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.

DPRK fires ballistic missile, vows ‘fiercer’ military response

November 17, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

DPRK launches a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday, according to Seoul’s military.

A woman watches a TV broadcasting a news report on DPRK firing a ballistic missile off its east coast, in Seoul, S. Korea. (Reuters)

The latest in a series of launches aimed at downplaying western provocations and threats, DPRK launched a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday, according to Seoul’s military, as Pyongyang threatened a “fiercer” military response to the US and its regional allies.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military had “detected around 10:48 am (0148 GMT) one short-range ballistic missile fired from the Wonsan area in Kangwon province.”

“The military has stepped up monitoring and guard and is maintaining utmost readiness in close coordination with the US,” it added.

On the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, US President Joe Biden spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this week about DPRK’s recent spate of missile tests.

After a series of missile launches fuelled concerns that DPRK would soon conduct its seventh alleged nuclear test, the US President urged China to exert pressure on its ally. Biden also spoke Sunday with the prime ministers of Japan and South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol and Fumio Kishida, to discuss ways to counter the threat posed by DPRK’s “unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” according to the White House.

Read next: DPRK launches 4 short-range ballistic missiles: Reports

DPRK’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Choe Son Hui, slammed Thursday those talks, saying they were “bringing the situation on the Korean peninsula to an unpredictable phase.”

“The US bolstered offer of extended deterrence and the daily-increasing military activities of the allied forces around the Korean peninsula are foolish acts,” Choe said in a statement reported by state news agency KCNA. 

The more efforts Washington will make to fortify its security pact with Seoul and Tokyo, “the fiercer the DPRK’s military counteraction will be,” Choe said.

According to experts, the launch of the missile on Thursday was timed to coincide with the Foreign Minister’s statement from Pyongyang.

DPRK “fired the missile after releasing the statement hours earlier in an attempt to justify the launch to send its message to the US and Japan,” Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute told AFP

UN gridlock

DPRK launched numerous missiles earlier this month, including a barrage on November 2 that included 23 missiles, more than it did in 2017, the year of “fire and fury” in which Kim and the US President at the time, Donald Trump, traded insults

Hundreds of US and South Korean warplanes, including B-1B heavy bombers, took part in joint air drills, which have long sparked strong reactions from DPRK.

Read next: US, Japan conduct joint drills amid DPRK missile launches

Experts claim DPRK is seizing the opportunity to conduct “prohibited” missile tests, confident of avoiding additional UN sanctions due to the Ukraine-related gridlock at the UN.

China, Pyongyang’s main diplomatic and economic ally, joined Russia in May in vetoing a US-led bid at the UN Security Council to tighten sanctions on DPRK.

DPRK warns US, allies of proportional response to bolstering US extended deterrence

DPRK Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui warned the US and its regional allies on Thursday that Pyongyang will respond proportionally to Washington’s strengthening of extended deterrence and intensification of provocative military activities in the region.

“The keener the US is on the ‘bolstered offer of extended deterrence to its allies and the more they intensify provocative and bluffing military activities on the Korean peninsula and in the region, the fiercer the DPRK’s military counteraction will be, in direct proportion to it, and it will pose a more serious, realistic and inevitable threat to the US and its vassal forces,” the Foreign Minister said in a statement, as quoted by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Read next: DPRK rigorously warns US and South Korea amid Vigilant Storm drills

The Minister noted that “staged large-scale war drills” of the US and its allies in the region not only failed to contain Pyongyang but also “resulted in increasing their security crisis.”

“The US ‘bolstered offer of extended deterrence and the daily-increasing military activities of the allied forces around the Korean peninsula are foolish acts that will bring more serious instability to the US and its allies,” the Minister said.
Since the beginning of 2022, DPRK has conducted over 30 missile tests. Pyongyang launched more than 20 missiles of various types on November 2.

Pyongyang maintains that DPRK’s military activities are in response to provocations by South Korea and its allies, the United States and Japan.

Biden hopes Congress upholds the US’ support for Ukraine

10 Nov 2022

Source: Agencies

    During the press conference US President Joe Biden says that there had been no tampering with voting process of the US midterm elections.

    President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters as he speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    US President Joe Biden stated during a news conference on Wednesday that the ‘red wave’ that many had projected would occur in the US midterm elections did not occur.

    “While the press and the pundits are predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen,” Biden said on Wednesday.

    According to NBC News’ projections as of Wednesday afternoon, the Democrats are predicted to win 213 seats in the US House of Representatives, while the Republicans are predicted to win 222 seats. However, because certain final findings have not yet been verified, these figures might change.

    If Democrats maintain control of the US Senate or whether Republicans get a majority will depend on the results of the Senate election results in the states of Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. In order to take control of the upper chamber of Congress, Republicans must triumph in two of the three states.

    Furthermore, Biden asserted, during a news conference, that there was no meddling with the US midterm election voting process.

    According to Biden, “The states across the country saw record voter turnout and the heart and soul of our democracy, the voters, the poll workers, election officials, they did their job, and they fulfill their duty, apparently without much interference at all without any interference it looks like and that’s a testament I think to the American people.”

    During the press conference, Biden reaffirmed his optimism and hope that the new Congress “will continue this bipartisan approach of controlling Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.”

    Biden: Democracy does not happen by accident

    US President Joe Biden praised voters, poll workers, and various officials on Wednesday for participating in the midterm elections. He also said he will make further comments concerning the vote and take questions later in the afternoon.

    “I’ll have more to say this afternoon, but thanks to the poll workers and officials that worked into the night to safeguard our sacred right to vote. And the millions who made their voices heard,” Biden said via Twitter.

    According to the White House, Biden will be holding a press conference at 4:00 pm to deliver his remarks.

    Read more: Trump midterm elections remarks: Who has ever done better than that?

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    US faces ‘environment of fascism’ ahead of 2022 midterms: Congresswoman

    Saturday, 29 October 2022 7:28 PM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 29 October 2022 7:36 PM ]

    Progressive Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (front) and Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (center) pose for a photograph at Capitol Hill. (AP file photo)

    Progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that the United States is “facing an environment of fascism” similar to the days of Jim Crow in the leadup to the 2022 midterms which Democrats are likely to lose to Republicans.

    Federal officials at the Department of Homeland Security and FBI have warned of a “heightened threat” ahead of the midterm elections charged by violent extremism, CBS News reported

    What they’re saying: “We are really truly facing an environment of fascism in the United States of America. This type of intimidation at the polls brings us to Jim Crow,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told MSNBC on Friday about reports of intimidation at Arizona ballot boxes.

    “It brings us back and harkens back to a very unique form of American apartheid that is not that long past ago,” she added. “And we have never fully healed from it and those wounds threaten to rip right back open if we do not strongly defend democracy in the United States of America.”

    US authorities released a bulletin on Friday that said domestic violent extremists pose a threat of violence for the 2022 midterms and the days after.

    “Following the 2022 midterm election, perceptions of election-related fraud and dissatisfaction with electoral outcomes likely will result in heightened threats of violence against a broad range of targets ― such as ideological opponents and election workers,” the bulletin reads, according to CNN.

    CBS reported that these extremists may target state and local government buildings following the election.

    The bulletin was issued on the same day as the attack on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband at their residence in San Francisco.

    Speaking at a political event in Pennsylvania hours after Paul Pelosi was attacked and gravely injured by an intruder, US President Joe Biden blamed the Republican Party, increasingly influenced by the political vitriol of former President Donald Trump, for “too much political violence.”

    “There’s too much violence, political violence, too much hatred, too much vitriol,” Biden said.

    “And what makes us think that one party can talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘COVID being a hoax,’ ‘this is all a bunch of lies,’ and it not affect people who may not be so well balanced?  What makes us think that it’s not going to corrode the political climate?” Biden added.

    Paul Pelosi was attacked and severely beaten by an assailant with a hammer, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Pelosi, 82, suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation into the attack who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.

    US midterm elections outlook darkens for Democrats The White House has lowered its earlier optimism about the midterm elections and is now worried that Democrats could lose control of both chambers of Congress, administration officials say.

    The assailant is in custody, and the motivation for the attack is under investigation, the spokesman said.

    Meanwhile, Democrats are worried they could lose control of both chambers of Congress on November 8 which would give Republicans the power to bring Biden’s legislative agenda to a halt. Biden’s unpopularity is helping drive this view.

    Biden’s term has been marked by the economic scars of the global health crisis, including soaring inflation. Biden’s popularity hit a record low of 36 percent in May and June.

    US consumer inflation hit a 40-year high of 8.6 percent in the 12 months through May, with gasoline marking a record high and the cost of food soaring, Labor Department data showed.

    The surging costs have become a political headache for the Biden administration, which has tried several measures to lower prices but said much of the responsibility to control inflation falls to the Federal Reserve.


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    Australia’s Jerusalem Reversal Marks the Death of Trump’s « Deal of the Century »

    INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

    Feature photo | Protesters burn effigies of pictures of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and U.S. President Donald Trump, during a demonstration against the United Arab Emirates’ deal with Israel, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Aug. 14, 2020. Majdi Mohammed | AP

    Ramzy Baroud
    US President Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” was meant to represent a finality of sorts, an event reminiscent of Francis Fukuyama’s premature declaration of the “End of History” and the uncontested supremacy of western capitalism. In effect, it was a declaration that “we” – the US, Israel, and a few allies – have won, and “you”, isolated and marginalized Palestinians, lost.

    In the same way, Fukuyama failed to consider the unceasing evolution of history, the US and Israeli governments also failed to understand that the Middle East, in fact, the world, is not governed by Israeli expectations and American diktats.

    The above is a verifiable assertion. On October 17, the Australian government announced that it is revoking its 2018 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Expectedly, the new decision, officially made by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, was strongly criticized by Israel, celebrated by Palestinians, and welcomed by Arab countries who praised the responsible diplomacy of Canberra.

    Any serious analysis of the Australian move, however, must not be confined to Australia’s own political shifts but must be extended to include the dramatic changes underway in Palestine, the Middle East, and, indeed, the world.

    For many years, but especially since the US invasion of Iraq as part of the politically-motivated “war on terror”, Washington perceived itself as the main, if not the only, power that is able to shape political outcomes in the Middle East. Yet, as its Iraq quagmire began destabilizing the entire region, with revolts, social upheavals, and wars breaking out, Washington began losing its grip.

    It was then rightly understood that, while the US may succeed in waging wars, as it did in Iraq and Libya, it is unable to restore even a small degree of peace and stability. Though Trump seemed disinterested in engaging in major military conflicts, he converted that energy to facilitate the rise of Israel as a regional power, which is incorporated into the Middle East’s political and economic grids through a process of political “normalization”, which is wholly delinked from the struggle in Palestine or the freedom of the Palestinians.

    The Americans were so confident in their power to orchestrate such a major political transformation to the extent that Jared Kushner – Trump’s Middle East adviser and son-in-law – was revealed to have attempted to cancel the very status of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, an attempt that was met with a decisive Jordanian rejection.

    Kushner’s arrogance reached the point that, in January 2020, he declared that his father-in-law’s plan was such a “great deal” which, if rejected by Palestinians, “they’re going to screw up another opportunity like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence”.

    All of this hubris was joined with many American concessions to Israel, whereby Washington virtually fulfilled all Israeli wishes. The relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem was merely the icing on the cake of a much larger political scheme that included the financial boycott of Palestinians, the cancellation of funds that benefited Palestinian refugees, the recognition of the illegally occupied Syrian Golan Heights as part of Israel and the support of Tel Aviv’s decision to annex much of the occupied West Bank.

    The then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies had hoped that, as soon as Washington carried out such moves, many other countries would follow, and that, in no time, Palestinians would find themselves friendless, broke, and irrelevant.

    This was hardly the case, and what started with a bang ended with a whimper. Though the Biden administration still refuses to commit to any new “peace process”, it has largely avoided engaging in Trump’s provocative politics. Not just that, the Palestinians are anything but isolated, and Arab countries remain united, at least officially, in the centrality of Palestine to their collective political priorities.

    In April 2021, Washington restored funding to the Palestinians, including money allocated to the UN refugee agency, UNRWA. It did not do so for charitable reasons, of course, but because it wanted to ensure the allegiance of the Palestinian Authority, and to remain a relevant political party in the region. Even then, the PA President Mahmoud Abbas, still declared, during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kazakhstan on October 12, that “we [Palestinians] don’t trust America”.

    Moreover, the annexation scheme, at least officially, did not go through. The rejection of any Israeli steps that could change the legal status of the occupied Palestinian territories proved unpopular with most UN members, including most of Israel’s western allies.

    Australia remained the exception, but not for long. Unsurprisingly, Canberra’s reversal of its earlier decision regarding the status of Jerusalem earned it much criticism in Tel Aviv. Four years following its initial policy shift, Australia shifted yet once more, as it found it more beneficial to realign itself with the position of most world capitals than to that of Washington and Tel Aviv.

