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June 21, 2018

Open Thread 2018-30

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:47 PM | Comments (16)

June 20, 2018

Pity The Russophobe Journos Whom No One Believes

The "western" reporting on the World Cup in Russia is a stream of continuous Russia bashing. Some positive remarks are made about the obviously excellent atmosphere and organization. But no piece gets published that does not include a reinforcement of the official anti-Russian propaganda lines.

Alec Luhn is the "Russia correspondent for The @Telegraph". Shaun Walker is a correspondent for the British Guardian who is "Covering central and eastern Europe for The Guardian." This week both were in Volgograd, the former Stalingrad, to report on the World Cup game between England and Tunisia.

On Monday Alec Luhn wrote about the excellent welcome the English fans received:

It’s been brilliant,” said Adam Haimes, 29, a geologist and Plymouth Argyle supporter drinking in the fan zone, set up on the west bank of the mighty Volga River. “I have had absolutely zero problems. All sorts of Russians have come up to us and are being friendly and just wanting to have drinks with us. I didn’t expect it but they are so lovely.

That positive picture of Russia can of course can not stand alone. Luhn thus mentions: the "threat of violence", the "attempted assassination of the Russian spy Sergei Skripal", "ratcheted up tensions", "Russian Ultras" and "Volgograd’s local hoodlums".

On Tuesday evening Shaun Walker wrote a piece for the Guardian which followed a similar scheme:

[T]hose who came were almost uniformly positive about the experience so far. At a central Volgograd bar in the early hours of Tuesday, Craig and Tommy, two Sunderland fans, were practising Russian phrases with obliging locals and said they had spent three days in “fantastic” Volgograd, bonding with the locals and taking military history tours.

“We’re sick of people talking about trouble. If you’re respectful there won’t be any problems,” said Tommy.

Reading Walker's piece would make Tommy even sicker. It repeats all the usual propaganda points: "unprecedented tension", "strongly critical of Russian authorities", "poisoning of Sergei Skripal", "1936 Olympics, held in Nazi Germany" and "safety of LGBT fans".

After having delivered their propaganda routines Luhn and Walker joined the English fans in a local pub.

Alec Luhn @ASLuhn - 00:02 UTC - 19 Jun 2018

Harat's Pub, Volgograd, 3am. 100 or so drunk British fans, some Tunisians, and some Russian guys who just chanted something about "jugend SS." What could wrong?

Cont. reading: Pity The Russophobe Journos Whom No One Believes

Posted by b at 04:14 PM | Comments (68)

June 19, 2018

Syria - Ready To Start The Daraa Campaign

There are signs that the long expected liberation of the Daraa region in southwest Syria is about to begin. After a month of negotiations between Russia, Israel, Jordan and the U.S. no peaceful solution has been found. The various terrorist forces in the (green) area, including al-Qaeda aligned HTS and groups loyal to the Islamic State, have rejected all negotiations. For over a month Russian negotiators tried to convince locals to give up and to reconcile with the government. But the hardliners under the rebels have killed anyone who talked with the Russians. The U.S. government has warned against a Daraa operation and threatened to intervene.


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First airstrikes were launched by the Syrian government today against villages in the eastern part of the Deraa area. Some local fighting is ongoing. This is not yet the expected all out attack on the 'rebel' held areas but the testing of enemy forces. The Syrian army has assembled a large force to liberate the southwest. It includes ten thousands of soldiers, more than 100 tanks and lots of artillery. Short range air defenses have been moved into the area to protect the Syrian troops. A well coordinated attack on several front and multiple axes should allow for a quick victory.

Cont. reading: Syria - Ready To Start The Daraa Campaign

Posted by b at 02:00 PM | Comments (95)

June 18, 2018

Counterdrug Programs Come With Increased Drug Production - Where Does The Money Go?

