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November 16, 2019

OPCW Whistleblowers: Management Manipulated Reports - Douma 'Chemical Weapon Attack' Was Staged

On April 7 2018 Syrian 'rebels' claimed that the Syrian government had used chlorine gas and Sarin in an attack on the besieged Douma suburb near the Syrian capital Damascus. They published a series of videos which showed the dead bodies of mainly women and children.

Before the incident Jaish al-Islam, the main 'rebel' group in Douma, had already agreed to leave towards Idleb governorate. Under those circumstances the claims made no sense. The various details in the produced videos and pictures were inconsistent with a chemical incident.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigated the incident and in July 2018 produced an interim report (pdf) that showed that no Sarin was used in Douma. The OPCW inspectors had only found various chlorinated organic chemicals (COCs) which are common in every household. Media falsely claimed that those finds were proof of a chlorine gas attack.

The interim report did not show any use chemical weapons but it had, as we noted, some curious anomalies:

The preliminary OPCW report says nothing about the concentrations in which these substances were found. Without knowing the concentrations, which may may be extremely low, one can not come to further conclusion. The report includes none of the witness statements the fact finding mission took. In various TV reports the medical personal of the one hospital involved in the stunt said that none of their patients were affected by chlorine or chemical weapons.

The final report (pdf), published in March 2019, changed the tone. It specifically claimed that gas cylinders found at two places of the incident must have been dropped from the air. As only the Syrian government, not the 'rebels', has used helicopters the report was an indictment of the Syrian government.


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In May 2019 one OPCW inspector came forward and said that the OPCW management had suppressed an internal engineering assessment that contradicted the claim that the gas cylinder fell from the air. OPCW management had used external expertise of unknown provenance that had come to the wrong conclusion. The cylinders must have been positioned by hand. The incident was staged.

Now a second OPCW whistleblower came forward with additional claims that the OPCW management manipulated the findings of its own inspectors after it had come under pressure from U.S. officials.

Jonathan Steele, a former chief foreign correspondent for the Guardian, writes:

Cont. reading: OPCW Whistleblowers: Management Manipulated Reports - Douma 'Chemical Weapon Attack' Was Staged

Posted by b at 17:53 UTC | Comments (17)

November 15, 2019

Author Of "Keep The Oil" Mission Already Distances Himself From Its Foreseeable Failure

The neo-conservatives who have duped President Trump into the "steal the oil" scheme in Syria are already distancing themselves from the plan. They know that it will end in failure.

Yesterday the New York Times tried to insinuate that the U.S. military was behind the idea to steal Syria's oil:

Days after President Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw 1,000 American troops from Syria, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saw a way to turn it around.

The businessman in Mr. Trump had focused on the Syrian oil fields that, if left unprotected, could fall into the hands of the Islamic State — or Russia or Iran. So General Milley proposed to a receptive Mr. Trump that American commandos, along with allied Syrian Kurdish fighters, guard the oil.

Today, 800 American troops remain in Syria.

“We’re keeping the oil,” Mr. Trump told reporters on Wednesday before his meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. “We left troops behind, only for the oil."
...
“I credit Milley with convincing the president to modify his Syria decision,” said Jack Keane, the former Army vice chief of staff, who spoke several times with Mr. Trump and General Milley last month during the frenzied days of the president’s zigzagging Syria policy.

But the article later says that it was not General Milley's idea. He had different plans:

One proposal would have kept a small force to help control a small swath of the border between Iraq and Syria, about 10 percent of the area. Another option would try to keep control of a larger part of the country — more than half of the area the American and Kurdish fighters currently controlled.
But after Mr. Trump told General Milley he wanted to keep the oil fields, the Pentagon quickly “operationalized” a new plan wrapped around using American forces and their Kurdish allies to protect the oil ...

The report also conflicts with earlier reporting by NBC which said that it was the head of the neoconservative Institute for the Study of War Jack Keane himself and the neoconned Senator Graham Lindsay who duped Trump into the stupid plan:

Cont. reading: Author Of "Keep The Oil" Mission Already Distances Himself From Its Foreseeable Failure

Posted by b at 19:06 UTC | Comments (104)

November 14, 2019

Trump And Zelensky Want Peace With Russia. The Fascists Oppose That.

NBC News is not impressed by the first day of the Democrats' impeachment circus. But it fails to note what the conflict is really about:

It was substantive, but it wasn't dramatic.

In the reserved manner of veteran diplomats with Harvard degrees, Bill Taylor and George Kent opened the public phase of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Wednesday by bearing witness to a scheme they described as not only wildly unorthodox but also in direct contravention of U.S. interests.

