The Saker interviews Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi

August 21, 2019

[this interview was made for the Unz Review]

The Saker interviews Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi

Introduction: 

First, several friends recently suggested that that I should interview Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi; then I read this most interesting text on Moon of Alabama and I decided to ask Professor Marandi to share his views of the current situation in Iran, the Persian Gulf the rest of the Middle-East who very kindly agreed to reply to my question in spite of his most hectic and busy schedule. I am most grateful to Prof. Marandi for his time and replies. Crucially, Prof. Marandi debunks the silly notion that Russia and Israel are allies or working together. He also debunks that other canard about Russia and Iran having some major differences over Syria.

Prof. Marandi, who is currently in Iran, is superbly connected and informed, and I hope that with this interview some of the more outlandish rumors which were recently circulated will finally be seen for what they are: utter, total, nonsense. Enjoy the interview!

The Saker

——-

The Saker: It is often said that there is an “axis of resistance” which comprises Syrian, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia and China. Sometimes, Venezuela, Cuba or the DPRK are added to this list. Do you believe that there is such an “axis of resistance” and, if yes, how would you characterize the nature of this informal alliance? Do you think that this informal alliance can ever grow into a formal political or military alliance or a collective security treaty?

Professor Marandi: I definitely believe there is an Axis of Resistance that currently includes Iran, Syria, Iraq, Gaza Lebanon, parts of Afghanistan, and Yemen. I do not think that we can include the DPRK in any way or form. I believe that Russia could be considered to a certain degree as aligned or affiliated to this resistance, but that this is not something many would feel the need to acknowledge. At certain levels, there is a lot of overlap between Russian and Chinese policy and the policies of the countries and movements in this region that are affiliated to this Axis of Resistance. The same is true with countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Cuba, which I do not consider to be similar to North Korea at all. Just as almost everywhere else, American policy in the Korean Peninsula is ugly, hegemonic and malevolence, but the nature of the DPRK government is fundamentally different from that of Venezuela or Cuba, whether the Americans or Europeans like to acknowledge that or not. Others can interpret the Axis of Resistance to include or exclude certain countries, but it is pretty clear that Iran and Russia have similar policy objectives when it comes to certain key issues. Nevertheless, Russia has a close relationship with the Israeli regime whereas Iran considers it to be an apartheid state, almost identical to that of apartheid South Africa. Or for example the Syrian government position regarding Israel is different from that of Iran’s. The official Syrian position is that the West Bank and Gaza Strip must be returned to the Palestinians, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, and that the occupied Golan Heights have to be handed back to the Syrian people, which are legitimate demands. But the Iranian position is different, Iran firmly believes that Israel is a colonial and apartheid regime and that it is morally unacceptable for it to exist in its present form. Therefore, at least officially, there are substantial differences. So people can interpret the Axis of Resistance in different ways.

It is important to keep in mind that despite Syria, Iran, Turkey and Qatar are also moving closer together partially thanks to US, Saudi, and UAE hostility towards the Muslim Brotherhood. What is important is that there is a growing consensus about key issues in this region and what the major problems are, and I think that as time goes on this loose alliance of countries and movements is growing more influential and more powerful. I cannot say whether there will be a formal or open collective security treaty or military alliance created by any of these countries in the near or foreseeable future and I do not see such a necessity. However, I think this convergence of ideas is very important and I think that the formal and informal links that exist between these countries is in many ways more important and more significant than formal political or military alliances or security treaties.

The Saker: In recent months a number of observers have stated that Russia and Israel are working hand in hand and some have gone as far as to say that Putin is basically a pawn of Netanyahu and that Russia is loyal to Israel and Zionists interests. Do you agree with this point of view? How do Iranian officials view the Russian contacts with the Israelis, does that worry them or do they believe that these contacts can be beneficial for the future of the region?

Professor Marandi: That is nonsense. The US and Israeli regimes are culturally and ideologically bound to one another, whereas the Americans have a deep antipathy towards Russia. That is why the Russians have a very different position on Syria than do the Americans and Israelis.

The Israelis alongside the US, the EU, the Saudis, and some of Syria’s neighboring countries, supported ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other extremist entities and attempted to tear Syria apart.

As explained earlier, the Russian view of Israel is different from Iran. There are many Russian Jewish immigrants in Israel and they constitute a large segment of the colonists in Palestine and they are largely utilized for the further subjugation of the Palestinian people and ethnic cleansing. Generally speaking, Russian interests are in sharp conflict with those of the United States, Israel’s strongest ally. In addition, Russia’s close relationship with Syria dates back to the cold war and the relentless US pressure on China and Russia has also acted as a strong catalyst to quicken their convergence with one another as well as with Iran on key issues. The Chinese and Russians know quite well that the United States, the Europeans, and regional countries have extensively used extremists in Syria to undermine the state and that those forces could later be used to undermine security in Central Asia, Russia, and China. A large number of Russian, Chinese, and Central Asians have been trained to fight in Syria, and this is a major threat to their collective security. The United States could use these and other extremists in an attempt to impede the potential success of the Belt and Road Initiative or other plans for Asian integration. Thus, there is a sharp and growing conflict between the Russians and the Americans.

The Israeli regime constantly tells the Russians and the Chinese that they are the gateway to Washington and that if they maintain strong ties with Israel, the Israelis can help them solve their problems with the United States. I do not think there is much truth to that, because this growing conflict is about the fate of US global dominance and there is nothing the Israelis can do to change that. Nevertheless, this has been used as an incentive for the Russians and the Chinese to maintain better relations with the Israeli regime.

In any case, Russia does not have to maintain identical views with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Iraq, or Yemen. Differences exist, but strong relationships exist nevertheless. All of these countries recognize that if the Americans are able to undermine any of them, whether it is Syria, Iran, Russia, or China, then that would only encourage the United States to be more aggressive towards the remaining countries that impede US foreign policy objectives or exist as potential rivals whether regionally or globally. So even though their political structures are different, even though their foreign policies are different, the similarities that exist are quite striking as well as the common threats. Again, to a large degree this coalition is a result of US and Western foreign policy, which has strong undercurrents of Eurocentricism, tribalism, and racism.