Two reports published today point to some curious phenomenon. Immensely expensive U.S. counter-narcotics efforts go along with massive increases in drug production.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report Counternarcotics: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan finds:

From fiscal year (FY) 2002 through FY 2017, the U.S. government spent roughly $8.62 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan.
...
From 2002 to 2017, Afghan opium poppy cultivation soared.
In 2002, cultivation estimates ranged from 31,000 to 74,000 hectares, compared to 328,000 hectares in 2017. Opium production also rose to historic levels, from approximately 3,400 metric tons in 2002 to roughly 9,000 metric tons in 2017. No counterdrug program undertaken by the United States, its coalition partners, or the Afghan government resulted in lasting reductions in poppy cultivation or opium production.

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The Washington Post reports on the newly installed U.S. stooge in Colombia: A conservative ‘D.C. Colombian’ wins his country’s presidency":

BOGOTA, Colombia — Conservative Ivan Duque captured Colombia’s presidency Sunday, bringing to power a U.S.-educated 41-year-old whose victory promises an aggressive new era in the drug war and could upend a historic peace deal that ended Latin America’s longest running insurgency.
...
Duque’s win could herald a return to more forceful tactics. The United States has spent $10 billion in two decades fighting coca growth here — only to find it higher now than at the launch of the campaign.

Since its creation the CIA was involved in drug production and trafficking. In many cases this appears to have been a 'side effect' of other operations like running the rightwing 'Contras' against a leftish government in Nicaragua. The contras needed money which drug smuggling provided. The CIA helped along to achieve the 'higher purpose' - the overthrow of the Nicaraguan government. I am not aware of any sound evidence that shows that the CIA reaped financial profits from drug dealing.

There is no such excuse for counternarcotics programs. There is no 'higher purpose' to be achieved. But the sums spent on these programs are so big now, and their effect so counterproductive, that one must assume that the money is not used as intended. Layers of contractors will be involved in crop eradication programs in Afghanistan and elsewhere. These may cost a few millions per year. But the effects are so minor that one can not imagine how several billions of dollars get spent on them.

I find no accounting for these programs. Where does all that money go? Who is profiting from these?

Posted by b at 01:18 PM | Comments (66)

June 17, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-29

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Patrick Cockburn calls the attack a deliberate act of cruelty by the Trump administration. But he, like others, still does not get the real dimension of the cruelty. The attack is not about Hodeidah. It is about blockading all food supplies to some 18 million people living in Sanaa and further north. An unprecedented siege on a large and defenseless population that is intended and guaranteed to cause a famine.

The U.S. and the UK blocked a Swedish resolution at the UN Security Council that called for an immediate ceasefire at Hodeidah.

LeFigaro reports that French special forces are on the ground in Yemen but the French claim that those are not at Hodeidah. There were also unconfirmed reports that France agreed to deploy minesweepers to clear the harbor of Hodeidah of potential mines. Two Houthi sources claimed today that they had caught French troops on a ship in Hodeidah. But information from the ground is unreliable. Both sides have made false claims about their progress and positions.

Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reports that South Korea and the U.S. will soon announce the suspension of all major military exercises. This is, like North Korea's suspension of nuclear and missile testing, easily reversible.

Other issues:

The Nation: The Mueller Indictments Still Don’t Add Up to Collusion - A year of investigations has led to several guilty pleas, but none of them go to the core of the special counsel’s mandate. By Aaron Maté. This is the first piece in main stream media that points out that the St. Petersburg–based Internet Research Agency was a commercial marketing scheme and not a "Russian influence" operations. One wonders (or not) where Aaron Maté got that idea.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 12:00 PM | Comments (105)

June 15, 2018

Jordan Shows Gratitude For Saudi Gift By Planting Fake News

Politicians like to manipulate news outlets for their purposes. Below is a nice little example of how this works.

