The Syrian forces are continuing military operations against militants in the city of Aleppo, mainly focused on the districts of Bani Zaid and Layramoun. Bani Zaid is situated next to Aleppo’s most densely populated neighborhoods which conducts additional obstacles for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). This doesn’t allow the SAA to use the all its firepower.

Militants groups have reportedly formed a new coalition in order to oppose advances of the SAA.

This alliance is reportedly headed by Ahrar al Sham leader, Hashim al-Sheikh and includes such groups as Ahrar al Sham, Fastaqem, Sultan Murad Division, Suqur Jabal and Muntasir Brigade. This organization will reportedly spend most of its time attempting to stop the SAA advances in the city of Aleppo.

Pro-Western propagandists have already called this group a “major opposition alliance”. However, the ideology of included units clearly shows that this group is common terrorists.

The UNSC discussed the shelling of the hospitals and schools in Northern Syria on Feb.15 which left close to 50 people dead. However, the UNSC reached “no agreement” on this topic because of the so-called “different sources” of information on the incidents.

On Feb.15, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claimed that the hospital had been struck by a ballistic missile launched by a Russian warship deployed in the Caspian Sea. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement that Russia has no ships in the Caspian Sea fleet that could have hit the Syrian hospital in Idlib province with a ballistic missile.

The Russia’s Caspian Sea fleet is aimed on the regional security purpose and doesn’t have a capacity to destroy targets located in the area. All previous targets which have been hit by the fleet are located much closer to the Caspian region.

Experts believe Turkey backed by the Western media launched a full-scale propaganda campaign against the winning forces of the Syrian war to push the idea of establishing a ‘No Fly Zone’ in support of the terrorists in the country.

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Selected Articles: Corruption, Fraud and Conspiracy

février 17th, 2016 by Global Research News

williambooth_detentionIsraeli Police Detain American Journalists on Spurious Grounds of Incitement. Democracy in Israel is Pure Fantasy:

By Stephen Lendman, February 17 2016

So-called “incitement” is a phony Israeli catch-all pretext for detaining, brutalizing or murdering anyone considered resisting its occupation – illegal under international law.

AlexanderLitvinenkoHospitalBritain Allowed Unqualified Judge to Decide Litvinenko Case. Now Inquiry Report Must Be Recalled

By William Dunkerley, February 17 2016

Sir Robert Owen appears to have lacked the legal qualifications to chair the recently-concluded Inquiry in the Alexander Litvinenko death case.

stockmarketCredit Suisse, Fraud and Embezzlement: Corruption and Pension Assets Norway Just Lost $1.4 billion

By FRCS, February 17 2016

Pension investments are the last huge liquid asset of the middle class since the devastation of the Global Financial Crisis. They have been relentlessly targeted by corrupt and criminal groups.

South-Africa-ApartheidSouth Africa’s Secret Plan to Sterilize Blacks through Vaccines

By Brandon Turbeville, February 17 2016

.. after the end of the apartheid system in South Africa, a Truth and Reconciliation Committee was established to reveal the wrongs that had been committed against the people of South Africa … Yet even during the process of “uncovering” many of the atrocities committed against black South Africans some of that information has been largely ignored throughout the decades after the system ended; most notably, a system of attempted genocide of black South Africans by means of a national vaccine program.

Vaccination H1N1 : méfiance des infirmièresScaring People “Out of Their Wits” over Pseudo-Pandemics: Swine Flu, Avian Flu, SARS, Ebola and Now Zika…

By Dr. Gary G. Kohls, February 17 2016

Why Aren’t Public Health Organizations Like CIDRAP Warning Pregnant Women to Abstain from Aluminum or Mercury-containing Vaccines?

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Connaissez-vous les «Munich Young Leaders»?

février 17th, 2016 by Comaguer

Pareille appellation évoque inévitablement les « YOUNG LEADERS » ces personnages prometteurs que ce soit dans le domaine politique, dans le domaine économique ou dans le domaine culturel et médiatique qui sont sélectionnés chaque année depuis  40 ans par la FRENCH  AMERICAN FOUNDATION  à condition  toutefois que, citoyens français ou étasuniens, ils soient dans toutes leurs activités de fidèles soutiens de l’alliance entre la France et les Etats-Unis, alliance aujourd’hui scellée dans l’OTAN mais que les fondateurs de la FRENCH AMERICAN FOUNDATION , les présidents Giscard d’Estaing et Gerald Ford ont voulu inscrire dans le passé plus lointain du soutien de la France – monarchiste – à l’indépendance des Etats-Unis. (Voir le livre de Domenico Moro « Le groupe de Bilderberg, l’ ‘’élite’’ du pouvoir mondial. » (Editions Delga -2015)

Ce système de sélection interne  à la classe capitaliste dominante a fait école.

En 2004, Klaus Schwab, fondateur et organisateur du fameux forum de Davos lance les « YOUNG GLOBAL LEADERS », réseau international qui regroupe plus de 70 nationalités et qui est destiné  à regrouper chaque année  au « DAVOS d’été » les éléments les plus prometteurs  de la fraction dirigeante du capitalisme transnational. Mais le système est trop récent pour avoir produit des grands leaders mondialement connus. Les français y sont peu représentés et s’y retrouvent plutôt des héritiers : Yannick Bolloré, fils de Vincent,  Gabriel Naouri, fils de Jean Charles  PDG de CASINO ou  Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet, PDG de Price Minister, frère de NKM et petit-fils de l’ambassadeur.

Nouveau venu en 2010 dans ce type de regroupement les « MUNICH YOUNG LEADERS ». La CONFERENCE POUR LA SECURITE COLLECTIVE EN EUROPE  qui l’a créé est l’équivalent en matière de relations internationales et de guerre du forum de Davos. Elle rassemble chaque année à Munich dans les premiers jours de Février le gratin européen et étasunien dans ces domaines : ministres de la défense et des affaires étrangères, dirigeants de l’OTAN, généraux, fabricants d’armes, banquiers, journalistes spécialisés et dirigeants de think tanks spécialisés. Nombre d’invités l’on été ou le seront également par le groupe de Bilderberg ou par la Commission Trilatérale.

Mais la particularité du recrutement des MUNICH YOUNG LEADERS, prés de 200 membres aujourd’hui est que,  bien qu’organisé par une fondation privée, il est en pratique piloté par le ministère des affaires étrangères allemand et organisé dans les pays concernés par les ambassades d’Allemagne.  Beaucoup plus sélectif que les YOUNG GLOBAL LEADERS il ne recrute que trois personnes par pays cible. Les MUNICH YOUNG LEADERS se réunissent entre eux une fois l’an et  sont invités à assister à deux forums internationaux thématiques organisés par l’INTERNATIONAL INSTITUT FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES de Londres,  celui de Singapour  « SHANGRI–LA DIALOGUE » et le « MANAMA DIALOGUE »  au Bahreïn. Ce manifeste ainsi une volonté politique claire de la RFA de structurer principalement sur le continent eurasiatique une zone d’influence stratégique autonome par rapport aux deux structures à domination étasunienne : le groupe de Bilderberg et la commission Trilatérale.