    Trump’s “Deal of the Century” has failed simply because neither Washington nor Tel Aviv had enough political cards to shape a whole new reality in the Middle East. Most parties involved, Trump, Netanyahu, Scott Morrison in Australia, and a few others, were simply playing a political game linked to their own interests at home. Similarly, the currently embattled British Prime Minister Liz Truss is now jumping on the bandwagon of relocating the British embassy to Jerusalem so that she may win the approval of pro-Israel politicians. The move further demonstrates her lack of political experience and, regardless of what Westminster decides to do next, it will unlikely greatly affect the political reality in Palestine and the Middle East.

    In the final analysis, it has become clear that the “Deal of the Century” was not an irreversible historical event, but an opportunistic and thoughtless political process that lacked a deep understanding of history and the political balances that continue to control the Middle East.

    Another important lesson to be gleaned from all of this is that, as long as the Palestinian people continue to resist and fight for their freedom and as long as international solidarity continues to grow around them, the Palestinian cause will remain central to all Arabs and to all conscientious people around the world.


    Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. His other books include “My Father was a Freedom Fighter” and “The Last Earth”. Baroud is a non-resident senior research fellow at the centre for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is ramzybaroud.net

    Fresh missile attack targets US-occupied base in eastern Syria: Media

    Sunday, 16 October 2022 3:32 AM  [ Last Update: Sunday, 16 October 2022 3:32 AM ]

    File photo shows a US military vehicle patrolling near an oilfield in Syria. (Photo by AFP)

    Source

    A US-occupied military base in the eastern Syrian province of Dayr al-Zawr has reportedly come under fresh missile strikes.

    The attack targeted the outpost — located in Syria’s al-Omar Oilfield in the eastern side of Dayr al-Zawr — on Saturday, Syrian media outlets reported.

    According to the reports, at least six missiles were fired towards the military outpost during the incident.

    No person or group has so far claimed responsibility for the strikes.

    The projectiles were fired from the direction of Dayr al-Zawr’s al-Hanawi and al-Mazare’ areas, the reports added, noting that American warplanes and helicopter gunships were seen loitering over the site of the attack during its immediate aftermath.

    The US base has come under several such attacks over the past months.

    Rocket attack targets base housing US occupation troops in northeastern Syria
    A rocket attack targets a military facility which houses American occupation forces in northeastern Syria.

    The United States and its allied forces invaded Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh, which had been trained and supplied by US and allied military forces in their bids to overthrow the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

    The US-led military interference was, however, amazingly — and some believe deliberately — slow in confronting the terrorists, despite the sheer size of the coalition that had enlisted scores of Washington’s allied countries.

    American forces continue to occupy small parts of the Arab country, although, Damascus and its allies defeated the Daesh terrorists in late 2017.

    Back in August, Damascus said the years-long occupation of Syria by the US had cost it $107.1 billion in oil and gas sector losses, referring to the occupying forces’ looting of the war-ravaged country’s rich resources, which began under former American president Donald Trump.


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    MARVEL HEADS REVEALED TO BE CLOSELY CONNECTED TO ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE

    SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2022

    Source

    By Jessica Buxbaum

    Earlier this month, activists and comic book fans alike were in uproar over Marvel Studios’ announcement that Israeli actress Shira Haas will play Zionist superhero Sabra in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Captain America: New World Order. Many Palestine advocates accused Marvel’s decision to add Sabra to the MCU as exalting Israeli abuse and war crimes.

    “By glorifying the Israeli army & police, Marvel is promoting Israel’s violence against Palestinians & enabling the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israel’s authoritarian military rule,” the Institute for Middle East Understanding wrote in a tweet.

    Following the backlash, Marvel said in a statement to Variety that it will take a “new approach” to the character, in a perceived attempt to placate criticisms.

    Yet vows to reimagine the Sabra character, a former spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, may come across as disingenuous, especially when, upon closer examination, Marvel appears closely connected to the Israeli government and its main intelligence agency Mossad.

    MARVEL AND ISRAEL’S DEEPENING RELATIONSHIP

    Many individuals who have held or still maintain roles at Marvel are associated with the Israeli military, Israeli intelligence and Zionist institutions that uphold apartheid. For instance, Isaac Perlmutter, the current chairman of Marvel Entertainment who served on Marvel Comics’ board of directors until 1995, grew up in 1948-occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) and served in the Israeli military during the 1967 Six-Day War. Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, also grew up in modern-day Israel and served in the Israeli army during the Six-Day War.

    Along with his wife, Laura, Perlmutter oversees a foundation that contributes to several pro-Israel causes such as the Anti-Defamation LeagueFriends of the Israel Defense Forces, the America-Israel Friendship League, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County in Florida, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation has also supported the Hebrew University and Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology.

    The Perlmutters are also heavily linked to the Trump family. In 2016, their organization donated $25,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation. According to Open Secrets, a campaign finance tracker, in 2016, Laura Perlmutter donated $5,400 to former President Donald Trump’s campaign and nearly $450,000 to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising initiative by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. The couple then gave more than $1 million to the Trump Victory Committee in 2019 and 2020 and contributed another $11,200 to Trump’s reelection campaign in 2019.

    President Trump shakes hand with Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire and the CEO of Marvel on April 27, 2017. Andrew Harnik | AP

    Isaac Perlmutter donated $5 million in 2016 to the Great America PAC, a super political action committee (PAC) supporting Trump. The couple also contributed $10.5 million in 2020 to American First Action, a PAC supporting Trump. In addition, Both Perlmutters have backed several state and federal Republican entities and candidates over the years. The hefty donations did not go unnoticed, earning Isaac a spot in shaping policies at the Department of Veteran Affairs during Trump’s time in office, according to an investigation by ProPublica.

    Early Marvel Comics’ investors Carl Icahn and Ronald Perelman are also tied to both Israel and Trump. Icahn donated $5,400 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was subsequently named Trump’s special adviser

    Both Perelman and Icahn were revealed as potential donors to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign ahead of the 2007 primary elections. Perelman’s foundation has also contributed to several pro-Israel organizations, including the Chabad Lubavitch’s social services agency, Machne Israel, and the Jewish National Fund, which is a leading organization in establishing illegal Israeli settlements and displacing Palestinians.

    Perelman also donated $125,000 to Trump’s Victory Committee in 2017 and is reportedly friends with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He was also listed in convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s address book.

    Film producer Amy Pascal, who plays a key role in coordinating the collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, is a known Israel lobbyist. Leaked Sony emails reveal Pascal received email updates on the security situation in Israel from the now-defunct, right-wing advocacy group, The Israel Project.

    She also received emails from Creative Community for Peace, an organization fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the entertainment industry. In 2014, Pascal and her husband also received an email invitation to attend a private event about the situation in Israel with the Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles, David Siegel, and president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson.

    Israeli propaganda has become deeply entrenched in Hollywood, in part because of many prominent entertainment oligarchs’ pro-Israel beliefs, as well as the global success of Israeli television series like “Shtisel” and “Fauda”. The latter television show glamorized the Israeli army, specifically the Mista’arvim unit, an undercover military wing designed to infiltrate Palestinian communities.

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman also helped normalize Israel on the world stage, especially given her pride in serving in the Israeli military. Now Haas, who is set to play Sabra, is poised to be another example of Hollywood normalizing the apartheid state. Haas has been involved with pro-Israel organization, StandWithUs, participating in a StandWithUs Facebook live to talk about her success. StandWithUs presents itself as an educational resource on Israel, but the organization is responsible for silencing the Palestinian narrative in schools and blacklisting pro-Palestine voices on campuses. Haas also served in the Israeli military’s theater.

    The Mossad works with the U.S. entertainment industry to promote an attractive image of Israel abroad. SPYLEGENDS – an agency made up of former Mossad spies and other ex-security officials – was established in 2021 to advise Hollywood on spy films. The Mossad has also openly welcomed the slew of thrillers showcasing the intelligence agency as sleek and prestigious in an effort to boost recruitment.

    MARVEL’S LINKS TO US MILITARISM AND INTELLIGENCE

    Marvel’s nationalist sentiment does not end with Israel. Cloaked in mesmerizing cinematography and flashy special effects, the American company has also been instrumental in promoting U.S. militarism with its comic book universe.

    In “Captain America: The First Avenger”, the U.S. army allowed Marvel Studios to film at Camp Edward, a military training site. The 2003 “Hulk” film also benefited from access to military bases and loaned military equipment. “Iron Man” and its sequel created iconic scenes by borrowing the military’s weaponry as well. These Marvel movies — along with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain Marvel” — received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to help build their blockbuster enterprise.

    The military’s support, however, came with a price. The Pentagon approved the scripts for “Hulk” and “Iron Man”, cutting out unfavorable references to the military, such as their experimentation on humans and dropping herbicides on South East Asia during the Vietnam War.

    With the “Captain America” franchise, the army supported the Marvel movie, seeing it as “building resiliency” and considering the Captain America character to hold values of a modern U.S. soldier. “Captain Marvel” was the Air Force public relations department’s dream. The film’s release coincided with an Air Force recruitment campaign, using feminism as a way to sugar coat “Captain Marvel’s” obvious militarism. The recruitment effort clearly worked with the Air Force seeing the highest number of female applicants to the Air Force Academy in five years.

    With Marvel’s U.S. military propaganda in full swing, it seems the studio is now turning its focus to Israeli nationalism. Whether Sabra will don an Israeli-flag-inspired suit remains to be seen, but what is apparent is Marvel’s close relationship with Israel and the U.S. military is manufacturing a fantasy world dripping in real-world imperialism.

    Pyongyang passes legislation that declares the country a nuclear-weapon state, giving its leader, Kim Jong-un, sole authority over nuclear decisions.

    September 9, 2022 

    Source: Agencies

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Flag of the DPRK (Reuters)

    DPRK passed legislation that declares the country a nuclear-weapon state, giving its leader, Kim Jong-un, sole authority over nuclear decisions, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing Pyongyang’s state media.

    The 7th Session of the DPRK’s 14th Supreme People’s Assembly approved a decree titled Nuclear Weapons Policy on Wednesday, as per the Korean Central News Agency.

    The law, which included 11 paragraphs, governs the use of nuclear weapons.

    The new law stipulated that North Korea could use nuclear weapons under these conditions: the imminent threat of an attack on North Korea by an enemy country using nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, an attack on the leadership and command of North Korea’s nuclear forces, and an attack on the country’s strategically vital facilities.

    The third paragraph, titled “command and control of nuclear weapons,” states that Kim Jong-un has the sole authority to dispose of nuclear arsenals and “makes all nuclear weapons decisions.”

    In the event that North Korea’s nuclear command and control system is threatened by a hostile attack, KCNA stated that a nuclear strike would be launched immediately to destroy the hostile forces and their command.

    In the same context, the DPRK’s leader Kim Jong Un said Friday that his country will never abandon nuclear weapons needed to counter the United States, which he accused of trying to weaken Pyongyang’s defenses and eventually bring his government down.

    “The aim of the US is not only to eliminate our nuclear weapons but to completely destroy our nuclear power to force us to give up the right of self-defense, to weaken us to overthrow our regime at any time,” Kim Jong-un told the 7th Session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

    During a speech at Supreme People’s Assembly, the Korean leader said that ” “the purpose of the United States is not only to remove our nuclear might itself but eventually forcing us to surrender or weaken our rights to self-defense through giving up our nukes so that they could collapse our government at any time.”

    No sanctions, he added, will force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

    “This is the [US] misjudgment and miscalculation… You can impose sanctions for a hundred days, a thousand days, ten years, a hundred years. We are not going to give up the right to survival and the right to self-defense, on which the country’s security and its people depend. And no matter how difficult a situation we find ourselves in, we, who have to deter an even bigger nuclear power, the United States that has created this political and military situation on the Korean Peninsula, can never give up nuclear weapons.”

    N Korea Passes Law Allowing It to Conduct Preventive Nuke Strikes

    September 9, 2022 

    By Staff, Agencies

    North Korea has passed a law, declaring itself a nuclear weapons state and enshrining the right to use preemptive nuclear strikes to protect itself.

    The Supreme People’s Assembly, the North’s legislature, lent its blessing to the law on Thursday, legislating the country’s status as a nuclear weapons state, the official news agency KCNA reported on Friday.

    The law determines the occasions on which the country is supposed to deploy its nuclear weapons, including when attacked and also in order to protect its strategic assets.

    “If the command and control system of the national nuclear force is in danger of an attack by hostile forces, a nuclear strike is automatically carried out immediately,” the law says.

    Experts say the country is to resume testing nuclear weapons, noting that the legislation paves the way for the prospect.

    Ruler Kim Jong-un said the legislation made the country’s status as a nuclear weapon state “irreversible.”

    “The utmost significance of legislating nuclear weapons policy is to draw an irretrievable line so that there can be no bargaining over our nuclear weapons,” Kim said in a speech to the parliament.

    The legislation, therefore, bars any talks on its denuclearization.

    Kim said the US and its allies maintain “hostile policies” such as sanctions and military exercises that undercut their messages of peace.