Today the Saudi owned fish-wrap Al Arabiya tweeted this:

Al Arabiya English @AlArabiya_Eng - 11:12 AM - 15 Jun 2018
#Jordan withdraws ambassador from #Iran: Source tells Al Arabiya English: “There is no intention to name another Jordanian envoy in #Tehran at the time,” the source said.
http://ara.tv/n4ngn

That tweet made me curious. I was pretty sure that Jordan had withdrawn its ambassador from Iran quite a while ago. Indeed - on April 18 2016 several outlets had reported such: Jordan follows Riyadh's lead and recalls Iran ambassador

Abdullah Abu Rumman, Jordan's ambassador to Iran, has been recalled to Amman over Tehran's policies towards Arab countries, said Mohammed Momani, the government spokesperson.

An Iranian contact confirms to me that there has been no Jordanian ambassador in Iran since April 2016.

What happened?

The Al Arabiya link goes to a page with the URL:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/06/15/Jordan-withdraws-ambassador-from-Iran-Source-tells-Al-Arabiya.html

The original headline of the piece, visible in the URL, was "Jordan withdraws ambassador from Iran: Source tells Al Arabiya". It  has since been changed to:

Jordan won’t name an ambassador to Iran: Source tells Al Arabiya English

A high-ranking Jordanian source told Al Arabiya English on Friday that Jordan transferred its ambassador Abdullah Abu Rumman from Iran to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Amman based on a decision by the Jordanian cabinet.

“There is no intention to name another Jordanian envoy in Tehran at the time,” the source told Al Arabiya English.

Commenting on the decision’s circumstances, the source reiterated: “Jordan’s fixed position from Iranian policies which include interfering in the affairs of the region’s countries,” and voiced Jordan’s concern over “the security of the region’s countries particularly of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.”

“Saudi Arabia’s security is (part) of our security,” he said, adding: “We are concerned over our Arab and Gulf depth.”

In response to a question from Al Arabiya English, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi stressed that “the security and stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is part of the security and stability of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”.
...

It seems to me that the "high-ranking Jordanian source", very likely the later quoted Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, scammed Al Arabiya. He used vague wording to insinuated that Jordan just now recalled its ambassador from Iran when that in fact had happened two years ago. It took a while for Al Arabiya to recognize that it had been had and to change its headline.

A week ago I wrote about how U.S.-Saudi Pressure On Jordan Opens The Way For Iran. Jordan is in economic and political trouble. It needs  financial sponsors. Saudi Arabia and the U.S., its traditional donors, are pressing for an Israel policy that the Jordan's King can not support. I speculated that this might give an opening for Iran.

But the Jordan king decided differently. He went to Saudi Arabia, met the Saudi King and received a nice package to help him over his budget difficulties. On June 10 Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait coughed up fresh money for Jordan:

Cont. reading: Jordan Shows Gratitude For Saudi Gift By Planting Fake News

Posted by b at 12:00 PM | Comments (42)

June 14, 2018

The Real Results Of The Trump-Kim Summit - Freeze For Freeze (And Some Amusement)

The aftermath of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore confirms my early take on the talks. What both sides committed to is the "freeze for freeze" agreement North Korea had offered since at least 2015. The U.S. stops its threatening maneuvers while North Korea stops missile and nuke testing. Both sides further committed to future talks about a peace treaty in exchange for some nuclear disarmament

Under pressure from hawks the Trump administration tries to spin additional Korean concessions into the summit declaration. It claims that North Korea committed to "verifiable and irreversible" steps. It is a bad move as that is not the case. Only the written words count. "[T]he DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" is the binding wording.

In 1970 the U.S. committed itself to its own complete nuclear disarmament in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT):

Article VI - Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Both statements are aspirational. "To work towards" and to "undertake to pursue negotiations" are both intentionally vague and of equal determination.

The real point of the Singapore summit was the "freeze for freeze" the U.S. and North Korea both committed to it.

After North Korea successfully tested a thermonuclear device and an intercontinental range missile the U.S. was no longer able to go to war against it without risking the destruction of a major U.S. city. It had to negotiate towards some new truce with North Korea that would reduce the risk of a nuclear conflict. Freeze for freeze is the first step towards that.

