False Flag: US Hacked Ukrainian Plane Transponder

US launched cyber-attack on Iran weapons systems’ 23 June 2019

The US launched a cyber-attack on Iranian weapons systems on Thursday as President Trump pulled out of air strikes on the country, US reports say. Both the Washington Post and AP news agency said the cyber-attack had disabled the systems. The New York Times said it was intended to take the systems offline for a period of time.*

01/18/2020  Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA, penned a piece in the American Herald Tribune speculating that the U.S. launched several cyber-attacks, one on an Iranian missile defense system, and another on the transponder of the doomed Ukrainian plane.

Giraldi explains the Iranian missile operator experienced extreme “jamming” and Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752’s transponder was switched off several minutes before the two Russian made Tor missiles were launched.

“The shutdown of the transponder, which would have automatically signaled to the operator and Tor electronics that the plane was civilian, instead automatically indicated that it was hostile. The operator, having been particularly briefed on the possibility of incoming American cruise missiles, then fired,” he said.

Giraldi said the Tor missile system used by Iran is vulnerable to being hacked or “spoofed,” and at the same moment, Flight 752’s transponder was taken offline “to create an aviation accident that would be attributed to the Iranian government.”

The Pentagon has reportedly developed technologies that can trick enemy radars with false and deceptively moving targets, he said.

“The same technology can, of course, be used to alter or even mask the transponder on a civilian airliner in such a fashion as to send false information about identity and location. The United States has the cyber and electronic warfare capability to both jam and alter signals relating to both airliner transponders and to the Iranian air defenses. Israel presumably has the same ability,” Giraldi said.

Iran made the claim Wednesday that “enemy sabotage” cannot be ruled out in the downing of the plane. 

Iranian Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi suggested the U.S. hacked missile defense systems to make it appear Flight 752 was an incoming missile.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also accused the U.S. of being responsible for the downing of the plane, saying that:

“The root of all sorrows goes back to America… this cannot be a reason for us not to look into all the root causes.”

He added that:

“One cannot believe that a passenger plane is struck near an international airport while flying in a [commercial] flight channel,” after previously saying that IRGC commanders were not the only ones involved in the plane downing, noting that “There were others, too.”

The Iranian parliament also stated that “we are in powerful confrontation with the criminal U.S. and do not allow a mistake… to pave the ground for misusing the issue by the enemies.”

Giraldi concludes by saying electronic warfare by the U.S. to bring down a civilian jet and blame it on Iran “suggests a premeditated and carefully planned event” to create a false flag for the next world war.

Readings and Initial Outcome of the Iranian Missile Attack

Screengrab from propaganda video purportedly showing Islamic State militants in Iraq (September 2019)

Islamic State (western backed terrorists) welcomes killing of Soleimani

Al-Manar

Here are some notes and conclusions of the Iranian Missile retaliatory attack on US bases in Iraq:

– Inability of the US Defense System to intercept the Iranian missiles or target them, knowing that the Americans said they serveilled the launching of missiles from Iran.

– Accuracy in targeting the goal, which was revealed in pictures.

– The quick hit, as it took place instantly after the funeral of martyrs.

– One shouldn’t stand much on the fact that the US hasn’t acknowledged any casualties until now, as any acknowledgment will put pressure on Trump Administration which prefers to reassure the Americans that “everything is going well”. However, he (Trump) canceled a statement he was planning to give today which is a sign that he is avoiding confrontation.

– It is obvious by now that Trump who had threatened to retaliate to any Iranian response using the “beautiful” most advanced US weapons, preferred to keep mum for the safety of US other bases in the region and “Israel” which for its part was the second on Iran’s list of retaliation incase the US hit Iranian targets.

– Iran proved that it does not only make speeches and it does not fear threats. After this response, it had reinforced its defensive power so that any future attack against it would be thought about twice.

– In case the situation did not develop, this will reflect on the US position among its allies. By that, these attacks would have had a reverse effect since the assassination was committed in this blunt and direct manner.

– The US will have to reconsider the locations of its bases in the region, specifically in Iraq, after they have been exposed to the Iranian missiles.

– This response should have positive repercussions on Iran’s position in the region and on the nuclear issue. Negotiations around its ballistic power are no longer on table after it had been revealed, once again, that it is one of its deterrence elements to defend its land and benefits.

– The position of Iran’s allies in the resistance axis should be stronger after the missile retaliation, especially in the face of “Israel”.

– ‘Israel’ will not be satisfied if the situation did not aggravate, as it wanted to push the US toward a military confrontation with Iran. This will raise tensions inside the occupying entity.

US ‘disappointed’ in Baghdad’s condemnation of American attacks on Iraq HAHA

“This was a defensive action designed to protect American forces and American citizens in Iraq, and it was aimed also at deterring Iran,” Pompeo told Fox News.

The United States is “disappointed” by Iraq’s condemnation of US air strikes against an Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary group, a senior State Department official said, days after a rocket attack killed an American contractor.

Washington has accused Kataib Hezbollah (KH) of launching the attack on US forces before retaliating against the group on Sunday.

US air raids targeted the Tehran-linked Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) faction KH both in Iraq and Syria after a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk on Friday killed an American contractor and wounded several US service members and Iraqi personnel.

Iraq strongly denounced the US strikes on Monday, calling the raids, which killed 25 PMU fighters and wounded 55, a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty”.  Washington bombed KH positions and arms depots in Iraq and Syria.

On Monday, the US official said it was discouraging that the government in Baghdad rushed to condemn the American military response.