Cette volonté allemande est là pour rappeler une nouvelle fois que la classe dirigeante allemande, privée par la défaite de 1945 et la charte de l’ONU qui lui interdit l’accès au Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU et à l’arme atomique d’un rôle prééminent  dans la conduite des affaires mondiales, avance à pas comptés mais avec persévérance dans la conquête de ce rôle.

La destruction de la RDA- remarquablement décrite par Vladimiro Giacché dans son livre « Le second anschluss- l’annexion de la RDA » (Editions Delga – 2015) – et la brutale mise au pas de la Grèce en 2015 sont des illustrations concrètes de cette politique.

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Si la condamnation en 2013 de l’ancien dictateur d’Efraín Ríos Montt (1982-1983) pour génocide et crimes contre l’humanité a été annulée peu de temps après pour vice de forme par la Cour constitutionnelle, un nouveau procès est en cours et la justice guatémaltèque se penche aussi sur d’autres cas de violence perpétrés par l’armée sur des civils pendant les années 1980. Article de Louisa Reynolds publié par Noticias Aliadas le 5 février 2016.


Pour la première fois, un tribunal admet comme motif d’accusation l’esclavage sexuel perpétré durant le conflit armé.

Petrona Choc, âgée de 75 ans, n’a pas vacillé quand elle a raconté devant le tribunal comment les soldats l’avaient traînée, elle et ses fils hors de leur maison en 1982, avaient tiré sur son époux, et l’avait retenue, elle avec d’autres femmes, dans une base militaire proche, où elle a été violée de manière répétée et obligée de faire la cuisine pour ses ravisseurs.

« Un jour les soldats sont arrivés et un de mes fils, Abelino, a dit “les soldats arrivent, nous allons mourir ». J’ai réuni mes enfants et je leur ai dit que nous allions encore une fois fuir dans les montagnes ; nous étions en fuite quand nous avons entendu le crépitement des tirs et c’est alors que mon mari est mort », a-t-elle raconté le 3 février au Tribunal A de risque majeur.

Choc est l’une des 11 femmes maya q’eqchí de la petite localité de Sepur Zarco, dans le département oriental d’Izabal, qui se trouvèrent face à 2 hommes qui leur ordonnèrent de faire la cuisine, le ménage, et les soumirent au viol systématique, il y a de cela trois décennies : l’ex-commandant de la base Esteelmer Reyes Girón et l’ex-commissionné militaire régional Heriberto Valdey Asij.

C’est la première fois au monde que le délit d’esclavage sexuel survenu lors d’un conflit armé est jugé dans le pays même où il a été commis.

Les victimes se présentèrent à l’audience la tête couverte d’un châle pour éviter d’être reconnues et ne l’enlevèrent que lorsque ce fut leur tour de témoigner, car être victimes de viol conduit souvent, dans les communautés rurales, à des rejets et des mises à l’écart. De nombreux membres d’organisations de femmes et de droits humains qui assistaient au procès avaient aussi la tête couverte, en signe de solidarité.

« Ils nous ont violées, grande fut la souffrance qu’ils nous ont infligée, et ils me disaient qu’il n’y avait plus personne pour s’interroger sur mon sort », a dit Choc. Son témoignage est si déchirant que plusieurs fois l’interprète paraît visiblement ému et au bord des larmes.

Reyes Girón et Valdez Asij sont accusés d’avoir ordonné et permis le viol, l’esclavage, la disparition forcée et l’assassinat de non-combattants, des crimes contre l’humanité qui ne sont pas concernés par la loi d’amnistie de 1996.

Le viol comme arme

Les victimes furent séquestrées et réduites en esclavage en 1982, pendant la dictature d’Efraín Ríos Montt (1982-1983), qui fut condamné pour génocide et crimes contre l’humanité en 2013 et affronte actuellement un nouveau procès après que le verdict a été annulé pour vice de forme. Bien que bref, le régime de fait de Ríos Montt fut l’une des étapes les plus violentes du conflit armé guatémaltèque car l’armée intensifia ses attaques contre les communautés indiennes qui, considérait-elle, protégeaient les guérilléros.

Selon la Commission pour l’éclaircissement historique (CEH), jusqu’à 1979 le viol était utilisé par l’armée uniquement contre les femmes appartenant à des organisations guérilléras. Cependant, durant les années 1980, il fut utilisé de manière systématique comme partie intégrante des attaques de l’armée de terre contre les populations civiles indiennes. La CEH a recensé 1465 cas de viol commis durant les 36 ans de conflit armé. 80% des victimes étaient indiennes.

Pendant l’audience d’ouverture, le 1er février, la procureur Hilda Pineda a déclaré que la violence sexuelle était utilisée comme « arme de guerre » contre la population civile. Trois hommes maya q’echi ont déclaré que les militaires séparaient les hommes des femmes pour que les femmes puissent être violées en groupe par la troupe. Ils ont déclaré aussi être restés sans foyer après que les soldats les ont obligés à démanteler leurs cabanes et à en emporter bois et plaques d’aluminium à la base militaire où ils furent utilisés comme matériaux de construction. Les trois témoins ont désigné Valdez Asij et déclaré qu’il était présent sur le lieu où furent commis ces crimes.

Le procès pour le cas Sepur Zarco se déroule dans la même salle où s’est tenu le procès pour génocide contre Ríos Montt en 2013. Comme cela s’est passé dans ce cas, la défense a essayé d’arrêter le processus en présentant une interminable succession d’appels, arguant que la juge Yassmin Barrios n’était pas impartiale vu qu’elle avait déjà prononcé des verdicts dans d’autres procès concernant des violations de droits humains commises durant le conflit armé.

Militaires arrêtés

Deux semaines avant que ne commence le procès pour le cas Sepur Zarco, un autre pas important a été réalisé pour garantir que justice soit rendue pour les victimes de viol durant le conflit armé avec l’arrestation de 18 officiers militaires pour les massacres et disparitions forcées commises pendant les années 1980. 14 des arrêtés sont accusés de disparition forcée et torture en relation avec une fosse commune contenant les restes de 533 corps, d’abord enterrés dans 84 fosses clandestines, qui a été découverte en 2012 dans une ancienne base militaire du département de Cobán. Parmi les détenus se trouve l’ancien chef d’état-major de l’armée de terre, Manuel Benedicto Lucas García, frère du dictateur Fernando Romeo Lucas García (1978-82).

Les procureurs ont aussi demandé de lever l’immunité de législateur d’Edgar Ovalle Maldonado, l’un des officiers militaires en retraite fondateur du Front de convergence nationale (FCN) qui a mené au pouvoir le nouveau président du Guatemala, Jimmy Morales, en 2015, pour qu’il réponde des accusations concernant sa participation supposée dans le cas Cobán. Cependant, le 28 janvier, la Cour suprême a déterminé qu’il n’y avait pas de raison d’inculper Ovalle.

Des experts judiciaires ont déterminé que les victimes de Cobán provenaient de différentes parties du pays, ce qui suggère que le lieu a pu être un centre d’interrogatoire et de détention. De nombreux corps avaient les yeux bandés, pieds et mains attachés, ce qui indiquerait qu’ils ont été exécutés. Quelques corps avaient des blessures par armes ou des os cassés qui s’étaient reconsolidés avant d’être à nouveau cassés, signe qu’ils furent torturés avant d’être exécutés. La procureure générale Thelma Aldana s’est référée au cas de Cobán comme l’« un des cas de disparitions forcées les plus importants d’Amérique latine ».

