An editorial in the Financial Times last week, entitled “End drift to war in the East China Sea,” highlighted the growing alarm in ruling circles about the prospect of a conflict between Japan and China. “The possibility of war,” it declared, “is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest security risks facing the world,” and the two governments “are doing nothing to make conflict less likely.”
The FT focussed on comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he explicitly drew the comparison between the current rivalry in East Asia and that between Britain and Germany prior to World War I. “For Japan’s prime minister to allow any comparison with 1914 in Europe is chilling and inflammatory,” it stated.
The immediate source of tensions is the territorial dispute over rocky outcrops in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. However, the chief responsibility for inflaming this dangerous flashpoint, along with others throughout the region, lies with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a strategy aimed at isolating China economically and diplomatically, and encircling it militarily.
While hypocritically claiming to be “neutral” on the territorial dispute, Washington has repeatedly declared that, in the event of a war over the islands, the US would support its ally Japan. Moreover, as part of the “pivot,” the Obama administration has been restructuring its military bases in Japan and encouraging Japan to remilitarise.
Asia in 2014 does bear a chilling resemblance to Europe in 1914. World War I arose over the intractable competition for spheres of influence between the major powers. As Lenin and Trotsky, the great Marxists of that period explained, it marked the opening of the imperialist epoch—the epoch of the death agony of capitalism.
The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, the worsening world economic slump and rising geo-political tensions make clear that capitalism has resolved none of the fundamental contradictions that produced the horrors of a century ago.
Over the past decade, US imperialism has plunged into one war of aggression after another—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—as well as numerous intrigues and provocations, in a desperate bid to offset its relative economic decline through its military predominance. The installation of Obama as president and his “pivot” to Asia reflected deep concerns in the American establishment that the Bush administration’s focus on the Middle East undermined US hegemony in Asia, including over its cheap labour platforms, above all China, that had become central to corporate profit.
Under Obama, the US has encouraged allies such as Japan and the Philippines to take a more assertive stance in their disputes with China; begun to “rebalance” 60 percent of US air and naval forces to the Indo-Pacific; and is establishing new basing arrangements with Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries as part of its war preparations.
In Japan, the US “pivot” has helped foster the emergence of the right-wing Abe government that, in the space of a year, has increased military spending for the first time in a decade and moved to end constitutional restrictions on the Japanese armed forces. Last month, Abe provocatively visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to the country’s war dead—a potent symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.
Abe is being driven by the interests of Japanese imperialism, which is not prepared to relinquish its position as a leading power in Asia. In his speech at Davos, Abe dismissed pundits who “called Japan the land of the setting sun” and declared that “a new dawn” was breaking. The two themes of his speech were equally aggressive—thinly-disguised criticisms of China, alongside cut-throat economic measures designed to undermine rivals and turn Japan into one of the “most business-friendly places in the world.”
By likening China to Germany in 1914, Abe is seeking to portray Beijing as a dangerous new menace. Unlike Germany, however, China is not an imperialist power. Despite the size of its economy, it continues to function as a cheap labour platform, completely dependent on foreign corporate investment and technology, as well as the existing centres of finance capital. In the military sphere, the US has an overwhelming preponderance, and a global network of bases and alliances that can threaten Chinese interests anywhere in the world.
Backed into a corner by the US over the past four years, the Chinese leadership has responded by offering further economic concessions to the major powers, on the one hand, while boosting military spending and asserting its claims in waters immediately adjacent to the Chinese mainland, on the other. The Beijing regime is whipping up anti-Japanese chauvinism both to justify its military build-up and to divert attention from the extreme social tensions produced by three decades of capitalist restoration.
While drawing attention to the rising danger of war, the Financial Times editorial offered no solution, other than an impotent appeal for “both sides to stop rattling sabres and start talking to one another.” Ignoring the fact that the US “pivot” has stoked the present confrontation, the editorial appealed for Washington to intervene as the voice of peace and reason. Both Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping “should look for a route away from Armageddon before it is too late,” it concluded.
However, as in 1914, the drive to war is being fuelled by the inherent contradictions of capitalism—between global economy and the outmoded nation state system, and private ownership of the means of production and socialised production—that have erupted with full force in the wake of the 2008 global breakdown. The only means of averting the catastrophe being prepared for humanity is the abolition of the bankrupt profit system and the socialist reorganisation of society to meet the social needs of vast majority, not the super-profits of a tiny wealthy elite. The dangers of another world war underscore the necessity of rejecting all forms of nationalism and patriotism and building a unified international anti-war movement of workers and youth in China, Japan, the US and around the world to carry out this urgent task.
As the Russian Sochi Winter Olympics date approaches, a wave of suicide bombings in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad, site of the decisive resistance to German invasion in 1942), have wreaked death and uncertainty in the region. On 29 December 2013 a suicide bomber exploded at the Volgograd railway station, killing the bomber and 16 more. A day later another suicide bombing on a trolleybus killed at least 15 people. The attacks come just a few weeks before the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics begin on February 7 on the Black Sea near the border to Georgia.
Those most recent attacks followed an October 21 suicide attack in which a bomb carried by a female suicide bomber exploded on a passenger bus carrying 40 people. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, reported that at least 5 people died in the blast and 17 others were injured. The suicide bomber had been identified as 30-year-old Naida Asiyalova of Dagestan. Since 1999 Mujahideen Sunni Salafists, often from Saudi Arabia or other Arab countries, have tried to incite an Islamic revolution and install Sharia law in Dagestan from neighboring Chechnya as well as in Chechnya.
The recent new wave of suicide bombing attacks in the region has led many to believe they are the work of radical Mujahideen Salafist Sunnis led by an erratic Jihadist from Chechnya, Doku Umarov, who sometimes goes by the Arabized name, Dokka Abu Usman. Umarov has unilaterally proclaimed himself underground President of the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), and later, the self-proclaimed Emir of the Russian North Caucasus, declaring it an Islamic state of the Caucasus Emirate. In doing so he announced, “I will serve the word of Allah and work to kill the enemies of Allah in all the time that he gives me to live on this earth.” 
In Russia he is called the “Russian bin Laden.” In March 2011, the United Nations Security Council Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee added Umarov to the list of individuals allegedly associated with al-Qaeda, the Saudi-financed loose network of international Jihadist bands which had been trained during the 1980’s Afghan war against the Soviet Union by CIA, Saudi, Israeli and Pakistani intelligence services. AL-Qaeda is a name for a database set up by Saudi intelligence to keep track of all the Arab and other Muslim mercenaries working in defeating the Russians in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
Umarov has claimed responsibility for gruesome suicide bombings, using women called ?black widows” whose husbands had been killed fighting Jihad against Russian security forces. Umarov openly claimed responsibility for the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings and the 2011 Domodedovo International Airport bombing in Moscow. The person who did the Metro bombing was a 17-year old Mujahideen widow, Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova
Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, 17, posing with her late husband Umalat Magomedov. She became a “black widow” suicide bomber, carrying out the Moscow metro bombings in April 2010 (Reuters)
In June 2013, Umarov called for his followers in and outside the Caucasus to use “maximum force” to ensure the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics do not take place: “They plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims buried on our land by the Black Sea. We as Mujahideen are required not to allow that, using any methods that Allah allows us.” 
All indications point to the terrorists controlled by Umarov being behind the latest “Black Widow” suicide bombings in Volgograd. Naida Asiyalova, who blew herself up in the suicide bombing in Volgograd in October, is from Dagestan. She was reported “in love” with another suicide bomber before she “did her duty” to the jihad of Umarov. She was also a close friend of the woman implicated in the most recent Volgograd station bombing.All indications to date point to Doku Umarov’s Chechyn terrorist organization for these recent terror bombings in Russia.
The US State Department has just issued an Advisory Alert to US citizens going to Sochi as a response even though Volgograd is several hundred kilometers away.
Russia’s Mujahideen terrorists
Soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Halliburton, the world’s largest oil services company, then led by Dick Cheney, determined that the Caucasus and the region around the former Soviet Union’s Caspian Sea contained staggering volumes of untapped oil. Some said it was a “new Saudi Arabia.” As part of broader Washington strategy of then-president George H.W. Bush, US intelligence began moving veterans of the bloody Afghan Mujahideen campaign into the Caucasus and Caspian region to facilitate independence from the Soviet Union and open the door for US and British oil companies to control the key oil regions.
Two “retired” CIA operatives close to former CIA head Bush, Ted Shackley and General (Ret.) Richard Secord set up a CIA “front” fake Azeribaijan oil company called Mega Oil. It was a cover to fly in hundreds of Mujahideen veterans from Afghanistan as “oilworkers.”
In 1991 Richard Secord along with veterans of US operations in Laos, and later of Oliver North’s operations with the Contras, turned up in Baku, Azerbaijan under the cover of MEGA Oil. This was when George H.W. Bush supported an oil pipeline stretching from Azerbaijan across the Caucasus to Turkey. Dick Cheney was then Bush senior’s Defense Secretary. MEGA never found oil. But MEGA operatives in Azerbaijan engaged in military training, passed “brown bags filled with cash” to members of the Azeri government, and set up an airline on the model of the CIA’s Vietnam era Air America which flew hundreds of mujahedin mercenaries from Afghanistan into Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, especially Chechnya. 
A faction of the CIA and US intelligence tied to the neo-conservatives and the US military industrial complex, have been involved in bringing fanatical Jihadist Islam into the traditionally Sufi peaceful Islam of the Caucasus region. Osama bin Laden actively moved from Afghanistan into Bosnia, then Kosovo and on into Chechnya after 1995, where his principal ally, fellow Saudi Jihadist, Ibn al-Khattab was leader of the Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya fighting the Russians. Chechnya happened to be the transit region for a major Russian oil pipeline from Baku into Russia for Caspian oil, something Washington was determined to block. Journalist Ali Soufan notes that by 1996, “the United States had been on the side of Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.”
At the time of the Beslan school massacre in Russia near the Georgia border in September 2004, Umarov’s Jihadists, including Arab Mujahideen, were partly financed with US money via a Washington-based NGO called ACDI/VOCA. Much of the money that the US Government-funded NGO received for the project reportedly came from a US Department of Agriculture Food for Peace Project. Apparently the food they dispensed was in the form of Kalashnikovs and hand grenades, not grain and apples.
According to veteran Caucasus-based journalist Jeffrey Silverman, Doku Umarov is today an “asset” controlled and guided by a Washington-based think-tank called Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. The board of the Potomac Institute reads like a who’s who of retired US military and intelligence people. According to Washington insider reports, Potomac is not entirely what it appears to be.
It is rather, these sources report, a front for Israeli intelligence, a group of US neo-conservatives, both working with Saudi Arabian intelligence. Two of Potomac’s key people involved in the Caucasus are reported to be Prof. Jonah Alexander, who heads the institute’s International Center for Terrorism Studies, and Ambassador (ret) David Smith.
Alexander has taught at Tel Aviv University and headed an interesting-sounding project, “Terrorism, Gray Area and Low Level Conflict,” for the US Global Strategy Council, a group founded by Ray Cline, former Deputy Director of the CIA. David J. Smith is Director of the Georgian Security Analysis Center (GSAC) at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies in Tbilisi, Georgia. Between 2002 and 2006 Smith was US Member of the International Security Advisory Board, assisting Georgia to “build democracy and establish functional national security institutions.” By all indications, he did a rather poor job if that really was what he was building.
Many of the Arab and Chechyn Jihadist terrorists plaguing Russia in recent years have been infiltrated into Chechnya from the Pankisi Gorge region across the border in Georgia, where a pro-US Saakashvili regime at the time obviously “looked the other way.” Reportedly Saakashvili’s brother worked in London for BP, the head of the Anglo-American oil pipeline consortium that owns the BTC pipeline from Baku through Georgia to Turkey.
Contrary to outward appearance, there has been intimate cooperation between Saudi and Israeli intelligence services on matters of common strategic interest for years. Reportedly the ties began when Prince Bandar was Saudi Ambassador to Washington.
If all this is true, it would suggest that Umarov’s latest suicide attacks in Russia are part of a “revenge” operation of Netanyahu and Saudi Intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, to sabotage the Sochi Olympics, for Putin’s role in winning Obama away from war against Syria last fall and openly seeking a diplomatic resolution of the Iran nuclear problem. Saudi Arabia’s Bandar and Netanyahu, who admitted they were in cooperation, both were reportedly livid against Putin for sabotaging their Jihad in Syria.
Against Obama too
That the Saudis and Israel’s Netanyahu are actively working as well to sabotage Obama’s Iran diplomacy is also clear. On October 30, 2013, Sheldon Adelson, an Israeli-American billionaire with dual passports, a financier friend of Netanyahu who owns Las Vegas casinos, called on US Congress. He reportedly told his friends in Congress to pass new sanctions against Iran designed to sabotage the Iran-Obama talks. Adelson was the main financial backer in 2012 of Mitt Romney to defeat Obama, who has become a bitter Netanyahu foe. Adelson apparently feels that Obama has slowly been distancing from Bush and Cheney’s strong tilt to the hawkish US neo-conservatives tied to the US-Israeli military industrial complex around Netanyahu’s Likud Party.
The Republican Jewish Coalition — led by GOP financial donor Sheldon Adelson — is asking its members to call their senators and urge them to pass a new round of sanctions on Iran amid efforts from top Obama administration officials to persuade Congress to delay such measures to allow time for negotiations with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program to “gain traction.” 
The Volgograd bombings are a part of a global political shift taking place with factions declaring war inside major governments. Washington is split today between a “pro-Israel” faction largely in Congress, and on the opposite side, a mix of nationalists who seem to be trying to define a genuine American interest in all the wars around the world. Reportedly General Martin E. Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military’s highest body in the Pentagon, and others around President Obama are moving to distance Washington from the Saudi-Israeli war strategy which they have realized as against American interest.
The realization in and around the White House and State Department that the US Government was being manipulated by Israeli and Saudi false intelligence was the real reason, according to Washington reports, for the abrupt decision by President Obama last summer to halt the planned war against Syria. Obama was told that the “evidence” of a Syrian government chemical weapons attack on civilians had been doctored by Saudi and Israeli intelligence to force Obama to finally declare war. 
That was why Obama surprisingly and inexplicably embraced the Putin mediation offer to remove the chemical weapons and why Assad quickly agreed. Obama was himself strongly against military action in Syria. The chemicals used in Syria reportedly were supplied by Prince Bandar to the rebels, not from Syrian Government forces.  The intelligence intercepts given President Obama purporting to be tapes of Syrian Army commanders discussing the chemical attack were given to Washington by Israeli intelligence by Israeli Defence Forces’ 8200 unit and were also reportedly faked.
Now this same network seems to have activated a revenge attack against Putin and Obama for foiling their stratagems. It’s a high risk gamble by Netanyahu and Saudi Prince Bandar that could severely boomerang against them.
