Saturday, 31 May 2014

Syrian Army Strikes Militants across Country, Terrorist Attacks Kill 4 Citizens

Local Editor
Syrian ArmyThe Syrian army continued Friday its operations against the terrorist groups in several provinces, including Aleppo, Daraa, Idleb, Homs and Latakia, inflicting heavy human and materialistic losses upon them.
The Syrian army controlled the villages of Sateh Zahnan and al-Taff in Daraa countryside and eliminated a number of militants.

2 civilians were killed and some 85 others wounded after terrorists fired rocket shells at Aleppo neighborhoods.

Terrorists mortar attack claimed the lives of two citizens and injured 13 others in Danoun Camp in al-Kisweh area in Damascus Countryside.

Politically, The presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic thanked the Syrian citizens abroad for their wide participation in the Presidential elections.


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US Sources: Syrian Presidential Vote in Lebanon Granted Assad Strategic Power


Local Editor
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Translated by Mohamed Salami

The flood of the Syrian voters in Beirut has surprised the whole world, what pushed US sources to say that the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan has granted the Syrian government a strategic power, al-Binaa Lebanese newspaper reported.

Feltman
The US sources considered that Syria has established an army of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan and that only the return of these refugees to their country will require a political settlement.

The sources added that the loss of control over certain areas did not deprive the Syrian authorities from its strategic role in the region, yet the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan has given Syria an influence over areas, what was impossible to be attained.

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, informed the Saudis about the necessity of reaching a political solution in Syria as soon as possible because of the strategic achievements which the Syrian government is attaining.

Source: Newspapers
30-05-2014 - 16:01 Last updated 30-05-2014 - 16:0


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Weekly report on israel’s terrorism against the State of Palestine

