CALL OF DUTY IS A GOVERNMENT PSYOP: THESE DOCUMENTS PROVE IT

NOVEMBER 18TH, 2022


ALAN MACLEOD

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II has been available for less than three weeks, but it is already making waves. Breaking records, within ten days, the first-person military shooter video game earned more than $1 billion in revenue. Yet it has also been shrouded in controversy, not least because missions include assassinating an Iranian general clearly based on Qassem Soleimani, a statesman and military leader slain by the Trump administration in 2020, and a level where players must shoot “drug traffickers” attempting to cross the U.S./Mexico border.

The Call of Duty franchise is an entertainment juggernaut, having sold close to half a billion games since it was launched in 2003. Its publisher, Activision Blizzard, is a giant in the industry, behind titles games as the Guitar HeroWarcraftStarcraftTony Hawk’s Pro SkaterCrash Bandicoot and Candy Crush Saga series.

Yet a closer inspection of Activision Blizzard’s key staff and their connections to state power, as well as details gleaned from documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that Call of Duty is not a neutral first-person shooter, but a carefully constructed piece of military propaganda, designed to advance the interests of the U.S. national security state.

MILITARY-ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX

It has long been a matter of public record that American spies have targeted and penetrated Activision Blizzard games. Documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA, CIA, FBI and Department of Defense infiltrated the vast online realms such as World of Warcraft, creating make-believe characters to monitor potential illegal activity and recruit informers. Indeed, at one point, there were so many U.S. spies in one video game that they had to create a “deconfliction” group as they were wasting time unwittingly surveilling each other. Virtual games, the NSA wrote, were an “opportunity” and a “target-rich communication network”.

However, documents obtained legally under the Freedom of Information Act by journalist and researcher Tom Secker and shared with MintPress News show that the connections between the national security state and the video game industry go far beyond this, and into active collaboration.

In September 2018, for example, the United States Air Force flew a group of entertainment executives – including Call of Duty/Activision Blizzard producer Coco Francini – to their headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The explicit reason for doing so, they wrote, was to “showcase” their hardware and to make the entertainment industry more “credible advocates” for the U.S. war machine.

“We’ve got a bunch of people working on future blockbusters (think Marvel, Call of Duty, etc.) stoked about this trip!” wrote one Air Force officer. Another email notes that the point of the visit was to provide “heavy-hitter” producers with “AFSOC [Air Force Special Operations Command] immersion focused on Special Tactics Airmen and air-to-ground capabilities.”

“This is a great opportunity to educate this community and make them more credible advocates for us in the production of any future movies/television productions on the Air Force and our Special Tactics community,” wrote the AFSOC community relations chief.

Francini and others were shown CV-22 helicopters and AC-130 planes in action, both of which feature heavily in Call of Duty games.

Yet Call of Duty collaboration with the military goes back much further. The documents show that the United States Marine Corps (USMC) was involved in the production of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Call of Duty 5. The games’ producers approached the USMC at the 2010 E3 entertainment convention in Los Angeles, requesting access to hovercrafts (vehicles which later appeared in the game). Call of Duty 5 executives also asked for use of a hovercraft, a tank and a C-130 aircraft.

This collaboration continued in 2012 with the release of Modern Warfare 4, where producers requested access to all manner of air and ground vehicles.

Secker told MintPress that, by collaborating with the gaming industry, the military ensures a positive portrayal that can help it reach recruitment targets, stating that,

For certain demographics of gamers it’s a recruitment portal, some first-person shooters have embedded adverts within the games themselves…Even without this sort of explicit recruitment effort, games like Call of Duty make warfare seem fun, exciting, an escape from the drudgery of their normal lives.”

Secker’s documentary, “Theaters of War: How the Pentagon and CIA Took Hollywood” was released earlier this year.

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The military clearly held considerable influence over the direction of Call of Duty games. In 2010, its producers approached the Department of Defense (DoD) for help on a game set in 2075. However, the DoD liaison “expressed concern that [the] scenario being considered involves future war with China.” As a result, Activision Blizzard began “looking at other possible conflicts to design the game around.” In the end, due in part to military objections, the game was permanently abandoned.

FROM WAR ON TERROR TO FIRST-PERSON SHOOTERS

Not only does Activision Blizzard work with the U.S. military to shape its products, but its leadership board is also full of former high state officials. Chief amongst these is Frances Townsend, Activision Blizzard’s senior counsel, and, until September, its chief compliance officer and executive vice president for corporate affairs.

Prior to joining Activision Blizzard, Townsend spent her life working her way up the rungs of the national security state. Previously serving as head of intelligence for the Coast Guard and as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s counterterrorism deputy, in 2004, President Bush appointed her to his Intelligence Advisory Board.

As the White House’s most senior advisor on terrorism and homeland security, Townsend worked closely with Bush and Rice, and became one of the faces of the administration’s War on Terror. One of her principal achievements was to whip the American public into a constant state of fear about the supposed threat of more Al-Qaeda attacks (which never came).

Frances Townsend
Before she joined Activision Blizzard, Frances Townsend worked in Homeland Security and Counterterrorism for the Bush White House. Ron Edmonds | AP

As part of her job, Townsend helped popularize the term “enhanced interrogation techniques” – a Bush-era euphemism for torturing detainees. Worse still, Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, the officer in charge of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, alleged that Townsend put pressure on him to ramp up the torture program, reminding him “many, many times” that he needed to improve the intelligence output from the Iraqi jail.

Townsend has denied these allegations. She also later condemned the “handcuff[ing]” and “humiliation” surrounding Abu Ghraib. She was not referring to the prisoners, however. In an interview with CNN, she lamented that “these career professionals” – CIA torturers – had been subject to “humiliation and opprobrium” after details of their actions were made public, meaning that future administrations would be “handcuffed” by the fear of bad publicity, while the intelligence community would become more “risk-averse”.

During the Trump administration, Townsend was hotly tipped to become the Director of National Intelligence or the Secretary of Homeland Security. President Trump also approached her for the role of director of the FBI. Instead, however, Townsend took a seemingly incongruous career detour to become an executive at a video games company.

ENTER THE WAR PLANNERS

In addition to this role, Townsend is a director of the NATO offshoot, the Atlantic Council, a director at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a trustee of the hawkish think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a group MintPress News has previously covered in detail.

Funded by weapons companies, NATO and the U.S. government, the Atlantic Council serves as the military alliance’s brain trust, devising strategies on how best to manage the world. Also on its board of directors are high statespersons like Henry Kissinger and Conzoleezza Rice, virtually every retired U.S. general of note, and no fewer than seven former directors of the CIA. As such, the Atlantic Council represents the collective opinion of the national security state.

Two more key Call of Duty staff also work for the Atlantic Council. Chance Glasco, a co-founder of Infinity Ward developers who oversaw the game franchise’s rapid rise, is the council’s nonresident senior fellow, advising top generals and political leaders on the latest developments in tech.

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Game designer and producer Dave Anthony, crucial to Call of Duty’s success, is also an Atlantic Council employee, joining the group in 2014. There, he advises them on what the future of warfare will look like, and devises strategies for NATO to fight in upcoming conflicts.

Anthony has made no secret that he collaborated with the U.S. national security state while making the Call of Duty franchise. “My greatest honor was to consult with Lieut. Col. Oliver North on the story of Black Ops 2,” he stated publicly, adding, There are so many small details we could never have known about if it wasn’t for his involvement.”

Oliver North is a high government official gained worldwide infamy after being convicted for his role in the Iran-Contra Affair, whereby his team secretly sold weapons to the government of Iran, using the money to arm and train fascist death squads in Central America – groups who attempted to overthrow the government of Nicaragua and carried out waves of massacres and ethnic cleansing in the process.

REPUBLICANS FOR HIRE

Another eyebrow-raising hire is Activision Blizzard’s chief administration officer, Brian Bulatao. A former Army captain and consultant for McKinsey & Company, until 2018, he was chief operating officer for the CIA, placing him third in command of the agency. When CIA Director Mike Pompeo moved over to the State Department, becoming Trump’s Secretary of State, Bulatao went with him, and was appointed Under Secretary of State for Management.

There, by some accounts, he served as Pompeo’s personal “attack dog,” with former colleagues describing him as a “bully” who brought a “cloud of intimidation” over the workplace, repeatedly pressing them to ignore potential illegalities happening at the department. Thus, it is unclear if Bulatao is the man to improve Activision Blizzard’s notoriously “toxic” workplace environment that caused dozens of employees to walk out en masse last summer.

After the Trump administration’s electoral defeat, Bulatao went straight from the State Department into the highest echelons of Activision Blizzard, despite no experience in the entertainment industry.

Donald Trump,
Trump stands with then-CIA Chief Operations Officer Brian Bulatao at CIA Headquarters, May 21, 2018, in Langley, Va. Evan Vucci | AP

The third senior Republican official Activision Blizzard has recruited to its upper ranks is Grant Dixton. Between 2003 and 2006, Dixton served as associate counsel to President Bush, advising him on many of his administration’s most controversial legal activities (such as torture and the rapid expansion of the surveillance state). A lawyer by trade, he later went on to work for weapons manufacturer Boeing, rising to become its senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. In June 2021, he left Boeing to join Activision Blizzard as its chief legal officer.

Other Activision Blizzard executives with backgrounds in national security include senior vice president and chief information security officer Brett Wahlin, who was a U.S. Army counterintelligence agent, and chief of staff, Angela Alvarez, who, until 2016, was an Army chemical operations specialist.

That the same government that was infiltrating games 10-15 years ago now has so many former officials controlling the very game companies raises serious questions around privacy and state control over media, and mirrors the national security state penetration of social media that has occurred over the same timeframe.

WAR GAMES

These deep connections to the U.S. national security state can perhaps help partly explain why, for years, many have complained about the blatant pro-U.S. propaganda apparent throughout the games.

The latest installment, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, is no exception. In the game’s first mission, players must carry out a drone strike against a character named

The latest installment, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, is no exception. In the game’s first mission, players must carry out a drone strike against a character named General Ghorbrani. The mission is obviously a recreation of the Trump administration’s illegal 2020 drone strike against Iranian General Qassem Soleimani – the in game general even bears a striking resemblance to Soleimani.

General Ghorbrani
The latest Call of Duty game has players assassinate a General Ghorbrani, a nebulous reference to Iranian General Qassem Solemani, pictured right

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II ludicrously presents the general as under Russia’s thumb and claims that Ghorbrani is “supplying terrorists” with aid. In reality, Soleimani was the key force in defeating ISIS terror across the Middle East – actions for which even Western media declared him a “hero”. U.S.-run polls found that Soleimani was perhaps the most popular leader in the Middle East, with over 80% of Iranians holding a positive opinion of him.

Straight after the assassination, Pompeo’s State Department floated the falsehood that the reason they killed Soleimani was that he was on the verge of carrying out a terror attack against Americans. In reality, Soleimani was in Baghdad, Iraq, for peace talks with Saudi Arabia.

These negotiations could have led to peace between the two nations, something that the U.S. government is dead against. Then-Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi revealed that he had personally asked President Trump for permission to invite Soleimani. Trump agreed, then used the opportunity to carry out the killing.

Therefore,, just as Activision Blizzard is recruiting top State Department officials to its upper ranks, its games are celebrating the same State Department’s most controversial assassinations.

This is far from the first time Call of Duty has instructed impressionable young gamers to kill foreign leaders, however. In Call of Duty Black Ops (2010), players must complete a mission to murder Cuban leader Fidel Castro. If they manage to shoot him in the head, they are rewarded with an extra gory slow motion scene and obtain a bronze “Death to Dictators” trophy. Thus, players are forced to carry out digitally what Washington failed to do on over 600 occasions.

Call of Duty: Black Ops
A mission from “Call of Duty: Black Ops” has players assassinate a hostage-taking Fidel Castro

Likewise, Call of Duty: Ghosts is set in Venezuela, where players fight against General Almagro, a socialist military leader clearly modelled on former president Hugo Chavez. Like Chavez, Almagro wears a red beret and uses Venezuela’s oil wealth to forge an alliance of independent Latin American nations against the U.S. Washington attempted to overthrow Chavez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, multiple times. During the sixth mission of the game, players must shoot and kill Almagro from close range.

The anti-Russian propaganda is also turned up to 11 in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019). One mission recreates the infamous Highway of Death incident. During the First Iraq War, U.S.-led forces trapped fleeing Iraqi troops on Highway 80. What followed was what then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell described as “wanton killing” and “slaughter for slaughter’s sake” as U.S. troops and their allies pummeled the Iraqi convoy for hours, killing hundreds and destroying thousands of vehicles. U.S. forces also reportedly shot hundreds of Iraqi civilians and surrendered soldiers in their care.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare recreates this scene for dramatic effect. However, in their version, it is not the U.S.-led forces doing the killing, but Russia, thereby whitewashing a war crime by pinning the blame on official enemies.

A mission in “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” has players recreate the infamous highway of death

Call of Duty, in particular, has been flagged up for recreating real events as game missions and manipulating them for geopolitical purposes,” Secker told MintPress, referring to the Highway of Death, adding,

In a culture where most people’s exposure to games (and films, TV shows and so on) is far greater than their knowledge of historical and current events, these manipulations help frame the gamers’ emotional, intellectual and political reactions. This helps them turn into more general advocates for militarism, even if they don’t sign up in any formal way.”

Secker’s latest book, “Superheroes, Movies and the State: How the U.S. Government Shapes Cinematic Universes,” was published earlier this year.

GAME OVER

In today’s digitized era, the worlds of war and video games increasingly resemble one another. Many have commented on the similarities between piloting drones in real life and in games such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Prince Harry, who was a helicopter gunner in Afghanistan, described his “joy” at firing missiles at enemies. “I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful,” he said. “If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game,” he added, explicitly comparing the two activities. U.S. forces even control drones with Xbox controllers, blurring the lines between war games and war games even further.

The military has also directly produced video games as promotional and recruitment tools. One is a U.S. Air Force game called Airman Challenge. Featuring 16 missions to complete, interspersed with facts and recruitment information about how to become a drone operator yourself. In its latest attempts to market active service to young people, players move through missions escorting U.S. vehicles through countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, serving up death from above to all those designated “insurgents” by the game.

Players earn medals and achievements for most effectively destroying moving targets. All the while, there is a prominent “apply now” button on screen if players feel like enlisting and conducting real drone strikes on the Middle East.

U.S. Armed Forces use the popularity of video games to recruit heavily among young people, sponsoring gaming tournaments, fielding their own U.S. Army Esports team, and directly trying to recruit teens on streaming sites such as Twitch. The Amazon-owned platform eventually had to clamp down on the practice after the military used fake prize giveaways that lured impressionable young viewers onto recruitment websites.

Video games are a massive business and a huge center of soft power and ideology. The medium makes for particularly persuasive propaganda because children and adolescents consume them, often for weeks or months on end, and because they are light entertainment. Because of this, users do not have their guards up like if they were listening to a politician speaking. Their power is often overlooked by scholars and journalists because of the supposed frivolity of the medium. But it is the very notion that these are unimportant sources of fun that makes their message all the more potent.

The Call of Duty franchise is particularly egregious, not only in its messaging, but because who the messengers are. Increasingly, the games appear to be little more than American propaganda masquerading as fun first-person shooters. For gamers, the point is to enjoy its fast-paced entertainment. But for those involved in their production, the goal is not just making money; it is about serving the imperial war machine.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

Top IRGC’s commander: Trump, other assassins of Gen. Soleimani not safe

January 5, 2022

By IFP Editorial Staff

, Esmail Qa’ani

A senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says ex-US President Donald Trump, who ordered the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, and his other partners in crime won’t be out of harm’s way.