    “As long as nuclear weapons remain on earth and imperialism remains and maneuvers of the United States and its followers against our republic are not terminated, our work to strengthen nuclear force will not cease,” Kim said.

    US President Joe Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump took unprecedented steps towards apparently fraternizing the North by initiating several rounds of dialog with it, and even walking a number of steps into the country alongside Kim.

    However, Washington blew, what Pyongyang called, a “golden opportunity” at mending the situation by insisting too much on denuclearization.

    Biden Spit On The Soul Of The American Nation By Pitting His People Against One Another

    Sep 3, 2022

    Source

    By Andrew Korybko

    Maliciously smearing approximately half of the country as existential terrorist-inclined threats to “the soul of the nation” is nothing but the crudest Machiavellian means of dividing and ruling the population.

    The Unprecedentedly Dangerous Divider-In-Chief

    US President Joe Biden’s nationally televised speech on Thursday that the official White House website headlined as being about “the continued battle for the soul of the nation” saw the incumbent become the most dangerous and divisive American leader in history. Far from trying to cleanse and protect that very same soul, he shamelessly spit on it by pitting his people against one another as part of an obvious divide-and-rule plot ahead of the neck-and-neck midterm elections that are only two months away.

    Debunking Biden’s False Belief In Equality & Democracy

    The first part that stands out is Biden emphasizing how the location of his speech, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was made and the Constitution signed, reinforces the mutually complementary concepts of equality and democracy connected with those two documents. He doesn’t truly believe in either of those though as proven by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemning all minority views as “extremist” earlier that same day.  

    Nevertheless, he pretended that he’s a true believer in them in order to artificially manufacture the basis upon which to contrast himself with former US President Donald Trump. Biden claimed that his predecessor and those who still support his Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement supposedly “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.” Falsely framing them as existential threats so close to the midterms is obviously aimed at manipulating voters’ perceptions.

    Applying The “Rules For Radicals” Against The MAGA Movement

    This crude tactic would be condemned by the American Government if it was employed by any Global South leader irrespective of whether it’s baseless like in Biden’s case or genuinely backed up by facts. Biden then channeled the infamous Saul Alinksy’s “Rules For Radicals”, specifically the thirteenth rule to “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it”, when claiming that “the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans”.

    By adding that “that is a threat to this country”, the incumbent ominously implied that the full authority of the state will be brought down to bear on those who are even simply suspected of being remotely connected to the former president or his movement on faux national security pretexts. He then instantly reverted to gaslighting once again just like he earlier did by unconvincingly claiming that he supports the Founding Fathers’ vision of equality and democracy by contrasting Democrats and MAGA on false bases.

    Who Really Employs Political Violence & Election Conspiracy Theories?

    The same man who represents the party that frenziedly fanned the flames of the joint Antifa- and BLM-led Hybrid War of Terror on America all throughout summer 2020, whose countless antagonists were manipulated into functioning as “useful idiots” of the anti-MAGA faction of the US “deep state” (permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies), counterfactually claimed that it’s Trump and his supporters who divided the country through the use of violence for political ends.

    Biden also insulted Americans’ intelligence by gaslighting that it’s only some MAGA folks who’ve ever rejected the outcome of a presidential election when most Democrats refused to recognize the legitimacy of Trump’s victory in 2016. Not only that, but their anti-MAGA “deep state” puppeteers literally concocted the Russiagate conspiracy theory that they laundered through allied congressional representatives, law enforcement, media, and NGOs to discredit the entirety of his four years in office.

    The Democrats’ Path To A Dystopian Post-Modern Dictatorship

    The ”carnage and darkness and despair” that the incumbent claimed that MAGA folks see when they look at America was actually the Democrats’ rallying cry during all of Trump’s term and especially ahead of the 2020 elections. When Biden said that “They spread fear and lies – lies told for profit and power”, this objectively described the Democrats as was earlier explained with respect to the Russiagate conspiracy theory as well as their false fearmongering about Trump being a “dictator worse than Hitler”.

    On the topic of dictatorship, the author predicted shortly after 2020’s disputed election that “Biden’s America Would Be A Dystopian Hellhole”, which continues progressively unfolding exactly as foreseen. “Every Democrat Is A Wannabe Dictator”, so it naturally follows that the party’s latest figurehead would play to this fantasy by falsely describing his political opponents as supposed “threats” in order to create the “publicly plausible” pretext for imposing a Pakistani-like post-modern dictatorship.

    His infamous speech perniciously manipulated the concept of pre-bunking in order to mislead Americans into falsely considering approximately half of the country to be an existential threat to “the soul of the nation.” By dividing and ruling them in such a stereotypically Machiavellian way, Biden (or rather those members of the “deep state” that are behind him and wrote his speech) is deliberately trying to radicalize the minority of at-risk MAGA folks to engage in highly publicized political violence.

    The MAGA Mentality

    Objectively speaking, they’ve always been on the strategic defensive even before Trump’s election since the whole reason why they voted for him in the first place was their hope that he’d reverse – or at least slow down – the Democrat-driven trend of comprehensively dismantling everything that America stood for. Upon the 45th President entering office, they then found themselves viciously targeted by their opponents, who ultimately waged a nationwide spree of urban terrorism against them in summer 2020.

    After their hero’s scandalous departure from the White House and his replacement with the “deep state”-backed Democrat’s placeholder, those who sympathize with MAGA or are at the very least perceived as being associated with it are now at risk of being actively oppressed by the state. Biden’s hate-filled speech will only exacerbate these fears, which could very easily radicalize the absolute minority of those folks with preexisting mental illnesses and thus push them to political violence.

    The Worst-Case Scenario

    No sincerely law-abiding and patriotic American would ever harm their compatriots no matter how fierce their political disputes may get, yet it’s impossible to ever perfectly defend against “lone wolves”, including those that have previously been on the secret police’s (FBI) radar. In the worst-case scenario that one or some of them end up doing something terrible, God forbid, then there’s no doubt that the incident (which might even manifest as a terrorist attack) would be exploited by the ruling party.

    Gaslighting à Preconditioning à Political Violence à State-Sponsored “Canceling”

    Biden’s backers would certainly take advantage of it to accelerate America’s descent into a dystopian post-modern dictatorship, but for their plans to enjoy the greatest probability of success, they must first effectively divide and rule the population through gaslighting tactics exactly as the incumbent just did. The next step is to precondition them into expecting political violence by the side that’s misportrayed as an existential threat that’s supposedly predisposed to terrorism, which Biden also just achieved.

    Upon the worst-case scenario transpiring, God forbid, so-called “cancel culture” can then immediately be weaponized to its most vicious political extreme by carrying out a nationwide crackdown against everyone even remotely suspected of being associated with MAGA. These devious plans aren’t anything that a sincere believer in “the continued battle for the soul of the nation” would plot, but that’s why nobody should fall for Biden’s, his backer’s, and their “useful idiots”’ false claims that they’re patriots.

    Unity & Division

    From top-down and bottom-up, the Democrats are united like never before when it come to carrying out this nationwide crackdown, even though their agreement with one another in this respect is thus far only tacit and not explicit. Be that as it is, so too can it be said that MAGA is unprecedentedly united in bracing for this dystopian post-modern dictatorship scenario, though it’s only the former that have the power to be “legitimate” agents of change due to their monopoly over the state’s use of violence.

    To be absolutely clear so that there’s no false perception of ambiguity whatsoever at all, the author is not in any way implying that MAGA should illegitimately employ violence (i.e. anything that isn’t the legally enshrined right to self-defense) against anyone, whether their political opponents or the state. The movement that coalesced around Trump but organically arose long before his political rise must absolutely remain committed to peaceful and political means for regaining power through the ballot.

    Having clarified that crucial point of principle that should always be at the forefront of every MAGA-aligned person’s mind, political practice sometimes differs from political theory, so it can’t be taken for granted that at least one of those folks who’ve objectively been on the strategic defensive for years as was earlier explained won’t be triggered into committing political violence by Biden’s speech. However it might unfold, God forbid, that worst-case scenario would set drastic events into motion.

    Reflecting On Biden’s Hateful Remarks

    Those who have the time to reread the incumbent’s hateful remarks in full will more be able to more clearly discern the ulterior motives that are very strongly implied by his provocative words. He was tasked with repeating high-sounding rhetoric in order to gaslight people into not suspecting the Democrats of preparing for the sequence of events that would follow his deliberate attempt at radicalizing already the ultra-fringe minority of already psychologically disturbed MAGA folks.

    Maliciously smearing approximately half of the country as existential terrorist-inclined threats to “the soul of the nation” is nothing but the crudest Machiavellian means of dividing and ruling the population. For as dark as the future might appear after Biden’s unprecedentedly divisive information warfare provocation against the American people, the worst-case scenario isn’t inevitable since nothing about the presently chaotic trajectory of the situation is deterministic.

    Pulling America Back From The Brink of Civil War

    While it arguably does indeed appear as though an undeclared civil war might soon be fought between the “deep state”-backed Democrats led on the streets by a coalition of Antifa, BLM, and ideologically aligned law enforcement on one side against MAGA-affiliated Americans on the other (or is already being waged according to some), that scenario could also still be averted. Responsible influencers from both sides should immediately make it known that they disavow any and all violence.

    Those within their ranks who disagree with their peaceful methods of resolving political disputes must be disowned so that any rogue violence that they might God forbid commit isn’t credibly associated with either side’s cause. Law enforcement members should also remember their duty to impartially uphold the law and not allow themselves to be manipulated by anyone for political ends, while lawmakers mustn’t ever forget their sacred obligation to protect the people who they’re responsible for.

    The Role Of Responsible Political Leaders & Law Enforcement Members

    The Hybrid War of Terror on America could have easily been nipped in the bud had mayors/governors ordered local police/ National Guard to do so, but they purposely declined as part of their political plot to influence people’s perceptions ahead of the 2020 elections so that they’d vote against Trump. In the event of forthcoming large-scale unrest, whether driven by “deep state”-backed Democrat “useful idiots” or rogue MAGA folks, these same leaders must decisively act unlike before.

    Likewise, law enforcement should prepare themselves to publicly disagree with those abovementioned leaders if their superiors once again decline to deploy them to protect the populace. The principled among them should also consider refusing to illegally restrict law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights if they’re ordered to do so since that’s one of the scenarios that could be employed by the Democrats in response to the earlier speculative worst-case scenario or possibly even to provoke it.

    Concluding Thoughts

    America is dangerously on the verge of descending into a fast-moving and full-on dystopian post-modern dictatorship, pushed over the precipice by none other than its incumbent president and those shadowy “deep state” forces that are behind him. That disastrous outcome can still be averted, as well as the worst-case scenarios that would likely make this trajectory irreversible, but it’ll require Americans of all political views coming together to peacefully defeat those who want to divide and rule them.

    MBS: Despot in The Desert

    July 31, 2022 

    Nicolas Pelham- The Economist

    No one wanted to play football with Muhammad bin Salman. Sure, the boy was a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, but so were 15,000 other people. His classmates preferred the company of his cousins, who were higher up the assumed order of succession, a childhood acquaintance recalls. As for the isolated child who would one day become crown prince, a family friend recounts hearing him called “little Saddam”.

    Home life was tricky for bin Salman, too (he is now more commonly known by his initials, [MBS]. His father, Salman, already had five sons with his first wife, an educated woman from an elite urban family. MBS’s mother, Salman’s third wife, was a tribeswoman. When MBS visited the palace where his father lived with his first wife, his older half-brothers mocked him as the “son of a Bedouin”. Later, his elder brothers and cousins were sent to universities in America and Britain. The Bedouin offspring of Prince Salman stayed in Riyadh to attend King Saud University.

    As young adults, the royals sometimes cruised on superyachts together; MBS was reportedly treated like an errand boy, sent onshore to buy cigarettes. A photo from one of these holidays shows a group of 16 royals posing on a yacht-deck in shorts and sunglasses, the hills of the French Riviera behind them. In the middle is MBS’s cousin, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor dubbed “the Arabian Warren Buffett”. MBS, tall and broad-shouldered in a white t-shirt, is pushed to the farthest edge.

    Fast forward to today, and MB has moved to the center of the frame, the most important decision-maker in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy but MBS’s 86-year-old father, though nominally head of state, is rarely seen in public anymore. It has been clear for several years that MBS is in charge. “In effect,” a former Saudi intelligence agent told me, “King Salman is no longer king.”

    At first glance the 36-year-old prince looks like the ruler many young Saudis had been waiting for, closer in age to his people than any previous king – 70% of the Saudi population is under 30. The millennial autocrat is said to be fanatical about the video game “Call of Duty”: he blasts through the inertia and privileges of the mosque and royal court as though he were fighting virtual opponents on screen.

    His restless impatience and disdain for convention have helped him push through reforms that many thoughts wouldn’t happen for generations. The most visible transformation of Saudi Arabia is the presence of women in public where once they were either absent or closely guarded by their husband or father. There are other changes, too. Previously, the kingdom offered few diversions besides praying at the mosque; today you can watch Justin Bieber in concert, sing karaoke or go to a Formula 1 race. A few months ago, I even went to a rave in a hotel….

