Punishing the World With Sanctions

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Philip Giraldi
August 15, 2019

Sanctions are economic warfare, pure and simple. As an alternative to a direct military attack on a country that is deemed to be misbehaving they are certainly preferable, but no one should be under any illusions regarding what they actually represent. They are war by other means and they are also illegal unless authorized by a supra-national authority like the United Nations Security Council, which was set up after World War II to create a framework that inter alia would enable putting pressure on a rogue regime without going to war. At least that was the idea, but the sanctions regimes recently put in place unilaterally and without any international authority by the United States have had a remarkable tendency to escalate several conflicts rather than providing the type of pressure that would lead to some kind of agreement.

The most dangerous bit of theater involving sanctions initiated by the Trump administration continues to focus on Iran. Last week, the White House elevated its extreme pressure on the Iranians by engaging in a completely irrational sanctioning of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The sanctions will have no effect whatsoever and they completely contradict Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that he is seeking diplomacy to resolving the conflict with Iran. One doesn’t accomplish that by sanctioning the opposition’s Foreign Minister. Also, the Iranians have received the message loud and clear that the threats coming from Washington have nothing to do with nuclear programs. The White House began its sanctions regime over a year ago when it withdrew from the JCPOA and they have been steadily increasing since that time even though Iran has continued to be fully compliant with the agreement. Recently, the US took the unprecedented step of sanctioning the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is part of the nation’s military.

American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made clear that the sanctions on Iran are intended to cause real pain, which, in fact, they have succeeded in doing. Pompeo and his accomplice in crime National Security Advisor John Bolton believe that enough pressure will motivate the starving people to rise up in the streets and overthrow the government, an unlikely prospect as the American hostility has in fact increased popular support for the regime.

To be sure, ordinary people in Iran have found that they cannot obtain medicine and some types of food are in short supply but they are not about to rebel. The sanctioning in May of Iranian oil exports has only been partially effective but it has made the economy shrink, with workers losing jobs. The sanctions have also led to tit-for-tat seizures of oil and gas tankers, starting with the British interception of a ship carrying Iranian oil to Syria in early July.

Another bizarre escalation in sanctions that has taken place lately relates to the Skripal case in Britain. On August 2nd, Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing a package of new sanctions against Moscow over the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in March 2018. The order “prohibit[s] any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit… except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities or products.” The ban also includes “the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance… by international financial institutions,” meaning that international lenders will also be punished if they fail to follow Washington’s lead.

The sanctions were imposed under the authority provided by the US Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act adopted in 1991, which imposes penalties for use of chemical weapons. Novichok, which was reportedly used on the Skripals, is a chemical weapon developed in the labs of the Soviet Union, though a number of states are believed to currently have supplies of the agent in their arsenals. Russia can appeal the sanctions with 90 days by providing “reliable assurance” that it will not again use chemical weapons.

Russia has strenuously denied any role in the attack on the Skripals and the evidence that has so far been produced to substantiate the Kremlin’s involvement has been less than convincing. An initial package of US-imposed sanctions against Russia that includes the export of sensitive technologies and some financial services was implemented in August 2018.

Venezuela is also under the sanctions gun and is a perfect example how sanctions can escalate into something more punitive, leading incrementally to an actual state of war. Last week Washington expanded its sanctions regime, which is already causing starvation in parts of Venezuela, to include what amounts to a complete economic embargo directed against the Maduro regime that is being enforced by a naval blockade.

The Venezuelan government announced last Wednesday that the United States Navy had seized a cargo ship bound for Venezuela while it was transiting the Panama Canal. According to a government spokesman, the ship’s cargo was soy cakes intended for the production of food. As one of Washington’s raisons d’etre for imposing sanctions on Caracas was that government incompetence was starving the Venezuelan people, the move to aggravate that starvation would appear to be somewhat capricious and revealing of the fact that the White House could care less about what happens to the Venezuelan civilians who are caught up in the conflict.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez condemned the move as “serious aggression,” and accused the Trump Administration of trying to impede Venezuela’s basic right to import food to feed its people.

One of the most pernicious aspects of the sanctions regimes that the United States is imposing is that they are global. When Washington puts someone on its sanctions list, other countries that do not comply with the demands being made are also subject to punishment, referred to as secondary sanctions. The sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, for example, are being globally enforced with some few exceptions, and any country that buys Iranian oil will be punished by being denied access to the US financial and banking system. That is a serious penalty as most international trade and business transactions go through the dollar denominated SWIFT banking network.