In a noteworthy footnote to the entire gruesome Doku Umarov drama, on January 17, Moscow Times reported on a social media message sent out by Chechen president, Ramzan Kadyrov, claiming that he had “new evidence” that rebel leader Doku Umarov was dead. Kadyrov wrote in an Instagram, “According to our information, Umarov is dead and we are looking for his body.” He claimed that Umarov had been killed during a Russian Special Forces operation. The report has not been confirmed by Moscow. The Kadyrov report has to be taken with more than a little grain of salt. The flamboyant Chechyn President has issued such messages before, the last time in December, when he wrote that Umarov was “mostly likely already dead or will be soon.” Whether dead or alive, it seems most likely that Doku Umarov is little more than a “cover” for the darker networks running terror against Putin’s Russia in the Caucasus, and that darker network is Moscow’s real problem.
Al Jazzera English, Chechen rebel chief denies quitting Europe, Al Jazeera English., August 12, 2010.
 Miriam Elder. Russian Islamist Doku Umarov calls for attacks on 2014 Winter Olympics, theguardian.com. August 12, 2013.
 EIN News, Russia’s deadly black widow cult that threatens Olympians, January 02, 2014, accessed in
 Peter Dale Scott, The Falsified War on Terror: How the US Has Protected Some of Its Enemies, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 40, No. 2, October 7, 2013.
 Ali H. Soufan, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda (New York: Norton, 2011), p. 62.
 Henry Kamens, Did CIA train the Boston Bombers in Georgia?, April 2013
 The information on the Potomac Institute and Umarov was made available to the author from Jeffrey Silverman, an investigative journalist based in the Caucasus who has researched the subject for more than twenty two years.
 SourceWatch, Global Strategy Council, 23 July, 2013, accessed in http://www.sourcewatch.
 Ibid. ; As well, for bios on Smith and Alexander, the website of Potomac Institute accessed inhttp://www.potomacinstitute.
 Jeffrey Silverman, op. cit.
 Umberto Bacchi, Israel Negotiating Historic Alliance with Saudi Arabia over Iran’s Nuclear Weapons, Ooctober 3, 2013, accessed in http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/
 Stephen J. Sniegoski , Would Romney Pursue a Neocon War Agenda?, accessed inhttp://home.comcast.net/~
 Ben Armbruster, Group Led By Billionaire Sheldon Adelson Pushes Congress To Undermine Iran Talks, October 30, 2013, accessed in http://thinkprogress.org/
 Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack, MintPress, August 29, 2013, accessed in http://www.mintpressnews.
 Seymour Hersh, Whose Sarin?, London Review of Books, August 12, 2013, accessed inhttp://home.comcast.net/~
 Moscow Times, Chechen Leader Kadyrov Again Says Rebel Leader Umarov is Dead, 17 January 2014,
RIA Novosti, accessed in http://www.themoscowtimes.
 Moscow Times, Chechen Leader Says ‘Rat’ Rebel Chief Is Likely Dead, 20 December 2013, accessed inhttp://www.themoscowtimes.
Damascus - As a new workweek begins here is Damascus many citizens across a fairly broad spectrum appear to be backing, and even exhibiting a kind of pride for their diplomatic team at the Geneva II conference. It might appear flippant for this observer to suggest that returning to Damascus after recent events in his neighborhood of Haret Hriek in Dahiyeh, South Beirut sort of feels like one has arrived in a peaceful holiday local rather stress free, but others have told me the same thing once they crossover from Lebanon. Damascus is currently the most quiet and ‘normal’ appearing that I have found this historic city for more than two years.
Damascenes to a person it appears, despite differing political views, are hoping for breakthroughs that just might bring an end to the carnage that has left virtually no one unaffected and has driven 9.5 million people from their homes, killed close to 140,000 and with more than 18,000 missing. These and many more tragedies creating a major humanitarian crisis both within Syria and among this birth place of civilization’s neighbors.
At the Set al Cham (Grandmother of Damascus) a home style cooking small restaurant around the corner from the Dama Rose hotel, close to where a rocket hit 30 yards outside the front entrance of the five star hotel last week and ignited half a dozen cars and shattered windows in this ‘security zone’, there are currently animated conversations about the Geneva II conference. They focus on the prospects for a ceasefire which all here apparently agree is the first essential step to ending the carnage ravaging this country for the past three years. The apparent imminent release of women and children from the more than 500 families who have for many months been trapped in the old city of Homs, Syria’s third largest city, has created some inchoate hope. According to UN Mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi , men also will be allowed to leave once their names are vetted to screen ‘terrorists’ from slipping out, a common security measure around this region during siege lifts and mass evacuations. The population allowed to exit Homs will be received immediately by volunteers from the courageous and deeply humanitarian Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) and other humanitarian organizations that have stockpiled a range of urgently required necessities close by. As in the case with Yarmouk Palestinian camp in south Damascus, itself still under tight siege this evening with snipers on rooftops scanning the streets and alleys below through their gun sites seeking targets, baby formula is one of the foodstuff items most in demand and urgently needed in order save infant lives since their starving mothers generally are no longer able to produce milk.
With respect to Yarmouk camp, which if of grave concern here in Syria as it is internationally, this observer had an informative three hour meeting today at UNWRA HQ on Mezzeh Autostrda with Chief Field Education Program Director, Mohammad Ammouri, and Abdullah Al Laham, Deputy Director of UNWRA in Syria. These gentlemen, Mr. Ammouri from Tantura village near Haifa, and Mr. Al Laham, from Bethlehem Occupied Palestine, devote their full schedules these days trying to get aid into Yarmouk, and to bring those under siege out. Both gentlemen gave this observer some reason to believe that finally an agreement, after more than half a dozen failed ones, might just stick tonight so that tomorrow UNWRA trucks, waiting nearby with more than 40,000 aid parcels can finally enter. Each aid box, contains rice, sugar, flour, dried milk, cooking oil and other basics and are designed to feed a family of five for two weeks (families up to eight in number will get one and one-half UNWRA boxes every two weeks) can finally enter. Syrians trapped in Yarmouk, who number more than 2000, will also receive the emergency parcels from UNWRA no questions asked. Mr. Al Laham raised his eyebrow a bit and did a sort of double-take when this observer asked him if like SARCS, UNWRA distributed the well-known World Food Program (WFP) or International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) family aid parcels. “No! No. My dear. You see, we at UNWRA have our own aid parcels, in fact ours are bigger and better” he quickly exclaimed and then smiled a bit sheepishly.
Three days ago UNWRA believed they would finally be allowed to enter Yarmouk with aid but at it turned out only about 3% of the aid parcels they were trying to deliver to the more than 18,000 starving Palestinian refugees and Syrians still trapped was able to be distributed because all aid is still being blocked by various militia who themselves appear to be rather well fed, financed, and armed. We should know by tomorrow (1/28/14) if substantial aid will be allowed into Yarmouk and whether dying residents can be evacuated. UNWRA literally has the engines of its trucks idling nearby tonight and ready to move into the besieged camp on less than a minutes notice if they get a green light, this observer has just been advised.
One senses in Damascus that much of the population believes that what is happening at Geneva, are admittedly “half-steps” to use UN envoy Brahimi’s description for the progress so far in the desperate effort to save Syria, just might result in a breakthrough of sorts and then move toward a cease-fire and the opening up of humanitarian aid corridors. A few hours ago, Syrian delegation member Dr. Bouthania Shaaban commented that today’s talks had been ‘professional’. This is a modest achievement even though both sides speak only to Envoy Brahimi and tend to avoid eye contact with their “negotiating partners” while entering and exiting the meeting room from doors at opposite ends.
Syria’s delegation in Geneva is led by a seasoned, smart, deeply knowledgeable formidable delegation that includes the power-house Foreign Minister Walid Muallum, a former Syrian Ambassador to Washington who has a reputation in the West and here as wily, profoundly intelligent, tough at times and no-nonsense. “If no serious work sessions are held by [Saturday], the official Syrian delegation will leave Geneva due to the other side’s lack of seriousness or preparedness,” state television quoted Muallum as telling UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi last Friday. Mr. Muallum is credited with brokering the deal with by Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons enabling the Assad regime to present his government as a partner in the project and thus to strengthen its claim to legitimacy.
Another delegation member is Syria’s Minister of Information Omran al- Zoubi. Mr al-Zoubi has been indefatigable these past many months and is well known to the international media for his personal warmth and direct talk and incisive articulations of his government’s interpretations of the crisis. During literally hundreds of media interviews Mr. Zoubi has earned a reputation internationally and in Syria as being an insightful political analyst and a skilled lawyer, who does not mince or sugar his words but who is respectful of his audience. From Derra next to the Jordanian where the crisis began and a Sunni Muslim, the Ministers commented late this afternoon that “We will stay here until we do the job. We will not be provoked. We will not retreat and we will be wise and flexible.” And he added, anyone at Geneva II expecting the President’s removal was living “in a mythical world, and let them stay in Alice in Wonderland.”
Syrian delegation member and FM Muallum’s Deputy, Feisal Mdkdad, was described to this observer by one of his colleagues today as a deeply knowledgeable, unflappable career diplomat with deep knowledge of foreign policy issues facing Syria. Mr Makdad explained at Geneva today that his administration has been trying to send essential supplies to help beleaguered residents but not as much as they would have liked had got through, for two reasons: “The armed groups had kept firing at those who tried to take in aid and the weather has not been conducive to making the movement.” He pledges that his government will persevere. He also insisted that “we don’t hold any children prisoners at all. We categorically deny that.” He claimed that the list supplied by the opposition was full of errors. “I have studied this list; 60 to 70 per cent of the names are not in prison, 20 per cent have already been freed. About the rest, we don’t know anything.”
In one sense, Syria’s diplomatic team in Geneva is anchored by Professor Bouthaina Shaaban who is Political and Media Adviser to Syrian President Assad. Syria’s former Minister of Expatriates, she is also a mother and recently a grandmother, writer and professor at Damascus University and earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University in the UK. Dr. Shaaban was Hafez al Assad’s personal interpreter, is well known internationally and has studied and taught in the USA and earned her Doctorate at Warwick University in the UK. She has authorized several well received books including her latest volume on Syrian diplomacy. Many media critics concede that, as the New York Times wrote, that she is stellar when explaining Syrian governments views on foreign policy. Dr. Shaaban is the most sought after delegation member from either side for interviews partly because of her quality of humanizing the conflict and her obvious love of country and dedication to stopping the carnage while possessing a quality of connecting with interlocutors emotionally and intellectually.
It would not be shocking were the Syrian delegation were to feel a bit on the defensive given the lineup of those who want them to falter, but there is so far little sign that the Syrian delegation is exuding a temerity at all similar to the defense team in The Hague trying to hold its own before the Special Tribunal on Lebanon (STL). Rather it acknowledges that it has come to represent Syria and to struggle through a cumbersome, slow diplomacy to achieve a cease-fire, open corridors of humanitarian aid, participate in prisoner’s exchanges with various militia, hold a presidential election in the spring, and begin reconstruction of the massive war damage.
We will likely learn soon if Syria and indeed can work through a myriad of opposing deeply antagonistic negotiating adversaries to achieve a sustainable cease-fire, reconciliation, and reconstruction. Its long suffering population demand and deserve no less.
Can you find yourself in the picture?
The HSBC bank is limiting withdrawals in both the United States and in Britain.
For the life of me, I have no idea why anyone would want to bank in this criminal enterprise bank. Regardless, isn’t the money your money? Shouldn’t you be able to do with your money what you want without justifying the purpose to the bank that you designate to hold your money?
John Cruz is a former vice president and relationship manager at HSBC. Cruz has made two guest appearances on The Common Sense Show in which he alleged that he uncovered that HSBC was laundering money for the Mexican drug cartels through phony shell corporations. He brought this to the attention of his supervisors at HSBC and was told to “leave it alone”. When he did not leave it alone, he was fired. Cruz went to prosecutors in the New York City area. They acknowledged that they knew what was going at HSBC, but they refused to investigate and prosecute and DHS and the FBI told Cruz the same thing.
The Cruz revelations leave no doubt that the entire banking system is nothing but a criminal enterprise system.
The Banking System Is Nearing Collapse
HSBC has admitted that it has not informed customers of the change in policy which allows the bank to deny customer withdrawals of cash from their own account. This policy was implemented in November of 2013.
This development at HSBC should raise red flags for everyone, not just HSBC customers, because in the same time frame, JP Morgan Chase announced an identical policy. As a result, many financial analysts are predicting a bank run in the near future and this is the primary strategy of the banks as they are obviously bracing for an economic collapse.
This illegal withholding of bank customer funds is justified by Eric Leenders, the present head of retail at the British Bankers Association. Leenders states that the banks are just being sensible to ask questions as to what the money is for and then make a subsequent decision on whether to release the funds to the account holder. Leenders stated that “I can understand it’s frustrating for customers. But if you are making the occasional large cash withdrawal, the bank wants to make sure it’s the right way to make the payment.” I would agree with Mr. Leenders in that the theft of customer money by a supposed trusted bank is indeed frustrating.
Sending a Clear Message
Clearly, this is a portend of things to come. If the banks were on sound financial footing, account holders would not see any such restrictions. However, if you knew if a bank crash was coming, wouldn’t you make sure your bank was as liquid as possible? To the banks, being liquid and cautious in these perilous times means that the banks intend on making it very difficult for their customers to gain access to their money.
These are the chest pains before the heart attack. Take your money out of the bank while you still can.
An Ominous Development
When the banking collapse happens, it will not be American bankers that will gobble up your life savings, pensions, 401K’s and IRA’s. It will be the Chinese.
Isn’t it interesting that JP Morgan Chase has sold their property located at One Chase Manhattan Plaza skyscraper to Fosun International, a Chinese investment firm, for $725 million. This is only the latest in a series of New York real estate purchases by Chinese investors.
It is time to connect the dots.
Just the Facts Ma’am
Fact, the American economy is in freefall.
Fact, the Chinese have purchased a large portion of our debt.
Fact, if the Chinese do not position themselves to acquire America’s hard assets before the crash, they will be left holding useless paper.
Fact, your house is a hard asset and the paper note is owned by the bank.
Fact, the Chinese not only make your clothes and most of your personal possessions, the Chinese will be calling in the loans on your homes before the crash, once they acquire more of our banks.
Fact, if a person does not think that your home is not at risk of being taken, then that person does not understand basic finance and they have obviously never heard of the MERS mortgage fraud.
Fact, the government has begun stealing everyone’s 401K and retirement plans from their previous allocations and converting them to buying U.S. government bonds and who owns the lion’s share of the bonds? Chinese take-out anyone?
Fact, many have been reporting that Hillary Clinton has been collateralizing American home mortgages, office buildings, land, public holdings and mineral assets to the Chinese so that they will continue, for a short time, to continue to purchase our debt.
Fact, it would be wise to learn Mandarin Chinese so that you can more effectively communicate with your soon-to-be slave masters.