    But embracing Western consumer culture doesn’t mean embracing Western democratic values: it can as easily support a distinctively modern, surveillance state. On my recent trips to Saudi Arabia, people from all levels of society seemed terrified about being overheard voicing disrespect or criticism, something I’d never seen there before. “I’ve survived four kings,” said a veteran analyst who refused to speculate about why much of Jeddah, the country’s second-largest city, is being bulldozed: “Let me survive a fifth.”

    The West, beguiled by promises of change and dependent on Saudi oil, at first seemed prepared to ignore MBS’s excesses. Then, in late 2018, Saudi officials in Istanbul murdered a Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, and dismembered his body with a bone saw. Even the most pro-Saudi leaders turned away.

    …. After Putin invaded Ukraine in February, the price of crude shot up. Boris Johnson was on a plane within weeks. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, previously a sworn enemy of the crown prince, embraced MBS in Riyadh in April. War even forced America’s president into a humiliating climbdown. On the campaign trail in 2020 Joe Biden had vowed to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah”. But on July 15th he went to make his peace with MBS– trying to avoid shaking MBS’s hand, he instead opted for a fist bump that left the two looking all the chummier. Even critics at home acknowledged MBs’s victory. “He made Biden look weak,” said a Saudi columnist in Jeddah. “He stood up to a superpower and won before the world.”

    For MBS, this is a moment of triumph. His journey from the fringe of a photograph to the heart of power is almost complete. He will probably be king for decades. During that time, his country’s oil will be needed to sate the world’s enduring demand for energy.

    A kingdom where the word of one man counts for so much depends utterly on his character. The hope is that, with his position secure, MBS will forswear the vengefulness and intolerance that produced Khashoggi’s murder. But some, among them his childhood classmates, fear something darker. They are reminded of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a one-time modernizer who became so addicted to accumulating power that he turned reckless and dangerous. “At first power bestows grandeur,” a former Western intelligence officer told me, of MBS. “But then comes the loneliness, suspicion and fear that others will try to grab what you grabbed.”

    During the early years of MBS’s ascent, I was vaguely aware of him as one prince among many. I probably wouldn’t have paid him much attention if an old contact of mine hadn’t joined his staff. His new boss, my contact said, was serious about shaking things up. He arranged the meeting at a faux-ancient mud-brick village on the outskirts of Riyadh in 2016. As my Economist colleagues and I approached, the gates of MBS’s compound suddenly slid open, like a Bond-villain’s lair. In the inner chamber sat MBS.

    Reform has often been promised in Saudi Arabia – usually in response to American hectoring – but successive kings lacked the mettle to push change through. When the Al-Saud conquered Arabia in the 1920s, they made an alliance with an ultra-conservative religious group called the Wahhabis. In 1979, after a group of religious extremists staged a brief armed takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Al-Saud decided to make the kingdom more devout to fend off a possible Islamic revolution, as had just happened in Iran. Wahhabi clerics were empowered to run society as they saw fit.

    The Wahhabis exercised control through the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, otherwise known as the religious police. They whacked the ankles of women whose hair poked through their veil and lashed the legs of men who wore shorts. The arrangement suited the House of Saud. Wahhabism provided social control and gave legitimacy to the Saudi state, leaving the royals free to enjoy their oil wealth in the more permissive environments of London and Paris, or behind the gates of their palaces.

    I’m loth to admit it now, but as the prince talked in Riyadh about his plans to modernize society and the economy, I was impressed by his enthusiasm, vision and command of the details. He gave what turned out to be accurate answers about how and when his reforms would happen. Though he was not yet crown prince, he frequently referred to Saudi Arabia as “my” country. We arrived at around 9pm. At 2am, MBS was still in full flow.

    MBS was affable, self-assured, smiling. His advisers were more subdued. If they spoke at all, it was to robotically repeat their master’s lines. Yet when MBS left the room to take a call, they started chatting animatedly. As the prince re-entered, silence fell.

    Like many in those early years, I was excited about what MBS might do for the kingdom. When I returned to the capital a few months later I saw a number of men wearing shorts. I kept looking over my shoulder for the religious police, but none came – they had been stripped of their powers of arrest.

    As crown prince, MBS introduced a code of law so that judicial sentencing accords with state guidelines, not a judge’s own interpretation of the Koran. He criminalized stoning to death and forced marriage. The most overt change involved the role of women. MBS attacked guardianship laws that prevented women from working, travelling, owning a passport, opening a business, having hospital treatment or divorcing without approval from a male relative. In practice, many Saudi women have found these new rights hard to claim in a patriarchal society, and men can still file claims of disobedience against female relatives. But MBS’s reforms were more than cosmetic. Some clerics were jailed; the rest soon fell into line.

    For foreigners, Riyadh is less forbidding these days. “I’m afraid I’ll be caught for not drinking,” a teetotal businessman told me. “There’s cocaine, alcohol and hookers like I haven’t seen in southern California,” says another party-goer. “It’s really heavy-duty stuff”.

    When MBS first entered public life, he had a reputation for being as strait-laced as his father, rare among royals. That quickly changed. Many of the people interviewed for this article said that they believe MBS frequently uses drugs, which he denies. A court insider says that in 2015 his friends decided that he needed some r&r on an island in the Maldives. According to investigative journalists Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck in their book “Blood and Oil”, 150 models were recruited to join the gathering and were then shuttled “by golf cart to a medical center to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases”. Several international music stars were flown in, including Afrojack, a Dutch dj. Then the press blew MBS cover.

    Thereafter, the prince preferred to unwind off the Red Sea coast. At weekends his entourage formed a flotilla by mooring their yachts around his, Serene, which has a driving range and a cinema. According to a former official, “dj MBS”, as his friends called him, would spin the discs wearing his trademark cowboy hat. The yacht is only one of the luxuries MBS has splurged on. He also bought a £230m ersatz French chateau near Versailles, built in 2008 (the meditation room doubles as an aquarium). He is said to have boasted that he wanted to be the first trillionaire.

    We put these and other allegations in this article to MBS’s representatives. Through the Saudi embassy in London, they issued a broad denial, saying “the allegations are denied and are without foundation.”

    MBS’s loosening of social mores reflects the values of many of his youthful peers, in Saudi and beyond – as does his taste for the flashier side of life. Yet despite the social revolution, the prince is no keener than Wahhabi clerics on letting people think for themselves. Shortly before lifting a ban on women driving in 2018, MBS’s officials imprisoned Loujain al-Hathloul, one of the leaders of the campaign for women’s rights. Her family say jailers waterboarded and electrocuted her, and that Saud al-Qahtani, one of MBS’s closest advisers, was present during her torment and threatened to rape her. [A un investigation found reasonable grounds to believe that Qahtani was involved in the torture of female activists. Qahtani allegedly told one of these women: “I’ll do whatever I like to you, and then I’ll dissolve you and flush you down the toilet.”] Hathloul was charged with inciting change to the ruling system. The message was clear: only one person was allowed to do that.

    MBS is ruthlessly ambitious – he reportedly loved reading about Alexander the Great as a teenager – but he also owes his rise to some extraordinary twists of fortune. Succession can be an unpredictable affair in Saudi Arabia. The monarchy is only two generations old, founded in 1932, and the crown has so far moved from brother to brother among the founding ruler’s sons. That has become harder as the prospective heirs age. MBS’s father wasn’t tipped to be king, but after his two older brothers died unexpectedly in 2011 and 2012, he was catapulted up the line of succession.

    When Salman became the heir-designate aged 76, he needed a chief of staff. Most courtiers expected him to choose one of the suave, English-speaking children of his first wife. Instead he appointed a son who spoke Arabic with a guttural Bedouin accent. [MBS has learned English fast since then: when we met in 2016 he sometimes corrected his translator.]

    The choice to elevate MBS was less surprising to those who knew his father well. Salman had dedicated himself to his job as governor of Riyadh rather than chasing more lucrative commissions, and was a stickler for 8am starts, even in his 70s. He was known as the family disciplinarian, not averse to giving wayward royals a thwack with his walking stick or even a spell in his private prison. He clearly saw something of himself in his sixth son. MBS might love video games, but he was also a hard worker and keen to advance.

    MBS put few limits on what he was prepared to do to achieve control. He earned the nickname Abu Rasasa – father of the bullet – after widespread rumors that he sent a bullet in the post to an official who ruled against him in a land dispute [Saudi officials have previously denied this rumor]. He was fearsome in private, too. “There are these terrible tempers, smashing up offices, trashing the palace,” says a source with palace connections. “He’s extremely violent.” Several associates describe him as having wild mood swings. Two former palace insiders say that, during an argument with his mother, he once sprayed her ceiling with bullets. According to multiple sources and news reports, he has locked his mother away.

    It’s hard to say how many wives he has; officially, there’s just one, a glamorous princess called Sara bint Mashour, but courtiers say he has at least one more. MBS presents his family life as normal and happy: earlier this year he told the Atlantic magazine that he eats breakfast with his children each morning [he has three boys and two girls, according to Gulf News – the eldest is said to be 11]. One diplomat spoke of MBS’s kindness to his wife. But other sources inside the royal circle say that, on at least one occasion, Princess Sara was so badly beaten by her husband that she had to seek medical treatment.

    We put this and other allegations in this piece to MBS’s representatives, who described them as “plain fabrication”, adding that “the kingdom is unfortunately used to false allegations made against its leadership, usually based on politically [or other] motivated malicious sources, particularly discredited individuals who have a long record of fabrications and baseless claims.”

    MBS finally got a taste of political power in 2015 when Salman became king. Salman appointed his son deputy crown prince and minister of defense. One of MBS’s first moves was to launch a war in neighboring Yemen. Even America, the kingdom’s closest military ally, was told only at the last minute.

    There was an obvious obstacle in MBS’s path to the throne: his cousin, the 57-year-old heir-designate, Muhammad bin Nayef. Bin Nayef was the intelligence chief and the kingdom’s main interlocutor with the CIA. He was widely credited with stamping out al-Qaeda in Saudi after 9/11. In June 2017 bin Nayef was summoned to meet the elderly king at his palace in Mecca.

    The story of what happened next has emerged from press reports and my interviews. It seems that bin Nayef arrived by helicopter and took the lift to the fourth floor. Instead of the monarch, MBS’sagents were waiting. Bin Nayef was stripped of his weapons and phone, and told that a royal council had dismissed him. He was left alone to consider his options. Seven hours later, a court videographer filmed the charade of MBS kissing his cousin, then accepting his abdication as crown prince. King Salman kept a back seat throughout. Bin Nayef is now in detention [his uncle, who also had a claim to the throne, apparently intervened to try and protect bin Nayef, but was himself later detained]. The staged resignation – an old trick of Saddam Hussein’s – would become MBS’s signature move.

    That was just the warm-up act. In October 2017 MBS hosted an international investment conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. At “Davos in the desert”, the likes of Christine Lagarde, Son Masayoshi and other business glitterati listened to MBS’s pitch for Saudi Arabia’s post-oil future, including the construction of Neom, a new $500bn “smart city”. The event was a hit. Diplomatic grumblings about the war in Yemen or the fate of America’s security partner, Muhammad bin Nayef, faded.

    The gathering was also an opportunity to invite back royals who were often abroad. Once the foreigners had left, MBS pounced. Hundreds of princes and businessmen were swept up. According to a biography of MBS by Ben Hubbard, a New York Times journalist, one of them realized something was amiss only when they got to their hotel room: there were no pens, razors or glasses – nothing that could be used as a weapon.

    MBS held the detainees in the Ritz-Carlton for several weeks [the Marriott and other hotels were also commandeered to house the overflow]. Prisoners’ phones were confiscated. Some were said to have been hooded, deprived of sleep and beaten until they agreed to transfer money and hand over an inventory of their assets. All told, MBS’s guests at the Ritz-Carlton coughed up about $100bn.

    Even royals previously thought untouchable, such as the powerful prince who ran the national guard, got similar treatment. Princess Basma, the youngest child of the second king of Saudi Arabia, was jailed for three years without charge or access to a lawyer; after being released she still had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, according to a close associate of hers.

    The crushing of the royals and business elite was billed as a crackdown on corruption – and undoubtedly it netted many corruptly acquired assets, which MBS said would be returned to the Saudi treasury. The methods, however, looked more like something from a gangster film than a judicial procedure.

    Interrogations were overseen by Saud al-Qahtani, who reported directly to MBS whenever a detainee broke and gave out their bank details. [All the allegations in this piece concerning Qahtani were put to him via his lawyer. No response was given.] Qahtani had installed himself as one of MBS’s favored henchmen, though earlier in his career, he’d plotted against Salman and his son, trying to sideline them with rumors that Salman had dementia. Qahtani was so loyal to the former faction that he’d named his son after his then boss. According to a former courtier, on the day of the old king’s funeral the two men had it out: MBS slapped Qahtani in the face. Later, MBS let Qahtani prove his worth and brought him on to his staff. Qahtani duly named his younger son Muhammad.