Finally, nothing illustrates the absurdity of the sanctions mania as a recent report that President Trump had sent his official hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to Stockholm to obtain freedom for an American rap musician ASAP Rocky who was in jail after having gotten into a fight with some local boys. The Trumpster did not actually know the lad, but he was vouched for by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, both of whom have had nice things to say about the president. The negotiator was instructed to tell Sweden that if they did not release Rocky there would be “negative consequences.” Who can doubt that the consequences would undoubtedly have included sanctions?

It has reached the point where the only country that likes the United States is Israel, which is locked into a similar cycle of incessant aggression. To be sure Donald Trump’s rhetoric is part of the problem, but the indiscriminate, illegal and immoral use of sanctions, which punish whole nations for the presumed sins of those nations’ leaders, is a major contributing factor. And the real irony is that even though sanctions cause pain, they are ineffective. Cuba has been under sanctions, technically and embargo, since 1960 and its ruling regime has not collapsed, and there is no chance that Venezuela, Iran or Russia’s government will go away at any time soon either. In fact, real change would be more likely if Washington were to sit down at a negotiating table with countries that it considers enemies and work to find solutions to common concerns. But that is not likely to happen with the current White House line-up, and equally distant with a Democratic Party obsessed with the “Russian threat” and other fables employed to explain its own failings.

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غيبوبة العرب تتفاقم؟

أغسطس 10, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تطلُّ الدول العربية على القسم الأكبر من بحار الخليج وعدن والأحمر ومقدّمات المحيط الهندي والبحر الأبيض المتوسط متفردة بالسيطرة على أهم مضيقين عالميين لهما اهميات استراتيجية واقتصادية على المستوى العالمي، وهما قناة السويس وباب المندب ومشاركة في «الإطلالة العاطفية البصرية» على مضيق هرمز.

هذه الاستراتيجية الشديدة التميّز يتجاهلها العرب متخلين عن ادوارها للغرب وكل عابر سبيل وصولاً الى سماحهم «لشقيقتهم» «إسرائيل» بالمشاركة في حماية أمن الملاحة في بحارهم كوسيلة لتحصين أنظمتهم ومحاربة إيران، فتبدو هذه البحار المنشودة عالمياً وكأنها أوزار ثقيلة على كواهل أصحابها العرب الذين يتمنّون لو لم تكن على سواحلهم متخلين عنها لرعاتهم الدوليين والإقليميين.

بالمقابل يصاب الأميركيون بابتهاج عميق لهذه الغيبوبة العربية السخية التي تسمح لهم بتجديد مشاريعهم المتعثرة في منطقة الشرق الاوسط، فما أن اندحر الإرهاب في سورية مُنكفئاً في العراق ومراوحاً في اليمن ومحاصراً في لبنان حتى اندفع الأميركيون نحو إيران فارضين عليها أفظع عقوبات معروفة في التاريخ مع محاولات لحصارها، ولم يكتفوا لأنها صمدت، مهرولين نحو خطة للسيطرة على البحار العربية الإيرانية في الخليج بشعار حماية أمن الملاحة وضمّ البحرين الأحمر والمتوسط إليها.

بهذه الطريقة يمسك الأميركيون بـ»خناق» المنطقة العربية ولا يحتاجون الى احتلال مناطق برية ما يؤمن لهم السيطرة على الدول العربية وتفجير إيران وإلغاء القضية الفلسطينية برعاية حلف إسرائيلي خليجي يجهض أي احتمال لتقارب سوري عراقي يمني، فمثل هذا التنسيق له تداعيات على النفوذ الأميركي في المنطقة ويعرقل الاستقرار الذي تنعمُ به العروش الملكية في الخليج.

أما الجهة الثالثة المصممة على المنافسة على أمن الخليج فهي التنسيق الروسي الإيراني الذي يدرك ان امن الملاحة في الخليج ليس إلا واجهة سطحية لاستعمار أميركي جديد يريد إعادة تشكيل المنطقة العربية على إيقاع يدعم نفوذه الأحادي في العالم او يمنع من تراجعه على الأقل.

