to put it mildly. During their operation in Afghanistan, the terrorist threat has not been rooted out, while the drug threat has increased many times over. The drug industry prospered. There is factual evidence that some of the NATO contingents in Afghanistan turned a blind eye to the illegal drug trafficking, even if they were not directly involved in these criminal schemes. Afghanistan is a separate case, although the current developments there, which are a result of the NATO operation’s failure, despite the carte blanche the bloc received from the international community, can be considered an unintended cause of managed chaos. In Iraq, Syria and Libya, this chaos was created intentionally.

I have also mentioned Yemen. The situation there can be described as a huge humanitarian catastrophe. It is not at the top of the international agenda, for some reason, although representatives of the UN Secretariat who are responsible for humanitarian affairs have described the situation in Yemen as the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world”, larger than in Syria or Iraq. Responsible politicians have come to see that the managed chaos theory is destroying life in many regions. Some parties can benefit in the short term from fluctuations on the raw materials markets provoked by the revolutions orchestrated by external forces, but this theory ultimately backfires at its engineers and executors in the form of massive migration inflows, which terrorists use to enter these countries. We can see this in Europe. Terrorist attacks have been staged even in the United States. The Atlantic Ocean has not protected it from the terrorist threat. This is the boomerang effect. Serious people are coming to see this. Reliance on international law is the only weapon against this threat. The UN Charter offers the necessary tools for this. Military force can only be used by decision of the UN Security Council, or a country can resort to anticipatory self-defence in keeping with the spirit of the UN Charter when an armed attack is imminent and inevitable. Russia acts in keeping with these premises in its relations with other countries. China, India, Brazil and the majority of other countries share this view.

There is one more thing connected with the issue of managed chaos and its consequences.

The policy of countries in Africa and Latin America, as well as their regional organisations – the African Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) – is based on a formal principle on the unacceptability of the unconstitutional change of power via a coup d’état. Since this danger is not purely African or Latin American (we have seen it surface in other parts of the world), we have proposed that the UN General Assembly formalise the universal unacceptability of coups as a means of changing government. Last autumn, a resolution was adopted at the initiative of a large group of co-authors – our Cuban colleagues were among the most active advocates of this idea, alongside other countries. This resolution recognised the importance of creating a more democratic and equitable world order and openly rejected the change of governments through unconstitutional coups and attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of states and to impose alien ideas and values on them as unacceptable. It is also unacceptable when national jurisdictions are applied extraterritorially, when a country hunts down other countries’ legal entities and nationals around the world even though they have not violated international law but are believed to have violated the national legislation of the said country. Three countries voted against this resolution and a few dozen countries – mostly Western ones – abstained. The resolution was adopted by a far larger vote than some other resolutions that our Western partners like to quote, for example the resolution on the violation of human rights in Crimea.

Question: Because of the sharp decline in authority of international institutions, including the UN, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe which are potentially under the influence of their American partners and curators, the Russian Federation needs other alternatives to solve vital issues, sometimes directly with the heads of states including the US, Germany, India, China and other powers. Don’t you think we should resume direct state-to-state relations?

Sergey Lavrov: Direct state-to-state relations have never been suspended. In spite of the very tight agenda of international organisations, bilateral dialogue with the overwhelming majority of states has today become even more intensive. For now there is an objective pause in our relations with the US because our American colleagues, the new administration has not yet made all its post appointments for the leading positions at the State Department, the Pentagon and other agencies. In addition to departmental heads, their deputies have yet to be appointed, which calls for Senate approval. And it is unclear when these appointments will be made, so there is a natural waiting period. But I have met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. As for the General Staff, several meetings have been held between the Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasismov and US General Joseph Dunford who heads the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. There has been contact on another level on how to avoid unforeseen and unintended incidents in Syria between the Russian Aerospace Forces and the US-led coalition. So, bilateral dialogue is important with any country. Regarding multilateral, universal and regional institutions, we are well aware of their shortcomings, but these are, if you like, inevitable.