Not only has this pressure brought these countries and movements closer to one another, but it has also created a deeper understanding among them. The Russians understand Iran better today than they did 5 years ago, partially as a result of their cooperation in Syria. This greater understanding enhances the relationship, and helps to dispel many of the misunderstandings or myths that may exist about one another due to Eurocentric narratives and orientalism.

Hence, Iran is not concerned about Russian-Israeli relation. Obviously, in an ideal world Iran would like Russia to break relations with the Israeli regime for its apartheid nature. But reality is reality, and Iranian relations with Russia are very good and at times I am sure the Iranians send certain warnings to the Israelis through the Russians.

The Saker: How is Russia viewed in Iran? Are most Iranian still suspicious of Russia or do they believe that they have a viable and honest partner in Russia? What are the main reservations/concerns of patriotic Iranians when they think of Russia?

Professor Marandi: Historically, the Iranians have had serious problems with the Russians. The Russians and the Soviet Union interfered extensively in Iranian internal affairs and they undermined Iran’s sovereignty. But ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union the image of Russia has changed. Especially since Russia began fighting alongside Iran in Syria in 2015, Russia’s image has improved significantly. When we look at polls, Russia’s image is pretty good compared to Western countries.

Western governments own or fund dozens of Persian language media outlets These outlets, such as VOA and BBC Persian among others, are constantly spouting anti-Russian propaganda. Obviously they have an impact and that couples with historical Iranian concerns about Russia, but despite all that, the Russian image is relatively favorable and that says a lot.

The Saker: How about Turkey? Iran and Turkey have had a complex relationship in the past, yet in the case of the AngloZionist war against Syria, the two states have worked together (and with Russia) – does that mean that Turkey is seen as a viable and honest partner in Iran?

Professor Marandi: Iran’s relationship with the Turkish government is complicated, especially, because of the constant policy changes that have occurred IN TURKEY over the past few years. This has made the government seem unreliable in the eyes of many. Having said that, Turkey is very different from Wahhabi influenced regimes in the Arabian Peninsula. Turkish Islamic tradition has striking similarities with Iran’s Islamic culture and because of its strong Sufi tradition, Turkey is much closer to Iran than it is to, for example,Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.

The global Wahhabi menace has grown as a result of Saudi financial support, as well as the support of other countries in the Persian Gulf region. Turkish society has been more resistant, although ever since the military conflict in Syria and due to extensive funding from the Persian Gulf, there has been growing concern about growing sectarianism in Turkey, not unlike what happened in Pakistan in the 1980s.

Ironically, before the conflict in Syria President Erdogan had a closer personal relationship with President Assad than did the Iranians. They and their families would spend vacations together.

In any case, Turkey has a very strong economic, political, and cultural relationship with Iran, and some of the rising anti-Shia and takfiri sentiments that have been on the rise in Turkey were stunted by the Saudi and Emirati support for the attempted coup in Turkey. Subsequently, their open antagonism towards the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar, their support for the coup in Egypt, their policies in Sudan and Libya, and of course the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, have all had a beneficial impact on Iranian-Turkish relations. As a result, Turkey has grown much more distant from Iran’s regional antagonists, while Turkish support for the Palestinian cause is another element that brings Iran and Turkey closer together. American support for PKK terrorists in Syria has also angered the Turks adding push to Turkish-Iranian convergence. Even Turkish policy towards Syria is evolving, although it is impossible for the government to make a radical change, because of years of attempts at regime change.

The Saker: Next, turning to Iraq, how would you characterize the “balance of influence” of Iran and the USA in Iraq? Should we view the Iraqi government as allied to Iran, allied to the USA or independent? If the Empire attacks Iran, what will happen in Iraq?

Professor Marandi: The relationship between Iraq and Iran is significantly more important than the relationship between Iraq and the United States. Iran and Iraq are allies, but this alliance does not contradict the notion of Iraqi independence. Iraq’s regional policy is not identical to Iran’s. But the two countries have very similar interests, a very close relationship, many Iraqi leaders have spent years in Iran, and the bulk of the Iraqi population lives close to the shared border of over 1,200 km between the two countries. So trade, pilgrimage, and tourism are key to both countries. The religious similarities and the holy sites that exist in Iran and Iraq are a huge incentive for interaction between the two countries. There are many Iraqi students studying in Iran and many Iranian’s working in Iraq. The fact that Iranians made many sacrifices when fighting ISIS in Iraq and many Iraqis were martyred in the war against ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria is a strong indication of where things stand despite US pressure.

The Arba’een pilgrimage that takes place every year where millions of Iranians and Iraqis make the walk towards Karbala, side by side, with tens of thousands of Iraqi and Iranian volunteers helping pilgrims along the way is, I think, a further sign of the close relationship.

While the U.S presence in Iraq continues to be hegemonic, Iran has not sought to prevent Iraq from having normal relationships with other countries. However, the U.S continues to seek control over Iraq through the world’s largest embassy, its military presence, and its influence over the bureaucracy. The United States continues to have much say over how the country’s oil wealth is spent.

Still, despite the US colonial behavior, its continued theft of Iraqi oil wealth, and its thuggish behavior, the Iraqis have been able to assert a great deal of independence. In the long run, this continued US behavior is only going to create further resentment among Iraqis. The empire rarely takes these realities into account, they seek to accumulate influence and wealth through brute force, but in the long term it creates deep-rooted anger and hostility which, at some point, will create great problems for the empire, especially as this anger and unrest is growing across the region, if not across the globe.

It is highly unlikely that the regime in Washington will attack Iran, if it does it will bring about a regional war, which will drive the United States out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Syria. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates would, swiftly collapse and the price of oil and natural gas would go through the roof, leading to a global economic meltdown even as millions of people will be streaming towards Europe.

The Saker: It is often said that Russia and Iran have fundamentally different goals in Syria and that the two countries regularly have tensions flaring up between them because of these disagreements. Is that true?In your opinion, how are Russian and Iranian goals in Syria different?

Professor Marandi: The news that we sometimes hear about serious tensions existing between the Iranians and the Russians in Syria is often nonsense. There are clear reasons for people to exaggerate small incidents or to fabricate them altogether, but the relationship is quite good. Iran does not intend to have any military bases in Syria, whereas the Russians do feel the need to preserve their military presence in Syria through long-term agreements.