إن هذه الجهة أصبحت مدعومة من جهات دولية كثيرة على رأسها الصين، لكن سورية هي عمقها العربي الذي يعتبر «مشروع أمن الملاحة» تجديداً للمشروع الإرهابي انما في البحار، لذلك تحمي سورية ساحلها المتوسطي بوسيلتين: قواتها البحرية والقواعد الروسية، فحجم التهديد أميركي أوروبي إسرائيلي غير قابل للجم إلا بنظام تحالفات قابل للتطوير باتجاهين الصين والعراق وهما ضرورتان لاستكمال حلف سورية مع روسيا وإيران.

هناك أيضاً طرف أوروبي لا يعرف حتى الآن أين يضع رأسه وهل باستطاعته تنظيم معادلة اوروبية خاصة به تحمي أمن الخليج بما يعنيه من مطامع اقتصادية وجيوبوليتيكية؟ أم يندمج في الحلف الأميركي فيبقى تحت إبط الأميركي لا يلوي على مكاسب وصفقات؟ أما اندفاعه باتجاه إيران وحليفتها روسيا والصين فلن يسمح الأميركيون به بوسائل مختلفة من بينها استعداد قوى أوروبية داخلية لإثارة اضطرابات شعبية على حكوماتها بطلب أميركي او بإقفال الأسواق الأميركية في وجه الشركات الاقتصادية الاوروبية وهذا يضع القطاع الاقتصادي الخاص في اوروبا في وجه حكوماته، وهو قادر على عرقلتها وربما إسقاطها من مشارق الأرض ومغاربها لادارة امن ملاحة في منطقة تبعد عنها عشرات آلاف الأميال يجوز التساؤل أين هم عرب منطقة أمن الملاحة ؟ واين هم العرب المجاورون؟

فالعالم بأسره منجذب الى البحار العربية وعربها فارون منها. والدليل أن هناك ثماني عشرة دولة عربية تطل على الخليج وعدن والاحمر والهندي والمتوسط، مقابل ثلاث دول هي موريتانيا والصومال وجزر القمر ليس لها إطلالات بحرية عليها.

أهناك دولة عربية واحدة على علاقة بأمن الخليج؟

فيكاد المرء يتفاجأ بصمت مصر الدولة البحرية التي يفترض أنها ممسكة ببحري الأحمر والمتوسط وقناة السويس وغيبة السودان في أزمته واليمن المحاصر الذي يجابه السعودية في أعالي صعدة وعينه على باب المندب، أما السعودية بإطلالتيها على الخليج والبحر الأحمر فتطلق اصواتاً تثيرُ فقط الاستعمار الأميركي والتحالف مع «إسرائيل» ومثلها الامارات والبحرين وقطر وعمان والكويت، أما العراق المنهمك بالتشظي الداخلي والاحتلال الأميركي وبالصراع الكردي على أراضيه فإطلالته خجولة.

أما لجهة شرقي المتوسط فسورية تجابه الأميركيين والأتراك والإسرائيليين والإرهاب والتمويل الخليجي، فيما لبنان منهمك بمتاعبه الداخلية وفلسطين اسيرة الاحتلال الإسرائيلي والتخلي العربي والأردن منجذب لوظائفه الأميركية وهذا حال السودان المأزوم داخلياً ومعها الجزائر فيما تقبع تونس في همومها الداخلية، والمغرب ضائع في أدواره الغربية ولن ننسى ليبيا التي يرعى الغرب حروبها الداخلية لتفتيتها الى امارات نفط.

هذه هي الغيبوبة التاريخيّة التي تغطي عودة القوى العالمية الى استعمار المنطقة العربية.

وهنا لا بدّ من التعويل على دور سورية التي تجابه الغرب الاستعماري والمطامع التركية وغيبوبة العرب في معادلة تحالف مع إيران وروسيا لإعادة انتاج منطقة عربية بحجم الانتصار السوري الذي يشكل مع الصمود الإيراني الوسيلة الحصرية لإيقاظ العرب من الغيبوبة التاريخية التي تسمح للاستعمار بالعودة مجدداً.

