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November 17, 2017

NATO Adds To Turkey's Chagrin

There has long been speculation about a Turkish good-bye to NATO.

The U.S. and its military proxy organization in Europe are doing their best to further such a move:

The image of Atatürk was displayed as a target during the drill at NATO’s Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger, Norway held between Nov. 8 and Nov. 17, while a NATO soldier posted defamatory words about Erdoğan on the social media.

Atatürk is the founder of the secular Turkey. He was designated as "target" during a desk-top drill. NATO's Joint Warfare Center is not a low level school but an elite officer training institution led by a Major-General. The 40 Turkish soldiers who attended the training course were immediately ordered back home.

Secularists in Turkey have long suspected NATO as promoting "moderate Islamists". That believe is not without factual ground. U.S. President Obama allied with the Muslim Brotherhood during the so called "Arab Spring". But the second incident at the very same NATO institution points to a more comprehensive anti-Turkish position:

A Kurdish-origin Norwegian officer signed up to a social networking website within NATO, using a fake account in the name of President Erdoğan and sharing posts against the organization.

To vilify the Turkish secularist hero Atatürk and its Islamist President Erdogan in related occasions is a comprehensive move against the whole country.

NATO's political spokesperson Jens Stoltenberg, a Norwegian politician, apologized for the incidents. It will soothe no one.

A comparable incident happened in 2006. U.S. Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters published a map with redrawn borders of Middle East in the Armed Forces Journal. The map showed a "Free Kurdistan" and Turkey cut to half its size.

The map was then presented by an American colonel at the NATO’s Defense College in Rome while Turkish officers were attending. An uproar ensued and the U.S. had to apologize.

In July 2016 parts of the Turkish military attempted a coup against Erdogan. Turkish jets which attacked the capitol Ankara had launched from the U.S. and NATO base in Incirlik. When the attempt failed several NATO countries granted asylum to Turkish officers who did not want to return to their home country.

After the failed coup Turkey decided to buy Russian air defense systems. The move makes sense. The alternative U.S. systems are suspected to be ineffective against attacking U.S. planes and missiles. The Russian S-400 systems is designed to counter threats from U.S. weapons.

Turkey is a partner in the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program. It has plans to purchase one hundred of them. Now the U.S. Air Force suggests that the deal could be restricted:

Cont. reading: NATO Adds To Turkey's Chagrin

Posted by b at 02:22 PM | Comments (21)

November 16, 2017

Syria Summary: The Idlib Battle Comes Into Sight

There have been few significant movements during the last weeks. The war on Syria slowly grinds towards its end. The political tussle continues as ever. U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis made a curious announcement of plans he can not fulfill.


General Situation on November 3 - bigger

Our last Syria summary looked at the situation around the last refuge area of the Islamic State near the Syrian-Iraqi border:

The twin-cities of Abu Kamal (al-Bukamal) in Syria and al-Qaim in Iraq are ISIS' last urban refuge. The cities are on the south site of the Euphrates with the important border crossing between them. Coming from the east Iraqi government troops retook the al-Qaim crossing today. They now control the border and are breaking into the city proper. Syrian government forces approach Abu Kamal from the north-west and from south-east.
...
The U.S. proxy forces north of the Euphrates announced that they had taken several oil-fields north of the river and were also progressing towards Abu Kamal. The Syrian government and its allies fear that the U.S. [is trying to take] Abu Kamal itself. It could then claim to have control over the border crossing towards Iraq and severe that important line of communication. A race is on to prevent that.


Situation on November 10 - Abu Kamal is at the bottom right of the map - bigger

For a few days it seemed that Syrian government forces were easily winning the race. Coming through Iraq, troops moved deep into Abu Kamal and found it empty. They prematurely declared victory but had been deceived. ISIS used tunnels to move undetected into well prepared positions and attacked them from the rear. The Syrian forces were badly mauled and had to retreat.

Since then more troops have arrived and are now ready to launch an all out attack. Coming from Russia long range bombers hit ISIS positions. The U.S. is trying to make such support more difficult by claiming an "air corridor" over the city:

Cont. reading: Syria Summary: The Idlib Battle Comes Into Sight

Posted by b at 12:48 PM | Comments (50)

November 15, 2017

The Non-Coup Coup In Zimbabwe

Yesterday's coup in Zimbabwe is of global interest. The country is one of the few that have long resisted the colonial "western" attempts to control its mineral and agricultural riches. Such coups are often driven by the CIA or other "services". But there is no evidence yet that this is the case here. Local rivalry is for now the more plausible explanation.

Since 1980, when Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain, the country is ruled by Robert Mugabe. He has run an anti-colonial and socialist policy. Unfortunately his economic policies, together with "western" sanctions and currency manipulations, have devastated the country's economy. In 2000 Mugabe ousted some 4,000 white farmers who had owned and ran large estates. In a sweeping land reform the farms were split into plots and redistributed to local people. Agricultural productivity tanked and has since not fully recovered. A deep economic crisis with high unemployment ensued.

Mugabe is now 93 years old and apparently frail. There has long been infighting over his succession. Mugabe's wife "Gucci" Grace Mugabe and her children are well known for being exceptional corrupt and prodigal when it comes to their personal amenities. On November 5 Grace Mugabe asked her husband to be named as his successor.

On November 6 then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a 73-year-old lawyer and veteran of the liberation wars, was ousted after a conflict with Grace Mugabe. Mnangagwa allegedly planned [long backgrounder] to form a unity government with the opposition and to bring back some of the white farmers. It is claimed that he has British backing but that the U.S. and the EU oppose him.

The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party is split in its loyalties to these two persons. The G40 "youth-wing" is following Grace Mugabe while the old guards of the party despise her.

Yesterday the military moved into the capital Harare. At 4am this morning Major-General Sibusiso Moyo appeared on TV and announced that it has taken control. It denies that coup has taken place. In a statement the military "guaranteed" Mugabe's safety and said that it was only targeting "criminals" around him. Mugabe and his family have been put under house arrest. There has been so far no fighting and no visible public opposition to the "non-coup coup". Traffic and life in the capitol appears to be normal (vid).

According to the African editor of the partly Soros funded IRINnews:

Obi Anyadike @Enugu62 5:02 AM - 15 Nov 2017

This is all to do with stopping Grace Mugabe from taking over. The assumption is the military will keep Robert Mugabe on ice. Purge those around him. Bring back ex-VP Emmerson Mnangagwa from South Africa. And have him anointed at the ZANU-PF congress in December.

Your host has not followed the developments in Zimbabwe diligently enough to reliably predict the consequences of this development. Please use the comments to add your knowledge to the above wrap-up.