‘It’s moments like this when you see people’s true colours’

– US official

“We’re disappointed that every time that Kataib Hezbollah controls and moves weapons and people on behalf of the Iranians, there’s no condemnation,” the official said. 

“Every time Hezbollah represses protesters … there’s no condemnation. Every time Hezbollah sends fighters off to Syria without the authorisation of the Iraqi government, there’s no condemnation. 

“Yeah, it’s disappointing, but – you know – it’s moments like this when you see people’s true colours.” [I’ll say! HAHAHAHA]

‘Dangerous consequences’

Iraq’s acting Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has rebuked the American strikes, saying that he had warned US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper against going ahead with them in a phone call shortly before the bombing was conducted.

“The prime minister described the American attack on the Iraqi armed forces as an unacceptable vicious assault that will have dangerous consequences,” his office said in a statement.

The mainly Shia PMU militias were formed in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group (IS) after it overran large parts of the country and threatened to capture the Iraqi capital. For the past two years, Baghdad has been trying to integrate the fighters into the Iraqi military.

The Iraqi premier’s statement painted a different picture than the one presented by the Pentagon less than 24 hours earlier.

“Secretary Esper and Prime Minister Mahdi have shared with each other their commitment to see these KH attacks … cease once and for all,” assistant to the Secretary of Defense Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement on Sunday.

Friday’s attack in Kirkuk was the latest in a series of recent rocket strikes on or near American forces in Iraq that Washington blames on Iran-backed fighters.

In a phone call between Esper and Abdul Mahdi earlier this month, the Pentagon chief called on the Iraqi government to prevent attacks against American forces.

The Iraqi prime minister’s office said at the time that Abdul Mahdi “called for serious efforts that would involve everyone to prevent escalation”.

‘Sinful attack’

Top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also denounced on Monday the American air strikes, describing them as a “sinful attack“.

American forces in Iraq are operating at the invitation of the government in Baghdad, with the stated goal of fighting IS.

Russia, one of the main backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, also critised the strikes as being unacceptable and counterproductive.

Earlier on Monday, US Secretary Mike Pompeo stressed that Sunday’s attack was “defensive”, calling on Iran to stop its “terror campaign”.

“This was a defensive action designed to protect American forces and American citizens in Iraq, and it was aimed also at deterring Iran,” Pompeo told Fox News.

False Identities Become the New Weapon: War with Iran Promoted by Fake Journalists

MEK is a curious hybrid creature in any event in that it pretends to be an alternative government option for Iran even though it is despised by nearly all Iranians.

“Heshmat Alavi is a persona run by a team of people from the political wing of the MEK,” said Hassan Heyrani, a high-ranking defector from the MEK who said he had direct knowledge of the operation.

 “They write whatever they are directed by their commanders and use this name to place articles in the press. This is not and has never been a real person.”

Heyrani said the fake persona has been managed by a team of MEK operatives in Albania, where the group has one of its bases, and is used to spread its message online. Heyrani’s account is echoed by Sara Zahiri, a Farsi-language researcher who focuses on the MEK.

Zahiri, who has sources among Iranian government cybersecurity officials, said that Alavi is known inside Iran to be a “group account” run by a team of MEK members and that Alavi himself does not exist.

By Philip Giraldi

Most Americans believe that Iran actually threatens the United States, though they would be at a loss to explain exactly how that could be the case.

One of the claims made about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election was that Kremlin-controlled entities were using fake identities to create dissension and confusion on social network sites.

This should surprise no one, if it is true, as intelligence operatives have been using false names since Sumerian times.

The concern over fake identities no doubt comes from the deception involved, meaning that if you are dealing with a real person you at least have some handle on making as assessment of what something means and what is likely to occur.

A false persona, however, can pretend to be anything and can advocate or do something without any yardstick to measure what is actually taking place.

In other words, if Mike Pompeo says something you know that he is a liar and can judge his words accordingly but if it is someone otherwise unknown named Qwert Uiop you have to wonder if he or she just might be telling the truth.

You might even give them the benefit of the doubt.

A prime example of a false internet persona has recently surfaced in the form of an alleged “activist” invented by the Iranian terrorist group Mojahedin e Khalq (MEK).

MEK is a curious hybrid creature in any event in that it pretends to be an alternative government option for Iran even though it is despised by nearly all Iranians.

At the same time, it is greatly loved by the Washington Establishment which would like to see the Mullahs deposed and replaced by something more amenable to western and Israeli worldviews.

MEK is run like a cult by its leader Maryam Rajavi, with a number of rules that restrict and control the behavior of its members. One commentary likens membership in MEK to a modern day equivalent of slavery.

The group currently operates out of a secretive, heavily guarded 84 acre compound in Albania that is covertly supported by the United States, as well as through a “political wing” front office in Paris, where it refers to itself as the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

MEK, which is financially supported by Saudi Arabia, stages events in the United States in Europe where it generously pays politicians like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani and Elaine Chao to make fifteen-minute speeches praising the organization and everything it does.

It’s paying of inside the Beltway power brokers proved so successful that it was removed from the State Department terrorist list in 2012 by Hillary Clinton even though it had killed Americans in the 1970s.

MEK also finds favor in Washington because it is used by Israel as a resource for anti-Iranian terrorism acts currently, including assassinations carried out in Tehran.

Here’s John Bolton Promising Regime Change in Iran by the End of 2018 to Maryam Rajavi MEK spokesperson.Tthe MEK has poured millions of dollars into reinventing itself as a moderate political group ready to take power in Iran if Western-backed regime change ever takes place.