North Korea had economic reasons for seeking nuclear weapons. The cost of constant military preparedness against a potential U.S. attack was killing its economy:

Cont. reading: The Real Results Of The Trump-Kim Summit - Freeze For Freeze (And Some Amusement)

Posted by b at 02:57 PM | Comments (91)

June 13, 2018

Yemen - The Starvation Siege Has Begun

Last night the Saudi coalition launched its attack on the city of Hodeidah in Yemen. Hodeidah is the only Yemeni harbor on the Red Sea coast that can take large vessels. It is ruled by the Houthi who in 2014 took over the capital Sanaa and disposed of the Saudi installed Hadi government. 90% of the food for the 18 million people living in Houthi controlled areas comes through Hodeidah.

Saudi-owned satellite news channels and later state media announced the battle had begun, citing military sources. They also reported coalition airstrikes and shelling by naval ships.

The initial battle plan appeared to involve a pincer movement. Some 2,000 troops who crossed the Red Sea from an Emirati naval base in the African nation of Eritrea landed west of the city with plans to seize Hodeida’s port, Yemeni security officials said.

Emirati forces with Yemeni troops moved in from the south near Hodeida’s airport, while others sought to cut off Houthi supply lines to the east, the officials said.

The port is now classified as a zone of active military conflict. Prolonged fighting may well destroy the port infrastructurer. Even if the Saudi coalition forces take and reopen it they will continue to block food supplies for the central highlands of Yemen. They want to starve the Houthis into submission.

The attack from the south includes 3,000 to 5,000 troops under the command of Tariq Sale, a cousin of the recently killed former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. They have been equipped with trucks and new weapons by the UAE. More forces are on their way from Aden and Taiz. They are supported by Emirati artillery, tanks and Saudi aerial bombing. The Saudi coalition forces are commanded by former officers from Australia, the U.S. and UK who have been hired by the UAE.

The New York Times editors do not want to understand the real problem with this attack:

Cont. reading: Yemen - The Starvation Siege Has Begun

Posted by b at 02:12 PM | Comments (126)

June 12, 2018

First Thoughts On The Kim Trump Photo-Op Summit

The photo-op summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea went well. The visuals show North Korea and the United States as equal partners.


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The atmosphere was cordial.


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Both sides won.


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The signed document is short. The core part:

Cont. reading: First Thoughts On The Kim Trump Photo-Op Summit

Posted by b at 04:58 AM | Comments (182)

June 11, 2018

Yemen - U.S. Grants Approval For Genocide

The genocide in Yemen is going to start tomorrow. Eight million are already on the brink of starvation. Eighteen out of twenty-six million Yemenis live in the mountainous heartlands (green) which are under control of the Houthi and their allies. They are surrounded by Saudi and U.A.E. forces and their mercenaries. There is little agriculture. The only supply line from the outside world will soon be cut off. The people will starve.


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Even before the war Yemen imported 90% of its staple food. Three years of Saudi/UAE bombing have destroyed local infrastructure and production. The ongoing war has already caused mass starvation and the outbreak of a large cholera epidemic. The Yemeni coast is under blockade by Saudi and U.S. naval forces. The only supplies coming in are UN and commercial deliveries through the Red Sea Hodeidah port (Al Hudaydah on the map).


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The United Arab Emirates is leading local mercenaries and Islamist gangs against the Houthi and their allies. During the last months these forces moved from the south along the coast up to Hodeidah. The fighting is fierce:

Heavy fighting in Yemen between pro-government forces and Shiite rebels has killed more than 600 people on both sides in recent days, security officials said Monday.

Tomorrow, when the media will be busy with the Kim-Trump photo-op summit, the UAE forces will launch their attack on the city.

The UN, which oversees the aid distribution through Hodeidah, tried to negotiate between the parties:

The U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, traveled to the U.A.E. capital over the weekend in an effort to forestall an attack. Mr. Griffiths had secured an agreement with Houthi rebels who control Hodeidah to allow the U.N. to operate the port jointly, the people said. But people briefed on the discussions said they doubted the U.A.E. would accept the offer or delay the planned assault.