The UN has 193 member countries. The West, Russia, China, India, Africa and Latin America – they are all interested in promoting their viewpoints on decisions that are taken and then implemented, or set the political agenda for further discussions. Of course, we would like to have a say on all these matters. From time to time our Western partners find a way to obstruct us, or put forward absolutely unacceptable ideas which we have to block. In such situations some “well-wishers” like to say that the UN has outlived its usefulness because the right of veto is abused and so on. This is disingenuous. The veto was included in the UN Charter at the insistence of the US after the League of Nations came to a sad end precisely because its activities and mechanisms did not provide for a special role of the big powers. Because of this the US decided that it had no time to just listen to moralising without being able to exert decisive influence. That’s why today the right of veto is not some kind of privilege, but an instrument for maintaining stability in international affairs which guarantees that no decision by the international community can be taken unless it is backed by the five permanent UN Security Council members. This needs to be understood.

Our French colleagues are pushing the idea that the UN Security Council members should voluntarily refrain from exercising their veto when mass human rights violations are involved. We asked them how they see it from the purely practical point of view. If there are 99 victims, this is not yet a violation, and if there are a hundred, we should refrain from using the veto? This is an old concept. Previously it was served “under the guise” of responsibility to protect, of humanitarian intervention, arguing that the international community had the right to intervene in certain conflicts regardless of UN Security Council resolutions if genocide or some other mass human rights violations are taking place in a country.  This is a mathematical approach. Who will determine whether or not mass violations are taking place? This is a very cynical approach, where they say that the death of one person is a tragedy, but a list of military casualties are statistics. You can discuss this at length, but the right of veto must remain part of any concept for reforming the UN Security Council. It needs to be reformed and made more representative. Without the right of veto by current permanent Security Council members it will be unable to function and will morph into an organ that rubberstamps shortsighted and ideologically charged documents. The OSCE does not have the veto right, but it has the principle of consensus which also sometimes leads to exhausting debates. Nevertheless consensus safeguards the interests of those who take part in that organisation. This can be useful in spite of all the criticism it incurs in connection with  OSCE activities in Ukraine. In any case the presence in that country of a special monitoring mission, which we support, helps to bring down the level of violence and keep the situation under control. We witnessed a flare-up of violence, for example, the day before yesterday the radicals from the Azov battalion were acting provocatively around Mariupol. The mission records these facts which we then use in our work with the Normandy four, at the Contact Group to motivate the Ukrainian authorities to stop sabotaging the Minsk Agreements.

I can cite some positive examples for any international organisation, but we have to keep in mind that none of them – neither the UN, nor the OSCE, nor the G20, not even BRICS or the SCO — will follow the wishes of any one country a hundred per cent. It’s always a compromise, a consensus or a balance of interests. As our President Vladimir Putin constantly stresses, we are not imposing anything on anyone, we are always ready to look for a balance of interests through mutual concessions with any country that is ready to talk with us as an equal. This is how diplomacy works. The same is true for bilateral relations. Sometimes it is even more difficult to reach an agreement bilaterally than multilaterally because in a multilateral format, say at the UN, you have allies you can call on and they will exert additional pressure. In bilateral talks your partner is sitting opposite you and it’s either you or him who gains the upper hand. It’s better that no one should gain the upper hand and that there should be a consensus. We are ready for this kind work, including, as I said, with the US because we are well aware what great influence the relations between the two biggest nuclear powers have on the overall situation in the world. We are prepared to exercise our responsibility for such influence through dialogue with the US.

Question: Today we see a growing split of the world political elites. There are globalists who express the interests of transnational corporations and world financial organisations and there is a new political concept, the so-called populists who express the interests of the people in their countries. A vivid example is the election of US President Donald Trump, and there are a number of other political leaders who are seen as fringe politicians in the West, for example Marine Le Pen. Given this, it is not by chance that Russia is seen as a leader in half of the world. Is this view justified? Can we talk about a future victory for one of these ideologies? How would this influence today’s world order?