    On paper, Qahtani was a communications adviser, a former journalist who understood Twitter and used an army of bots and loyal followers to intimidate critics on social media [his office included giant screens and holograms that staff used for target-practice with laser guns]. In practice he was entrusted with MBS’s most important and violent missions – the ones that established his grip on power.

    His remit extended far beyond Saudi’s borders. In 2016 he kidnapped Prince Sultan, a minor royal who had been bad-mouthing MBS. MBS offered his jet to fly Sultan from Paris to Cairo – instead, the plane was diverted to Saudi Arabia. According to Hope’s and Scheck’s book, Qahtani posed as Captain Saud, an airline pilot, though surprisingly one who had an expensive Hublot watch.

    Even people who have nothing to do with politics have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone

    With rendition strategies like this, and the cash tap shut off, even royals who weren’t inside the Ritz-Carlton felt the pressure to divest themselves of ostentatious assets. The father of the Saudi ambassador to Britain put Glympton Park, his beloved 2,000-acre estate in the Cotswolds, up for sale. Riyadh’s jewellers did a roaring trade pawning the diamonds of lesser royals. “It’s like the Romanovs selling their Fabergé eggs,” said an adviser to an auction house.

    Many commoners rejoiced at the downfall of their entitled elite. Princes and princesses who once lived off huge handouts began looking for jobs. Their titles became irrelevant. Unable to afford the cost of irrigation, their green ranches became desert again. Banks turned them away. One financial adviser recalled his response to princes trying to get credit on the strength of their royal status: “You call yourselves princes, but they say there’s only one prince now.”

    The Ritz-Carlton episode was just one element of an extraordinary project of centralization. MBS yanked control of various security services back from the princes. He took charge of Aramco, the semi-autonomous state oil company. He installed himself as boss of the sovereign-wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. “He destroyed all the powerful families,” says a retired diplomat. By late 2017, law, money and security in Saudi all flowed directly from him.

    Among those who lost out were the fellow princes who had pushed a young MBS to the edge of the family photo on the yacht all those years ago. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in the center of that shot, surrendered part of his $17bn wealth. As the shakedown widened, MBS’s elder half-siblings put up their yacht for sale. Many of his cousins were locked up. “Payback time,” one victim said.

    While MBS was squeezing the elite at home, he was forging some important friendships abroad.

    MBS and Donald Trump, who was elected president in 2016, had a lot in common. Both had the hunger of the underdog and loathed the snooty policymaking establishments in their countries; they reveled in provocation. The historic compact, by which Saudi Arabia provided oil to American consumers and America guaranteed the country’s security, had frayed in recent years. Barack Obama’s hurried exit from Iraq in 2011 and his nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 had left Saudi Arabia worried that it could no longer rely on American protection. America’s development of its own shale-oil reserves had also reduced its dependence on Saudi oil. Then Trump and MBS got cozy.

    With the Trump administration’s tacit [and sometimes explicit] support, MBS set about treating the entire Middle East much as he did Saudi Arabia, trying to push aside rulers whom he found to be inconvenient. He announced a blockade of Qatar, a tiny gas-rich state to the east of Saudi Arabia. In 2017, angered by Lebanon’s dealings with Iran, MBS invited the prime minister, Saad Hariri, a long-time beneficiary of Saudi patronage, on a starlit camping trip. Hariri turned up, had his phone confiscated and soon found himself reading out a resignation speech on tv.

    Both moves ultimately backfired. But Trump’s Middle East adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, did little to discourage such antics. Together, he and MBS dreamt up a new regional order over WhatsApp, calling each other “Jared” and “Muhammad”. Their rapport was so great that, at Kushner’s prompting, MBS started the process of recognizing “Israel”. His father, still officially king, put a stop to that.

    MBS visited America in March 2018, hanging out in Silicon Valley with Peter Thiel and Tim Cook, and meeting celebrities, including Rupert Murdoch, James Cameron and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Many people were keen to meet the man who controlled a $230bn sovereign-wealth fund. To his frustration, they were less willing to reciprocate by investing in the kingdom.

    That October the intercontinental bonhomie came to an abrupt halt. I was due to go to a conference in Turkey that month. A Saudi journalist I knew, Jamal Khashoggi, got in touch to suggest meeting up: he was also going to be in Istanbul, for an appointment at the consulate. Khashoggi was a court insider whose criticisms of MBS in the Washington Post and elsewhere had attracted much attention. He seemed to be making more effort than usual to stay in touch. While I was at the conference a friend of his phoned me: Jamal still hadn’t emerged from the consulate, he said. By the time I got there, Turkish police were cordoning off the building.

    The full story soon came out in leaked intelligence reports and, later, a un inquiry. A Saudi hit squad, which reportedly coordinated with Saud al-Qahtani, had flown to Istanbul. As they waited for Khashoggi to enter the consulate, they discussed plans for dismembering his body. According to tapes recorded inside the consulate by Turkish intelligence, Khashoggi was told, “We’re coming to get you.” There was a struggle, followed by the sound of plastic sheets being wrapped. A CIA report said that MBS approved the operation.

    MBS has said he takes responsibility for the murder, but denies ordering it. He sacked Qahtani and another official implicated in the intelligence reports. The fallout was immediate. Companies and speakers pulled out of that year’s Davos in the desert; the Gates Foundation ended its partnership with Misk, an artistic and educational charity set up by the prince. Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent, cancelled a $400m deal with the kingdom.

    The crown prince seems to have been genuinely surprised at the animus – “disappointed”, says an associate. Hadn’t he committed to all the reforms the West had been asking for? Perhaps he had underestimated the outcry provoked by going after a well-connected international figure, as opposed to a royal unknown outside Saudi Arabia. Or perhaps he understood Western governments’ priorities better than they did themselves. They had done little when Muhammad bin Nayef, their partner in battling terrorism, had disappeared; they had shrugged at reports of torture in the Ritz-Carlton, and at MBS’s reckless bombardment of Yemen. Why did they have so much to say about the killing of a single journalist?

    Three years after the Khashoggi killing, Davos in the desert opened with the singer Gloria Gaynor. As images of smiling children flashed up on a giant screen behind her, she broke into her disco anthem, “I Will Survive”, asking the audience: “Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?”

    The chief executives of private-equity giants BlackRock and Blackstone were back, as were the heads of Goldman Sachs, SocGen and Standard Chartered. Even Amazon sent a representative despite the fact that its boss, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post, the paper that employed Khashoggi. Meanwhile, Qahtani was creeping back into favor at the royal court – although he had been implicated by the un for Khashoggi’s murder, a Saudi court took the decision not to charge him.

    MBS revitalized the near-dormant sovereign-wealth fund, pumping tens of billions of dollars into tech, entertainment and sports, to create a softer, more appealing image of Saudi and co-opt new partners. In April 2020, the fund led a consortium to buy Newcastle United, a premier-league football team [the deal took 18 months]. The following year it launched an audacious bid to create Saudi’s own golf tour, the LIV series, hoping to lure players with a prize pot of $255m, far larger than that of American tournaments. At the first LIV tour this year, some top players boycotted the event, others went for the cash.

    Joe Biden has proved tougher to woo. Soon after becoming president, Biden withdrew American military support for the war in Yemen. He wouldn’t talk to MBS, insisting that communications go through King Salman instead. He didn’t even nominate an ambassador to Riyadh for 15 months. The chat everywhere was that Saudi-American relations were in a deep freeze. Then, in February 2022, MBS had a stroke of luck: Russia invaded Ukraine.

    In the days after war broke out, Biden himself tried to call MBS. The crown prince declined to speak to the president. He did take Putin’s call, however. The two men were already close. MBS had personally brought Russia into an expanded version of the OPEC cartel in order for Saudi Arabia to keep control of global oil production. Putin cemented the friendship in 2018 at the g20 summit in Buenos Aires, which took place weeks after the Khashoggi killing. While Western leaders shunned MBS, Putin gave the Saudi ruler a high-five before sitting down next to him.

    MBS’s defiance of America seems to have paid off. After months of evasion, Biden reluctantly agreed to meet MBS in Jeddah in July, on the prince’s own turf and his own terms. The visit gave MBS recognition but did little to rebuild relations. There wasn’t even a concrete assurance of increasing oil production.

    Some in the American foreign-policy establishment remain hopeful that MBS could become a helpful partner in the region, pointing to his recent retreat from confrontation with Qatar and his eagerness to find a diplomatic exit from Yemen. Perhaps, they say, he is maturing as a leader.

    This seems optimistic. MBS’s disastrous campaign in Yemen was ostensibly in support of the country’s president but in April, hours after being summoned to a meeting and offered Arabic coffee and dates, Yemen’s president was reading out a resignation speech on tv. MBS took it upon himself to get rid of him personally – suggesting that his mode of international diplomacy remains as high-handed as ever. “What they’ve learned”, says one foreign analyst, “is don’t murder journalists who dine regularly with congressmen in the United States.”

    The West has taught MBS something else, too – something that autocrats the world over may draw comfort from. No matter the sin, they would argue, if you sit tight through the odium and fury, eventually the financiers, the celebrities, even the Western leaders, will come running back. At 36, MBS has time on his side. Some observers fear that he may become only more dangerous as oil reserves start to decline and the treasure trove shrinks. “What happens when he’s a middle-aged man ruling a middle-income country and starts to get bored?” asks a diplomat who knows MBS personally. “Will he go on more adventures?”

    Earlier this year, I visited an old friend in his office in Saudi Arabia. Before we started talking, he put his phone in a pouch that blocks the signal, to prevent government spies from listening in. Dissidents do that kind of thing in police states like China, but I’d never seen it before in Saudi Arabia. It isn’t just people involved with politics who are taking such precautions: most Saudis have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone. People used to talk fairly openly in their offices, homes and cafés. Now, they are picked up for almost nothing.

    As we chatted over the whir of his office air conditioning, my friend reeled off a list of people he knew who had been detained in the past month: a retired air-force chief who died in prison, a hospital administrator hauled away from his desk, a mother taken in front of her seven children, a lawyer who died seven days after his release from prison. “These people aren’t rabble rousers,” my friend said. “No one understands why.”

    Officially, the government says it has no political prisoners. Rights groups reckon that thousands have been swept up in MBS’s dragnet. I’ve covered the Middle East since the 1990s and can’t think of anywhere where so many of my own contacts are behind bars.

    Few ordinary Saudis predicted that when MBS was done trampling on the elites and the clerics, he would come for them next. Bringing Saudis into the modern, networked, online world has made it easier for the state to monitor what they are saying. A Red Crescent employee called Abdulrahman al-Sadhan used to run a satirical Twitter account under a pseudonym. In 2018 MBS’s agents arrested him and held him incommunicado for two years. American prosecutors later charged two former Twitter employees with allegedly handing over the real names behind various accounts to a Saudi official – al-Sadhan’s family believes that his name was among them. [The trial of one employee is ongoing; he denies passing on information to Saudi officials.]

    On the face of it, MBS has nothing to worry about. Public opinion polls – if they can be trusted – suggest he is popular, particularly with younger Saudis. But there is a growing sense that discontent is brewing beneath the surface. MBS has broken crucial social contracts with the Saudi populace, by reducing handouts while, at the same time, dispensing with the tradition of hearing the feedback of ordinary people after Friday prayers.

    It isn’t hard to imagine some of the issues they’d raise if they had the chance. Many people are struggling as the cost of living rises. When other governments were cushioning their citizens during the pandemic, MBS slashed fuel subsidies and tripled vat. Unable to afford the cost of pumping water, some farmers left crops to wither in the field. Fees for permits and fines have spiraled, too. Though MBS speaks eloquently about the country’s youth, he is struggling to find them jobs. Unemployment remains stubbornly stuck in double digits. Half of the jobless have a university degree, but most white-collar workers I met on MBS’s mega-projects were foreign.

    Saudi Arabia’s attempts to diversify its economy – and so compensate for the long-term decline of oil reserves – isn’t going well either. The pandemic delayed plans for a rapid increase in international tourism. Extorting billions of dollars from your relatives may not be the best way to convince investors that the kingdom is a liberal haven.

    The young prince has reversed even the baby steps towards democracy taken by previous kings. Municipal elections have been suspended – as a cost-cutting exercise, explains the supine press. The Shura Council, a consultative body of 150 people, has only met online since the pandemic [other institutions have gathered in person for months]. “I wish I had more of a voice,” said one member. Whenever I mentioned the prince, his leg twitched.

    A frequent visitor to the royal court says MBS now gives the impression of someone who’s always thinking that people are plotting against him. He seems to be preoccupied with loyalty. He fills key posts either with young royals, foreigners with no local base to threaten him or people he has already broken. A government minister, Ibrahim Assaf, was one of those locked up in the Ritz-Carlton – two months later MBS sent him to the World Economic Forum as his representative. A senior executive on one of his construction projects is someone who says he was tortured in one of his prisons. “He went from being strung naked from his ankles, beaten and stripped of all his assets to a high-level project manager,” says a close acquaintance of the man.

