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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The CIA is using Turkey to pressure China



While Turkey has fostered economic links with China in order to solve its economic crisis, it has also publicly denounced the repression of the Uyghurs, basing its accusations on false information. Beijing sent a very cold reply. Everything is happening, now that Daesh has disappeared from Iraq and Syria, as if Ankara was once again running secret operations on behalf of the CIA, this time in Xinjiang.


 | DAMASCUS (SYRIA) 
JPEG - 49.7 kbChinese Uyghur jihadists in Syria.
For the last few weeks, the Turkish Press has been talking about the fate of the Uyghurs, the Turkish-speaking Muslim population of China. The political parties of the opposition, including the Kemalists, have been outdoing one another to condemn the Han repression of this minority and its religion.
This effervescence follows:
- The report by the Jamestown Foundation on the « 73 Chinese detention centres » [1] ;
- The Radio Free Asia campaign, which broadcast a number of interviews with ex-prisoners of the Chinese camps, and went so far as to pretend that China had outlawed the Coran (sic) [2] ;
- The campaign launched on 13 November 2018 by the United States and their allies of the Human Rights Council in Geneva against the repression of Islam in China [3] ;
- And the hearing, organised in Washington on 28 November 2018 by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, (CECC), on « the repression of religions by the Chinese Communist Party » [4]. Thus we learned that between one and three million Uyghurs are being submitted to electrical torture in the re-education camps. These accusations have been reprised by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
It was in this context that the spokesman for the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hami Aksoy, published a communiqué on 9 February 2019 officially condemning the « Chinesation » … of « the ethnic, religious and cultural identities of the Turkish Uyghurs » and the death in prison of the famous poet Abdurehim Heyit, who was serving an « eight-year » sentence of confinement for « one of his songs » [5].
The following evening, China published a 26-second video by the spurious dead man. In it, he declared : « My name is Abdurehim Heyit. Today is the 10th of February 2019. I am the subject of investigations into the suspicion of violation of national laws. I am now in good health and have never been abused ».
On the following day,11 February, the spokesman for the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, launched into a severe criticism of Turkey’s « errors » and « irresponsibility » [6].
While the imprisonment of at least 10,000 Uyghurs implicated in terrorist activities is attested, the number of between one and three million definitely is not.
Already by 1 June 2017 and on 13 December 2018, the Chinese had published two documents – one of them concerning Human Rights in Xinjiang, [7] and the other on The Protection of Culture and Development in Xinjiang [8].
JPEG - 40.5 kb
Islamist prisoners at the Deradicalisation Camp in Lop.
However, the Communist Party doesn’t really know how to manage political Islam. It analyses the question from the viewpoint of a particular past, that of the Cultural Revolution and the outlawing not only of Islam, but all religions. After having established freedom in this matter, it is now witnessing the rebirth of the divisions of the Civil War, and the multiplication of jihadist attacks [9]. On 1 February 2018, it launched a new religious policy aimed at assimilating Islam by suppressing certain identity practises [10]. The members of the Party are obliged to provide the example by refusing to eat halal. Nonetheless, 24,400 mosques are open in Xinjiang for the 13 million Muslims.
For twenty-five years, Uyghur organisations have been clamouring for the creation of an independent state, first of all secular and now « Islamic » (in the political sense, not religious according to the Muslim Brotherhood’s definition of the term), in Eastern Turkestan (according to medieval title of Xinjiang). They were immediately awarded CIA support against the Beijing authorities.
- In 1997, the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) was created, and left the region to undergo training in Afghanistan with the Taliban and certain elements of Al-Qaïda. It quit political Islam and is directly funded by the CIA.
- In September 2004,a « government in exile for Eastern Turkestan » was founded in Washington by Anwar Yusuf Turani. It is a reconstruction of the alliance between the Kuomintang and Taïwan, in the prolongation of the Chinese Civil War (1927-1950).
- In November of the same year, in Munich, a world Congress of the Uyghurs was created, of which Rebiya Kadeer became President. It favours ethnic separatism.
The latter two entities are financed by the National Endowment for Democracy, an agency of the « Five Eyes » group [11].
Serious rioting broke out in Xinjiang, first of all in February 1997, then in July 2009. The demonstrators claimed that they belonged to the Uyghur separatist movement, Kuomintang Communism, and political Islam.
Beijing calmed the situation down by offering the Uyghurs certain privileges, for example, dispensing them from obeying the one-child policy (today abandoned) [12].
The US campaign against the repression of the Uyghurs seems to be compromised by the investment of Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, in the Xinjiang authorities [13]. Prince is not only the principal businessmen specialised in the creation of private armies, he is also the brother of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s Secretary for Education. His security agents are apparently mercenaries working on behalf of Bingtuan, a Han militia in Xinjiang.
It so happens that during the 1990’s, when the present Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the head of the Millî Görüs and Mayor of Istanbul, he supplied a rear base for various Islamist terrorist movements, whether they were Tatars, Chechens or Uyghurs [14].
The question must therefore be asked – is the Turkish declaration against the Han repression of the Uyghurs a simple interior stance in order to avoid being over-run by the opposition parties, or is it a new state policy which conforms to the former responsibilities of President Erdoğan in the CIA terrorist strategy ?
The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was very active during the war against Syria, with the support of the National Intelligence Organization (NİT). For many months, 18,000 Uyghurs (including at least 5,000 jihadist combatants) lived secretly in al-Zambari, a Syrian town on the Turkish frontier in the governorate of Idleb. They maintained their position with the help of the German and French special forces [15].
While President Donald Trump is preparing for a commercial struggle with Beijing, everything seems to be developing as if a reconciliation has occurred between the CIA and Turkey, aimed at planning further secret operations against China.
Translation
Pete Kimberley