Welcome to the Old West, Chinese Style
Are you familiar with the term “Company Town”? This is a phrase that was primarily reserved for towns in the “Old West” in places like Bisbee, Arizona. The mining company in Bisbee owned everything. The owned the mine where the people worked. They owned the homes where the people lived. They owned the drug stores. They owned the Grocery stores. In short, they owned it all! I fear that this is the new reality under which we will soon be living in which the Chinese will own everything.
One interesting side note has to do with a historical event called the Bisbee Deportation. The event was precipitated by miners who thought they would protest dangerous working conditions and substandard living quarters. The owners of the company town responded to worker demands by forcing the dissenters into trains and then transported the protesters to the deserts of New Mexico and were forced off of the train in the middle of nowhere. In the near future, I do not think the Chinese will transport dissenters to the desert, the new destination will consist of barb wire facing in and the word FEMA will be imprinted on the sign outside the destination.
What name would you give a system of economics and government where corporate entities own all of the property? I would call it modern day feudalism.
I can best sum up these events in the words of Johnny Cash, “I hear the train acomin’ it’s rollin’ round the bend and I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when …”
Source: The Common Sense Show
Concerns about an imminent bank crash were further fuelled today at news that HSBC are restricting the amount of cash that customers can withdraw from their own bank accounts. Customers were told that without proof of the intended use of their own money, HSBC would refuse to release it. This, and other worrying signs point to a possible financial crash in the near future.
HSBC is scrambling to manage a seemingly terminal liquidity crisis (a lack of hard cash) that could see the bank become the next Northern Rock – and trigger a bank crash. The analyst’s advice is for shareholders to sell HSBC investments, and customers to move their accounts elsewhere before the crash.
This from the Telegraph:
Forensic Asia on Tuesday began its coverage of Britain’s largest banking group with a ‘sell’ recommendation, warning the lender had between $63.6bn (£38.7bn) and $92.3bn of “questionable assets” on its balance sheet, ranging from loan loss reserves and accrued interest to deferred tax assets, defined benefit pension schemes and opaque Level 3 assets.
According a report by the BBC’s MoneyBox Programme, HSBC customers have gone to withdraw cash from their accounts, only to find HSBC would not release the funds. Customers were told to make a bank transfer instead, unless they provided documentation proving the intended use of the money. Stephen Cotton attempted a withdrawal and told the programme:
“When we presented them with the withdrawal slip, they declined to give us the money because we could not provide them with a satisfactory explanation for what the money was for. They wanted a letter from the person involved.”
Mr Cotton says the staff refused to tell him how much he could have: “So I wrote out a few slips. I said, ‘Can I have £5,000?’ They said no. I said, ‘Can I have £4,000?’ They said no. And then I wrote one out for £3,000 and they said, ‘OK, we’ll give you that.’ “
He asked if he could return later that day to withdraw another £3,000, but he was told he could not do the same thing twice in one day.
As this was not a change to the Terms and Conditions of your bank account we had no need to pre-notify customers of the change”
He wrote to complain to HSBC about the new rules and also that he had not been informed of any change.
The bank said it did not have to tell him. “As this was not a change to the Terms and Conditions of your bank account, we had no need to pre-notify customers of the change,” HSBC wrote.
Mr Cotton is not alone, with other customers seeking to withdraw cash amounts over £3,000 facing the same obstacles. While HSBC argue there is comes customer security interest here, the story simply doesn’t add up. Customer identification is required for large withdrawals, not customer intentions – a person’s cash is theirs to withdraw and place wherever they so wish. Instead, HSBC has been found to have a capitalization black hole (gap between actual cash and obligations) of$80bn. The message is simple, get your money out now.
The Gold Rush
The major banks and states appear to be preparing for impending crisis, while pretending to the public that the economic situation is improving.
There is a gold rush underway, with Banks and States frantically buying up as much gold reserve as they can, stoking fears that confidence in currency is at an all-time low. In recent months and weeks, banks like HSBC and JP Morgan, and states such as the US, Germany and China have joined the gold rush, making vast purchases of stocks.
Investment analysts at Seeking Alpha have been monitoring the strange activity on the COMEX, stating:
“keeping track of COMEX inventories is something that is recommended for all serious investors who own physical gold and the gold ETFs (SPDR Gold Shares (GLD), PHYS, and CEF) because any abnormal inventory declines may signify extraordinary events behind the scenes.”
Another Bank Crash? Why?
The crash is in some ways a replay of the last one. The US dollar is a fiat currency (as is the pound sterling, the euro and most other major currencies). This means, it is monopoly money. There is no gold reserve that its values are pegged to. It is simply made up. So how does money get made? A private, for profit central bank prints it and lends it to the government (or other banks) at an interest rate. So the Central Bank prints $100, and gives it to the government on the basis that it returns $101. You may have already spotted the first flaw in this process. The additional $1 can only ever come from the Central Bank. There is never enough money. The second issue is that all money is debt.
This used to be the way pretty much all of the money in circulation came to be. That is, until Investment and Retail Banks got tired of this monopoly on debt based currency, and kicked off thecommercial money supply. You might assume that when you take out a loan or other form of credit, a bank gives you that money from its reserves, and you then pay back that loan to the Bank at a given interest rate – the Bank making its profit on the interest rate. You would be wrong. The Bank simply creates that loan on a computer screen. Let’s say you are granted a loan for $100,000. The moment that loan is approved and $100k is entered on the computer – that promise from you to the bank creates $100k for the bank, in that instant. This ledger entry alone creates the $100k, from nothing. Today, over 97% of all money that exists, is made this way.
This is what drove the dodgy lending practises that created the last crisis. But since then, the failure to regulate the markets means that while bailouts hit public services and the real economy – banks were free to continue the same behaviour, bringing the next crash.
The world’s second richest man, Warren Buffet warned us in 2003 that the derivatives market was ‘devised by madmen’ and a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ and we have only seen the first blast in this debt apocalypse.
The news that should have us all worried is: the derivatives market contains $700trn of these debts yet to implode.
Global GDP stands at $69.4trn a year. This means that (primarily) Wall Street and the City of London have run up phantom paper debts of more than ten times of the annual earnings of the entire planet.
Not only can the Bankers not pay it back, the combined earning power of the earth could not pay it back in less than ten years if every last cent of our productive power went solely to pay off this debt.
This is why answering the issues with our currencies, our banking practices and economic system are not theoretical or academic – they are a matter of our very survival.
With Ben Shalom Bernanke set to depart on the last day of January 2014, the critique and speculation of his tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve begins. The mainstream financial press is giving mostly favorable accounts. Heretofore, such praiseworthy acclamations strike a shape contrast with the actual record of the state of the economy. However, the admirers of the Fed and his specific enactments live in a time warp that only masters of the universe encounter. For the remaining population, an intense struggle for survival is the actual experience, remembered from the Bernanke years.
Investopedia expresses a complimentary score of The Legacy Of Ben Bernanke, and cites distinguished highlights and concludes that “Under Bernanke’s stewardship, the Fed became the most transparent it has ever been in its history.”
Yet, they are compelled to mention that from 2008 onward, Bernanke and the Fed embarked on a series of unparalleled – and often unconventional – rescue programs and stimulus measures. These included:
- ratcheting interest rates down to the lowest levels in American history;
- force-feeding the U.S. economy with trillions of dollars through successive rounds of “quantitative easing”;
- bailing out troubled Wall Street firms and institutions;
- orchestrating the rescue of other troubled financial institutions through shotgun weddings; and
- lending funds to diverse sectors of the U.S. economy to revive stalled credit markets.
Ben Bernanke’s Great Inflation Coverup, is an assessment that one would expect from the Mother Jones publication.
“Bernanke’s problem is pretty simple here: he almost certainly wants higher inflation . . . Once the Fed has reduced interest rates to zero, it can’t go any further. But what if the economy is so bad that all the standard models suggest you need negative interest rates to get the economy back on track? The only answer is higher inflation. If inflation is running at 2% and interest rates are at zero, the real interest rate is -2%. If you borrow money, you’re effectively being allowed to pay back less than you borrowed.”
Then there is the valid point made by Bill Sardi in LewRockwell.com. “The Fed been printing new money at the rate of $85 billion a month which is being distributed to close member banks who are gambling it on the Wall Street stock market to recapitalize themselves rather than lending it out into the economy so citizens can buy new homes, automobiles.”
The example of Paying back retirees with cheaper dollars illustrates the real costs of built in systemic inflation, not just for citizens on a fix income, but for everyone. This lost in purchasing value of the currency is obvious to any honest person.
“The average social security check was $321 in 1980 and in 2011 it was $1183 (adjusted for inflation). But if that $321 pension check were to be fully adjusted for inflation according to way inflation was calculated in 1980 (cost of gasoline and food included), then that $321 should be $3636 to have the same purchasing power today.”
The severity of income disparity has reached staggering levels. Elite insiders game the system with insider speculation certainty, while the constructive producers that keep the real components of the economy functioning, are pushed to the margins.
Bernanke’s real legacy produced the following outcomes. The always-reliable ZeroHedge site states some undeniable facts under Bernanke’s watch.
- The US has never experienced 3% GDP growth.
- The labor participation rate has fallen to levels not seen since the ‘70s.
- Inflation-adjusted median incomes have fallen 7%.
- The US’s debt load has risen from $8.4 trillion to over $16 trillion.
- The Fed’s balance sheet has increased from $800 billion to over $4 trillion (larger than the economies of Brazil, France and even Germany).
- Food prices have hit record highs fomenting revolutions in the Middle East and untold suffering around the globe.
- The Fed has funneled trillions of Dollars into both US banks and European banks.
- The Fed has allowed fraud, insider trading, and corruption.
The banksters demanded a bailed out because their derivative greed exacted losses that required an immense infusion of liquidity to rescue their balance sheets. Under Bernanke, the titans of finance have an unlimited line of near zero rate interest of new credit. When the establishment financial press applauds the savior of the economy, their loyalty towards corporatist governance, dictates that the economic interests and the public welfare of ordinary people is expendable.
Look to a prime example of this concentration of wealth and control. The Global 1%: Exposing the Transnational Ruling Class by Peter Phillips and Kimberly Soeiro, focus on BlackRock.
“BlackRock is one of the most concentrated power networks among the global 1 percent. The eighteen members of the board of directors are connected to a significant part of the world’s core financial assets. Their decisions can change empires, destroy currencies, and impoverish millions. Some of the top financial giants of the capitalist world are connected by interlocking boards of directors at BlackRock, including Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, PNC Bank, Barclays, Swiss Reinsurance Company, American International Group (AIG), UBS A.G., Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, J. P. Morgan Chase & Co., and Morgan Stanley.”
These crony capitalists are the prototypes that benefited from Bernanke decisions.
During the Bernanke era, the debt bubble entered the point of no return to solvency. His place in the history of shame sets the stage for further economic turmoil. The Federal Reserve after Ben Bernanke article indicates that the Fed is boxed into a pattern that is likely to escalate out of control.
“With the uninterrupted, increase in federal debt, much of which is held by the Federal Reserve, the prospects of achieving prosperity by growing the economy, when interests rates have been near zero, failed miserably. It becomes almost absurd to believe that higher rates on Treasury Bonds will succeed. The new chair of the Fed will be hard pressed shutting down Quantitative Easing.”
A depression in the real economy is foreordained with the retraction of credit to most enterprises. This starving of access to funding is a conscious and deliberate strategy to force competition out of business. The grand scale that the banksters operate on has little room for upstarts or hanger-on’s. At the end of this very destructive Bernanke term, the rich got fabulous more wealthy, as the country sinks into decline on so many levels.
With everything on the line, no country hosting a Olympiad can afford to take it easy on security – especially Russia.
With terror threats already made openly and through back channels, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics has already been ramped-up as one of the biggest security operations in events history. But there’s a bigger story unfolding here – a tectonic shift in world geopolitics.
Putin Winds Back His Gains of 2013
News reports now place the probable cost of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia at more than $51 billion making them the most expensive-ever. Security costs help explain this. Vladimir Putin’s ironclad determination to make the games a success – makes them a rising political risk, not only for domestic political consumption but also a challenge to Russia’s federal unity and relations with its Asian neighbors, and internationally. Making the Sochi games a PR disaster is the goal of Putin’s enemies.
The Islamic Bomb Lady was officially seen by Russian police. They identified her as 22 year old terrorist Razmena Ibragimova, displayed on Russia’s official Sochi blog sites like the one above. Her terrorist credentials were bolstered by a clumsily falsified side-profile photograph, portraying her bulging neck probably hiding explosives behind her scarf. Officially she was part of the Volgograd bombing conspiracy and Razmena is now the Most Wanted Lady in Russia.
Once Upon a Time There was Pingpong Diplomacy
Cold war-era diplomacy of the 1960s included the “ping-pong diplomacy” US-China phase, but today’s Russia-Saudi Arabia jousting is measured by the number of body parts on the pavement after each designer bomb attack by a throwaway human suicide bomber. To date, Saudi Arabia has scored several direct hits against Putin’s Russia, but the ex-KGB chief is unlikely to take that lying down. Revenge hits against Saudi-backed Arab capitals, and against Riyadh-backed forces active in Syria are either certain or not impossible, to ram home the Putin message that Saudi Arabia is a small country on the edge of “The World Island” that talks a lot too loud – only thanks to oil.
At home in Russia, the Islamic kamikaze bombing scare, which in fact may have been Soviet-era agitprop not needing any Saudi petro-dollars or American nods to be executed, enables Putin to further seal the power of his New State apparatus. The new state is little changed from the old USSR, which set the southern Caucus Republics as the acid test arena for total power by Moscow.
Today, Razmena is placarded on wanted posters all across Sochi. According to one poster on display at all security checkpoints in Sochi’s airport, Ibragimova is “currently located on Sochi territory” and ‘could attempt a suicide bombing’ at any time, according to the poster.
Ramming home the fear message for visitors who will pay at least $500-a-day to be in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, she is described as having been spotted on the street near the Russian foreign ministry building, and in streets near the upmarket hotels of Sochi. Imagine that. Not great in terms of events marketing, but the Russian Bear can ill-afford to be shy this time around.
Stalingrad and the Terror Republic
Under its former name Stalingrad, today’s Volgograd was the Martyr City for Soviet resistance to Nazi Germany, but security analysts estimate that hundreds of the 2000-odd Islamic terror attacks on Russian Federal territory since 1990 have been in or around Volgograd. Veterans of the 1990s-era conflict waged by Moscow against breakaway independence movements state that at the time most of them flew the Islamic flag and were eager to receive Saudi petrodollars. The theater was however already widening across the Caucasian Republics including Chechnya, Ingueshetia, Daghestan, Tatarstan, and in Russian satrape republics such as Azerbaijan, and the 1990s veterans recall that in that period, ruthless terror-versus-terror tactics and strategy became the norm.