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Adding Context to ‘News’ about Venezuela

Adding Context to ‘News’ about VenezuelaAugust 11, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

This past week’s meeting of the U.S.-and-Canada-created anti-Venezuela Lima Group of nations failed to achieve the U.S. regime’s intention of organizing a coalition of its members to participate in a U.S.-led invasion to overthrow Venezuela’s Government and install Trump’s choice, the self-styled ‘interim President’ of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, to rule there. Although 100 nations had been invited, only 60 attended, and the U.S. regime wasn’t able to obtain even one ally for an invasion. John Bolton (U.S. National Security Advisor) and Wilbur Ross (U.S. Secretary of ‘Commerce’ — mainly U.S. oil companies) represented U.S. President Trump at the meeting, which started on August 5th. The meeting ended with no official announcement. It was a humiliating defeat for the U.S. regime.

Below is a report about this meeting, by Agence France-Presse, a typical U.S.-allied ‘news’-medium. The italicized additions in brackets in and near the article’s end are essential historical context; it’s taken from Wikipedia’s article International sanctions during the Venezuelan crisis”, and thus also isn’t from me. This way, the reader will be able to see what the ‘news’-report here leaves out, which is essential background in order for readers to know the reality that stands behind this particular ‘news’ report. The minor typos in the original report are also left unchanged; the entire article is unchanged, except that I boldface the passages toward the end, which passages are subsequently contextualized immediately below them. Afterward, I shall add my own comments, in order to provide a fuller context:

——

http://archive.is/pNGYl

https://www.france24.com/en/

US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens

Date created: Tuesday 6 August 2019,  06/08/2019 – 20:07

AFP, Lima (AFP): Washington warned third parties on Tuesday to avoid doing business with the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro, as delegates from some 60 countries met in Lima to discuss ways of ending the crisis in South American nation.

The warning came one day after President Donald Trump ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and barred transactions with its authorities.

“We are sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with the Maduro regime: proceed with extreme caution,” said Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaking in Lima.

“There is no need to risk your business interests with the United States for the purposes of profiting from a corrupt and dying regime.”

The Trump administration is determined to force Maduro from power and support opposition leader Juan Guaido’s plans to form a transitional government and set up new elections.

The sanctions drew an angry response from Caracas, which denounced the US move as “another serious aggression by the Trump administration through arbitrary economic terrorism against the Venezuelan people.”

Crisis-wracked Venezuela has been mired in a political impasse since January when Guaido, speaker of the Natinal Assembly, proclaimed himself acting president, quickly receiving the support of more than 50 countries.

Tuesday’s meeting was called by the Lima Group, which includes a dozen Latin American countries and Canada, most of which support Guaido.

The Lima meeting comes as representatives of Maduro and Guaido are involved in “continuous” negotiations mediated by Norway.

The first round of talks were in Oslo in May, and three further rounds have taken place in Barbados.

Caracas claims the US sanctions show that Washington and its allies are “committed to the failure of the political dialogue” because “they fear the results and benefits.”

Bolton, who is in the US delegation alongside Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said Maduro was “not serious” about talks.

He said Trump’s move “authorizes the US government to identify, target and impose sanctions on any persons who continue to provide support” Maduro’s “illegitimate regime.”

He said it would “deny Maduro access to the global financial system and to further isolate him internationally.”

Venezuela’s opposition considers Maduro a usurper over his re-election last year in a poll widely viewed as rigged.

They want him to stand down so new elections can be held — but Maduro, with support from the country’s powerful military, refuses to go.

Maduro says the talks must lead to “democratic coexistence” and an end to what he describes as an attempted US-orchestrated “coup.”

But on Tuesday the White House was emphatic: the “dictatorship must end for Venezuela to have a stable, democratic, and prosperous future.”

The United States would “use every appropriate tool to end Maduro’s hold on Venezuela,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Oil-rich but cash-poor Venezuela has been in a deep recession for five years.

[“President Barack Obama signed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, a U.S. Act imposing sanctions on Venezuelan individuals held responsible by the United States for human rights violations during the 2014 Venezuelan protests, in December of that year.[13][14] It “requires the President to impose sanctions” on those “responsible for significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses associated with February 2014 protests or, more broadly, against anyone who has directed or ordered the arrest or prosecution of a person primarily because of the person’s legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly”.[8]”]

Food and medicine shortages are routine, and public services are progressively failing.