The briefed people were right. The UN is now evacuating its staff:

Cont. reading: Yemen - U.S. Grants Approval For Genocide

Posted by b at 02:19 PM | Comments (76)

June 10, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-28

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Trump is in Singapore to meet Kim Jong-un. Bolton will take part in the meeting. That is bad because it makes it more likely that it will fail. Bolton is on the record saying that he wants to 'get over' the negotiation phase as fast as possible to then escalate into war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) pulled out 71 of its foreign staff in Yemen after one was assassinated. It still has local staff on the ground but the ICRC is usually respected by both sides of a conflict and is used to work under the worst circumstances. Presumably it was the Saudi side that tried to instrumentalize the ICRC and killed one of its employees when the ICRC did not agree.

SaadAbedine @SaadAbedine - 16:21 UTC - 9 Jun 2018
King Abdullah II @KingAbdullahII and Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah @AlHusseinHKJ of Jordan will participate in the Mecca meeting called by #Saudi King Salman @KingSalman with leaders of the #UAE & #Kuwait to discuss economic aid #Jordan in the face of the economic crisis.

There will be strong pressure on Abdullah to agree to the Trump/Kushner/MbS/MbZ Israel plan. Al-Aqsa would be lost. 70% of the people in Jordan are Palestinians. I do not see how Abdullah can agree to the plan without losing everything.

Interestingly the new prime minister of Jordan, Omar al-Razzaz, once worked at the World Bank where his main projects were development programs in Iran. I wonder if he speaks Farsi ...

The Islamic State was pushed back from Abu Kamal but renewed its attack early today. The spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Defense points out that all remaining ISIS zones in Syria are in US-controlled territory.

Journalist Hala Jaber interviewed the Syrian President Bashar al Assad for the British Daily Mail. SANA provides a full transcript and a six minute video. The Daily Mail write up: I use chemicals? Prove it! Syrian President Assad brands gas attacks 'fake news' and calls Theresa May a 'colonialist and a liar' in astonishing face to face interview

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On May 14 we wrote about the election in Iraq: The 'Kingmaker' Is Back - Muqtada Al-Sadr Wins The Election In Iraq. Observers agreed that the elections went quite well. Since then the political situation deteriorated. In several areas the electronic vote count was manipulated. The election commission decided to do a manual recount. All ballot boxes were brought to Baghdad and stored in a warehouse. Today the warehouse burned down:

Abdulla Hawez @abdullahawez - 14:19 UTC- 10 Jun 2018
- The guy filming asks the security guard: "how many of the ballots lost in the fire?"
- The security guard all smiling: "all of them were lost".
vid

Yesterday Elijah Magnier took a peak behind the scene. A weak and divided Iraq is stumbling towards an unbalanced future

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 10:39 AM | Comments (42)

June 09, 2018

The 'West' Is Past

G-7 summits are supposed to symbolize "the west", its unity and its power. The summits pretended to set policy directions for the world.

We are happy to see that they are dead.


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I do not know who made this pic.

It is a modification of a photo by German chancellor Merkel's staff photographer Jesco Denzel that was uploaded to her Instagram account:

Cont. reading: The 'West' Is Past

Posted by b at 03:14 PM | Comments (113)

June 08, 2018

Syria - Is The ISIS Attack On Abu Kamal Part Of A U.S. Plan?

The people in Syria and Iraq believe that the Islamic State (ISIS) is an instrument the U.S. uses for its own purposes. A new ISIS attack on Syrian government forces today will deepen these beliefs.

Since November 2017 the U.S. and its proxy forces in north-east Syria did absolutely nothing against ISIS in east Syria north of the Euphrates. U.S. air strike were stopped and ISIS's territorial hold did not change one bit.