MEK’s fake journalist, who has recently been exposed by The Intercept, is named Heshmat Alavi. He, or if you prefer “it,” has very successfully gained access to a considerable body of generally conservative mainstream western media, including ForbesThe Hill, the Daily Beast and The Federalist.

Alavi has placed scores of articles as “an activist with a passion for human rights,” aimed at discrediting Iran and its government while also subtly praising MEK as an alternative to the current regime. His bona fides have never been questioned, even by Forbes, which placed no less than 61 articles under the name between April 2017 and April 2018.

The pieces appearing allegedly by Alavi are reportedly composed at a “troll factory” as a so-called “group account” in Albania where MEK members who belong to the organization’s “political wing” toil under tight security.


Alavi’s contribution to the damning of Iran has not been insignificant. An article written by him/it that appeared in Forbes claiming that the Mullahs had been able to increase their military budget due to having money freed up by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement.

The article reached the White House and reportedly helped convince the Trump Administration to withdraw from the pact.

MEK members working in the ‘Twitter troll factory’ in Manez Camp, Albania

To supplement the Alavi propaganda effort, MEK’s Albania operation uses banks of computers manned by followers, some of whom are fluent in English, who serve as bots unleashing scores of comments supporting regime change in Iran while also directing waves of criticism against any pro-Iranian pieces that appear on social media, to include Facebook and Twitter.

 By one account,more than a thousand MEK supporters manage thousands of accounts on social media simultaneously. The objective of all the chatter is to convince the mostly English-speaking audience that there is a large body of Iranians who are hostile to the regime and supportive of MEK as a replacement.

While the Iranian government and MEK might well be regarded by most Americans as a far-away problem, there was considerable shock expressed even by congress and the media when it was learned shortly before The Intercept’s revelations that the United States government had been funding a so-called Iran Disinformation Project that was employing tactics remarkably similar to those of MEK in an attempt to control the discussion over Iran policy.

The project, run by the State Department’s global engagement center, consisted of a trolling campaign which targeted online American citizens critical of the government’s Iran policy, labeling them as disloyal to the United States and tools of the Iranian government.

It used, for example, the website IranDisInfo.org and the hashtag #NIACLobbies4Mullahs. Iranian-American activist and long-time State Department contractor Mariam Memarsadeghi headed the program, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars to “relentlessly attack critics of the Iran policy on social media…accusing them of being paid operatives of the regime in Tehran.”

In all, the “Iran Disinfo” operation received over $1.5 million through the Memarsadeghi contract entity the oddly named E-Collaborative for Civic Education.

The investigation of Iran Disinfo also revealed that the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has been leading the charge for war with Iran, had at least one employee working with E-Collaborative.

FDD, which has been advising the Trump White House on a more aggressive policy towards Iran, has also been actively involved in the State Department effort and cross-posting material from the Disinfo campaign.

FDD has long been targeting Iran. It received $3.63 million in 2017 from Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot. Marcus is a hard-core Zionist who hates Iran and once referred to that nation as “the devil.”

FDD has also received billions from Las Vegas casino mega billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the GOP’s largest individual donor, who has advocated dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran to send a message.

The link between major Republican donors supporting FDD and an increase in FDD quasi-overt cooperation with the Trump Administration in demonizing Iran should not surprise anyone.

Even though the State Department operation was relatively insignificant compared to similar initiatives undertaken by Israel, the idea that an ostensibly democratic government should propagate lies to defend its own policies was definitely unsettling.

Some might think that disinformation on Iran is of little importance, that it has little impact on actual policy, but they would be wrong. Bad information that is allowed to circulate freely creates its own reality.

Most Americans believe that Iran actually threatens the United States, though they would be at a loss to explain exactly how that could be the case. Dubious stories that originated with Reuters about corruption in Iran have been used by Mike Pompeo to justify sanctions against the regime on humanitarian grounds, measures which have ironically hurt average Iranians disproportionately.

The same story was also used in at least four books to discredit the Iranian leadership.

To be sure, the mainstream media is itself largely at fault, as it was with Heshmat Alavi, for not vetting their sources more carefully, particularly when a story is clearly providing unique information or representing a point of view that might be considered controversial.

In some cases, of course, the news outlet wants the story to be perceived as true even when it knows that it is not, so it becomes an accomplice in the propaganda effort.

A recent attempt to create a mechanism to establish standards by determining the reliability of online news content has, in fact, been little more than a neoconservative scheme to discredit sites that do not support the neocon point of view.

Since governments and various non-governmental constituencies now, by their own admission, are heavily into the game of providing false information and discrediting critics, most Americans will completely tune out of the process, meaning that there will be little or no measurable difference between truth and lies.

One already hears complaints from all across the political spectrum that most news is fake. When one reaches the point where such skepticism becomes the consensus, both elections and democracy itself will be rendered pretty much meaningless.

This article originally appeared on American Herald Tribune.

Erdogan calls on Muslim countries to unite and confront Israel

The heroic story of Ertugrul Ghazi, the father of Osman (Uthman) who founded the Ottoman Empire. Why Every Muslim Should Watch Dirilis: Ertugrul (it’s on Netflix right now)  – Islamic History

Turkish president tells OIC leaders that Israel must be held accountable for the killing of Palestinians in Gaza Strip.

Istanbul, Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Muslim leaders to unite and confront Israel, days after scores of Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers as they marked 70 years of Israeli occupation.

Speaking at an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday, Erdogan said Israel should be held accountable over the killings which drew widespread international condemnation and triggered a wave of protests from Asia, through the Middle East, to North Africa.

“To take action for Palestinians massacred by Israeli bandits is to show the whole world that humanity is not dead,” Erdogan told the group of Muslim leaders gathered in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul.