But ultimately, Iran would like to help enable Syria to acquire the military capability to retake the occupied Golan Heights. Iran does not intend to initiate any conflict with the Israeli regime inside Palestine. That is not an objective in Lebanon and that is not an objective in Syria. As in Lebanon, where the Iranians supported Hezbollah to restore the country’s sovereignty and to drive out the Israeli aggressors and occupiers, the Iranians have the same agenda in Syria. They want to support the Syrians so that they will be able to restore full sovereignty. I don’t believe the Golan Heights is a priority for the Russians.

The Saker: For a while, Iran let the Russian Aerospace Forces use an Iranian military airfield, then when this became public knowledge, the Russians were asked to leave. I have heard rumors that while the IRGC was in favor of allowing Russian Aerospace Forces to use an Iranian military airfield, the regular armed forces were opposed to this. Is it true that there are such differences between the IRGC and the regular armed forces and do you think that Iran will ever allow the Russian military to have a permanent presence in Iran?

Professor Marandi: That is a myth. The Russians were not asked to leave. There were no differences between the IRGC and any other part of the armed forces. This was a decision made by the Supreme National Security Council and the President and all the major commanders in the military were involved in this decision. Actually, the airbase does not belong to the guards it belongs to the air force and a part of the base was used for Russian strategic bombers that were flying to Syria to bomb the extremists. This cooperation ended when the Russians were able to station adequate numbers of aircraft in Syria, because the flights over Iran were long and expensive, whereas the air campaign launched from bases inside Syria was much less expensive and much more effective. Iran was very open about its relationship with the Russians, and openly permitted the Russians to fire missiles over Iranian airspace. There were those who were opposed to the Russian presence in the Iranian airbase. A small segment of Iranian society that is pro-Western and pro-American complained about it in their media outlets, but they had absolutely no impact on the decision-making process. According to polls, an overwhelming majority of Iranians supported Iran’s activities in Syria, and the Supreme National Security Council was under no pressure to its decision. However, Iran does not plan to allow any country to have permanent bases in the country and that is in accordance with the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The revolution in Iran was about independence, dignity, sovereignty and indigenous values, and the removal of American hegemony over Iran was very much a part of that. The Iranians will not give any basis to foreign powers in future, and neither the Russians nor the Chinese have ever made such requests. There are absolutely no differences regarding Iran’s regional policies between the IRGC and the rest of the military, both were a part of the decision-making process when the Russians were allowed to fire missiles over Iranian territory and both were part of the process in allowing Russian aircraft to use Iranian airspace. The Russian bombers were providing air support for Iranian troops and Iranian affiliated troops on the ground.

The Saker: Both Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah have made repeated statements that the days of the racist ZioApartheid regime in occupied are numbered. Do you agree with their point of view and, if yes, how do you see such a regime change actually happening? Which of the One State solution or a Two State solution do you believe to be more realistic?

Professor Marandi:  I do not believe the two-state solution is possible because the Israeli regime has colonized too much of the West Bank. Actually, through acts of selfishness and petty short-term gain, the regime has damaged itself enormously. As a result of the colonization of the West Bank, even the European elites and diplomats who would privately admit that the Israeli regime pursues apartheid policies and who would always speak of hope for a two-state solution, admit that the two state solution is dead. All Palestinians are treated as sub humans, whether they reside in the West Bank or not. They are a subjugated nation, whether they are Israeli citizens or not. However, there is no longer any hope that those who live in the occupied West Bank will gain freedom, even though we predicted the Israelis would never voluntarily relinquish the West bank. This is the most important challenge that the regime faces in the future. By colonizing the West Bank and despite official western media and government narratives, it is increasingly seen by the international community as the apartheid regime that it is. It is delegitimizing itself in the eyes of larger numbers of people.

In addition to that, it can no longer behave with impunity. The 2006 war in Lebanon where the Israeli armed forces were defeated by Hizbullah was a turning point. Before then, the Israelis had created an image that they were invincible. But now even in Gaza, they are unable to carry out their objectives when they periodically attack the territory and its civilians. The Israelis are now more easily contained especially since the Syrian government has been able to restore order and expel ISIS and al-Qaeda from areas neighboring Israeli forces on the occupied Golan Heights, despite the Israelis supporting the extremists. The Israelis have been contained regionally, at home they are increasingly seen as an apartheid regime. Its regional allies are also on the decline and regionally. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the only countries that can be considered as effective allies and they are facing a potential terminal decline. Therefore, regionally the regime is becoming more isolated. I do not believe that under such circumstances, the Israeli regime can last for very long. Just as the apartheid regime in South Africa collapsed under the burden of its own immoral existence, the Israeli regime will not last. There will be no two-state solution, the only realistic and moral solution is for Palestine to be united and for the indigenous population to have its rights restored, whether they are Palestinians, Jews or Christians or anyone else who is indigenous to the land.

The Saker: Iran is an Islamic Republic. It is also a majority Shia country. Some observers accuse Iran of wanting to export its political model to other countries. What do you make of that accusation? Do Iranian Islamic scholars believe that the Iranian Islamic Republic model can be exported to other countries, including Sunni countries?

Professor Marandi: 9-I do not think that there is any validity to that accusation. Iran has a very excellent relationship with Iraq, but it has not imposed its model on the country. In fact, Iran helped create the current constitution of that country. The same is true for Lebanon and Yemen. Iran is constantly accused by its antagonists, but in the most inconsistent ways. Elsewhere they claim that Iran is afraid of their model being exported because they are fearful of rivals. Iran has always been attacked from all sides often using self-contradictory arguments. On the one hand, the so-called regime is allegedly immensely unpopular, it is corrupt, it is falling apart, and it is incapable of proper governance. Yet on the other hand, Iran is a growing threat to the region and even the world. This is paradoxical, how can Iran be incompetent and collapsing on the one hand, yet a growing threat to the whole world on the other hand? This simply does not make sense. Nevertheless, I have seen no evidence that Iran has tried to impose its model on other countries or on movements that are close to it. If it was not for Iran’s support, ISIS and al-Qaeda would have overthrown Syria with its secular government and secular constitution. Iranians firmly believed that the terrorist forces supported by Western intelligence services as well as regional regimes were the worst case scenario for the Syrian people. Did they impose their model?