"It is clearly in our national interest to deter further Russian aggression," Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said in explaining why Trump's decision to withhold congressionally appropriated aid to the most immediate target of Russian expansionism didn't align with U.S. policy.

But at a time when Democrats are simultaneously eager to influence public opinion in favor of ousting the president and quietly apprehensive that their hearings could stall or backfire, the first round felt more like the dress rehearsal for a serious one-act play than the opening night of a hit Broadway musical.

"In direct contravention of U.S. interests" says the NBC and quotes a member of the permanent state who declares "it is clearly in our national interest" to give weapons to Ukraine.

But is that really in the national U.S. interest? Who defined it as such?

President Obama was against giving weapons to Ukraine and never transferred any to Ukraine despite pressure from certain circles. Was Obama's decision against U.S. national interest? Where are the Democrats or deep state members accusing him of that?

Which brings us to the really critical point of the whole issue. Who defines what is in the "national interest" with regards to foreign policy? Here is a point where for once I agree with the right-wingers at the National Review where Andrew McCarthy writes:

[O]n the critical matter of America’s interests in the Russia/Ukraine dynamic, I think the policy community is right, and President Trump is wrong. If I were president, while I would resist gratuitous provocations, I would not publicly associate myself with the delusion that stable friendship is possible (or, frankly, desirable) with Putin’s anti-American dictatorship, which runs its country like a Mafia family and is acting on its revanchist ambitions.

But you see, much like the policy community, I am not president. Donald Trump is.

And that’s where the policy community and I part company. It is the president, not the bureaucracy, who was elected by the American people. That puts him — not the National Security Council, the State Department, the intelligence community, the military, and their assorted subject-matter experts — in charge of making policy. If we’re to remain a constitutional republic, that’s how it has to stay.

We have made the very same point:

The U.S. constitution "empowers the President of the United States to propose and chiefly negotiate agreements between the United States and other countries."

The constitution does not empower the "U.S. government policy community", nor "the administration", nor the "consensus view of the interagency" and certainly not one Lt.Col. Vindman to define the strategic interests of the United States and its foreign policy. It is the duly elected president who does that.

and:

The president does not like how the 'American policy' on Russia was built. He rightly believes that he was elected to change it. He had stated his opinion on Russia during his campaign and won the election. It is not 'malign influence' that makes him try to have good relations with Russia. It is his own conviction and legitimized by the voters.
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[I]t is the president who sets the policies. The drones around him who serve "at his pleasure" are there to implement them.

There is another point that has to be made about the NBC's assertions. It is not in the interest of Ukraine to be a proxy for U.S. deep state antagonism towards Russia. Robber baron Igor Kolomoisky, who after the Maidan coup had financed the west-Ukrainian fascists who fought against east-Ukraine, says so directly in his recent NYT interview:

Cont. reading: Trump And Zelensky Want Peace With Russia. The Fascists Oppose That.

Posted by b at 18:23 UTC | Comments (149)

November 13, 2019

Open Thread 2019-67

News & views ...

Posted by b at 16:25 UTC | Comments (190)

November 12, 2019

Lessons To Learn From The Coup In Bolivia

The coup in Bolivia is devastating for the majority of the people in that country. Are their lessons to be learnt from it?

Andrea Lobo writes at WSWS:

Bolivian president Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party was forced to resign Sunday evening by the Bolivian military in a coup backed by the United States. Last night, Morales tweeted that he is “leaving for Mexico” after that country agreed to grant him asylum.

After three weeks of protests following the disputed October 20 presidential elections, the imperialist powers and their Bolivian client elite have overthrown the government of Morales. In the context of a deepening crisis of global capitalism and a resurgence of the class struggle internationally, including recent mass strikes among miners and doctors in Bolivia, the ruling class lost confidence that Morales and the MAS apparatus can continue to suppress social opposition.

During his twelve years in office Evo Morales achieved quite a lot of good things:

Illiteracy rates:
2006 13.0%, 2018 2.4%
Unemployment rates
2006 9.2%, 2018 4.1%
Moderate poverty rates
2006 60.6%, 2018 34.6%
Extreme poverty rates
2006 38.2%, 2018 15.2%

But Morales failed to build the defenses that are necessary to make such changes permanent. The leadership of the military and police stood against him. Why were these men in such positions?

Jeb Sprague @JebSprague - 20:19 UTC · Nov 11, 2019
The US coup connection
Officials who forced #Evo to resign worked as #Bolivia's Mil. Attachés in DC. The CIA often seeks to recruit Attachés working in DC.
2013: Gen. Kaliman served as Mil. Attaché
2018: Police Com. Calderón Mariscal was Pres. of APALA in DC

The Agregados Policiales de América Latina (APALA) is supposed to fight international organized crime in Latin America. It is curiously hosted in Washington DC.