The Turkish president described Israel’s killing of Palestinians as “thuggery, atrocity and state terror,” and said the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would inevitably haunt it.

Istanbul, Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Muslim leaders to unite and confront Israel, days after scores of Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers as they marked 70 years of Israeli occupation.

Speaking at an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Friday, Erdogan said Israel should be held accountable over the killings which drew widespread international condemnation and triggered a wave of protests from Asia, through the Middle East, to North Africa.

“To take action for Palestinians massacred by Israeli bandits is to show the whole world that humanity is not dead,” Erdogan told the group of Muslim leaders gathered in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul.

The Turkish president described Israel’s killing of Palestinians as “thuggery, atrocity and state terror,” and said the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would inevitably haunt it.

The Gaza Strip has been transformed into a large concentration camp for millions of people who are deprived of their most basic rights to travel, education, work and medical treatment.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s Emir

/blockquote>

‘Collective punishment’

On Monday, as the United States went ahead with the controversial relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem, 62 Palestinians, including five children, were killed and more than 2,700 wounded as the Israeli army fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters who had assembled hundreds of metres from a 1949 armistice line between Gaza and Israel.

The protesters in the besieged enclave had gathered for Nakba Day – a commemoration of the events of 1948 when Zionist paramilitaries ethnically cleansed Palestinian cities and towns. About 750,000 people were forcibly expelled from historical Palestine.

Several heads of state attended the Istanbul summit, but Saudi Arabia, the host of the 57-member OIC, sent only a senior foreign ministry official. Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE also sent lower-level ministers.

Speaking at the conference, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the Palestinian cause had “become a symbol for oppressed peoples everywhere” and condemned Israel for the “brutal massacre” of peaceful demonstrators.

“Who among us does not know the declared siege forced on the Gaza Strip and the collective punishment against its population?” the emir said.

“The Gaza Strip has been transformed into a large concentration camp for millions of people who are deprived of their most basic rights to travel, education, work and medical treatment.

“When their sons take arms they are called terrorists, and when they stage peaceful demonstrations, they are called extremists, and are shot dead with live ammunition.”

‘US part of the problem’

For his part, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the US had become “part of the problem and not the solution” and called the relocation of the embassy “an act of aggression against the Islamic nation, against Muslims and Christians”.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged the adoption of urgent measures to back “the resistance of Palestinians”, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for economic and political measures against the US and Israel.

Late on Friday, the OIC issued a final communique calling on the United Nations to launch an international investigation into the killings in Gaza, the creation of an international protection force for Palestinians, and for the OIC to place economic restrictions on any countries, companies or individuals who recognise Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem.

Protesters waved Palestinian flags and carried a variety of colourful placards and banners [Faisal Edroos/Al Jazeera]

Thousands protest in solidarity with Palestine

Earlier in the day, Erdogan told a raucous crowd of more than 10,000 people in Istanbul’s Yenikapi fairground that the Muslim world had to unite and “pull themselves back together”.

“Muslims are way too busy fighting and disagreeing with themselves, and shy away when confronted by their enemies,” he told the audience.

“Since 1947, Israel has been free to do what it likes in this region. They do whatever they feel like. But this reality can be undone … if we unite.” 

Earlier this week, Turkey recalled its envoys to Israel and the US following the killings of Palestinians and the relocation of Washington’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

 

Preparing the Stage: A War With Iran to Save Netanyahu Legacy

Events suggest that Netanyahu wants to seal his legacy by persuading the US to join with Israel in an attack on Iran.

The CIA used similar tactics – violent attacks on shops – to escalate the protests in the 1953 overthrow of PM Mosaddegh, in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of the Shah.

The Iranian government is not teetering at any ‘brink’

Excerpt

An Iran-focused treaty was to be a key issue on the agenda of hurriedly-arranged talks with Secretary Pompeo, in Lisbon this week – a ‘summit’ that followed in the wake of a notable flock of very high-level, US Defense officials visiting Israel in recent days.

In Lisbon, Netanyahu said that his talks with Pompeo had focused on: 1. Iran; 2. Iran, and number 3: Iran.

The protests in Iran – and the ‘message’ being promoted by the main-stream media which has the “regime” teetering at the brink of collapse, and obliged to use unprecedented violence to quell mass unarmed protests, in the wake of an extraordinarily ineptly managed, fuel-price hike.

What is wrong with this version? Well, what is right is that the hike triggered protests across 100 cities on the Friday, 15 November.

The protests were widespread, and the poorer segments of the population (traditional supporters of the state) were heavily represented. But they were not violent.

The rest of the narrative is wrong.

On the day of the truly mass protests against the fuel hike, no one was killed. And, on the following day, the protestors almost wholly vanished from the streets.

Instead, small groups of pre-prepared, armed and violent activists – not protestors – attacked the strategic hubs of state infrastructure: banks, petro-chemical plants, the gas network, and fuel storage.

These hubs were attacked using rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and sub-machine guns.

Other groups took out banks (100s of them), armed with guns, swords and iron bars. (One of these latter groups attacked six banks in the space of just one hour.) Nothing here was spontaneous or ‘populist’.

The security forces reacted militarily – arresting and killing many insurgents. And yes – the internet was shut down. But, not the internal Iranian internet – only the global internet.

So, the Iranian equivalent of WhatsApp and Telegraph, and Iranian news channels were still accessible – though the global internet was not.

The overseas anger at the external internet shut-down possibly reflected surprise and irritation that Iran had this capability. Likely, it was not a capacity that Iran was thought to possess.