The Saker: thank you for all your answers!

In Case you missed it

No, Assad Didn’t “Win” The War, He Was Compelled By Putin To “Compromise”  By ANDREW KORYBKO

Don’t miss the comments

NO MR.ANDREW KORYBKO

YOUR ARTICLE IS MISLEADING. ASSAD WAS THE COUNTRY’S DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED AND LEGITIMATE LEADER IN MARCH 2011, TILL THIS VERY MOMENT.

YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT PUTIN INTERFERED IN 2015, 3 THE SO-CALLED SYRIAN “SPRING”. HE WAS THE TARGET, NOT THE REGIME. IF YOU DON’T KNOW, YOU NEED A DOCTOR

LOOK AT SYRIAN REFUGES IN LEBANON MARCHING THO ELECT ASSAD IN 2014 AT THE SYRIAN EMBASSY.

https://postmediacanadadotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/lebanon-syria-conflict-vote-refugee1.jpg?quality=60&strip=all

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The Terrorists Among US- Cyber War and Privateers are the true Domestic Terrorists

August 14, 2019

by George Eliason for The Saker Blog

The Terrorists Among US- Cyber War and Privateers are the true Domestic Terrorists

What are Cyber Privateers and should you be afraid of them? Cyber privateers and cyber bounty hunters are criminals that are not covered under international law as government agents. In reality, this almost nullifies the chance for war to start over any particular hacking or compromised data event.

The problems hired or volunteer contractors create include a projectable legal attribution. You don’t have to be able to prove a country was behind a cyber attack or hack as long as you meet certain conditions. You can literally project the blame entirely to a different entity. The legal aspects will be covered in the next article.

It also nullifies the myth cyber privateers/ bounty hunters can use government tools on civilian or otherwise protected classes of people and infrastructure at will. International law doesn’t give people hired or volunteering to commit crimes under any auspices a free pass.

This is a new class of terrorism which separates a cowardly criminal element from the victim the same way a remotely detonated explosive would when used at a shopping mall. This criminal activity is spreading at a rate that raises alarm bells especially with the projection of 3 million untrained new hires over the next few years.

In the last article, I introduced you to Jimmy and Gary. After three difficult months of online Youtube training, both of our heroes were ready to take on careers as international men of mystery.

The absolute risk this presents to international peace and security should be obvious regardless of what accepted policy is. Everybody gets to spy or nobody gets to spy is the mantra this generation of Intel managers was brought along with. Most of the tools in the NSA arsenal have their start or at the very least a counterpart that is freeware.

Disgruntled people have access to software that can literally trigger a heart attack for someone with a pacemaker, cause a seizure, or even take control of your car.

More than 70 percent of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity: CIFA is staffed by green badge contractors. The majority of personnel at the DIA, the CIA National Clandestine Service, the National Counter Terrorism Center, and more than 80% of the NSA budget goes to private contractors.

All of the agencies are filled with what amounts to day labor. How many of them already have the keys to the barn that potentially starts the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse on their way?

State sized tools give emotionally inadequate and politically repulsive people the ability to illegally mimic or ply actions that are inherently governmental in nature. These same disgruntled overpaid groups fill out the do not fly lists. They are putting people on domestic terrorist watch lists. They are deplatforming journalists and people expressing opinions contrary to their employers and taking over social media and opinion for their employers.

The same groups are hacking websites and stealing financial account information. They gain access to bank accounts through phishing exploits and siphon your account dry. One group I am writing about did this to a family member of mine because of the exposure I’m giving. I’ll get back to that later in the series.

Over the last five years, I’ve not only described the role cyber privateers are playing in world affairs, but have been documenting the players and the damage they are causing.

This article will describe the now accepted US cyber policies that were written by cybercriminals to give themselves cover so they can use the American people and people of the world as their own personal cash cow or reservoir. If they don’t like you, no need to wonder who gets to pay for that.

The inherent problem with cyber privateers is covered in the job description as well as their rather fanciful notion they are anything but criminals.

Privateers operate as sanctioned pirates. These throwbacks pretend to operate like their 18th century inspirations did. Back in the day, the sponsor country allowed them to make money attacking merchant and military vessels they didn’t like but didn’t necessarily want a war with. When mistakes were made, privateers supposedly made reparations to the groups they victimized. They had to identify themselves and offer a remedy for damages.

The 2019 cyber privateer or bounty hunter is under no such compunction. They don’t identify themselves and their victims rarely know who hit them. In fact, when they do identify themselves, it’s just to gloat. They do it in a setting that implies the message that needs to get across without confessions that would hold up in a court.

If this sounds wordy, cutesy, or alarmist, private contractors have interrupted the power grid in Venezuela and hacked into Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. They are penetrating the power grid in Russia. This is an ongoing problem that’s exasperated by the fact legislators rely on the terrorists to draft the laws to protect them from everyone else.

Think of it this way, if Joey, going by the cool hacker name HedCh33z3, decides he doesn’t like Latvia, can he disrupt their electrical infrastructure, medical infrastructure, or elections?

The fact is they move in and out of government service so often, they never bother to switch hats or status. Think of it this way, Joey works for the NSA for a week under a subcontractor and picks up a ton of tools to stalk his Ex and sadistically destroy her life piece by piece.  This is what happens when people assume the right to government powers without the authority or responsibility to use them.

Are you willing to send your kid to war or go yourself because Joey HedCh33z3’s ex-girlfriend’s family thinks he’s a creep and they are from XXX country? Yet, we are now snugly very close to being put in this horrific position by politically and emotionally stunted people.

Privateers are Terrorists

So, where do they get the right to do this? Starting right after September 11, 2001, OSINT and cyber started as a serious money-making cottage industry. In the last article, we closed with the DOD actively hiring cyber Bounty Hunters to hack into foreign countries infrastructure.

This practice didn’t just start yesterday. Since 2001, there have been many attempts to codify US hiring of cyber privateers or bounty hunters into law. What this has done is enshrine it in US cyber-policy. The DOD use of subcontractors says a lot.