Posted by b at 04:52 AM | Comments (85)

November 14, 2017

Revealed - Saudis Plan To Give Up Palestine - For War On Iran

The tyrants of Saudi Arabia developed a plan that sells away Palestine. They see this as necessary to get U.S. support for their fanatic campaign against their perceived enemy Iran.

An internal Saudi memorandum, leaked to the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar, reveals its major elements. (Note: The genuineness of the memo has not been confirmed. In theory it could be a "plant" by some other party. But Al-Akhbar has so far an excellent record of publishing genuine leaks and I trust its editors' judgement.)

According to the memo the Saudis are ready to give up on the Palestinian right of return. They forfeit Palestinian sovereignty over Jerusalem and no longer insist of the status of a full state for the Palestinians. In return they ask for a U.S.-Saudi-Israeli (military) alliance against their perceived enemy on the eastern side of the Persian Gulf.

Negotiations on the issue were held between the Saudis and the Zionist under the aegis of the United States. Netanyahu and Trump’s "shared personal assistant, wunderkind Jared Kushner", is the point men in these negotiations. He made at least three trips to Saudi Arabia this year, the last one very recently.

The Saudi operations over the last month, against the internal opposition to the Salman clan as well as against Hizbullah in Lebanon, have to be seen in the context and as preparation of the larger plan. To recap:

  • Last week the current front-man of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas, was ordered to Riyadh. There he was told to accept whatever will be presented as U.S. peace plan or to resign. He was urged to cut all Palestinian ties with Iran and Hizbullah:
Since the warnings, which could threaten the new Palestinian unity agreement signed by Fatah and the Iranian-backed Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian media displayed a rare degree of unity in recent days by coming out against Iran.
  • On November 6 a letter by the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo to Israeli embassies was intentionally "leaked". In it Netanyahoo urges his diplomats to press for full support for the Saudi plans in Lebanon, Yemen and beyond. On the same day Trump tweeted:
Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump - 3:03 PM - 6 Nov 2017
I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing....

(The tweet was heavily promoted by Saudi Twitter bots.)

  • The Saudi tyrant abducted the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, and declared war on the country. The purpose of this move is to remove or isolate Hizbullah, the Shia resistance of Lebanon which is allied with Iran and opposes the Saudi plans for Palestine.
  • On November 11 the New York Times reported on the U.S. drafting of a "peace plan" but provided little detail. The chance for such a plan to succeed was described as low.

The left-wing Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar has obtained a copy of the plan (Arabic) in form of a memorandum by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir to the Saudi clown prince Mohammed Bin Salman (English machine translation):

The document, which is being unveiled for the first time, proves all that has been leaked since President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia last May on the launch of US efforts to sign a peace treaty between Saudi Arabia and Israel. This was followed by information on the exchange of visits between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, the most important being the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to the Zionist entity.

The document reveals the size of concessions that Riyadh intends to present in the context of the liquidation of the Palestinian issue, and its concern to get in return the elements of power against Iran and the resistance, led by Hezbollah.

The Saudi foreign ministry memo starts by laying out its strategic perspective:

Cont. reading: Revealed - Saudis Plan To Give Up Palestine - For War On Iran

Posted by b at 05:42 AM | Comments (155)

November 13, 2017

Yemen - Having Lost The War Saudis Try Genocide - Media Complicit

Fakenews:

From the last link:

Saudi Arabia reacting to UN famine warnings says ports in Yemen it controls will reopen for aid deliveries. Riyadh shut them down last week after a missile attack blamed on Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The above headlines are false. The Saudi government announced the re-opening of some Yemeni ports and airports. All of these are in the south and under control of Saudi proxy forces who are fighting the Houthi-Saleh alliance in north-west Yemen. Some 70% of the population lives in the north-western areas which will continue to be under an extreme blockade. The most important port in their area is Hodeida which will stay closed. Back in March the U.S. Pentagon tried to get control of the port. But fighting for it would have destroyed the piers and thereby the supply route for some 20 million people. The most important airport is in Sanaa. The Saudi/U.S./UK alliance blocks even UN flights with medical supplies from using it.

The Saudis now "request" the UN to send an expert commission to Riyadh to "discuss" procedures for future control of the ports that are not held by its proxies. Such a process will take weeks if not months. The Saudis will, like the Pentagon earlier, demand total control over the ports which their opponents will of course not give. Any such fighting will only worsen the situation.

Thanks to local smugglers some food and other goods will still be able to pass through the blockade. But these will be way too few and too expensive for the vast majority of Yemenis. When the recent blockade was announced, food and gas prices in Yemen doubled overnight. Public service employees have not been paid for more than 15 months. People simply can no longer afford to keep their children alive:

In Sana’a, Nor Rashid sold her family’s cow to pay for the transport costs to get her four year-old daughter, who weighs 16lbs, to the city’s feeding centre in Al-Sabaeen hospital. She has other children who are also sick but she cannot afford to pay for the medical care if she brings them in for treatment too. “It’s because of the lack of government wages,” she said. “Usually we go to the person in the village with a wage to ask for help and borrow money if someone needs to go to the hospital. But since the wages stopped we have no support.”

The UN warns, rightly, that the blockade is causing a mass famine. This famine is not a side effect of the war - it is a weapon:

To starve Yemeni civilians is an overt act by Riyadh, enraged by a humiliating failure to achieve a Saudi military victory.

The media claim that only 10,000 civilians have been killed in the two and a half years of the war. The number is laughable. Neither the UN nor others have published any detailed account. The 10,000 number seems to be plugged from hot air.  Compare, for example, the dates and content of these two reports:

Al Jazeerah - 31 Aug 2016: UN: At least 10,000 killed in Yemen conflict

The United Nations has significantly revised the estimated death toll from Yemen's 18-month civil war to up to 10,000 people
...
Speaking from the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator, said the new figure was based on official information from medical facilities in Yemen.

Al Jazeerah - 17 Jan 2017: Death toll in Yemen conflict passes 10,000

The United Nations' humanitarian aid official in Yemen has said that the civilian death toll in the nearly two-year conflict has reached 10,000, with 40,000 others wounded.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' Jamie McGoldrick said that the figure is based on lists of victims gathered by health facilities ...

The same low number is claimed by the same official in August and in January while a devastating war has been ongoing throughout that time frame. That does not make sense. To provide a cynic laugh attack, or out of stupidity, the later Al Jazeerah report says:

The announcement marks the first time a UN official has confirmed such a high death toll in Yemen

Up to July 2017 the U.S.-Saudi coalition had flown more than 90,000 air-sorties over Yemen. Most of those will have involved weapon releases. Are we to believe that only 10,000 civilians have been killed by all these bombs and the additional artillery, sharpshooters and suicide attacks? That would be inconsistent even with western reports of the  known mass incidents during the war. 100,000 dead civilians caused by the war so far is a more likely number than the never changing 10,000.