So what was going on? The Iranian government, it seems, had prior knowledge of plans to stage attacks by ‘activists’, as a part of an (externally formulated and resourced) disruption plan.

But that original plan indicated that the start of these actions would take place early next year.

What seems to have happened is that when the fuel hike protests began, these ‘activists’ were given the go-ahead to ‘seize the moment’.

In other words, they activated all their pre-prepared plans prematurely. This was exactly what the Iranian security forces wanted, and had sought.

It enabled them to ‘smoke out’ the plot, and to arrest, or kill the ring-leaders.

In other words, the Iranian government is not teetering at any ‘brink’ – and later internal Iranian polling shows popular anger directed principally towards the violent gangs, and to a lesser extent, towards the Rouhani Administration, for its mis-handling of the fuel-price hike – but not against the state, per se.

The latter result is not so surprising as older Iranians will remember how the CIA used similar tactics – violent attacks on shops – to escalate the protests in the 1953 overthrow of PM Mosaddegh, in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of the Shah.

Here is the question: Have the various instigators of these deliberate, violent attacks, ‘come clean’ about the failure of their plan – and of the unraveling (the arrests and disruption) of their Iranian ‘networks’ to President Trump?

Or, is he being presented only with the Netanyahu ‘narrative’ of an Iran cornered ‘and at the brink’?

Iran is not at the brink; its economy is not imploding, and it has not – at least not yet – been cornered in the region.

The arm-wrestling between the US and Iran in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon is engaged, but not over. It is not the moment for Israel ‘to count its chickens’ with respect to an imploding Iran.

The other question then, is with all this swelling max-pressure, financialised ‘war’ operations mounted by the US, Israel, and certain Gulf States, across the Middle East, is there a way out? Or, is it likely to end in war?

The momentum, as matters stand, must be towards escalation. To avoid that disaster, one or other of the parties must row back.

One ‘off-ramp’ might be that whilst Trump (ignominiously) might be ready to contemplate the disruption, the distress and hardship being administered to the people of Lebanon, Iraq and Syria in the interests of weakening Iran, he may not want to proceed to that ultimate step of war.

US polls show no popular appetite for war with Iran. Yet climbing down from his Iran ‘tree’ for Trump, will not be easy. The other off-ramp might be that Netanyahu does not remain as PM for these vital, coming six months to ‘write history’ and seal his legacy.

Gif: Roman columns crash all around Netanyahu.

It would be both “scary and dangerous”, for sure, were Netanyahu (and close associates) to conclude that Netanyahu needs such a war to survive – as Ben Caspit was so clearly warned.

But what is not so likely, is that Iran buckles or implodes.

Let’s Be Clear: Israel Settlement in Palestine Policy Constitutes a War Crime. STILL.

Israeli colonial settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are not only illegal under international law, they are war crimes…This constitutes a major threat to international peace.

A toxic mix of white supremacy and Christian Zionism

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration Monday that the United States doesn’t view Jewish settlements as inconsistent with international law – i.e. illegal – has delighted the settlers and their supporters. It gave Benjamin Netanyahu a much-needed shot in the arm at a crucial political juncture. It could help Donald Trump solidify evangelical support in advance of his critical year of an impeachment process and an election campaign. It could very well serve Pompeo himself, who is eyeing a Senate run in Kansas, where evangelicals comprise a third of the population.

Israeli colonial settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories…are not only illegal under international law, they are war crimes…This constitutes a major threat to international peace

 ALL Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal.

  • Israel’s long-running policy of settling civilians in occupied territory amounts to a war crime.[1]

This needs to be clearly said now, without ambiguity. The United States government, as sponsor of the current ‘peace talks’ between Israel and Palestinians, must uphold rule of law and human rights. Despite the fact that the U.S. has historically taken the same position as the international community that Israeli settlements within the OPT are illegal, they have chosen to prevaricate in recent years, using words like ‘unhelpful’ or ‘illegitimate’ to describe settlement building by Israel.

This does favors for no one. Not the United States, not Palestinians, and not Israel.

[pullquote text=”Israel’s long-running policy of settling civilians in occupied territory is considered a war crime under the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”]This equivocation does, however, help sustain the cycle of violence and perpetuate further violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip all remain under effective control of the Israeli government. The legal obligations for any occupying power are outlined in international humanitarian law (IHL), particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention. Palestinians living in the OPT are considered protected persons under the convention, which Israel has ratified.

Israel argues that a Jewish presence has existed on the West Bank for thousands of years and was recognized by the League of Nations in 1922. But these Palestinian Jews are not the irregular Jews of Europe who came to conquer non-Jews.

IHL stipulates states are not to transfer their own civilians into territory they occupy, or to forcibly transfer protected persons from or within an occupied territory. States are also forbidden from destroying individual or collective property in an occupied territory, except when this is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.

Under Israeli law, settlements ‘authorized’ by the government are legal while smaller, ‘unofficial’ outposts are illegal. Sometimes the Israeli government retroactively ‘legalizes’ previously unauthorized outposts. International law does not make any such distinctions; all Israeli settlements in the OPT violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The international community has consistently recognized that settlements contravene international law and create a situation which perpetuates a range of violations of Palestinian human rights including, but not limited to, discriminatory policies based on nationality, ethnicity and religion.

The United Nations Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on Israeli Settlements found “a multitude of the human rights of the Palestinians are violated in various forms and ways due to the existence of the settlements” and “Israel is committing serious breaches of its obligations under the right to self-determination and under humanitarian law.”

The chair of the FFM, Ms. Christine Chanet said, “In compliance with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel must cease all settlement activities without preconditions.”