FULL REPORT
PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 22 – 28 May, 2014, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces wounded 8 Palestinians, including 7 civilians and a child. Four of the aforementioned Palestinians were wounded in the West Bank, and the other four ones were wounded in the Gaza strip. Israeli naval forces fired at and chased Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip Sea. In addition, Israeli forces conducted at least 65 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 46 Palestinians, including 10 children and a woman.
Salfit- Israeli forces confiscate lands in Kafr al-Deek village- Reuters
Salfit- Israeli forces confiscate lands in Kafr al-Deek village- Reuters
Israeli attacks in the West Bank & Gaza:
Shootings:
During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 8 Palestinians, including 7 civilians and a child. Four of the aforementioned Palestinians were wounded in the West Bank, and the other four ones were wounded in the Gaza strip. Israeli naval forces fired at and chased Palestinian fishing boats in the Gaza Strip Sea.
In the Gaza Strip, on 23 May 2014, Mohammed ‘Abdel Men’em Ahmed Abu Shehadah (16) from al-Msadar village was wounded by a bullet to the right shoulder causing him paraplegia when Israeli forces stationed along the border, east of Deir al-Balah, opened fire at 3 brothers, who were collecting straws in an agricultural area around 350 meters away from the border.
On the same day, a member of an Palestinian armed group was wounded by a bullet to the right thigh when Israeli forces stationed along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, north of al-Sifah area in the northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of a number of armed Palestinians who were present near the border.
On the same day, Israeli forces stationed along the border, east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza strip, opened fire and fired tear gas canisters at a group of young men who were near the border in attempt to throw stones at the Israeli soldiers. No injuries were reported.
Also on the same day, Israeli forces stationed on the watchtowers at Beit Hanoun Crossing (Erez) and in its vicinity, northwest of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of workers who were collecting raw materials in the destroyed industrial zone to the west of the crossing near the border. No injuries were reported.
On 25 May 2014, Israeli forces stationed on the watchtowers along the northern border, northwest of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of workers who were collecting raw materials near the border fence in the destroyed industrial zone near Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing. As a result, a Palestinian civilian was wounded by a bullet to the left leg.
On 26 May 2014, ‘Emad Shokri Salem (52) from Beit Lahia Housing Project was wounded by two bullets to the back and right hand when Israeli forces stationed along the border, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of Palestinian civilians who were along the Beit Lahia shore around 300 meters away from the northern borders.
In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, on 24 May 2014, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Waha Shore, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire in the vicinity of the Palestinian fishing boats sailing 3 nautical miles offshore. No injuries were reported, but fishermen lost 4 nets which are 250 meters long.
On 27 May 2014, Israeli naval forces arrested 3 Palestinian fishermen while sailing 3 nautical miles off Rafah shore in the southern Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, on 23 May 2014, Israeli forces wounded 3 Palestinian civilians who were participating in a demonstration organized in the vicinity of ‘Ofer Prison, southwest of Ramallah, in solidarity with the Palestinian administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike in the Israeli jails. The first civilian (19) sustained a bullet wound to the right leg, the second one (24) was hit by a tear gas canister to his chest, and the third one (23) sustained a rubber-coated metal bullet wound to his forehead.
On 24 May 2014, Israeli forces stationed on watchtowers established along the fence surrounding “Beit Eil” settlement, north of Ramallah, opened fire at a group of boys in the agricultural lands near al-Jalzone UNRWA School for Boys to the west of the aforementioned settlement. As a result, Mohammed ‘Ali Hasan Safi (‘Eishawi) (18) from the refugee camp was wounded by 3 bullets to the left and right legs. He was arrested and taken to Hadasa ‘Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, where his wounds were described as critical.
In the same context, Israeli forces used excessive force against peaceful protests organised by Palestinian civilians, international and Israeli human rights defenders in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. As a result, dozens of protestors suffered tear gas inhalation, and others sustained bruises as they were beaten up by Israeli soldiers.
Incursions:
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 65 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 46 Palestinians, including 10 children and a woman.
On 22 May 2014, Israeli forces moved 200 meters into the east of Khaza’ah village, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza strip. They levelled lands along the border fence and then redeployed along the border fence.
Restrictions on movement:
Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 7 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 1.7 million people. The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy. They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports.
Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue to be denied access to Jerusalem.
As part of using military checkpoints and border crossings as traps to arrest Palestinian civilians under the pretext they are wanted, Israeli forces arrested 5 Palestinian civilians at military checkpoints in the West Bank, and another 5 civilians along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Settlement activities:
Israel has continued its settlement activities in the oPt, in a direct violation of international humanitarian law, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
Attacks carried out by Israeli forces
On 22 May 2014, Israeli forces accompanied by a group of settlers moved into Thaher al-Soboh area, north of Kafr al-Deek village, west of Salfit. They surveyed tracts of lands in the area till at approximately 15:00. At approximately 09:00 on Sunday, 25 May 2014, Israeli forces backed by bulldozers moved into the area again and leveled tracts of lands in it. The lands threatened with leveling are located adjacent to “Brokhin” and “’Ali Zihav” settlements.
Attacks carried out by settlers
On 23 May 2014, settlers from “Mitsibi Ya’ir” settlement established on Palestinian lands, east of Yatta, south of Hebron, set fire to peals of wheat crops on a land belonging to Khaled Mousa al-Najjar (60), from Qawawis village, east of the city.
On the same day, four settlers from “Kokhaf Hashaher” settlement established on the lands of Deir Jarir village, northeast of Ramallah, attacked two civilians who were on the road between Mekhmas and al-Tibah villages, northeast of the city. During their attack, the settlers used plastic sticks, clubs and a knife causing injuries and bruises to them.
On 26 May 2014, settlers from “Hayofal” outpost established on the Palestinian lands, west of Qaryout village, southeast of Nablus, cut down 30 almond and olive trees from the aforementioned village lands. The attack was backed by the settlement guard, who claimed that the trees were cut for security reasons.
On 27 May 2014, when Fawzi Ibrahim ‘Abed Haj Mohammed arrived at his land in Khelet Abu Shabraqah area, southeast of Jaloud village, southeast of Nablus, he was surprised that settlers entered their sheep into the land and damaged the wheat crops, i.e. 45 dunums, causing a loss of around 45,000 NIS.