  • What are cyber bounty hunters and cyber privateers and what do they actually do?
  • Work with direct action military subcontractors
  • Work for NGOs, corporations, lobby groups
  • Work for US government agencies like the FBI, CIA, DIA, DOD, DNI
  • Work for political parties and causes
  • Work for foreign governments like Ukraine as shown in this series against the interests of the American people
  • Work for themselves

They provide Intel through OSINT and hacking. They provide direct action through hacking and Information Operations. Today, they are taking on inherently governmental responsibilities and making decisions they don’t have the authority to make and they make decisions that belong to State agencies.

  • Who is the enemy?
  • Who is friendly (or are there really any friends out there)?
  • Who is a danger and how?
  • Why are they a danger?
  • What is their motivation?
  • What steps will the US need to take to stop them, turn them in a different direction, or make peace with them?

One attempt to legalize this activity is called the Morgan Doctrine.

You’re aware that the U.S. Secretary of State is actually dumb enough to host her own email server. Even if you’re a third-world country without the infrastructure to create serious cyber attacks yourself, a few thousand dollars in Bitcoins to Hackers-R-US will get you zero-day exploits to crack just about any individual server. Either way, you’re going to OWN that server before the next national holiday (pick your country, pick your holiday).

The Morgan Doctrine states simply that if you attack my computers (or my banking assets held in US-based computers), then under a certain set of well-defined conditions, a licensed and bonded “cyber privateer” may attack you in your home country and split the proceeds with the U.S. government…You raid our bank accounts, we raid yours. You make money from off-shore child pornography, we’re going to loot your bank accounts and, with some REALLY creative black hat operations, you will be taken off the grid worldwide to the extent that you’ll not even complete a cell phone conversation for the remainder of your miserable depraved life.- The Morgan Doctrine

Who decides what is right, legal, or legally binding? Is it right when someone who gets paid to find you and accuse you also makes his money from destroying your life and reputation, or directly by stealing money directly from you?

According to the Morgan doctrine blogger who does this kind of work for Oracle, Salesforce.com, BIGFIX, and other technology companies, the answer is a big yes.

The USA followed by Ukraine makes up the highest percentage of over 50,000 readers which reflects the numbers the Ukrainian Diaspora hired to create the illusion of Russian aggression in Ukraine and the 2016 election interference meme. This is a serious attempt to push legislators for legal cover for what is accepted at the policy level.

Let’s spell this out. If a cyber bounty hunter or cyber privateer say you work for Russia while they work against Russia, according to this, you picked your side in the war they get paid to fight. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know you’re in one.

When they work for NGOs, foreign governments, political parties, and companies, they are given cover. They found out along the way they are entitled to your bank account as part of their payment as well as the joy of ruining your life every way they can. It means no more than a video game to them.

In the private sector they now illegally, harass, stalk, and locate people with no legal justification. They are trying to facilitate renditions and executions. Let’s be clear, these are your neighbors doing this to your neighbors.

Aric Toler and Bellingcat helped set up the functionality of Ukraine’s hit for hire website Myrotvorets (peacemaker). The only goal of the site is to publish personal and contact information of anyone they consider standing against Ukrainian nationalism so they can be dealt with by private parties.

toler go get him.JPG

The above clipped from Christelle Neant’s article should be clear enough to understand on its own and she asks the right questions. Bellingcat’s work with privateer groups has included trying to leverage their collective expertise and locate and rendition me.

Almost every time I’ve been threatened by Ukraine, it’s an American collaborator making the threat for them. The linked article shows one such person who also designed Ukraine’s Information Policy. He also wrote the policy paper for the US government’s cyber policy.

The people that testify for the US Congress on cyber and OSINT are the same people doing these things. They are training and setting up groups in multiple countries and under different auspices.

More than one of them trained the full spectrum of alphabet agencies. CIA, NSA, DIA, FBI, DNI, DOD, and we can keep going across the board.

They were behind setting up the policy that guided the Tallinn Manual defining cyberwar and international law. We’ll be opening that up within a couple of articles.

As a testament of their cyber mojo, they spent the last few years collectively trying to locate someone who didn’t change locations often and used normal communications and social media. I publish articles in 5 or 6 publications regularly. I have 4 or 5 different social platform accounts.

helfire missile targeter.jpg

They couldn’t figure out that I was where I said I was for the last 5 years. This spring I wrote a Victory Day article with local video and interviews. Even though I clearly showed my location, they still weren’t too sure.

The one thing you can say about them and their ally Bellingcat is they are consistent. Consistently wrong that is. In Ukraine, Bellingcat’s chief source of Intel is Ukrainian Intelligence. This includes the Ukrainian State hackers that contacted me after my sister was hacked. Journalism from the Donbass side of the contact line is a crime against Ukrainian sensibilities.

This group supplies Intel to NATO and individual EU countries and makes the rounds in Congress. Bellingcat’s work in Syria is chiefly supplied by the other side of Bellingcat’s Intel fabricators who also work for Ukraine.

We now have Americans working with foreign Intel stalking Americans and foreign citizens/ journalists for foreign countries they know will be tortured and killed. This clearly falls under terrorist activity.

One side of the group that works for Ukrainian Intel contacted me for the first time the day after the bank account was hacked and cleaned out using the hacker’s preferred method. What was the reason for the sudden communication? He wanted me to know how smart he really was.

Yet, these same so-called super spies claim to be able to find information about things people are actively trying to hide like weapons systems, motive. Most of the time they don’t speak the language of the country they claim to have expertise for. They decide guilt even though reality shows they aren’t able to actually do the job. Strange, isn’t it?

It was US policy to make them extra-legal but not illegal in the US after 9-11. Congress worked with these groups to write laws that refuse to criminalize what they do when it’s done on citizens. In fact, it no longer matters which side of the spectrum holds the reins, they feel empowered and will continue to do so until laws are written regulating their industry.

Over the last articles, I developed a slow-burn look into the world of the private spy. The idea that in less than 4 years the industry wants to hire 3 million unlicensed, unbonded, and untrained experts to work both government and corporate Intel and spy gigs should scare the hell out of you.

Can you give me a reason why the US which already collects and analyzes every piece of data on the internet needs so many more of what amounts to interns working with state sized software packages?