[“As the humanitarian crisis deepened and expanded, the Trump administration levied more serious economic sanctions against Venezuela on 28 January [2019], and “Maduro accused the US of plunging Venezuelan citizens further into economic crisis.”[3] Rafael Uzcátegui, director of PROVEA, added that “sanctions against PDVSA are likely to yield stronger and more direct economic consequences, and that “[w]e should remember that 70 to 80 percent of Venezuela’s food is imported, and there’s barely any medicine production in the country.”[3]”]

——

MY COMMENTS: The U.S. regime’s sanctions against Venezuelans were aimed at producing such distress amongst the population so as to cause them not to vote for Maduro. It didn’t work. The sanctions had the intended effect of distressing Venezuelans, but this deprivation drove so many of the most anti-Maduro Venezuelans to leave the country so that the sanctions failed to force the expected “regime change.” It drove too many of his enemies out. The U.S. regime is therefore trying even-stronger measures to grab the country. Trump is dictating to Venezuela that “the dictatorship must end.” He has even chosen the person, Guaido, who is to replace the current nationally elected President, whom the U.S. regime has long been trying to oust. Guaido has never even been a candidate in any national Venezuelan election, but he was trained in the U.S., and has always cooperated with the U.S. Government’s repeated efforts to take control over Venezuela. Venezuela has never invaded nor even threatened the United States. This coup-attempt is purely an effort for imperialistic conquest of Venezuela, but it is cloaked in ‘democratic’ and ‘humanitarian’ lies, for fools, like America’s invasions and coups typically are. Only idiots can’t see what the U.S. pattern is here, especially after the lies that had suckered Americans in 2003 to support “regime-change in Iraq.” Trump is continuing Barack Obama’s policy, which continued that of George W. Bush. Whatever changes in personnel occur within the U.S. regime, the regime itself remains basically the same, though its theatrics change, and that’s enough change to satisfy most Americans that we live in a democracy. Virtually all of the U.S. Congress supports these efforts to conquer Venezuela, and this fascism includes all of the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidates. Therefore, none of the candidates are being challenged about their votes supporting this (or any other) attempted conquest by the U.S. regime. The neoconservative policy is bipartisan in America, though the personnel do change, from the representatives of one group of billionaires, to the representatives of another group of billionaires. And the vast majority of Americans think that it’s good, or at least okay — even after all of the lies have been exposed, they still approve. Of course, most Italians, Japanese, and Germans, thought favorably about their Government’s imperialistic conquests, during WW II; but Americans became opposed to that when we were hit by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war against us. This time around, we are the Japanese, and the Germans, and the Italians. Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way, but it has happened. The U.S. is today the world’s leading fascist nation. And very few Americans recognize that it’s the way that things did turn out. Very few Americans know that we live in a fascist nation — today’s leading fascist nation.

AFTER THAT NEWS-REPORT:

The next day, August 7th, Venezuela’s Telesur headlined “EU Opposes Recent US Total Blockade Against Venezuela” and reported that Trump had failed to get the EU — his biggest hope for destroying Venezuela short of militarily invading it — to accept even that proposal. The EU said “We oppose the extraterritorial application of unilateral measures.” They further said “A negotiated outcome remains the only sustainable way to overcome this multidimensional crisis.” The EU couldn’t muster enough fascists to go along with anything that the U.S. regime proposed. At this point, Trump isn’t far from the moment when he will need either to abandon his effort to grab Venezuela in this round, or else spring a blitz invasion without allies. Even if he calls off the effort, that would only be temporary. Perhaps if and when he is re-elected, he will feel freer just to send in thousands of troops, tanks, and missiles, to get the job done. However, if Russia stands firm, then such an invasion could spark WW III. He would have to decide whether grabbing the world’s largest oil reserves is worth that risk. Meanwhile, he will almost certainly continue to try to make life as difficult as possible for the Venezuelan people, all the while blaming Maduro for their misery. This has been the basic American plan, since well before Trump occupied the White House. At this stage, an American President is just a figurehead for one or another faction of America’s 607 billionaires, and it seems that whereas some of them demand conquest of Venezuela, none of the others opposes such a conquest. The only issue, therefore, for the American regime, is how and when to do that.

On August 8th, Venezuela, Iran, China, and Russia, held “war games” at Kaliningrad, Russia, on the Baltic coast, which military exercises had been organized by Russia, perhaps in order to indicate to Washington that a U.S. invasion against any of these four would be militarily responded to by all of the four. This symbolic act warns the fascist, and fascist-accepting, regimes: Your imperialist alliance has 60 nations, but is fractious; ours, on the other hand — all resolute supporters of national sovereignty, and therefore opponents of imperialism — has 4 nations, but we are united. Consequently, though “US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens,” Venezuela’s three allies here answered that verbal threat immediately after the Lima Group meeting, by a joint action, which symbolized that they are ignoring it.