Les 4 officiers restants sont accusés de la disparition forcée de Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, alors âgé de 14 ans, séquestré par les membres du service de renseignements de l’armée de terre en 1981 en représailles pour l’activisme de sa famille contre la dictature de Lucas García. Parmi les accusés se trouve le colonel en retraite Francisco Gordillo Martínez qui devint ensuite l’un des trois membres de la junte militaire dirigée par Ríos Montt.

Pendant de temps, le nouveau procès contre Ríos Montt, accusé de génocide et de crimes contre l’humanité, connaît un nouveau retard. Le 11 janvier, il a été suspendu par le tribunal pour résoudre des demandes légales en suspens.

Louisa Reynolds 

 

Source (espagnol) : Noticias Aliadas, 5 février 2016.

Traduction de Sylvette Liens pour Dial.

Dial – Diffusion de l’information sur l’Amérique latine – D 3360.

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Camilo Torres Restrepo (1929-1966), prêtre catholique, sociologue et révolutionnaire est mort dans une action militaire peu après avoir rejoint l’Armée de libération nationale (ELN). 2016 marquera le 50e anniversaire de sa mort. François Houtart se fait l’écho d’un acte organisé à Cali en sa mémoire début novembre, auquel il avait été convié.


Un acte hautement symbolique eut lieu à Cali, le 7 novembre 2015, à l’initiative de Mgr Dario de Jésus Monsalve Mejia, archevêque de cette ville, la troisième de la Colombie : le rappel de la mémoire de Camilo Torres Restrepo comme chrétien et comme prêtre. Préparant l’événement, l’archevêque avait écrit dans une revue de l’archidiocèse, une présentation intitulée « Camilo hier et aujourd’hui, signe de Réconciliation » (Cuadernos ciudadanos – Observatorio de realidades sociales, n° 5, novembre 2015, p. 8) : « Le prêtre Camilo Torres Restrepo soumis, jusqu’à sa dépouille mortelle, au secret d’État [1], réduit au silence par l’Église dans la diffusion de sa pensée chrétienne et victime de la stigmatisation de la guérilla, a beaucoup à apporter à la Colombie qui ouvre aujourd’hui, par la réconciliation et la vérité, une période de transition vers la justice et la paix. »

Il s’agissait ce 7 novembre, de célébrer la mémoire d’un prêtre mort le 15 février 1966 dans la guérilla, engagement qu’il assuma, selon ses propres paroles, en tant que chrétien, prêtre et sociologue, dans une société profondément injuste et cruelle. Rien que dans les 50 dernières années, il y eut près de 500 000 morts, six millions de personnes déplacées, dont quatre au Venezuela, des milliers de disparus, d’innombrables confiscations de terres paysannes par les propriétaires fonciers et les entreprises multinationales (en particulier celles du pétrole, de l’exploitation minière et des agrocarburants) bien souvent avec l’aide des paramilitaires. Des accords de paix sont négociés à La Havane et Quito, pour mettre fin au conflit armé, parce que ce dernier était devenu trop coûteux pour les classes dirigeantes et, pour les plus pauvres et exploités de la société, un processus de lutte les menant à l’épuisement, physique et moral.

L’archevêque commença la cérémonie en disant que le temps était venu de jeter un autre regard sur Camilo et de reconnaître ce que sa pensée et son engagement pouvaient signifier comme base de la réconciliation dans la justice. Deux exposés de témoins de la vie de Camilo suivirent ; le mien et celui du père Javier Giraldo, s.j. Personnellement, je transmis d’abord un message de Gustavo Pérez, ami et biographe de Camilo, malheureusement empêché de venir à Cali. Je retraçai ensuite l’itinéraire de Camilo à partir du moment où je l’avais invité, en 1954, à venir à Louvain pour étudier la sociologie et rappelant son dernier engagement qui le conduisit à la mort. J’avais toujours pensé qu’un Camilo vivant aurait mieux valu qu’un Camilo mort, mais le symbole de son sacrifice dépassa les limites du temps et de l’espace. Au Kerala, dans le sud de l’Inde, un jeune pêcheur catholique, qui avait lu un de mes textes sur Camilo, a appelé son premier fils, Camilo Torres.

Camilo choisit la résistance armée, ce qui parait contradictoire avec un message chrétien de paix et d’amour du prochain et avec la fonction sacerdotale. Cependant, nous vivons dans un monde violent et nous ne pouvons pas nier aux opprimés le droit à la résistance, qui peut aller jusqu’à une révolte armée, lorsqu’il s’agit du dernier recours, de la possibilité d’un résultat social et du rejet de méthodes de lutte éthiquement inacceptables, comme le terrorisme, la torture ou les enlèvements. C’était le cas au temps de Camilo. Cinquante ans plus tard, les circonstances ont changé et, sans aucun doute, il soutiendrait les négociations de paix. Cependant, son expérience comme analyste et leader social permet de penser que la fin du conflit armé ne signifiera pas la fin des luttes sociales. La bourgeoisie colombienne qui est l’une des plus cultivées du continent, mais aussi l’une des plus cyniques, ne va pas abandonner sans plus son hégémonie économique, politique et sociale. Originaire de cette classe sociale, Camilo le savait très bien.

Le Père Javier Giraldo, s.j. insista sur la position de Camilo en tant qu’aumônier à l’Université centrale de Bogota, où il découvrit la nécessité d’une autre conception de la pastorale : non une doctrine à insérer dans la vie, mais bien une analyse de la réalité pour donner une réponse inspirée par les valeurs de paix et d’amour du royaume de Dieu. Camilo fut inspiré dans ce domaine par ses contacts en Europe avec la Jeunesse ouvrière catholique (JOC) et son fondateur Joseph Cardijn : voir, juger, agir.

L’acte liturgique, qui suivit, se déroula dans l’église de l’Ermitage, dans le centre-ville, espace religieux des mariages et des baptêmes de la « haute société » locale. La cérémonie débuta par une expression œcuménique. Le chœur de l’Église baptiste chanta accompagné par une musique de dizaines de clochettes. Les représentants des différentes Églises et religions entouraient l’autel. Des pasteurs des Églises protestantes historiques, épiscopales, luthériennes, baptistes et des Vieux Catholiques, prirent la parole. Tous insistèrent sur la dimension sociale du message chrétien et l’un d’entre eux parla de Camilo comme d’un martyr. Une femme pasteur, présidente du Mouvement œcuménique des femmes pour la paix, décrit la souffrance des femmes en temps de guerre. À chaque fois, le témoignage se terminait par l’allumage d’un cierge et une accolade avec l’archevêque, suivi par les applaudissements de l’assemblée.