In February local tribal forces aligned with the Syrian government crossed the Euphrates from south to north in order to attack the ISIS pocket and to take control of an oilfield. The U.S. claimed that its Kurdish SDF proxy forces were attacked by the Syrian government aligned group. Curiously no one on the side of the U.S. and its proxies was hurt at all. Soon a large number of U.S. air support assets arrived and bombed the Syrian group to smithereens. 

ISIS in the northeastern pocket is the justification for the continuing U.S. occupation. But when Syrian government forces attacked those ISIS forces the U.S. claimed that only its forces were there. On June 6, six months after the U.S. had stopped attacking ISIS,  U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis finally announced that U.S. proxies forces had again taken up the fight:

48 hours ago, the SDF, the coalition force and -- advising the Syrian Democratic Force, recommenced their offensive against one of the last remaining pockets of ISIS.

There have been no reports yet of these new attacks against ISIS.

According to Mattis the offense re-started on June 4. Just the night before the restart of the U.S. operation several hundred well rested ISIS fighters crossed the Euphrates towards the south and attacked the Syrian government forces on the southern side.


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They shortly interrupted traffic on the road between Deir Ezzor city and Abu Kamal on the Syria-Iraq border and then hid away in some local farms.

Last night these forces reemerged, moved southeast and attacked the border city Abu Kamal:

Cont. reading: Syria - Is The ISIS Attack On Abu Kamal Part Of A U.S. Plan?

Posted by b at 02:39 PM | Comments (40)

June 07, 2018

U.S.-Saudi Pressure On Jordan Opens The Way For Iran

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has traditionally been in the 'western' camp. It is politically attached to the United Kingdom and the United States as well as to Saudi Arabia and other Sunni majority Gulf states. The Jordanian King Abdullah II has in the past been hostile to Iran. He was to first to publicly stoke fear of a 'Shia crescent'.  But the new Saudi and U.S. plans for 'peace' with Israel are a threat to Jordan and to King Abdullah's personal legitimacy. He needs to change his position. Provided with the right incentives Jordan could, eventually, join the 'resistance' side with Iran, Syria and Hizbullah.

The country ruled by King Abdullah has nearly ten million inhabitants but is relatively poor. It has few natural resources. The generally well educated population attracted some foreign investment in its industry. Many Jordanians work abroad and send remittances. But all that is not enough. The country needs foreign subsidies to keep its standard of living.

The King of Saudi Arabia derives legitimacy from his title as "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" in Mecca and Medina. The King of Jordan springs from the thousand year old great Hashemite dynasty. He heads the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (Foundation) and is the custodian of the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. This responsibility is the only prominent function left for the Hashemite family. It is the source of King Abdullah's legitimacy.

The changes in Saudi Arabia's policy towards Israel and the Zionist 'peace plan' the Trump administration develops create a new situation for Jordan. It is put under immense economic pressure to agree to these plans.

Jordan took part in the war on Syria. While Turkey provided support for the "rebels" attacking Syria from the north Jordan played a similar role in the south. Weapon and ammunition supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar were shipped through Jordan and smuggled into Syria. The country welcomed the families of the 'rebels' as refugees and provided medical support. The "southern operation room" of the 'rebels', run by the CIA, was hosted in Jordan's capital Amman.


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Cont. reading: U.S.-Saudi Pressure On Jordan Opens The Way For Iran

Posted by b at 02:15 PM | Comments (68)

June 06, 2018

Yemen - The Attack On Hodeidah Is A Prelude To Genocide

Yemen is on the verge of another catastrophic event. The Saudi and United Arab Emirates plan to take the Red Sea port Hodeidah through which most of the food supplies to Yemen's come in.

The port is already under blockade and all ships are strictly controlled. Saudi 'inspections' of ships already taking so long that some food rots before it can reach land. The UN is complaining that there is too little food is coming through:

Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with some 8.4 million people severely short of food and at risk of starvation.
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“I am particularly concerned about the recent decline of commercial food imports through the Red Sea ports,” Mark Lowcock, U.N. emergency relief coordinator, said in a statement read out to a Geneva briefing on Friday.
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“If conditions do not improve, a further 10 million people will fall into this category by the end of the year,” he said.