Israeli attacks on non-violent demonstrations:
During the reporting period, Israeli soldiers used excessive force against peaceful demonstrations organised by Palestinian civilians, international and Israeli human rights defenders in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank.
(PCHR keeps the names of the wounded in fear of being arrested by the Israeli forces within its policy to oppress the peaceful protests and prevent Palestinian civilians from participating).
Demonstrations against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activity
Following the Friday Prayer, 23 May 2014, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Bil’in, west of Ramallah, in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities and in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Demonstrators took the streets raising the Palestinian flags and headed to the liberated territories near the annexation wall. Israeli forces stationed behind the wall, in the western area, and a large number of soldiers deployed along it, fired live bullets, tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs and skunk water at them and chased them into the olive fields. As a result, a number of demonstrators suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises as they were beaten up by Israeli soldiers.
On the same day, dozens of Palestinian civilians organized a peaceful demonstration in the centre of Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah, in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities and in solidarity with Palestinian detainees on hunger strike. Demonstrators took the streets and headed to the annexation wall. Israeli forces closed the gates of the wall with barbwires and prevented the demonstrators from crossing to the land behind it before they responded by throwing stones. Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. They also sprayed waste water at them and chased them into the olive fields. As a result, many civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and bruises as they were beaten up by Israeli soldiers.
Around the same time, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organised a peaceful demonstration in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities, in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Demonstrators took the streets raising the Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against the occupation and in support of the Palestinian unity, and they then headed to the lands that the settlers are trying to seize by force near “Halmish” settlement. Israeli forces closed all the entrances of the village since the morning to prevent Palestinian and international activists and journalists from participating in the demonstration. When they arrived at the aforementioned land, Israeli forces fired live bullets, tear gas canisters, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and waste water at the demonstrators and chased into the village. Moreover, many demonstrators suffered tear gas inhalation, and others sustained bruises due to being beaten up by Israeli soldiers.
At approximately 13:00 on the aforementioned day, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international activists organized a peaceful demonstration in the centre of Kufor Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqilya, in protest at the closure of the eastern entrance of the village with a metal gate since the beginning of the second Intifada. Protestors threw stones at the Israeli soldiers who fired live bullets, tear gas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets, and sound bombs in response. As a result, many civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises due to being beaten up by Israeli soldiers.
Other Demonstrations
On Friday afternoon, 23 May 2014, dozens of Palestinian young men gathered near ‘Ofer prison, southwest of Ramallah, to organize a demonstration in solidarity with administrative detainees in the Israeli jails. Protesters headed towards the prison’s gate, so the Israeli forces closed the gate and large numbers of Israeli soldiers were deployed in the vicinity of it. Protestors set fire to tires and threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli soldiers who fired in response live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 3 civilians sustained wounds and were taken to Palestine Medical Complex to receive the necessary medical treatment. Moreover, a number of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation. The first civilian (19) sustained a bullet wound to the right leg, the second one (24) was hit by a tear gas canister to his chest, and the third one (23) sustained a metal bullet wound to his forehead.
After the Friday prayer of the aforementioned day, dozens of Palestinian young men gathered at the western entrance of Selwad village, northeast of Ramallah on the road between Selwad village and Yabrod village near Street (60) to throw stones at the aforementioned street. The Israeli soldiers stationed in the area fired live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them and chased them into the village. As a result, a number of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises as they were beaten up by Israeli soldiers.
At approximately 13:00 on Saturday, 24 May 2014, activists from the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements and Hebron Defense Committee and other civilians residents organized a peaceful demonstration at the entrance of al-Fawwar refugee camp in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Demonstrators took the streets raising the Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against the occupation. Israeli soldiers moved into the area and deployed in order to distance the demonstrators from the area. The Israeli soldiers then fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. As a result, some of them suffered tear gas inhalation. Meanwhile, youngsters gathered to throw stones and empty bottles at the soldiers who fired tear gas canisters in response. No arrests were reported.
Continued closure of the oPt
Israel continued to impose a tight closure on the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
Gaza Strip Israeli forces continuously tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip and close all commercial crossings, making the Karm Abu Salem crossing the sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip, although it is not suitable for commercial purposes in terms of its operational capacity and distance from markets. Israeli forces have continued to apply the policy, which is aimed to tighten the closure on all commercial crossings, by imposing total control over the flow of imports and exports.
The total closure of al-Mentar (“Karni”) crossing since 02 March 2011 has seriously affected the economy of the Gaza Strip. Following this closure, all economic and commercial establishments in the Gaza Commercial Zone were shut off. It should be noted that al-Mentar crossing is the biggest crossing in the Gaza Strip, in terms of its capacity to absorb the flow of imports and exports. The decision to close al-Mentar crossing was the culmination of a series of decisions resulting in the complete closure of the Sofa crossing, east of the Gaza Strip in the beginning of 2009, and the Nahal Oz crossing, east of Gaza City, which were dedicated for the delivery of fuel and cooking gas to the Gaza Strip, in the beginning of 2010.
Israeli forces have continued to impose a total ban on the delivery of raw materials to the Gaza Strip, except for very limited items and quantities. The limited quantities of raw materials allowed into Gaza do not meet the minimal needs of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