[1] “List of government bids related to re-education facilities”, Jamestown Foundation, May 15, 2017.
[2] “According to Washington, Peking has just banned the Koran (sic)”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 6 October 2017.
[3] “Western Campaign for the Rights of Chinese Islamists”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 18 November 2018.
[4] This Committee, created in 2001, is composed of 15 members : 5 from the Senate, 5 from the House of Representatives, and 5 from the federal government. The Trump administration has not yet named anyone to sit on this Committee.
[5] “Turkey condemns China”, Voltaire Network, 9 February 2019.
[6] “China responds to Turkey”, Voltaire Network, 11 February 2019.
[7] “Human Rights in Xinjiang – Development and Progress”, Voltaire Network, 1 June 2017.
[8] “Cultural Protection and Development in Xinjiang”, Voltaire Network, 13 December 2018.
[9] “Jihadists returning from Syria: already more than 150 dead in China”, Voltaire Network, 6 November 2014.
[10] “China revises regulation on religious affairs”, Voltaire Network, 7 September 2017.
[11] The « Five Eyes » is a military alliance founded during the Second World War, comprising Australia, Canada, the USA, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It also manages the Echelon interception system as well as the « promotion of democracy ».
[12] « Que se passe-t-il dans le Xinjiang ? », par Domenico Losurdo, Traduction Marie-Ange Patrizio, Réseau Voltaire, 12 juillet 2009.
[13] “Erik Prince invests in China”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 7 February 2019.
[14] During his alliance with Russia, President Erdoğan suspended his system for the support of Tatar and Chechen Islamists. See: « L’Ukraine et la Turquie créent une Brigade internationale islamique contre la Russie », par Thierry Meyssan, Télévision nationale syrienne , Réseau Voltaire, 12 août 2015
[15] “The 18,000 al-Qaeda Uighurs in Syria”, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 21 August 2018.