These veterans, some of them now Douma parliamentarians say the intensity of conflict has moved up, from that previous terror war level to a much wider “conflict of civilizations”, even a threat to the continued existence of Russia. Tom Nichols, a professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College cited by Stripes .com 15 January said the intensity of conflict.. “ has made the Russians — who already are used to a strong state security apparatus — far more willing to empower its internal security forces way beyond anything Americans would ever allow”.
Saudi terror strategy may be comfortable for its Riyadh purveyors, players and payers safe in Riyadh, when it concerns Mali, Niger, South Sudan, the Central African Republic or Riyadh’s other low-income Black African asymmetric war theaters, but in the Russia Caucuses this is a high risk gambit and historic conflict that Islam always lost. Inside the Russian Federation, longstanding political conflicts are already sufficient to make government difficult. Adding a layer of Saudi-financed and American-tolerated Islamic extremism may create a runaway process of domestic conflict – which for Putin and his oligarchs is exactly what they want to intensify and seal their total power.
For Russian leaders, the calls by some Syrian rebels for the creation of a fundamentalist Islamic state in their homeland sound uncomfortably similar to the goals of Doku Umarov, the Chechen leader of the so-called, ‘Caucasus Emirate’. The stated aim of Umarov’s group, designated by Moscow, and by Washington as a terrorist organization, is to establish an Islamic state on Russian territory. Chechen fighters like Omar Abu al-Chechen, who leads an expatriate jihadist force known as the Faithful Immigrant Brothers in Syria, have sparked Kremlin fears that the real goal of extremists is to make Syria into a base for future terror operations inside Russia.
Chechnya has become ever more critical to Kremlin strategists, the front line theater for Russian-Saudi conflict with Sochi an easy ride from its borders. This theater is particularly acute due to the fact that Syria has thousands of fighters who, according to the Russian Spetznaz special services, are a serious and real threat for the country. Ramzan Kadyrov, the former Chechen rebel placed in charge by Kremlin and an adept at counter-terror war, has on many recent occasions said that Islamist insurgents in Chechnya have reached “plague proportions” and in his view are only biding their time before moving north to Russia – and to Europe.
Syria Split Could Set Russia Alight
State Douma deputy and Foreign relations commission chief Anatoly Ermolin, with a long military track record in Chechnya and the Caucuses during the 1990s bluntly says : “I think this is one of the most dangerous things for any government. They (the Islamists) are very serious and believe they can organize an Islamic state….They consider (Russia) to be their territory. We are dry wood; it’s very easy to set fire to the situation.”
Ermolin is openly alarmed and alarmist because he believes the disastrous conflict in Syria divided Russia and NATO-member countries into two camps, with the US-led west leaning to support or at least tolerance of the Islamists, despite the increasingly frenzied extremist nature of Syria’s opposition. For Russia this means it is next in line for destabilization, by Islam under the guise of, and stoked by Western-Russian rivalry and conflict. Ermolin says there can soon be a major realignment of international relations and vital interests.
Add the Saudi terror chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan (photo, left) into this mix and the fuse is nearly lit. The London Telegraph reported back in October about Saudi Arabia’s under the table offer to Russia for a chance to ‘control the world’s oil market’ in some type of strategic alliance between OPEC and Russia – but only if Russia would wash its hands of the Assad regime in Syria. That was the carrot. The stick was somewhat more barbaric:
Bandar threatened to unleash his Chechen terrorists in order to shutdown, and possibly kill civilians at Sochi. He is alleged to have said:
‘‘I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the Games are controlled by us’’
Beyond Saudi Arabia international racketeering and extortion, in there is fear in Germany, France, the UK and Italy – as there is in Russia, of what happens when thousands of young “jihadis” return from the Syrian war. Russian foreign relations experts like Ermolin say this will be the acid test, and in the Middle East will surely and certainly coincide with the equally rising threat of more open and wider conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia, and Shia Iran. The dangers of another Iran-Sunni war like the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war are claimed by Russian policy experts to have been completely underestimated in the west. As they and Russian military analysts say, the potential for a repeat of the 1980-88 war “going nuclear” is high.
Russian experts also say the dangers of Iran itself destabilizing and “turning to terror” have been ignored or underestimated in the west. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel, backed by the US and several EU countries, especially France give either open or covert support to anti-Iranian Sunni terror movements, making all out Iran-versus-Sunni war the logical follow-up. In the case of Iranian defeat, spillover will, the Russians say, be large scale regional, not contained. As a result, although never stated as a driver for US and European thawing towards Iran, the risk of Iran being destabilized have to be taken seriously.
Whistling in the Dark
To date, western understanding of the war theater’s dimensions and component drivers is, Russians say, woeful. The USA’s Boston Bombings, for example, were laughably unprofessional pinpricks. European domestic experience of eradicating Islamist insurgents, they add, is close to zero making for permanent underestimation of the threat.
Reasons for this western blind spot to the insurgent threat, which in Russia now straddles both ethnic religious and nationalist political lines – notably in Tartarstan – can be traced to different Russian and western interpretations of geopolitics. For Russians, even in the 1930s Stalin era, Halford Mackinder’s theory of “The World Island”, centered on Russia but spreading south through the Caucuses to Arabia, North Africa and Europe was taken as a game plan and threat – or prize – for the USSR. Putin’s Russian Federation of today is driven by geopolitical hopes and fears linked to the Mackinder theory.
To be sure, Washington has decided the dispatch of a small anti-terror group of experts to Sochi, more for protecting US athletes and comforting domestic political opinion than aiding Moscow, but soon, analysts and Russian leaders say, Moscow and Washington will have to collaborate better. To do this, they will have to set aside other issues that get in the way. The USA’s new isolationism, however, may also hamper this needed collaboration, and like the Europeans, the US may be tempted to turn Russia’s difficulties to its advantage – by pouring oil and Saudi petro-dollars on the fire.
Senior Russian political figures like Alexander Khinshtein, Vice chairman of the State Douma’s Security and anti-corruption commission, make it plain that formerly contained, localized and specific Islamic terror threats and action have massively changed since the 1990s. Khinshtein says that “Terrorism cannot be a local problem; it is not a problem for just one place.” Russian news releases and investigations concerning the Volgograd bombings already say these attacks – which are part of a longstanding organized campaign – link closely to non-Islamic political independence movements in Russia’s Caucasian republics.
The challenge from the Islamic south, to Russia’s “world island” has now mutated and coalesced with other movements and issues that, in the 1990s, were totally separate. The Sochi theater for terror war and counter-terror war concerns the whole world.
Source: 21st Century Wire
The tradeoff for cheap goods and financial cronyism is coming back in a big way…
There is always a tradeoff in economics. The adage about a free lunch comes to mind to the rise of low wage capitalism in America. It is a complicated web driven by financial cronyism and a system largely driven by ignoring the plight of the working class. The story of US manufacturing is probably one tiny example of how we exported our middle class in exchange for cheaper goods and a massive amount of income inequality at the top. Yet there is a winner here as well. While the US middle class is shrinking the middle classes of China and India are growing and so is ourincome inequality. This trend tends to grow the economies overseas bus has placed a large burden on the unskilled and working class in the US. This is possibly an inevitably given the global nature of our markets. When you get addicted to low cost goods, you may find yourself in a race to low wage capitalism. In the US and Europe people would not take on the jobs that pay near wage-slave levels and have terrible working conditions in countries that are now booming. While the top wage earners in the US are doing fantastic protected by Wall Street and Washington D.C. (many are diversified across the world), those who get paid in US dollars and come from the working and middle class are having a tough time adapting. The tradeoff has been coming home to roost in a big way.
A low wage bias
While the recession ended in the summer of 2009, the jobs that have been added since then have largely tended to favor low wage employment. Hard to export cashiers and food service workers (although the industry is getting closer to automating those jobs as well). Nothing happens at once. The gradual erosion of the working and middle class goes back a generation. So it is no surprise that this recovery has largely been one of low wage employment. This is why young American workers are in such a tough position with student debt, wages, and being able to purchase a home.
The low wage hiring bias is evident:
A large amount of hiring has come in the form of lower paying and temporary work. You might say this is simply the modern way of things. Yet the massive financial bailouts during the crisis have protected the financiers of Wall Street to the point that they are fully recovered. The crisis occurred largely because they systematically gambled America away by creating instruments of debt to implode the economy. Some hedge funds actually made wealth by betting America’s economy would fail and encouraged the pushing of additional bad mortgage debt to increase their gains when things went bust.
The problem of course is that we have a system where austerity is the new game in town for working and middle class Americans while the financially connected get to fail and put the bill on those who least can afford it. Take a look at the drop in manufacturing jobs and the growth of our financial sector:
In 1960 you had roughly 8 manufacturing jobs for each one in finance. Today this is less than 2 manufacturing jobs per each job in finance. In the real economy, we still purchase goods that have to be made (i.e., cars, real estate, etc). Yet we have a giant industry that for the most part, is rent seeking. Is high frequency trading making things better? What about the crazy unrestricted derivatives market? With real estate most of the recent sales are going to investors. In other words, the shifting of current real assets in the world into the hands of fewer people.
Even in the once stable construction field, we see weak job growth in spite of a booming real estate market.
Why? Because most of the trading is going to investors looking for deals, not new families pushing for new demand on new homes. New home sales are still weak. Of course that should be expected when the typical American worker is making something like $27,000 a year and the median household income is $50,000 a year. Adjusting for inflation, this is now back to levels last seen in the 1980s:
The tradeoff has been tough but people like cheap goods. It is easy to offshore this development and have workers on the other side of the world work for menial wages so people can buy cheap goods. Yet at a certain point, the market hits an equilibrium and the pain comes back home. Once this happens it can be very quickly as we are seeing now with the middle class being hollowed out. At least we’ve done a good job exporting our middle class outside of the US.
Source: My Budget 360
Ynet reports in the last few days that an FBI investigation into Republican Congressman Michael Grimm’s campaign finances ties him to Israeli Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto through donations of more than half a million dollars, and has also led to suspicions of senior Israeli police officers accepting bribes from Pinto.
The affair came to light due to an FBI wiretap agreed to by Pinto as part of a settlement with the bureau, after Pinto filed a blackmail complaint resulting the rabbi having to testify against Grimm, the New York Republican Congressman and former FBI agent.
The New York Times reported that Grimm was in contact with Ofer Biton (an ex Porn distributor), one of Pinto’s assistants, in order to raise money for his election from the rabbi’s followers.
Grimm, it said, had good reason to turn to the popular rabbi since he needed a great deal of money. Pinto supplied the funds to the Republican incumbent, a Catholic who prays every Sunday in church.
Grimm was able to raise more than half a million dollars – which comprised half of his total fundraising for the election, the FBI revealed.
Biton is being investigated on the suspect of embezzling millions of dollars from Pinto’s followers. The New York Times also reported that there were illegal donations that included cash transfers and straw companies. The followers said they gave the money because Biton said Pinto wanted his followers to donate to the politician.
The message must be clear. America must target all Jewish lobby groups and block the possibility of foreign interests interfering with its politics politicians, domestic and international interests.
Two rather interesting things have happened to me lately. First, I had one of my teeth pulled this week — totally not a fun experience. And, second, while still oozing pain and eating Hydrocodone and climbing the walls, I started reading a book about plants by Michael Pollan, entitled “The Botany of Desire”. So now I have suddenly become an expert on both pain-killers and gardens.
Having one’s tooth pulled is like, er, pulling teeth. It really hurts. So from now on I plan to brush and floss constantly and do whatever it takes to keep my remaining teeth healthy and clean. Someone recommended gargling with Bombay Sapphire twice a day. I’d try even that.
Even though the student doctor who pulled my tooth at the UCSF School of Dentistry was an angel of mercy combined with Dr. McDreamy, having one’s tooth extracted is never pretty. I kept reciting that mantra “Challenges make me stronger” in the dental chair and silently doing jin shin jyutzu – but even that didn’t work. I’m a wimp. And not only that but once the tooth was out, they wouldn’t even give it back to me to give to the Tooth Fairy. Rats.
Then, once finally back home and safely collapsed into bed, I took some of those “opioid” pain-killers they gave me — and dreamed that I was an escaped convict running a funeral parlor in my childhood hometown (Millbrae) and hiding under my daughter Ashley’s bed (probably from NSA). Forget that. No more weird Kubla-Khan dreams for me. I’m sticking with aspirin.
Now I’m wishing there was something I could do to replace my poor sweet little lost tooth, but there doesn’t seem to be anything. Getting a dental implant is expensive — $3,000 per tooth, even done by a dental student. Who can afford that? Not me. So now I’ve got a big gap in my teeth. How ugly is that! However, I won’t be alone for long. Two-thirds of America will soon be joining me in being gap-toothed as well unless affordable dental insurance becomes available reasonably soon. But if not, then we’ll all be totally ugly together, not just me. America goes third-world. Who would have thought.
I also have a postage-stamp sized garden attached to my apartment, which grows nothing. According to Michael Pollan, this shouldn’t be happening — unless there has been some really heavy-duty weed killer sprayed there at one time. Yes, there was. But not by me. So, apparently, what I need now is all new dirt. And at the rate that American agribusiness keeps using millions of tons of herbicides and pesticides each year, all of America will soon be needing all new dirt too.
“Actually, it’s not the heavy use of herbicides and pesticides that is causing the most problems on huge agribusiness farms,” to summarize one of Pollan’s chapters on the potato, “but rather the monoculture nature of their crops. Organic farmers can vary and rotate what they plant and thus stave off insect and fungal infestations — but if your main customer for potatoes is McDonalds, then you have to plant Burbank russets and only Burbank russets all of the time. So it is Americans themselves that are causing the major use of [stuff] like Roundup and Roundup-Ready GMOs.”
So if I promise to plant a huge variety of everything in my garden, from fingerling potatoes to roses to dandelions, then will at least SOMETHING finally grow?
And will I also be able to grow a new tooth?
Aside from Michael Pollan, why else have my thoughts been turning to gardening lately? In the middle of freaking January? Because this winter has been the sunniest one in Berkeley that I have ever seen. It’s like freaking summer here now, like July, every day — even going beyond April or May. www.weather.com even declared Berkeley a drought area the other day. Time to bust out the seeds.
Michael Pollan also wrote about cannabis in his book on plants. “Marijuana doesn’t make you forgetful of everything. It just makes you forget [stuff] that’s not important.” Interesting. I always forget names. So I guess names aren’t all that important or necessary for me to remember. Whew. I’m off the hook then. Am not getting senile dementia after all, just sorting out my priorities.
And maybe that’s why Alzheimer sufferers forget so much mental stuff too — they might be shutting down everything that won’t immediately help them to cope with this devastating disease (yes, I know that Alzheimers also rots its victims’ brains — but isn’t that just one more good reason for them to shut said brains down?)