At a ceremony on Tuesday marking the martyrdom anniversary of his predecessor, Esmail Qa’ani, who heads the IRGC’s Quds Force, said Iran is determined to avenge General Soleimani’s blood “in its own style.”

“Criminal Trump and his overt and covert partners, such as [his foreign minister] Pompeo are known to us. Martyr Soleimani had repeatedly humiliated Pompeo in the region and they thought they had achieved a victory by assassinating him,” he said.

Nevertheless, Trump and his other partners remain “under the magnifying glass” and they will not be safe, he added.

Addressing the Americans, Qa’ani said, “You imagined that you hit and ran, but the Islamic society and the world’s freedom-seekers will take revenge in a way that you won’t forget as long as you’re alive,” he said.

In the wake of Gen. Soleimani’s murder, Iran and other regional nations were seeking the US withdrawal from the region, Qa’ani said. Something worse, however, happened to the Americans and they were instead expelled.

He added that the people of Iraq, where Gen. Soleimani was targeted in a drone strike in early 2020, and the country’s resistance forces will not tolerate the presence of the remaining 2,000 US troops on their soil.

More on the topic

‘US has no control over consequences of General Soleimani’s assassination’

January 5, 2022

By IFP Editorial Staff

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has announced the assassination of Iran’s top military commander General Qassem Soleimani was a clear example of state terrorism and a violation of the obvious principles of international law.

The ministry made the announcement in a tweet, adding the assassination of the anti-terrorism icon also showed Washington could commit a crime without having any control over consequences thereof.

It also said the absence of rationality in the US actions is the main cause of its decline.

Monday, January 3rd, was the second anniversary of the assassination of General Soleimani in a US drone strike. Iran has called for the trial of the perpetrators of the attack, vowing to also exact revenge on them.

The drone strike, which also killed General Soleimani’s companion Abu Mahdi Muhandis and a few others, was carried out by direct order of former US president Donald Trump.
Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo was instrumental in pushing for the assassination of General Soleimani as well.

More on the topic

Scared Pompeo: Raisi “Arousing All Muslims to Murder Trump and Me” 

 January 4, 2022

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks onstage during a briefing on the past 72 hours events in Mar a Lago, Palm Beach, Florida on December 29, 2019. – Pompeo says they came to brief POTUS on events of past 72 hours Pompeo: We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

The former US State Secretary Mike Pompeo showed extreme fear and concern during an interview with Fox News in which he intended to respond to the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

President Raisi said Monday that if former US president Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo are not brought to justice, Muslims will avenge the crime they both committed against General Qassem Suleimani Suleimani, the former Head of IRGC’s Quds Force.

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

Scared Pompeo considered that Raisi’s remarks were unprecedented and posed a risk, adding that the Iranian President is arousing all the Muslims to murder Trump and him.

Calling on Biden administration to “keep every American safe against the threat from Iran”.

Source: Al-Manar Engish Website

Iran Asks UNSC to Hold US, Israel Accountable for Assassination of General Soleimani

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi called on the UN Security Council to make the US and Israel account for plotting and performing assassination of anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

“Given the dire implications of this terrorist act on international peace and security, the Security Council must live up to its Charter-based responsibilities and hold the United States and the Israeli regime to account for planning, supporting and committing that terrorist act,” Takht Ravanchi said in a letter to President of the UN Security Council Mona Juul on Sunday.

“Concurrent with the second anniversary of the horrific assassination of Martyr Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani, the Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – an official branch of the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran – and his companions, on 3 January 2020 at Baghdad International Airport, at the direct order of the then President of the United States, I would like to bring to your attention the recent information concerning the involvement of the Israeli regime in this heinous terrorist act,” he added.

Takht Ravanchi said that in a recent interview, the former military intelligence chief of the Israeli regime admitted the involvement of the Israeli regime in the premeditated assassination of Martyr Soleimani, stating that the “Israeli intelligence played a part” in that assassination, and described it as “an achievement” and one of the two significant and important assassinations during his term.

“As I have on numerous occasions underlined, including in my letters dated 3 January 2020 (S/2020/13), 7 January 2020 (S/2020/16) and 29 January 2020 (S/2020/81) addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, this internationally wrongful criminal act was a grave breach of the obligations of the United States under international law, thus entails its international responsibility,” he said.

Takht Ravanchi noted that the criminal act also entails the criminal responsibility of all those who had aided, abetted or otherwise assisted and supported, by any means, directly or indirectly, the planning or perpetration of this terrorist act, the clear example of which is the supportive role and the involvement of the Israeli regime in it.

He underlined that martyr Soleimani played a significant role in combatting international terrorism and accordingly was rightfully given the title of the Hero of the Fight against Terrorism and the General of Peace, and therefore his cowardly assassination was a big gift and service to Daesh (ISIL) and other Security Council designated terrorist groups in the region who welcomed his assassination, calling it “an act of divine intervention that benefitted” them.

“Given the dire implications of this terrorist act on international peace and security, the Security Council must live up to its Charter-based responsibilities and hold the United States and the Israeli regime to account for planning, supporting and committing that terrorist act.”

“In line with our rights and obligations under international law, the Iranian armed forces are determined to vigorously continue Martyr Soleimani’s path in actively assisting regional nations and governments, upon their requests, to combat foreign-backed terrorist groups in the region until they are uprooted completely,” the Iranian envoy concluded.

Former Commander of the IRGC Qods Force Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s PMU, and ten of their deputies were martyred by an armed drone strike as their convoy left Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020. The attack was ordered by then US President Donald Trump.

To date, Iran’s chief civilian prosecutor has indicted tens of individuals in connection with the assassination, among them former president Trump, the head of US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie Jr., and former US Secretaries of State and Defense Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper.

The file remains open to the further addition of individuals that Tehran determines to have played a role in the killing.

Both commanders were highly popular because of their key role in fighting against the ISIL terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

Back in January 2020, two days after the assassination, the Iraqi parliament passed a law requiring the Iraqi government to end the presence of the US-led foreign forces in the Arab country.

Last year, Baghdad and Washington reached an agreement on ending the presence of all US combat troops in Iraq by the end of 2021.

The US military declared the end of its combat mission in Iraq this month, but resistance forces remain bent on expelling all American forces, including those who have stayed in the country on the pretext of training Iraqi forces or playing an advisory role.

Since the assassination, Iraqi resistance forces have ramped up pressure on the US military to leave their country, targeting American bases and forces on numerous occasions, at one point pushing the Americans to ask them to “just leave us alone”.

Iran and Iraq in a joint statement earlier this month underlined their determination to identify, prosecute and punish the culprits behind the assassination of General Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

Iran and Iraq have issued a joint statement on an investigation into the “criminal and terrorist” assassination by the US of top anti-terror commanders of the two countries in Baghdad in 2020, Iranian Judiciary Deputy Chief and Secretary-General of Iran’s Human Rights Headquarters Kazzem Qaribabadi said.

He added that the statement was issued during the second session of a joint Iran-Iraq committee investigating the murder of General Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

Qaribabadi said that in the statement, Iran and Iraq stressed that the assassinations were a “violation of the rules of international law, including relevant international conventions on the fight against terrorism”.

Two Years since the Assassination of Commander Soleimani: Biography and Goals

December 30 2021

By Ali Abadi

Why was the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani and his companion Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis an exceptional event? What are the motives behind the assassination? And how did the regional reality change two years after the assassination?

The fact that the United States of America committed this crime against a high-ranking Iranian military official and then declared responsibility, constitutes a significant regional development. It clearly meant that the US administration had lost its indirect tools of influence and deterrence in the face of the axis of resistance and that it needed to change the rules of engagement and restorte to the old methods based on assassinations and bullying.

Why Soleimani in particular?

Choosing Major General Soleimani as a direct target was based on two factors:

The first factor: The effective role the Quds Force played under his leadership over a period of three decades that undermined American hegemony and the tyranny of the Zionist occupation.

This role had different dimensions: arming the resistance wings, training, and coordination. The martyr realized the importance of countering the US political influence, not just its military presence.

For example, he was keen to track and thwart American projects and steps aimed at perpetuating the US presence in Iraq. And whenever the Americans tried to gather the threads of their political proxies in this country, Commander Soleimani would obstruct it. His presence disrupted those proxies and plans.

If he heard that the Americans were supporting the nomination of so-and-so to a senior position in this country, he pushed things in the opposite direction, knowing that the Americans want their interests first and foremost.

Of course, he wouldn’t have assumed such a great role had it not been for the leadership of the Islamic Republic and its various apparatuses forcefully backing the Quds Force in carrying out its duties.

The second factor: The unique personality of the martyr, which combines several traits, the most prominent of which were:

1- The clarity of the ideological-political premise of the school he represents, which is the school of Imam Khomeini. This school produced many cadres and leaders who became martyrs in the battlefields of Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

By ideological premise, we mean here the radical stance against the Zionist entity and the American policies that the late Imam described as arrogant policies. It is well-known that Hajj Qassem was asked by a US commander in Iraq to discuss the possibility of coordinating the war against Daesh, and he refused to open a dialogue with the American.

2- The strategic vision: Martyr Soleimani had a comprehensive vision of the conflict with the American and “Israeli” enemies. He viewed the region from Afghanistan to Palestine as an integrated field of action, even if the circumstances of each country differed from the other. For example, he was fully aware of the importance of removing the American occupation from the region, specifically from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, considering this presence as a factor of instability and a reason for direct intervention in determining the future of these countries and a direct threat to the Islamic Republic. He was also very serious in strengthening the capabilities of the resistance against the Zionist occupation, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

3- Field presence: Martyr Soleimani was distinguished as a man of the battlefield. He had a special dynamic. He was fond of being on the frontlines among the fighters so he could get a closer look at the nature of the situation, to strengthen them, and to show the importance of their battle at these pivotal stations. This had a significant impact on recharging the resolve, concentrating military and political efforts, and achieving victories.

4- The role model and the example: He was keen to set an example in the fraternal and cordial dealings with the fighters to give the battle its true moral dimension. The two opposing fronts are not distinguished by military force or political position, but rather by the spiritual values that each group carries and translates into Islamic behavior based on the teachings of the Messenger’s household [PBUT].

5- The initiative: It is true that Major General Soleimani was a military leader, but he was distinguished from many military leaders in that he was a man of initiative; he did not wait to receive the taklifs [obligations]. Rather, by virtue of his long experience and his all-pervading sense, he diagnosed what was required and then moved to obtaine approval from the leadership.

The Goals of the Assassination:

Far from the American pretext that was given to justify the assassination, which centered on allegations that martyr Soleimani planned an imminent attack on the American embassy in Baghdad – the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard described the killing of General Qassem Soleimani was an “arbitrary killing” that violated the UN Charter, and that the United States did not provide evidence that planning was underway for an “imminent attack” on its interests – motives for this crime and the manner in which it was committed can be identified as follows:

– Spreading fear and demoralizing within the resistance axis (through the method of intimidation) and trying to re-establish deterrence in the face of Iran and push it to withdraw its support from its allies. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed this trend at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in January 2020, in a symposium titled “The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example”. He noted that Soleimani was killed as part of a broader strategy to deter challenges posed by Washington’s opponents, focusing in particular on Iran.

This strategy was previously eroded by the axis of resistance amid the decline in the American prestige and presence in the region, which was established by almost no achievement in all areas. Meanwhile, the axis of resistance was advancing and besieging the American military presence and influence in Iraq and was pushing Washington to think about withdrawing its forces from Syria as it failed to arrange any gains that would contribute to changing the reality there.

The failure of America’s allies in Yemen, the accumulated American military deficit in Afghanistan, and the failure of the Zionist entity to confront the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon were additional reasons for demolishing the image of US policy in the Middle East.

During the Trump era, the Americans felt that the axis of resistance was becoming increasingly emboldened. There are numerous examples – the attack on the Abqaiq oil facility in Saudi Arabia, Iran’s downing of a 130-million-dollar American drone, and the intensification of the frequency of operations against American forces in Iraq.

– Getting Iran to submit to its nuclear program. Trump’s ambition was to reformulate the nuclear agreement in a way that takes into account the viewpoint of his allies on the Zionist right.

– Restoring the confidence of America’s allies in Iraq and the region. This confidence and bets on the United States have been shaken by the experiences in recent years, despite the massive American military spending. Washington realized that removing its forces from Iraq again (after the first exit in 2011) means losing the greatest political influence in this country and its surroundings. That is why the Americans were keen to maintain a military presence there to install their allies and tools.

– Attempting to enhance the image of the Trump administration inside the United States and rallying up the masses against external enemies (specifically Islamic ones). This is important in light of the sharp internal partisan polarization in this country.

– Was Soleimani’s assassination also an “Israeli” demand? This may be one of the most important and perhaps main motives in light of Netanyahu’s and the Zionist lobby’s extraordinary influence on the American president at the time. And Donald Trump recently – about a year after his exit from office – expressed his dissatisfaction with Netanyahu for believing that he used him to assassinate Soleimani.  According to the American Axios news website, Trump said that Netanyahu was “willing to fight Iran to the last American soldier.”

The former head of the “Israeli” Military Intelligence Division, Tamir Hayman, also revealed that the Mossad played a role in the assassination of the commander of the Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, according to the “Israeli” Kan radio station.

We can guess the reason why the enemy pushed the US administration to get rid of a high-ranking leader of Soleimani’s stature, in light of the role he played at the head of the Quds Force in terms of strengthening the resistance wings, providing them with the means of strength, and deterring the Zionist entity.

The strategic response

All these motives and goals did not change the outcome of the reality of US policy in the region. The axis of resistance was affected for some time by the assassination of Soleimani, but it has maintained its goals and program of work and is continuing to implement the strategy of removing US forces from the region, starting with Iraq and Syria.

Here, it’s worth recalling what the Leader [Imam] Khamenei said on the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Quds Force commander, when he stressed that “driving out the American forces from the region will be the most powerful blow” to respond to his assassination, after the initial bold response to the crime.

He also vowed to avenge Soleimani by punishing those responsible for giving orders and carrying out the assassination “whenever the opportunity arises.” His Eminence called for accelerating technological, scientific, and military progress to enhance deterrence against the enemy, which is becoming evident day after day.

Thus, Washington and those who seek refuge under its umbrella were disappointed that Soleimani’s absence had no impact on the strategy of the axis of resistance. And the rush by the United States to arrange its military presence in Iraq before the end of 2021 is an indication of the continuing presence and influence of this axis, despite all the tremendous pressures exerted by successive US administrations.

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Top Trump Security Adviser Contradicts “Imminent Attack” Claim Behind Soleimani Assassination

October 20, 2021

Top Trump Security Adviser Contradicts “Imminent Attack” Claim Behind Soleimani Assassination

By Staff, Agencies

A new book that hit shelves today by Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg reveals that the Trump administration planned the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani as part of a “disproportional” response to attacks on US troops in Iraq by Shiite resistance groups. Kellogg was then-Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser, and also served as executive secretary and chief of staff for the US National Security Council under Trump.

“We had always considered him a legitimate target because he was a sponsor for terrorism and was directly responsible for the deaths and maiming of hundreds of Americans,” Kellogg writes about Soleimani in “War by Other Means: A General in the Trump White House,” according to the UK Daily Mail, which received an advance copy of the book.