These police and military men cooperated with a racist Christian-fascist multi-millionaire to bring Morales down.

Morales had clearly won a fourth term in the the October 20 elections. The vote count was confusing (pdf) because it followed the process defined by the Organization of American States:

Cont. reading: Lessons To Learn From The Coup In Bolivia

Posted by b at 18:08 UTC | Comments (273)

November 11, 2019

Hong Kong - "Marginal Violence" Fails To Win More Protest Support

After nearly six months of violent "protest" the U.S. supported anti-Chinese rioters in Hong Kong are switching into overdrive.

Today there were more than 16 hours of continuous violent rioting by small groups of black clad "protesters":

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has addressed the press after a day of violence in which at least one protester has been shot with a live round, while another man was set on fire during a dispute, as clashes continue across the city.

She condemns the actions of protesters, warning them that it is "wishful thinking" to expect that the government will yield to their political demands if faced with violence.

Commuters are facing transport chaos and disruption. Major thoroughfares across several districts have been blocked and MTR services suspended after objects were thrown onto the tracks of the East Rail line, a fire was set on a train at Kwai Fong and protesters vandalised several other stations.

Today's rampage comes after a "protester" died when he fell from a floor in a parking garage. The rioters claim that police was involved in the incident but surveillance footage shows that the man was all alone. 

After peaceful "color revolutions" ceased to work violence was introduced as part of all U.S. "regime change" operations. The thinking behind it was explained in a June 30 New York Times op-ed:

An important idea that has been circulating in online forums is now firmly planted in my mind. It is called the Marginal Violence Theory (暴力邊緣論), and it holds that protesters should not actively use or advocate violence, but instead use the most aggressive nonviolent actions possible to push the police and the government to their limits.
...
The protesters should thoughtfully escalate nonviolence, maybe even resort to mild force, to push the government to the edge.

Violence against the  government was supposed to create a violent response which would then increase the support for the protests. That theory seems not to work in Hong Kong. Legit demonstrations are now reduced to a few hundreds of people. The hundred thousands who attended the first demonstrations no longer come. They have recognized that the core protesters' "mild force" is just senseless violence and that these rioters are completely unreasonable.

Today they intentionally burned a man who was verbally opposing them:

By Monday evening, Leung Chi-cheung, a 57-year-old father of two daughters, was fighting for his life in hospital with severe burns to his body as well as head trauma.
...
The video footage then showed Leung returning to confront the protesters, whereupon a dispute ensued.

“During the dispute, he was doused with flammable liquid and set alight,” a police source said.
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Another source described the attack as ruthless.

“The victim stood up bravely after the sabotage, but the rioters tried to burn him alive,” the source said. “Such an attack is inhumane.”


There is video of the attack.

The U.S. poster child Joshua Wong has called the arsonists among the rioters "fire magicians". Like other leaders of the "pro-democracy" opposition Wong has refused to condemn the violence.


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Other rioters attacked a traffic cop who was clearing a minor road blockade. One rioter tried to grab his gun and got shot:

In the video, an officer grapples with a protester and points his gun towards another approaching protester. The second protester reaches out towards the gun, the officer dodges, steps back and shoots him in the torso.

A truck driver who was waiting for the road to be cleared applauded the policeman's action. Here is video of the incident.

The police arrested more than 260 rioters today. Unfortunately they will likely be released on bail and go back into the streets to continue their violence.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam can and should change that by an emergency decree. Taking a thousand or more of these misguided upper class students permanently off the street would dramatically decrease the violence.

The severe economic damage the "protests" cause to regular Hongkongers is no longer deniable. A large majority of them would likely welcome a tougher response to the rioters.

Posted by b at 17:32 UTC | Comments (130)

November 10, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-66

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

There are other government funded organization in Britain which, like the Integrity Initiative, write and tweet against the leader of the opposition: Home Office-backed counter-extremism group waging Twitter campaign against Corbyn - Middle East Eye

I am amazed how the Impeachment Circus and the mainstream media continue to ignore the facts of this story:

Joe Biden has been a favorite target for Trump-allied lawmakers. Many have adopted Trump’s unsubstantiated assertion that Biden pushed for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because he was investigating Burisma.