    All remain vulnerable to MBS’s tantrums. Saudi sources say he once locked a minister in a toilet for ten hours. [The minister later appeared on tv blabbering platitudes about the prince’s wisdom.] A senior official I’ve spoken to says he wants out. “Everyone in his circle is terrified of him,” says an insider. And that could make it hard for him to govern a country of 35m people effectively. Former courtiers say no one close to MBS is prepared to offer a truthful assessment of whether his increasingly grandiose schemes are viable. “Saying no”, says one, “is not something they will ever do.”

    If MBS has a mission beyond extending his power, you might expect to find it in Neom, the city he promised to build in the desert. Neom would be nothing less than “a civilizational leap for humanity”, he said in 2017. Head-spinning details followed. The city’s food would be grown on hydroponic walls on a floating structure. It would be powered by the world’s largest green-hydrogen plant. Thousands of snow-blowers would create a ski resort on a nearby mountain. One day it would have driverless cars and passenger drones.

    According to the official timetable, the main city would be completed by 2020. Further districts would be added by 2025. The prince’s tourism minister, Ahmed al-Khateeb, dismissed rumors that the timetable was proving over-ambitious. “Come see with your eyes and not with your ears,” he urged. So, I went.

    Finding Neom was the first problem. There were no road signs to it. After three hours’ drive we came to the spot indicated by the map. It was bare, but for the odd fig tree. Camels strolled across the empty highway. Piles of rubble lined the road, remnants of the town bulldozed to make way for the mighty metropolis.

    The designated area is nearly the size of Belgium. As far as I could tell, only two projects had been completed, MBS’s palace, and something Google Earth calls “The Neom Experience Centre” [when I drove to see it, it was obscured by a prefabricated hut]. The only other solid building I could see was a hotel constructed before Neom was conceived: The Royal Tulip. A poster in the lobby urged me to “Discover Neom”. But when I asked for a guide the hotel manager cursed my sister with Arabic vulgarities and tried to shoo me away. There was no sign of the media hub with “frictionless facilitation”, “advanced infrastructure” and “collaborative ecosystems” promised by the Neom website. Neom’s head of communications and media, Wayne Borg, said he was “out of Kingdom at present”.

    The hotel restaurant was teeming with consultants – all the ones I met were foreign. I later found a Saudi project manager. “We think we’re about to start working, but every two months the consultants coin a new plan,” he told me. “They’re still doing plans of plans.” There was a kind of manic short-termism among these foreigners. Many were paid $40,000 a month, plus handsome bonuses. “It’s like riding a bull,” one of the Neom consultants told me. “You know you’re gonna fall, that no one can last on a bull longer than a minute and a half, two minutes, so you make the most of it.”

    Despite the high salaries, there are reports that foreigners are leaving the Neom project because they find the gap between expectations and reality so stressful. The head of Neom is said by his friends to be “terrified” at the lack of progress.

    Eventually, I found a retired Saudi air-force technician who offered to drive me around the city for $600. He took me to a sculpture standing in the desert with the words, “I love Neom”. A short way farther on we found a new stretch of tarmac, said to mark the edge of the dream city. Beyond it, the lone and level sands stretched far away.

    Iran FM Terms Revenge for Gen. Soleimani as ’Absolute Responsibility’

    Jully 23, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said revenge for the assassination of Iran’s celebrated anti-terror commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani is among the “absolute responsibilities” of the foreign ministry and other concerned organizations.

    Amir Abdollahian made the remarks in an interview broadcast on state television Thursday evening while elaborating on the Sayyed Ebrahim Raesi-led administration’s foreign policy.

    “The issue of General Soleimani will never be forgotten. The issue is so deep that even [Russian President Vladimir] Putin pointed to the important position and role of General Soleimani during his meetings with the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and the Iranian president,” the top diplomat said.

    The foreign ministry, Amir Abdollahian noted, has beefed up a committee that follows up on international issues, adding that the judiciary branch is also seriously pursuing the case.

    “We consider avenging the blood of Martyr Soleimani in legal, international, and political arenas and deem following up on the issue in all its aspects as our absolute responsibility,” he asserted.

    General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG], and his Iraqi trenchmate Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units [PMU], were martyred along with their companions in a US drone strike on January 3, 2020.

    The strike near the Baghdad International Airport was authorized by then-President Donald Trump.

    The two noted anti-terror commanders were tremendously respected and admired across the region for their instrumental role in fighting and decimating the Daesh [Arabic for ‘ISIS/ISIL’] Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

    In other remarks during the interview, Iran’s foreign minister said Saudi Arabia has shown readiness to advance the ongoing talks from security to the political sphere, after progress in the previous five rounds hosted by the Iraqi government.

    He said the two sides have reached some agreements, including on re-opening embassies in their respective countries.

    “Last week we received a message from Iraqi foreign minister [Fuad Hussein] saying that the Saudi side is ready to move the phase of talks from a security one to a political and public one,” said the minister.

    “We also expressed our readiness to continue talks at the political level so that it leads to the return of Iran-Saudi Arabia ties to the normal level.”

    Riyadh decided to sever diplomatic relations with Iran back in January 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed by protestors who were enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr.

    There was no change in Riyadh’s confrontational policy towards Tehran until 2021 when it signaled an inclination to mend fractured ties with the Islamic Republic.

    Talks on Iran’s Nuclear Program to begin on Tuesday in Qatar – Reports

    27 Jun 2022

    Source: Agencies

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Iran’s Foreign Ministry revealed that JCPOA talks would resume on Tuesday in Doha, Qatar.

    Negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program to lift US sanctions will begin on Tuesday in Qatar.

    Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program will begin on Tuesday in Qatar, according to the IRNA news agency, citing an Iranian Foreign Ministry source.
     
    “Negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program to lift US sanctions will begin on Tuesday in Qatar,” the source told IRNA.

    Since 2018, when then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it and began reimposing harsh economic sanctions on Iran, the nuclear deal has been hanging by a thread.

    Although US President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to return to the agreement, saying it is the best way forward with the Islamic republic, it has expressed growing pessimism in recent weeks.

    The talks, according to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh, will take place “in an Arabian Gulf country in the coming days, later this week” and will focus on the lifting of US sanctions.

    Separately, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported, citing an unnamed foreign ministry source, that Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri would visit Qatar on Tuesday for “negotiations on lifting sanctions,” and that the US-Iran indirect talks would take place there.

    A State Department spokesperson in Washington confirmed that the talks would take place this week in the Gulf.

    “We are prepared to immediately conclude and implement the deal we negotiated in Vienna for mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA,” he said, referring to the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

    Khatibzadeh voiced hope for “positive results” from the talks.

    Exclusive: Qatar may host indirect talks between Washington and Iran

    Seyed Mohammad Marandi, A media advisor to the Iranian nuclear team, said earlier to Al Mayadeen on Monday, that Qatar will host indirect talks between Iran and the United States regarding reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement.

    Speaking with Al Mayadeen, Marandi stated that Qatar is one of the options offered to host indirect negotiations between Iran and the US.

    During EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell’s visit to Iran, Tehran and Brussels are discussing the location for the coming JCPOA talks.

    According to reports, Borrell had stated that Vienna would not host the next talks. “Talks between Iran, the United States, and European Union will not take place in Vienna because talks will not happen in US+P4+1 format,” Borrell said.

    He explained that the negotiations will be held in the coming days and that they will be similar to the indirect negotiations between Iran and the US in Vienna.

    Israel Murders Iranians While Biden Kills the Iran Deal

    June 23, 2022

    By Connor Freeman | The Libertarian Institute |

    In a clear message to Tehran, an American B-52 flew over the Persian Gulf as soon as Joe Biden entered the White House. Biden promised to return the U.S. to the Iran nuclear deal. But indirect talks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which began last April, have stalled for three months without a resolution in sight. Counting on the reliable support of Biden and bipartisan Iran hawks in Congress, the nuclear-armed Israeli apartheid regime intends to kill the deal entirely.

    Tehran, a decades-long signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, is neither seeking nor has ever sought nuclear weapons. But the Islamic Republic, once Tel Aviv’s “best friend,” serves as Israel’s favorite boogeyman, superficially justifying billions of dollars in American military aid each year. The JCPOA threatens the racket.

    Formally known for years as “Israel’s man in Washington,” President Biden is essentially pursuing ultra-Zionist Donald Trump’s foreign policy regarding Iran and supporting, tacitly or otherwise, Tel Aviv’s relentless attacks against Iran and its allies. Biden is continuously imposing yet more sanctions, increasing the “Maximum Pressure” on the economically crippled Iranian people.

    The rial has hit all-time lows. With a population of 82 million, almost half of all Iranians live below the poverty line, and inflation is somewhere between 40-50%.

    America’s self-styled sanctions artists delight in seeing the results of their economic war on Iran: excess deathssevere medical shortagesprohibitively high prices for staple goodsplummeting incomesand social unrest over food costs.

    This year, Tel Aviv has been bombing Syria, Tehran’s ally, at the usual weekly rate. A recent strike, coming from the illegally occupied Golan Heights, attacked Damascus International Airport. The airstrike targeted the facility’s only working runway Israel had not yet destroyed, rendering the airport temporarily inoperable.

    Shortly afterwards, The Wall Street Journal put out a story confirming that Tel Aviv coordinates with the Pentagon on many of its strikes in Syria.

    The Israelis just wrapped up month-long war drills, the largest held in decades, aimed squarely at Tehran. Exercises over the Mediterranean Sea, with over 100 aircraft and navy submarines, spanned 10,000 kilometers and were designed to simulate repeated airstrikes on Iran and their civilian nuclear facilities.

    Early reports were that the U.S. Air Force would participate, providing refueling planes, but this reportedly did not come to pass. Although General Michael Kurilla, the new head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), observed some of these Chariots of Fire exercises.

    On May 22, 2022, the Israelis carried out a high profile assassination of a senior colonel in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei. Shortly afterwards, citing an unnamed intelligence official, The New York Times reported Tel Aviv had informed Washington that it was responsible. Israel’s attacks seem to be primarily focused on the Iranians’ drone program, namely killing people who work on drone technology and attacking related sites.

    As Dave DeCamp, Antiwar.com news editor, reported,

    Israel was immediately suspected of the assassination since it has a history of carrying out targeted killings and other attacks inside Iran. Israel rarely officially acknowledges such operations, and it’s typical that its responsibility is revealed by leaks to the media, often by Israeli officials.

    Israeli officials claimed to the Times that Khodaei was in charge of a secret covert IRGC group known as Unit 840, which Iran denies exists. The Israelis claim Khodaei was involved in plots to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians and officials around the world, but there’s no evidence Tehran was planning to target Israelis abroad.

    Two people affiliated with the IRGC told the Times that Khodaei was a logistics officer who played a key role in transporting drone and missile technology to Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon and advised militias in Syria. Iran has said Khodaei was involved in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

    Israel is suspected to have subsequently poisoned and murdered two Iranian scientists including Ayoub Entezari, an aerospace engineer, who reportedly worked on missile and drone projects, and Kamran Aghamolaei, a geologist.

    Last month, a few dozen miles south of Tehran, quadcopter suicide drones attacked the Parchin military complex. The drones hit a building being used for drone development and killed a young engineer. In February, Israel used six quadcopter drones in a strike targeting another Iranian drone facility in Kermanshah which did significant damage. In Tabriz, there were reports of another Israeli attack on a drone factory, as many as three people may have been killed. This month, two additional IRGC members also working in the aerospace industry died during mysterious accidents in Iran. Both deaths were declared “martyrdoms.”

    In the midst of these soaring tensions, Robert Malley, Biden’s Iran envoy, is telling Congress “all options are on the table.”

    The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass a non-binding resolution which insists they would never support a restoration of the JCPOA if the IRGC were removed from the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) blacklist. The FTO designation is ostensibly one of the final sticking points preventing the deal’s straightforward revival. Congress has been sending messages, loud and clear, to Tehran and Biden that the deal has virtually no support.

    Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is peddling baseless stories about Tehran attempting to assassinate his predecessor Mike Pompeo. Pompeo enthusiastically supported Trump’s Maximum Pressure campaign as well as the drone strike murder of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, leader of the IRGC Quds Force. Though these claims of Pompeo’s life being endangered remain unproven, U.S. taxpayers pay millions per month for a security detail to put his and Blinken’s mind at ease.

    Much like Tel Aviv’s unproven accusations that the IRGC is out to kidnap and murder Israelis, especially in Istanbul for some reason, this obviously plays well with the overall anti-JCPOA campaign.

    The IRGC is the only state military organization on the terrorism blacklist. Considering the myriad preexisting sanctions on the unit, it is a superfluous insult. In 2019, Trump implemented this policy at the behest of Israeli-partisan hawks like Mark Dubowitz at the Foundation For Defense of Democracies, a notoriously anti-Iran think tank. This is one of the largest bricks in the so called “sanctions wall” precluding any of Trump’s successors from ever returning to the deal for fear of the built-in political toxicity. It is enough to keep Biden and the cowardly Democrats from backing what is ultimately Barack Obama’s deal in favor of a neoconservative-style Iran policy.