Russia and China Are Containing the US to Reshape the World Order


Russia and China Are Containing the US to Reshape the World Order

Russia and China Are Containing the US to Reshape the World Order

Fortunately the world today is very different from that of 2003, Washington’s decrees are less effective in determining the world order. But in spite of this new, more balanced division of power amongst several powers, Washington appears ever more aggressive towards allies and enemies alike, regardless of which US president is in office.
China and Russia are leading this historic transition while being careful to avoid direct war with the United States. To succeed in this endeavor, they use a hybrid strategy involving diplomacy, military support to allies, and economic guarantees to countries under Washington’s attack.
The United States considers the whole planet its playground. Its military and political doctrine is based on the concept of liberal hegemony, as explained by political scientist John Mearsheimer. This imperialistic attitude has, over time, created a coordinated and semi-official front of countries resisting this liberal hegemony. The recent events in Venezuela indicate why cooperation between these counter-hegemonic countries is essential to accelerating the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar reality, where the damage US imperialism is able to bring about is diminished.
Moscow and Beijing lead the world by hindering Washington
Moscow and Beijing, following a complex relationship from the period of the Cold War, have managed to achieve a confluence of interests in their grand objectives over the coming years. The understanding they have come to mainly revolves around stemming the chaos Washington has unleashed on the world.
The guiding principle of the US military-intelligence apparatus is that if a country cannot be controlled (such as Iraq following the 2003 invasion), then it has to be destroyed in order to save it from falling into Sino-Russian camp. This is what the United States has attempted to do with Syria, and what it intends to do with Venezuela.
The Middle East is an area that has drawn global attention for some time, with Washington clearly interested in supporting its Israeli and Saudi allies in the region. Israel pursues a foreign policy aimed at dismantling the Iranian and Syrian states. Saudi Arabia also pursues a similar strategy against Iran and Syria, in addition to fueling a rift within the Arab world stemming from its differences with Qatar.
The foreign-policy decisions of Israel and Saudi Arabia have been supported by Washington for decades, for two very specific reasons: the influence of the Israel lobby in the US, and the need to ensure that Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries sell oil in US dollars, thereby preserving the role of the US dollar as the global reserve currency.
The US dollar remaining the global reserve currency is essential to Washington being able to maintain her role as superpower and is crucial to her hybrid strategy against her geopolitical rivals. Sanctions are a good example of how Washington uses the global financial and economic system, based on the US dollar, as a weapon against her enemies. In the case of the Middle East, Iran is the main target, with sanctions aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from trading on foreign banking systems. Washington has vetoed Syria’s ability to procure contracts to reconstruct the country, with European companies being threatened that they risk no longer being able to work in the US if they accept to work in Syria.
Beijing and Moscow have a clear diplomatic strategy, jointly rejecting countless motions advanced by the US, the UK and France at the United Nations Security Council condemning Iran and Syria. On the military front, Russia continues her presence in Syria. China’s economic efforts, although not yet fully visible in Syria and Iran, will be the essential part of reviving these countries destroyed by years of war inflicted by Washington and her allies.
China and Russia’s containment strategy in the Middle East aims to defend Syria and Iran diplomatically using international law, something that is continuously ridden roughshod over by the US and her regional allies. Russia’s military action has been crucial to curbing and defeating the inhuman aggression launched against Syria, and has also drawn a red line that Israel cannot cross in its efforts to attack Iran. The defeat of the United States in Syria has created an encouraging precedent for the rest of the world. Washington has been forced to abandon the original plans to getting rid of Assad.
Syria will be remembered in the future as the beginning of the multipolar revolution, whereby the United States was contained in military-conventional terms as a result of the coordinated actions of China and Russia.
China’s economic contribution provides for such urgent needs as the supply of food, government loans, and medicines to countries under Washington’s economic siege. So long as the global financial system remains anchored to the US dollar, Washington remains able to cause a lot of pain to countries refusing to obey her diktats.
The effectiveness of economic sanctions varies from country to country. The Russian Federation used sanctions imposed by the West as an impetus to obtain a complete, or almost autonomous, refinancing of its main foreign debt, as well as to producing at home what had previously been imported from abroad. Russia’s long-term strategy is to open up to China and other Asian countries as the main market for imports and exports, reducing contacts with the Europeans if countries like France and Germany continue in their hostility towards the Russian Federation.