Other people get it:
Why the Only Thing Democrats Will Succeed in Impeaching Is Their Own Integrity Daniel Lazzare, Strategic Culture
Why Is Christopher Steele Still a Thing? - Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
The “Deep State” Is a Political Party - Jefferson Morley, New Republic

The CIA is emerging as a domestic political party.
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Brennan put a friendly finger on my chest. “The CIA is not involved in domestic politics,” he said. “Period. That’s on the record.”

This he asserted confidently, at an event where he had just spoken about about influence campaigns on swing voters and implied that Hillary Clinton might be right in calling U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard a Russian asset. Even seasoned analysts, it seems, have their blind spots.

Motivation to impeach Trump is about control of Democratic Party - Rick Salutin, The Star

What shifted [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] now? I’d say the answer is: this impeachment isn’t directed at Trump at all, it’s about undermining the rising left-wing opposition in the Democratic party. They are plausibly on the verge of seizing the party agenda away from the neo-liberal consensus of the Clinton-Obama decades — with issues like universal public health-care and equitable taxes. They’ve even found ways to fund campaigns without bowing to the corporate gods.

Related:
Pentagon Claims US Authority to Shoot Any Syrian Govt Official Who Tries to Take Control of Syrian Oil - Common Dreams

A day after we wrote the above Iran shot down a low flying drone that had penetrated its air space. CentCom made a statement that practically said "It was the CIA's drone, not ours."
This will only intensify U.S. 'regime change' efforts: Iran announces discovery of massive oil field

Iran has discovered a massive new oil field, President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday, a find that would boost its proven reserves by about a third in a rare piece of "good news" for an economy battered by US sanctions.

The police are quite brutally clearing the major protest sites. On Monday Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi will announce some additional reforms.
Iraq factions reach deal to save government, 'end protests'; PM urges return to normal life - Strait Times
Iraq’s feel-good ‘revolution’ - Asia Times

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-66

Posted by b at 14:32 UTC | Comments (205)

November 08, 2019

Grand Ayatollah Sistani Warns Against U.S. Coup Plot In Iraq

Protests in Lebanon and Iraq were caused by internal problems but are manipulated by external forces. Today an Iraqi leader exposed those forces which might well bring that problem to an end. Lebanon will still have to suffer through more strife.

AFP reports of more bloody protests in Iraq:

Anti-government protests in Iraq entered their third week with fresh bloodshed on Friday, as leaders appeared to have closed rank around the country's embattled premier.

More than a dozen demonstrators died in Baghdad and the southern port city of Basra within 24 hours, medical sources told AFP.

The reporter listened to some protesters and it is interesting what voices s/he chose to repeated:

"Even if it comes down to the last man, we have to enter the Green Zone and bring it down," another protester shouted.

"We'll announce our people's revolution from there against everyone who stole from us -- Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, Qais al-Khazaali, Hadi al-Ameri!" he said.

Khazaali and Ameri are leading commanders in the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network, which has publicly backed the government after protests erupted.

It was founded in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group, drawing from a host of Shiite armed factions, many of which have close ties to Iran.

A month ago we wrote that the legitimate protests in Iraq and Lebanon are used by the U.S. for coup attempts financed by Saudi money. The actual target of the coup attempts are those groups who have the support of Iran - Hizbullah in Lebanon and the Hashd al Shaabi in Iraq. That is why the AFP piece quotes those who attack the leaders of the Hashed which was founded, trained and equipped by Iran. It is now standard in 'western' reporting to falsely depict the protests as being against those entities.

We also warned that these protest might escalate:

Cont. reading: Grand Ayatollah Sistani Warns Against U.S. Coup Plot In Iraq

Posted by b at 19:40 UTC | Comments (56)

Open Thread 2019-65

News & views ...

Posted by b at 16:04 UTC | Comments (110)

November 07, 2019

As 'Maximum Pressure' Fails To Move Iran Dirty Tricks Become More Likely

What's up with Jared Kushner's great Middle East peace plan? It seems to be as much alive as that famous parrot.

The other big Middle East project the Trump administration launched intended to achieve a new nuclear deal with Iran. That project isn't doing well either.

Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 20:29 UTC · May 8, 2019
Today marks one year since President @realDonaldTrump made the historic decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal and embark on a bold new strategy to counter #Iran. Our maximum pressure campaign has already achieved historic success.
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Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 19:48 UTC · Jun 19, 2019
We’ve imposed the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime. Our pressure is working. We'll continue this line of effort to convince Iran not to move forward with their nuclear program, development of missiles, & the other malign activities they've been engaged in globally.

The proof of the 'historic success' of the ever working 'maximum pressure' is this:

Cont. reading: As 'Maximum Pressure' Fails To Move Iran Dirty Tricks Become More Likely

Posted by b at 18:44 UTC | Comments (116)