In order for the United States government to respect the rule of law during these ‘peace talks’ and truly facilitate a just and sustainable peace in the region, they must insist Israel immediately halt all construction of settlements and related infrastructure as a first step towards removing all settlers from the OPT.

[1] Israel’s long-running policy of settling civilians in occupied territory is considered a war crime under the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  Article 8(2) of the Rome Statute defines “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory” as a war crime when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.

Trump’s Move to ‘Secure’ Syrian Oil is Fake News

Syria’s oil sector is decimated. Syrians do not even take seriously its revival as a foundation of post-conflict reconstruction!   No wonder Assad, Russia and Iran aren’t  having a hissyfit!

The Trump administration’s decision to move US forces out of the way of the Turkish military’s intervention against the Syrian Democratic Forces was met with bipartisan condemnation, with many decrying the “betrayal” of the US’s Syrian Kurdish allies. It appears that the administration sought to mute this criticism through a show of force to secure Syria’s oil fields.

If Syria’s oil production is insignificant, then why would the US military be directed towards controlling the oil fields? There is no apparent reason, other than a bad case of Oilcraft, coupled with a desire by this administration to save face in the aftermath of a perceived retreat from Syria. 

1 November 2019

That this would be either contemplated or welcomed as an affirmation of the US commitment to maintaining a military presence in Syria is testament to the power of the myth that whoever controls the oil has power. Syria’s oil sector is decimated. Syrians do not even take seriously its revival as a foundation of post-conflict reconstruction.

As Syria’s oil production is insignificant, the US move reflects a desire by this administration to save face in the aftermath of its perceived retreat from the country

Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, many analysts have suggested that the conflict was “about oil” and a Western desire to control Syrian oil production. 

This understanding not only denied the agency of the protesters while diminishing their calls for political change, but it also misunderstood the realities of Syria’s oil sector. Syria has never been a significant oil producer by regional standards, reaching a production peak of around 380,000 barrels a day before the civil war erupted. 

In 2016, an International Monetary Fund working paper estimated that production had declined to just 40,000 barrels per day.

The global insignificance of Syrian oil production, the declining rates and revenues of the industry, and the absence of any new reserves was never enough evidence to convince naysayers that Syria’s tragedy wasn’t brought about by the geopolitics of oil. 

Delusional worldview

With US President Donald Trump’s recent declaration that US strategy was to “keep the oil” and that US forces had “secured the oil”, the theory that oil interests have driven Western intervention in Syria has resurfaced. 

The Trumpian logic that Syrian oil fields need to be secured for US interests – and that US interests can only be secured through access to oil fields – is a delusional worldview grounded in a misunderstanding of how oil production and markets actually work. Author Robert Vitalis calls this Oilcraft: a way of thinking about oil-as-power that does not correspond to how oil markets shape production and prices. 

Syria’s oil sector is decimated. Syrians do not even take seriously its revival as a foundation of post-conflict reconstruction

Access and price fluctuations in oil markets are not determined by who controls what at any given time. We simply do not live in a world in which all oil produced in the world is controlled by the military or commercial interests of the US and its allies.

Markets do not function according to who has “secured” access to oil. Producers produce, and consumers consume. These patterns exist independent of what oil fields the US military occupies. 

Syria’s feeble oil production has little impact on global oil markets. Prior to the conflict, the majority of Syrian oil production that was not consumed domestically was exported to Europe. In 2011, the EU placed sanctions on Syrian oil imports. European companies involved in the Syrian market, including Total and Shell, ceased operations in the country and withdrew personnel. 

The threat of sanctions from the US or EU discouraged new commercial investments and partnerships in the Syrian oil sector. The Syrian Petroleum Company (SPC), Syria’s public sector enterprise responsible for oil production, was also under sanctions and unable to conduct simple commercial transactions with external partners. 

Biting sanctions

With the conflict becoming increasingly violent and sanctions taking a toll on everyday economic life, domestic oil production was geared towards the internal market. Sanctions not only blocked the principal Syrian export market, but they also squeezed the SPC’s ability to produce and sell oil to international buyers. 

By 2013, many of Syria’s oil fields had been under threat or taken over by armed groups that did not have the capacity to produce oil. Some oil fields remained dormant and, in some areas, rudimentary techniques were used to extract oil.

The difficulties of transport and refinement meant that much of the oil trading and consumption was heavily localized, and there was a lot of evidence that various armed groups, including the Syrian army, used oil in barter deals with other groups. 

Oil became a minor, but not insignificant, prize in Syria’s war economy. Most of the armed groups were content not to contest for control of the oil fields, and instead focused their efforts on other forms of wealth extraction through taxation, kidnappings and the like. Control of oil fields was simply not worth it. 

Unlike in other conflict zones, where resources are fought over by different armed groups – such as the case with coltan extraction in the Democratic Republic of Congo – there was no comparable situation in Syria; war economies did not emerge in relation to oil extraction.  

The combination of dwindling reserves, infrastructural neglect, and sanctions that have been exacerbated by the conflict means that not even Syrian government planners are looking to the oil trade to finance reconstruction. The debates within Syria today about reconstruction do not revolve on how to restart oil production, or how oil revenues can finance post-conflict spending. 

Devastating impacts

Since the early 2000s, Syrian government planners have understood the need to move away from any reliance on oil revenues and the oil sector as a whole. The devastating impacts of the conflict and sanctions on the oil sector have only confirmed what many Syrians already knew – mainly, that the oil sector cannot save the economy. 