Thanks to Chinese investments, together with planned projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the hegemony of the US dollar is under threat in the medium to long term. The Chinese initiatives in the fields of infrastructure, energy, rail, road and technology connections among dozens of countries, added to the continuing need for oil, will drive ever-increasing consumption of oil in Asia that is currently paid for in US dollars.
Moscow is in a privileged position, enjoying good relations with all the major producers of oil and LNG, from Qatar to Saudi Arabia, and including Iran, Venezuela and Nigeria. Moscow’s good relations with Riyadh are ultimately aimed at the creation of an OPEC+ arrangement that includes Russia.
Particular attention should be given to the situation in Venezuela, one of the most important countries in OPEC. Riyadh sent to Caracas in recent weeks a tanker carrying two million barrels of oil, and Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has taken a neutral stance regarding Venezuela, maintaining a predictable balance between Washington and Caracas.
These joint initiatives, led by Moscow and Beijing, are aimed at reducing the use of the US dollar by countries that are involved in the BRI and adhere to the OPEC+ format. This diversification away from the US dollar, to cover financial transactions between countries involving investment, oil and LNG, will see the progressive abandonment of the US dollar as a result of agreements that increasingly do away with the dollar.
For the moment, Riyadh does not seem intent on losing US military protection. But recent events to do with Khashoggi, as well as the failure to list Saudi Aramco on the New York or London stock exchanges, have severely undermined the confidence of the Saudi royal family in her American allies. The meeting between Putin and MBS at the G20 in Bueno Aires seemed to signal a clear message to Washington as well as the future of the US dollar.
Moscow and Beijing’s military, economic and diplomatic efforts see their culmination in the Astana process. Turkey is one of the principle countries behind the aggression against Syria; but Moscow and Tehran have incorporated it into the process of containing the regional chaos spawned by the United States. Thanks to timely agreements in Syria known as “deconfliction zones”, Damascus has advanced, city by city, to clear the country of the terrorists financed by Washington, Riyadh and Ankara.
Qatar, an economic guarantor of Turkey, which in return offers military protection to Doha, is also moving away from the Israeli-Saudi camp as a result of Sino-Russian efforts in the energy, diplomatic and military fields. Doha’s move has also been because of the fratricidal diplomatic-economic war launched by Riyadh against Doha, being yet another example of the contagious effect of the chaos created by Washington, especially on US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Washington loses military influence in the region thanks to the presence of Moscow, and this leads traditional US allies like Turkey and Qatar to gravitate towards a field composed essentially of the countries opposed to Washington.
Washington’s military and diplomatic defeat in the region will in the long run make it possible to change the economic structure of the Middle East. A multipolar reality will prevail, where regional powers like Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran will feel compelled to interact economically with the whole Eurasian continent as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The basic principle for Moscow and Beijing is the use of military, economic and diplomatic means to contain the United States in its unceasing drive to kill, steal and destroy.
From the Middle East to Asia
Beijing has focussed in Asia on the diplomatic field, facilitating talks between North and South Korea, accelerating the internal dialogue on the peninsula, thereby excluding external actors like the United States (who only have the intention of sabotaging the talks). Beijing’s military component has also played an important role, although never used directly as the Russian Federation did in Syria. Washington’s options vis-a-vis the Korean peninsular were strongly limited by the fact that bordering the DPRK were huge nuclear and conventional forces, that is to say, the deterrence offered by Russia and China. The combined military power of the DPRK, Russia and China made any hypothetical invasion and bombing of Pyongyang an impractical option for the United States.
As in the past, the economic lifeline extended to Pyongyang by Moscow and Beijing proved to be decisive in limiting the effects of the embargo and the complete financial war that Washington had declared on North Korea. Beijing and Moscow’s skilled diplomatic work with Seoul produced an effect similar to that of Turkey in the Middle East, with South Korea slowly seeming to drift towards the multipolar world offered by Russia and China, with important economic implications and prospects for unification of the peninsula.
Russia and China – through a combination of playing a clever game of diplomacy, military deterrence, and offering to the Korean peninsula the prospect of economic investment through the BRI – have managed to frustrate Washington’s efforts to unleash chaos on their borders via the Korean peninsula.
The United States seems to be losing its imperialistic mojo most significantly in Asia and the Middle East, not only militarily but also diplomatically and economically.
The situation is different in Europe and Venezuela, two geographical areas where Washington still enjoys greater geopolitical weight than in Asia and the Middle East. In both cases, the effectiveness of the two Sino-Russian resistance – in military, economic and diplomatic terms – is more limited, for different reasons. This situation, in line with the principle of America First and the return to the Monroe doctrine, will be the subject of the next article.
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قنديل: إذا تجرّأت «إسرائيل» على الحرب ستُدمّر