Solemani commanded the Quds Force, an elite formation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard [IRG], and commanded Iranian forces in Syria fighting against the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] and al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups before leading the Iranian and Iraqi fight to push Daesh out of Iraq.

Despite being sanctioned by the United States as a “terrorist”, Soleimani enjoyed enormous prestige across the Middle East as the “linchpin” who united resistance groups to halt Daesh’s advance toward Baghdad when the Americans would not commit to anything more than airstrikes against Daesh.

Because of the anti-Daesh war, Soleimani was closely linked with resistance groups in Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces [PMF], which opposed the continued US presence in Iraq. According to Kellogg’s book, an exchange of strikes in late December 2019 is what pushed the White House over line and decided to take Soleimani out.

On December 27, 2019, the Shiite resistance group Kataib Hezbollah attacked an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk where US forces were based, killing a US contractor and injuring four US service members, as well as two Iraqi service members. The next day, the US launched an airstrike on Kataib Hezbollah positions, and that evening, protests in Baghdad descended on the US embassy in the Green Zone and set fire to some of its outer structures.

Washington blamed Iran for both of those attacks, and Soleimani in particular, who they learned would be secretly traveling to Baghdad in just a few days.

“But our response had barely begun,” Kellogg wrote about the December 28 airstrikes. “We had highly reliable intelligence reports affirming that our chief enemy here was Soleimani.”

“’The Iranians had crossed our ‘red line’ by killing an American and reinforced their folly by attacking our embassy in Baghdad. We would respond. And this time our response would be disproportional,” Kellogg wrote. “We jumped up the escalation ladder. Our answer would be unambiguous. Our target would be Soleimani.”

The airstrike, carried out by an MQ-9 Reaper combat drone, hit a group of vehicles at Baghdad International Airport just after midnight on January 3, 2020, killing 10 people. Among them was Soleimani, as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of Kataib Hezbollah and deputy commander of the PMF.

The fury over the US attack, which was carried out without consulting the Iraqi government, led to the country’s parliament voting to ask all US forces to leave the country. However, Trump threatened to freeze Iraqi oil assets in a Federal Reserve bank account if Baghdad followed through.

“Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort the day after the attacks. He would later claim that Soleimani planned on targeting a US embassy, then later increased his claim to four embassies.

After other senior administration leaders, including then-War Secretary Mark Esper, clarified that there wasn’t actually intelligence pointing to a specific attack Soleimani was allegedly planning, Trump momentarily let the mask slip by tweeting on January 13 that “it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!”

Then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly claimed Soleimani was “actively plotting to “take big action” against the US. “There would have been many Muslims killed as well, Iraqis and people in other countries as well. It was a strike that was aimed at both disrupting that plot, deterring further aggression, [and] we hope, setting the conditions for de-escalation, as well,” he told Fox News on January 3.

However, Pompeo also soon said he had no specific intelligence on a specific threat posed by Soleimani, and also admitted within a week that “we don’t know precisely when – and we don’t know precisely where” the supposed attack was to have taken place.

However, by July of 2020, Pompeo had changed his tune again, aligning more closely with what Kellogg writes in his book. His response came after Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, submitted a report on Soleimani’s assassination finding it was an “arbitrary killing” that violated the United Nations charter.

“The strike that killed General Soleimani was in response to an escalating series of armed attacks in preceding months by the Islamic Republic of Iran and ‘militias’ it supports on US forces and interests in the Middle East region,” Pompeo told Fox News on July 10. “It was conducted to deter Iran from launching or supporting further attacks against the United States or US interests, and to degrade the capabilities of the Quds Force.”

Lee Camp: Julian Assange’s Father, John Shipton, on the U.S. Government’s ‘Scandalous’ Plan to ‘Murder’ His Son

October 13th, 2021

By Lee Camp

Source

Britain WikiLeaks Assange

One of the biggest moments in Julian Assange’s trial is slated to happen next month, when the embattled and imprisoned WikiLeaks founder’s final extradition hearing is held in Great Britain. And as host Lee Camp points out before introducing his guest in this clip from “Redacted Tonight,” there have been some stunning developments recently in Assange’s story—namely, the revelation that the U.S. government and a certain three-letter intelligence agency were ginning up possible plans to assassinate Assange.

If ever there were an expert on Julian Assange, it would surely be Camp’s guest, John Shipton—Assange’s father—who calls the assassination plot considered by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other U.S. officials “pretty scandalous,” if not entirely surprising. Shipton also holds forth on the American government’s big quandary if Assange were to be brought onto U.S. soil to face charges, the man who perjured himself to implicate Assange, and why he thinks his son’s work has been a “great success” despite his plight. Have a look at the clip above to watch the whole interview.

Blowback: Taliban target US intel’s shadow army

August 29, 2021

The Kabul Airport bombing shows there are shadowy forces in Afghanistan, willing to disrupt a peaceful transition after US troops leave. But what about US intel’s own ‘shadow army,’ amassed over two decades of occupation? Who are they, and what is their agenda?

by Pepe Escobar with permission and special and first posting for the new website The Cradle.

Blowback: Taliban target US intel’s shadow army

So we have the CIA Director William Burns deploying in haste to Kabul to solicit an audience with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, the new potential ruler of a former satrapy. And he literally begs him to extend a deadline on the evacuation of US assets.

The answer is a resounding “no.” After all, the 31 August deadline was established by Washington itself. Extending it would only mean the extension of an already defeated occupation.

The ‘Mr. Burns goes to Kabul’ caper is by now part of cemetery of empires folklore. The CIA does not confirm or deny Burns met Mullah Baradar; a Taliban spokesman, delightfully diversionist, said he was “not aware” of such a meeting.

We’ll probably never know the exact terms discussed by the two unlikely participants –  assuming the meeting ever took place and is not crass intel disinformation.

Meanwhile, Western public hysteria is, of all things, focused on the imperative necessity of extracting all ‘translators’ and other functionaries (who were de facto NATO collaborators) out of Kabul airport. Yet thundering silence envelops what is in fact the real deal: the CIA shadow army left behind.

The shadow army are Afghan militias set up back in the early 2000s to engage in ‘counter-insurgency’ – that lovely euphemism for search and destroy ops against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Along the way, these militias practiced, in droves, that proverbial semantic combo normalizing murder: ‘extrajudicial killings,’ usually a sequel to ‘enhanced interrogations.’ These ops were always secret as per the classic CIA playbook, thus ensuring there was never any accountability.

Now Langley has a problem. The Taliban have kept sleeper cells in Kabul since May, and much earlier than that in selected Afghan government bodies. A source close to the Ministry of Interior has confirmed the Taliban actually managed to get their hands on the full list of operatives of the two top CIA schemes: the Khost Protection Force (KPF) and the National Directorate of Security (NDS). These operatives are the prime Taliban targets in checkpoints leading to Kabul airport, not random, helpless ‘Afghan civilians’ trying to escape.

The Taliban have set up quite a complex, targeted operation in Kabul, with plenty of nuance – allowing, for instance, free passage for selected NATO members’ Special Forces, who went into town in search of their nationals.

But access to the airport is now blocked for all Afghan nationals. Yesterday’s double tap suicide-car bombing has introduced an even more complex variable: the Taliban will need to pool all their intel resources, fast, to fight whatever elements are seeking to introduce domestic terror attacks into the country.

The RHIPTO Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses has shown how the Taliban have a “more advanced intelligence system” applied to urban Afghanistan, especially Kabul. The “knocking on people’s doors” fueling Western hysteria means they know exactly where to knock when it comes to finding collaborationist intel networks.

It is no wonder Western think tanks are in tears about how undermined their intel services will be in the intersection of Central and South Asia. Yet the muted official reaction boiled down to G7 Foreign Ministers issuing a mere statement announcing they were “deeply concerned by reports of violent reprisals in parts of Afghanistan.”

Blowback is indeed a bitch. Especially when you cannot fully acknowledge it.

From Phoenix to Omega

The latest chapter of CIA ops in Afghanistan started when the 2001 bombing campaign was not even finished. I saw it for myself in Tora Bora, in December 2001, when Special Forces came out of nowhere equipped with Thuraya satellite phones and suitcases full of cash. Later, the role of ‘irregular’ militias in defeating the Taliban and dismembering al-Qaeda was feted in the US as a huge success.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was, to his credit, initially against US Special Forces setting up local militias, an essential plank of the counter-insurgency strategy. But in the end that cash cow was irresistible.

A central profiteer was the Afghan Ministry of Interior, with the initial scheme coalescing under the auspices of the Afghan Local Police. Yet some key militias were not under the Ministry, but answered directly to the CIA and the US Special Forces Command, later renamed as the infamous Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

Inevitably, CIA and JSOC got into a catfight over controlling the top militias. That was solved by the Pentagon lending Special Forces to the CIA under the Omega Program. Under Omega, the CIA was tasked with targeting intel, and Special Ops took control of the muscle on the ground. Omega made steady progress under the reign of former US President Barack Obama: it was eerily similar to the Vietnam-era Operation Phoenix.

Ten years ago, the CIA army, dubbed Counter-terrorist Pursuit Teams (CTPT), was already 3,000 strong, paid and weaponized by the CIA-JSOC combo. There was nothing ‘counter-insurgency’ about it: These were death squads, much like their earlier counterparts in Latin America in the 1970s.

In 2015, the CIA got its Afghan sister unit, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), to establish new paramilitary outfits to, in theory, fight ISIS, which later became locally identified as ISIS-Khorasan. In 2017, then-CIA Chief Mike Pompeo set Langley on an Afghan overdrive, targeting the Taliban but also al-Qaeda, which at the time had dwindled to a few dozen operatives. Pompeo promised the new gig would be “aggressive,” “unforgiving,” and “relentless.”

Those shadowy ‘military actors’

Arguably, the most precise and concise report on the American paramilitaries in Afghanistan is by Antonio de Lauri, Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, and Astrid Suhrke, Senior Researcher Emerita also at the Institute.

The report shows how the CIA army was a two-headed hydra. The older units harked back to 2001 and were very close to the CIA. The most powerful was the Khost Protection Force (KPF), based at the CIA’s Camp Chapman in Khost. KPF operated totally outside Afghan law, not to mention budget. Following an investigation by Seymour Hersh, I have also shown how the CIA financed its black ops via a heroin rat line, which the Taliban have now promised to destroy.

The other head of the hydra were the NDS’s own Afghan Special Forces: four main units, each operating in its own regional area. And that’s about all that was known about them. The NDS was funded by none other than the CIA. For all practical purposes, operatives were trained and weaponized by the CIA.

So, it’s no wonder that no one in Afghanistan or in the region knew anything definitive about their operations and command structure. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in trademark infuriating bureaucratese, defined the operations of the KPF and the NDS as appearing “to be coordinated with international military actors (emphasis mine); that is, outside the normal government chain of command.”

By 2018, the KPF was estimated to harbor between 3,000 to over 10,000 operatives. What few Afghans really knew is that they were properly weaponized; well paid; worked with people speaking American English, using American vocabulary; engaged in night operations in residential areas; and crucially, were capable of calling air strikes, executed by the US military.

A 2019 UNAMA report stressed that there were “continuing reports of the KPF carrying out human rights abuses, intentionally killing civilians, illegally detaining individuals, and intentionally damaging and burning civilian property during search operations and night raids.”

Call it the Pompeo effect: “aggressive, unforgiving, and relentless” – whether by kill-or-capture raids, or drones with Hellfire missiles.

Woke Westerners, now losing sleep over the ‘loss of civil liberties’ in Afghanistan, may not even be vaguely aware that their NATO-commanded ‘coalition forces’ excelled in preparing their own kill-or-capture lists, known by the semantically-demented denomination: Joint Prioritized Effects List.

The CIA, for its part, couldn’t care less. After all, the agency was always totally outside the jurisdiction of Afghan laws regulating the operations of ‘coalition forces.’

The dronification of violence

In these past few years, the CIA shadow army coalesced into what Ian Shaw and Majed Akhter memorably described as The Dronification of State Violence, a seminal paper published in the Critical Asian Studies journal in 2014 (downloadable here).

Shaw and Akhter define the alarming, ongoing process of dronification as: “the relocation of sovereign power from the uniformed military to the CIA and Special Forces; techno-political transformations performed by the Predator drone; the bureaucratization of the kill chain; and the individualization of the target.”

This amounts to, the authors argue, what Hannah Arendt defined as “rule by nobody.” Or, actually by somebody acting beyond any rules.

The toxic end result in Afghanistan was the marriage between the CIA shadow army and dronification. The Taliban may be willing to extend a general amnesty and not exact revenge. But to forgive those who went on a killing rampage as part of the marriage arrangement may be a step too far for the Pashtunwali code.

The February 2020 Doha agreement between Washington and the Taliban says absolutely nothing about the CIA shadow army.

So, the question now is how the defeated Americans will be able to keep intel assets in Afghanistan for its proverbial ‘counter-terrorism’ ops. A Taliban-led government will inevitably take over the NDS. What happens to the militias is an open question. They could be completely taken over by the Taliban. They could break away and eventually find new sponsors (Saudis, Turks). They could become autonomous and serve the best-positioned warlord paymaster.

The Taliban may be essentially a collection of warlords (jang salar, in Dari). But what’s certain is that a new government will simply not allow a militia wasteland scenario similar to Libya. Thousands of mercenaries of sorts with the potential of becoming an ersatz ISIS-Khorasan, threatening Afghanistan’s entry into the Eurasian integration process, need to be tamed. Burns knows it, Baradar knows it – while Western public opinion knows nothing.

كيف تواجه المقاومة خطة بومبيو لتنقذ لبنان؟

 العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط _

بعد ان تأكد لأميركا انّ عدوانها على سورية ومحور المقاومة فشل في تحقيق أهدافه بعد حرب كونية اعتمدت «استراتيجية القوة العمياء» التي تقوم على الإرهاب والتدمير، انقلبت في العام ٢٠١٨ الى العدوان الانتقامي الإجرامي بالحرب الاقتصادية التي عوّلت عليها لمنع مكونات محور المقاومة من استثمار الانتصار وإطلاق عملية إعادة البناء لا بل وترمي الى التجويع والتركيع وتفجير المجتمعات من الداخل لتحيل الانتصار الذي تحقق الى جثة لا روح فيها. وبذلك تنتقم أميركا ومن معها في الإقليم ممن منعها من النجاح والانتصار وألحق بها هزيمة استراتيجية ستتوالى ارتداداتها السلبية على أميركا وموقعها وعلاقتها الدولية لزمن ليس بالقصير.

وفي إطار العدوان الأميركي بالصيغة الجديدة اعتمدت أميركا «قانون قيصر» لتحاصر سورية في إطار ما تسمّيه «عقوبات” أميركية ضدّها، أما لبنان فقد وضعت لتدميره وإسقاط مقاومته ما أسمي «خطة بومبيو» ذات المراحل الخمسة التي تبدأ بالفراغ السياسي وتنتهي بعدوان «إسرائيلي» ضدّ المقاومة يعوّل عليه لتفكيك هذه المقاومة ونزع سلاحها في حرب تكون مسبوقة بدفع لبنان الى الانهيارات الثلاثة المالي والاقتصادي والأمني.

كان الاطمئنان الأميركي لنجاح خطة تدمير لبنان الخماسية المراحل شبه تامّ خاصة أنها اتكلت في تنفيذها على لبنانيين يتولون مقاليد الدولة العميقة في كلّ مفاصلها السياسية والإدارية والمالية والاقتصادية والدينية، وهي تملك سيف إرهابهم بفرض العقوبات عليهم ومصادرة أموالهم التي نهبوها من خلال توليهم السلطة والهيمنة في تلك الدولة.