    As May began, Israel started making these claims about a global Iranian plot to kill Israelis. At that time, the JCPOA negotiations were seemingly stalled irrevocably because of the IRGC-FTO issue. But then the Vienna talks’ broker, European Union nuclear negotiator Enrique Mora, traveled to Tehran. He took meetings with Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani as a last ditch effort to break the deadlock. Mora was sent by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. As a result of the American led sanctions blitz on Russia, Europeans are in desperate need of another crude supplier as Borrell has noted. The same week, the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, also made a trip to Tehran and pushed for progress during meetings with President Ebrahim Raisi as well as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. On May 13th, Borrell announced Mora’s mission went “better than expected,” Vienna talks had been unblocked, and a final deal was within reach.

    Days later, coinciding with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s visit to Washington, and his meetings with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin, Khodaei was murdered in the drive-by shooting. Israel’s assassination campaign had commenced.

    Two days after the Khodaei killing, Politico reported that the final decision to keep the IRGC on the FTO list was made. On Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked Biden for the “principled decision and for being a true friend of the State of Israel.”

    Following Trump, Biden’s administration is also continuing to seize tankers, stealing Iranian oil and pirating it for profit. Ironically, after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, there was some talk from Biden officials about making a deal with the Islamic Republic to put Iran’s abundant oil back on the market to reduce global energy prices. But this was apparently never taken seriously.

    Biden instead prefers to kowtow to the genocidal Saudi regime which along with Abu Dhabi and Washington have starved to death and bombed over 400,000 Yemenis, including more than 263,000 children.

    Those deaths mean little to the Abraham Accords caucus. This bipartisan coalition in Congress is working to ensure Washington arms these tyrants further while the Pentagon assists them in joining forces, as well as integrating missile defenses with Tel Aviv eyeing Tehran. As Biden heads to the Middle East, there is even talk of the U.S. offering security guarantees to the United Arab Emirates.

    For almost a year, the Israelis have been pushing an anti-Iran, NATO-style, U.S. led alliance in the Middle East. In recent weeks, Gantz has openly promoted this strategy which Bennett is said to have suggested to Biden during a White House meeting last year.

    As Iran is encircled militarily and strangled economically, the American Empire is refusing to allow them any breathing room. Each day the U.S. forgoes lifting sanctions and restoring the deal the likelihood of a hot war increases.

    Given the size of Iran, its population, its geostrategic location, substantial ballistic missile deterrent, its Axis of Resistance partners, and the wide variety of U.S. military targets in the region, a war with Tehran would likely dwarf the catastrophic damage, scope, and deaths of America’s other Middle East wars.

    If the JCPOA fails, the hawks armed to the teeth surrounding Iran may try to goad Tehran into leaving the NPT. Whether this happens ultimately or not, Israel may use the coming breakdown in diplomacy to justify instigating its long desired war. Rightfully, the Iranians will see such an Israeli attack as an American declaration of war.

    This week, Tehran has formally dropped their demand for removing the IRGC from the FTO list. Washington has not yet responded. Contrary to the corporate press narrative, the ball is now firmly in Washington’s court.

    Iran called Biden’s bluff. It is imperative that the American people now assert our support for terminating the unjustified and brutal Maximum Pressure campaign as well as denounce Israel’s murderous aggressions.

    The Iranian people deserve to live and trade in peace.

    Biden Regime Continues to Steal Food from Syria

     MIRI WOOD

    Biden regime has stolen more Syrian wheat. On 18 June, American illegals in the Levantine Republic moved forty trucks filled with the country’s grain, moving them into Iraq via criminal use of the al Walid Crossing in the al Yarubiyah region of Hasakah governate.

    Indigenous locals told the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) that Biden forces engaged in their latest round of massive theft of Syrian grains with the assistance of the armed insurrectionist SDF separatist Kurds (ironically or arrogantly supported by the same US politicians who screech the loudest over ”domestic terror” fears in their own country). The SDF terrorists function as cannon fodder committed to ethnic cleansing and assisting NATO oligarchs in creating a new Sykes-Picot occupation, and sometimes are permitted to pretend that they are guarding American military invaders, occupiers, and food and oil thieves.

    Armed SDF preventing flour delivery to commercial bakeries.
    Illegal Biden forces continue to support armed insurrectionist SDF.

    The latest theft of essential food grains belonging to Syria comes two days after the Biden troops stole another forty tankers of Syrian oil — a criminal habit launched by war criminal Republican Trump, and accelerated by war criminal Democratic POTUS.

    In exchange for the stolen Syrian food grains, Biden forces dumped a “convoy loaded with damaged military vehicles into Iraqi territory through the illegal Al-Waleed crossing [into Syria]. According to the sources, the column includes 36 vehicles, including 8 tankers loaded with damaged military armored vehicles, 9 refrigerators, 4 tankers loaded with generators, 7 carriers and 8 armored vehicles.”

    Syria News reminds our readers that on 15 June, UN humanitarians issued a public letter via ReliefWeb to the Security Council, calling for UNSCR 2585 (2021) to be renewed on 10 July, and also calling for the further increase of cross-border corridors which will further breach Syria’s sovereignty.

    UNSC Resolution 2585 Supply Lines to Al Qaeda in Idlib from NATO Turkey
    UN ‘humanitarians’ want to breach Syria’s sovereignty but are not concerned with Biden’s looting of oil & food grains.

    The humanitarian Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect aptly described the original SC Resolution 2165 (2014) as cross-border entries “without the consent of the Syrian government.”

    Syria News again reminds our readers that not one of the NATO-affiliated UN humanitarians has ever uttered a condemnation of the massive Trump and Biden thefts of Syrian oil and wheat.

    We do not anticipate a condemnation of Biden’s most recent war crime against the Syrian Arab Republic.

    — Miri Wood

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    Biden Forces Continue Trump Looting of Syrian Oil in Ethnic Cleansing

     

    MIRI WOOD

    Biden criminal forces in Syria continue looting Syria’s oil reserves launched by Trump. This supremacist theft is part of the neo Sykes-Picot plot to ethnically cleanse Syria of its indigenous population, by depriving the citizenry of its essential raw materials. The latest mass theft was stolen from the al Jazirah region of Hasakah governate, which happens to be in Syria, which is not part of the United States.

    Biden imperial US again helping to destroy Syrian water supply.
    Biden regime, like the Trump regime, can not read a map.

    Syria News reminds its readers — particularly the minority of western colonialists who are so engrained with their entitlements as to almost be functioning at the level of deformed genetics — that when Trump stood outside the White House to announce how much he loves stealing from another people’s country, even those suffering Trump Derangement Syndrome were stricken deaf, dumb, and blind to this savage war crime.

    Biden forces smuggle dozens of tankers loaded with stolen Syrian oil into Iraq

    We remind our readers — particularly those suffering the fantastic delusions that there is a difference between the war crimes of the Democrats and the war crimes of the Republicans, that Biden illegals in Syria have also continued the Trump legacy of stealing Syria’s essential foodstuffs.

    On Thursday 16 June, the ‘Brandon’ regime military illegals in the Levantine Republic, exited the country with forty-two vehicles, most of which were tankers laden with stolen Syrian oil.

    To further flaunt exceptional American right to invade, occupy, and steal, the Biden regime forces exited Syria via the illegal al Walid crossing into Iraq, another country that the US continues to criminally occupy, despite the Iraqi Parliament having convened to vote, and then subsequently voting for our supremacist yanquis to leave, more than two years ago (the vote was met by threats of illicit sanctions, by Trump, and the ongoing, squatting by the Biden forces).

    Biden regime criminals brought massive weapons into Syria, via the al Walid illegal crossing.
    Biden regime criminals continue to loot Syria’s oil, transporting the booty into Iraq, via illegal al Walid crossing,

    In other Syria news, which continued to be ignored by NATO-affiliated media, NATO-supported terrorists bombed houses in Kasab, Latakia, on Wednesday, and two more children were injured in a landmine blast on Thursday,

    The supremacist Biden regime forces will continue to loot Syria’s wealth, as the UN will continue to ignore it, and colonialist media will continue to normalize it as part of the new, undeclared Sykes-Picot balkanization and ethnic cleansing until Syria finds a way to destroy all terrorists occupying the homeland.

    — Miri Wood


    Syria News is a collaborative effort by two authors only, we end up most of the months paying from our pockets to maintain the site’s presence online, if you like our work and want us to remain online you can help by chipping in a couple of Euros/ Dollars or any other currency so we can meet our site’s costs on time; you can also donate with Cryptocurrencies through our donate page.
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    Whose Lies Can You Trust?

    May 29, 2022

    Source

    by James Rothenberg

    I read that we’ve entered a “post truth” age. I dislike the term because it seems too sure of itself, as if it encompasses all there is to encompass. As if it should come to mean the same thing to everyone. The worst is “holocaust”, a word I’ve forbidden myself to use for the reasons just mentioned.

    Sure, something’s been accelerating. It’s hard to miss the competitive manipulation taking place in the “information age”, another shorthand though with more authenticity. At a certain point in his presidency, the Washington Post catalogued 10,000 of Donald Trump’s lies. They were practically giddy about it. “Now we’ve got him!”, they seemed to be saying. “10,000!”.

    Isador Feinstein Stone published the newsletter, I. F. Stone’s Weekly, from 1953-1971. Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, and Eleanor Roosevelt were among the first subscribers. (If the reader is unimpressed, this is a good place to stop.) As an investigative journalist, Stone’s bedrock principle was that all governments lie. It’s tempting to say that we find too few like him today. More to the point, there are always and everywhere too few like him. They are the anti-authoritarians.

    Once we accept as a given that all governments lie, it reduces to, whose lies can you trust? The answer is easy. You’ll trust the lies of your own country before any other. An example of “post truth”? No, the truth about the lies.

    To lie is to be at cross-purposes with the target of the lie. It exposes an adversarial relationship between the two. The unavoidable conclusion is that government is in an adversarial relationship with its own people. How do these cross-purposes come to exist between our government and the people it lies to?

    First we should define the sides in this internal conflict because it’s not just government on one side. Multinational corporations have become such a potent force that government must consult with them, and vice versa. Their symbiosis is based on capitalism with a revolving door existing between the public and private sector. When you’re high up in one, you’re not far from the other.

    We wouldn’t know we were being lied to without government’s microphone, the mega corporations that disseminate information to us, also a potent international force. And then, easy to overlook, what is government but the only two competing political parties in America, “both sides of the aisle”. There is an aisle, and Democrats and Republicans do sit on opposing sides. And they do have their differences. Otherwise you couldn’t tell them apart. But these differences largely run along cultural lines, and increasingly so.

    Not that these are unimportant. They’re very important, but the parties come to be identified mainly by their stances and clashes on sexuality, civil rights, reproduction, religion, immigration and skin color to the exclusion of what could be the most crucial area to disagree on, but isn’t.

    Are we to assume that because they differ so strongly on certain things, that their agreement on other things is a good indication of their virtue? I think not because such conformity is less a sign of reasoned judgment than of subordination to larger interests. The result of their general agreement is that we have no major political party independent of capitalist imperialism as promulgated by Wall Street, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the intelligence/security industry.

    This is where the “national interest” is manufactured, the great secret plans that are hammered out for our own good. Ordinary people cannot be entrusted to determine the interests of their own country because they might be at odds with the manufactured kind.

    Imagine if the public had had a say over the question, in 2003, of whether or not we should invade Iraq. No, forget that. That’s not a good example. The public was in favor of it. But why? For months we were the target of an intense propaganda campaign to sway our support for a decision to attack that had already been made. If you convince people that we’re fighting them “over there” so that we don’t have to fight them “over here”, well, that figures to be enough to win them over.

    Now go back to 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Much talk about a “peace dividend”. Nice ring to it. The United States has had the lion’s share of the world’s wealth since WW2, and now it had the wealth and no viable rivals anywhere in sight.

    However, it was considered to be in the “national interest” to expand NATO, an alliance solely formed to counter the communist menace of the Soviet Union, which no longer existed. There was to be no peace dividend. It’s a made-up thing anyway.

    Since then, 13 countries have joined NATO pushing east toward Russia’s borders. Russia’s leadership regards it as a provocation. You can argue against this but only if you wouldn’t consider it a provocation if Russia had formed a military alliance with Cuba, Mexico, and Canada, or any of the three. I suspect patriotic Americans will reject this dialectic.

    Imagine if the public had had a say over the question, in 1991, of whether or not we should expand our military alliance with its attendant costs, or whether we should reap the dividend by seeking a more cooperative relationship with the whole of Eurasia including the Middle East. Missing was the propaganda campaign to win our support for a peace dividend so that we could spend “over here” instead of “over there”.