The cooking gas crisis has fluctuated for 9 months due to the closure of Karm Abu Salem for security claims. According to PCHR’s follow-up, Israeli authorities only allow an average of 98 tons of cooking gas into Gaza per day. This limited quantity is less than half of the daily needs, which is 200 tons per day of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip during winter. The crisis has unprecedentedly aggravated for around six weeks due to cold weather and overconsumption in addition to the power outage and using gas as an alternative in many instances of electricity. The lack of diesel and benzene led to the aggravation of the crisis as a result of using the gas cylinder for cars or as an alternative for benzene to run generators. As a result, the demand for gas further increased.
For almost 6 consecutive years, Israeli forces have continued to prevent the delivery of construction materials to the Gaza Strip. Two years ago, Israeli forces approved the delivery of limited quantities of construction materials for a number of international organizations in the Gaza Strip. On 17 September 2013, they allowed the entry of limited quantities of construction materials for the private sector. However, on 13 October 2013, they re-banned it claiming that these materials are used for constructing tunnels. Last week, Israeli forces allowed the entry of construction materials only for UNRWA and UNDP projects. As a result, construction works have completely stopped impacting all sectors related to construction and an increase in unemployment levels.
Israeli forces also continued to impose an almost total ban on the Gaza Strip exports, including agricultural and industrial products, except for light-weighted products such as flowers, strawberries, and spices.
Israel has continued to close the Beit Hanoun (“Erez”) crossing for the majority of Palestinian citizens from the Gaza Strip. Israel only allows the movement of a limited number of groups, with many hours of waiting in the majority of cases. Israel has continued to adopt a policy aimed at reducing the number of Palestinian patients allowed to move via the Beit Hanoun crossing to receive medical treatment in hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel denied permission to access hospitals via the crossing for new categories of patients from the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian authorities allow the population of the Gaza Strip to travel via Rafah International crossing, which connects the Gaza Strip with the outside world. Only limited and specified categories are allowed, including patients, students, persons that hold residencies in Egypt or abroad, men over 40 years, females in all ages, children under 18, persons who hold Arab and foreign nationalities, and members of Arab and international humanitarian delegations. Supposedly the crossing opens seven days a week. Nowadays, the crossing is overcrowded due to the prolonged procedures from the Egyptian side, particularly after closing it for several days over the past weeks due to Egypt’s security conditions, which has affected the travelers’ movement in both directions.
Recommendations to the International Community:
PCHR emphasizes the international community’s position that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation, in spite of Israeli military redeployment outside the Gaza Strip in 2005. PCHR further confirms that Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures on the Gaza Strip, which have escalated since the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, in which Hamas won the majority of seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. PCHR stresses that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and the international humanitarian law, especially the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land and the Geneva Conventions. Israel is bound to apply the international human rights law and the law of war sometime reciprocally and other times in parallel in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for victims.
In light of continued arbitrary measures, land confiscation and settlement activities in the West Bank, and the continued aggression against civilians in the Gaza Strip, PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and the European Union – in the context of their natural obligation to respect and enforce the international law – to cooperate and act according to the following recommendations:
1. PCHR calls upon the international community and the United Nations to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination, through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine;
2. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to provide international protection to Palestinians in the oPt, and to ensure the non-recurrence of aggression against the oPt, especially the Gaza Strip;
3. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to compel Israel, as a High Contracting Party to the Conventions, to apply the Conventions in the oPt;
4. PCHR calls upon the Parties to international human rights instruments, especially the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to pressurize Israel to comply with their provisions in the oPt, and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the concerned committees;
5. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation to ensure the application of the Conventions, including extending the scope of their jurisdiction in order to prosecute suspected war criminals, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the place of a crime, to pave the way for prosecuting suspected Israeli war criminals and end the longstanding impunity they have enjoyed;
6. PCHR calls on States that apply the principle of universal jurisdiction not to surrender to Israeli pressure to limit universal jurisdiction to perpetuate the impunity enjoyed by suspected Israeli war criminals;
7. PCHR calls upon the international community to act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the oPt through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them;
8. PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly to transfer the Goldstone Report to the UN Security Council in order to refer it to the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute;
9. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to confirm that holding war criminals in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a precondition to achieve stability and peace in the regions, and that peace cannot be built on the expense of human rights;
10. PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council to explicitly declare that the Israeli closure policy in Gaza and the annexation wall in the West Bank are illegal, and accordingly refer the two issues to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel to compel it to remove them;
11. PCHR calls upon the international community, in light of its failure to the stop the aggression on the Palestinian people, to at least fulfil its obligation to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after the series of hostilities launched by Israel which directly targeted the civilian infrastructure;
12. PCHR calls upon the United Nations and the European Union to express a clear position towards the annexation wall following the international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, as the annexation wall seizes large parts of the State of Palestine;
13. PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that both sides must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel, and the EU must not ignore Israeli violations and crimes against Palestinian civilians;
14. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian leadership to sign and accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Geneva Conventions, and calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations, to encourage the State of Palestine to accede to international human rights law and humanitarian law instruments.