—————

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

Venezuela and Iran in the Crosshairs of Murderers Inc – Who is Next?

Venezuela and Iran in the Crosshairs of Murderers Inc – Who is Next?August 09, 2019

by Peter Koenig for The Saker blog

Imagine just for a moment, the World would stand up in unison, sick and tired of the aggressive killer arrogance of the United States and her vassals – and their joint war-force called NATO – and this World, our World, what’s left of it when you deduct Washington and its Brussels allies, would at once block every shipment of everything destined for the ports of the United States of America; every sea port, airport and road port. Hermetically. Nothing would enter. Nothing, no food, no medicine, no electronics, no cars – no nothing. And nothing could leave. No exports, no petrol, no grains, no meat, no pharmaceuticals and foremost, no weapons. Nothing.

And now, take your mind a step further – and imagine the same – exactly the same, a total and full blockage of Israel – nothing would enter, no food, no fuel, no medication, no machinery and especially no weapons – and nothing would leave; a full and total blockage.

This would of course be totally illegal; illegal and unacceptable, by any international law, by the standards of the UN Charter, by the Human Rights Laws and Directives – by any ethical values of human morals. Wouldn’t it? – Yet, this is exactly what these countries are doing, have been doing for decades, sanctioning to strangle and murder entire populations into death or submission. The US with Cuba; Israel with Palestine. And the coercion and strangulation go on, unabated.

The longest embargo – illegal, inhuman and outright criminal – Washington imposed on Cuba – 60 years. Because Cuba has chosen socialism as her form of state and government. Cuba survived and will never give in to the tyrant of the north.

Now the US is expanding her palette of killing by impunity to dominate and subjugate nation after nation which they do not consider bending sufficiently to the dictate of their masters. Venezuela has been targeted for two decades, ever since former President Hugo Chavez was democratically elected in 1998; and Iran, ever since the US-imposed Shah was deposed in 1979 – exactly 40 years ago – by Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Both Venezuela and Iran are rich in natural resources, especially hydrocarbons but also in gold, rare earths and other precious metals and stones.

Contrary to what one would like to imagine, international world bodies, like the United Nations and her sister and associated organizations remain just about silent. When a high-level official utters some benign criticism of the US or Israel – it flairs up for a moment in the ‘news’, then it disappears again, as if it never happened. And indeed, nothing happens. They – the US and Israel – go on with their crimes in impunity.

The latest is an open declaration of economic warfare by Washington, a total embargo on Venezuela; the embargo is now being turned into a naval blockade. Similar steps are to be taken for Iran. That literally means that no merchandise – no matter how vital for survival, like food and medication, is allowed into Venezuela. Three days ago, the US seized, totally illegally, a cargo ship attempting to deliver food and medication to Venezuela – in the Panama Canal, territory which the US does not own or control anymore.

The ship was carrying soy cakes, from which Venezuela was to produce food. Never mind, that the cargoes are fully paid for by Venezuela. And this seems to be just the beginning. Vessels leaving Venezuela with petrol deliveries to client countries are also targeted for blockage, thus confiscating, or rather stealing, Venezuela’s main source of income on which she intends to survive and feed and provide health care for her people. This, in addition to the more than 130 billion dollars total Venezuelan assets confiscated – stolen – by the US worldwide .

And nobody says beep. Almost. Yes, there are some collective protests by countries in solidarity – like key members of the Sao Paulo Forum, as well as more than 60 members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM – total 120 members) that have become especially active in recent years in defense of Venezuela within the United Nations. Protests and protest declarations also take place by ALBA members, a Latin American trade alliance (ALBA – Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, 11 members [Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Ecuador, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Grenada and the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis]).

But most interesting are the hypocrites, those who write and scream that Venezuelans are starving to death, that the Maduro government neglects its people – yet these accusers-in-falsehood – let the US and her vassals strangle Venezuela and steal her foreign assets, including foreign reserves and gold, food and medical imports – they are saying zilch, nada, nothing. Just watching.