Un représentant de la communauté juive ouvrit son intervention par Shalom, ce désir de paix et d’amour, qui ne peut être dissociée de la justice et qu’il dédia à Camilo. Une dame descendante africaine, toute de blanc vêtue et coiffée d’un turban qui donnait une dimension d’élégance à sa grande taille, prit ensuite la parole. Elle provenait de la tradition yoruba. Elle déclina la longue liste des injustices commises contre les descendants des esclaves africains : confiscation de leurs terres par les sociétés multinationales des agrocarburants ; destructions de villages et de communautés ; femmes et enfants assassinés par des paramilitaires. Elle accompagna sa description, simple mais terrible, d’un chant d’inspiration africaine. À ce moment, l’archevêque se leva, ainsi que tous les participants qui emplissaient l’église. Ce fut un moment de grande émotion, suivi par de longs applaudissements lorsque la dame et l’archevêque se donnèrent l’accolade.

Un shaman indien parla au nom des nombreux peuples autochtones de la Colombie et remercia la Terre-Mère pour la possibilité de cette réunion commémorant la mémoire de Camilo. Il évoqua les milliers de victimes autochtones, déplacées de leurs terres par les compagnies pétrolières et minières et les nombreux Indiens assassinés. Il rappela qu’avec Camilo, il y eut aussi d’autres prêtres qui avaient donné leur vie pour la justice.

Ensuite commença l’eucharistie avec les lectures de St Paul sur le Christ mort pour donner la vie et l’Évangile du jugement dernier, où Dieu récompense ceux qui avaient nourri les affamés, vêtu les nus, et visité les prisonniers. L’homélie de l’archevêque commença par la lecture du message de Camilo aux chrétiens lorsqu’il partit à la montagne. Puis il aborda trois sujets : Camilo a offert sa vie ; son message a toujours été un message d’unité, ce qui indique la voie à suivre pour l’avenir ; l’Année de la Miséricorde, promulguée par le Pape François et qui correspond avec le cinquantième anniversaire de la mort de Camilo, portera ses fruits si la dimension de la justice est inclue.

Le chant d’offertoire qui suivit fut celui de la Misa Campesina (la messe paysanne) du Nicaragua : « Ouvriers et paysans, nous t’offrons aujourd’hui, avec le pain et le vin, les amandes et les mangues couleur de lune, les pipianes et le miel sauvage de nos montagnes. Nous t’offrons aussi le quotidien de notre vie. La classe des travailleurs nous te célébrons, les maçons, les charpentiers, les tourneurs, les tailleurs, les ouvriers agricoles et jusqu’aux cireurs de botte du Parc central ». Le baiser de paix fut échangé par tous les participants et le dernier chant de la messe fut suivi d’un long applaudissement de l’assemblée, heureuse d’avoir participé à cette reconnaissance de ce que fut Camilo, comme chrétien et comme prêtre.

Dans l’après-midi, deux livres sur Camilo furent présentés, dont une bande dessinée, œuvre de César Lima, jésuite péruvien. Deux films furent également annoncés, l’un intitulé L’Évangile de Camilo sera présenté en février 2016, à l’occasion du cinquantième anniversaire de sa mort. Lors de l’échange, l’Université catholique de Louvain fut remerciée pour sa contribution à la formation de Camilo.

Parmi les derniers témoignages, j’exprimai l’idée que Camilo est toujours vivant, par sa pensée et son exemple, important pour l’expression de la foi chrétienne aujourd’hui. Une transformation des structures sociales est nécessaire, car prêcher l’amour sans transformer une société injuste est pure idéologie. Si l’on prend au sérieux le message de Jésus, la manière dont il se comporta dans sa propre société, nous ne pouvons penser que le message chrétien soit « un opium pour le peuple ». Au contraire, il est une source d’émancipation et de liberté.

Monseigneur Dario Monsalve conclut la journée en disant : « La lutte que Camilo a livrée est celle d’un chrétien pour abolir les injustices sociales. Il constata l’énorme disproportion entre le niveau de vie des grandes majorités des exclus et la minorité des privilégiés. Et lorsqu’il rejoint le groupe des exclus de l’Église catholique et fut stigmatisé à cause de ses idées, ce qui l’empêcha de vivre et de s’exprimer dans la vie de tous les jours, il fut contraint à la clandestinité et rejoint ceux qui acceptèrent de le recevoir ». Une telle réhabilitation de Camilo Torres n’aurait pas été possible sans l’ouverture de nouveaux espaces par le pape François.

François Houtart

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[1] Le corps de Camilo a été enterré secrètement par l’armée et l’archevêque de Cali lança un appel au gouvernement pour qu’il puisse reposer dans la chapelle de l’Université nationale.

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El pasado sábado 30 de enero, los equipos forenses españoles encontraron los restos mortales requeridos por los familiares de un ciudadano español, Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá, fusilado en 1939 por las fuerzas franquistas aduciendo « auxilio a la rebelión » y enterrado con 22 cuerpos más (ver  nota  de Eldiario.es). En esa misma nota periodística leemos, por parte de la jurista Ana Messuti, abogada argentina que ayudo durante largos años a los descendientes de esta víctima del franquismo, en particular a su hija Ascensión Mendieta Ibarra, que:  » Este día es mucho más de lo que jamás pude prometer. Cuando Ascensión se presentó le dije lo único que no le puedo prometer es la exhumación. Era algo casi imposible, pero para Ascensión no hay nada imposible« . Cabe señalar que los equipos forenses españoles iniciaron los trabajos de exhumación el pasado 19 de enero del 2016 (ver nota de El País). A una semana de iniciada la exhumación, los expertos confirmaron que la fosa común excavada era bien la de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá (ver  nota  de ABC del 26 de enero del 2016). Imágenes de esta exhumación reunidas en este  enlace  permiten apreciar con mayor precisión los alcances de los trabajos realizados. Con estos hallazgos del último fin de semana del mes de enero del 2016, Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá se convierte en la primera víctima del franquismo en ser exhumada a solicitud de la justicia de Argentina ¿Cómo puede explicarse que la exhumación de una persona fusilada en 1939 en España (y cuyos restos mortales yacen con otros en una fosa ubicada en territorio español) deba ser tramitada ante un juzgado en Buenos Aires? Es lo que se intentará brevemente aclarar en las líneas que siguen.

Un Estado español ausente

El extenso movimiento de solidaridad expresado en estas últimas semanas desde diversas partes de España y desde varias latitudes a los familiares de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá encuentra su origen en el hecho siguiente: esta exhumación, a diferencias de muchas otras realizadas en España, es la primera que haya sido ordenada por la justicia. No la de España, sino la de Argentina. En efecto, debido a los obstáculos encontrados ante las autoridades estatales españolas y ante el mismo aparato judicial español (Nota 1), los familiares optaron en este caso por recurrir a la justicia de Argentina. La nieta de Doña Ascensión, Aitana Vargas escribió en este artículo reproducido en este enlace que: “Ni en su más remota imaginación habría podido soñar mi abuela con un recibimiento en tierras extranjeras como el que protagonizó. Arropada y escuchada por el Congreso de los Diputados de Buenos Aires, el Senado, y por las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, logró luego sobreponerse a una terca fiebre y a la vejez incómoda para declarar en el Juzgado de la magistrada Servini, que amablemente prestó sus oídos a la causa de mi abuela”.