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Obama’s Foreign Policy: A US Military-Intelligence Agenda Which Seeks to Destabilize the Planet

Global Research, May 28, 2014
obamadoublespeakIt has been a busy weak for President Obama. On Memorial day he secretly flew off to Afghanistan just to let the troops know he genuinely cares and is thinking about them. Or so his PR advisors want it to appear as his ratings continue slumping and his disastrous foreign policy continues to come under heavy fire from all sides. A true characteristic of psychopaths is that everything they do is to self-servingly promote their own image and position. Currently finding himself on the defensive, what does Obama the psychopath do? He opportunistically rushes off as Commander-in -Chief to spend the day that America mourns its fallen warriors with the live ones still fighting his lost cause in Afghanistan.
Then as a lead-up to today’s foreign policy initiatives detailed in his graduation speech at West Point today, yesterday President Obama declared that America’s longest running wars in history in both Iraq and Afghanistan are over almost for the US military occupiers. But he did stipulate just under 10,000 US troops will remain in Afghanistan as “advisors” and counterinsurgency support forces for the national Afghan Army at least for the next two years until 2017.
Plus a small contingent of NATO forces will likely continue their deployment in Afghanistan as well. The two leading candidates facing off in the Afghan presidential runoff election on June 25th have both already pledged to sign the agreement for US security forces to remain as “unofficial” occupiers that Obama assures will no longer be engaging in combat missions and patrols. Meanwhile, a number of US military officers are expressing doubt that that amount of US troops will be enough to hold back the surging onslaught of a revitalized Taliban enemy.
It is also worth noting that Obama bragged in today’s speech to West Point cadets that “al Qaeda has been decimated.” That is just one more in an endless supply of lies from the lips of a psychopath who will never admit the truth nor ever admit error, two hallmarks of a psychopath. The truth is that the enemy al Qaeda now occupies more area in Iraq and the Middle East than ever before and the enemy in Afghanistan likewise holds more territory outside the cities in Afghanistan than any time since the Taliban government was overthrown twelve years ago.
Today Obama emphatically reiterated the rhetoric that “America must always lead,” which is nothing more than his invoking the stand-by foreign policy of exceptionalism – “do as I say, not as I do.” He formally announced moving away from the costly protracted wars with which the US has drained the national economy and middle class taxpayers for over a dozen years. Obama’s plan for the US to lead the world involves countless dirty little secret wars waged on every continent involving Special Operations forces consisting of Green Beret, Delta Force and Navy Seals. Nothing will change in terms of the US military’s role in foreign policy continuing to act as world policemen and bully, only using smaller elite counterinsurgency units deployed in at last count and rising
134 nations. Because their operations are covert, oversight and accountability is virtually absent.
The only truth we know is their funding is virtually unlimited because it is hidden from public awareness justified by secrecy under the familiar guise of national security. What we also know based on past history is these secret unlimited US taxpayer dollars will continue to be given away to warlords to “rat out” their fellow countrymen deemed anti-US, so called insurgent terrorists or al Qaeda (to be differentiated from the al Qaeda mercenary Islamic extremists in whose pockets more US tax dollars are going to fight US proxy wars in places like Syria and Libya). Outsourcing with al Qaeda thugs has become a new way America “leads the world” in its desire to destabilize and promote regime changes wherever the US does not want to bother placing black ops on the ground.
For convenience sake, the Obama administration embraces a policy of al Qaeda the enemy whenever Washington says so, but simultaneously supports, finances and allies with (ever since the pre-al Qaeda Mujahideen in the late 70’s) certain al Qaeda terrorists to oppose selected sovereign nations that Washington dislikes and is committed to the imperialistic agenda of regime changes – calling it US exceptionalism. What’s good for the US government is good for the entire world like it or not, because the US as still the sole global superpower says so (despite the surging power of Russia and China in the renewed cold war challenge Obama instigated). Exceptionalism amounts to one set of international rules applying to the rest of the world subject to arbitrary US enforcement through bullying and extermination and another set that defies and remains immune from all international laws and governance that apply exclusively to the US only. Obama’s meta-message is that the US will continue our “might makes right” policy.
Obama’s graduation speech at West Point today in large part was a defensive maneuver to answer all his hawkish foreign policy critics, typical Republicans like McCain who have basically called Obama a wimp that has only weakened America’s global superpower status for not starting more major wars around the world. If they had their way, the US would have GI boots on the ground in Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Libya and God knows where else. Obama may be a psychopathic war criminal, but he is not quite that crazy – though that is debatable in view of last September when Obama was hell bent on launching a military strike on Syria until the whole world stopped him.
Basically Obama’s form of Teddy Roosevelt’s “walk softly but carry a big stick” means continued US night raids invading homes in secret unknown places all around the world, killing, detaining and torturing many innocent victims under the umbrage of counterinsurgency warfare. Or it might entail financing, training, accompanying and supporting death squad commando units doing the same thing in their own countries against their fellow countrymen.
Since the Bush days the US has maintained a standard foreign policy toward people in every nation, “either they are with us,” us including the US puppet government, allied warlords “or they are against us/US puppet government/allied warlords.” In this way, by design the US polarizes, destabilizes and otherwise stirs up civil wars everywhere the US goes at will. A more accurate way to describe Obama’s so called foreign policy initiatives is the King Midas touch in reverse. Cases in point include the ongoing civil wars that the US has purposely created in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Ukraine, Sudan and to some extent Pakistan, Yemen, Mali, Somalia and Venezuela.
And based on recent revelations of how the CIA has lied for years to the pro-CIA Congressional Intelligence Committees and America, the CIA and Special Operations continue their practice of torture that no doubt includes waterboarding in secret detainment prisons around the globe, the most notorious one 90 miles from the US homeland in Guantanamo, Cuba. Despite a campaign
promise in both 2008 and again in 2012 to close Guantanamo Prison down once and for all, for over half a dozen years as president Obama continues failing to keep his word.
But then broken promises to the American people have become an Obama trademark. So somewhere in the world more innocent civilians who have been fingered by some informant being paid to lie with US taxpayer money is suddenly being apprehended in one of those counterinsurgency night raids and brought to a secret location in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Central Asia or Guantanamo and without charges being tortured and imprisoned for years at a time. The US is still holding innocent victims at Guantanamo who have been cleared of all charges for at least a dozen years. If we know this is true of cases in Guantanamo, hidden from the public are likely hundreds if not thousands of other victims whose human rights have been violated for decades in numerous secret locations.
And then there is Obama’s favorite form of modern warfare that he personally prefers hand picking his targets himself that include Americans in the crosshairs of thousands of drone attacks. Obama’s   foreign policy signature calling card consists of launching missile strikes from his terror drones in the skies on mostly what turns out to be innocent victims in a number of nations. Drone warfare has been escalated over tenfold on Obama’s watch. His open admission that he could foresee killing Americans on foreign soil reflects his “world is changing” views. Today he simply repeated his past promise of turning drone deployments over from the CIA to the military to give the illusion of “more transparency.” Americans have heard that empty word before as just another broken promise since Obama’s track record has only demonstrated that he is the most secretive, least transparent president in US history.
Obama’s rhetoric today at West Point that the US will show restraint in looking for non-military solutions uttered in one breath, and then in the next breath that the US will continue to support “anti-terrorism” all around the world is just more psychopathic double talk. The bottom line is the US will continue leading by example as the world’s worst human rights offender while supporting regimes all over the planet that also have abysmal human rights records.
More of the same disastrous, unethical, haphazard and inconsistent, imperialistic foreign policy means that the US will continue financing corrupt weak puppet governments that permit transnational corporations to rape and steal their precious natural resources while enslaving its people that become even more exploited once their nations cannot repay IMF and world bank loans. In other words, there is absolutely nothing new that came out of Obama’s speech today. It will simply be business as usual, polarizing and destabilizing the world on the global chessboard stage ushering in more death, destruction and austerity paving the way toward the oligarch New World Order. Obama is simply doing his psychopathic doubletalk dance for his oligarch puppet masters.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can beconsulted athttp://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.
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China pivot fuels Eurasian century By Pepe Escobar