Eighteen out of twenty-six million Yemenis may soon die of hunger. If that happens it will be a genocide.

The UN has warned that any fighting over the port will have extreme consequences. Eighteen million people will probably starve if the port is blocked or the roads from the port into the hinterland get destroyed due to fighting.

For three years the Saudi and UAE forces have tried to dislodge the Houthi movement from the Yemeni heartland and the capital Sanaa. The Saudis managed to take the flat desert areas in the east and the UAE took the southern coast but all their attempts to move into the mountainous western core of Yemen have failed. The Saudi and UAE forces on the ground are by now mostly local mercenaries from the south reinforced by a few tank and artillery troops from the UAE.


Map via IWN - bigger

The cities and towns in the north where the Houthi originally lived were all destroyed by Saudi air attacks. They have no where to go and nothing left to loose. They will not give up.

Cont. reading: Yemen - The Attack On Hodeidah Is A Prelude To Genocide

Posted by b at 02:28 PM | Comments (66)

June 05, 2018

John Bolton Wants No Deal With North Korea Or Iran - But Is There Any Other Choice?

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton nearly succeeded in sabotaging talks with North Korea. But the summit train is back on its tracks. Trump will meet Kin Jong-un on on June 12 in Singapore. The South Korean President Moon rescued the situation. Secretary of State Pompeo helped.

Pompeo managed to keep Bolton away from the negotiations with North Korea. Bolton's attempt to derail talks with North Korea by citing the "Libya model" failed. But Bolton will be back. He will try to torpedo any agreement with 'hostile' countries - be it North Korea or Iran. He is now building up his power for the upcoming bigger fight.

When the North Korean envoy Kim visited the Oval Office to hand an oversized letter to Trump John Bolton was not present:

Pompeo told Trump it would be "counterproductive" to allow Bolton to attend the Oval Office meeting with visiting North Korean official Kim Yong Chol, two people familiar with the matter said, citing an escalating feud between the top diplomat and Bolton.
A big letter

A bigger letter :-)

Pompeo can take credit for moving Trump away from his demand of immediate and complete de-nuclearization of North Korea. It is obviously unachievable. Any move towards disarmament will have to be reciprocal and step by step. Completely dismantling North Korea's nuclear program, which is unlikely to ever happen, would anyway take ten to fifteen years (pdf).

North Korea has already shown that it is willing to seriously negotiate. It has thereby gained fresh backing from its allies. The sanction regime is already breaking down. Air China is again flying to Pyongyang. North Korean coal is again delivered to Chinese ports and oil comes in from Russia. China as well as Russia have called for a phased approach. Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov emphasized that during his recent visit to North Korea:

Cont. reading: John Bolton Wants No Deal With North Korea Or Iran - But Is There Any Other Choice?

Posted by b at 01:47 PM | Comments (92)

June 03, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Italy And The Euro - Open Thread

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Recent news confirmed my analysis. The reported deal had not happened. The Syrian government insists that a U.S. retreat from al-Tanf must be part of any deal over southwest Syria: Syria FM links talks on south to US withdrawal from border area. Interestingly the idea of connecting al-Tanf with a solution in the southwest originally came from the U.S. itself. Next week the deputy foreign ministers of Russia, Jordan and the U.S. will meet in Amman to discuss the pending deal. The current demonstrations in Jordan over economic problems threaten to escalate into a revolt against the state. This gives Jordan, the U.S. and Israel an extra incentive to push for a fast deal with Syria. Jordan could then send back hundred thousands of Syrian refugees and alleviate its economic problems.