Sergey Lavrov: I wouldn’t call Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen “fringe politicians” if only because they absolutely fit into the principles that underlie the functioning of the American and French states. Marine Le Pen is a European member of parliament and her party is active in the national parliament.  Donald Trump has been elected in full accordance with the American constitution, with its two-level indirect system of electing the president. I would not even call them populists. The word “populist” has a negative connotation. You said interestingly that populists are those who represent the people. There are nuances in the interpretation of the word “populist.” In modern Russian it tends to be applied to people who go into politics, but do not bear the responsibility for their words and just seek to lure voters. A populist is someone who might promise to triple wages while the budget absolutely cannot support it, etc. So I would rather call them realists or anti-globalists, if you like. Having said that, anti-globalists are also associated with hooligans who try to disrupt the G20 and G7 summits, and so on. Come to think of it, even now that the new president of the world’s largest power has declared that it is necessary to think not of global expansion, but of how America lives, the role of globalists will be changing. American corporations have already demanded a reduction in manufacturing in developing countries to move it to the US in order to create jobs there. Granted, this may not be very good news for the consumer because labour is more expensive in the US, so the prices for goods, cars and so on will increase. But this is the trend. In general, President Trump’s conceptual slogans during his election campaign to the effect that America should interfere less in the affairs of other countries and address its own issues send a very serious signal to the globalists themselves. Again, up until now the US has been perceived as a symbol of globalism and the expansion of transnational corporations. Those who represent their interests are the huge team that has taken up arms against President Trump and his administration and in general against everything he does, and which tries, in any way possible, to throw a spanner in the works. Something similar things are happening in France where mountains of compromising materials of ten or fifteen years ago have been unearthed which invariably are presented through an “anti-Russia prism.” It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a dirty campaign when at stake are the concepts and ideas of how to develop the state and their country, and a smear war is being waged. We had this not so long ago, and I don’t see anything good about it.

In parallel the global market and the global trade system are being reappraised through the actions and statements of the new US administration. As you know, they have walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and said they would work through regional and bilateral agreements. We believe, though, that the World Trade Organisation which it took us such a long time to join did provide a common umbrella for world trade. Some regional structures could be built into these universal systems so as not to break the ties with the non-members of these regional organisations to maintain some common contact and exchanges through the WTO. That too is now under threat. So, we are in a period of rethinking our approaches, and I don’t think it has everything to do with Trump. These changes have been brewing; otherwise the American position on so many issues could not have changed so abruptly. They were long in coming, and the WTO was in a major crisis when the Western countries categorically refused to listen to the leading developing countries on a range of issues connected with investment, financial services, etc.

I wouldn’t say that there are globalists and populists. There are simply people who want to get elected and follow a well-trodden path and preserve the neoliberal structures that are all over the place in the West, and then there are people who see the neoliberalism and permissiveness which are part of the neoliberal approach as a threat to their societies, traditions and cultures. This is accompanied by philosophical reflections and practical discussions of what to do about the problem of illegal migrants, their own roots and religions, whether it is politically correct to remind people that you are an Orthodox or Catholic or whether you should forget about religion altogether. I have said more than once that the European Union wanted to adopt a constitution many years ago and was drafting it. The commission was headed by Giscard d’Estaing and he proposed a very simple sentence about Europe having Christian roots. He was prevented from doing so on the grounds that it would not be politically correct and would insult the Muslims. In reality it turns out that if you are cautious about making your religious roots known you end up not caring about the religious roots of others and the consequences are not usually good. Therefore, at the UN and UNESCO, we actively support all the initiatives that are particularly relevant today: the Dialogue of Civilisations, the Dialogue of Cultures and the Dialogue of Religions. It is not by chance that they have become topical issues on the agenda because they reflect the fermentation within societies and the need to somehow search for a national consensus.

Question: The traditional definition of war is “war is nothing more than an extension of state policy by alternate means.” We usually understand “alternate means” as military violence and therefore claim that war always involves military action. Do you think it would be correct to say that the nature of war has changed in contemporary circumstances, that is, now the term includes measures for information, economic, political and psychological impact?