On November 1 a Saudi bomb attack killed at least 29 people in a busy market in Saada. The Yemeni missile launch against the airport of Riyadh on November 4 was in response to that deadly Saudi attack. The Saudis claim that these Yemeni missiles are from Iran and the U.S. military is, without providing evidence, supporting that fairy tale:

Cont. reading: Yemen - Having Lost The War Saudis Try Genocide - Media Complicit

Posted by b at 09:32 AM | Comments (55)

November 12, 2017

Open Thread 2017-41

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

November 7: Defeated Elsewhere, Saudi Tyrant Declares War On Lebanon

The quasi kidnapping of Saad Hariri has been reported in detail by Robert Fisk in The Independent, David Ignatius in the Washington Post and by a team of Reuters reporters. It is undeniable that Hariri is held against his will and was pressed to resign. Neither Trump nor Macron nor Merkel will be able to defend that. With the kidnapping MbS has achieved something everyone thought to be impossible. He made Saad Hariri likable.

Tonight Hariri will be interviewed in Saudi Arabia by a reporter of his own Future TV station. The interviewer will use a Saudi camera crew. She is also a parliament candidate for Hariri's party and on the Saudi payroll. The President of Lebanon has warned of believing anything Hariri says while he is in Saudi Arabia and under duress.

November 8: Priti Patel Resigns - Israel Lobby Mourns The Loss Of A Valuable British Asset

It was too obvious that Patel was a tool of the Israel lobby. Many other politicians in "western" polities are similar tools, but better at hiding it.

Saudi Arabia - This "Liberal Reformer" Is An Impulsive Tyrant

The stars are slowly turning against MbS. Only paid lobbyist still speak of him as a "liberal reformer". The kidnapping of Hariri seems to have broken the camels back. A real Bedu would have avoided that.

Trump Points To Falsehoods In "Russian Hacking" Claims - Media Ignore What He Says

Trump makes one point every reasonable men should be able to agree to. Curiously it is the very one point on which the borg is united in fighting him.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 1:18am · 12 Nov 2017

When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics - bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!

Please use the comments as open thread ...

Posted by b at 03:01 PM | Comments (70)

November 11, 2017

Trump Points To Falsehoods In "Russian Hacking" Claims - Media Ignore What He Says

Each day we get more "Russian influence" and "Russian hacking" claptrap. Like this from the once honorable Wired which headlines:

Here's the first evidence Russia used Twitter to influence Brexit

Russian interference in Brexit through targeted social media propaganda can be revealed for the first time. A cache of posts from 2016, seen by WIRED, shows how a coordinated network of Russian-based Twitter accounts spread racial hatred in an attempt to disrupt politics in the UK and Europe.

Interesting, enthralling, complicate and sensational ...
                                                    ... until you get down to paragraph 14(!):

Surprisingly, all the posts around Brexit in this small snapshot were posted after the June vote.

"Russian-based Twitter accounts" influenced the Brexit vote in the UK by tweeting affirmative AFTER the vote happened.

"Russian agents" influenced the U.S. election by buying irrelevant Facebook ads - 25% of which were never seen by anyone and 56% of which were posted AFTER the election.

During a flight of his recent Asia tour U.S. President Donald Trump held a press gaggle on board of the plane. Part of it were questions and answers about the alleged "Russian hacking" of the U.S. election.

There is no public transcript available yet but the Washington Post's Mark Berman provided a screenshot of some relevant parts:

Mark Berman @markberman - 6:20 AM - 11 Nov 2017

Full comment from @realDonaldTrump again questioning the US intel community conclusion that Russia meddled last year

Note that the three (not four, not seventeen) U.S. intel agencies Berman talks of did not come to "conclusions" as he claimed. They delivered an "assessment" (pdf) - their word - an estimate or judgement based on observation of behavior and other vague data. Its Annex B points out:

Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.

In the gaggle transcript attached to Berman's tweet Trump talks about his short encounter with the Russian President Putin in Hanoi:

Q: When did you bring up the issue of election meddling? Did you ask him a question?

A: Every time he sees me he says he didn't do that and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, I didn't do that. I think he is very insulted by it, ...
...
He says that very strongly and he really seems to be insulted by it he says he didn't do it.

Q: Even if he didn't bring it up one-on-one, do you believe him?

A: I think that he is very, very strong on the fact that didn't do it. And then you look and you look what's going on with Podesta, and you look at what's going on with the server from the DNC and why didn't the FBI take it? Why did they leave it? Why did a third party look at the server and not the FBI? You look at all of this stuff, and you say, what's going on here? And you hear it's 17 agencies. Well its three. And one is Brennan. And one is whatever. I mean, give me a break. They're political hacks. So you look at it, and then you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey's proven now to be a liar and he's proven to be a leaker. So you look at that. And you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently say he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.

Trump gets it. He knows the weak points of the propaganda claims of "Russian hacking": Podesta and the fake Steele dossier, the DNC server, the lack of any FBI investigation of the alleged hack, the NYT's long false insistence on the '17 agencies' assessment, the "political hacks" who fitted their claims to the Obama/Clinton narrative.

But neither the Washington Post nor the NY Times or others mention the crucial points Trump spelled out in their write-ups of the gaggle. There is no word on the DNC email server in them, nor of Podesta. Instead they create a claim of "Putin says and Trump just believes him". They do not name the facts and questions Trump listed in support of his position. Taking up the valid questions Trump asked would of course require the news outlets to finally delve into them. We can't have that.

Trump is not the brightest bulb and he is not well informed. I dislike nearly all of his policies. But he understands that the "Russian hacking" narrative is false and is carried forward by lunatic political hacks and hostile media who want to push the U.S. back into a cold, or maybe even hot war with Russia, China, Iran and probably everyone else.

Posted by b at 02:00 PM | Comments (87)

November 10, 2017

Saudi Arabia - This "Liberal Reformer" Is An Impulsive Tyrant

It is becoming more difficult to hide the mess the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman creates. The propaganda about the "liberal reformer" is too inconsistent with his obviously tyrannical behavior.

The clown prince of Saudi Barbaria practically abducted the Prime Minister of Lebanon, blackmailed him to resign and holds him since under house arrest. This is an unprecedented attack on the sovereignty of Lebanon and all other countries. Yet the U.S. and some European leaders cowardly pretend that Saad Hariri is free to go where he wants:

A French official says that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has told foreign ambassadors that he is not a prisoner in Saudi Arabia, where he has been holed up since an unusual resignation announcement.