To top it all off, the Human Rights Commissioner, Madame Michelle Bachelet, Hypocrite-in-chief, who recently visited Venezuela, at the invitation of President Nicolas Maduro, on a Human Rights mission, and who delivered a devastating report about Venezuela’s HR, full of lies, half-truths and outright omissions, not mentioning with one word the US inspired coup attempts, the US-funded opposition and its bloody atrocities on the Chavista population, and the strangulating and starving by the US and US-dictated European sanctions – Madame Bachelet now came forward condemning the naval blockade. Great. But she did not stand up against the deadly embargo by the US and the European Union. – What credibility remains for the Human Rights Commission? – The world can see it – it’s all bought, coerced into submission, like so many other UN agencies by the Murderers Inc.

If we are not careful, they are soon going to rule the globe. Thanks god, for Russia and China – which are also subjects of US-EU sanctioning and targeted for take-over. But they are a tiny little bit too big and too strong for this sort of games by the decaying US empire and her obedient rats on the sinking ship.

Similarly, the European Union – despots as they have been for hundreds of years as colonialists in Africa, Asia and Latin America – and continue in a modern colonial role through economic control of much of Africa – this very EU, has been sanctioning Venezuela for years on the orders of Washington, naturally, who else? – Now they condemn the naval blockade, but continue their routine sanctions regime.

According to a study carried out by the Washington DC based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), under guidance of Mark Weisbrot, CEPR co-director and Jeffrey Sachs, economics professor, Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, New York, US and EU sanctions have cost some 40,000 Venezuelan lives. This mainly since August 2017, when Washington escalated its unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela and her state oil company, PDVSA, cutting them off international financial markets.

Yes, the world would have plenty of reasons to stand up and dish out similar naval and air blockades against the US and Israel. Just as a teaser to begin with, and if that doesn’t send a strong enough wake-up message, perhaps such embargoes should be considered on a longer-term indefinite scale. It’s illegal. But we are living in a world where international laws don’t count – where laws are made, as we go, by the self-declared hegemon, the US of A, and her symbiotic Middle East ally, Israel. – So, why not nudging the legal, moral and ethical order back into balance?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.  Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Food Shipment Destined For Venezuela Seized Due to US Blockade

By teleSUR

Aerial view of the new Panama Canal expansion project on the outskirt of Colon City.

Aerial view of the new Panama Canal expansion project on the outskirt of Colon City. | Photo: Reuters

The ship was seized in the Panama canal according to the Venezuela government.

Venezuela’s Vicepresident Delcy Rodriguez denounced Wednesday that a ship containing 25 thousand tons of soy-made products has been seized in the Panama Canal due to the U.S. blockade while calling on the United Nations to take action against the “serious aggression” that impede Venezuela “right to food”.

“Venezuela denounces before the world that a boat that holds 25 thousand tons of tons of soy, for food production in our country, has been seized in the Panama Canal, due to the criminal blockade imposed by Donald Trump,” the vice president said in a tweet.

“Venezuela calls on the UN to stop this serious aggression by DonaldTrump’s govt against our country, which constitutes a massive violation of the human rights of the entire Venezuelan people, by attempting to impede their right to food.”

In a subsequent tweet, the Venezuelan senior official explained that the owner of the vessel carrying the merchandise of food was informed by the insurance company that it was prevented from moving that cargo to Venezuela.

The shipment seizure comes just days after Trump signed an executive order Monday that imposes a near-total blockade on government assets in that country, which includes an embargo against food suppliers, among other basic inputs. This is the first time in 30 years that Washington has taken such an action against a sovereign country.

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Resistance report: New ceasefire stops Syrian Army offensive while Washington-Tehran row grows stranger by the day

August 07, 2019

Resistance report: New ceasefire stops Syrian Army offensive while Washington-Tehran row grows stranger by the day

by Aram Mizraei for The Saker Blog

This week saw the Syrian Army re-commit to the previously undertaken Northwestern Syria offensive as they attacked and liberated several villages after a few weeks of relative calm across the battlefield. While terrorists still roam freely across Idlib and Hama, this offensive could be pivotal to the war effort as the aim would be to eliminate the jihadist presence in Latakia and Hama. Sputnik News Agency, citing a Syrian Arab Army source reported that Syrian Army forces are working to control the strategic hills near Kabani (Latakia) before they launch a large-scale attack.

[Excerpts from the Sputnik report] “Work is being done to control a range of strategic hills in the area and on the axes of the Zuwayqat Mountain and Height 1154,” the Syrian Army source said, adding that taking control of these sites will pave the way for the military to capture Kabani.