Sergey Lavrov: You know, in the West they coined the term ‘hybrid war.’ As a matter of fact, this is the concept they seem to be forming based on their experience. Unilateral economic sanctions are definitely a declaration of war, no doubt about it. An information war is underway when slander becomes a mandatory condition for the media. This is an objective fact. These days we talk a lot about Syria. Allegedly, there is a non-governmental organisation called the White Helmets funded by several Western countries and countries in the Persian Gulf. A film about this organisation won the Oscar for best documentary this year. They present themselves as a humanitarian agency helping people attacked by bombs – particularly, in Syria. On several occasions, they were caught lying and showing staged video clips. For one such clip, they painted a girl with red paint and on camera she was sitting down and allegedly suffering from Russian and Syrian bombs. Several days ago in Geneva, an American journalist presented research in which he proved that the White Helmets are fake and that they only deal with developing falsified and provocative news, while dragging Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and armed forces through the mud. He also proved that they are providing direct assistance to terrorists and extremists, including medical supplies and equipment, and treating injured members of extremist groups. This is just one example. But anywhere you go, when I just try talking to my Western colleagues, the White Helmets are exempt from any criticism and seem to have a monopoly on the truth. There are many other tricks like that. Certainly, in a wider perspective, cyberspace is an area where there is a material possibility to inflict potentially very serious harm. Cyber forces were created and, apparently, they have some significance. This is exactly why we need forums where these things can be discussed as a single package. The military discusses purely military issues, which now extends to cyberwars. Those dealing with information and sharing experience are trying to convince each other that the media must be used not for provocation but to reconcile people. When it comes to the economy, it should be understood – and many have come to realise this – that unilateral sanctions will come back like a boomerang and hit the countries that joined them, especially small countries. It is very short-sighted to impose unilateral sanctions on a country like Russia, with its huge potential, human and natural resources. By encouraging dialogue in each of these areas to build a general understanding, mutually beneficial and generally acceptable approaches, we need a forum where all these issues can be considered in their relation to each other because they all affect the general status of international relations. Except for the UN, there is no other framework like this. This is a very topical issue and we have no doubt that it will be in the centre of very heated and engaging debates for the foreseeable future.

To be continued…

Many thanks to our research assistant Baaz for discovering the video.

Yemen war: More than half of British people unaware of ongoing conflict seeing UK weapons deployed by Saudis

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More than half of British people are unaware of the “forgotten war” underway in Yemen, despite the Government’s support for a military coalition accused of killing thousands of civilians.

A YouGov poll seen exclusively by The Independent showed 49 per cent of people knew of the country’s ongoing civil war, which has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced three million more and left 14 million facing starvation.

The figure was even lower for the 18 to 24 age group, where only 37 per cent were aware of the Yemen conflict as it enters its third year of bloodshed.

More than 2,100 people were given a list of 16 countries and asked to identify any “currently involved in an ongoing armed conflict” for the research, with 84 per cent naming the Syrian civil war.

The Human Appeal, a Manchester-based charity that commissioned the poll, warned a lack of international awareness was worsening a worsening humanitarian crisis in the Yemen.

“The crisis in Yemen has been forgotten about or ignored completely,” said CEO Othman Moqbel.

“We believe this is because that the conflict has not generated a huge amount of refugees coming to Europe and there is the misperception amongst the public that it’s only a regional crisis.

“To treat what is currently happening in Yemen, and has been happening for two years, as something insignificant is turning a blind eye to the escalating humanitarian emergency.”

At least 75 people are estimated to be killed or injured every day in the conflict, which has pushed the country to the brink of famine as 14 million people lack a stable access to food.

Almost 3,800 civilians have been killed by the conflict, where President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s government is fighting Houthi rebels and fighters loyal to the former President, President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The conflict started in March 2015 after an opposition offensive drove the government out of the capital Sana’a, sparking an intervention by Saudi Arabia and its allies to support the internationally recognised government.