An official in French President Emmanuel Macron's office said on Friday that the French and U.S. ambassadors in Saudi Arabia met with Hariri, and that Hariri "says he is not a prisoner, the (Saudi crown) prince says he is not a prisoner."

Macron paid a surprise visit to Saudi Arabia on Thursday night and met with the crown prince, notably about rising tensions in Lebanon, a former French protectorate.

Hariri may not be "a prisoner" but he is as free to leave his current residence as Julian Assange in free to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Macron did not even meet with Hariri but slipped over into the United Arab Emirates. There an unexpected sale of two French corvettes was signed. The president of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed, is the mentor of the Saudi clown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Macron took the thirty pieces of silver and let Hariri and Lebanon hanging.

It is obvious that Hariri did not travel to Saudi Arabia last Saturday with the intent to resign from his job:

Hariri had scheduled meetings in Beirut on the following Monday – with the IMF, the World Bank and a series of discussions on water quality improvement; not exactly the action of a man who planned to resign his premiership.

The unofficial version of Hariri's meeting with the U.S. and French ambassador is diverging from the one above:

Mr. Hariri, a dual citizen of Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, met the ambassadors of Britain and the European Union and the chargé d’affaires from the American Embassy on Wednesday and Thursday at his Riyadh residence. Other Western diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that those envoys, too, came away with the impression that he could not speak freely.

Even the State Department spokesperson lets slip that Harairi is not free to go:

"We have seen him. In terms of the conditions of him being held or the conversations between Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Hariri, I would have to refer you to the government of Saudi Arabia and also to Mr Hariri's office."

Hariri's own political party in Lebanon has united with its enemy Hizbullah and the Christian President Aoun in a call for Hariri to come back and explain himself to the Lebanese people:

“The return of the head of the Lebanese government, the national leader and the head of al-Mustaqbal Movement Saad Hariri is necessary to restore respect for Lebanon's balance at home and abroad, in the framework of full respect for the Lebanese legitimacy represented in the Constitution and the Taef Accord and in respecting the Arab and international legitimacies,” said Mustaqbal in a statement issued after an emergency meeting for its parliamentary bloc and political bureau.

The Saudis have told their citizens in Lebanon to leave the country. Its allies Kuwait, UAE and Bahrain have followed suit. There have been some four such orders during the last five years and the move is in itself not significant. Should the Saudis start to block the Gulf money flow to Lebanon or take other measures the economic damage in Lebanon could be quite larger If the Gulf states expulse Lebanese workers the economic damage to Lebanon would be huge. But these Lebanese workers are the people who actually run the businesses in the Gulf states. Without the 160,000 Lebanese book keepers and managers the Saudi economy would probably collapse.

The similarities with the idiotic Saudi campaign against Qatar is obvious. The Saudi made an impulsive hostile move without having thought through the second or third step. He soon found himself out of ammunition but had left no way out to solve the issue without losing face.

Cont. reading: Saudi Arabia - This "Liberal Reformer" Is An Impulsive Tyrant

Posted by b at 10:41 AM | Comments (119)

November 09, 2017

Priti Patel Resigns - Israel Lobby Mourns The Loss Of A Valuable British Asset

A British Minister of Hindu heritage was fired after it emerged that she secretly met Israeli officials in Israel and elsewhere without informing the Foreign Office. Back in Britain she then tried to arrange additional finances for Israel's arming of al-Qaeda in the Golan heights. The affair shines light on the nefarious influence of the Israel lobby on British politics.

Priti Patel was International Development Secretary, responsible for British aid to various countries and organizations. She is a Thatcherite Conservative, a vocal supporter of Britain's exit from the European Union and of Hindu fascism in India:

She has been a strong cheerleader of the Narendra Modi government, publicly praising a number of its policies including demonetisation.

In August Patel went on a "family holiday" to Israel. Instead of enjoying the beach she met dozens of Israeli officials from Prime Minister Netanyahoo down to the heads of Zionist aid organizations. She was shepherded by one Lord Polak, a long time Israel lobbyist in British politics. Polak accompanied her to every meeting. None of these were disclosed to the British Embassy, the Foreign Office or Downing Street. Cabinet rules demand that all such meetings are coordinated and briefed through these official channels.

Stuart Polak is a major character in Zionist lobbying in Britain:

Ennobled by David Cameron two years ago, Lord Polak is a veteran of Westminster’s corridors of power. He has taken literally hundreds of Tory MPs to Israel over the years, educating them about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and securing their support in parliamentary votes and the public arena.

Under his guidance, CFI became the biggest lobbying group in Westminster, holding lunches for 700 guests, making countless Downing Street visits, and developing contacts throughout Israel and the Middle East.

Polak fled when the media tried to question him about his Israel visit arrangements for Patel.

One of Patel's meetings was at an army hospital in the Israel occupied Syrian Golan heights where the Israeli military patches up al-Qaeda Jihadis which were wounded while fighting the Syrian government. Only last week the Israeli army in the occupied Golan supported a murderous attack of al-Qaeda Jihadis on the Syrian Druze village of Hader in the Quneitra area. The Jihadis in the Golan are surrounded by Syrian government forces. Their only supply line is through Israel occupied land. Druze in Israel who protested against the attack were arrested.

Back in Britain Priti Patel asked her department to move British aid money from Palestinian causes to the Israeli military operation in the occupied Golan. (Funny how the Guardian in its wrap-up fails to mention that point ...)

Additionally to her busy holiday, Priti Patel had two other meetings with Israeli officials which she similarly did not disclose.

When it became clear yesterday that Priti Patel's behavior would cost her her job, the British Zionist lobby launched a rescue attempt. Based on anonymous sources  the Jewish Chronicle claimed that Prime Minister May had been informed about two of the meetings and had ordered Patel to not disclose them:

Number 10 instructed Development Secretary Priti Patel not to include her meeting with the Israel foreign ministry official Yuval Rotem in New York on 18 September in her list of undisclosed meetings with Israelis which was published on Monday, the JC has learned.

Downing Street immediately denied the claim and no other source backed it up. The blackmail attempt failed. The Jewish Chronicle also was at the forefront of the slander campaign that tried to smear the British labor leader Corbyn as anti-semite.