That’s 82 US citizens per new hire private sector OSINT agent. They have to literally spend 4 days on each person they investigate (82 per year including babies) just to get a full year’s worth of work because of the existing DNI, FBI, CIA, DIA, DOD OSINT agents have the rest of the world covered.

How serious is the information I’m providing? The EU Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-EU) sent the articles to the EU institutions, agencies and bodies as well as outside governments and agencies. This means the EU has real concerns about the practice, laws, and policies allowing the practice because of the inherent damage so-called bit-players in private Intel and Information Operations (IO) can do at home and abroad not to mention diplomatically.

cert-eu for article.JPG

After you grasp the magnitude of the problem and begin unwinding the moving parts it can become manageable again through lawfare. Legal and societal protections you take for granted no matter where you live went out the window as soon as these practices became the norm.

Even from street level, people can make large sweeping changes to the world. Before you poo-poo, the idea, look at the CERT-EU screenshot again. I believe this can be done because I have already done it.

Towards the bottom of the article, we’ll get into the international policy for cyberwar and non-war situations. The same people that I’ve been writing about for the last 5 years exposing how they go after groups with protected status also wrote the policy for the US Government, all the agencies. While they didn’t write international policy directly, people they trained or work with closely did.

Four years ago, I exposed a flaw that exposes them to justice in the Tallinn Manual and threatened to pursue it. I did this because to win, I needed that gap closed. Tallinn is about applying the laws of war to cyber. It is something that otherwise would get no mention at all because it’s not considered a gap in any other context.

They closed that specific gap verbosely and gave me the opportunity to show how sordid this mess is. This also paves the way to provide a real resolution from private spies attacking civilians, social groups, political groups, journalists and other protected parties. Myrotvorets and Propornot should take note as should the other better and lesser-known companies and personalities.

No one has the right to use what they, themselves, rightfully label as Al Qaeda tactics on civilian populations, social activists, journalists, and other protected groups without assuming the legal definition of a terrorist, i.e. cyber terrorist.

Should lawfare (legal activism) fail to provide a remedy, the penalties for cyber assault (terrorism) and the right to a vigorous defense against perpetrators is what can make the laws change-FAST. Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism.

Once that fact is established anyone supporting them or hiring them in any way shape or form is guilty of material or direct support of terrorist activities against their own nation. Congressman, what say ye?

Law and policy makers fell in love with this power they never had before because it gives them the ability to shape policy they have no right to change for the sake of constituent and lobbyist cash and gift donations. They create loopholes in the cyber laws they write with the help of the companies and practitioners engaged in criminal behavior (under every other circumstance). Today, they hire the same criminals to help them with elections.  Oppo-research, reputation management, Information Operations, and even projecting their (congressman’s private) own foreign policy agenda into the international arena.

Imagine Congress asking a cybercriminal what kind of regulation or oversight their industry needed? What if Congress then asked the same societal deviants to write the laws that define the limit to what is legal they would agree to. Real criminals decided what the laws protecting their victims should be. They decided what the penalties should be if they got caught.

The tradeoff is this same Congress that was never allowed access to Top Secret information unless they have security clearance on their committee can get the actionable Intel before it’s marked “secret” if it’s gathered through OSINT by a private contractor working for US Intel agencies. That loophole makes it ok for anybody to move information before it’s been vetted and resell it.

Imagine these same legislators hiring you because you’re the expert they trust and they knowingly wink at the crimes you’re committing against your own people. They haven’t updated labeling the new twist on criminal law yet, and they won’t because you don’t want them to. And hardly anyone is referencing the same crimes using older precedent as a reference for prosecution or lawsuits.

This creates huge gray zones in the law. Gray zones are areas of law where even though something is illegal, there is no law on the books against a specific method of a known crime. Stalking is the easiest example. If someone is stalking you, follows you, and threatens you, we can all agree a crime was committed.

So is stalking a crime? Not if you are an OSINT practitioner doing it online because there is no legal or regulatory system you have to justify yourself to.

The gray zone, in this case, exists in a couple of areas. The first is attribution or identifying the perpetrator. This isn’t a small thing. The person with the Twitter handle “little ice cream girl” could actually be Stan from Milwaukee who was hired to sway the vote for his candidate. You annoyed him. The state sized software package he inherited working for XXX contractor that was working for the CIA toppling Antarctica is going to come in handy wrecking your life as thoroughly as the preverbal bull in the china shop.

The second is time and distance. Money concerns aside, if you are stalked, harassed, or threatened from the other side of the country or globe, what local prosecutor can even get his head around this new dimension of law?

Last year when I was originally going to publish this series, I spoke to an attorney specializing in international law. He listened for a short time and told me to stop. He didn’t want to hear any more. It wasn’t because of a lack of proof. His reasoned that the substance of what I was saying would put him in a very dangerous position.

It wasn’t his first rodeo and he claimed the last time around, his own national government refused to give him any cover or come to his aid. In his words, his government views taking on private Intel contractors as akin to taking on the CIA directly. And they weren’t willing to do that.

This is the attitude most people and even Congress takes. You can’t beat the deep state. But, the deep state ISN’T sworn-in law enforcement or agency personnel anymore. The illegal hiring practices for almost 2 decades gave private sector (green badges) oversight of agency personnel and projects. The problem multiplies because they trained the managers at the agencies and wield tremendous influence.

A fundamental truth is private industry cannot take on inherently governmental responsibilities legally or successfully. In the end, a company’s only consideration is their bottom line. Patriotism and companies part ways when it is no longer profitable. That’s just business.

What Congress and policymakers have done is to allow a huge gray area to be created where criminals are allowed to thrive because they provide political candy in the form of mostly fake Intel that supports whatever project a member of Congress needs to appease his pet cause lobbyists.

This could all be cleaned up by applying existing stalking and assault laws to online stalkers by making the punishment extreme. The same goes for political activists that are doing this under the cover written for them. As long as they volunteer, they are not targetable for retribution internationally. If they are provably working with a country or company working with a country, as soon as they stop, they can’t be touched. How’s that for a policy?