Como es sabido, pese a incesantes reclamos de víctimas, familiares de víctimas, colectivos de abogados y ONG españolas, la falta de investigaciones y la impunidad campean en la materia en España (Nota 2). En un reciente estudio sobre las fosas colectivas españolas, desde la perspectiva historiográfica, se lee que se trata de: “tumbas colectivas que contienen los restos de aquellos que murieron víctimas de la represión. Un tipo de inhumación que representa una prueba irrefutable de la barbarie y que fue utilizado, por el bando franquista, como un instrumento pedagógico que extendió el miedo a la población. Una forma de castigo que principalmente perseguía el olvido, borrar a los vencidos de la faz de la tierra y ocultarlos para siempre del recuerdo” (Nota 3).

En noviembre del 2015, ante el hermetismo de las entidades públicas en España para investigar lo ocurrido, una asociación canaria de víctimas (denominada ACVF) presentó una denuncia con 1800 nombres, la cual se incorporará al expediente tramitado ante el Juzgado Nacional en lo Criminal y Correccional Federal número 1 de Buenos Aires, Argentina (ver  nota  de prensa).

Con relación a las víctimas del régimen franquista, en mayo del 2013, el Ejecutivo español solicitó suspender una videoconferencia acordada por la justicia argentina desde Buenos Aires con varias de ellas en España, aduciendo que para realizar este tipo de diligencias, su concurso era necesario: según las autoridades españolas, se debía aplicar « el tratado bilateral de extradición y asistencia judicial en materia penal de 3 de marzo de 1987, requiriendo, de acuerdo con lo previsto en los artículos 30 y 41, la solicitud debidamente cursada mediante comisión rogatoria dirigida al Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, como Autoridad Central, tal y como ha sido el caso respecto a diligencias similares practicadas con anterioridad » (ver  nota  de El País). No se tiene seguridad que las “diligencias similares practicadas con anterioridad” refirieran a recabar los testimonios de víctimas del franquismo ante un juez argentino.

En donde en cambio hay una gran certeza es con relación a la ausencia del Estado español en las exhumaciones de fosas comunes: la primera exhumación de una víctima de la guerra civil en España fue realizada directamente por familiares, sin intervención judicial alguna (ni de ninguna autoridad estatal) en octubre del año 2000. Los restos encontrados de Emilio Silva Faba, fusilado en 1936, fueron confirmados por análisis de ADN de laboratorios en el 2003 (ver  nota  de El País del 2003). En aquel momento, el nieto de esta víctima del franquismo, Emilio Silva Barrera, quién fundó posteriormente la Asociación por la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica (ARMH), señaló: « Sólo se cierra un ciclo personal, se abre el colectivo« .

Memoria histórica y gobiernos recientes

Desde su creación,  la ARMH (ver  sitio ) ha establecido una importante red en el territorio español para recabar información así como para proporcionar ayuda a los familiares de víctimas de la guerra civil y del franquismo. Se lee en su sitio que: “A raíz de fuerte repercusión mediática que tuvo la exhumación en Priaranza del Bierzo (León), cientos de cartas, llamadas y correos electrónicos llegaron a los responsables de los trabajos. En ese punto y dado el volumen de casos de asesinatos extrajudiciales y desapariciones llegados desde todo el país y siempre con el mismo patrón: secuestro-asesinato-desaparición. Se decide crear por primera vez en España una Asociación civil que canalice todos esos casos y que intente dar respuesta a unas preguntas que el estado español nunca ha dado”.

Esta primera exhumación en el año 2000 de una víctima fusilada en 1936 durante la guerra civil española se dio durante el segundo período del Gobierno de José María Aznar en España: a diferencia del primer período (1996-2000), para el segundo período (2000-2004), Aznar contó con una mayoría de escaños obtenidos en las elecciones de marzo del 2000. Difícilmente el Estado español acompañaría con algún tipo de reforma legislativa o con algún cambio de actitud por parte de sus autoridades, el clamor de las víctimas del franquismo.

Notemos que la recuperación de los restos mortales de ciudadanos españoles fallecidos no fue del todo ausente en la gestión de las autoridades españolas de la época: una antropóloga forense costarricense indica no obstante (en un artículo sobre su experiencia trabajando en las fosas comunes en España) que el interés de Aznar se centró en solamente algunos de ellos, al escribir que ”… no es ningún secreto que el Presidente Aznar y su Gobierno hizo posible la disposición de millones de pesetas disponibles para financiar la repatriación de los restos de aquellos que pertenecieron a la División Azul que pelearon en colaboración con los Nazis en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y que al mismo tiempo se resistió enérgicamente para proveer fondos para las exhumaciones de las fosas Republicanas. Esta situación abocó a la insuficiencia de equipo e infraestructura para obtener resultados óptimos. Estas circunstancias, unidas al miedo y a la estigmatización existente en muchos de los Republicanos causa que el trabajo forense se dificulte para todos los involucrados” (Nota 4).

En el 2002, la precitada ARMH exigió al jefe del Ejecutivo español una declaración política de condena al franquismo y de ayuda para los familiares de las víctimas (ver  nota  de prensa de noviembre del 2002), sin mayor éxito. Años después, se oiría de este personaje de la política española que: “Tenemos que recuperar un espíritu de concordia y unidad perdido en gran medida (…) nacido en la transición española. Que eso no se hace removiendo tumbas ni removiendo huesos ni tirándose a la cabeza, se hace trabajando todos los días seriamente, pensando en el futuro del país” (ver nota de prensa sobre declaraciones recientes particularmente duras de alcaldes en España sobre las víctimas del franquismo, y video en Youtube que recoge las cuestionables declaraciones del susodicho personaje).

De manera que un lector poco familiarizado con exhumaciones de víctimas del franquismo pueda tener una descripción más completa de su alcance y de su significado, lo remitimos al informe detallado de una exhumación de ocho cuerpos realizada en la localidad de Olmedillo de Roa (Burgos) en el 2003, la cual concluye (ver   informe  ) que: “4. Todos las muertes puede calificarse de carácter violento homicida a juzgar por las heridas por arma de fuego localizadas en los cráneos. 5. Las evidencias recuperadas y el análisis de conjunto permiten una interpretación de los hechos que concuerda fielmente con las versiones previamente recogidas a través de testimonios”.

Familiares y abogados persistentes

Ante el hermetismo de las entidades públicas españolas, la perseverancia y la insistencia de los descendientes de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá llevaron a sus abogados a interponer una demanda en Argentina en el 2010. La jueza argentina María Servini de Cubría obtuvo de las autoridades judiciales de España, en aplicación del principio de jurisdicción universal, que sea exhumada esta fosa común ubicada en Guadalajara, ubicada a unos 50 kilómetros de Madrid.
La solicitud hecha en el 2014 por la jueza desde Argentina precisaba (ver  nota ) que: « Líbrese exhorto diplomático al Titular del Juzgado Territorial, que por razones de turno corresponda, con jurisdicción en Guadalajara (…) a fin de solicitarle arbitre los medios necesarios para que en presencia de quien suscribe se proceda a la exhumación del cuerpo sin vida que se encontraría inhumado en la fosa n° 2, ubicada en el patio n° 4 del cementerio de Guadalajara, ocupando el penúltimo lugar, comenzando de arriba hacia abajo, o segundo lugar de abajo hacia arriba, de diecisiete cuerpos que se hallarían apilados en forma vertical« . Se indica en este  sitio  sobre la memoria histórica en Guadalajara que el ayuntamiento español respondió al juez español a cargo de tramitar la solicitud argentina que: « El informe, fechado el 27 de junio de 2014 y remitido al Juzgado de Instrucción Número 1 de Guadalajara, explica que la fosa en la que fue enterrado Timoteo es una fosa común cuyo primer enterramiento data del 16 de noviembre de 1939 y el último el 9 de septiembre del mismo año. En la fosa se enterraron, según consta en el informe, 22 o 23 personas ejecutadas por el Juzgado Especial de Ejecuciones, según los distintos registros« . El documento elaborado por el ayuntamiento de Guadalajara y sus diversos anexos están disponibles en esta  nota .