    People will instinctively choose peace over war. We are naturally possessed of that much empathy for others. You have to be marshaled into killing. That we identify with peoples’ suffering is evident in all the Ukrainian flag flying. That’s people, not states. States deal in straight power concepts. It is in the anarchist spirit to resist this.

    To declare that Ukraine is a pawn in a great-power game greatly overstates the country’s role. A pawn can force a win by checkmate or through progression. A better metaphor is Ukraine is the board the game is being played on. The main players are the United States and Russia.

    The US-led NATO contingent would like to diminish Russia as a regional power so that it can fully concentrate on its primary target, China. Russia would like to diminish NATO and expand its influence throughout Eurasia.

    On February 4, Russia and China formally announced a strategic partnership, essentially declaring their intention to remake the world order. This wouldn’t have come as a surprise to the United States because it sits atop the existing world order — precariously — and knows perfectly well about the threat China poses to its hegemony. Russia needs China. China doesn’t need Russia, but finds it useful. This accounts for its “hands off” policy in Ukraine.

    Putin seems to have calculated, correctly, that the United States has no appetite for a direct military clash over Ukraine. The partnership building with China was likely decisive in ordering the strike. The United States is in full-hypocrisy mode when Nancy Pelosi pledges, “to help the Ukrainian people as they defend democracy for their nation and for the world.”

    You’re supposed to be oblivious to the United States orchestrated coup, in 2014, that removed a democratically elected Ukrainian president because he was not sufficiently pro-West. The script never changes. But you can trust it.


    James Rothenberg writes on U.S. social and foreign policy.

    UN rapporteur: Human Rights in Iran Severely Affected by US Sanctions

    May 19, 2022

    A top UN human rights official has slammed the United States for its brutal sanctions regime against the Islamic Republic of Iran, asserting that harsh economic sanctions have had a damaging impact on human rights in the country.

    Alena Douhan, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights, who is on an official visit to Iran these days, convened a press conference in Tehran on Wednesday afternoon.

    Speaking to reporters, Douhan noted that decades of sanctions have wholly affected Iranian people’s lives and have particularly hit the low-income section of the society.

    While presenting her assessment of the unilateral coercive measures (UCM) against Iran, the UN official who works under a mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council, called on Washington to abandon its hard-nosed policy of maximum pressure against Iran and other countries.

    Douhan, who arrived in Tehran earlier this month, said she had met with many civil society members, representatives of financial centers, diplomatic community during her visit.

    She said she will address her concerns about the legality of US sanctions in her final report, which will be released at a later date.

    Douhan’s mission from May 7 to 18 is the first to Iran by a UN special rapporteur.

    Before embarking on the trip, the UN official said she hoped to “gather first-hand information on the impact of unilateral coercive measures on the full realization of all human rights” in Iran.

    “My visit will aim at covering all walks of life and sectors affected by such measures,” she noted, dismissing speculation in the Western media that she was heading to Iran with a specific agenda.

    She told reporters on Wednesday that the US has since the 1970s imposed crippling economic and trade sanctions on Iran and significantly expanded them since the early 2000s.

    In May 2018, the former US President Donald Trump, after unilaterally withdrawing his country from the 2015 nuclear deal, reinstated harsh economic sanctions on Iran and slapped new ones in an unprecedented move that was widely decried.

    Under the 2015 agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), international sanctions on the Islamic Republic were eased in exchange for Tehran putting limitations on certain aspects of its nuclear activities.

    Trump’s sanctions deprived the Islamic Republic of economic dividends under the accord as it barred countries and international firms from working with Iran.

    The mercurial real estate tycoon-turned-president’s successor, Joe Biden, who was vice president when the JCPOA was inked in 2015, promised to return his country to the deal. But his administration has failed to honor the commitment, following Trump’s legacy.

    According to the UN special rapporteur, the US continues to illegally ban trade and investment in Iran, forcing foreign companies to leave the country for the fear of sanctions.

    Douhan’s landmark visit to Iran came amid the stalemate over the nuclear deal, with the US showing reluctance to respond to Iran’s proposals.

    Decrying the US decision to abandon the nuclear deal and continue with its sanctions regime, she said the deal was endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

    “Applying extraterritorial sanctions on Iranian companies or companies working with Iran … is illegal under international law,” she asserted.

    Commenting on Iran’s frozen assets abroad, the UN official said the assets estimated to be around $120 billion need to be unblocked.

    “I urge the states that have frozen the assets of Iranian Central Bank to immediately unfreeze Iran’s funds based on international law.”

    Douhan began her 11-day visit to Iran on May 7, a day before the fourth anniversary of the US illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA.

    Last week, Iran’s top human rights official Kazem Gharibabadi said Douhan’s visit was only aimed at gathering information on the impact of sanctions to hold countries (US) to account.

    “Nations hit by sanctions should use all available resources to hold the countries calling for and enforcing unilateral sanctions liable,” Gharibabadi said.

    His comments came in response to reports in Western media accusing Iran of exploiting the visit to avoid accountability and “deflect attention” from its alleged human rights violations.

    In her Wednesday press conference, Douhan also welcomed Iran’s efforts to support Afghan refugees, displaced by the 20-year US war, despite reeling under sanctions.

    “I call on the sanctioning states, particularly the US, to abandon the unilateral sanctions,” she stated.

    She also referred to stalled negotiations in Vienna to bring the US back to the JCPOA, urging the JCPOA signatories and the US to resume the negotiations.”

    Iran and the P4+1 group of countries – Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia – have held several rounds of sanctions in the Austrian capital since April 2021 to revive the JCPOA.

    Iran says its primary goal at the talks is to have the illegal US sanctions removed.

    Source: Iranian media (edited by Al-Manar English Website)

    Schenker Acknowledges: US Exploited 2019 Protests, Fastened Lebanon Economic Collapse: Video

    May 15, 2022

    On eve of parliamentary elections in Lebanon, David Schenker, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, made remarks on the dangerous role played by the former US administration to fasten the economic collapse in Lebanon and to maintain the siege on the country.

    During The Washington Institute’s virtual Policy Forum entitled “Hezbollah-Shia Dynamics and Lebanon’s Election: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Implications,” Schenker acknowledged that the former US administration of Donald Trump exploited the 2019 protests in a bid to defame and weaken Hezbollah along with its allies.

    The US official said that former US administration imposed sanctions on financial organizations affiliated with Hezbollah and on Jammal Trust Bank, noting that the step was directly after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Lebanon’s issuer rating to C from Ca.

    The US was behind downgrading Lebanon’s rating and the Trump administration was keen to synchronize this move with sanctioning Jammal Trust Bank, Schenker told the forum.

    In this context, the US official said that Washington also sanctioned Hezbollah’s major ally Gebran Bassil as part of efforts aimed at laying siege on Hezbollah and its allies.

    He noted that while he was in his post he visited Lebanon for two or three times, adding that during these visits he met anti-Hezbollah Shiite businessmen and journalists.

    https://english.almanar.com.lb/ajax/video_check.php?id=107329

    Furthermore, Schenker said he was not optimistic about 2022 elections and that he did not think the results will sway the current political situation in the country, noting that the US administration should not bet on these elections.

    In an assessment of Hezbollah rival candidates, Schenker described them as “individualistic, self-centered and narcissistic leaders.”

    He claimed that they are mostly seeking to obtain titles and the benefits of leadership rather than creating actual change in the political composition of the country.

    Source: Al-Manar English Website

    Not Only Americans Milk Saudis, ‘Israelis’ Do Too

    April 19, 2022 

    By Staff | Haaretz

    After the New York Times published a report that Saudi Arabia put $2 billion into Jared Kushner’s investment fund despite objections he was too inexperienced, the matter raised a big question for Etyan Avriel who asked: Does the deal have an ‘Israeli’ angle – and could former Mossad head Yossi Cohen be involved?

    In an analysis entitled “Trump’s People Pocket Saudi Billions. What about Top ‘Israeli’ Officials?”, Avriel, the co-founder of TheMarker, the business newspaper of the Haaretz Group, tackled the ‘Israeli’ angle of the story. He uncovered that like Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in the ‘Israeli’ entity, too, politicians and senior officials receive payments for the “public service” they provide for tycoons.”

    “We could fill an entire newspaper with examples, which raises the question of whether the Kushner deal has an ‘Israeli’ angle,” Avriel noted as he started to explain the following:

    Kushner, who promoted ties between Saudi Arabia and the United States, is also the person most responsible for the Abraham Accords, the 2020 agreement between ‘Israel’ and the UAE and Bahrain. He obviously had ‘Israeli’ partners, including the former Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, and the US ambassador to Tel Aviv at the time, David Friedman [this according to foreign reports].

    The author then asks: Did they also get something like the generous investment received by Kushner from Bin Salman?

    There may be no definitive answer to this question. But one could point to several facts that raise some questions. According to several media reports, Cohen, for example, had planned, to join former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s fund. Instead, he was appointed head of the ‘Israeli’ operations of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision venture capital fund.

    The Saudi sovereign wealth fund is the anchor investor in the Vision fund, after putting at its disposal no less than $45 billion in 2017, with the UAE state investment company Mubadala providing a further $15 billion [SoftBank itself invested $28 billion].

    In other words, the Vision Fund, which is funded almost exclusively by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, appointed to an important position that no doubt comes with a hefty salary and other perks Kushner’s partner in warming relations with the US and ‘Israel’, even though Cohen has no experience in business, high-tech or capital markets. Is this a coincidence?

    There’s more. Last December, ‘Israeli’ Channel 12 television revealed that Cohen, while still chief of Mossad, helped his daughter Achinoam get a job as a director in a company controlled by Tahnoun bin Zayed, the UAE national security adviser, a counterpart to the head of Mossad in that country. One of bin Zayed’s companies has opened an office in Herzliya for the company employing Cohen’s daughter, but Cohen denies any improper ties. “I never turned to Sheikh Tahnoun on any topic connected to my daughter or her employment,” he claimed in comments to ‘Israeli’ Channel 12.

    Other senior officials in the ‘Israeli’ Middle East diplomacy are linked to the same businesses. Friedman, for example, is a partner in the same Mnuchin’s fund that has received billions of dollars from the Saudis and Emiratis.

    “Kushner, Mnuchin, Friedman and Cohen may have made ‘peace’ between ‘Israel’ and several Arab states, but they also leveraged the ‘peace’ into millions of dollars for each one of them personally, and in very short order,” the author concluded.

    Pentagon general deplores removing IRGC Quds Force off terror list

    Friday 8 April 2022

    Source: Agencies

    Milley’s personal opinion is to keep, particularly, Iran’s Quds Force on the terror list.

    By Al Mayadeen Net 

    Pentagon general deplores removing IRGC Quds Force off terror list

    The Pentagon’s top general, Mark Milley, vocalized that he was against the delisting of the IRGC as a “terrorist organization”.

    “In my personal opinion, I believe the IRGC Quds Force to be a terrorist organization, and I do not support them being delisted from the foreign terrorist organization list,” said Milley in a congressional hearing. 

    What was noticeable is Milley’s particular singling out of the IRGC Quds Force – whose former commander was assassinated martyr, Qassem Soleimani – at a time when Washington contemplates removing the IRGC off the terror list altogether. 

    Removing the IRGC off the US terror list, to Tehran, is a main condition for the restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal, which was obstructed by former US President Donald Trump in 2018. Trump designated the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization after withdrawing from the deal. 

    Israelis panic

    While Washington discusses removing the IRGC from the terror list, “Israel” tries everything to obstruct the decision. 

    Israel Hayom expects that “Israel” will continue to make strong statements against the Biden administration’s intent to remove the IRGC from its terror list, saying that even if this leads to foiling the deal in Congress, “Israel” will continue to publicly oppose the nuclear deal.

    It noted that it is expected that the Israeli opposition will make it harder for the deal to be approved in Congress, and that “Israel’s” political leadership believes removing the IRGC from the list is “unethical”, and that it jeopardizes the lives of Israelis and others.

    Read more: “Israel” pleads with US to keep IRGC on ‘terror list’

    The US administration is currently considering the removal of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps from its terror blacklist in exchange for a commitment from Iran to “de-escalate” in the region, according to Axios.

    One of the remaining points in the Vienna Talks is the removal of IRGC’s designation as a terror group. The terror designation means that criminal penalties would be imposed on anyone doing business with any individual or entity connected to the IRGC.

    Furthermore, Israeli media reported a source close to the US administration as saying that “Former President Donald Trump’s decision in 2019 to put Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on the list was a dangerous and short-sighted move.”

    The same source added that the move prioritized rhetoric over the security of the US and its partnership, stressing that including the IRGC on the list had increased Iran’s hostility.

    In the same context, the Israeli Channel KAN reported that “the Gulf countries have called on the White House not to remove the IRGC from the list.

    On his account, Channel 12‘s political analyst Amit Segal affirmed that “Israel” is not alone in calling on Biden to refrain from removing IRGC from the terrorist list.”

    Last Sunday, Israeli PM Naftali Bennett expressed hope that the decision will not go through. 

    “We are still hoping and working toward preventing this from happening,” he said.

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