By Pepe Escobar 

A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States.

And no wonder Washington is anxious. That alliance is already a done deal in a variety of ways: through the BRICS group of emerging powers (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa); at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; inside the Group of 20; and via the 120-member-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Trade and commerce are just part of the future bargain. Synergies in the development of new military technologies beckon as well. After Russia's Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes online in 2018, Beijing is sure to want a version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership. This week should provide the first real fireworks in the celebration of a new Eurasian century-in-the-making when Russian President Vladimir Putin drops in on Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

You remember "Pipelineistan," all those crucial oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing Eurasia that make up the true circulatory system for the life of the region. Now, it looks like the ultimate Pipelineistan deal, worth US$1 trillion and 10 years in the making, will be signed off on as well. In it, the giant, state-controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom will agree to supply the giant state-controlled China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 3.75 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas a day for no less than 30 years, starting in 2018. That's the equivalent of a quarter of Russia's gas exports to all of Europe. China's present daily gas demand is around 16 billion cubic feet a day, and imports account for 31.6% of total consumption. Gazprom may still collect the bulk of its profits from Europe, but Asia could turn out to be its Everest. The company will use this mega-deal to boost investment in Eastern Siberia and the whole region will be reconfigured as a privileged gas hub for Japan and South Korea as well. If you want to know why no key country in Asia has been willing to "isolate" Russia in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis - and in defiance of the Obama administration - look no further than Pipelineistan.

Exit the Petrodollar, enter the Gas-o-Yuan


And then, talking about anxiety in Washington, there's the fate of the petrodollar to consider, or rather the "thermonuclear" possibility that Moscow and Beijing will agree on payment for the Gazprom-CNPC deal not in petrodollars but in Chinese yuan.
One can hardly imagine a more tectonic shift, with Pipelineistan intersecting with a growing Sino-Russian political-economic-energy partnership. Along with it goes the future possibility of a push, led again by China and Russia, toward a new international reserve currency - actually a basket of currencies - that would supersede the dollar (at least in the optimistic dreams of BRICS members).
Right after the potentially game-changing Sino-Russian summit comes a BRICS summit in Brazil in July. That's when a $100 billion BRICS development bank, announced in 2012, will officially be born as a potential alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as a source of project financing for the developing world.

More BRICS cooperation meant to bypass the dollar is reflected in the "Gas-o-yuan", as in natural gas bought and paid for in Chinese currency. Gazprom is even considering marketing bonds in yuan as part of the financial planning for its expansion. Yuan-backed bonds are already trading in Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and most recently Frankfurt.

Nothing could be more sensible for the new Pipelineistan deal than to have it settled in yuan. Beijing would pay Gazprom in that currency (convertible into roubles); Gazprom would accumulate the yuan; Russia would then buy myriad made-in-China goods and services in yuan convertible into roubles. It's common knowledge that banks in Hong Kong, from Standard Chartered to HSBC - as well as others closely linked to China via trade deals - have been diversifying into the yuan, which implies that it could become one of the de facto global reserve currencies even before it's fully convertible. (Beijing is unofficially working for a fully convertible yuan by 2018.)
The Russia-China gas deal is inextricably tied up with the energy relationship between the European Union and Russia. After all, the bulk of Russia's gross domestic product comes from oil and gas sales, as does much of its leverage in the Ukraine crisis. In turn, Germany depends on Russia for a hefty 30% of its natural gas supplies. Yet Washington's geopolitical imperatives - spiced up with Polish hysteria - have meant pushing Brussels to find ways to "punish" Moscow in the future energy sphere (while not imperiling present day energy relationships). There's a consistent rumble in Brussels these days about the possible cancellation of the projected 16 billion euro (US$22 billion) South Stream pipeline, whose construction is to start in June.

On completion, it would pump yet more Russian natural gas to Europe - in this case, underneath the Black Sea (bypassing Ukraine) to Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece, Italy, and Austria. Bulgaria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have already made it clear that they are firmly opposed to any cancellation, and cancellation is probably not in the cards. After all, the only obvious alternative is Caspian Sea gas from Azerbaijan, and that isn't likely to happen unless the EU develops its own construction projects.