The UN human rights office said the Saudi-led air campaign, seeing rebel-controlled areas heavily bombarded, was responsible for 60 per cent of civilian deaths – almost 2,300 lives.

British-manufactured weapons, including cluster bombs, have been used in the strikes, despite calls by MPs to suspend sales to Saudi Arabia over war crimes allegations.

Peter Salisbury, a senior research fellow in the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, said Britain was the principal sponsor of a UN Security Council resolution used by Saudi Arabia to justify its intervention.

“The UK is also a huge arms supplier and provides a great deal of logistical support to Saudi forces,” he told The Independent.

“Arguably the UK has also given political coverage to the Saudis by preventing various resolutions and investigations from happening.”

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Theresa May meeting King Salman of Saudi Arabia in December at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Bahrain (Getty)

Mr Salisbury said that while opposing the attempted coup in Yemen, the British Government was “quiet” about the military overthrowing Egypt’s elected government in 2013.

“The decision was made that Yemen was a ‘bad coup’,” he added. “And that in many ways comes down to where allies sit.”

Iran supports Houthi forces in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies supporting the Hadi government.

As battles continue, the Human Appeal is among international charities attempting to provide aid to Yemen’s impoverished population.

It has provided food parcels to thousands of families, clean drinking water for 37,500 people, blankets, clothing and healthcare projects including supporting the Al Jumhori public hospital.

Hundreds of Somali refugees who originally fled conflict in their home country are among those caught up in the violence in Yemen, with more than 40 massacred by a helicopter gunship as they attempted to flee on a boat on Thursday night.

While the humanitarian situation deteriorates, the conflict has largely reached a stalemate, with rebels controlling much of densely populated western Yemen, the Hadi government in the centre and east and pockets of territory held by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsuala (AQAP), Islamist militias and Isis.

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Yemenis inspect damaged houses following reported Saudi-led coalition air strikes on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sanaa (Getty)

But the UN Refugee Agency has warned of intensified hostilities in recent weeks, forcing more than 62,000 people from their homes in western and central Yemen, who are now sleeping in public buildings, tents, on the streets or in ruined buildings.

Calling Yemen a “forgotten war”, Mr Salisbury said neither a peaceful resolution nor an outright victory for any party was likely in the near future.

“The Trump presidency could see US play a more decisive role,” he added, although American forces have mainly been targeting AQAP terrorists, including in a botched raid that killed dozens of civilians earlier this year.

“Yemen is not an island, it is connected to other countries and the rest of the world and we’re seeing this massive growth in sectarian violence.

“All of these things have long-tern consequences for countries outside of Yemen.”

The British Government stresses that although it the Saudi-led intervention “to deter aggression by the Houthis and allow for the return of the legitimate Yemeni Government”, it is not part of the coalition.

“British personnel are not involved in carrying out strikes, directing or conducting operations in Yemen, nor involved in the Saudi targeting decision-making process,” a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told The Independent

“Peace talks are the top priority. The UK has played a leading role in diplomatic efforts, including bringing together key international actors to try and find a peaceful solution.”

The UK is the fourth largest donor to Yemen, committing £103 million in humanitarian aid last year.

Saudi Arabia, member of UNHRC blocks Yemen’s largest port to stop humanitarian aid

Saudi Arabia’s Blockade Of Yemen’s Largest Port Expected To Worsen Humanitarian Crisis

UN elects Saudi Arabia to Human Rights Council

Despite a warning from the UN to end its existing blockades of Yemeni ports, a Saudi-led coalition is planning another major assault on the nation’s largest port city of Al Hudaydah, a move that threatens to worsen Yemen’s already unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

 

A Yemeni man looks at a World Food Program ship at the port of Aden, Yemen

A Yemeni man looks at a World Food Program ship at the port of Aden, Yemen, Tuesday, July 21, 2015.

MINNEAPOLIS – While the Syrian conflict has long dominated international coverage of Middle Eastern crises, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been continually overlooked by the mainstream media. Since March 2015, the nation has been in a state of chaos following the overthrow of former Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was installed by the United States and Saudi governments, by a grassroots political movement led by the Houthis.