فبراير 18, 2019

رأى رئيس تحرير «البناء» النائب السابق ناصر قنديل أنّ «ما يجري على ساحتنا الداخلية لا يمكن فصله أو مقاربته خارج سياق ما يجري في محيطنا والمنطقة والمشهد الإقليمي والدولي، فلبنان بقواه المكونة محلياً لا يمكن إلا أن يكون صداها، هو نتاج لتوجهات ورؤى تُرسم في الخارج، فالأطراف الذين يتشكل منهم النظام اللبناني على مدى عقود مضت، لم يكونوا مالكين لقرارهم، إذ استطيب اللبنانيون التسليم لنصف قرن للخارج، فالنيابات تصنع في الخارج والوزارات تشكل في السفارات، باستثناء ظاهرة المقاومة بعيدة من المزايدات السياسية، وكانت ظاهرة المقاومة، أول ظاهرة ردّت الاعتبار إلى السيادة اللبنانية والشعور بالوطن وبمفهوم الوطنية، وأعطت معنى للحرية والكرامة والعنفوان».

ونوّه قنديل في محاضرة لمناسبة ذكرى القادة الشهداء الشيخ راغب حرب والسيد عباس الموسوي والحاج عماد مغنية مع أربعينية انتصار الثورة الإسلامية في إيران، بدعوة من حزب الله، بعلاقة «محور المقاومة الاستراتيجية مع سورية وإيران والآن مع روسيا»، مشدّداً على أنّ «مفهوم الاستقلال ولد مع المقاومة».

وعن رفع الحظر السعودي عن لبنان، رأى أنه «حصل فقط بعد مجيء وزير خارجية إيران محمد جواد ظريف وما سبقه من كلام للسيد حسن نصرالله عن العروضات الإيرانية ودعم لبنان بلا شروط، وبعد التجربة المريرة التي خاضوها في سورية والعراق، وصلوا إلى يقين أن لا حلّ إلا المنافسة الإيجابية». وأشار إلى أنّ «الانقسام لا يزال قائماً على قضيتين أساسيتين هما سلاح المقاومة والعلاقة مع سورية».

واعتبر أنّ «الانتصار الذي تحقق على يد الإمام الخميني العام 1979 كان نقطة تحوّل تاريخية في مسار البشرية». وقال «يوم أطلق الإمام الخميني شعاره الشهير «اليوم إيران وغداً فلسطين»، كان يعبّر عن خطة وليس شعاراً، إذ بدون فلسطين يسقط إسلام الثورة».

وتحدث عن التحوّل العربي إلى السعودية وعن تجربة المقاومة «وحشد أميركا 130 دولة للحرب على سورية لكنها فشلت في حسم الحرب ووعدها بالنصر»، ولفت إلى أنّ «قوة محور المقاومة وانتصار المقاومة في سورية وغيرها وصمود وثبات إيران وكلام السيد حسن نصرالله أسّس لمعادلة سياسية بنى عليها الشارع الفلسطيني معنوياً».