With regard to raising the minimum wage here in soon-to-be-toothless America, wouldn’t it make more sense to just cut the rate of inflation instead? Starting by eliminating the Federal Reserve and its tendencies to print meaningless Monopoly money and to finance Endless War? And, while we’re at it, let’s stop giving out billions in “food stamps” to corporate welfare queens like Bank of America, BP, WalMart, Halliburton and Monsanto. Works for me. And can we also please bring our millions of jobs back from overseas too?
Back in 1963, I made $1.75 an hour while working in the post office on weekends and during summers. With this money plus some help from my parents (yes, they could also afford to help me back then), I was able to graduate from San Jose State College without requiring any student loans. And in 1966, when I got a big salary-bump to $3.50 an hour for working the stamp window instead of sorting mail, I was able put myself through graduate school at UC Berkeley, just by working during summer vacations. Can you even imagine staying alive and not homeless in Berkeley today on that kind of salary — let alone paying for your tuition at Cal as well.
What has happened to all of America’s jobs and wealth since the 1960s, back when we were the richest country in the world? That’s a no-brainer. It’s all flown away into the pockets of Wall Street mega-bankers, the numbered Cayman accounts of war profiteers and the fat wallets of all those corporate welfare queens who currently own and run our government.
While it’s always a good idea to raise America’s minimum wage a few dollars, it’s also important to stop runaway inflation — and to also start lowering a certain type of maximum wage as well: The maximum amount that rich guys can steal from us before they get sent to jail.And we need to put some teeth into these new regulations too.
The globalists put their plan into motion decades ago. The proper meaning of the headline is not that China is an economic miracle, but that the United States, systematically stripped of its industrial might, is destined to fall even further. The Chinese economy is a haven of direct transnational integration. The outsourcing of manufacturing from domestic capacity is not solely a response of cheaper economic cost of goods production. No, the underlying reason for the migration of product assemblage is to weaken an independent American economy.
The news of this long awaited milestone, primarily announced in the foreign press, almost has a ring of glee. The Guardian reports that China surpasses US as world’s largest trading nation.
“China’s annual trade in goods passed the $4tn (£2.4tn) mark for the first time last year according to official data, after exports from the world’s second largest economy rose 7.9% to $2.21tn and imports rose 7.3% to $1.95tn.
As a result total trade rose 7.6% over the year to $4.16tn. The US is yet to publish its 2013 trade figures, but with trade totaling $3.5tn in the first 11 months of the year, it is unlikely to beat China.”
“It’s always been a matter of time until China surpasses the US … and there are good reasons to believe that China is likely to retain this pole position for the foreseeable future.
“The trade figures look very healthy and the factors underpinning them are structurally sustainable. It is hard to see them being reversed significantly, at least in the short to medium term.”
Contrast this viewpoint with the assessment out of Marketwatch.
“And let’s not forget: The economic data out of Chinese agencies has long been seen as a bit questionable. Even the country’s own statistics office has said it is trying to clean up the inaccuracies. As our own Michael Kitchen points out, trade data has come under particular suspicion, as businesses disguise some money flows as trade to try to bypass controls.”Of course, the U.S. press continues to make excuses that conceal the betrayal of American trade policy goals and practices. These are the same business journalists that repeat the statistical figures coming out of recent administrations that need revisions, when caught in dramatic errors of omission or deception.
Proponents of a structured destruction of America’s economy, laud international trade, as long as it slanted to eliminate domestic survival and reduces our standard of living. This lunacy, stated in Benefits of International Trade, does not square with the aftermath of a trade deficit that has become a permanent fixture.
Some important benefits of International Trade
- Enhances the domestic competitiveness
- Takes advantage of international trade technology
- Increases sales and profits
- Extend sales potential of the existing products
- Maintain cost competitiveness in your domestic market
- Enhance potential for expansion of your business
- Gains a global market share
- Reduce dependence on existing markets
- Stabilize seasonal market fluctuations
Now examine the real significance of this “Free Trade” globalist plan for America.
1. How can domestic competitiveness improve, when entire industries move offshore?
2. Where is the advantage in developing new technology domestically and transferring it to foreign plants, even if owned by “so called” U.S. national companies?
3. Increase sales and profits, booked by foreign subsidiaries, means that the capital is not repatriated back.
4. If products produced domestically, shipped, and sold to overseas markets, there would be a valid benefit. However, the direction is in reverse.
5. Maintaining cost competitiveness translates into closing domestic facilities.
6. Expansion of business means look overseas because domestic consumers have less money to spend.
7. Oh yes, the holy grail of market share, means last company standing, since domestic markets have reduced sales.
8. Yep, now that existing domestic markets are sinking, move your boat to a different ocean.
9. Seasonal fluctuations means that booms are past profit spikes, the new normal is a perpetual dip.
The Chinese perspective as reported in China Daily from Wang Haifeng, a researcher with the Institute for International Economic Research at the National Development and Reform Commission, needs especial emphasis.
“The size of the value of the trade in goods tells just one side of the story. The other side is that China’s export competitiveness, as well as the competitiveness of its trade structure, is far behind the US. The competitive advantage of US exports centers on its technology, quality and brands, with added-value being very significant. China’s export prices are much cheaper on average and a large part of its exports are from OEMs (original equipment manufacturers),” Wang said.
When an economic system intentionally transfers their technological advantages, inventions and intellectual edge to a foreign country so that companies can avoid domestic taxation or onerous regulation, the future adverse and inevitable consequences with such relocations, are preordained.
According to World Bank data, in 2011, the US GDP reached $15 trillion while China totaled $7.3 trillion. Just how long will it take this gap to narrow and surpass the U.S. GDP?
If a comparison of gambling revenue is a leading indicator, just look at Chinese Territory Broaden Lead as Global Casino Capital. “It now takes Macau’s gamblers just one day to wager what’s bet in an entire week on the Las Vegas Strip.” To make thing even worse, Nevada’s biggest casinos lose $1.35B in 2013.
This example demonstrates the extravagant cash flow and disposable income that is circulating in China. Much of this opulence comes from the pocketbooks of struggling Americans, who buy essential or sustainable goods that have a made in China label.
Tech firms transfer the secrets of their products and software to their Chinese partners as the U.S. government subsidized consumer or the remnant middle class, just deepen this destructive cycle. This absurd economic bargain drives the wealth disparity to irrational levels. That is exactly the objective of the globalists, and the rest of us are mere spectators as the Chinese laugh at our stupidity.
Ain el Helweh camp, Lebanon – It’s not just the leadership of the Zionist regime still occupying Palestine, six decades after the 1948 Nakba, that appears to be salivating at the current stoking of current tensions between the Palestinian Resistance and in some respects, its historic off-spring Hezbollah.
From Tel Aviv, to Amman, Riyadh, the Gulf Kingdoms to Washington DC and beyond, the forces allied against the Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah-Palestinian Resistance are working on yet another project to weaken and hopefully destroy all four.
It won’t be easy, but it is reportedly a key element among the anti-Resistance forces still seeking regime change in Syria. Even while some of these governments have been playing down their central goal of regime change in public. The same governments appear to be fantasizing that by building up the Lebanese army with a pledged $three billion from Riyadh, its troops will somehow confront Hezbollah and its allies as part of a long-term “beat em or bleed em” project.
Patrick Cockburn writing recently in the UK Independent and Counterpunch accurately summarized situation of “Anti-Shia hate propaganda spread by Sunni religious figures sponsored by, or based in, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, is creating the ingredients for a sectarian civil war engulfing the entire Muslim world.”
The egging on the Palestinian and Hezbollah to confront each other has increased over the past three months in Lebanon’s camps and particularly from some of the local Sunni and Christian power centers. This in addition to continuing support for various ‘militia of the month’ groups terrorizing the population of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as essentially imprisoning without food and medical care the remaining 17,000 out of a March 2011 population of 250,000 Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp in Damascus.
This is not to say that there are no continuing, and sometimes long held tensions among a small percentage of the Palestinians in Lebanon and some among Hezbollah and its allies, the Amal Movement and Michele Aoun’s, Free Patriotic Movement (FPM). It is the latter who is among the most anti-Palestinian of the Christian warlords and who some in Hezbollah and Palestinian factions cite for blocking Hezbollah from pushing for the right to work and to own a home for Palestinians in Lebanon. As for Amal, this Hezbollah’s Shia ally, is widely believed to have killed more Palestinians in Lebanon during the 1985-88 camp massacres ( it’s a misnomer to call them “wars” as the camps were basically defenseless) than Zionists have in the past 60 years. To this day, many Palestinians take deep umbrage with the long-time Amal leader posters placed outside Shatila and other camps since he is fairly universally despised by Palestinians in Lebanon for giving the orders for slaughtering so many of them. Attempts to remove his posters-portraits from Palestinian camps which are considered a provocation by many, risk facing his armed militia that occupies part of Shatila. The Sunni and Shia populations in the camps largely co-exist in a tense but generally peaceful juxtaposition with refugees from Syria. But it’s not the quality of relations that obtained before the Syria crisis and Hezbollah’s involvement there.
Hezbollah also has several reasons to question Palestinian support of the “National Lebanon Resistance” which the Party of God leads. There has been some evidence of individual Palestinians supporting anti-Hezbollah militia forces and political parties in Lebanon, and, according to camp officials they admit that some individual Palestinians go and return to Syria to fight against the Assad regime. Some who are close to Hezbollah claim that many Palestinians don’t appreciate that the organization is the main supporter of their cause to return to Palestine and are ingrates for all that Hezbollah does for them. Rebuttals include that regrettably Hezbollah has done little for Palestinians living in Lebanon’s camps and that Hezbollah has to date refused to use its political power to force Lebanon to comply with international law and grant elementary civil rights to them, including the rights to work and to own a home.
Against this backdrop, Al-Nusra Front leader Abou Mohammed al-Jawlani said that the Al-Qaeda-linked organization is active on Lebanese soil in order to help the Sunnis including Palestinians face the “injustice” of Shiite Hezbollah. “Lebanon’s Sunni are requesting that the mujahideen intervene to lift up the injustice they are suffering from at the hands of Hezbollah and similar militias,” Jawlani said in an interview on Al-Jazeera recently.
Shiite-populated areas across Lebanon have been the target of terror attacks since Hezbollah declared it was fighting on the side of the Syrian regime in May. Three car bomb attacks have targeted southern Beirut in recent months while a number of IED attacks have occurred in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley.
The head of the Islamic Jihadist Movement in Ain al-Helweh camps, Sheikh Jamal Khattab, voiced fears on 1/8/14 of a possible armed sectarian confrontation between Hezbollah and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon if the party did not revise its policies at home and in Syria. Sheikh Khattab told the Beirut Daily Star that “any fighting between Palestinians and Hezbollah could be worse than the three year violence between the Amal militia and Palestinians in the 1980’s, known as the “war of the camps.” (read: massacres) That conflict in which largely Shia forces attacked Sunni was not considered particularly sectarian and Hezbollah helped end it and protect the overwhelmingly Sunni Palestinians civilian population. Today it would be a Sunni vs. Shia war with regional and international consequences given the poisonous sea-change in sectarian relations since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In Ain al-Helweh and other camps, posters of local men killed while fighting alongside Syrian rebels or against U.S. troops in Iraq are tacked up throughout the camp. Lebanese security sources claim that Palestinian Islamist groups in Ain al-Hilweh, particularly Usbat al-Ansar, Jund al-Sham, Fatah al-Islam, other Salafist groups and supporters of controversial fugitive Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir have all finalized preparations to defend Sidon against any attack by Hezbollah’s organized and trained “Resistance Brigades”. Rumors abound that these groups are being financed for this purpose by certain of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries and some Lebanese pro-Western March 14 parties. These groups and some of their sponsors consider conditions ripe in Lebanon for an expanded war against “Shia infidels” and have plans to bring it here. Several groups now fighting in Syria claim to seek a wider war “against Shia infidels “and pledge to bring the Sunni-Shia war here.
The Palestinian Follow-Up Committee, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Fatah and the Palestinian National Security Forces have all strongly condemned as haphazard any irresponsible accusations against Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp after the assassination of ex-Finance Minister and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s adviser, Mohammed Shatah, Also recent harassment of passersby near Ain el Helweh camp remind some of the tight grip the army continues on Nahr al Bared, near Tripoli in the north of Lebanon. Based on interviews by this observer with residents of Ain el-Helweh, there clearly are supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades among others. But one can find the same across Lebanon especially in Sunni areas. The officials claim that while they cannot prevent anyone from joining the fighting in Syria, all Palestinian groups in Lebanon and Syria and elsewhere have consistently maintained their policy of non-involvement in the Syrian crisis. Yet some Palestinian Islamist factions and camp residents criticize Hezbollah’s armed support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
For their part, some pro-Hezbollah groups and many Lebanese citizens are suspicious of possible Palestinian involvement in recent terror attacks in Dahiyeh and the recent bombing of the Iranian Embassy. In point of fact, one of the two suicide bombers who attacked the Iranian Embassy on 11/17/13 was a Palestinian named Mouin Abu Dahr. His mother is a Shiite and his father a Sunni. Ain al-Hilweh is also in the spotlight currently due to the arrest of Majid al-Majid, the leader of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Majid is believed to have lived in Ain al-Hilweh since 2012.
Israel and its new and longtime allies seek Sunni-Shia war and the sooner the better. They also favor the continuation of the Syria crisis for the reason they consider Hezbollah is squandering some of their best fighters and commanders and well as their weapons stores. Western Diplomats have spoken about US-Israeli hopes that Syria will be Hezbollah’s Achilles heel and Iran’s Vietnam. Meanwhile Israeli media has commented on the views of some officials who are claiming that Hezbollah has shifted its attention to Syria and away from the southern front with occupied Palestine.
Time will tell.
But for its part Hezbollah maintains that by defending Lebanon and fighting ” takferi terrorists” it is using only five percent of its capacity to confront Israel. One source close to the Resistance reported that “Hezbollah has self-sufficiency when it comes to the missiles, strategic and non-strategic weapons. All these weapons are quite abundant. Any additional equipment will constitute a negative factor because there is no need for them. All the weapons that are manufactured by Iran or owned by Syria are also available for Hezbollah. The land forces and the Special Forces fighting in Syria have acquired a lot of practical and intelligence related experience and a force of maneuvering on the land. This experience will be used when the war with Israel begins again.”
The Sunni and the Shia just as with the Palestinians and Hezbollah need each other for many reasons including to confront growing Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate propaganda and the deepening and broadening Apartheid occupation of Palestine.
All must work to tamp down their differences publicly and privately while working to neutralize both Sunni and Shia sectarian provocateurs, domestic, regional and international that today are seeking internecine and sectarian violence in order to weaken both.
Canada’s Conservative government is trying to convince Canadian Jews to support its right-wing imperialistic worldview.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently spoke to the annual Toronto gala of the Jewish National Fund, which has a long history of dispossessing Palestinians and discriminating against non-Jews.