The Independent notes about the Patel affair:

Cont. reading: Priti Patel Resigns - Israel Lobby Mourns The Loss Of A Valuable British Asset

Posted by b at 06:29 AM | Comments (99)

November 07, 2017

Defeated Elsewhere, Saudi Tyrant Declares War On Lebanon

The Saudi clown prince Mohammed bin Salman is purging all potential internal resistance and solidifies his dictatorial position. (The move includes a huge money grab. All assets of those accused of corruption are confiscated by the state which, in Saudi Arabia, is the tyrant himself.) The internal consolidation of power is the prelude for a larger external venture.

At the same time as the internal purges proceed, MbS implements an extremely aggressive foreign policy agenda targeted at Iran and its allies. Having been defeated in Iraq and Syria and at stalemate in Qatar and Yemen the Saudi ruler decided to try his luck in Lebanon. The Saudi declares war on Lebanon and will put enormous economic and political pressure on it. But all of that will be to no avail. The war will only cause Lebanon to move deeper into the "resistance" camp an join its forces with Syria, Iran and Russia.

(The recap below is mostly an accumulation of sources. My own analysis will follow in a later piece.)

The Saudi plans are well coordinated with the United States and have the full support of the Israeli government. The point man in the Trump administration for all Middle East issues is Trump's son-in-law (and arch Zionist) Jared Kushner. He made three trips to Saudi Arabia this year, the last one very recently. The Washington Post's David Ignatius brown noses:

[L]ast month, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, made a personal visit to Riyadh. The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy.

A week ago the Saudi minister (and extremists) Thamer al-Sabhan called for toppling Hizbullah and promised "astonishing developments". Friday night the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al Hariri was ordered back to his home-country Saudi Arabia and pressed to read a resignation statement on a Saudi TV station. None of his advisors in Lebanon knew that this was coming. It is claimed that Hariri did not voluntarily resign and is now under house arrest. There is even a Free Hariri Clock counting the hours, minutes and seconds of his ordeal. The Lebanese President has not accepted the PM's resignation and demands that Hariri returns to Lebanon. We called the resignation The Opening Shot Of The Saudi War On Hizbullah.

On Saturday the Saudi ruler engaged in the night of the long knives and arrested all his potential internal competition.

In the same night a missile launched by Houthi/Saleh forces in Yemen hit near the airport of the Saudi capital Riyadh. Such missile attacks are in retaliation for the intense two years of Saudi bombing of Yemen which by now probably killed more than a hundred-thousand people. While this was likely unrelated to the other events it added to the general anti-Iranian narrative the Saudis propagate. The Saudis claim that Yemeni missiles are of Iranian origin and launched by Iranian specialists. Iran denies this. Weapon experts at IHS Janes refute that claim:

Burkan-2 missile launched by Houthis is Scud derivative and is unlike variants made by Iran or DPRK.

The Houthi in Yemen are supported by elements of the Yemeni army under command of the former Yemeni President Saleh. The Yemen army has for decades owned and used variants of Scud missiles. It is unlikely that it needs help to modify and launch these.

The Saudis nominally support Yemeni forces under Saleh's successor Hadi. The former(?) President of Yemen Hadi is, like the former(?) Prime Minister of Lebanon,  held under house arrest in Saudi Arabia. The former(?) Palestinian President Abbas, long beyond his legal term, was also summoned to Riyadh. One wonders if he will ever return.

Yesterday the Saudi Minister Thamer al-Sabhan declared war on Lebanon:

Cont. reading: Defeated Elsewhere, Saudi Tyrant Declares War On Lebanon

Posted by b at 03:41 AM | Comments (175)

November 06, 2017

Open Thread 2017-40

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

October 29: UN On Khan Sheikhoun - Victims Hospitalized BEFORE Claimed Incident Happened

A rather laughable report about an obviously faked incident.

October 31: How General Kelly's Attitudes Reflect the U.S. of A

Stories about generals, and the U.S. of A, as enlightened defenders of humanity are fairy tales.

November 1: Is The "Moderate Al-Qaeda" Set To Target Hizbullah?

We anticipate that the Saudis have devious plans for Lebanon.

November 2: Neocons Push Dubious Paper To Allege Iran - Al-Qaeda Connection

The CIA pushes an likely fake paper to reinforce animosity against Iran.

November 3: Syria Summary - ISIS Loses Control Of Its Last Urban Refuge

The Islamic State is gone. The Saudis and the U.S. lost their war on Iraq and Syria.

November 4: Lebanon - Hariri's Resignation - The Opening Shot Of The Saudi War On Hizbullah

The starting signal for the Saudi Lebanon operation.

November 5: Saudi Arabia - This 'Night Of The Long Knives' Is A Panic-Fueled Move

The clown prince robs his peers and breaks the ruling consensus in his country.

Please use the comments as open thread ...

Posted by b at 05:47 AM | Comments (102)

November 05, 2017

Saudi Arabia - This 'Night Of The Long Knives' Is A Panic-Fueled Move

Yesterday the ruling Salman clan in Saudi Arabia executed a Night of the Long Knives cleansing the state of all potential competition. The Saudi King Salman and his son Clown Prince Mohammad bin Salman initiated a large arrest wave and purge of high ranking princes and officials. Part of this internal coup was the confiscation of huge financial estates to the advantage of the Salman clan.

The earlier forced resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri is probably related to the last night's events. The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo endorsed the resignation. This guarantees that Hariri will never again be accepted in a leading role in Lebanon.

In Saudi Arabia eleven princes, including sons of the deceased King Abdullah, more than thirty former and acting ministers as well as the heads of three major TV stations were taken into custody or put under house arrest. The National Guard Commander Prince Mitieb Bin Abdullah was relieved from his post and replaced with Prince Khalid Bin Abdulaziz al Muqrin. The National Guard was the last intelligence and security power center held by the Abdullah branch of the al-Saud family.

An earlier purge in July had dethroned the former Crown Prince Nayaf and replaced him with the young Mohammad Bin-Salman. Then the Nayef branch of the al-Saud family was removed from all power centers. The Abdullah branch followed yesterday. The purged officials were replaced with stooges of the ruling Salman clan.

The Salman branch of the current king and clown prince has now eliminated all of potential internal competition. This goes against the consensus model that had been the foundation of the Saudi family rule over the last century. Tens of thousands of clans and people depended on the patronage of the removed princes and officials. They will not just sit back as their fortunes evaporate.

One effect of the purges will be the concentration of Saudi wealth in the hands of the Salmans.

One of the arrested persons is the allegedly sixth richest man of the world, Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal (video). He has (had?) an estimated net-worth between $18 and $32 billion. Al-Waleed had publicly clashed with U.S. President Donald Trump. (Al-Waleed is (was?) the largest shareholder of Citygroup which selected Barack Obama's cabinet before receiving a huge government bailout.) Another casualty is Bakr bin Laden, brother of Osama Bin Laden, chairman of the Saudi Binladin Group and fifth richest man of the country.