وقال «لا حرب كبرى داخلياً ولا إقليمياً، لأن من يملك القدرة على الحرب أي محور المقاومة، لا يريدها ويعرف كلفتها على شعبه وبلده، لكن إذا تجرأت إسرائيل على الحرب فمن المؤكد أنها ستُدمّر ومصيرها على بساط البحث وجودياً. وفي لبنان نحن أمام معركتين، مزارع شبعا ومزارع الفساد، والاثنان محميان بالمعادلة اللبنانية ذات الامتداد الإقليمي ودولي».

وختم قنديل «نحن اليوم أمام انتقال من الاستراتيجية الوطنية الدفاعية إلى الاستراتيجية الوطنية للتحرير، وبالتالي المعركة مستمرة لتحرير مزارع شبعا ومزارع الفساد، هي معركة شعبية سياسية شرط ألاّ نسمح بأن تذهب بالاتجاه الطائفي».

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The End of the Observer Mission in Hebron

It acted as a restraint on the settlers’ worst excesses, writes Jonathan Cook.
You might imagine that a report by a multinational observer force documenting a 20-year reign of terror by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers against Palestinians, in a city under occupation, would provoke condemnation from European and U.S. politicians.
But you would be wrong. The leaking in December of the report on conditions in the city of Hebron, home to 200,000 Palestinians, barely caused a ripple.
About 40,000 separate cases of abuse had been quietly recorded since 1997 by dozens of monitors from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey. Some incidents constituted war crimes.
Exposure of the confidential report has now provided the pretext for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expel the international observers. He shuttered their mission in Hebron this month, in apparent violation of Israel’s obligations under the 25-year-old Oslo peace accords.
Israel hopes once again to draw a veil over its violent colonization of the heart of the West Bank’s largest Palestinian city. The process of clearing tens of thousands of inhabitants from central Hebron is already well advanced.
Any chance of rousing the international community into even minimal protest was stamped out by the U.S. last week. It blocked a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council expressing “regret” at Israel’s decision, and on Friday added that ending the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was an “internal matter” for Israel.
Hebron. (Marcin Monko via Flickr)
Hebron. (Marcin Monko via Flickr)
The TIPH was established in 1997 after a diplomatic protocol split the city into two zones, controlled separately by Israel and a Palestinian Authority created by the Oslo accords.
The “temporary” in its name was a reference to the expected five-year duration of the Oslo process. The need for TIPH, most assumed, would vanish when Israel ended the occupation and a Palestinian state was built in its place.
Israel Granted Free Hand in Hebron
While Oslo put the Palestinian Authority formally in charge of densely populated regions of the occupied territories, Israel was effectively given a free hand in Hebron to entrench its belligerent hold on Palestinian life.
Several hundred extremist Jewish settlers have gradually expanded their illegal enclave in the city center, backed by more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers. Many Palestinian residents have been forced out while the rest are all but imprisoned in their homes.
TIPH faced an impossible task from the outset: to “maintain normal life” for Hebron’s Palestinians in the face of Israel’s structural violence.
Until the report was leaked, its documentation of Israel’s takeover of Hebron and the settlers’ violent attacks had remained private, shared only among the states participating in the task force.
However, the presence of observers did curb the settlers’ worst excesses, helping Palestinian children get to school unharmed and allowing their parents to venture out to work and shop. That assistance is now at an end.
Burial Plot of Abraham
Hebron has been a magnet for extremist settlers because it includes a site revered in Judaism: the reputed burial plot of Abraham, father to the three main monotheistic religions.
But that same place in Hebron became central to Muslim worship centuries ago, with the Ibrahimi mosque established at the site.
Israel’s policy has been gradually to prise away the Palestinians’ hold on the mosque, as well the urban space around it. Half of the building has been restricted to Jewish prayer, but in practice the entire site is under Israeli military control.
As the TIPH report notes, Palestinian Muslims must now pass through several checkpoints to reach the mosque and are subjected to invasive body searches. The muezzin’s call to prayer is regularly silenced to avoid disturbing Jews.
Faced with these pressures, according to TIPH, the number of Palestinians praying there has dropped by half over the past 15 years.
In Hebron, as at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a Muslim holy site is treated solely as an obstacle – one that must be removed so that Israel can assert exclusive sovereignty over all of the Palestinians’ former homeland.
 The Ibrahimi Mosque. (PalFest via Flickr)
The Ibrahimi Mosque. (PalFest via Flickr)
The Massacre of 1994
A forerunner of TIPH was set up in 1994, shortly after Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli army doctor, entered the Ibrahimi mosque and shot more than 150 Muslims at prayer, killing 29. Israeli soldiers aided Goldstein, inadvertently or otherwise, by barring the worshippers’ escape while they were being sprayed with bullets.
The massacre should have provided the opportunity for Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s prime minister of the time, to banish Hebron’s settlers and ensure the Oslo process remained on track. Instead he put the Palestinian population under prolonged curfew.
That curfew never really ended. It became the basis of an apartheid policy that has endlessly indulged Jewish settlers as they harass and abuse their Palestinian neighbors.
Israel’s hope is that most will get the message and leave.
With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power for a decade, more settlers are moving in, driving out Palestinians. Today Hebron’s old market, once the commercial hub of the southern West Bank, is a ghost town, and Palestinians are too terrified to enter large sections of their own city.
TIPH’s report concluded that, far from guaranteeing “normal life,” Israel had made Hebron more divided and dangerous for Palestinians than ever before.
In 2016 another army medic, Elor Azaria, used his rifle to shoot in the head a prone and badly wounded Palestinian youth. Unlike Goldstein’s massacre, the incident was caught on video.
Israelis barely cared until Azaria was arrested. Then large sections of the public, joined by politicians, rallied to his cause, hailing him a hero.
Despite doing very little publicly, TIPH’s presence in Hebron had served as some kind of restraint on the settlers and soldiers. Now the fear is that there will be more Azarias.
Palestinians rightly suspect that the expulsion of the observer force is the latest move in efforts by Israel and the U.S. to weaken mechanisms for protecting Palestinian human rights.
Netanyahu has incited against local and international human rights organizations constantly, accusing them of being foreign agents and making it ever harder for them to operate effectively.
And last year U.S. President Donald Trump cut all aid to UNRWA, the United Nations’ refugee agency, which plays a vital role in caring for Palestinians and upholding their right to return to their former lands.
Not only are the institutions Palestinians rely on for support being dismembered but so now are the organizations that record the crimes Israel has been committing.
That, Israel hopes, will ensure that an international observer post which has long had no teeth will soon will soon lose its sight too as Israel begins a process of annexing the most prized areas of the West Bank – with Hebron top of the list.
Jonathan Cook is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. He blogs at https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/.