Echoing the words of Theodor Herzl, a founder of political Zionism, Harper told the 4,000 attendees that Israel is a “light of freedom and democracy in what is otherwise a region of darkness.”
Shortly before this event the Minister for Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney spoke at the launch of the Canadian chapter of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). Established by a former colonel in the Israeli military, MEMRI selectively (mis)translates stories from Arab and Iranian media in a bid to advance expansionist Israeli interests.
Kenney told the audience assembled at Montreal’s Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue that MEMRI is “a peaceful weapon of truth-telling in a civilizational conflict in which we are all engaged.”
The comments from Harper and Kenney certainly play well with those in the Jewish community committed to Israeli and Western imperialism, but they also spur that sentiment. Most people respect power and when leading politicians say a country is involved in a “civilizational conflict” against “a region of darkness” it tends to shape opinion.
Few Canadian Jews — or others among the target audience for that matter — realize that Harper and Kenney don’t take this “clash of civilizations” talk literally (if they did they wouldn’t be deepening political ties with a number of Middle Eastern monarchies and selling billions of dollars in weaponry to the region’s “darkest” regime, Saudi Arabia.)
While the Harper government’s pro-Israel comments are particularly extreme, they are far from unique in Canadian history. For more than a century non-Jewish Canadians have promoted a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Similar to Europe, Zionism’s roots in Canada are Christian, not Jewish. Early Canadian support for Zionism was based on the more literal readings of the Bible that flowed out of the Protestant Reformation.
They were also tied to this country’s status as a dominion of the British Empire, which in the latter half of the nineteenth century began to see Zionism as a potential vehicle to strengthen its geostrategic position in the region.
At the time of confederation, Canada’s preeminent Christian Zionist was Henry Wentworth Monk. To buy Palestine from the Ottoman Empire in 1875, Monk began the Palestine Restoration Fund.
Unsuccessful, seven years later he took out an ad in the Jewish World proposing a “Bank of Israel” to finance Jewish resettlement. Irving Abella’s book A Coat of Many Colours: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada describes Monk as “an eccentric but respected businessman” who took up a campaign in Canada and England to raise funds for buying land in Palestine during the 1870s and 1880s.
“In 1881 Monk even proposed setting up a Jewish National Fund,” Abella writes. “He issued manifestoes, wrote long articles, spoke to assorted meetings and lobbied extensively in England and Canada to realize his dream.”
Monk called for the British Empire to establish a “dominion of Israel” similar to the dominion of Canada. In the 1978 book Canada and Palestine, Zachariah Kay notes: “Monk believed that Palestine was the logical center of the British Empire, and could help form a confederation of the English-speaking world.”
Monk was not alone in Canada. Citing a mix of Christian and pro-British rationale, leading Canadian politicians repeatedly expressed support for Zionism. In 1907, two cabinet ministers attended the Federation of Zionist Societies of Canada convention, telling delegates that Zionism had the support of the government, according to Kay’s book.
Kay’s book also states that Arthur Meighen, then solicitor-general and later prime minister, proclaimed in November 1915: “I think I can speak for those of the Christian faith when I express the wish that God speed the day when the land of your forefathers shall be yours again. This task I hope will be performed by that champion of liberty the world over — the British Empire.”
The 1917 Balfour Declaration, which declared British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, boosted support for Zionism in this country. In the years thereafter, Canadian politicians of various stripes repeatedly urged Jews (and others) to support Zionism.
During a July 1922 speech to the Zionist Federation of Canada, the anti-Semitic Prime Minister Mackenzie King “was effusive with praise for Zionism,” explains David Bercuson in Canada and the Birth of Israel. King told participants their aspirations were “in consonance” with the greatest ideals of the “Englishman.”
A dozen years later, Prime Minister R.B. Bennett told a coast to-coast radio broadcast for the launch of the United Palestine Appeal fund drive that the Balfour Declaration and the British conquest of Palestine represented the beginning of the fulfillment of biblical prophecies.
According to a 1962 book by Canadian Zionist Bernard Figler, Bennett said, “When the promises of God, speaking through his prophets, are that the home will be restored in the homeland of their forefathers…Scriptural prophecy is being fulfilled. The restoration of Zion has begun.”
Jewish Zionism must be understood from within the political climate in which it operated. And Canada’s political culture clearly fostered Zionist ideals.
British imperialism, Christian Zionism and nationalist ideology were all part of this country’s political fabric. Additionally, in the early 1900s most Canadians did not find it odd that Europeans would take a “backward” people’s land, which is what settlers did to the indigenous population here.
A number of books about Canada’s Jewish community discuss how elite Canadian Jews, especially after the 1917 Balfour Declaration, were more active Zionists than their US counterparts. In Canada’s Jews: A People’s Journey, Gerald Tulchinsky explains: “The First World War accentuated differences between Canadian and American Jewry. For example, loyalty to Britain’s cause provided Zionists with opportunities to identify their purposes with Britain’s imperial mission.”
When British General Edmund Allenby led a campaign in late 1917 to take Palestine from the Ottomans as many as 400 Canadians (about half recruited specifically for the task) fought in Allenby’s Jewish Legion. Sometimes beleaguered Jewish communities were praised by the media for taking up England’s cause to conquer Palestine.
Since Israel’s creation in 1948 different Canadian governments have expressed varying degrees of support. But overall, the laudatory public declarations have continued.
After a long career of support for Zionism as external minister and prime minister, Lester Pearson referred to that country as “an outpost, if you will, of the West in the Middle East.”
External Affairs Minister Don Jamieson echoed this sentiment in an October 1977 speech. “Israel is an increasingly valuable ally of the West and Jews and non-Jews alike should see to it that Israel remains … an ally of the Western world,” Jamieson said. “We in Canada must see to it that when Israel is making such tremendous sacrifices, we should stand ready to help Israel with oil and material assistance.”
Yes, the current government is more aggressive in its public declarations than any before it and this has helped drive the establishment Jewish community to an even more hardline position.
To the Conservatives’ delight, two years ago the ninety-year old Canadian Jewish Congress was disbanded by its wealthy donors in favor of an even more Israel-focused Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. Similarly, the Conservatives’ strong ties to Christian Zionism has prodded the Zionist lobby group B’nai Brith to deepen its ties with Canada Christian College and the prominent right-wing evangelist Charles McVety.
At the same time, the anti-racist sectors of Canada’s Jewish community have made major strides in recent years. Groups such as Independent Jewish Voices, Not In Our Name, Jewish Voice for Peace, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Women in Solidarity with Palestine and Jews for a Just Peace, have undercut the notion that all Canadian Jews support Israeli policy or Zionism. But these groups are unlikely to become dominant voices within the Jewish community until there is a shift in Canada’s political culture.
Canadian Zionism has long been part of the religious and political establishment. In every community there are those who take the side of the rich and powerful.
Source: Global Research
The events in Volgograd are part of a much larger body of events and a multi-faceted struggle that has been going on for decades as part of a cold war after the Cold War—the post-Cold War cold war, if you please—that was a result of two predominately Eurocentric world wars. When George Orwell wrote his book 1984 and talked about a perpetual war between the fictional entities of Oceania and Eurasia, he may have had a general idea about the current events that are going on in mind or he may have just been thinking of the struggle between the Soviet Union and, surrounded by two great oceans, the United States of America.
So what does Volgograd have to do with the dizzying notion presented? Firstly, it is not schizophrenic to tie the events in Volgograd to either the conflict in the North Caucasus and to the fighting in Syria or to tie Syria to the decades of fighting in the post-Soviet North Caucasus. The fighting in Syria and the North Caucuses are part of a broader struggle for the mastery over Eurasia. The conflicts in the Middle East are part of this very grand narrative, which to many seems to be so far from the reality of day to day life.
“Bandar Bush” goes to Mother Russia
For the purposes of supporting such an assertion we will have to start with the not-so-secret visit of a shadowy Saudi regime official to Moscow. Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the infamous Saudi terrorist kingpin and former House of Saud envoy to Washington turned intelligence guru, last visited the Russian Federation in early-December 2013. Bandar bin Sultan was sent by King Abdullah to solicit the Russian government into abandoning the Syrians. The goal of Prince Bandar was to make a deal with the Kremlin to let Damascus be overtaken by the Saudi-supported brigades that were besieging the Syrian government forces from Syria’s countryside and border regions since 2011. Bandar met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the two held closed-door discussions about both Syria and Iran at Putin’s official residence in Novo-Ogaryovo.
The last meeting that Bandar had with Putin was a few months earlier in July 2013. That meeting was also held in Russia. The July talks between Prince Bandar and President Putin also included Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. One would also imagine that discussion about the Iranians increased with each visit too, as Bandar certainly tried to get the Russians on bad terms with their Iranian allies.
After Bandar’s first meeting with President Putin, it was widely reported that the House of Saud wanted to buy Russia off. Agence France-Presse and Reuters both cited the unnamed diplomats of the Arab petro-monarchies, their March 14 lackeys in Lebanon, and their Syrian opposition puppets as saying that Saudi Arabia offered to sign a lucrative arms contract with Moscow and give the Kremlin a guarantee that the Arab petro-sheikdoms would not threaten the Russian gas market in Europe or use Syria for a gas pipeline to Europe.
Russia knew better than to do business with the House of Saud. It had been offered a lucrative arms deal by the Saudi regime much earlier, in 2008, to make some backdoor compromises at the expense of Iran. After the compromises were made by Moscow the House of Saud put the deal on ice. If the media leaks in AFP and Reuters were not tactics or lies in the first place aimed at creating tensions between the Syrian and Russian governments, the purportedly extravagant bribes to betray Syria were wasted on the ears of Russian officials.
The House of Saud and the undemocratic club of Arab petro-monarchies that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have always talked large about money. The actions of these self portrayed lords of the Arabia Peninsula have almost never matched their words and promises. To anyone who deals with them, the House of Saud and company are known for habitually making grand promises that they will never keep, especially when it comes to money. Even when money is delivered, the full amount committed is never given and much of it is stolen by their corrupt partners and cronies. Whether it is the unfulfilled 2008 arms contract with Russia that was facilitated with the involvement of Iraqi former CIA asset Iyad Allawi or the overabundant commitments of financial and logistical aid to the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples that never materialized, the Arab petro-sheikhdoms have never done more than talk grandly and then get their propagandist to write articles about their generosity and splendor. Underneath all the grandeur and sparkles there has always been bankruptcy, insecurity, and emptiness.
A week after the first meeting with Bandar, the Kremlin responded to the media buzz about the attempted bribe by Saudi Arabia. Yury Ushakov, one of Putin’s top aides and the former Russian ambassador to the US, categorically rejected the notion that any deal was accepted or even entertained by the Kremlin. Ushakov avowed that not even bilateral cooperation was discussed between the Saudis and Russia. According to the Kremlin official, the talks between Bandar and Putin were simply about the policies of Moscow and Riyadh on Syria and the second international peace conference being planned about Syria in Geneva, Switzerland.
More Leaks: Fighting Fire with Fire?
If his objective was to get the Russians to abandon Syria, Prince Bandar left both meetings in Russia empty-handed. Nevertheless, his visit left a trail of unverifiable reports and speculation. Discretion is always needed when analyzing these accounts which are part of the information war about Syria being waged on all sides by the media. The planted story from the Saudi side about trying to buy the Russians was not the only account of what took place in the Russian-Saudi talks. There was also a purported diplomatic leak which most likely surfaced as a counter-move to the planted story about Bandar’s proposal. This leak elaborated even further on the meeting between Bandar and Putin. Threats were made according to the second leak that was published in Arabic by the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir on August 21, 2013.
According to the Lebanese newspaper, not only did Prince Bandar tell the Russians during their first July meeting that the regimes of the GCC would not threaten the Russian gas monopoly in Europe, but he made promises to the Russians that they could keep their naval facility on the Mediterranean coast of Syria and that he would give the House of Saud’s guarantee to protect the 2014 Winter Olympics being held in the North Caucasian resort city of Sochi, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, from the Chechen separatist militias under Saudi control. If Moscow cooperated with Riyadh and Washington against Damascus, the leak discloses that Bandar also stated that the same Chechen militants fighting inside Syria to topple the Syrian government would not be given a role in Syria’s political future.
When the Russians refused to betray their Syrian allies, Prince Bandar then threatened Russia with the cancellation of the second planned peace conference in Geneva and with the unleashing of the military option against the Syrians the leak imparts.
This leak, which presents a veiled Saudi threat about the intended attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi, led to a frenzy of speculations internationally until the end of August 2013, amid the high tensions arising from the US threats to attack Syria and the threats coming from Iran to intervene on the side of their Syrians allies against the United States. Originating from the same politically affiliated media circle in Lebanon, reports about Russian military preparations to attack Saudi Arabia in response to a war against Syria began to circulate from the newspaper Al-Ahed also, further fueling the chain of speculations.
A House of Saud Spin on the Neo-Con “Redirection”
Seymour Hersh wrote in 2007 that after the 2006 defeat of Israel in Lebanon that the US government had a new strategy called the “redirection.” According to Hersh, the “redirection” had “brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.” With the cooperation of Saudi Arabia and all the same players that helped launch Osama bin Ladin’s career in Afghanistan, the US government took “part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria.” The most important thing to note is what Hersh says next: “A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
A new House of Saud spin on the “redirection” has begun. If there is anything the House of Saud knows well, it is rounding up fanatics as tools at the service of Saudi Arabia’s patrons in Washington. They did it in Afghanistan, they did it Bosnia, they have done it in Russia’s North Caucasus, they did it in Libya, and they are doing it in both Lebanon and Syria. It does not take the British newspaperThe Independent to publish an article titled “Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis” for the well-informed to realize this.
The terrorist bombings in Lebanon mark a new phase of the conflict in Syria, which is aimed at forcing Hezbollah to retreat from Syria by fighting in a civil war on its home turf. The attacks are part of the “redirection.” The House of Saud has accented this new phase through its ties to the terrorist attacks on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on November 19, 2013. The attacks were carried out by individuals linked to the notorious Ahmed Al-Assir who waged a reckless battle against the Lebanese military from the Lebanese city of Sidon as part of an effort to ignite a sectarian civil war in Lebanon.
Al-Assir’s rise, however, was politically and logistically aided by the House of Saud and its shameless Hariri clients in Lebanon. He is also part of the same “redirection” policy and current that brought Fatah Al-Islam to Lebanon. This is why it is no surprise to see Hariri’s Future Party flag flying alongside Al-Qaeda flags in Lebanon. After Al-Assir’s failed attempt to start a sectarian Lebanese civil war, he went into hiding and it was even alleged that he was taken in by one of the GCC embassies.