If Syria’s oil production is insignificant, then why would the US military be directed towards controlling the oil fields? There is no apparent reason, other than a bad case of Oilcraft, coupled with a desire by this administration to save face in the aftermath of a perceived retreat from Syria. 

The Trump administration’s decision to move US forces out of the way of the Turkish military’s intervention against the Syrian Democratic Forces was met with bipartisan condemnation, with many decrying the “betrayal” of the US’s Syrian Kurdish allies. It appears that the administration sought to mute this criticism through a show of force to secure Syria’s oil fields. 

That this would be either contemplated or welcomed as an affirmation of the US commitment to maintaining a military presence in Syria is testament to the power of the myth that whoever controls the oil has power. Syria’s oil sector is decimated. Syrians do not even take seriously its revival as a foundation of post-conflict reconstruction. 

Contrary to what Trump assumes through his public declarations about securing oil, we won’t be experiencing reduced prices at the pumps anytime soon. And if we do, it certainly won’t be because US troops are occupying Syrian land.

No one chose Al Baghdadi as caliph over Muslims except US and Israel

Baghdadi here an Iraqi jihadist who rose from obscurity to declare himself “caliph” of all Muslims as the leader of Islamic State, died by detonating a suicide vest after fleeing into a dead-end tunnel as elite U.S. special forces closed in at the weekend, according to the U.S. government.

Al Baghdadi appeared out of nowhere, (just like ISIS appeared out of nowhere) no one knew him and Islamic scholars pointed out that he didn’t know Islam. Muslims in general denounced him.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has buried the remains of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at sea in accordance with Islamic law, a US official told Reuters after he was killed in a raid by US special forces in the village of Barisha in Syria’s Idlib province on Saturday.

The truth: The sacred texts of Islam prefer burial on land, “so deep that its smell does not come out and the beasts of prey do not dig it out”. However, if a person dies at sea and it is not possible to bring the body back to land before decay, or if burial at land becomes impossible, burial at sea is allowed.

Baghdadi here an Iraqi jihadist who rose from obscurity to declare himself “caliph” of all Muslims as the leader of Islamic State, died by detonating a suicide vest after fleeing into a dead-end tunnel as elite U.S. special forces closed in at the weekend, according to the U.S. government. One does not “declare himself the Caliph!” And there’s nothing Islamic about being buried at sea, it’s only allowed if the only choice available!

Trump and ABC journalist call each other out on bullshit…hilarious

Trump’s Fake Withdrawal From Endless War

clip: Trump calls ABC out for broadcasting fake Syria video and same journalists drills Trump on his fake troop withdrawal

“Members of Congress from both parties remain united in their shameful abdication of their constitutional authority over America’s illegal wars.” Trump’s latest promises to “bring the troops home” were immediately exposed as empty rhetoric by a Pentagon press release on October 11, announcing that the Trump administration has actually increased its deployments of troops to the greater Middle East by 14,000 since May.

Kurdish Syrian civilians flee the town of Kobane on the Turkish border on October 16, 2019 as Turkey and its allies continue their assault on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria. – Turkey rebuffed international pressure to curb its military offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria today as US President Donald Trump dispatched his deputy Mike Pence to Ankara to demand a ceasefire.

On Monday, October 7th, the U.S. withdrew 50 to 100 troops from positions near Syria’s border with Turkey, and two days later Turkey invaded Rojava, the de facto autonomous Kurdish region of northeast Syria. Trump is now taking credit for a temporary, tenuous ceasefire.

In a blizzard of tweets and statements, Donald Trump has portrayed his chaotic tactical relocation of U.S. troops in Syria as a down-payment on his endless promises to withdraw U.S. forces from endless wars in the greater Middle East.

On October 16, the U.S. Congress snatched the low-hanging political fruit of Trump’s muddled policy with a rare bipartisan vote of 354-60 to condemn the U.S. redeployment as a betrayal of the Kurds, a weakening of America’s credibility, a lifeline to ISIS, and a political gift to Russia, China and Iran.

But this is the same Congress that never mustered the integrity to debate or vote on the fateful decision to send U.S. troops into harm’s way in Syria in the first place. This vote still fails to fulfill Congress’s constitutional duty to decide whether U.S. troops should be risking their lives in illegal military operations in Syria, what they are supposed to be doing there or for how long.

Members of Congress from both parties remain united in their shameful abdication of their constitutional authority over America’s illegal wars.    

“Members of Congress from both parties remain united in their shameful abdication of their constitutional authority over America’s illegal wars.” Trump’s latest promises to “bring the troops home” were immediately exposed as empty rhetoric by a Pentagon press release on October 11, announcing that the Trump administration has actually increased its deployments of troops to the greater Middle East by 14,000 since May.

In other words, Trump doesn’t have any power.

There were already 60,000 troops stationed or deployed in the region, which the Congressional Research Service described in September as a long-term “baseline,” so the new deployments appear to have raised the total number of U.S. troops in the region to about 74,000.

Precise numbers of U.S. troops in each country are hard to pin down, especially since the Pentagon stopped publishing its troop strength in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in 2017.  Based mainly on reports by the Congressional Research Service, these are the most accurate and up-to-date numbers we have found:

14,000-15,000 (plus 8,000 from other NATO countries) in Afghanistan; about 7,000, mostly U.S. Navy, in Bahrain; 280 in Egypt; 5,000-10,000 in Iraq, mostly at Al-Asad air base in Anbar province; 2,800 in Jordan (some may now have been relocated to Iraq); 13,000 in Kuwait, the fourth largest permanent U.S. base nation after Germany, Japan and South Korea; a “few hundred” in Oman; at least 13,000 in Qatar, where the Pentagon just approved a $1.8 billion expansion of Al Udeid Air Base, U.S. Central Command’s regional occupation headquarters; about 3,500 in Saudi Arabia, including 500 sent in July and 2,500 more since September; 1,000-2,000 in Syria, who may or may not really be leaving; 1,750 at Incirlik and Izmir Air Bases in Turkey; and more than 5,000 in the UAE, mostly at Al Dhafra Air Base.