وبالفعل كان لأميركا ما تريد عندما وضعت «خطة بومبيو» موضع التنفيذ في ربيع العام ٢٠١٩ عندما جاء وزير خارجيتها آنذاك جورج بومبيو الى لبنان لإطلاقها والتقى تباعاً بكلّ «الأشخاص اللبنانيين القياديين» الموكل إليهم أمر تنفيذها، وفي هذا الإطار كانت استقالة سعد الحريري في خريف العام ٢٠١٩ إثر «ثورة الست سنتات على الواتس أب» وما تبعها من إغلاق المصارف وحبس أموال المودعين وتتالي الانهيارات التي أكدت أنّ المراحل الثلاث الأولى من خطة بومبيو تتحقق بنجاح.

امام هذا الواقع أدركت المقاومة انها تتعرّض لحرب من نوع جديد وأنها امام تهديد جدي، او بشكل أدقّ أمام حرب شاملة عليها وعلى بيئتها وكلّ من يرى فيها سيفاً للدفاع عن لبنان وحقوقه، تهديد لا يتعلق بموقع او ملف عابر، بل تهديد وجودي يتصل بأصل وجودها واستمرارها تهديد يتمثل في هجوم تنخرط فيه مواقع دينية وسياسية واقتصادية ومالية وإعلامية وفكرية، تهديد يكاد يكون في صيغته وحجمه وتعدّد عناوينه غير مسبوق منذ ان نشأت.

هذا التهديد ألزم المقاومة بوضع خطة دفاع متكاملة ومتدرّجة تعتمد مبادئ الاحتواء والتعطيل حينا وقواعد إطلاق البدائل حينا اخر والبقاء على أتمّ الجهوزية العسكرية والميدانية في كلّ المراحل والحالات، ومن هنا كان موقف المقاومة حيال الفراغ السياسي حيث انها تمسكت بحكومة سعد الحريري في خريف ٢٠١٩ ورفضت استقالتها لكنها لم تستطع الإبقاء عليها لأنّ الحريري كان ينفذ خطة موضوعة ويقوم بما طلب منه في إطارها. كما أنها رفضت استقالة حسان دياب وتمسكت به فلم تستطع إبقاءه أمام الضغوط التي فرضت عليه، وقدّمت كلّ التسهيلات في سبيل إنجاح مصطفى أديب ثم سعد الحريري ثم نجيب ميقاتي في تشكيل الحكومة لكنها لم توفق حتى الآن في مسعاها لأن القرار الأميركي بالفراغ الأمني كمرحلة مفتاحية من مراحل خطة بومبيو لا يزال ساري المفعول وسيبقى تشكيل الحكومة الجديدة متعذراً طالما انّ القرار هذا مستمرّ، وطالما انّ أميركا تدرك بأنّ تشكيل الحكومة يعني نقضاً للفراغ السياسي والشروع بوقف أو إفشال خطة بومبيو.

بيد انّ المقاومة التي ليس بيدها أمر التشكيل ولا يعود اليها القرار به تجد نفسها من غير اقتدار على معالجته، فإنها في الوقت عينه تجد نفسها قادرة على إفشال الخطة الأميركية من أبواب أخرى. منها الأمن والاقتصاد، وطبعاً التصدي لـ «إسرائيل».

وفي حين قام المولجون بتنفيذ خطة بومبيو بأكثر من استفزاز وتحرّش لإحداث التفجير الأمني في أكثر من مكان وموقع على الأرض اللبنانية، لم يكن آخرها حوادث الجية وخلدة وشويا، فإنّ المقاومة تعاملت مع الأحداث تلك بصبر وروية مع إحالة الأمر لصاحب الصلاحية القانونية في المعالجة أيّ الدولة، وتمسكت بشعار أنّ الأمن مسؤولية الدولة مع الإبقاء على جهوزية تمكن من الحسم إذا وصلت الامور الى محلّ لا يبقى متاحاً للدفاع عن النفس إلا طريق واحد هو الفعل الشخصي.

اما على الصعيد الاقتصادي والمالي فقد وقفت المقاومة على حقيقة مرّة هي انّ اللبنانيين بأنفسهم وفي ظلّ منظومة الاحتكار والسيطرة والهيمنة والفساد والوكالات الحصرية هم من قاد البلاد الى الانهيارين المالي والاقتصادي وأنتج بيئة العوز والفقر والجوع، وبادرت الى فعل من شأنه أن يخط شعار كسر الحصار الأميركي ويفتح أبواباً للبنان لا تستسيغ ولا تتقبّل أميركا فتحها لما فيها من انقلاب استراتيجي على صعيد الاقتصاد اللبناني.

لقد كان قرار المقاومة باستيراد النفط الإيراني رغم ما تفرضه أميركا عدواناً على إيران بما تسمّيه العقوبات، كان هذا القرار فعل تحدّ وشجاعة وقوّة يُفهم أميركا ومن معها بأنّ هناك بدائل للطرق التي تقطعها، ويكون وظيفة قرار المقاومة بشأن النفط واستيراده من إيران ليس تأمين كلّ احتياجات لبنان من النفط، وهو أمر يفوق طاقات المقاومة ويبقى في الأساس مسؤولية الدولة، والمقاومة لم تدّع يوماً بأنها ستحلّ محلّ الدولة، بل يكون القرار كسراً لحصار أميركي وإفهام أميركا انّ المقاومة القادرة في الميدان عسكرياً للدفاع عن لبنان وعن نفسها هي قادرة على إيجاد البدائل التي تعطل مفاعيل حصارها.

وهكذا تكون المقاومة التي تفلتت حتى الآن من محاولات جرّها الى الفوضى والانهيار الأمني، والتي تبادر لكسر الحصار والتخفيف من سلبيات الانهيار المالي والاقتصادي ومع البقاء في أعلى جهوزيتها وقوتها العسكرية تكون قد أرسلت رسالة قوية لكلّ من يعنيه أمر خطة بومبيو تخطيطاً وتنفيذاً ونتائج، مفادها انّ الخطة فاشلة وستضيف الى الفشل الأميركي في الحرب الكونية على المقاومة فشلاً آخر لأنها لن تصل الى تحقيق مبتغاها بشأن المقاومة ولن تفتح الطريق أمام «إسرائيل» لشنّ عدوانها وتفكيك المقاومة خاصة بعد ان تلقت الرسالة من مزارع شبعا بتثبيت قواعد الاشتباك التي تحمي لبنان ومقاومته.

ومع هذه الحقيقة الإيجابية تبقى هناك سلبيات تتصل بمعاناة الشعب اللبناني الذي لا تعبأ أميركا به بل فرضت عليه الوقوف بطوابير الذلّ أمام محطات المحروقات والصيدليات الخ… والأكثر إيلاماً في هذا المشهد انّ من ينفذه على أرض الواقع هم لبنانيون ممّن ارتهنتم أميركا وهدّدتهم بنفوذهم وأموالهم ومصالحهم فانقلبوا الى ذئاب ينهشون مواطنيهم ويحتكرون الدواء والبنزين والمازوت والغاز وقد يحتكرون غداً الرغيف مع السلع الغذائية… كلّ ذلك لتحصيل المال الحرام لجيوب العملاء وإرضاء أميركا في تنفيذ خطة تدمير لبنان من أجل تدمير المقاومة التي أثبتت قوّتها وأكدت أنها عصية على ذلك.

وعليه نقول إنّ المواجهة على أرض لبنان حتى الآن بين أميركا ومن معها من أدوات محلية او أجنبية من جهة وبين المقاومة ومحورها من جهة أخرى لم تلحق الضرر بالمقاومة ولا يبدو أنها قادرة على النيل منها في ظلّ إبداعات المقاومة في الأداء الدفاعي، لكنها أدّت الى إنزال الفظائع والمآسي بالشعب اللبناني الذي جعلته أميركا طريدة مباشرة لإرهابها الاقتصادي وضحية للفراغ السياسي وهدّدته في أمنه وماله وعيشه، وضع أنتجه الفكر الأميركي الشرير وصنعه بأيد لبنانية عملية. وضع لن يتوقف كما يبدو إلا عندما تقتنع أميركا بأنّ عدوانها لن يحقق أهدافه، أو أن يتراجع اللبنانيون الذين تتخذهم أميركا أدوات تنفيذية عن لعب هذا الدور الخسيس.

* أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي

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ماذا بعد التشكيلة الوزاريّة الحريريّة الكيديّة… والاعتذار؟

*أستاذ جامعي – خبير استراتيجي
 العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط _

عندما رشّح سعد الحريري نفسه لرئاسة لحكومة بعد أن دفع عبر حلفائه حكومة حسان دياب للاستقالة وأفشل مصطفى أديب في مهمة تشكيل حكومة وفقاً للمبادرة الفرنسية، ظنّ الحريري أنّ الظرف مؤاتٍ له ولحلفائه في الداخل ومناسب لمن يعمل بإمرتهم في الخارج، مؤات لصياغة وضع يستفرد به مع حلفائه بحكم لبنان بواسطة «مجلس إدارة» يُقصي به الأكثرية النيابية عن الحكم عبر مصطلح اختصاصيّين ويرمّم عبره العلاقة مع السعودية ويستعيد موقعه وموقع أبيه في تلك المملكة الغاضبة عليه اليوم.

لكن حسابات الحريري اصطدمت بالواقع المركّب داخلياً وخارجياً، ففي الداخل واجه الحريري صلابة من رئيس الجمهورية الذي لم يؤخذ بالضغط والتهويل ولم يرعبه الحصار الاقتصادي الأميركي الضاغط، ولم يفتّ من عضده ما قام به البعض لإحداث انقلاب داخلي أو تحميله مسؤولية عرقلة تشكيل الحكومة وتسليم الأمر والحكم لسعد الحريري ومَن معه في الداخل ومَن يديره من الخارج.

لقد تمسّك رئيس الجمهورية بنصوص الدستور وأحكامه الناظمة لتشكيل الحكومة والتي تعطيه حق المشاركة الفاعلة في تشكيل الحكومة خلافاً لما أراده الانقلابيّون من عمل مغاير لروح النص الدستوريّ وحرفه، وأفشل سعيهم إلى جعل توقيع رئيس الجمهورية لمرسوم تعيين الوزراء وتشكيل الحكومة عملاً آلياً إلزامياً لا موقع لإرادة الرئيس فيه قبولاً أو رفضاً.

أما خارجياً فقد وجد الحريري أنّ رهانه على متغيّر ما في الموقف السعودي منه، هو رهان خاطئ وتأكد له بشكل قاطع أنّ الصورة التي عاشها يوم اعتقاله قبل 4 سنوات على ولي العهد السعودي لا تزال هي هي لا بل اشتدّت قسوة عليه. تأكد له ذلك بعد سلسلة من الوساطات الخارجية العربية والدولية فشلت كلها في حمل السعودية على مراجعة مواقفها من سعد الحريري الذي بات مطروداً من «نعيم مملكة الخير» ولم تفلح الوساطات الإماراتية أو المصرية أو الفرنسية أو الأميركية في ثني السعودية عن موقفها السلبي الحادّ منه والذي أبلغته للوسطاء والمتضمّن القول إنّ سعد الحريري شخص سعودي الجنسية أساء لوطنه مالياً وسياسياً وعليه أن يؤدي الحساب قبل أي تقييم آخر للعلاقة به، وبالتالي عرف جميع الوسطاء أنّ باب السعودية مقفل بوجه سعد إلى إشعار آخر إنْ لم يكن إغلاقاً أبدياً.

هذه الخيبة وفشل الرهانات دفعت سعد الحريري الذي كلف بتشكيل الحكومة بعد أن «فاز بأصوات تكاد لا تتعدّى نصف أعضاء مجلس النواب وليس فيهم إلا أقلية مسيحية جعلت البعض يطعن بما يسمّونه «الميثاقية» في التكليف لكون الكتلتين المسيحيتين الأساسيتين استنكفتا عن تسميته، هذه الخيبة حوّلت الحريري من سياسي مكلف بمهمة عاجلة تتضمّن تشكيل حكومة إنقاذ لبنان إلى «سائح سياسي» يهدر الوقت وهو يستمرّ باحثاً عن طرق ينقذ بها نفسه حاضراً ومستقبلاً، وبدل أن تشكل الحكومة في أيام قليلة وتنصرف إلى العمل أهدر الحريري ما يقرب من الأشهر التسعة سائحاً جوالاً في الخارج وزائراً ظرفياً للبنان بحيث أنه أمضى معظم المدة في بلاد الوساطات والاغتراب بعيداً عن لبنان وهمومه، مهلة قفز فيها الدولار الأميركي من 6500 يوم تكليف الحريري إلى 20000 ألف ليرة اليوم. وترسّخ أكثر الانهيار المالي والانهيار الاقتصادي وتهدّد الأمن والسلم الوطني، أما الحريري فقد كان باحثاً في سياحته السياسيّة عن رضا السعودية، ومرتاحاً إلى دعم حلفائه في الداخل الذين لهم حساباتهم الشخصية في الموضوع حسابات منعت الحريري عن الاعتذار.

لقد استفاد الحريري من خلوّ الدستور من نص على مهلة قصوى للتشكيل يسقط بعده التكليف، واستفاد من وضعه داخل طائفته باعتباره «الأقوى تمثيلاً فيها» بحيث لا يجرؤ أحد على قبول المهمة إنْ لم يرضَ الحريري بذلك، كما استفاد من خشية أطراف داخلية من فتنة سنية شيعية إذا أزيح الحريري من غير رضاه عن مقعد رئاسة لحكومة أو تشكيلها، كما استثمر في علاقات تربطه ببعض الخارج الذي يرى مصلحة في وجود الحريري رئيساً للحكومة، استفاد من كلّ ذلك واتخذ من التكليف والتشكيل رهينة بيده يبتز بها حتى يحقق مصالح له ولحلفائه على حساب المصلحة الوطنية ومصالح الشعب.

ومن جهة أخرى تكامل تصرف الحريري مع خطة بومبيو الموضوعة ضدّ لبنان، لا بل شكل في تصرفه ذاك الوجه الآخر للحصار الأميركي الذي ارتكز إلى فساد الطبقة السياسية اللبنانية وتسبّب معه بالانهيار الاقتصادي والمالي بعد الفراغ السياسي، وبعد 9 أشهر من المماطلة والتسويف واثر تنازلات كثيرة قام بها الطرف الآخر من أجل الإنقاذ، قدّم الحريري تشكيلة حكوميّة انقلب فيها على ما كان اتفق عليه خلال الوساطات السابقة ووضع رئيس الجمهورية بين حلين سيّئين أو سيّء وأشدّ سوءاً، حيث إنّ الموافقة على تشكيلة الحريري كما وردت من غير نقاش وتفاهم أو اتفاق مع الرئيس يعني تخلي الرئيس عن الصلاحية وإطاحة بالدستور وإنشاء أعراف جديدة غير دستورية في الموضوع، ثم من يضمن ألا يستقيل الحريري بعد تعيينه وأن يمتنع بعد ذلك عن تصريف الأعمال كما هي عادته ويستمرّ الفراغ السياسي الذي أسّس له الحريري قبل سنتين؟ أما رفض التشكيلة صيانة للصلاحيات وتطبيقاً للدستور والتسبّب باعتذار الحريري سيعني استمرار الفراغ مع احتمال تسارع الانهيار المتعدد الأشكال.