Official pretext for the purge are corruption allegations going back to 2009. This financial subterfuge will allow the ruling Salmans to confiscate the wealth of the accused. The total haul of this raid will amount to dozens of billions of dollars. A new anti-corruption committee was installed under Clown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It has dictatorial powers and can freeze and confiscate whatever financial assets it deems worth its attention:

Cont. reading: Saudi Arabia - This 'Night Of The Long Knives' Is A Panic-Fueled Move

Posted by b at 06:43 AM | Comments (139)

November 04, 2017

Lebanon - Hariri's Resignation - The Opening Shot Of The Saudi War On Hizbullah

Update (Nov 5, 3 am): After publishing the piece below the Saudi rulers initiated a "house cleaning" in Saudi Arabia. Many princes and businessmen were arrested. The new development wll be covered in another piece later today.
---

Four days ago we asked: Is The "Moderate Al-Qaeda" Set To Target Hizbullah?. The implied answer in that piece was "Yes, the war is coming to Lebanon."

Today the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri resigned with a statement issues from Saudi Arabia on the Saudi Arabian TV station Al Arabia (video). This is the opening shot of the war.

The Saudi-Israeli-U.S. axis will lose this war while Iran and Russia will win from it.

Earlier this week the extremely sectarian Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan had threatened Hizbullah in Lebanon and announced surprises:

Firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on Monday called for “toppling Hizbullah” and promised “astonishing” developments in “the coming days.”
...
Referring to his Sunday tweet about the Lebanese government, the minister said: “I addressed my tweet to the government because the Party of Satan (Hizbullah) is represented in it and it is a terrorist party. The issue is not about toppling the government but rather that Hizbullah should be toppled.”

“The coming developments will definitely be astonishing,” al-Sabhan added.

While the fighting in Syria and Iraq was ongoing, Lebanon was kept at peace. With the wars ending Lebanon is again the place where proxy fights are carried out. In mid October Joseph Bahout predicted this development:

Regionally, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are now seeking ways to compensate for the loss of Syria as a place where they could defy and bleed Iran. A renewed desire to reverse their regional fortunes could lead them to try regaining a foothold in Lebanon. The Gulf states, Israel, and the United States do not want Iran to reap the benefits of a victory in Syria. If ever they seek to rebalance the regional relationship with Tehran in the Levant, the only place to do so would be Lebanon, despite the many risks that would accompany such an effort.

In such an event, and despite its reticence to jeopardize its Lebanese sanctuary, Hezbollah could have no choice but to accept such a challenge, especially if there is an Israeli component to it.

Lebanese politics are regulated by a complicate agreement. The Sunni camp, financed by the Saudis, holds the position of Prime Minister. The position of the President is held by the Christian former general Michel Aoun. The position of Speaker of the Parliament is held by the leader of the Shia Amal movement Nabih Berri. Two month ago Berri had proposed elections to a new parliament before the end of the year. An election would likely diminish the Sunni position.

Saad Al-Hariri was put into the prime minister position after a long quarrel in Lebanon that had reignited when Saad's father Rafic Hariri, the former PM, was assassinated. Hizbullah was accused of that assassination but an Israeli plot seemed more likely.

The Hariri family made its money as owner of Saudi Oger, a construction company in Saudi Arabia. The Hariris have Saudi passports. Business has gone bad under Hariri junior. In July Saudi Oger closed shop and the former billionaire family is rumored to be bankrupt. The Saudi rulers sponsors them.

Hariri had recently assigned a Lebanese ambassador to Syria. Yesterday Hariri was visited in Beirut by Ali Velayati, a top advisor of the supreme leader Khamenei of Iran. The Saudis did not like either. Thamer's plan was set into motion. They sent a private jet and hauled Hariri to Riyadh. There the Saudi clown prince Mohammad bin Salman gave Hariri his resignation statement (written by Thamer?) to be read by him on Saudi TV.

Irony alert: The Lebanese PM (with a Saudi passport) resigns on order of Saudi Arabia, in Saudi Arabia, on Saudi Arabian TV. In his Saudi written resignation statement (excerpts) he accuses Iran of foreign meddling in Lebanese politics.

(Hariri also suddenly claims that there was an assassination planned against him in Lebanon. This is nonsense. The Lebanese internal security organization says it has no knowledge of such a plot. Hariri needs an excuse to stay away from Lebanon and from the wrath of his followers. Saudi media are trying to create some fantastic story from that assassination claim. But there is nothing evident to back it up.)

The resignation of Hariri is intended to provoke a constitutional crisis in Lebanon and to prevent new parliament elections. The further Saudi plan is likely to evolve around these elements:

Cont. reading: Lebanon - Hariri's Resignation - The Opening Shot Of The Saudi War On Hizbullah

Posted by b at 10:35 AM | Comments (110)

November 03, 2017

Syria Summary - ISIS Loses Control Of Its Last Urban Refuge


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Today the Syrian Arab Army liberated the city of Deir Ezzor from ISIS. The last resistance ended over night. The remaining ISIS fighters tried to flee north across the Euphrates towards the area held by U.S. proxy forces. Most of them were not successful in their attempts. It will take another few days to remove the remaining improvised mines in the city and to secure the ammunition and weapons ISIS abandoned.

For five years a contingent of some 5-7,000 Syrian soldiers and policemen had held a part of Deir Ezzor city first against Jabhat al-Nusra and then against ISIS. They secured the life of some 100,000 civilian inhabitants. Many soldiers and civilians died. Despite intense attempts and U.S. air support ISIS did not manage to dislodge the Syrian government forces. Only two month ago a serious SAA attempt to relief the city from the outside was launched. It went remarkably well. The defense of Deir Ezzor and its relief deserve an epic novel.

With Deir Ezzor cleared the supply lines of the Syrian army are secured and the push along the Euphrates towards the last urban area held by ISIS can proceed.


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The twin-cities of Abu Kamal (al-Bukamal) in Syria and al-Qaim in Iraq are ISIS' last urban refuge. The cities are on the south site of the Euphrates with the important border crossing between them. Coming from the east Iraqi government troops retook the al-Qaim crossing today. They now control the border and are breaking into the city proper. Syrian government forces approach Abu Kamal from the north-west and from south-east. These forces still have to cross some 30 kilometers of desert area. ISIS had prepared strong defense lines and the SAA progress was slower than hoped. During the last three days the Russian air force has flown a strong bombing campaign against those ISIS lines. The Lebanese Hizbullah has re-injected several thousand fighters into Syria to push the campaign. The Iraqi and Syrian forces are tightly coordinating and will move together to take Abu Kamal during the next two or three days.