Fixes for Online Troll Remediation

Putting all these online Intel related cottage industries under rigid government oversight and forcing them to document what they are doing and to whom both domestically and internationally is the one way any type of privateer scenario that is already OK’d by the current policy can actually work. It also gives protected classes the opportunity to stop harassment and demand damages. This is precisely why it won’t happen unless it is pushed hard.

Congress could write and pass a one-page bill to write protection against this if they had the inclination. The crimes exist in the law already. The only expansion is applying them to technology. They won’t.

The other more realistic approach is to demand US president Donald Trump takes out his magic pen and write an executive order guaranteeing reasonable protections and appropriate punishment.

This is unlikely to happen because the move would literally box in this already metastasized invasive cancer commonly called the deep state. The celebrated work of the CIA and FBI infiltrating perfectly legal civil groups or dispersing propaganda through news platforms like the New York Times has been rendered child’s play in both scope and impact.

And we’re still waiting to see what kind of trouble 3 or 4 million unregulated new hires will bring domestically and internationally.

International Law and Policy for Online and Cyberattacks

Next, let’s establish a few things directly from Tallinn Manual I. From a 2015 article I’ll be highlighting a lot more in the next article I showed clearly that:

  • Civilians are a protected class.
  • If you work with a foreign country against their perceived enemies you are considered a military asset even if you work for a private contractor. You are targetable in every sense that word conveys.
  • If you work with a foreign country against their perceived enemies you are considered a military asset and attacks against civilians is a terrorist act.
  • To my knowledge no western country allows its citizens to make war on each other or citizens of other countries they are at peace with. The Black Letter Rules include: Rule 23.3 Cyber attacks against civilians is a war crime defined by rule 32.
  • Rule 26.7 The concept of “belonging to” defines whether you can be targeted or not. This rule defines civilians as off limits unless they are “engaged” in real war duties. It includes undeclared relationships where behavior makes it clear which side a person is fighting for.
  • Rule 26.9 Virtual online communities and people expressing opinions do not qualify as combatants.
  • Rule 30 defines a cyber attack as a non-kinetic attack reasonably expected to cause damage or death to persons resulting from the attack. If attacker mistakenly calls civilians lawful targets, the attack on civilians still occurred. It is a crime. This is an important consideration considering how interconnected the internet has made people.
  • Rule 31 Psy-Ops including leaflets, mass emails is not prohibited behavior.
  • Rule 33 If there is doubt to the status of a person, that person is to be considered a civilian and not targetable.
  • Rule 35.5 Gathering information for the military makes you a combatant.
  • Journalists are prohibited targets.
  • Once an attack is made, the retribution is legal and does not necessarily need to be in kind.

A cyber attack can be met with conventional weapons.

  • Rule 41 Means and Methods describes cyber weapons broadly as the means to carry out cyber war by use, or intended use of cyber “munitions” designed to cause damage, destruction, or death to its targets. The breadth of the rule is required because of the wide array of possible attacks through cyber means.

Now, the first loophole I wanted to be closed comes from an inverse look at a cyber war attack including stalking and targeting protected classes. Here’s how this can be elevated to war crimes.

Cyber can come from anywhere across the globe, anonymously, and stealthily (you may not even realize you were attacked). Because of today’s events people being attacked are from different parts of a given country and even spread across the globe.

This means if political or social activists are targeted, it may look like random events even though the numbers of victims could be in the hundreds of thousands or potentially millions. Here’s the two-minute example from one of the industry pioneers that attack civilians.

If the attack is considered as a single event because one single protected class or group is targeted even though they are physically at different geographical locations, we can reach the threshold for a cyber attack governed by the laws of war. Since it’s civilians, it would need to be litigated but the settlement would come from the offending country. Cha-ching!

Nevertheless, I collected a sample of 50+- IP addresses. Thank you, Mr. Justin, you are an eminently useful idiot.. . Also, many (most?) of the US readers were at work when they visited antiwar.com. Those US readers are concentrated in New York metro, Washington DC, greater Boston, the Bay Area, and Illinois (Chicago and main campus, U of I). Meanwhile, the Russian readers (there are only two in the dataset) are split between Moscow and Saint-Petersburg.”- Andrew Aaron Weisburd @webradius

https://www.opednews.com/populum/visuals/2015/10/2015-10-58313-500-ImagesAttr-populum_uploadnic_anti-war-10-15--jpg_58313_20151022-534.jpg

I ask why is this Info war agent that trained all the US Intel agencies, NATO, and works for Ukraine geolocating American citizens for Ukrainian purposes?

This group is a political social group reading and commenting at a media platform in a country that still has the 1st Amendment. It is a protected class.

THIS IS ONLY ONE STEP FROM A WAR CRIME. As soon as it’s established Weisburd is doing this for less than Ukraine’s hit for hire site Myrotvorets, we are in the neighborhood of WAR CRIMES. Interestingly, Weisburd helped spawn Myrotvorets and enhanced Ukraine’s geolocation abilities.

Secondly, if it doesn’t meet the war threshold, it is still a terrorist attack on protected groups. When I proposed that injured parties have the right to robust self-defense, Tallinn II closed up the language by barring civilians the right of redress, self-defense, or preemptive assault because this was the domain of nations.

But, that language also makes it imperative for them to persuade Congress to step up to bat and write restrictive laws or the future looks very bleak for private industry spies and IO working against the public interest.

But, that language also makes it an imperative for them to persuade Congress to step up to bat and write restrictive laws or the future looks very bleak for private industry spies and IO working against the public interest.

Did Andy Weisburd take that final step? Stay tuned, it’s detailed in the next articles. Next up, we’ll show the same small groups of OISINT and IO trailblazers are responsible for most fake news, bad Intel, and are covering up crimes against humanity.

Make no doubt about it, they are terrorists. They can be treated like terrorists and people have the right to robustly defend themselves.