في المحصلة لم يكن سهلاً على رئيس الجمهورية اتخاذ القرار بالقبول مع هذه الهواجس، كما لم يكن سهلاً عليه رفض التشكيلة مع ما يعني دفع الحريري إلى الاعتذار، كما يشتهي الحريري نفسه لأنه يخرجه «بطلاً طائفياً» على أبواب الانتخابات النيابية. والحريري الذي أيقن أنّ السعودية لن تفتح بابها له يعرف أنّ الحكم بالنسبة إليه مستحيل مع غياب الرضا السعودي، وأنّ مهلة الأشهر الطويلة التي استهلكها لم يكن يعالج فيها العقبات الداخلية بل جلها كان من أجل معالجة الغضب السعودي.

وعليه نرى أنّ ما فعله الحريري من تقديم التشكيلة الوزارية إلى رئيس الجمهورية وبالشكل الذي حصل وما تبعها من مواقف وتصريحات أطلقها مع إعطائه الرئيس مهلة 24 ساعة للإجابة، إنما هو فعل كيديّ يشكل فخاً للرئاسة وكميناً للبنان كان يتوخى منه الحريري صنع بيئة الاعتذار ليخرج بطلاً، لأنه يعلم جازماً أن ليس ميشال عون قائد الجيش السابق ورئيس الجمهورية الحاضر وصاحب المواقف الصلبة، ليس ميشال عون من يُفرَض عليه شيء بالأمر الواقع وتطاح بصلاحياته الدستورية، لذلك كان ينتظر الحريري الرفض وكان يحضر للاعتذار المؤكد الذي تأخر سبعة أشهر.

والآن وقد حصل الاعتذار ووضع لبنان أمام خيارات صعبة تتراوح بين الطموح بالحلّ وبين الرعب من الانفجار، فإنّ السؤال كيف نتلمّس طريق الحلّ؟

اعتقد أنّ الحلّ السريع بعد كلّ ما حصل لن يكون إلا عن طريق إيجاد صيغة دستوريّة ما لتفعيل الحكومة الحالية، وفقاً لقاعدة «الضرورات تبيح المحظورات»، وتوكل إلى هذه الحكومة رعاية الشأن الاقتصادي لمنع الجوع، ومتابعة الوضع الأمني لمنع الانفجار، إجراء انتخابات نيابية قبل موعدها بأشهر عدة مع مبادرة رئيس الجمهورية بالموازاة مع ذلك لإطلاق حوار وطني يكون بمثابة مؤتمر تأسيسي لتحديد مستقبل لبنان. هذا إذا نظرنا إلى الأمور بجدّية وعقلانية… وإلا فلننتظر انفجاراً لا يصمد بعده إلا من هيّأ لنفسه ما يحميه ويمنع الأخطار العظمى من النيل منه.

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Zarif: Netanyahu Meets Same Fate of Anti-Iran Co-Conspirators in History’s Dustbin

June 3, 2021

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Zarif made the remarks in a Thursday tweet, comparing Netanyahu’s fate to that of other major anti-Iran figures in the US, who were the Israeli PM’s close allies in his plots against Tehran, including former US President Donald Trump, his former national security advisor John Bolton, and his secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

“Netanyahu has joined the disgraceful journey of his anti-Iran co-conspirators—Bolton, Trump and Pompeo—into the dustbin of history,” Iran’s foreign minister said.

Zarif asserted that Iran continues to stand tall, pointing out that the same fate has been repeated for Iranians’ ill-wishers over several millennia, adding, “Time to change course.”

According to a statement by the UN General Assembly, as of January 13, 2021, ten member states were subject to the provisions of Article 19 of the Charter, namely Iran, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Libya, Niger, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Under Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations, members whose arrears equal or exceed the amount of their contributions due for two preceding full years lose their voting rights.

The Charter also gives the General Assembly the authority to decide “that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the member,” and in that case a country can continue to vote.

The top Iranian diplomat also published his previous letter to Guterres, in which he conveyed Iran’s “strong dismay” over his announcement, saying the decision is “fundamentally flawed, entirely unacceptable and completely unjustified” due to Washington’s illegal sanctions on Iran.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully committed to fulfill[ing] its financial obligations to the United Nations and will continue to make every effort to settle the arrears in the payment of its financial contribution to the UN and other international organizations as soon as the underlying imposed conditions, i.e. the US unlawful unilateral coercive measures, is removed,” Zarif’s letter read.

Zarif’s tweet came after earlier in the day, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the country’s payment of its UN membership dues has been made possible through a South Korean bank and the debt will be paid soon.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has always promptly acted to pay its membership dues to the United Nations, and the problem that arose last year was due to the blocking of the payment route by the United States,” Khatibzadeh told IRNA.

He said the United Nations Secretariat is completely aware of the details of the issue, which he said was not Iran’s fault whatsoever.

According to Khatibzadeh, in negotiations with the UN Treasury, Iran had proposed to transfer the money from its financial resources in South Korea, and it was decided that the Treasury try to remove barriers to the money transfer and pursue acquiring a permit from OFAC (the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control) for the transfer.

“The permit was recently issued and the way for withdrawing the membership dues from Iran’s account in the [South] Korean bank and transferring it to the UN account in Seoul has been paved, and this payment will be made soon,” he added.

Source: Iranian Agencies

Blockbuster: Biden Rolling Back Israel’s ‘Free Ride,’ Ready to Recognize Palestinian State

Plans for ‘reset’ of PA ties include rollback of Trump policies legitimizing settlements, $15 million in COVID-related aid to Palestinians

Times of Israel: The Biden administration will reportedly push for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, reinstating US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to more traditionally held positions than those of former president Donald Trump.

memo titled “The US Palestinian Reset and the Path Forward,” which was revealed Wednesday to the Abu Dhabi-based The National, also showed that the Biden administration is planning on announcing a $15 million aid package in coronavirus-related humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians as early as this month.

Drafted by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr, the memo also details plans to roll back various Trump policies that Washington believes made reaching a two-state solution more difficult, such as US legitimization of the settlement enterprise.

Amr recommends in the memo that the White House back a two-state framework “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps and agreements on security and refugees.”

Hady Amr, now US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, speaks at the Brookings Institute, where he was a fellow, on December 3, 2018. (Screen capture/YouTube)

While behind closed doors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has participated in peace negotiations based on the 1967 lines, publicly the formula is not very popular in Israel, particularly among the right wing, which is expected to further expand in the Knesset after next week’s election.

The memo discusses “rolling back certain steps by the prior administration that bring into question our commitment or pose real barriers to a two-state solution, such as country of origin labeling.”

The memo was referring to a last-minute policy change announced by Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo, which requires all US exports from the settlements to be labeled as having been “made in Israel.”

Since 1995, US policy had required products made in the West Bank and Gaza to be labeled as such. That directive was republished in 2016 by the Obama administration, which warned that labeling goods as “made in Israel” could lead to fines. Prior to the Oslo Accords, however, all products manufactured in these areas were required to mention Israel in their label when exporting to the United States.

The Pompeo order went into effect in December, but manufacturers were given a 90-day grace period, until March 23, to implement the change.

“As we reset US relations with the Palestinians, the Palestinian body politic is at an inflection point as it moves towards its first elections in 15 years,” the new memo reads. “At the same time, we [the US] suffer from a lack of connective tissue following the 2018 closure of the PLO office in Washington and refusal of Palestinian Authority leadership to directly engage with our embassy to Israel.

The Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, pictured in 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump closed the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s diplomatic mission in Washington in 2018, against the backdrop of the PA’s boycott of his administration following the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In 2019, the Trump administration shuttered the US consulate in Jerusalem, which served as the de facto embassy to the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. The mission was folded into the US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem and the previous position of consul-general was dissolved.

Before the Trump administration began tightening the screws on the PA in 2018 for refusing to engage with its peace efforts, the United States was the single largest donor country to the PA.

The US paid hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the PA’s creditors, such as the Israeli state utility companies from which the Palestinians purchase water and electricity. They paid for training for the PA’s security forces and numerous infrastructure projects.

Washington also gave hundreds of millions a year in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency — known as UNRWA — which is in charge of administering the daily needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants across the Middle East.

The memo, which was passed along to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, highlights UNRWA in particular as one of the organizations the Biden administration plans to back in order to aid the Palestinians.

Israel accuses UNRWA of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, criticizing the agency’s practice of extending refugee status to millions of descendants, rather than only to the original refugees as is the norm with most refugee populations worldwide.

Then-US president Donald Trump (L) and PA President Mahmoud Abbas leave following a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

Noting major economic disparities between Israelis and Palestinians, the memo states that the Biden administration is “planning a full range of economic, security and humanitarian assistance programs [for Palestinians], including through UN Relief and World Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).”

“State and USAID are working towards a restart of US assistance to the Palestinians in late March or early April,” the memo says, adding that the COVID-related humanitarian relief package will be announced beforehand.

The memo reveals the administration’s plans to “take a two-fold approach of maintaining and ideally improving the US relationship with Israel by deepening its integration into the region while resetting the US relationship with the Palestinian people and leadership.”

It notes Amr’s “listening sessions” with senior officials in the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry who “welcomed the restart of US-Palestinian relations.”

The United States consulate building in Jerusalem, March 4, 2019. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Notably, those two offices are controlled by Blue and White ministers Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi who hold more moderate public stances on the Palestinian issue than Netanyahu and his Likud party. Gantz and Ashkenazi have taken pride in their efforts to block Netanyahu’s West Bank annexation plans last year.

One section of the memo likely to please both sides of the political spectrum in Israel is its support for expanding the normalization agreements brokered by the Trump administration between Israel and its Arab and Muslim neighbors.

However, Amr also writes of using such agreements “to support Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and improve the quality of life for the Palestinian people.” Netanyahu has sought to divorce the normalization deals from the Palestinian issue, arguing that the peace deals prove that Israel can expand its diplomatic ties in the region without making concessions to the Palestinians.

As previously pledged by Biden officials, the memo floats the idea of reopening an independent consulate akin to the one that served as the de facto mission to the Palestinians and operated out of the western part of Jerusalem until 2019. Doing so would signal US recommitment to a two-state solution, the document says. However, no final decisions have been made yet on the matter.

Benny Gantz (left) and Gabi Ashkenazi of the Blue and White party arrive to give a joint a statement in Tel Aviv on February 21, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The memo notes the Biden administration’s commitment to engaging the international community via the UN and the Middle East Quartet, which consists of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.

The document notes the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections in May and presidential elections in July, adding that it has been 15 years since Palestinians have been able to elect their representatives.

“But the implications of an election remain uncertain: the collapse of a power-sharing agreement after the prior elections led to the Hamas takeover of Gaza [in 2007],” the memo says, noting the PA request that the US push Jerusalem to allow elections to take place in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, but not stating Washington’s position on the matter.

“We are analyzing the evolving situation and will propose a US posture together with the inter-agency,” the memo reads.

The lack of position on elections is likely to disappoint Ramallah as Palestinian officials have been lobbying Washington in recent weeks to come out in support of the democratic process, sources familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Joe Biden after their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, March 10, 2010. (AP/Bernat Armangue)

Amr recommends the Biden administration push the PA to clamp down on incitement while also calling out Israeli settlement expansion on land that Palestinians hope will be part of their future state.

The memo reveals that talks are underway with the PA leadership aimed at altering Ramallah’s controversial payment of stipends to Palestinian security prisoners, including those convicted of terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

The altered policy currently being discussed in Ramallah would base the stipends on prisoners’ financial need rather than the length of their sentence, senior Palestinian officials told The Times of Israel in January.

The Biden administration will also seek to boost Palestinian institutions. “This includes strengthening civil society, media watchdogs and other elements of the fourth estate, such as emphasizing to the [Palestinian Authority] the need to protect civil society through the reductions of arrests of bloggers and dissidents,” the memo reads.

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Blinken Talks the Talk, but Will He Walk the Walk?

During his 24 years as a senior foreign correspondent for The Washington Times and United Press International, Martin Sieff reported from more than 70 nations and covered 12 wars. He has specialized in US and global economic issues.

Martin Sieff

March 8, 2021

Biden has so far made no move whatsoever to rein in the continued bold and potentially very dangerous US military exercises with allies right up to the very borders of Russia.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s March 3 speech at the US State Department should be warmly welcomed around the world, especially in Caracas and Tehran: It does indeed mark a highly significant shift in US foreign policy and deserves to be taken at face value: But it does not address fundamental policy conflicts with Russia and China that Biden inherited from his predecessors – and not just Donald Trump. And it is these far bigger, unaddressed issues that may very well yet propel the world into a nightmarish thermonuclear war.

Blinken in his speech made an acknowledgement that his predecessors Mike Pompeo, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton would never have been capable of – and that John Kerry was never allowed to admit.

Blinken openly admitted that there had been US efforts to topple governments by force that Washington was critical of. He further openly acknowledged that some of those efforts had failed and that they had badly discredited the cause of democracy and the United States itself around the world.

“We will incentivize democratic behavior, but we will not promote democracy through costly military interventions or by attempting to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force. We tried these tactics in the past. …they haven’t worked. They have given democracy promotion a bad name and they have lost the confidence of the American people. We will do things differently,” Blinken said.

There is every reason to believe that Blinken was sincere in his commitment to forswear efforts at regime change in both Iran and Venezuela.

First, the very day before his important speech, Blinken held a telephone conversation with Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaido, whom Trump, Pompeo and then National Security Adviser John Bolton farcically tried to promote as the legitimate president of Venezuela. US allies around the world, especially in Europe and Latin America have been humiliatingly led by the nose to publicly support this absurd contention, akin to incredibility to claiming that Venezuela’s great Angel Falls flow up not down, or that the World is Flat.

No details of what Blinken discussed with Guaido have yet emerged at this time of writing but it is very clear what the secretary of state’s message was: Like so many previous corrupt and vanity-filled dupes eager to grab the coattails of America’s imagined New Rome global imperium, Guaido was told he was going to be thrown under the bus.

This move is clearly demanded by US pragmatic interests. If there is one lesson that Wall Street and its US government servants have followed for the past 150 years since the rise of John D. Rockefeller and J. P Morgan: It is to back Winners and throw Hopeless Losers to the wolves.

Guaido certainly counts as a Hopeless Loser: He has gained no discernible political, popular or military support within Venezuela, despite the continuing suffering caused by the ongoing US economic war launched against Caracas by President Joe Biden’s old boss and close friend Barack Obama in 2014 and then enthusiastically intensified by Trump and Pompeo.

Does that mean the economic war against Venezuela will end? Certainly not. Blinken himself, like his master, President Biden supported it 100 percent during the Obama administration. And the new administration, already the source of Republican wrath for its domestic economic and social policies, will not casually open up a new front where it can be attacked as wimps.

Like brutalized children, liberal Democrats have been terrified of such accusations ever since Senator Joe McCarthy accused them of “losing China ” (China was never theirs to lose) and being soft on communism back in 1950.

Also, ending the economic war on Venezuela would require decisive and original action and Blinken, like Biden and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, has owed his long, slow, steady rise precisely to following the golden rule of liberal Democrats since the days of party presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s: Never take a strong, sustained position on anything , good or bad. Even when you see a policy is leading you off the edge of a cliff, just slow it down a bit and still tumble over the cliff to your political doom. Never dare to actually stop, or reverse any disastrous course of action.

These simple principles determined the endless foreign policy fiascos of Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and even to some degree Bill Clinton.