Pese a la información muy detallada proveída por el ayuntamiento, la primera respuesta de la justicia española a la petición proveniente de Argentina fue negativa: en su escrito de enero del 2015, se alegó por parte de la jueza española incertidumbre sobre la localización exacta del cuerpo para ordenar una exhumación. Según se lee en esta nota de prensa, para la jueza española María Lourdes Platero “de la inspección ocular realizada y de las manifestaciones efectuadas no queda acreditado fehacientemente que en la fosa nº2 del patio 4 del Cementerio de Guadalajara se encuentre el cuerpo sin vida de D. Timoteo Mendieta”.

Una segunda solicitud enviada desde Argentina en marzo del 2015 logró finalmente que se procediera a la exhumación, iniciada en esta tercera semana del mes de enero del 2016. Resulta oportuno precisar que el inicio de esta exhumación ha contado con una inédita presencia de autoridades españolas esta vez: “En el cementerio de Guadalajara se hicieron presentes hoy un juez y un fiscal, algo poco habitual” se lee esta  nota  periodística de Telam (Argentina).

El pasado de España enterrado en fosas comunes

En su artículo precitado, la antropóloga forense costarricense (quién ha participado en exhumaciones en distintas partes del mundo, además de España), Roxana Ferllini Timms, concluye de su experiencia en tierras españolas que: “España constituye una excepción dentro del proceso de transición de justicia, ya que el paso a la democratización no buscó conciliar la violencia y abusos de los derechos humanos que ocurrieron durante la Guerra Civil y el régimen Franquista. La transición creó en 1977 el pacto del olvido, el cual fundamentalmente dio cabida al silencio, neutralizando toda temática concerniente a ese pasado, incluyendo la exclusión de dichos temas en cursos de historia española” (Nota 5). Otra antropóloga costarricense, Ariana Fernández Muñoz, con una vasta experiencia internacional, también ha participado en la exhumación de fosas españolas (ver  nota  publicada en La Nación).

En España, se estima a unos 150.000 los desaparecidos durante la guerra civil española. En la precitada  nota  de El País del año 2003, “Priaranza se convirtió en el primer pueblo de España donde, tras la recuperación de la democracia, se abría la tierra para sacar a los muertos republicanos de las cunetas y llevarlos a los cementerios”.

Según el mapa oficial de fosas comunes elaborado después de la adopción de la ley sobre la memoria histórica en el 2007, existen más de 2000 fosas comunes en el territorio español (ver mapa). En el año 2011, se adoptó un “Protocolo de actuación en exhumaciones de víctimas de la guerra civil y la dictadura” (ver  texto  publicado en el Boletín Oficial del Estado del 27 de septiembre del 2011). A enero del 2012, se lee que las exhumaciones de 278 fosas comunes en busca de víctimas de la guerra civil española entre  el 2000 y el 2011 se habían realizado directamente por parte de familiares y organizaciones de la sociedad civil, sin intervención judicial de ningún tipo (Nota 6). A diferencia de lo que ocurre en otras latitudes, existe un registro bastante preciso en los archivos de las autoridades españolas sobre el lugar exacto en los que están enterrados muchas de las víctimas del franquismo. En esta  nota  periodística relacionada con la fosa común de Guadalajara, se lee que “De entrada, los arqueólogos no entienden por qué una fosa tan grande. «Estamos trabajando a 2,80 metros de profundidad, sobre el cuerpo número 13. Si se cumple lo que señala el registro, hay 22 cuerpos, por lo que pasaremos de los 4 metros», cuenta René Pacheco, director de la exhumación. «Una fosa de estas dimensiones solo se explica desde la premeditación total de lo que iba a ocurrir en este lugar». En la misma zona hay otros 350 ejecutados. Y en el mismo camposanto una fosa común que alberga los restos de otros 800. Pero lo que cuesta entender es por qué el régimen dejó registrados los asesinatos. Hay cuatro libros en el archivo municipal que recogen pormenorizadamente los datos de todos los fusilados. «Estaba dentro de su legalidad, por eso está documentada toda la represión», aclara Pacheco. A lo que añade un dato clarificador: «los sepultureros cobraban por cada cuerpo que enterraban, por eso lo dejaban anotado», añade”.

Algunas consecuencias de principios adoptados en el plano internacional

Cabe recordar que la ley del 2007 sobre memoria histórica se aprobó en España a pocos años de la resolución  60/147  sobre “Principios y directrices básicos sobre el derecho de las víctimas de violaciones manifiestas de las normas internacionales de derechos humanos y de violaciones graves del derecho internacional humanitario a interponer recursos y obtener reparaciones” (adoptada en diciembre del 2005 por la Asamblea General de Naciones Unidas,  ver  texto ). En el 2006, se adoptó además un instrumento vinculante: la Convención Internacional para la protección de todas las personas contra las desapariciones forzadas (aprobada por la Asamblea General en su resolución 61/177, de 20 de diciembre de 2006). Este instrumento internacional (que cuenta en la actualidad con un centenar de firmas y solo unas 50 ratificaciones) fue suscrito por España en septiembre del 2007 y ratificado en septiembre del 2009 (ver  estado oficial  de firmas y ratificaciones).

De la misma manera, el Protocolo antes mencionado sobre exhumaciones en España se dio a pocos años de la adopción de la resolución 12/12 aprobada en el 2009 por el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de Naciones Unidas sobre el derecho a la verdad (ver  texto ): esta resolución encuentra su origen en una resolución adoptada por la Comisión de Derechos Humanos (Resolución 2005/66 “El derecho a la verdad”) adoptada en abril de 2005 en Ginebra, a iniciativa de Argentina.

Notemos que estos esfuerzos del Estado español fueron precedidos por iniciativas en algunas comunidades autónomas: por ejemplo,  Cataluña adoptó en junio del 2009  la  Ley 10/2009 “sobre la localización e identificación de las personas desaparecidas durante la Guerra Civil y la dictadura franquista, y la dignificación de las fosas comunes” (ver  texto ). En septiembre del 2009, fue la Junta de Andalucía la que adoptó la “Orden de 7 de septiembre de 2009, por la que se aprueba el Protocolo Andaluz de actuación en exhumaciones de víctimas de la Guerra Civil y la Posguerra” (ver  texto ). En septiembre del 2011, pocos días antes de que España adoptara un Protocolo, el País Vasco adoptó un “Protocolo de Actuación en materia de Exhumaciones en el País Vasco” (ver  nota  de prensa y texto del Protocolo en el Anexo I (pp. 22-28) de este  documento  oficial del Gobierno Vasco titulado “Plan Vasco 2015-20 de investigación y localización de fosas para la búsqueda e identificación de personas desaparecidas durante la Guerra Civil”).