Can Maduro Emulate Cuba and Syria to Keep NATO’s Imperialist Hands Off Venezuela?

Global Research, February 18, 2019
Nicolas Maduro Moros
Imperial logic I: External crises distract from internal ones
Empires with internal problems tend to create external crises to distract the public opinion and unite their political and economical ruling class in a fictitious nationalistic fervor. The current United States policy of overt regime change in Venezuela, backed entirely by its NATO vassals, follows an evergreen imperial playbook of creating new crises to obscure failures and divisions.
In addition to the administration’s overall incompetence, the legal investigations through the Mueller inquiry, and the failure to deliver to its MAGA sycophants their big wall, it has passed unnoticed, and it will never be admitted by US officials or media that the US imperial wars in Afghanistan and Syria are in fact lost. Assad will remain in power, and the US administration has publicly admitted that it was negotiating with the Taliban. The temptation for the empire’s ideologues is too strong not to follow the precept: when you have lost a war, you declare victory and you leave. And next time around, you try to pick a weaker target.
Imperial logic II: A state of war must be permanent
A prime example of this in recent history was the way the events of September 11, 2001 were used internally to justify the emergence of a police state, using far-reaching legislation like the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
Externally, 911 was successfully used by the US to trigger, almost immediately, an invasion of Afghanistan with the entire NATO membership under the hospice of the military alliance’s Article 5, which stipulates that an attack on one member is an attack on all. This was the very first time, since the creation of NATO in 1949, that Article 5 was put into force.
With the US public opinion still largely revengeful, misinformed by media manipulations, and eager to wage war, two years later, in 2003, it was fairly simple for the Bush administration and its neocons to sell the invasion of Iraq as a war of necessity, and not for what it truly was: a war of choice, for oil and greater control of the Middle East. Cynically, the aftermath of 9/11/2001 gave the empire and its powerful military-industrial complex two wars for the price of one.
Imperial logic III: People are collateral damage of “Realpolitik”
Great moral principles of altruistic universal humanitarian concerns are almost never at stake in these instances. They are mainly smoke screens to hide the board of a cold, Machiavellian, and complex chess game where innocent bystanders often perish by the millions. They are the acceptable collateral damage of realpolitik’s grand strategists. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the true guiding principle of US imperial realpolitik, and all US foreign policy decisions that derived from it, was to stop the so-called communist domino effect.
Communist domino effect: three simple words for a game that killed millions of innocent people worldwide, first in Korea in the early 1950s, then in Vietnam in the 60s and 70s, and later, under the tutelage of some of the very same criminal architects, in Central and South American countries like Chile. Now in their golden years, most of these murderous policymakers, like Henry Kissinger, enjoy an active retirement with honors, respect and, unlike their colleague Robert McNamara, not a hint of remorse.
One of these policymakers, a veteran of US imperialism in Central America and also one of the staunchest advocates of Iraq’s invasion in 2003, has made a come back. He is neocon extraordinaire Elliot Abrams. Abrams has been rewarded for his actions in the Iran-Contra affair, El Salvador, and Nicaragua with a nomination as Special Envoy of the Trump administration for Venezuela. In other words, Abrams is in charge of the US-sponsored coup task force against Venezuela’s legitimately elected President Nicolas Maduro.
Defeating imperial logic: The Cuban and Syrian lessons
There are many others examples in history where in a David versus Goliath fight, the little guy who, on paper, did not stand a chance eventually through sheer determination, organization and vast popular support, won on the battlefield. Vietnam is obviously a special case in this regard, as the Vietcong of Ho Chi Minh managed to defeat, almost back to back, the old colonial masters of the French empire in the 1950s, and of course soon thereafter, the US empire.
In the early 1960s, during the Cuban missile crisis, Castro’s days seemed to be numbered. More recently, in Syria, all the lips of the NATO coalition, Israel and Gulf State allies were chanting in unison that as a precondition for resolving the Syrian crisis, “Assad must go!” By 2017, however, some coalition members such as Qatar, France and Germany were not so adamant about the “Assad must go” mantra. Not only did Bashar al-Assad not go, but also, as matter of fact, he is regaining control of his entire country, on his own terms.
Castro outsmarted the empire’s CIA hitmen 600 times
Nicolas Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez, had in Fidel Castro a source of inspiration and the guidance of a father figure. Chavez, like other neo-Marxists, looked up to Fidel for leading a successful revolution, through military action, which had toppled the corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista. This regime was not only a docile servant of the US government but was also directly associated with the Mafia’s criminal activities in Cuba in the era of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. With Batista’s complicity, American gangsters had turned Cuba into a gambling and prostitution paradise where the US’ unscrupulous rich went to play. Castro shut down the bordello that had become Cuba and proudly rebuilt his island, and he consciously set out to transform Cuba slowly and steadily into a socialist country.
Needless to say, the shutdown of their depraved and lucrative tropical paradise was unacceptable for the US empire’s ruling elites. Against all odds, the Cuban communist leader managed to defy one US administration after another, and without compromise remained at the helm of the Cuban revolution. It was not for a lack of trying either to invade Cuba, as in the Bay of Pigs botched invasion episode, or to cook up countless assassination attempts on Castro’s person. Starting almost immediately after he took power in 1959, Castro was the target of CIA assassination attempts. From the Kennedy era all the way to the Clinton administrations, Fidel Castro survived more than 600 plots to kill him. Some of the attempts involved collaborations of the Mafia with the CIA. Castro once said, “if surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal!” It has to be added that, at least so far, Fidel Castro has also won a posthumous gold medal for ensuring the legacy of the Cuban revolution.
Assad: military might and striking the right alliances
Almost eight years ago, some people in quiet mansions, regal palaces or discrete offices in Washington, Riyadh, Doha, London, Paris, and Tel Aviv or undisclosed locations came up with what appeared to be an excellent plan. They would hijack some of the genuine energy of the Arab Spring then quickly sponsor it with a huge arsenal, while hiring some supposed good Djihadists soldiers-of-fortune as the main muscle to get rid of the uncooperative Bashar al-Assad. In what I called in May 2013, an “unholy alliance to wreck and exploit,” the Western and Gulf States coalition to topple Assad was born. In the US, the late Senator John McCain was one of the cheerleaders of the so-called Free Syrian Army.
Eight years later, with Syria in ruins, 350,000 people dead, around 4.5 million refugees still scattered principally in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, Assad has prevailed in a bittersweet victory, considering that his country has been wrecked as a battleground for proxy wars. Bashar al-Assad did not win on his own. He managed to retain complete loyalty from the Syrian army during the past eight gruesome years. Assad also could count on the military involvement of dependable allies Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran and, of course, a critical impact of Russia once Putin’s administration decided to commit military assets and troops.
Maduro can keep Uncle Sam’s hands off Venezuela
One can only hope that Venezuela’s US-sponsored coup attempt using the subterfuge of a phony revolution does not follow the track of Syria in terms of the mayhem. However, the analogies are numerous between Maduro’s situation today and that of Assad in 2011. First, Maduro has at his disposal a reasonably well-equipped military as well as the Chavista militia. To defeat the unfolding coup attempt, the loyalty of the armed forces has to be ironclad. Second, just as Assad has done, Maduro must work to cultivate, in pragmatic ways, both regional and worldwide alliances.
Cuba will do a lot to help. But will Mexico, Bolivia, and Uruguay go beyond diplomatic posturing in their solidarity with Maduro against NATO’s imperialism? How involved and how far, either economically or, in a worse-case scenario, militarily are Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran willing to go? In geopolitics, unlike diplomacy, only actions talk. Venezuela has a massive bargaining chip in the form of the mostly untapped biggest oil reserve in the world. This is Maduro’s ultimate ace in this game, and it should be used shrewdly. In realpolitiks, friends might be temporary, and they always want something. This is not an altruistic environment.
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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: News Junkie Post.
Gilbert Mercier is the author of The Orwellian Empire.