Clinton was led by the nose, though reluctantly, to bomb Serbia and risk needless confrontation with Russia by his secretary of state Madeleine Albright and her lifelong mentor, Russia-phobic former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Blinken’s foreswearing of any effort at direct regime change therefore appears to be part of a policy that while initially appearing moderate will never lead to anything truly constructive.

Blinken, like Biden and Sullivan, wants to restore US participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran for no better reason than that they all supported it and helped negotiate it in the first place for Obama.

However, the new administration has already made clear it does not dare risk driving Saudi Arabia into China or Russia’s arms. Blinken’s speech may indeed lead to the return of US participation in the JCPOA, something America ‘s European allies and the Iranians would both welcome. But it looks unlikely so far to lead to anything else.

Also, so far, Biden has so far made no move whatsoever to rein in the continued bold and potentially very dangerous US military exercises with allies right up to the very borders of Russia. Yet if these moves had been carried out by the Russian Air Force and Navy off the shores or close to the territories of the United States, they would provoke complete outrage.

Similarly, the US armed forces are plunging ahead, secure in both administration and bipartisan congressional support, to step up military deployments in the Western Pacific openly proclaimed as containing China within the two Island Chains of the great ocean.

Blinken’s speech should indeed be welcomed as a positive first step towards reducing global tensions: But it is far too early to celebrate whether he will continue to walk the walk even while he talks the talk.

New US admin stands for same grotesque & brutal policies against Venezuela, shows just how little they actually CARE for people

moi

Eva Bartlett

Mar 4, 2021, RT.com

Venezuelan non-president, Juan Guaido, is back in headlines after the new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called him to discuss America’s favorite talking points: “a return to democracy” via “free and fair elections.”

I’m sure the irony will not be lost on those who question the legitimacy of the US election that saw Biden take power.

Anyway, you would have to have been offline or in a coma for the past couple of years to not be aware of some key facts about ‘interim president’ Guaido and US “concern” for Venezuelans.

Venezuelans didn’t vote for Guaido to be president, he hasn’t even stood for president. Venezuelans voted for Maduro. America can huff and puff and whine, but that won’t change the reality.

Guaido named himself ‘interim president’, to the support of only roughly 50 countries – leaving a glaring nearly 150 countries not recognizing this Western-groomed stooge as Venezuela’s leader.

Further, Guaido not only isn’t president of the country, he is no longer president of the National Assembly. As a result, recently, even the EU dropped its recognition of Guaido as interim president. He is a Western-groomed thug who fully backs America’s aggression and sanctions against his own country.

Venezuela’s election process has been recognized as transparent and effective, with former US President Jimmy Carter in 2012 calling it “the best in the world.” On the other hand, Venezuelan opposition, as well as Western nations, have interfered with and attempted to sabotage elections.

As for America’s grave “concern” for Venezuelans, the US in February 2019 staged a “humanitarian aid” delivery via Colombia (“aid” which contained nails and wire, likely meant for opposition barricades), blaming Maduro for “burning food & medicine,” when in fact the trucks were burned by “opposition” supporters. That same month, President Trump threatened military intervention against Venezuela.

The US allegedly sabotaged Venezuela’s power grid in March 2019 (and then blamed the Maduro government for the power failure).

And two former US Special Forces soldiers were in May 2020 arrested in a failed invasion (with the goal of capturing Maduro) which allegedly the Trump administration and Guaido himself were involved in.

President Maduro blamed the August 2018 drone assassination attempt on Colombia and elements in the US. The US was also linked to the kidnapping and coup against former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But aside from those and many other provocations against Venezuela, it is the brutal sanctions against the country that is a clear indicator of just how little America cares for the people.

As many have already surmised, the Biden administration is a continuation of the previous admin’s policies, and Blinken is the new Pompeo. They even sound the same.

  • Blinken to Ukraine’s foreign minister: “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” “Russian aggression...”
  • Pompeo to the same“support for #Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is ironclad,” “Russia and its proxies’ intransigence, aggressive actions...”
  • Blinken on Crimea: “Russia’s invasion and seizure,” “we call on Russia to end its occupation,” “#CrimeaisUkraine” (newsflash: it’s not, and there was no invasion).
  • Pompeo on the same: “#Crimea is #Ukraine,” “We call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea.

And of course, their American speak on Guaido is also the same, with both Blinken and Pompeo feigning concern for the lives of the Venezuelan people.

Flogging a dead horse named Guaido

The guy just isn’t popular in Venezuela, not now, not back in early 2019 when America & allies tried to foist him onto Venezuelans.

When I traveled to Venezuela in March 2019, aside from documenting the lack of chaos that Western pundits and media insisted was ongoing at the time, I also tried to find evidence of the massive support the same pundits and media claimed Guaido had.

I had seen on various occasions massive demonstrations of solidarity with President Maduro, the man who average Venezuelans support, particularly impoverished indigenous and Afro-Venezuelans who are conveniently ignored by Western media.

On March 30, I spent a good chunk of the day riding around on motorcycle taxi trying to find pro-Guaido protests which had been advertised, instead at designated sites and times finding none, a trickle, or pro-Maduro protesters instead.

Later the same day, I saw another massive pro-Maduro demonstration.

In encounters with Venezuelans during my few weeks in Caracas, I met people who made clear they didn’t support Guaido and what they were fighting for.

In a hilltop community, one such man told me:

We are poor people, but we are proud, we have dignity. We are fighting against Imperialism, against rich people that want our country, that want us as slaves, that want our oil, our water. But we will win.

The governments of the United States and other nations want to tell everybody that we are starving, we are dying in the streets, we are being oppressed by our government. But we’ve never been more free than now, in spite of all the problems we do have.”

He and others spoke of the extreme racism and discrimination Afro-Venezuelans and indigenous Venezuelans faced before Chavez came to power.

Before, we were treated like nothing, we were treated only as workers, that was it. Say to your governments, this isn’t a fight against Maduro, this is a fight against the people that are trying to be free.”

I won’t even repeat some of the unbelievable racist slurs they were subject to.

Some months later, back in Ontario, I met Ronald Abache, an Afro-Venezuelan who attended a lecture I gave. During the question period, he was so articulate about racism in Venezuela, “very alive, but hidden under class status,” that I asked to record his words.

In 1999, for the first time ever in any country in South America, a law was passed to not discriminate against people of color. People that never had a voice now have one and will never give it up again. You can go to the remotest area in my country and everybody can read. Everybody knows their rights and knows that their voice counts.”

He also challenged the opposition to answer one question:

What would they do different? What is their plan? If they’re planning to go back to those great old days (sarcasm), the people are not having it. Two million militias, old people, young people, everybody knows what the United States is doing. My mother is 70, she’s about to join the militia!

These are just some of the people marginalized by Western media and politicians. The ones who claim concern for Venezuela.

As Mr. Abache noted, Venezuelans themselves aren’t going to accept US hegemony, not only the leadership. I got a powerful sense of that in the demonstrations I observed and from the people I spoke with.

The new Biden administration may want to pressure Venezuela into compliance, but the people won’t accept that.

RELATED:

US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention 

Venezuela playlist

Why Israel is joining the Pentagon’s ‘Arab Nato’ لماذا تنضم “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة المركزية الأميركية

Israel’s inclusion in Centcom will further harm the Palestinian cause, drive a wedge between Arab states and raise the heat on Iran

Flags of the US, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are projected on the ramparts of Jerusalem’s Old City in celebration of Israeli normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain, 15 September 2020 (AFP)
Jonathan CookJonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook

2 February 2021 12:21 UTC 

With none of the usual fanfare associated with such a momentous decision, the Pentagon announced last month a major reorganisation to bring Israel – for the first time – inside its military command in the Middle East alongside the Arab states.

Until now, Israel has belonged to the US military’s European command, or Eucom, rather than the Middle Eastern one, known as Central Command, or Centcom. The decision effectively jettisoned the traditional wisdom that Israel’s inclusion in Centcom would increase friction between the US and Arab states, and would make the latter more reluctant to share intelligence or cooperate with the Pentagon. 

Those concerns were felt especially keenly when the US had large numbers of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back in 2010, David Petraeus, then Centcom’s commander, expressed fears that the price of too-overt military collusion with Israel could be exacted on US forces stationed in the region. 

But Israel’s long-standing goal has been to force the Pentagon to restructure Centcom, and pressure had mounted from pro-Israel lobby groups in Washington in the final months of the Trump administration. The decision looked very much like a “parting gift” to Israel from President Donald Trump as he stepped down.

Military ‘normalisation’

Israel’s formal transfer to Centcom has not yet taken place, but the move was cemented last week with the first visit to Israel by General Kenneth McKenzie, the current head of Centcom, since Joe Biden entered the White House. Alongside Israel’s military chief of staff, Aviv Kohavi, McKenzie planted a tree – officially to mark the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat but symbolically representing a new era in their strategic partnership. 

The decision to bring Israel inside Centcom is best viewed – from Washington’s perspective – as the culmination of efforts to push the Arab states into public ‘normalisation’ with Israel

On Friday, after a meeting with the US general, Benny Gantz, Israel’s defence minister, issued a statement praising the Pentagon’s reorganisation, saying it would “afford Israel opportunity to deepen cooperation with new regional partners and broaden operative horizons”.

The decision to bring Israel inside the US military command in the Middle East is best viewed – from Washington’s perspective – as the culmination of efforts to push the Arab states into public “normalisation” with Israel. 

Military normalisation can now be added to the political, diplomatic and economic normalisation that formally began last September when two Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, signed the so-called Abraham Accords with Israel. Morocco and Sudan have also announced their own peace deals with Israel, and other Arab states are likely to follow suit once the dust settles with the incoming Biden administration. 

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, the UAE has been forging strong trading ties with Israel and has helped to establish the Abraham Fund, designed to finance the infrastructure of occupation Israel has used to deprive the Palestinians of statehood. When flights to Dubai were launched in November, Israeli tourists poured into the UAE to take advantage of the new friendly relations and escape lockdown restrictions back home. 

In fact, it is widely reported that such visits have become one of the main ways Israel has imported new variants of Covid-19. Last week, Israel effectively closed its borders – except to General McKenzie – to keep the virus in check. 

Growing confidence

On the face of it, Israel’s desire to move into Centcom – a kind of Middle East Nato covering several Arab states with which Israel still has hostile relations – appears counter-intuitive. But, in fact, Israel will make major strategic gains. How Gulf states became business partners in Israel’s occupationRead More »

It will align US security interests in the region even more closely with Israel’s, at the expense of its Arab neighbours. It will aid Israel’s continuing efforts to crush the national ambitions of the Palestinians, with many Arab states’ either explicit or implicit cooperation. It will accentuate political tensions within the bloc of Arab states, further weakening it. And it will help to build pressure on recalcitrant Arab states to join the broader consensus against Israel’s one remaining significant regional foe: Iran.

It is significant that Washington’s long-standing concern about Israel’s presence in Centcom damaging US relations with the Arab states has apparently evaporated. 

Once, the US was careful to distance itself from Israel whenever the Pentagon got deeply mired in the region, whether it was the US Gulf war of 1990 or the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Those calculations no longer seem relevant.

The move demonstrates a growing US confidence that the Arab states – at least those that matter to Washington – are unperturbed about being seen to make a military accommodation with Israel, in addition to political and economic engagement. It underscores the fact that the oil-rich Gulf states, alongside Israel, are now the key drivers of US foreign policy in the region and suggests that the most important, Saudi Arabia, is waiting for the right moment to sign its own accord with Israel. 

Move out of the shadows

Israel, it is expected, will continue to conduct military exercises in Europe with Nato countries, but will soon be able to build similar direct relations with Arab armies, especially those being rapidly expanded and professionalised in the Gulf using its oil wealth. 

US Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (L), Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), shakes hands with Saudi military officers during his visit to a military base in al-Kharj in central Saudi Arabia on July 18, 2019.
US General Kenneth McKenzie (L), commander of US Central Command (Centcom), shakes hands with Saudi military officers on 18 July 2019 (AFP)

As the Israeli scholar Jeff Halper has noted, Israel has shown how effective it is at translating its military and security ties with armies and police forces around the world into diplomatic support in international bodies. 

The Middle East is not likely to be different. Once Israel has become the linchpin of more professionalised armies in the region, those states dependent on its help can be expected to further abandon the Palestinian cause.

Regional divide-and-rule

Another dividend for Israel will be complicating Washington’s relations with the Arab region. 

Not only does Centcom operate major bases in the Gulf, especially in Bahrain and Qatar, but it leads the proclaimed “war on terror”, with overt or covert operations in several Arab states, including Iraq and Syria. 

With Israel inside Centcom, the US and its most favoured Arab states are also likely to be more directly implicated in Israel’s major military operations against the Palestinians, such as the repeated ‘wars’ on Gaza

It will be harder for the US to disentangle itself from Israel’s own openly belligerent operations, including air strikes, in both countries, that are conducted in flagrant violation of international law. Tensions between the US and Baghdad have in the past escalated over Israeli air strikes in Iraq, with threats to limit US access to Iraqi airspace.  

With Israel inside Centcom, the US and its most favoured Arab states are also likely to be more directly implicated in Israel’s major military operations against the Palestinians, such as the repeated “wars” on Gaza. 

This will pose a significant challenge to the region’s cooperative institutions such as the Arab League. It is almost certain to drive an even deeper wedge between pro-Washington Arab states and those accused of being on the wrong side of the “war on terror”.

The result could be a regional divide-and-rule policy cultivated by Israel that mirrors the decades-long, disabling divisions Israel has generated in the Palestinian leadership, most pronounced in the split between Fatah and Hamas.

Anti-Iran front

The biggest bonus for Israel will be a more formal alliance with Arab states against Iran and shepherding more ambivalent states into Israel’s orbit. 

That appears to have been the purpose of the recently well-publicised reconciliation between the UAE and Saudis on one side and Qatar on the other, achieved in the dying days of the Trump administration. One of the chief causes of the lengthy blockade of Qatar related to its insistence on maintaining political and economic ties with Tehran.

the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Hossein Salami (R) watching a launch of missiles during a military drill in an unknown location in central Iran
Head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami (R), watches missiles being launched during a military drill in central Iran on 15 January 2021 (AFP)

Israel’s aim is to force the Biden administration’s hand in continuing Trump’s belligerent anti-Iran policy, which included aggressive sanctions, assassinations and tearing up the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran signed by Barack Obama. That deal had given inspectors access to Iran to ensure it did not develop a nuclear bomb that might neutralise the strategic clout Israel gains from its nuclear arsenal.

Once Israel has become the linchpin of more professionalised armies in the region, those states dependent on its help can be expected to further abandon the Palestinian cause

Inside Centcom, Israel will be able to work more closely with Gulf allies to sabotage any efforts inside Washington to revive the nuclear accord with Tehran. That point was underscored last week when an online security conference, hosted by Tel Aviv University, was attended by two Gulf ministers.

At the conference, Kochavi, Israel’s military chief of staff, issued an unprecedented public rebuke to Biden over recent statements that he wished to revive the nuclear deal. Kochavi called the agreement “bad and wrong strategically and operatively”, claimed that Iran would launch nuclear missiles at Israel once it had them, and declared that a go-it-alone attack by Israel “must be on the table”. 

Bahrain’s foreign minister, Abdullatif al-Zayani, observed that Israel and the Gulf states would have a better chance of preventing any US conciliation towards Iran if they spoke in a “unified voice”. He added: “A joint regional position on these issues will exert greater influence on the United States.” 