La situación de las víctimas y sus familiares ante la justicia en España

Si bien existen algunos tímidos avances en materia legislativa en España (como la ley del 2007 y el protocolo del 2011), y regulaciones adoptadas por varias comunidades autónomas, las autoridades españolas y la misma justicia en España se han mostrado extremadamente reservadas con relación a investigar y a sancionar a los crímenes perpetrados durante la guerra civil española. Las interpretaciones restrictivas sobre el alcance de las cláusulas de los instrumentos internacionales aplicables a la materia han impedido que una simple solicitud de acceder a restos mortales por parte de familiares reciba algún tipo de respuesta. Expertos internacionales han puesto de manifiesto que la interpretación que se ha hecho en España de algunas leyes nacionales es sumamente cuestionable al impedir investigaciones: remitimos en particular a la entrevista al jurista Ariel Dulitsky (ver entrevista) en la que, a propósito de la ley española de amnistía adoptada en 1977, precisa que: “Otra interpretación posible sería la siguiente: para determinar si este hecho que yo tengo denunciado está cubierto o no por la Ley de Amnistía, primero debo investigarlo para saber quiénes fueron las víctimas y quiénes fueron los responsables y una vez hecha toda esta investigación es posible determinar si los hechos están cubiertos o no por la Ley de Amnistía. Pero, jamás debería impedirse la investigación desde un principio”.

En esta  nota  de prensa se puede leer la percepción que tiene de la justicia española la hija de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá, Ascensión Mendieta Ibarra, y que posiblemente comparten muchos familiares de víctimas españolas: « En España no ha habido justicia para las víctimas ni solidaridad, lo ha impedido la tan cacareada ley de amnistía, que en realidad a quien amnistió fue a los personajes que participaron en las atrocidades que se cometieron contra los ciudadanos de este país » /…/, y añade que las víctimas de la dictadura no tienen « un estatuto jurídico como sí otras víctimas, por ejemplo las del terrorismo, que me alegro mucho por ellas, pero hemos viajado muy solitos« .

En una de sus visitas a España en mayo del año 2014, la jueza argentina que investiga varios casos de víctimas del franquismo, y que ha optado por venir a oír personalmente sus testimonios en territorio español (ver  nota ) indicó: “Lo que se ve es el miedo y el terror de cada persona a declarar. A veces quieren omitir nombres o no dan detalles de las circunstancias en las que ocurrieron los hechos. Se emocionan, lloran. Lloran incluso los nietos que no han conocido a sus abuelos. Es duro, es difícil ».

En una  entrevista  del 2013, el juez que se puede considerar como el más conocido fuera de las fronteras españolas, Baltasar Garzón Real, declaró: « Me da mucha pena que tenga que ser en Argentina donde se investiguen estos crímenes porque España en su día paralizó el proceso, cuando me suspendió y con el auto posterior del Tribunal Supremo que cerraba todas las vías para las víctimas« .

El examen reciente ante Naciones Unidas

Ante el Comité sobre Desapariciones Forzadas de las Naciones Unidas (establecido mediante la precitada Convención Internacional para la protección de todas las personas contra las desapariciones forzadas), una coalición de ONG españolas detalló en años recientes (ver  nota ) el panorama actual en España: “Los datos son elocuentes: más de 150.000 desaparecidos, más de 30.000 niños robados, al día de hoy, y más de 2.232 fosas documentadas de las que sólo 390 han sido abiertas. Un dato que convierte a España en el segundo país en el mundo en número de fosas comunes. Y todo ello sin ningún procedimiento judicial abierto en demanda de verdad, justicia y reparación, y no por falta de voluntad de afectados, sean familiares o ciudadanos interesados en ello”.

En sus observaciones al informe oficial presentado por España al Comité de Naciones Unidas sobre Desapariciones Forzadas en diciembre del 2012, la fundación Baltasar Garzón hizo ver el error interpretativo de las autoridades españolas, al indicar que: “A este respecto, debe ponerse de manifiesto que España incurre en un grave error de interpretación cuando afirma que la fecha a partir de la cual debe informar al Comité, es la de entrada en vigor de la norma, es decir, el 23 de diciembre de 2010. El Estado español realiza una interpretación en detrimento de las decenas de miles de víctimas de desapariciones forzadas cometidas durante la guerra civil y el franquismo, en nuestro país. La interpretación que aporta, quebranta clamorosamente el principio internacional consolidado de no impunidad de este crimen, máxime cuando ha sido cometido en forma sistemática y contra sectores de la población civil y como parte de la política del Estado (crímenes contra la humanidad)” (ver   informe  de la Fundación Baltasar Garzón, p. 2).

En sus observaciones al informe presentado por España (ver  informe CED/C/ESP/CO/1, dado a conocer en diciembre del 2013), el Comité sobre Desapariciones Forzadas de Naciones Unidas le señaló a España que: “12. El Comité, teniendo en consideración el régimen de prescripción vigente en España en relación con los delitos de carácter permanente, insta al Estado parte a que vele por que los plazos de prescripción se cuenten efectivamente a partir del momento en que cesa la desaparición forzada, es decir, desde que la persona aparece con vida, se encuentran sus restos o se restituye su identidad. Asimismo, lo exhorta a que asegure que todas las desapariciones forzadas sean investigadas de manera exhaustiva e imparcial, independientemente del tiempo transcurrido desde el inicio de las mismas y aun cuando no se haya presentado ninguna denuncia formal; que se adopten las medidas necesarias, legislativas o judiciales, con miras a superar los obstáculos jurídicos de orden interno que puedan impedir tales investigaciones, en particular la interpretación que se ha dado a la ley de amnistía”.

En noviembre del 2013, los integrantes de otro mecanismo de Naciones Unidas, el Grupo de Trabajo sobre las Desapariciones Forzadas o Involuntarias, luego de realizar una misión a España (ver  informe ) concluyeron, entre otros,  que: “Adicionalmente, no se ha tenido en cuenta que el carácter de delito de lesa humanidad de las desapariciones cometidas durante la Guerra Civil y la dictadura. Esta interpretación es contraria a las obligaciones internacionales de España y se recomienda su modificación. El Grupo de Trabajo insta al Estado español a juzgar las desapariciones forzadas a la luz de estas obligaciones internacionales y a establecer legislativamente la imprescriptibilidad de las desapariciones forzadas o la determinación de que la prescripción solo puede comenzar a computarse a partir del cese de la desaparición forzada”.

En otro informe sobre España del año 2014, (ver documento A/HRC/27/3/Add.1, disponible  aquí ), el Relator Especial de Naciones Unidas sobre la promoción de la verdad, la justicia, la reparación y las garantías de no repetición, consideró en sus conclusiones (punto 102) que: “El Relator Especial nota que varios representantes del Gobierno en las reuniones que mantuvieron enmarcaron las discusiones en el siguiente esquema: “o todos concluimos que ya estamos totalmente reconciliados o la única alternativa es el resurgir de odios subyacentes, lo cual implicaría un riesgo demasiado alto”. En opinión del Relator Especial, esta posición no le hace justicia a los avances logrados durante el proceso de democratización en España. Recalca que, considerando la fortaleza de las instituciones y la ausencia de riesgos para la estabilidad del orden democrático, resulta especialmente sorprendente observar que no se haya hecho más en favor de los derechos de tantas víctimas”. En el párrafo 99 de su informe, se precisa por parte del experto de Naciones Unidas que: “El Relator Especial alienta al Estado a retomar cuanto antes este análisis y reitera su disposición para acompañar este proceso en el marco de su mandato. Recalca que estudios comparados de otras experiencias de países que han enfrentado retos similares, incluyendo en el contexto europeo, como Alemania, pueden resultar sumamente provechosos”.