Punishing the World With Sanctions

Image result for Punishing the World With Sanctions
Philip Giraldi
August 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quincy Who? Another New Think Tank Tests the Waters

The Spy Game: It Ain’t What It Used to Be

No Accountability in Washington. The CIA Wants to Hide All Its Employees

Pandering to Christian Zionism: Trump Outreach on Display in Washington

The Death of Privacy: Government Fearmongers to Read Your Mail

Adding Context to ‘News’ about Venezuela

Adding Context to ‘News’ about VenezuelaAugust 11, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

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

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

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http://archive.is/pNGYl

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

US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFTER THAT NEWS-REPORT:

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

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

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

The U.S. has the best Congress and White House that money can buy

Philip Giraldi
August 8, 2019

Think tanks sprout like weeds in Washington. The latest is the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which is engaged in a pre-launch launch and is attracting some media coverage all across the political spectrum. The Institute is named after the sixth US President John Quincy Adams, who famously made a speech while Secretary of State in which he cautioned that while the United States of America would always be sympathetic to the attempts of other countries to fight against dominance by the imperial European powers, “she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

The Quincy Institute self-defines as a foundation dedicated to a responsible and restrained foreign policy with the stated intention of “mov[ing] US foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.” It is seeking to fund an annual budget of $5-6 million, enough to employ twenty or more staffers.

The Quincy Institute claims correctly that many of the other organizations dealing with national security and international affairs inside the Beltway are either agenda driven or neoconservative dominated, often meaning that they in practice support serial interventionism, sometimes including broad tolerance or even encouragement of war as a first option when dealing with adversaries. These are policies that are currently playing out unsuccessfully vis-à-vis Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea.

The Quincies promise to be different in an attempt to change the Washington foreign policy consensus, which some have referred to as the Blob, and they have indeed collected a very respectable group of genuine “realist” experts and thoughtful pundits, including Professor Andrew Bacevich, National Iranian American Council founder Trita Parsi and investigative journalist Jim Lobe. But the truly interesting aspect of their organization is its funding. Its most prominent contributors are left of center George Soros and right of center and libertarian leaning Charles Koch. That is what is attracting the attention coming from media outlets like The Nation on the progressive side and Foreign Policy from the conservatives. That donors will demand their pound of flesh is precisely the problem with the Quincy vision as money drives the political process in the United States while also fueling the Establishment’s military-industrial-congressional complex that dominates the national security/foreign policy discussion.

There will be inevitably considerable ideological space between people who are progressive-antiwar and those who call themselves “realists” that will have to be carefully bridged lest the group begin to break down in squabbling over “principles.” Some progressives of the Barack Obama variety will almost certainly push for the inclusion of Samantha Power R2P types who will use abuses in foreign countries to argue for the US continuing to play a “policeman for the world” role on humanitarian grounds. And there will inevitably be major issues that Quincy will be afraid to confront, including the significant role played by Israel and its friends in driving America’s interventionist foreign policy.

Nevertheless, the Quincy Institute is certainly correct in its assessment that there is significant war-weariness among the American public, particularly among returning veterans, and there is considerable sentiment supporting a White House change of course in its national security policy. But it errs in thinking that America’s corrupted legislators will respond at any point prior to their beginning to fail in reelection bids based on that issue, which has to be considered unlikely. Witness the current Democratic Party debates in which Tulsi Gabbard is the only candidate who is even daring to talk about America’s disastrous and endless wars, suggesting that the Blob assessment that the issue is relatively unimportant may be correct.

Money talks. Where else in the developed world but the United States can a multi-billionaire like Sheldon Adelson legally and in the open spend a few tens of millions of dollars, which is for him pocket change, to effectively buy an entire political party on behalf of a foreign nation? What will the Quincies do when George Soros, notorious for his sometimes disastrous support of so-called humanitarian “regime change” intervention to expand “democracy movements” as part his vision of a liberal world order, calls up the Executive Director and suggests that he would like to see a little more pushing of whatever is needed to build democracy in Belarus? Soros, who has doubled his spending for political action in this election cycle, is not doing so for altruistic reasons. And he might reasonably argue that one of the four major projects planned by the Quincy Institute, headed by investigative journalist Eli Clifton, is called “Democratizing Foreign Policy.”

Why are US militarism and interventionism important issues? They are beyond important – and would be better described as potentially life or death both for the United States and for the many nations with which it interacts. And there is also the price to pay by every American domestically, with the terrible and unnecessary waste of national resources as well human capital driving American ever deeper into a hole that it might never be able to emerge from.

As Quincy is the newcomer on K Street, it is important to recognize what the plethora of foundations and institutes in Washington actually do in any given week. To be sure, they produce a steady stream of white papers, press releases, and op-eds that normally only their partisan supporters bother to read or consider. They buttonhole and talk to congressmen or staffers whenever they can, most often the staffers. And the only ones really listening among legislators are the ones who are finding what they hear congenial and useful for establishing a credible framework for policy decisions that have nothing to do with the strengths of the arguments being made or “realism.” The only realism for a congress-critter in the heartland is having a defense plant providing jobs in his district.

And, to be sure, the institutes and foundations also have a more visible public presence. Every day somewhere in Washington there are numerous panel discussions and meetings debating the issues deemed to be of critical importance. The gatherings are attended primarily by the already converted, are rarely reported in any of the mainstream media, and they exist not to explain or resolve issues but rather to make sure their constituents continue to regard the participants as respectable, responsible and effective so as not to interrupt the flow of donor money.

US foreign policy largely operates within narrow limits that are essentially defined by powerful and very well-funded interest groups like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Hudson Institute, the Brookings Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), but the real lobbying of Congress and the White House on those issues takes place out of sight, not in public gatherings, and it is backed up by money. AIPAC, for example, alone spends more than $80 million dollars per year and has 200 employees.

So, the Quincy Institute intention to broaden the discussion of the current foreign policy to include opponents and critics of interventionism should be welcomed with some caveats. It is a wonderful idea already explored by others but nevertheless pretty much yet another shot in the dark that will accomplish little or nothing beyond providing jobs for some college kids and feel good moments for the anointed inner circle. And the shot itself is aimed in the wrong direction. The real issue is not foreign policy per se at all. It is getting the corrupting force of enormous quantities of PAC money completely removed from American politics. America has the best Congress and White House that anyone’s money can buy. The Quincy Institute’s call for restraint in foreign policy, for all its earnestness, will not change that bit of “realism” one bit.

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

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

by Peter Koenig for The Saker blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food Shipment Destined For Venezuela Seized Due to US Blockade

By teleSUR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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