That view was echoed by Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s foreign affairs minister.

Middle East bogeyman

In a sign of how the Biden administration is already fearful of taking on a broad Middle Eastern alliance against Iran, the new president’s pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said last month it was “vitally important” to consult with Israel and the Gulf states before re-entering the deal.Is the UAE plotting with Israel against Palestinian refugees?Read More »

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, desperate to bolster his electoral fortunes and deflect attention from his looming corruption trial, has every incentive to prise open that chink. 

Ensuring Iran remains the Middle East’s number one bogeyman – the focus of western hostility – is in the joint interests of an Israel that has no intention of ending its decades-old obstruction of Palestinian statehood and of Gulf states that have no intention of ending their own human rights abuses and promotion of Islamic discord.

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s departing secretary of state, planted a landmine last month designed to serve Israeli and Saudi interests by highlighting the fact that a number of al-Qaeda leaders have found shelter in Iran. That echoed the Bush administration’s – in this case, entirely fanciful – claim of ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein as a pretext, along with non-existent WMD, for the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

With Israel’s arrival in Centcom, the lobbying for a repeat of that catastrophic blunder can only grow – and with it, the prospects for renewed conflagration in the Middle East.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition

“ميدل إيست آي”: لماذا تنضم “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة المركزية الأميركية

المصدر: ميدل إيست آي
11 شباط 12:24

إن انضمام “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة المركزية الأميركية سيزيد من إلحاق الضرر بالقضية الفلسطينية وسيدق إسفيناً بين الدول العربية ويزيد من حدة التوتر مع إيران.

صورة تجمع ماكينزي بغانتس وكوخافي خلال زيارته

كتب جوناثان كوك مقالة في موقع  “ميدل إيست آي” البريطاني قال فيه إن البنتاغون أعلن الشهر الماضي عن إعادة تنظيم كبيرة لإدخال “إسرائيل” – لأول مرة – داخل قيادتها العسكرية في الشرق الأوسط، القيادة المركزية الأميركية ، إلى جانب الدول العربية، وهذا القرار الخطير لم يحدث أي من الضجة المعتادة.

وأضاف: حتى الآن، تنتمي “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة الأوروبية للجيش الأميركي، أو ، بدلاً من القيادة في الشرق الأوسط، المعروفة باسم القيادة المركزية . لقد تخلص القرار بشكل فعال من الحكمة التقليدية القائلة بأن إدراج “إسرائيل” في القيادة المركزية الأميركية من شأنه أن يزيد الاحتكاك بين الولايات المتحدة والدول العربية، وسيجعل الأخيرة أكثر إحجاماً عن مشاركة المعلومات الاستخباراتية أو التعاون مع البنتاغون. فقد تم الشعور بهذه المخاوف بشكل خاص عندما كان للولايات المتحدة أعداد كبيرة من القوات في العراق وأفغانستان. في عام 2010، أعرب الجنرال ديفيد بتريوس، قائد القيادة المركزية الأميركية آنذاك، عن مخاوفه من احتمال دفع ثمن التواطؤ العسكري الصريح مع “إسرائيل” على القوات الأميركية المتمركزة في المنطقة.

لكن هدف “إسرائيل” الطويل الأمد كان إجبار البنتاغون على إعادة هيكلة القيادة المركزية، وقد تصاعد الضغط من جماعات الضغط المؤيدة لـ”إسرائيل” في واشنطن في الأشهر الأخيرة من إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب. وكان القرار يشبه إلى حد كبير “هدية وداع” لـ”إسرائيل” من ترامب أثناء تنحيه.

تطبيع عسكري

وأوضح الكاتب أنه لم يتم الانتقال الرسمي لـ”إسرائيل” إلى “سنتكوم” بعد، ولكن تم تعزيز هذه الخطوة مع أول زيارة الشهر الماضي إلى “إسرائيل” من قبل الجنرال كينيث ماكنزي، الرئيس الحالي للقيادة المركزية، منذ دخول الرئيس جو بايدن البيت الأبيض. إلى جانب رئيس أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي، أفيف كوخافي، زرع ماكنزي شجرة، رسمياً بمناسبة العيد اليهودي لتو بيشفات، لكنها تمثل رمزياً حقبة جديدة في شراكتهما الاستراتيجية.

وبعد اجتماع مع الجنرال الأميركي، أصدر بيني غانتس، وزير الأمن الإسرائيلي، بياناً أشاد فيه بإعادة تنظيم البنتاغون، قائلاً إنه “سيوفر لإسرائيل فرصة لتعميق التعاون مع شركاء إقليميين جدد وتوسيع آفاق العمل”.

وقال الكاتب إن قرار إدخال “إسرائيل” داخل القيادة العسكرية الأميركية في الشرق الأوسط – من وجهة نظر واشنطن – يعتبر تتويجاً لجهود دفع الدول العربية إلى “التطبيع” العلني مع “إسرائيل”. وأضاف: يمكن الآن إضافة التطبيع العسكري إلى التطبيع السياسي والدبلوماسي والاقتصادي الذي بدأ رسمياً في أيلول / سبتمبر الماضي عندما وقعت دولتان خليجيتان، الإمارات العربية المتحدة والبحرين، ما يسمى بـ”اتفاقات إبراهيم” مع “إسرائيل”. كما أعلن المغرب والسودان عن اتفاقيات السلام الخاصة بهما مع “إسرائيل”، ومن المرجح أن تحذو دول عربية أخرى حذوها بمجرد انتهاء الغبار مع إدارة بايدن.

وتابع كوك: منذ توقيع اتفاقات إبراهيم، أقامت الإمارات علاقات تجارية قوية مع “إسرائيل” وساعدت في إنشاء صندوق إبراهيم، المصمم لتمويل البنية التحتية للاحتلال الذي استخدمته “إسرائيل” لحرمان الفلسطينيين من إقامة دولة. وعندما تم إطلاق الرحلات إلى دبي في تشرين الثاني / نوفمبر، تدفق السياح الإسرائيليون على الإمارات للاستفادة من العلاقات الودية الجديدة والهروب من قيود الإغلاق في الوطن. ويُقال على نطاق واسع إن مثل هذه الزيارات أصبحت إحدى الطرق الرئيسية التي استوردت بها “إسرائيل” أنواعًا جديدة من  فيروس كوفيد -19 الشهر الماضي، إذ أغلقت “إسرائيل” حدودها فعلياً – باستثناء استقبال الجنرال ماكنزي – لإبقاء الفيروس تحت السيطرة.

ورأى الكاتب أنه في ظاهر الأمر، فإن رغبة “إسرائيل” في الانتقال إلى “سنتكوم ، وهو نوع من حلف شمال الأطلسي في الشرق الأوسط يغطي العديد من الدول العربية التي لا تزال “إسرائيل” لديها علاقات عدائية معها، تبدو غير بديهية. لكن في الواقع، ستحقق “إسرائيل” مكاسب إستراتيجية كبيرة. وستعمل على مواءمة المصالح الأمنية الأميركية في المنطقة بشكل أوثق مع مصالح “إسرائيل”، على حساب جيرانها العرب. وسوف تساعد جهود “إسرائيل” المستمرة لسحق الطموحات الوطنية للفلسطينيين، مع تعاون العديد من الدول العربية سواء بشكل واضح أو ضمني. وسيزيد من حدة التوترات السياسية داخل كتلة الدول العربية، ويزيد من إضعافها. وسيساعد على زيادة الضغط على الدول العربية المتمردة للانضمام إلى إجماع أوسع ضد العدو الإقليمي الوحيد المتبقي لـ”إسرائيل”: إيران.

وقال الكاتب “إن من الأهمية بمكان أن قلق واشنطن الطويل الأمد بشأن الوجود الإسرائيلي في القيادة المركزية الأميركية الذي يضر بعلاقات الولايات المتحدة مع الدول العربية قد تبخر على ما يبدو. فذات مرة، كانت الولايات المتحدة حريصة على إبعاد نفسها عن “إسرائيل” كلما غرق البنتاغون بعمق في المنطقة، سواء كانت حرب الخليج الأميركية عام 1990 أو غزو العراق واحتلاله عام 2003. هذه الحسابات لم تعد موجودة. فقد أظهرت هذه الخطوة ثقة الولايات المتحدة المتزايدة في أن الدول العربية – على الأقل تلك التي تهم واشنطن – غير منزعجة من أن يُنظر إليها على أنها تقدم تسوية عسكرية مع “إسرائيل”، بالإضافة إلى المشاركة السياسية والاقتصادية. إنه يؤكد حقيقة أن دول الخليج الغنية بالنفط، إلى جانب “إسرائيل”، أصبحت الآن المحركين الرئيسيين للسياسة الخارجية الأميركية في المنطقة، وتشير إلى أن أهمها، المملكة العربية السعودية، تنتظر اللحظة المناسبة لتوقيع اتفاقها الخاص مع إسرائيل”.

وأضاف: من المتوقع أن تستمر “إسرائيل” في إجراء التدريبات العسكرية في أوروبا مع دول حلف الأطلسي (الناتو)، لكنها ستتمكن قريباً من بناء علاقات مباشرة مماثلة مع الجيوش العربية، وخاصة تلك التي يتم توسيعها بسرعة واحترافها في الخليج باستخدام ثروتها النفطية. ومن المحتمل أن يخرج الضباط الإسرائيليون قريباً من الظل ويقومون بتدريب الجيوش الإماراتية والسعودية وتقديم المشورة لهم كجزء من أدوارهم المشتركة في القيادة المركزية. إن خبرة “إسرائيل” الخاصة، التي تعتمد على عقود من المراقبة والسيطرة والقمع للفلسطينيين، ستكون مطلوبة بشدة في دول الخليج التي تخشى المعارضة الداخلية أو الانتفاضات.

وكما أشار الباحث الإسرائيلي جيف هالبر، أظهرت “إسرائيل” مدى فعاليتها في ترجمة علاقاتها العسكرية والأمنية مع الجيوش وقوات الشرطة في جميع أنحاء العالم إلى دعم دبلوماسي في الهيئات الدولية. ومن غير المحتمل أن يكون الشرق الأوسط مختلفاً. فبمجرد أن تصبح “إسرائيل” العمود الفقري للجيوش الأكثر احترافاً في المنطقة، يمكن توقع أن تتخلى تلك الدول التي تعتمد على مساعدتها عن القضية الفلسطينية.

فرّق تسد 

ورأى الكاتب أن المكاسب الأخرى لـ”إسرائيل” ستكون تعقيد علاقات واشنطن مع المنطقة العربية. إذ لا تقوم القيادة المركزية الأميركية بتشغيل قواعد رئيسية في الخليج فقط، وخاصة في البحرين وقطر، ولكنها تقود “الحرب على الإرهاب” المعلنة، مع عمليات علنية أو سرية في العديد من الدول العربية، بما في ذلك العراق وسوريا. وسيكون من الصعب على الولايات المتحدة أن تنأى بنفسها عن عمليات “إسرائيل” العدائية العلنية، بما في ذلك الضربات الجوية، في كلا البلدين (سوريا والعراق)، والتي تتم في انتهاك صارخ للقانون الدولي. 

وأضاف: تصاعدت التوترات بين الولايات المتحدة وبغداد في الماضي بسبب الضربات الجوية الإسرائيلية في العراق، مع تهديدات بتقييد وصول الولايات المتحدة إلى المجال الجوي العراقي. لكن بوجود “إسرائيل” داخل القيادة المركزية الأميركية، فمن المرجح أيضاً أن تكون الولايات المتحدة والدول العربية المفضلة لديها أكثر تورطًا بشكل مباشر في العمليات العسكرية الإسرائيلية الكبرى ضد الفلسطينيين، مثل “الحروب” المتكررة على غزة. سيشكل هذا تحدياً كبيراً للمؤسسات التعاونية في المنطقة مثل جامعة الدول العربية. ويكاد يكون من المؤكد دق إسفين أعمق بين الدول العربية الموالية لواشنطن وتلك المتهمة بالوقوف في الجانب الخطأ من “الحرب على الإرهاب”.

وخلص الكاتب إلى أنه يمكن أن تكون النتيجة سياسة “فرق تسد” الإقليمية التي ترعاها “إسرائيل” والتي تعكس الانقسامات التي دامت عقوداً، والتي عطلتها “إسرائيل” في القيادة الفلسطينية، والتي تجلّت أكثر في الانقسام بين حركتي فتح وحماس.

الجبهة المناهضة لإيران

وأوضح الكاتب أن المكافأة الأكبر لـ”إسرائيل” ستكون تحالفاً أكثر رسمية مع الدول العربية ضد إيران ورعاية دول أكثر تردداً في فلك “إسرائيل”. ويبدو أن هذا الأمر كان الغرض من المصالحة التي تم الإعلان عنها أخيراً بين الإمارات والسعوديين من جهة وقطر من جهة أخرى، والتي تحققت في الأيام الأخيرة لإدارة ترامب. فمن الأسباب الرئيسية للحصار المطول على قطر إصرارها على الحفاظ على العلاقات السياسية والاقتصادية مع طهران. وتهدف “إسرائيل” إلى إجبار إدارة بايدن على مواصلة سياسة ترامب العدائية المناهضة لإيران، والتي تضمنت عقوبات صارمة واغتيالات وتمزيق الاتفاق النووي لعام 2015 مع طهران الذي وقعه الرئيس باراك أوباما. وقد سمح هذا الاتفاق للمفتشين بالدخول إلى إيران للتأكد من أنها لم تطور قنبلة نووية قد تكسر النفوذ الاستراتيجي الذي تكسبه “إسرائيل” من ترسانتها النووية. 

وتابع الكاتب: داخل القيادة المركزية -سنتكوم، ستكون “إسرائيل” قادرة على العمل بشكل أوثق مع حلفاء الخليج لتخريب أي جهود داخل واشنطن لإحياء الاتفاق النووي مع طهران. فقد أصدر كوخافي، رئيس أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي، توبيخاً علنياً غير مسبوق لبايدن بشأن التصريحات الأخيرة التي قال فيها إنه يرغب في إحياء الاتفاق النووي. ووصف كوخافي الاتفاق بأنه “سيء وخاطئ استراتيجياً وعملياً”، وادعى أن إيران ستطلق صواريخ نووية على “إسرائيل” بمجرد امتلاكها، وأعلن أن هجوم “إسرائيل” بمفردها “يجب أن يكون على الطاولة”.

وأشار وزير خارجية البحرين، عبد اللطيف الزياني، إلى أن “إسرائيل” ودول الخليج ستكون لها فرصة أفضل لمنع أي تسوية أميركية تجاه إيران إذا تحدثت “بصوت موحد”. وأضاف: “الموقف الإقليمي المشترك بشأن هذه القضايا سيكون له تأثير أكبر على الولايات المتحدة”. وكرر هذا الرأي أنور قرقاش وزير الخارجية الإماراتي.

وفي إشارة إلى كيف تخشى إدارة بايدن بالفعل الدخول في تحالف شرق أوسطي واسع ضد إيران، قال انتوني بلينكين، وزيرة الخارجية الأميركي، الشهر الماضي إنه من “المهم للغاية” التشاور مع “إسرائيل” والخليج قبل العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي.

رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتنياهو، اليائس لتعزيز ثرواته الانتخابية وصرف الانتباه عن محاكمته التي تلوح في الأفق بالفساد، لديه كل الحافز لفتح هذه الفجوة، وذلك لضمان أن تظل إيران البعبع الأول في الشرق الأوسط – محور العداء الغربي – في المصالح المشتركة لـ”إسرائيل”، التي لا تنوي إنهاء عوائقها المستمرة منذ عقود للدولة الفلسطينية، ودول الخليج التي لا تنوي إنهاء انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان وتعزيز الانقسام الإسلامي.

مايك بومبيو، وزير خارجية ترامب، زرع لغماً أرضياً الشهر الماضي مصمماً لخدمة المصالح الإسرائيلية والسعودية من خلال تسليط الضوء على حقيقة أن عدداً من قادة تنظيم القاعدة وجدوا ملاذاً في إيران. وردد ذلك صدى ادعاء إدارة الرئيس جورج بوش الإبن – الوهمي تماماً – بوجود روابط بين “القاعدة” وصدام حسين كذريعة، إلى جانب أسلحة دمار شامل التي لم تكن موجودة، لغزو العراق واحتلاله عام 2003.

وختم كوك تحليله بالقول إنه “مع وصول إسرائيل إلى القيادة المركزية، فإن الضغط لتكرار هذا الخطأ الكارثي يمكن أن ينمو فقط، وتنمو معه احتمالات تجدد الحرب في الشرق الأوسط”.

ترجمة بتصرف: هيثم مزاحم

SAA Kills and Injures 16 Turkestan Islamist Party Terrorists North of Hama

ARABI SOURI 

Turkestan Islamist Party terrorist group - Syria - الحزب الاسلامي التركستاني

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) killed and injured 16 terrorists of the Turkestan Islamist Party in the northwestern countryside of Hama, central Syria.

The army units spotted a group of anti-Islamic Turkestan Islamist Party terrorists in the Al-Ghab Valley heading to their makeshift posts to attack Syrian Army posts in the area and targeted them with a guided-missile.

Local sources confirmed the killing of 7 terrorists at least and the injury of 9 others at the time of writing this report.

Turkish Madman Erdogan imported tens of thousands of radical terrorists from regions where his Muslim Brotherhood global radicalization groups operate, mainly in Central Asian countries all the way to the Chinese Xingyang Province of Muslim majority. The Turkestan Islamist Party is one of the backbones of these terrorist groups the Turkish pariah Erdogan uses in his regional influence spreading which spans from west China to Germany and from the Caucasus to north and western African countries.

The Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Aerospace Forces have increased their levels of readiness recently and resumed targeting the posts of terrorist groups sponsored by Turkey and the USA in Idlib and Hama provinces especially after the latest deadly attacks by ISIS and its affiliates against buses in the region. In the past week, the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out successful strikes against command centers, tunnels, and weapons depots in northern Idlib countryside, while the SAA targeted terrorist gatherings in the southern countryside of the province.

Terrorist groups designated as such by the United Nations Security Council are not included in the Moscow, Astana, and Sochi ceasefire agreements in which the Turkish regime of Erdogan is a signatory and he has not only failed to meet his commitments as per these agreements for the past 2 years, he has instead beefed up the terrorist groups operating under his command in northern Syria regions and sent thousands of Turkish army soldiers to serve as human shields between his terrorists and the Syrian Army units on Syrian territories.

Worth noting that Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s secretary of state delisted the Turkistan Islamist Party from the US list of terrorist groups last November 2020, despite the UNSC maintaining them as one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations with terrorist activities in a number of countries.

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GIDHR to Biden: Put an End to the War on Yemen

GIDHR to Biden: Put an End to the War on Yemen

By Staff, GIDHR.org

On the Global Day of Action for Yemen, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights addressed US President Joe Biden urging him to put an end to the war on Yemen.

Dear President Joe Biden,

We, in the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights [GIDHR], are writing to you to offer our congratulations on your election.

We are, also, writing to bring to your attention the unprecedented crisis in Yemen due to the war launched by Saudi and Emirati led coalition.

Targeting civilians

The Saudi and Emirati led coalition directly target Yemeni residential neighborhoods, schools, markets, leaving civilian casualties, without being held responsible for their crimes. It is estimated that, until November 2020, more than 100,000 Yemenis [including thousands of children and women] were directly targeted and killed.

These attacks are blatant violations to the international law which guarantees protecting the lives of civilians and children during armed conflicts. They also amount to be described as war crimes, whose perpetrators and those who ordered the attacks should be prosecuted.

Imminent Catastrophe

The high levels of food insecurity and acute malnutrition which knock on the Yemenis’ doors are alarming, especially with the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. Many people lost their jobs what to lead to an increase in the population rate who lost the ability to secure their needs, and an increase in the rate of those who need humanitarian aid.

The designation of Houthis as a foreign terrorist organisation by the former US secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, raised the concerns of worsening the famine and the humanitarian conditions in the country.

In this context, Mark Lowcock, the director general of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, called for the decision to be reversed. He warned the UN that “the likely humanitarian impact of the US decision would be a large-scale famine on a scale that we have not seen for nearly 40 years.”

David Beasley, the UN food chief, described the situation as “literally a death sentence to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent people, in Yemen”.

The systematic destruction of farms, fisheries, sewage, sanitation plants and much more had brought more suffering to the Yemeni people. UN reports estimate that two-thirds of Yemenis are already hungry and half of them do not know what their next meal is. Quarter the population suffer from malnutrition, ranging from moderate to severe, including more than two million children.

Blockade and siege

For nearly six years, Yemenis have been facing a blockade on all their ports, preventing humanitarian aid, food, medications, fuel, and any other goods from entering the country.

The blockade has been contributing to the humanitarian disaster which the Yemeni people are facing.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 131,000 Yemenis have died from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure. All these causes are results of the Saudi and Emirati led war on Yemen, their direct targeting of civilians and the blockade they are enforcing, starving millions and killing tens thousands of Yemenis.

Recommendations:

We are aware of your statements to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen. Hence, we urge you to:

  • End the US support of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen as soon as possible.
  • Stop the arms sales to Saudi Arabia and United Arabic Emirates.
  • Pressure the international community and the coalition, especially Saudi Arabia and United Arabic Emirates, to end the blockade enforced on Yemeni ports.
  • Hold the perpetrators and the instigators of the war crimes committed against the Yemeni people accountable and refer them before fair trials.
  • Compensate the victims of this war.
  • Reconstruct Yemen.

Yours sincerely,

Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights [GIDHR]

Pompeo’s Last Stand

Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Source

Philip Giraldi

January 21, 2021

The neocons and the media demand tough talk and even tougher action from their candidate and Pompeo is already running hard to oblige them.

Pompeo's Last Stand - TheAltWorld
© Photo: REUTERS/POOL New

It is finally over. Joe Biden has been inaugurated President of the United States while his predecessor Donald Trump has retired to Florida. Trump intends to remain the driving force in the Republican Party but there are many in the GOP who would like to see him gone completely and the national media is obliging by depriving him of a “voice,” cutting him off from his preferred social media. The Democratic Party’s top “megadonor” Israeli film producer Haim Saban goes one step farther, recommending that all the media stop reporting on Trump and his activities, thereby taking away his platform and making him disappear politically speaking.

Prior to the inauguration, which proceeded protected by an unprecedented display of military and police, there had been so much going on in and around Washington that other serious developments worldwide were not getting the attention that they merited. President Donald Trump was impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors” relating to his alleged encouragement of the January 6th rioting at the U.S. Capitol building, but to my mind the recent travels and meetings involving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could turn out to be far more damaging to America’s long-term interests. One wonders why Pompeo was engaging in frenetic activity with the Administration that he represented being about to vanish in a few days, but the answer is perhaps obvious. Trump and Pompeo want to lay a foreign policy mine field for the Joe Biden White House, locking the new administration into policies that will prove difficult to untangle.

Pompeo has been most active in four areas: Iran, China, Cuba and Yemen. Iran, as has often been the case with the Trump Israeli-driven policy in the Middle East, has been the principal focus. The Trump Administration has consistently responded to Israeli and also Saudi perceptions of the threat from Iran to the entire region, even though those claims were generally based on self-interests and deliberately falsified intelligence. Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran signed in 2015 and has been waging incrementally expanded economic warfare against the Iranians for the past three years. It has collaborated with the Israelis on assassinations and air attacks on primarily civilian targets in Syria and Lebanon.

During Trump’s last two weeks in power there was much talk about the possibility of a U.S. attack on Iran. The Israeli military was on alert and there was a surge in attacks on Syria, frequently using Lebanese airspace. One incident in particular on January 6th used U.S. intelligence to enable multiple bombing attacks on targets inside Syria, killing 57. Pompeo reportedly dined publicly in a well-known Washington restaurant Café Milano on the day after the carnage to discuss the “success” with Israel’s head of Mossad Yossi Cohen.

The public meeting with Cohen was a sign from the Trump Administration that the U.S. supports Israel’s bombing campaign against claimed Iranian targets in Syria. If Biden wishes to change that, he will have to do so publicly, earning the ire of Israel’s friends in the Democratic Party and media. And more was to come. Last Tuesday, Pompeo gave a speech in which he accused al-Qaeda and the Iranian government of being “partners in terror” , constituting an “axis” of terrorism. He further claimed that al-Qaeda has a “new home base” and a “new operational headquarters” built for it in Tehran, an assertion that ran counter to the intelligence collected by U.S. counterterrorism officials, who said there was no evidence to support such a claim. In fact, the Intelligence Community has long asserted that al-Qaeda is fundamentally hostile to Shi’ite Iran and that the Iranians return the favor. In other words, Pompeo is either lying or making something up that will be an impediment if Biden tries to improve relations with Tehran. Pompeo also went so far as to declare that Iran is the “new Afghanistan” for al-Qaeda, which is meant to imply that Iran is now its home base and safe haven. There is also no evidence to support that claim.

The Trump Administration has also included Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, based on nothing whatsoever, apparently as something of a throw away item to shore up support from the rabid Cuban exile community in Florida. So too the decision to designate the Houthis of Yemen as terrorists to give a parting gift to the Saudis and the UAE. Yemen is suffering from famine and the terror designation will have a drastic impact on imports of food and medicine, condemning many Yemenis to death. Daniel Larison opines that the “Houthi designation is by far the worst thing that Pompeo has done as Secretary of State, because if it is not quickly reversed it will lead directly to the deaths of tens and possibly even hundreds of thousands of people. It takes severe cruelty to look at a war-torn, famine-stricken country that depends heavily on outside aid and imports and then choose to suffocate the survivors with additional economic warfare. That is what Pompeo has done, we shouldn’t forget that.”

And, incidentally, the United States gains absolutely nothing from killing thousands of people in Yemen, but that is not all. Pompeo has also opened the door to new problems with China. His easing of the longstanding restrictions on contacts between American diplomats and Taiwanese has been described by the State Department as a strong gesture of support for the democratic government and “ally” in Taipei. It overturns more than forty years of “strategic ambiguity” which has prevailed since Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing and recognized the communist People’s Republic of China as China’s only legitimate government, to include over Taiwan by implication. The so-called “One China” principle states that Taiwan and China are part of the same China with the U.S. recognizing, though not necessarily endorsing, that the PRC has a historic claim to sovereignty over Taiwan.

Apart from locking in policies that Biden will find hard to shift, Pompeo also has a secondary motive. It is widely believed that he would like to run for president in 2024. He will need the support of the Israelis and their powerful domestic lobby as well as the Cubans in Florida and it does not hurt to show him playing hardball in the Middle East and against an increasingly vilified China. The so-called neocons, who have again become influential in the Republican Party and the media, demand tough talk and even tougher action from their candidate and Pompeo is already running hard to oblige them.

Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

Via The Saker

Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

January 19, 2021

The star of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show

The season opening of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show could not be a more appropriate roomful of mirrors reflecting the self-described US “political elite”.

During the 2000s, I came face to face with Baghdad’s Green Zone multiple times. I always stayed, and worked, in the hyper-volatile Red Zone – as you may check in my 2007 book Red Zone Blues.

We knew then that blowback would be inevitable.

But still, we could never have imagined such a graphic simulacrum: the Green Zone fully replicated in the heart of imperial D.C. – complete with walls, barbed wire, multiple checkpoints, heavily armed guards.

That is even more significant because it ends a full “new world order” geopolitical cycle: the empire started bombing – and cluster bombing – Iraq 30 years ago. Desert Storm was launched in January 17, 1991.

The Blue Zone is now “protected” by a massive 26,000 plus troop surge – way more than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The Forever Wars – which you may now relieve through my archives – have come back full circle.

Just like an ordinary Iraqi was not allowed inside the Green Zone, no ordinary American is allowed inside the Blue Zone.

Just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone represent none other than themselves.

The D.C. Blue Zone map

And just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone are viewed by half of the population in the Red Zone as an occupying force.

Only satire is capable of doing poetic justice to what is, de facto, the Potemkin inauguration of a hologram. So welcome to the most popular president in history inaugurated in secret, and fearful of his own, fake, Praetorian Guard. The Global South has seen this grisly show before – in endless reruns. But never as a homegrown Hollywood flick.

When in doubt, blame China

Meanwhile, trapped inside the Blue Zone, the White House has been busy compiling an interminable list of accomplishments.

Multitudes will go berserk relieving the appalling foreign policy disasters, courtesy of American Psycho Mike Pompeo; debunking the official narrative partially or as a whole; and even agreeing with the odd “accomplishment”.

Yet close attention should be paid to a key item: “Colossal Rebuilding of the Military”.

This is what is going to play a key role beyond January 20 – as Gen Flynn has been extremely busy showing evidence to the military, at all levels, of how “compromised” is the new Hologram-in-Chief.

And then there’s the rolling, never-ending November 3 drama. Blame should be duly apportioned. Impeachment, digital witch hunts, rounding up “domestic terrorists”, that is not enough. “Foreign interference” is a must.

Enter Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe, adamantly stating that “the People’s Republic of China sought to influence the 2020 U.S. federal elections.”

Ratcliffe was referring to a report sent to Congress on January 7 by the DNI’s Chief of the Solutions Division, or analytic ombudsman Barry Zulauf, side by side with an assessment about “foreign interference”.

A legitimate question is why it took them so long to finish this report. And it gets wackier: the full intel on the report about foreign interference was scotched by none other than CIA higher-ups.

The ombudsman states that the groups of analysts working on Russian and Chinese interference used different standards. Russia, of course, was guilty from the start: a categorical imperative. China had the benefit of the doubt.

Ratcliffe actually states that some analysts refused to blame Beijing for election interference because they were – what else – Never Trumpers.

So Langley, we’ve got a problem. Pompeus “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Minimus is CIA. He qualifies the Chinese Communist Party as the greatest evil in the history of mankind. How would he not influence his minions to produce, by any means necessary, any instance of Chinese election interference?

At the same time, for the Dem Deep State faction, Russia is perpetually guilty of…whatever.

This rift inside the Deep State roomful of mirrors delightfully reverberates the Blue Zone/Red Zone schism.

Needless to add, in both the ombudsman’s report and Ratcliffe’s letter, there is absolutely no hard evidence of Chinese interference.

As for Russia, apart from election interference – once again, no evidence – the Dem Deep State Dementia apparatus is still busy trying to blame Moscow also for 1/6. The latest gambit centers on a MAGA chick who may have stolen Pelosi’s laptop from her office at the Capitol to sell it to the SVR, Russian foreign intel.

The whole Global South – Baghdad’s Green Zone included – just can’t get enough of the greatest show on earth. Do they sell bananas in the Blue Zone?

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