As for actually ending the wars that all these forces are waging or supporting, Trump escalated the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in 2017, and these bombing campaigns rumble on regardless of peace talks with the Taliban and declarations of victory over the Islamic State. U.S. air wars are often more devastating than ground warfare, especially to civilians.

Between 2001 and October 2018, the U.S. and its allies dropped more than 290,000 bombs and missiles on other countries. This reign—or rain—of terror from above has not stopped. According to U.S. airpower statistics, from November 2018 to September 2019 the U.S. has now dropped another 6,811 bombs on Afghanistan and 7,889 on Iraq and Syria.

See the source image

“It is up to the rest of us to grasp the horror, futility and criminality of the wars that three successive U.S. administrations have inflicted on the world and to organize effective political action to end them and prevent new ones.”

In Donald Trump’s first 32 months in office, he is responsible for dropping 17,100 bombs and missiles on Afghanistan and 48,941 on Iraq and Syria, an average of a bomb or missile every 20 minutes. Despite his endless promises to end these wars, Trump has instead been dropping more bombs and missiles on other countries than Bush II and Obama put together.

When Congress finally invoked the War Powers Act to extricate U.S. forces from the Saudi-led war on Yemen, Trump vetoed the bill.  The House has now attached that provision to the FY2020 NDAA military spending bill, but the Senate has not yet agreed to it and Trump may find another way to exclude it.

Even as Donald Trump rails against the military-industrial complex that “likes war” and sometimes sounds sincere in his desire to end these wars, he keeps hiring arms industry executives to run his foreign and military policy.

His first defense secretary was General Dynamics board member and retired General James Mattis. Then he brought in Boeing’s Senior Vice President Patrick Shanahan as acting secretary of defense, and now Raytheon lobbyist Mike Esper as Secretary of Defense.

 

Secretary of State Pompeo made his fortune as the co-founder of Thayer Aerospace. Trump boasts about being the best weapons salesman of all, touting his multi-billion dollar deals to provide the repressive Saudi regime with the weapons to commit crimes against humanity in Yemen.

And yet withdrawal from endless wars is one Trump campaign promise that Americans across the political spectrum hoped he would really fulfill. Tragically, like “drain the swamp” and other applause lines, Trump’s promises to end the “crazy, endless wars” have proven to be just another cynical ploy by this supremely cynical politician and con man.

The banal truism that ultimately defines Trump’s foreign policy is that actions speak louder than words. Behind the smokescreen of Trump’s alternating professions of faith to both sides on every issue, he always ends up rewarding the wealthy and powerful. His cronies in the arms industry are no exception.

“Trump’s promises to end the ‘crazy, endless wars’ have proven to be just another cynical ploy by this supremely cynical politician and con man.”

Sober reflection leads us to conclude that Trump’s endless promises will not end the endless wars he has been waging and escalating, nor prevent the new ones he has threatened against North Korea, Venezuela and Iran.

So it is up to the rest of us to grasp the horror, futility and criminality of the wars that three successive U.S. administrations have inflicted on the world and to organize effective political action to end them and prevent new ones.

We also need help from legitimate mediators from the UN and mutually trusted third parties to negotiate political and diplomatic solutions that U.S. leaders who are blinded by deeply ingrained militarism and persistent illusions of global military dominance cannot achieve by themselves.

In the real world, which does still exist beyond the fantasy world of Trump’s contradictory promises, that is how we will bring the troops home.

Iran, The world’s leading State Sponsor of Terrorism

Fantasy and fiction

“The Big Lie: We were out to rain fire and brimstone on those who had attacked us on our own soil.

We were out to depose the Taliban rulers who sheltered Osama Bin Laden, and we were determined to drive al-Qaida from its safe haven in Afghanistan.”

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have taken a tremendous human toll on those countries. As of November 2018, at least 244,000 civilians in these three countries have died violent deaths as a result of the wars.

Civilian deaths have also resulted from the US military operations in Yemen, Syria, Somalia and other countries in the U.S. war on terrorism.

People living in the war zones have been killed in their homes, in markets, and on roadways. They have been killed by bombs, bullets, fire, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and drones.

Civilians die at checkpoints, as they are run off the road by military vehicles, when they step on a mine or cluster bomb, as they collect wood or tend to their fields, and when they are kidnapped and executed for purposes of revenge or intimidation.

They are killed by the United States, by its allies, and by insurgents and sectarians in the civil wars spawned by the invasions.

Death can also happen weeks or months after a battle. Many times more Iraqis, Afghans, and Pakistanis have died as a result of battered infrastructure and poor health conditions arising from the wars than directly from its violence.

For example, war refugees often lose access to a stable food supply or to their jobs, resulting in increased malnutrition and vulnerability to disease.

The Costs of War reports document the direct and indirect toll that war takes on civilians and their livelihoods, including the lingering effects of war death and injury on survivors and their families.

The West views Syria as a place for flexing muscles with rivals, while at the same time it could well serve as a basin for terrorists and their affiliates in the Western countries.

Benefits of Syria crisis for West

A girl stands amidst the rubble of damaged buildings in the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria, February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

The weapon of mass immigration