Munich Conference Showed That America Is Losing Ground

February 18, 2019
Munich Conference Showed That America Is Losing Ground
Translated by Scott and captioned by Leo.
The annual Security Conference, traditionally hosted by Germany in Munich, this time was not attended by neither the leader of Russia nor by the head of the United States. The latter was replaced by Vice President Mike Pence, who tried to convince the audience that America is strong. This came out not very convincing.
It has been 12 years since Vladimir Putin delivered his famous “Munich speech.” It was dubbed the starting point for a new “Cold War” between Russia and the West. A year and a half later an “Olympic war” commenced and ended with bringing Georgia to its senses despite it being pumped up by the “most advanced” American weapons. And going on further, everything following was deepening of the conflict.
Now, after 12 years, we can sum up some results. The first and the main result: a “unipolar world” has been destroyed. Flown in from Washington, the Vice President of the United States, of course, puffed up his cheeks. But his demands weren’t concerning Russia, but the European vassals of America, who reacted to Pence’s demands without usual enthusiasm. Here’s what was written on this by my friend and colleague Ivan Danilov.
“By and large, on the Munich stage, the world was shown a completely different America, its new image only seen so far by very few people: it’s an image of a Hegemon affronted by the entire world, which is experiencing mental suffering from the fact that its desires are no longer fulfilled like before. Pence presented Germany in particular and the European Union as a whole a fairly large list of grievances that cause irritation in Washington. Vice President of the US criticized the Nord Stream 2 and virtually accused Germany that support for this project, Berlin contributes to the increasing dependency of the EU on Russia.’We cannot protect the West if our allies depend on the East,’ he said. The European Union was required to immediately abandon attempts to circumvent American sanctions against Iran and possibly join them.”
The fact that Pence did not want to talk about cooperation, and demanded submission, has been noticed even by the American media. The New York Times wrote  that the Vice President of the United States “focused on the list of requirements for American allies.”
How exactly these same allies took Pence’s demands is clearly demonstrated in the title of the German magazine Spiegel: Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz Trumps Bauchrednerpuppe. l
“America is not the leader, it is losing ground,” the newspaper writes in response to Pence’s words that ‘the US has become the leader of the free world.’ If we translate from politically correct into Russian, the German journalists actually declared that the “king of democracy” is naked.
The Russian delegation, that had enough of the slogan “America is the strongest,” was adding fuel to the fire. This is what Deputy foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said:
“The West, with its self-conceit, self-aggrandizement, and its belief in the infallibility of its own approaches to civilization, world development, values, should stop and think for a moment: if you value your world order so much, can you increase the risks of your existence for the sake of the pursuit of ephemeral establishment of a universal, God forbid, New Order for the rest of the world?”
It sounds sarcastic and in its form and in its content. Actually, our delegation headed by Sergey Lavrov, focused on shaking the “Euro-Atlantic unity” in Munich. For example, the Russian Foreign Minister sarcastically pointed to the duality of the behavior of representatives of the EU. They were publicly stigmatizing Moscow, but in private whined about the fact that they needed the normalization of relations with Russia.
“Apparently, while this has not happened, they somehow have to be guided by their mutual responsibility and follow the course, which is fixed in the European Union under the pressure of an aggressive Russophobic minority. But we patiently explain our readiness to resume relations on an equal basis to the extent and with such speed in which it will be convenient to our partners.”
That is, the second result of the “Cold War 2.0” can be formulated as follows: “the US sustainable sovereignty over the EU is no more.” Sergey Lavrov used constructive terms to describe the situation:
“The common European house needs major repairs. The tasks are really large-scale. They can only be effectively addressed together, on a universal basis.”
The participants of the conference who listened to these words burst into thunderous applause. They only applauded more to Angela Merkel, while Mike Pence did not receive any applause at all.
*Clip plays*
I thank you for your attention, and I’m ready to answer your questions.
*Loud applause*
Finally, about the third result of the Cold War 2.0. It’s the fact that the plan to strangle Russia with the notorious “isolation” failed. Moreover, as admitted by the same Lavrov before leaving for Moscow, Russian diplomats would not mind a bit of “isolation.”
“We would even like to see some isolation, because the negotiations went back-to-back for more than two dozen meetings. Our entire delegation worked without a break.”
What is 12 years on the historical scale? Nothing. To destroy in such a short period of time all that the United States has built up over the decades since the creation of NATO and to the peak of its power at the beginning of the XXI century – is something remarkable. It will take another 12 years to compare the “overhaul” of the world order with the situation today. Do you have any predictions about what our country will achieve by February 2031?