Italy voted for a coalition government between the Lega Nord and the Five Star Movement. When the parties presented their new government Berlin and Brussels protested against the new finance minister Paolo Savona, a known critic of the Euro. Directed by the ECB the financial markets immediately demanded higher interest rates for Italian bonds. Under pressure the Italian President Sergio Mattarella vetoed the new government. The parties capitulated. They named Giovanni Tria as their new finance minister. Tria is a member of the 'think tank' FMC (Fondazione Magna Carta):

The think tank aims at combining elements of liberalism with Catholic social teaching, supports the so-called "Judeo-Christian roots" of Europe, and takes a strong pro-United States and pro-Israel stance in foreign policy, especially in relation to radical Islam and Islamic terrorism. [...] FMC has had close ties with American neocons.

The new government has little experience in ruling. The powers-that-be selected Giovanni Tria to potty-train it. The rejected Paolo Savona will serve as Minister for European Union Affairs. This configuration guarantees lively cabinet meetings in Rome and loud discussions in Brussels.

Paolo Savona is right, the Euro was a mistake. It is destroying Italy and other southern countries of the continent. How it does that, why leaving the Euro is the only sane response and how to manage leaving it is detailed here: Sacrificing at the Altar of the Euro.

Also recommended:

- What if Babchenko had decided to stay “dead”? - OffGuardian
- The New York Times and the murder that wasn’t - WSWS
- "Kiev Committed an Act of Terrorism Against Public Opinion by Staging Babchenko's 'Murder'" - Stalkerzone

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 Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 12:03 PM | Comments (168)

June 01, 2018

Ukraine - The Babchenko Hoax Was Part Of A Corporate Raid

The case of the death and resurrection of the Russian journalist Babchenko in Kiev is even more surreal than it seemed so far. According to Ukrainian sources and court documents the whole hoax was part of an attempt to raid and take over a private company. 

Babchenko himself and the man who was hired to "kill" him had cooperated with the main branch of the Ukrainian national security service (SBU). The "operator", who is accused of having hired the "killer" for Russia, appeared in court. He claimed to have cooperated with the Ukrainian counter intelligence agency, which is side branch of the national security service. The accused "operator" is an executive of a private joint venture and has been under pressure over claims against his company. There are indications that the whole stunt may have been staged to get him "out of the way" to then take over the company he leads.

The suggestion is that high levels of the Ukrainian security services staged the whole affair not only to blame Russia but also for someone's personal gain.

In 2017 Arkady Babchenko, despised in Russia for his open hostility against its people, came via Israel to the Ukraine. He was welcome in Kiev for his anti-Russian position. Babchenko found a job with ATR, a Crimean Tatar TV station. The fine-print on the ATR website says that it "was supported by the Media Development Fund of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine".

On May 29 the Ukrainian government claimed that Babchenko had been assassinated. As usual the death of a journalist hostile to Russia was used by NATO aligned media to blame Russia, the Kremlin and Putin. That there was zero evidence that Russia was involved did not matter at all.  A photo of the allegedly killed Babchenko laying in his blood emerged.


Crisis actor Arkady Babchenko - bigger

The very next day the General Prosecutor of the Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko and the head of the National Security Service (SBU) Vasyl Grytsak (also written as Hrytsak) held a press conference and presented a very alive and happy Arkady Babchenko. He had not been shot at all. The whole hoax, it was explained, was launched to find the people behind an alleged assassination campaign originating in Russia. In this official version the Russians hired some Ukrainian "operator" who then hired the "killer" to assassinate Babchenko. The hired killer told the police about it and the hoax of Babchenko's death was staged to find the culprits behind the plot.

All those western "journalists" who had believed Ukrainian government claims without any evidence and wrote unfounded accusations  against Russia were not amused. The Ukrainian government exposed them as the mere propaganda tools and fools they are. The "journalist"  Babchenko himself, interviewed by Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky, comes off as a naive and rather dim light.

Yesterday the "hired killer", one Alexey Tsymbalyuk, went public. He is a Ukrainian nationalist who had fought against the the Russia supported entities in eastern Ukraine. He has since become an orthodox priest.

Cont. reading: Ukraine - The Babchenko Hoax Was Part Of A Corporate Raid

Posted by b at 12:33 PM | Comments (93)