Kabani, situated at a high mountain top has been a constant thorn in the side of the Syrian Army and its allies as they have for years tried and failed every time to capture this town. Due to Kabani’s high elevation, the Syrian Arab Army has struggled to break through the jihadist defences, despite their constant airstrikes on the town.

[Update] Unfortunately, on Friday, the Syrian Army announced once more that the Syrian Army will agree on a ceasefire in Idlib if the militants retreat from the 20-km-long demilitarized zone in northwestern Syria. According to a military source near the front-lines, the Syrian Army is willing to halt their hostilities if the militants agree to fulfil their obligations as part of the September 17, 2018 ceasefire agreement. I am willing to bet my life that they wont, and that once more Damascus’ and Moscow’s generosity will be taken advantage of. The source said that the Syrian Army is giving the militants one last chance to salvage the September 17 deal; if they do not withdraw from the area, the military will resume their operations.

Moreover, Moscow has given their Turkish partners 24 hours to withdraw their allied militants from the demilitarized zone in northwestern Syria or else the Syrian Army will resume their offensive. Unsurprisingly, the Tahrir Al-Sham terrorist outfit has refused to do so, proving once more that any kind of negotiation with these base animals is useless.

Elsewhere, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was allegedly invited by Iranian Press TV to be interviewed, an offer that Pompeo accepted, stating that he would “happily go to Tehran and willingly appear on Iranian television to explain US reasoning behind its sanctions against the Islamic Republic.”

His response was met positively by several important people in Iran. Member of Parliament Ali Motahari welcomed Pompeo’s offer saying that “In my opinion, this is a good opportunity, but the interview shouldn’t be one-sided in which Pompeo [only] speaks. The interviewer must bring up issues skillfully in a way that would [prove] US [lack] of logic,”said Motahari in an interview with a local media.

Even though I personally don’t believe this would happen, one would wonder as to why Pompeo would agree to such an interview. The obvious reason for me and many others would be to spread propaganda in a desperate attempt to reach out to the ones that suffer the most from the sanctions against Iran. Pompeo also likened a trip to Tehran to how Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif communicates with the American public during his trips to the United Nations in New York. He went on to claim that Zarif is “no more in charge of what’s going on in Iran than a man in the moon. At the end of the day, this is driven by the ayatollah. He will be the ultimate decision-maker here.”

Having said this, only a week later Pompeo tweeted that Mohammad Javad Zarif was now the target of fresh US sanctions, since Zarif apparently is a “chief apologist” for the Islamic Republic, and is “just as complicit in the regime’s outlaw behaviour as the rest of @khamenei_ir’s mafia”. One of the most dangerous potential conflicts in this world is being “debated” on Twitter by the chief men responsible, as Zarif and Pompeo frequently trade blows on the social media platform. One can’t help but think that it was only bound to happen as the mutually hateful Washington-Tehran relationship continues to reach new heights.

Iran Unveils Three Advanced Homegrown Smart Bombs

By Staff, Agencies

The Iranian Armed Forces unveiled three advanced precision-guided smart bombs, as the Islamic Republic moves to strengthen its defenses in the face of foreign threats.

The domestically-manufactured bombs named “Yasin,” “Balaban” and a new series of the Ghaem missiles were unveiled during a ceremony on Tuesday in the presence of Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami.

Speaking at the event, Hatami said “Balaban” has folding wings designed to increase its range. It is guided by GPS and sensors and could be mounted under aircraft.

Hatami described Yasin as a long-range smart, guided bomb that can be fired from a range of 50 kilometers its target from manned or unmanned aircraft.

Ghaem is also a missile meant for precision strikes and could hit within 50 centimeters of a target, Hatami added.

This type, he noted, is equipped with different visible, thermal and cylindrical seekers and can be installed on various drone, helicopters and fighter jets to annihilate their targets.

The Iranian minister further said the latest defense achievements are yet another manifestation of Iran’s power and “showed that the Defense Ministry will never hesitate to defend the Islamic Republic and boost security despite the malice and conspiracies hatched by the Great Satan, America.”

Iran has recently made major breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing military equipment and hardware despite facing sanctions and Western economic pressure.

The Islamic Republic stresses that its military power is solely for defensive purposes and does not pose any threat to other countries.

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