In regard to the House of Saud’s roles in the bombings in Lebanon, Hezbollah would confirm that the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut was linked to the House of Saud. Hezbollah’s leadership would report that the Abdullah Izzam Brigade, which is affiliated to Al-Qaeda and tied to the bombings, is directly linked to the intelligence services of Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, the Saudi agent, Majed Al-Majed, responsible for the attack would be apprehended by Lebanese security forces in late-December 2013. He had entered Lebanon after working with Al-Nusra in Syria. Fars News Agency, an Iranian media outlet, would report on January 2, 2014 that unnamed Lebanese sources had also confirmed that they had discovered that the attack was linked to Prince Bandar.
Wrath of the House of Saud Unleashed?
A lot changed between the first and second meetings that Prince Bandar and Vladimir Putin had, respectively in July 2013 and December 2013. The House of Saud expected its US patron to get the Pentagon involved in a conventional bombing campaign against Syria in the month of September. It is more than likely that Riyadh was in the dark about the nature of secret negotiations that the US and Iran were holding through the backchannel of Oman in the backdrop of what appeared to be an escalation towards open war.
Bandar’s threat to reassess the House of Saud’s ties with Washington is probably a direct result of the US government keeping the House of Saud in the dark about using Syria as a means of negotiating with the Iranian government. US officials may have instigated the House of Saud to intensify its offensive against Syria to catalyze the Iranians into making a deal to avoid an attack on Syria and a regional war. Moreover, not only did the situation between the US and Iran change, Russia would eventually sign an important energy contract for Syrian natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea. The House of Saud has been undermined heavily in multiple ways and it is beginning to assess its own expendability.
If one scratches deep enough, they will find that the same ilk that attacked the Iranian Embassy in Beirut also attacked the Russian Embassy in Damascus. Both terrorist attacks were gifts to Iran and Russia, which served as reprisals for the Iranian and Russian roles in protecting Syria from regime change and a destructive war. It should, however, be discerned if the House of Saud is genuinely lashing out at Iran and Russia or if it being manipulated to further the goals of Washington in the US negotiations with Tehran, Moscow, and Damascus.
In the same manner, the House of Saud wants to generously reward Hezbollah too for its role in protecting Syria by crippling Hezbollah domestically in Lebanon. Riyadh may possibly not want a full scale war in Lebanon like the Israelis do, but it does want to neutralize and eliminate Hezbollah from the Lebanese landscape. In this regard, Saudi Arabia has earnestly been scheming to recruit Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman and the Lebanese military against Hezbollah and its supporters.
The Saud grant of three billion dollars to the Lebanese Armed Forces is not only blood money being given to Lebanon as a means of exonerating Saudi Arabia for its role in the terrorist bombings that have gripped the Lebanese Republic since 2013, the Saudi money is also aimed at wishfully restructuring the Lebanese military as a means of using it to neutralize Hezbollah. In line with the House of Saud’s efforts, pledges from the United Arab Emirates and reports that NATO countries are also planning on donating money and arms to the Lebanese military started.
In addition to the terrorists bombings in Lebanon and the attack on the Russian Embassy in Damascus, Russia has also been attacked. Since the Syrian conflict intensified there has been a flaring of tensions in Russia’s North Caucasus and a breakout of terrorist attacks. Russian Muslim clerics, known for their views on co-existence between Russia’s Christian and Muslim communities and anti-separatist views, have been murdered. The bombings in Volgograd are just the most recent cases and an expansion into the Volga of what is happening in the North Caucasus, but they come disturbingly close to the start of the Winter Olympics that Prince Bandar was saying would be “protected” if Moscow betrayed Syria.
Can the House of Saud Stand on its Own Feet?
It is a widely believed that you will find the US and Israelis pulling a lot of the strings if you look behind the dealings of the House of Saud. That view is being somewhat challenged now. Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK, threatened that Saudi Arabia will go it alone against Syria and Iran in a December 2013 article. The letter, like the Saudi rejection of their UN Security Council seat, was airing the House of Saud’s rage against the realists running US foreign policy.
In this same context, it should also be noted for those that think that Saudi Arabia has zero freedom of action that Israeli leaders have stressed for many years that Tel Aviv needs to cooperate secretly with Saudi Arabia to manipulate the US against Iran. This is epitomized by the words of Israeli Brigadier-General Oded Tira: “We must clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the US to strike Iran.”
Along similar lines, some may point out that together the House of Saud and Israel got France to delay an interim nuclear agreement between the Iranians and the P5+1 in Geneva. The House of Saud rewarded Paris through lucrative deals, which includes making sure that the grant it gives to the Lebanese military is spent on French military hardware. Saad Hariri, the main Saudi client in Lebanon, even met Francois Hollande and French officials in Saudi Arabia in context of the deal. Appeasing the House of Saud and Israel, French President Hollande has replicated France’s stonewalling of the P5+1 interim nuclear deal with Iran by trying to spoil the second Syria peace conference in Geneva by saying that there can be no political solution inside Syria if President Bashar Al-Assad stays in power.
Again, however, it has to be asked, is enraging Saudi Arabia part of a US strategy to make the Saudis exert maximum pressure on Tehran, Moscow, and Damascus so that the United States can optimize its gains in negotiations? After all, it did turn out that the US was in league with France in Geneva and that the US used the French stonewalling of an agreement with Iran to make additional demands from the Iranians during the negotiations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed that the US negotiation team had actually circulated a draft agreement that had been amended in response to France’s demands before Iran and the other world powers even had a chance to study them. The draft by the US team was passed around, in Foreign Minister Lavrov’s own words, “literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.”
Instead of debating on the level of independence that the House of Saud possesses, it is important to ask if Saudi Arabia can act on its own and to what degree can the House of Saud act as an independent actor. This looks like a far easier question to answer. It is highly unlikely that Saudi Arabia can act on its own in most instances or even remain an intact state. This is why Israeli strategists very clearly state that Saudi Arabia is destined to fall apart. “The entire Arabian Peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia,” the Israeli Yinon Plan deems. Strategists in Washington are also aware of this and this is also why they have replicated models of a fragmented Saudi Arabia. This gives rise to another important question: if they US assess that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not a sustainable entity, will it use it until the burns out like a flame? Is this what is happening and is Saudi Arabia being sacrificed or setup to take the blame as the “fall guy” by the United States?
Who is Hiding Behind the House of Saud?
Looking back at Lebanon, the messages from international media outlets via their headlines is that the bombings in Lebanon highlight or reflect a power struggle between the House of Saud and Tehran in Lebanon and the rest of the region. Saying nothing about the major roles of the US, Israel, and their European allies, these misleading reports by the likes of journalists like Anne Barnard casually blame everything in Syria and Lebanon on a rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, erasing the entire history behind what has happened and casually sweeping all the interests behind the conflict(s) under the rug. This is dishonest and painting a twisted Orientalist narrative.
The outlets trying to make it sound like all the Middle East’s problems are gravitating around some sort of Iranian and Saudi rivalry might as well write that “the Saudis and Iranians are the sources behind the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the sources behind the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq that crippled the most advanced Arab country, the ones that are blockading medication from reaching Gaza due to their rivalry, the ones who enforced a no-fly zone over Libya, the ones that are launching killer drone attacks on Yemen, and the ones that are responsible for the billions of dollars that disappeared from the Iraqi Treasury in 2003 after Washington and London invaded that country and controlled its finances.” These outlets and reports are tacitly washing the hands of actors like Washington, Tel Aviv, Paris, and London clean of blood by trying to construct a series of false narratives that either blame everything on a regional rivalry between Tehran and Riyadh or the premise that the Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims are fighting an eternal war that they are biologically programmed to wage against one another.
Arabs and Iranians and Shias and Sunnis are tacitly painted as un-human creatures that cannot be understood and savages to audiences. The New York Times even dishonestly implies that the Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims in Lebanon are killing one another in tit-for-tat attacks. It sneakily implies that Hezbollah and its Lebanese rivals are assassinating one another. Bernard, its reporter in Lebanon who was mentioned earlier, along with another colleague write:
In what have been seen as tit-for-tat attacks, car bombs have targeted Hezbollah-dominated neighborhoods in the southern suburbs of Beirut and Sunni mosques in the northern city of Tripoli.
On Friday, a powerful car bomb killed Mohamad B. Chatah, a former Lebanese finance minister who was a major figure in the Future bloc, a political group that is Hezbollah’s main Sunni rival.
The New York Times is cunningly trying to make its readers think that Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing as part of a Shiite-Sunni sectarian conflict by concluding with an explanation that the slain former Lebanese finance minister belonged to “Hezbollah’s main Sunni rival” after saying that the bombings in Lebanon “have been seen as tit-for-tat attacks” between the areas that support Hezbollah and “Sunni mosques” in Tripoli
The US and Israel wish that a Shiite-Sunni sectarian conflict was occurring in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East. They have been working for this. It has been them that have been manipulating Saudi Arabia to instigate sectarianism. The US and Israel have been prodding the House of Saud—which does not represent the Sunni Muslims, let alone the people of Saudi Arabia which are under its occupation—against Iran, all the while trying to conceal and justify the conflict being instigated as some sort of “natural” rivalry between Shiites and Sunnis that is being played out across the Middle East.
It has been assessed with high confidence by outsiders concerned by the House of Saud’s inner dealings that Prince Bandar is one of the three Al-Saud princes managing Saudi Arabia’s security and foreign policy; the other two being Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Saudi deputy foreign minister and one of King Abdullah’s point men on Syria due to his ties to Syria from his maternal side, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the interior minister. All three of them are tied to the United States more than any of their predecessors. Prince Bandar himself has a long history of working closely with the United States, which explains the endearing moniker of “Bandar Bush” that he is widely called by. “Chemical Bandar” can be added to the list too, because of the reports about his ties to the Syrian chemical weapon attacks in Ghouta.
As a US client, Saudi Arabia is a source of instability because it has been conditioned hence by Washington. Fighting the terrorist and extremist threat is now being used by the US as a point of convergence with Iran, which coincidently has authored the World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) motion at the United Nations. In reality, the author of the regional problems and instability has been Washington itself. In a masterstroke, the realists now at the helm of foreign policy are pushing American-Iranian rapprochement on the basis of what Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security advisor of the US, said would be based on Tehran and Washington working together to secure Iran’s “volatile regional environment.” “Any eventual reconciliation [between the US and Iranian governments] should be based on the recognition of a mutual strategic interest in stabilizing what currently is a very volatile regional environment for Iran,” he explains. The point should not be lost either that Brzezinski is the man who worked with the Saudis to arm the Afghan Mujahedeen against the Soviets after he organized an intelligence operation to fool the Soviets into militarily entering Afghanistan in the first place.
The House of Saud did not work alone in Afghanistan during the Cold War either. It was rigorously backed by Washington. The United States was even more involved in the fighting. It is the same in Syria. If the diplomatic leak is to be believed about the meeting between Bandar and Putin, it is of merit to note that “Bandar Bush” told Putin that any “Saudi-Russian understanding” would also be part of an “American-Russian understanding.”
Has the “Redirection” Seen its Stalingrad?
Volgograd was called Stalingrad for a part of Soviet history, in honour of the Republic of Georgia’s most famous son and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. It was Volgograd, back then called Stalingrad, where the Germans were stopped and the tide of war in Europe was turned against Hitler and his Axis allies in Europe. The Battle of Stalingrad was where the Nazis were defeated and it was in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe where the bulk of the fighting against the Germans was conducted. Nor is it any exaggeration to credit the Soviets—Russian, Kazakh, Uzbek, Tajik, Tartar, Georgian, Armenian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Chechen, and all—for doing most of the fighting to defeat the Germans in the Second World War.
Judging by the bellicose 2013 New Years Eve speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the terrorist attacks in Volgograd will be the start of another Battle of Stalingrad of some sorts and the launch of another Russian “war on terror.” Many of the terrorists that Russia will go after are in Syria and supported by the House of Saud.
The opponents of the Resistance Bloc that Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian resistance groups form have called the battlefields in Syria the Stalingrad of Iran and its regional allies. Syria has been a Stalingrad of some sorts too, but not for the Resistance Bloc. The alliance formed by the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and Israel has begun to unravel in its efforts to enforce regime change in Syria. The last few years have marked the beginning of a humiliating defeat for those funding extremism, separatism, and terrorism against countries like Russia, China, Iran, and Syria as a means of preventing Eurasian cohesion. Another front of this same battle is being politically waged by the US and the EU in the Ukraine in a move to prevent the Ukrainians from integrating with Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan.
Volgograd and the Conquest of Eurasia
While speculation has been entertained with warning in this text, most of what has been explained has not been speculative. The House of Saud has had a role in destabilizing the Russian Federation and organizing terrorist attacks inside Russia. Support or oppose the separatist movements in the North Caucasus, the point is that they have been opportunistically aided and used by the House of Saud and Washington. Despite the authenticity of the narrative about Bandar’s threats against Russia, Volgograd is about Syria and Syria is about Volgograd. Both are events taking place as part of the same struggle. The US has been trying to encroach into Syria as a means of targeting Russia and encroaching deeper in the heart of Eurasia.
When George Orwell wrote 1984 he saw the world divided into several entities at constant or “eternal” war with one another. His fictitious superstates police language, use total surveillance, and utterly manipulate mass communication to indoctrinate and deceive their peoples. Roughly speaking, Orwell’s Oceania is formed by the US and its formal and informal territories in the Western Hemisphere, which the Monroe Doctrine has essentially declared are US colonies, confederated with Britain and the settler colonies-cum-dominions of the former British Empire (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and South Africa). The Orwellian concept of Eurasia is an amalgamation of the Soviet Union with continental Europe. The entity of Eastasia on the other hand is formed around China. Southeast Asia, India, and the parts of Africa that do not fall under the influence of Oceanic South Africa are disputed territory that is constantly fought for. Although not specifically mentioned, it can be extrapolated that Southwest Asia, where Syria is located, or parts of it are probably part of this fictional disputed territory, which includes North Africa.
If we try to fit Orwellian terms onto the present set of global relations, we can say that Oceania has made its moves against Eurasia/Eastasia for control of disputed territory (in the Middle East and North Africa).
1984 is not just a novel, it is a warning from the farseeing Orwell. Nonetheless, never did he imagine that his Eurasia would make cause with or include Eastasia through a core triple alliance and coalition comprised of Russia, China, and Iran. Eurasia will finish, in one way or another, whatOceania has started. All the while, as the House of Saud and the other rulers of the Arab petro-sheikhdoms continue to compete with one another in building fancy towers, the Sword of Damocles is getting heavier over their heads.
Source: Global Research
Beirut – Another week, another terrorist bombing. It’s beginning to look a lot like that here in Lebanon these days. Another apparent suicide bomber detonated a car rigged with explosives in the southern suburbs yesterday killing at least five people and injuring at least 77. The health ministry released a statement just a short while ago reporting that an additional 67 people were treated in hospitals for wounds and released, while 10 people remained hospitalized with more severe injuries.