In any case, Azerbaijan doesn't have enough capacity to supply the levels of natural gas needed, and other actors like Kazakhstan, plagued with infrastructure problems, or unreliable Turkmenistan, which prefers to sell its gas to China, are already largely out of the picture. And don't forget that South Stream, coupled with subsidiary energy projects, will create a lot of jobs and investment in many of the most economically devastated EU nations. Nonetheless, such EU threats, however unrealistic, only serve to accelerate Russia's increasing symbiosis with Asian markets. For Beijing especially, it's a win-win situation. After all, between energy supplied across seas policed and controlled by the US Navy and steady, stable land routes out of Siberia, it's no contest.

Pick your own Silk Road

Of course, the US dollar remains the top global reserve currency, involving 33% of global foreign exchange holdings at the end of 2013, according to the IMF. It was, however, at 55% in 2000. Nobody knows the percentage in yuan (and Beijing isn't talking), but the IMF notes that reserves in "other currencies" in emerging markets have been up 400% since 2003.

The Federal Reserve is arguably monetizing 70% of the US government debt in an attempt to keep interest rates from heading skywards. Pentagon adviser Jim Rickards, as well as every Hong Kong-based banker, tends to believe that the Fed is bust (though they won't say it on the record). No one can even imagine the extent of the possible future deluge the US dollar might experience amid a $1.4 quadrillion Mount Ararat of financial derivatives. Don't think that this is the death knell of Western capitalism, however, just the faltering of that reigning economic faith, neoliberalism, still the official ideology of the United States, the overwhelming majority of the European Union, and parts of Asia and South America. As far as what might be called the "authoritarian neoliberalism" of the Middle Kingdom, what's not to like at the moment?

China has proven that there is a result-oriented alternative to the Western "democratic" capitalist model for nations aiming to be successful. It's building not one, but myriad new Silk Roads, far-reaching webs of high-speed railways, highways, pipelines, ports, and fiber-optic networks across huge parts of Eurasia. These include a Southeast Asian road, a Central Asian road, an Indian Ocean "maritime highway" and even a high-speed rail line through Iran and Turkey reaching all the way to Germany.

In April, when President Xi Jinping visited the city of Duisburg on the Rhine River, with the world's largest inland harbor and right in the heartland of Germany's Ruhr steel industry, he made an audacious proposal: a new "economic Silk Road" should be built between China and Europe, on the basis of the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe railway, which already runs from China to Kazakhstan, to continue through Russia, Belarus, Poland, and finally Germany. That's 15 days by train, 20 less than for cargo ships sailing from China's eastern seaboard. Now that would represent the ultimate geopolitical earthquake in terms of integrating economic growth across Eurasia. Keep in mind that, if no bubbles burst, China is about to become - and remain - the number one global economic power, a position it enjoyed for 18 of the past 20 centuries. But don't tell London hagiographers; they still believe that US hegemony will last, well, forever.

Take me to Cold War 2.0

Despite recent serious financial struggles, the BRICS countries have been consciously working to become a counterforce to the original and - having tossed Russia out in March - once again Group of 7, or G-7. They are eager to create a global architecture to replace the one first imposed in the wake of World War II, and they see themselves as a potential challenge to the exceptionalist and unipolar world that Washington imagines for our future (with itself as the global robocop and NATO as its robo-police force). Historian and imperialist cheerleader Ian Morris, in his book War! What is it Good For?, defines the US as the ultimate "globocop" and "the last best hope of Earth". If that globocop "wearies of itsrole", he writes, "there is no plan B".

Well, there is a plan BRICS - or so the BRICS nations would like to think, at least. And when the BRICS do act in this spirit on the global stage, they quickly conjure up a curious mix of fear, hysteria, and pugnaciousness in the Washington establishment. Take Christopher Hill as an example. The former assistant secretary of state for East Asia and US ambassador to Iraq is now an advisor with the Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm deeply connected to the White House and the State Department. When Russia was down and out, Hill used to dream of a hegemonic American "new world order". Now that the ungrateful Russians have spurned what "the West has been offering" - that is, "special status with NATO, a privileged relationship with the European Union, and partnership in international diplomatic endeavors" - they are, in his view, busy trying to revive the Soviet empire. Translation: if you're not our vassals, you're against us. Welcome to Cold War 2.0.

The Pentagon has its own version of this directed not so much at Russia as at China, which, its think tank on future warfare claims, is already at war with Washington in a number of ways. So if it's not apocalypse now, it's Armageddon tomorrow. And it goes without saying that whatever's going wrong, as the Obama administration very publicly "pivots" to Asia and the American media fills with talk about a revival of Cold War-era "containment policy" in the Pacific, it's all China's fault. Embedded in the mad dash toward Cold War 2.0 are some ludicrous facts-on-the-ground: the US government, with $17.5 trillion in national debt and counting, is contemplating a financial showdown with Russia, the largest global energy producer and a major nuclear power, just as it's also promoting an economically unsustainable military encirclement of its largest creditor, China. Russia runs a sizeable trade surplus.

Humongous Chinese banks will have no trouble helping Russian banks out if Western funds dry up. In terms of inter-BRICS cooperation, few projects beat a $30 billion oil pipeline in the planning stages that will stretch from Russia to India via Northwest China. Chinese companies are already eagerly discussing the possibility of taking part in the creation of a transport corridor from Russia into Crimea, as well as an airport, shipyard, and liquid natural gas terminal there. And there's another "thermonuclear" gambit in the making: the birth of a natural gas equivalent to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that would include Russia, Iran, and reportedly disgruntled US ally Qatar.