Following the Houthi-led coup, Saudi Arabia essentially invaded Yemen, eager to maintain control over the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, a critical area for the region’s oil trade. The Saudis’ efforts to maintain their undue influence in Yemeni politics and maintain hegemony over a key oil route has now manifested as a war effort bordering on genocide — one that has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians. In addition, more than a third of Saudi airstrikes in the nation are believed to have destroyed civilian targets.

Despite the severity of the crisis, as well as Saudi Arabia’s apparent penchant for bombing hospitals and civilian infrastructure, the U.S. has remained unusually silent, essentially turning a blind eye in the face of repeated war crimes committed by its ally. The U.S. has involved itself militarily in Yemen to aid in the Saudis’ destruction of their southern neighbor, launching missiles and – more recently – botched raids that claimed the lives of numerous civilians, including an eight-year-old U.S. citizen.


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The U.S. has also enabled the Saudis to commit war crimes in Yemen by continuing to sell them millions of dollars in weapons, despite their documented tendency to attack and bomb civilians. While the U.S. has been quick to accuse other nations of similar atrocities in Syria, it has been eerily silent, as well as complicit in, the crimes committed by Saudi Arabia.

The combination of minimal media attention, as well as tacit U.S. support for the Saudi war effort, has Yemen on the verge of collapse. According to the NGO Save the Children, tens of thousands of children in the embattled nation are dying due to the collapse of the country’s health care system. Since Saudi Arabia first invaded, more than 270 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, many directly by the Saudis.

In addition, more than half of Yemen’s estimated 3,500 health facilities are closed or barely functioning, leaving nearly eight million Yemeni children without access to adequate health care, resulting in the deaths of nearly a thousand children every week, according to estimates.

But the health crisis is only part of the suffering that has become a daily reality for Yemenis. Famine is also taking its toll, with an estimated 19 million people – two-thirds of Yemen’s entire population – in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. More than half of the nation is suffering from a lack of adequate nutrition, according to UN estimates, with more than 370,000 children under the age of five suffering from severe malnutrition.

Much of the famine is preventable, as it has largely manifested as a direct result of the Saudis’ naval blockade of key Yemeni ports. Recent changes to Yemen’s central bank also threaten to rob many Yemenis of their capacity to purchase what little food is still available in the country.

In this Tuesday, March 22, 2016 photo, infant Udai Faisal, who is suffering from acute malnutrition, is hospitalized at Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Udai died on March 24. Hunger has been the most horrific consequence of Yemen’s conflict and has spiraled since Saudi Arabia and its allies, backed by the U.S., launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade a year ago. (AP Photo/Maad al-Zikry)

In this Tuesday, March 22, 2016 photo, infant Udai Faisal, who is suffering from acute malnutrition, is hospitalized at Al-Sabeen Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Udai died on March 24th. Hunger has been the most horrific consequence of Yemen’s conflict and has spiraled since Saudi Arabia and its allies, backed by the U.S., launched a campaign of airstrikes and a naval blockade two year ago. (AP/Maad al-Zikry)

Despite UN pleas to the Saudis to end their blockades, the Saudis and their anti-Houthi coalition have announced plans to assault Al Hudaydah, Yemen’s largest port city. Catherine Shakdam, associate director of the Beirut Center for Middle Eastern Studies and an expert on Yemen, told MintPress that “government officials in Hodeida have already confirmed an increase in attacks in Yemeni waters” as a result of the latest Saudi-led assault. She added that “fishermen have been shot at for trying to feed their families and drones have been spotted doing what is believed to be reconnaissance work.”

Shakdam added that this assault is only the most recent effort by the Saudis to cripple the strategic port city, remarking that the Saudis are “determined to punish civilians in the hope they will rise against the resistance movement and defeat its forces from the inside.”

Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the Saudis’ latest plan to cripple the Houthi movement, saying that the operation “would not only inevitably lead to a mass exodus of the [local] population but would also de facto cut the [Yemeni] capital of Sanaa from… food and humanitarian aid supplies.” The U.S. has yet to comment on the plan, but its silence thus far already speaks volumes

Video: A Peek Inside the White Helmets’ former HQ in E. Aleppo

Turns out that the two buildings housing the central headquarters for the White Helmets and Al-Nusra were located adjacent to each other in Eastern Aleppo–and that both were just a short walk from the M10 hospital, a facility formerly pronounced “destroyed” by the mainstream media (though it is in fact still standing, as the video shows).

The video above offers a look inside all three buildings, but the walk through the White Helmets domicile is particularly interesting…lots of graffiti, including support of ISIS. Well hardly surprising–but still interesting to see.

Pierre Le Corf

The video was filmed by Pierre Le Corf, who has been doing humanitarian work in Syria and who is also the founder of the organization We Are Super Heroes. According to his Linked-in profile, his work in Aleppo has included providing first aid training for youth and adults. In his walk through the White Helmets building, he pauses at a second-floor window–at which point the camera looks out…at the Al-Nusra headquarters and the M10 hospital, both practically within spitting distance.

The White Helmets, you’ll recall, were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last year. They didn’t get it. But a Netflix documentary about them did get an Oscar at the Academy Awards. Meanwhile the media go on extolling them as saintly humanitarians. Here is what CBS reported just over a week ago:

Some of last week’s Oscar winners did not attend the ceremony because they were saving lives in Syria. The White Helmets are showing the best of humanity in the worst of places.

The White Helmets did on Monday what they always do — racing to the aftermath of a deadly airstrike to pull civilians and bodies from the rubble.

Business as usual in the hellish chaos of Syria’s civil war, where Syrian regime and Russian airstrikes destroy neighborhoods.

21st Century Wire has posted a commentary on Le Corf’s video–a commentary which also gives a perspective on the White Helmets, though one slightly different from that churned out by CBS. Here is an excerpt:

During the liberation of East Aleppo from Nusra Front-led extremists, Le Corf recorded events on a daily basis, including tireless evidence gathering of the terrorist mortar attacks that decimated entire neighbourhoods of West Aleppo and maimed and mutilated thousands of children – largely unreported by western NATO aligned media and NGOs.

After liberation, Le Corf has been returning to the liberated areas of East Aleppo and investigating the evidence left behind by the departing terrorist groups and their “civil defence”, the NATO and Gulf state, multi million dollar funded, White Helmets who did not stay behind to assist with the civilian refugees but departed with Nusra Front, Harakat Nour al Din Zinki and other extremist groups responsible for civilian executions, torture, abuse, deprivation, starvation and rape during the almost five year occupation of East Aleppo.

In the video (above), Le Corf films the Nusra Front terrorist compound, the M10 hospital that was allegedly bombed according to the corporate media reports during November and December 2016, and finally he films inside the largest White Helmet centre in East Aleppo located inside the Nusra Front compound, in fact directly opposite Nusra Front. The Nusra Front flags and extremist graffitti inside the White Helmet centre are further proof of their affiliation to the various terrorist and extremist groups.

The article then supplies a lengthy quote from Sheila Coombes, whose Facebook page can be found here. I’ll quote just a bit of what she had to say. You can go to the 21 Wire page to read it in full:

There were NO international aid organisations on the ground in East Aleppo prior to the liberation, all of the mainstream media reporting was written, and in the case of the White Helmets, filmed, by terrorists & armed extremists and spoon fed to lazy mainstream media regime-change tools. Forget the BBC, forget Channel 4, forget CNN, NBC, the holier than thou and deadly as sin Guardian, the Independent and the do gooders, bombing for democracy and freedom, the blood they have on their hands will not wash off – and the pompous idiots who condemn anyone who questions their narrative are complicit in stifling dissent for these enablers of death and destruction.

I wonder how the media would explain what is revealed in Le Corf’s video–namely that the headquarters of Al-Nusra and the headquarters of the White Helmets were located basically just across a courtyard from each other? I don’t suppose CBS or the others would even attempt to go there.

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