The U.S. proxy forces north of the Euphrates announced that they had taken several oil-fields north of the river and were also progressing towards Abu Kamal. But there was little if any fighting. Instead the U.S. is bribing the local tribes in the area with Saudi money. These tribes had earlier sworn allegiance to ISIS and were part of its forces. When they switch sides the U.S. claims to be in control of the land they hold. The Syrian government and its allies fear that the U.S. is currently trying a similar stunt with the whole city of Bukamal itself. It could then claim to have control over the border crossing towards Iraq and severe that important line of communication. A race is on to prevent that.

Cont. reading: Syria Summary - ISIS Loses Control Of Its Last Urban Refuge

Posted by b at 05:57 AM | Comments (66)

November 02, 2017

Neocons Push Dubious Paper To Allege Iran - Al-Qaeda Connection

The anti-Iran powers in the U.S. again try to smear Iran as allied with al-Qaeda. The accusations will be used to justify further hostilities against the country.

Suddenly an anonymous, and likely fake, document appears and is prominently launched into the public circulation. To provide plausibility for the publishing the new CIA director Mike Pompeo ordered his staff to release additional data allegedly found in Osama Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan.

These "new" papers were first released to the neoconservative anti-Iran lobby Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Among the "hundred thousands" of pages a mysterious 19 page document is claimed to prove Iranian collaboration with al-Qaeda. The way the release was handled and the prominence put on this one specific paper indicates that the now released stash was "spiked" with this document to initiate hostilities against Iran.

We have been here before. Fake documents produced by the CIA and neo-conservative think-tanks were used to allege that Saddam Hussein was buying Uranium in Niger (copy below). False claims were made that Saddam had contacts with the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack in New York.

Former CIA Career Analyst Ned Price explains the politics behind the new release:

Ned Price‏ @nedprice - 6:30 PM - 1 Nov 2017
  • @CIA released what it claims are the final public files from Bin Laden’s lair. I’m all for transparency, but this isn’t about that.
  • In Jan, DNI, which led the declassification effort, released what it said was the final tranche of Bin Laden files. Link
  • The DNI-led review was overseen by career intel officials, who concluded that, w the Jan files, all those of public interest were released.
  • But a funny thing happened when CIA Director Pompeo came into office. I’m told he re-launched a review of the files.
  • In doing so, he took officers away from important missions to pore—and re-pore—over the millions of documents.
  • How can we be sure this was a CIA effort? Unlike previous releases, today’s files are hosted on CIA.gov, not the DNI site.
  • He said as much at the gathering of a conservative group, @FDD, opposed to the Iran deal in September. Link
  • As luck would have it, CIA provided an advance copy of today’s files to @LongWarJournal, this group’s publication. Link
  • The ploy is transparent despite the fact that the newly-released documents don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.
  • What’s not as transparent are the motives of Pompeo, the administration’s leading and most influential Iran hawk.
  • Remember Cheney on @MeetThePress, pointing to Atta’s supposed Prague meeting w Iraqi officials? It was a key element of the march to war.
  • History doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme. Need to remain vigilant to ensure Pompeo isn’t able to write it.

The CIA's outlet for these papers, the FDD, writes about the cache:

Cont. reading: Neocons Push Dubious Paper To Allege Iran - Al-Qaeda Connection

Posted by b at 07:36 AM | Comments (80)

November 01, 2017

Is The "Moderate Al-Qaeda" Set To Target Hizbullah?

Since 2011 two propaganda campaigns have attempted to sell al-Qaeda in Syria as "moderate". The purpose was to justify the arming and cooperation with al-Qaeda to eliminate the secular Syrian state.  Recently a third "moderate al-Qaeda" wave has been launched. A possible purpose is to use al-Qaeda in a new war on Hizbullah in Lebanon.

The first wave occurred in October 2013. We wrote about it in Your Moderate Cuddly Homegrown Al-Qaeda. The New York Times, the Washington Post and various other outlets depicted al-Qaeda in Syria, which was operating together with U.S. supported "moderate rebels", as tempered and less harmful than the Islamic State organization ISIS. Meanwhile the "moderate rebels" allied with al-Qaeda were engaged in sectarian massacres against any Syrian non-Muslim. (The media has always whitewashed that part of the rebels' record.)

Two years later a second pro al-Qaeda campaign was launched. Qatari and Israeli lobbyists tried to sell al-Qaeda as a force that could be used to fight ISIS and the Syrian government. The neoconservative General Petraeus promoted an U.S. alliance with it.

Both campaigns muddied the waters but were not completely successful. Al-Qaeda in Syria, under its various names and alliances, continued to be officially recognized as terrorist group. But hidden from mainstream reporting the CIA armed it by providing freely to the Free Syrian Army rebels who were allied with it.

In May 2016 the Wahhabi paid anti-Syrian propagandist Charles Lister still had to ask the "moderate rebels" to better hide their allegiance with al-Qaeda. The same Charles Lister is now engaged in the third attempt to whitewash al-Qaeda into some moderate entity. Lister is claiming that the latest renaming of al-Qaeda/Jabhat al Nusra/Jabhat Fateh al-Sham into Hayet Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) was a serious step away from al-Qaeda's global leadership and ideology towards a local moderate position:

While still a jihadist group seeking the creation of local Islamic Emirates as future components of a global caliphate, HTS bore virtually no loyalty or allegiance to al-Qaeda or Nusra.
...
A groundless and frequently conspiratorial debate isolated to the distant Washington, D.C., beltway claimed the evolution of Nusra-to-JFS-to-HTS was merely a ploy to fool the West.

Unfortunate for Lister the fake "moderate" HTS does not agree with his claims:

HTS leaders themselves say the initial AQ break was a ruse. ... Nusrah’s leadership sold the al-Qaeda split internally on the grounds that it was basically false.

The Lister piece seems coordinated with a pamphlet from the Pentagon think-tank RAND (also published in Foreign Affairs) which again sells al-Qaeda as "a moderate alternative":

It remains unthinkable to most that the term “moderate” could ever be applied to an affiliate of the group responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001. But al Qaeda's Syrian franchise has quietly emerged as the less extreme alternative to ISIS within the jihadist universe. And that could spell a situation, at least in the long term, in which al Qaeda begins to resemble the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

The comparison with Hizbullah is laughable. Hizbullah is a local Lebanese group founded to fight against the Israeli occupation of its country. It is currently engaged in Syria to protect Lebanon from attacks of al-Qaeda and the like. Hizbullah never seriously engaged outside of that role. It refrains from sectarian strife and unlike al-Qaeda does not have an expansive ideology. Al-Qaeda and its "rebel" affiliates continue to strive for a global emirate and brutally oppose any person and entity that does not follow their Salafi/Wahhabi rules. To depict these groups as similar is not sound analysis but sets the stage for a "fair" confrontation between them.