The (unstated) BRICS long-term plan involves the creation of an alternative economic system featuring a basket of gold-backed currencies that would bypass the present America-centric global financial system. (No wonder Russia and China are amassing as much gold as they can.) The euro - a sound currency backed by large liquid bond markets and huge gold reserves - would be welcomed in as well. It's no secret in Hong Kong that the Bank of China has been using a parallel SWIFT network to conduct every kind of trade with Tehran, which is under a heavy US sanctions regime. With Washington wielding Visa and MasterCard as weapons in a growing Cold War-style economic campaign against Russia, Moscow is about to implement an alternative payment and credit card system not controlled by Western finance. An even easier route would be to adopt the Chinese Union Pay system, whose operations have already overtaken American Express in global volume.

I'm just pivoting with myself


No amount of Obama administration "pivoting" to Asia to contain China (and threaten it with US Navy control of the energy sea lanes to that country) is likely to push Beijing far from its Deng Xiaoping-inspired, self-described "peaceful development" strategy meant to turn it into a global powerhouse of trade. Nor are the forward deployment of US or NATO troops in Eastern Europe or other such Cold-War-ish acts likely to deter Moscow from a careful balancing act: ensuring that Russia's sphere of influence in Ukraine remains strong without compromising trade and commercial, as well as political, ties with the European Union - above all, with strategic partner Germany.

This is Moscow's Holy Grail; a free-trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok, which (not by accident) is mirrored in China's dream of a new Silk Road to Germany. Increasingly wary of Washington, Berlin for its part abhors the notion of Europe being caught in the grips of a Cold War 2.0. German leaders have more important fish to fry, including trying to stabilize a wobbly EU while warding off an economic collapse in southern and central Europe and the advance of ever more extreme rightwing parties. On the other side of the Atlantic, President Obama and his top officials show every sign of becoming entangled in their own pivoting - to Iran, to China, to Russia's eastern borderlands, and (under the radar) to Africa.

The irony of all these military-first maneuvers is that they are actually helping Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing build up their own strategic depth in Eurasia and elsewhere, as reflected in Syria, or crucially in ever more energy deals.

They are also helping cement the growing strategic partnership between China and Iran. The unrelenting Ministry of Truth narrative out of Washington about all these developments now carefully ignores the fact that, without Moscow, the "West" would never have sat down to discuss a final nuclear deal with Iran or gotten a chemical disarmament agreement out of Damascus. When the disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea and between that country and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyou islands meet the Ukraine crisis, the inevitable conclusion will be that both Russia and China consider their borderlands and sea lanes private property and aren't going to take challenges quietly - be it via NATO expansion, US military encirclement, or missile shields. Neither Beijing nor Moscow is bent on the usual form of imperialist expansion, despite the version of events now being fed to Western publics.

Their "red lines" remain essentially defensive in nature, no matter the bluster sometimes involved in securing them. Whatever Washington may want or fear or try to prevent, the facts on the ground suggest that, in the years ahead, Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran will only grow closer, slowly but surely creating a new geopolitical axis in Eurasia. Meanwhile, a discombobulated America seems to be aiding and abetting the deconstruction of its own unipolar world order, while offering the BRICS a genuine window of opportunity to try to change the rules of the game.

Russia and China in pivot mode

In Washington's think-tank land, the conviction that the Obama administration should be focused on replaying the Cold War via a new version of containment policy to "limit the development of Russia as a hegemonic power" has taken hold. The recipe: weaponize the neighbors from the Baltic states to Azerbaijan to "contain" Russia. Cold War 2.0 is on because, from the point of view of Washington's elites, the first one never really left town.

Yet as much as the US may fight the emergence of a multipolar, multi-powered world, economic facts on the ground regularly point to such developments. The question remains: will the decline of the hegemon be slow and reasonably dignified, or will the whole world be dragged down with it in what has been called "the Samson option"? While we watch the spectacle unfold, with no end-game in sight, keep in mind that a new force is growing in Eurasia, with the Sino-Russian strategic alliance threatening to dominate its heartland along with great stretches of its inner rim.

Now, that's a nightmare of Mackinderesque proportions from Washington's point of view. Think, for instance, of how Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser who became a mentor on global politics to President Obama, would see it. In his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski argued that "the struggle for global primacy [would] continue to be played" on the Eurasian "chessboard", of which "Ukraine was a geopolitical pivot".

"If Moscow regains control over Ukraine," he wrote at the time, Russia would "automatically regain the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia." That remains most of the rationale behind the American imperial containment policy - from Russia's European "near abroad" to the South China Sea. Still, with no end-game in sight, keep your eye on Russia pivoting to Asia, China pivoting across the world, and the BRICS hard at work
trying to bring about the new Eurasian Century.

  Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com. Posted with permission of TomDispatchFollow TomDispatch on Twitter and on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Ann Jones's They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America's Wars - The Untold Story.
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