Many who thought their team and its local and international supporters were invincible appear to be rethinking recent events. More are realizing that their enemies are also skilled and fearless fighters and not at all afraid to die for their religion, or related causes, and may well be growing in number as they view the results of their handiwork.
Yesterday’s explosion is the fourth bombing since last July in Beirut’s southern suburbs known as Dahiyeh. It targeted al-Arid Street two blocks almost directly behind the office of the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (SSSP) near the old Al Manar building which re-located after being repeatedly bombed by US funded Israel forces in 2006. Some preliminary reports indicate that a 20 kilogram bomb was used in the explosion hidden and then detonated inside an olive green Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The latest information this morning comes from Hezbollah security guys who guard our building (and my motorcycle—bless them for both favors!) and who have been visibly present throughout Dahiyeh for the past six months, ever since the spate of neighborhood bombings began. People in South Beirut tend to believe that al-Qaeda-linked groups are responsible for this latest in a series of attacks and some point to the recent reports from UPI and other media that Al-Nusra leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have ordered their fighters specifically into Lebanon for the sole purpose of fighting and destroying Hezbollah.
There are reports, whose accuracy is difficult to verify that scores of jihadists are arriving here from Syria, Iraq and other countries. The last half of 2013 has seen a dramatic rise in the number of young male fighters from North Africa and the Levant. Many are joining Al Nusra and ISIS rather than choosing more “moderate” groups. The six-week training camps are attracting a majority of the wannabe jihadists who come for a number of religious and non-religious reasons and who want to join the better established and most widely admired ‘winning teams.’ Additionally, the Golani and Baghdadi groups reportedly offer the best food, the most “inspiring” jihadist ideology, newer and more powerful weapons, heavy winter clothing including gloves, and salaries of up to $ 450-500 per month depending on potential exhibited during the 45 days training camp with credit given to applicants with vetted previous experience.
Reports suggest that the current “slow war” will intensely in Lebanon following the assassination of a rumored candidate for Lebanese Prime Minister, when and if a new government is formed around here, the former Lebanese Finance Minister Mohammad Chatah. That murder came at a very critical time in Lebanon. It is difficult to identify a period during the past three decades during which divisions and tensions among the Lebanese have previously reached such dangerous levels. Verbal attacks and thinly veiled threats from the pro-Western alliance known as March 14 against the National Lebanese Resistance lead by Hezbollah (March 8) have intensified. Common now are open calls to confront Hezbollah “by all means in order to save Lebanon.” The anti-Assad groups blame the pro-Assad March 8 coalition for last month’s assassination of Mohammad Chatah which occurred near the spot in central Beirut where Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 25 others were killed by a massive car bomb on Valentine’s Day 2005. The Hague based Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is due to start trying that case last this month.
People in the street, from the depressed expressions on the faces of even apparently well to do women these days trudging along fashionable Hamra street–to the young from across the confessions who seek to depart Lebanon and the sooner the better, often cite a laundry list or reasons they think Lebanon never has been a real country, is not and likely never will be.
Indeed, to some foreigners living in Lebanon, it often seems that locals habitually blame outsiders for most, if not all, of their current problems. The Sykes-Picot secret process of creating nations, the French, the USA, Saudi Arabia, “the West”, Iran, Syria, the Gulf countries are among others being identified as the main culprits.
Others are quite sure, for a long list of commonly elaborated reasons that it’s the Lebanese themselves who created the current mess of this claimed ‘non-country.’ The reasons are many but a short list would include that there is no functioning government, no Armed Forces worthy of the name, corrupt politicians who regularly sell out their constituents who for some unfathomable reason keep voting them back into power. In addition, the poisonous sects and confessions that even give rising ethno-nationalism a bad name, defective character that is exhibited daily among the general population from cheating others at the slightest opportunity, insane, selfish, aggressive driving creating the highest auto accident rates per capital in the world, and considering it their birth-right to disparage others religions while threatening death to those who dares to criticize theirs. This, just for starters.
The gifted writer Michael Young of Beirut’s Daily Star wrote recently that “Everywhere, it seems, the Lebanese are swindled, and feel it. Restaurants charge European-standard prices, but the vast majority serves mediocre food. Many contractors will demand the highest fees for their work, but take no pride in it. They will bring in cheap laborers to save money, so that one must pay nearly double to repair the myriad errors.” Young continues “Every day, it seems, Lebanon has become a vast con game, an unprincipled country where violence is given free rein, where charlatanism is rewarded, where incompetence is generalized and where legalized theft is widespread – a country which it is easy to leave and from which the young understandably seek escape.”
On a related subject some of these observers’ friends in Syria articulate a solution to the problem that Lebanon has become and that they claim “would be best for all concerned!” They sometimes insist that whatever the outcome of the “current situation” at a minimum and for sure stolen Syrian territory, now referred to generally but not exclusively as “Lebanon” that was unnaturally and wrongfully ripped away and patched into a country by the French and British colonists must be returned to “Mother Syria”. It is true than whenever this observer crosses over into Syria from Lebanon and arrives in Damascus and engages with people, that despite the current tragic situation there, one feels that Syria in a “real country” with laws and standards and well, civilization. Not only have I never felt that to be the case when in Lebanon I do not recall discussing the subject with any foreigner who does feel that Lebanon is a ‘real country’ or even with many locals in Lebanon who do.
Well, it not this observers business and not only does my own country appear to have more problems than few in this whole region would want to face, the Lebanese do have some good qualities—one imagines.
And for sure this damaged goods observer has no will at all to challenge the Almighty’s creation wisdom these days as there is way too much now on my soggy paper plate without entering the new year with her or him scowling at me too.
For New Years a cherished Lebanese friend, a sweet complainant of what her life has become, sent me this thoughtful message and insight about her personal dilemma and what went wrong with her life:
“When God created Lebanon he said to the angels nearby that it will be a land of terrific natural beauty with tall majestic mountains full of snow, beautifully sparkling rivers cutting through forests filled with many types of trees and high cliffs over-looking sandy beaches and waters with an abundance of sea life. I shall make the land rich and make the people prosper!”
One angel intervened and said, “Lord, isn’t that unfair to the rest of the world?”
“Actually no” God replied, “Just wait and see the neighbors I shall give them.”
Hopefully God will review and amend his work so Lebanon survives 2014. It is not apparent that the Lebanese are capable of doing so.
Turkey is a democracy in name only. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ruling despot.
He’s led Ankara’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) since August 2001. He’s been prime minister since March 2003. Why Turks put up with him they’ll have to explain.
Last spring, anti-government protests rocked Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish cities. Police violence followed. Brutality is longstanding policy. Corruption is deep-seated.
It’s rife in Turkey’s construction sector. Erdogan established a land sales office. Ostensibly it was to build affordable public housing.
Widespread privatizations followed. Billions of dollars worth of government assets were sold.
Sweetheart deals and bribes accompanied them. Well-connected companies got no-bid contracts. State banks provided generous financing.
Projects developed had nothing to do with public housing. Berat Albayrak heads Calik Holding. He’s well connected. He’s Erdogan’s son-in-law.
He may be linked to the corruption probe. He builds power plants in Turkmenistan. He’s involved in an AKP backed oil pipeline project. He has other government related business.
The current scandal stems from a year ago anonymous letter. It was sent to police. It alleged Ankara and local government authorities illegally facilitated construction projects. Huge profits were involved.
Surveillance, phone tapping, and other investigatory methods followed. They produced considerable evidence of corruption. Government ministers are involved. Million dollar bribes were paid.
State-run Halk Bank head was found with about $4.5 million in cash. It was at home. It was stashed in shoe boxes.
Millions more were seized from other suspects. Over a dozen are accused of bribery and money laundering, as well as gold and antiques smuggling.
On December 17, Turkey’s Financial Crimes and Battle Against Criminal Incomes department detained 47 people.
Sons of Ankara’s Economy, Interior and Environment and Urban Planning ministers are involved.
So is Fatih district municipality major Mustafa Demir and real estate tycoon Ali Agaoglu. Minister of European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis is being investigated.
Whether scandal touches Erdogan remains to be seen. He claims attempts to do so will be “left empty handed.”
On Christmas day, he reshuffled his cabinet. Three ministers resigned. He sack 10 others. He replaced them. Events are fast-moving.
Erdogan Bayraktar was Minister of Environment and Urban Planning. He was a member of parliament. He felt forced to resign both posts.
He said Erdogan should do so. He claimed suspect construction projects under investigation were approved with Erdogan’s full knowledge.
“With your permission, I want to make very short statements in the form of a press statement,” he said.
“It is of course a right and an authority for Mr. Prime Minister to work with whichever minister he wants and to remove whichever minister he wants from office.”
“But I do not accept the pressure being put on me which says, ‘Resign because of an operation in which there are statements of bribery and corruption and release a declaration that will relieve me.’ “
“I do not (accept it) because a big part of the zoning plans that are in the investigation file and were confirmed were made with approval from Mr. Prime Minister.”
“For the sake of the well-being of this nation, I believe the prime minister should resign.”
He accused him of involvement in suspect property deals. He’s linked to profiteering business interests.
Scandal heads closer to directly connecting him. Perhaps it will as investigations continue. Turkish Professor Soli Ozel called Bayraktar’s call for Erdogan’s resignation “extraordinarily dramatic.”
He’s “someone who was very close to the prime minister. This is someone you’d expect to fall on his sword without question.”
Other analysts see things potentially spinning out of control. Whether Erdogan can prevent it remains to be seen.
He may end up victimized by his own transgressions. It depends on how much public anger grows. He weathered previous crises. It’s hard to know if this one is too great to contain.
Investigations targeted over 90 suspects. Over two dozen were arrested. Dozens of police chiefs were sacked. Erdogan is far from squeaky-clean.
On December 21, Ankara’s police department Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Unit head Hakan Yuksekdag was found dead in his car. Officially it was pronounced suicide.
Further investigation is being conducted. The incident occurred a day after 14 senior Ankara National Police Department officials were removed from their posts.
Erdogan blamed ongoing events on an international conspiracy. He vowed revenge on figures connected to Muhammed Fethullah Gulen.
He heads the movement bearing his name. He claims a million or more followers. They include judges and senior police officials.
He’s currently in self-imposed exile. He’s in Pennsylvania. He’s a writer, former imam, and Islamic opinion leader. He’s an important figure.
He’s involved with issues relating to Turkey’s future. He and Erdogan haven’t gotten along for years.
Former Minister of Internal Affairs Idris Naim Sahin said Erdogan’s actions fall short of law and justice. He’s trying to defuse public anger, he said. He’s shifting blame to do it.
Thousands of Istanbul, Ankara, and Ismir protesters demanded Erdogan’s resignation. They did so on Christmas. They did it in other cities. They protested last spring.
They’re justifiably outraged. Their longstanding anger hasn’t waned. Erdogan works against their well-being. Clashes with police erupted. Arrests followed.
Protesters chanted; “Three ministers aren’t enough. The whole government should resign. Corruption is everywhere. Resistance is everywhere.”
Opposition party members accused Erdogan of deepening despotic rule. Critics use the term “deep state.” It refers to a shadowy power structure. It lacks checks and balances.
Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) is Erdogan’s main rival. It’s Turkey’s oldest political party. It’s AKP’s Main Opposition in the Grand National Assembly. Kemal Kilicdaroglu heads it.
“Erdogan has a ‘deep state,’ ” he said. His AKP “has a ‘deep state.’ ” Efkan Ala is new Interior Minister.
He’s an Erdogan crony. He formerly was Diyarbakir Province governor. He’s part of what’s ongoing, said Kilicdaroglu.
He believes Ala’s appointment is part of an Erdogan power grab. He wants greater police control. Outgoing Interior Minister Muammer Guler fired hundreds of police officers. Senior commanders were sacked.
Erdogan’s new ministers were carefully chosen. He appointed officials “that will not show any opposition to him,” said Kilicdaroglu.
Turkey is more police state than democracy. Press freedom is compromised. Censorship is standard practice. Dissent is verboten. Challenging government authority is called terrorism.
No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey. Corruption is deep-seated. Neoliberal harshness writ large is policy. Popular interests are spurned.
Erdogan represents wealth, power and privilege. It’s hard imagining he’s not involved in corruption in some way. He’s gotten his son-in-law business tycoon sweetheart deals.
He prioritizes Turkey’s business model. It reflects capitalism’s dark side. It includes unrestrained profit-making, privatizations, cheap labor, deregulation, corporate-friendly tax cuts, marginalized worker rights, and speculative capital inflows.
Economic conditions are inherently unstable. Turkey suffers rolling recessions, crisis conditions, and fragile largely jobless recoveries. It’s increasingly dependent on imports of resources and capital goods.
Youth unemployment tops 22%. An entire generation is affected. Conditions are socially and economically unstable.
Privation fuels public anger. Eventually it may spiral out-of-control. It may be just a matter of time. Turkey has a long history of rebellion.
Erdogan is increasingly hated. He weathered last spring’s anti-government protests. It remains to be seen what’s next.
Nicolas Spiro heads Spiro Sovereign Strategy. “The dismissal of half an entire cabinet is worrying enough,” he said. “The corruption probe is escalating by the day.”
It’s “causing a further deterioration in market sentiment towards Turkey.” Erdogan’s new cabinet includes four deputy prime ministers.
Ayse Islam is the only woman appointed. She’s Family and Social Policy Minister. Others include:
Deputy prime minister: Bulent Arinc
Deputy prime minister: Ali Babacan
Deputy prime minister: Besir Atalay
Deputy prime minister: Emrullah Isler
Justice: Bekir Bozdag
Defense: Ismet Yilmaz
Interior: Efkan Ala
Foreign Affairs: Ahmet Davutoglu
European Union: Mevlut Cavusoglu
Finance: Mehmet Simsek
Economy: Nihat Zeybekci
Energy and Natural Resources: Taner Yildiz
National Education: Nabi Avci
Labour and Social Security: Faruk Celik
Environment and Urban Development: Idris Gulluce
Health: Mehmet Muezzinoglu
Transport: Lutfi Elvan
Food, Agriculture and Husbandry: Mehmet Mehdi Eker
Science, Industry and Technology: Fikri Isik
Culture and Tourism: Omer Celik
Forestry and Water Affairs: Veysel Eroglu
Customs and Trade: Hayati Yazici
Development: Cevdet Yilmaz
Youth and Sports: Akif Cagatay Kilic
Scandal erupted months ahead of next March’s local elections. Parliamentary elections involving Erdogan are scheduled in 2015.
If held today, voters might oust him. It’s way too early to know how they’ll react in 2015. Istanbul-based Global Source Partners analyst Atilla Yesilada said ongoing events suggest Erdogan is losing control.
“Forced to act, (he) tried to get rid of his burdens,” he said. “But this is a political crisis, and it is hard to tell how it will unfold. These investigations may expand in coming months.”
Doing so perhaps may link Erdogan to deep-seated corruption. If so, he may be forced to resign. The fullness of time will tell.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.