Turkey has recently negotiated and allied with al-Qaeda to position its army against the Kurdish enclave Efrin in north-west Syria. The Turkish troops were escorted by al-Qaeda/HTS towards their positions. Officially Turkey continues to oppose al-Qaeda in any form. Its active co-operation with al-Qaeda received no negative coverage or condemnation from "western" media. It is expected that Turkey will later use al-Qaeda in Syria to justify an continued occupation of the country:

Ankara’s troops entered the northern Syrian city of Idlib – following an understanding with al-Qaeda – without any clash. This indicates that Turkey has not ended its role within Syria or the role of al-Qaeda: Ankara is expecting to play the al-Qaeda card when its forces will be asked to withdraw from Syria.

The campaign to whitewash al Qaeda was also joined by the Syrian "rebel journalist" Moussa al-Omar who reports from northern Syria that he fails to find any al-Qaeda at all. The current propaganda wave trivializes al-Qaeda in Syria and prepares for further cooperation with it. But the CIA is no longer arming the "rebels" and has no further immediate purpose for al-Qaeda.

What then is the operational aim behind this?

A hint may be in a recent announcement by the Saudi minister Thamer al-Sabhan who is well known for his extreme sectarian positions. The U.S. envoy McGurk recently introduced Thamer to the eastern Syrian tribes who were allied with ISIS until they were bought off to act as U.S. auxiliaries. Shortly thereafter Thamer visited Lebanon:

Firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on Monday called for “toppling Hizbullah” and promised “astonishing” developments in “the coming days.”
...
Referring to his Sunday tweet about the Lebanese government, the minister said: “I addressed my tweet to the government because the Party of Satan (Hizbullah) is represented in it and it is a terrorist party. The issue is not about toppling the government but rather that Hizbullah should be toppled.”

“The coming developments will definitely be astonishing,” al-Sabhan added.

Nicholas Noe reliably reports from Lebanon. He warns of an upcoming campaign:

Nicholas Noe‏ @NoeNicholas Oct 30

Strong pessimism over this next stage here in Lebanon 4 Syria+Leb. Little hope of draw down/stabilization. New+deeper conflicts on the way
It looks very likely that the major conflict some of us have warned of for a while, w/ Hezbollah as primary target but huge effect, is near.

Hizbullah can only be fought by a force with a strong ideology that nonetheless is acceptable to the outside world. Fighting Hizbullah is a long pursued aim of the Saudis. Earlier Saudi proxy forces in Lebanon failed because they lacked the right mindset and support. A "moderated" al-Qaeda, transferred through Turkey via sea to Lebanon, would be the adequate tool for a renewed anti-Hizbullah campaign.

Posted by b at 01:45 PM | Comments (44)

October 31, 2017

How General Kelly's Attitudes Reflect the U.S. of A

When retired Marine General John Kelly became White House Chief of Staff and thereby the leader of the ruling junta the media were effusive about the "grown-up," and "adult" man.

With Kelly, “you’ve got an adult in the room,” said Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary for Homeland Security and author based in Cambridge.

Kelly just proved again that the lauded "adult" and "grown-up" is just another militaristic right-winger, has little knowledge outside of his narrow training and is as smug as the president he nominally serves:

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on Monday called Robert E. Lee “an honorable man” and said that “the lack of an ability to compromise” led to the Civil War, once again thrusting himself into the public spotlight on an emotionally charged issue.

How does one compromise over slavery? The "right" to own and abuse other humans to increase the wealth of their owners was the main issue the southern states fought for:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world.

General Lee was not a nice man. A slave owner himself. he liked to torture his "property" when it did not obey:

Wesley Norris, one of the slaves who was whipped, recalled that “not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.”

Was that the deed of "an honorable man"?

It is not the first time the "adult" Kelly has shown his real face:

Long seen as a force of order and discipline in the White House, the retired Marine general became part of the controversy over the president’s calls to Gold Star families this month when he defended Trump’s statements to a widow, made false claims about a Florida congresswoman who had criticized the White House and said he would only take questions from reporters who knew families that had lost service members overseas. He told Ingraham on Monday that he did not believe he had anything to apologize for.

There is nothing astonishing about this. Kelly did not become a 4-star Marine general for being an enlightened defender of humanity.

The illusions some liberal luminaries expose when the lament about Kelly is quite astonishing:

Ta-Nehisi Coates‏ @tanehisicoates - 9:29 AM - 31 Oct 2017

Shocking that someone charged with defending their country, in some profound way, does not comprehend the country they claim to defend.

The White House and the U.S. military are not about "defending their country". The U.S. is surrounded by two oceans and two weak neighbors. The coast guard and some local police forces are sufficient to defend its borders. How many of the hundred-some wars the U.S. has fought were truly defensive? Most, if not all of them, were and are fought for imperial power and for the enrichment of the people of the United States. The methods were and are brutal and the enemies were and are nearly always depicted in racist terms.

The differences between the motives and attitudes of the southern states in the civil war and the motives and attitudes of the U.S. of A towards the world are marginal. Kelly comprehends that well.

Lamenting about Kelly's biased view of history looks silly when the speaker then misconstrues the imperialism of the U.S. and the role of its military.

Kelly and the other members of the junta are, like Trump, not abnormities but reflections of the United States.

Posted by b at 02:45 PM | Comments (103)

October 30, 2017

Open Thread 2017-39

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

October 23: Help Wanted - State Department Seeks Self-Consistent Secretary

In which I speculate that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hates his job and would be happy to leave.

October 24: Phoenix 2.0 - CIA To Unleash Vietnam Era Terror Campaign On Afghanistan

The White House approved a huge expansion of the CIA's torture and killing campaign in Afghanistan. The 'advantage': While the military has some minimum of accountability the CIA has none at all.

October 25: Nil

Draft piece moved to /dev/null for lack of substance.

October 26: British Involvement In "Trump Dossier" Needs Further Investigation

There are several strong indications that British secret services were deeply involved in the efforts to derail Trump's campaign. Did Brennan arrange for this or did  Clapper?

October 27: Cuba - U.S. Diplomats Retreat In Horror ... Because ... 'Crickets'

U.S. diplomats can't resist mating calls of Cuban gryllidae.

Please use the comments as open thread ...

Posted by b at 10:36 AM | Comments (103)

 
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