En marzo del 2015, a raíz de una decisión de España de no extraditar a 17 ciudadanos españoles acusados por la justicia argentina de ser responsables de violaciones de los derechos humanos cometidas durante el régimen franquista, un grupo de expertos de Naciones Unidas denunció nuevamente a España. Externaron, en una carta pública, que las autoridades españolas tienen la obligación de extraditar a estas personas, mientras no se tomen medidas en España para garantizar el acceso a la justicia y el derecho a la verdad de las víctimas ante las instancias legales españolas. En este  comunicado de prensa  de Naciones Unidas, se precisa, por parte de los expertos internacionales que: “La denegación de la extradición deja en profundo desamparo a las víctimas y a sus familiares, negando su derecho a la justicia y a la verdad”.

Un breve balance

Como se puede apreciar, son muchos y muy variados los señalamientos hechos al Estado español por parte de organismos de la sociedad civil y asociaciones de familiares de víctimas en España; en el 2008, a raíz de una maniobra de la justicia para inhibirse de conocer la causa de las víctimas del franquismo planteadas ante los juzgados españoles (Nota 7), Amnistía Internacional circuló un  comunicado  denominado “Para pasar página, primero hay que leerla“, reuniendo la firmas de diversos  especialistas y juristas españoles así como de América Latina. En el  texto  se puede leer que “España tiene el deber  de poner fin a la prolongada injusticia de la que han sido objeto las víctimas de desaparición forzada y otros crímenes y sus familiares, llevando a cabo las investigaciones  necesarias para dar con el paradero de los restos de estas personas, y esclarecer las circunstancias en que tan graves abusos se produjeron”. Los firmantes expresaron también que: “Los que suscriben el presente manifiesto ya observaron, con motivo de la aprobación de la Ley 52/2007, por la que se reconocen y amplían derechos y se establecen medidas a favor de quienes padecieron persecución o violencia durante la guerra civil y la dictadura, que en ella no quedaban plasmados los estándares internacionales fijados en materia de desapariciones, exhumaciones y recuperación de cuerpos”. Finalmente, nos parece oportuno precisar que, en esta misiva colectiva, los firmantes expresaron sin ninguna contemplación para el Estado y de forma vehemente, la peculiaridad de la situación en España, al señalar (con relación a las exhumaciones y a la recuperación de restos mortales) que: “No existe antecedente alguno en que un Estado haya trasladado a las familias de las víctimas las tareas, costos y responsabilidades de dichas acciones”.   

Como lo hemos brevemente reseñado, en los últimos años, los señalamientos sobre los incumplimientos por parte de España han también provenido de expertos y de entidades de Naciones Unidas internacionales encargadas de velar por el debido cumplimiento de las obligaciones contraídas por el Estado español.

A diferencia de los procesos realizados en América Latina sobre graves violaciones de los derechos humanos ocurridas en el pasado, que han dado lugar a una variada experiencia en el plano nacional y a una extensa jurisprudencia elaborada por la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (desde sus primeros fallos contra Honduras en los años 80) (Nota 8), el Estado español se ha mostrado extremadamente reacio a replicar algunas de estas experiencias. Para las víctimas y sus familiares, el sistema judicial español no tiene cómo implementar y desarrollar figuras jurídicas tales como el derecho a la verdad, la obligación de investigar y de sancionar a responsables de cometer graves violaciones ocurridas en el pasado, o garantizar a los familiares de las víctimas el denominado derecho al duelo o derecho al luto (Nota 9).

En este  artículo  de Página12 (Argentina) sobre el caso de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá, las lágrimas que brotaron en los ojos de Ascensión Mendieta Ibarra, al momento de ser informada del tan anhelado “sí” de la justicia española para poder finalmente proceder a la exhumación de los restos de su padre, ilustran el dolor lancinante de muchos familiares en España: “– ¿Por qué llorás? –preguntó la abogada argentina. –Lloro porque pienso en él; toda la vida bajo tierra –respondió. En opinión de la letrada, esa expresión revela el sufrimiento del familiar de un desaparecido, al que no ha visto morir ni sabe dónde está. “Para el familiar, el desaparecido no está muerto hasta que ve sus restos”.

Ante esta permanente y apremiante incertidumbre con la que convive diariamente un familiar en estos casos, y ante la ausencia de respuestas a las solicitudes de exhumar las fosas comunes españolas, el tiempo ha transcurrido sin que la justicia española logre superar las resistencias que se mantienen desde su interior. Desde el 2010, (ver, entre muchas otras, esta nota  de El País) se advirtió que los “tiempos” del único juez español interesado en investigar los crímenes del franquismo estaban siendo “manejados” por el Tribunal Supremo. Ello culminó efectivamente con la separación del juez Baltasar Garzón Real de la judicatura española el 10 de febrero del 2012 (ver sobre el particular esta otra  nota  de El País). Menos sutil, el rechazo (sin mayor sustento) a la primera solicitud de la jueza argentina del 2014 evidencia el profundo temor del aparato judicial español. No obstante, algunas acciones esporádicas intentan romper el cerco impuesto por la justicia española: en marzo del 2015, se leyó en El País (ver nota) que en la localidad de Soria, “… con un auto del pasado 17 de marzo, la titular del juzgado de instrucción 1 de Almazán acaba de iniciar, 78 años después, una investigación por aquellos asesinatos”. En esta misma nota de prensa se lee el drama vivido por un niño que vio algo en 1936 (y que posiblemente lo haya perseguido durante toda su existencia como adulto): “Casi una vida después, en julio de 2013, Matías Bonilla, que tenía 9 años aquel 14 de agosto de 1936, señaló a antropólogos forenses el lugar donde habían sido enterrados”.

Más allá del plano estrictamente jurídico, la sociedad española sigue manteniendo una histórica deuda consigo misma y con todas las víctimas del franquismo que exigen que se haga justicia. Sobre las razones dadas para aplazar una y otra vez el debate en España sobre este delicado tema, una reciente publicación del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad de Deusto, explica sobre este punto preciso que: «[d]urante la guerra civil y la dictadura, no era el momento para que los familiares de desaparecidos reclamaran saber dónde estaban ni tampoco justicia, pues su seguridad e integridad estaba en peligro. Durante el proceso de transición de la dictadura a la democracia, tampoco fue el momento de tratar y solucionar el problema de los desaparecidos. Han pasado casi treinta años desde la transición, y ya es hora de que estos familiares, como víctimas también de violaciones de derechos humanos, tengan “su” momento» (Nota 10).

Esta misma publicación finaliza con una frase poco esperanzadora para las víctimas españolas y para sus familiares: “A fecha de hoy ya han pasado más de esos treinta años, y en lo que respecta a la inmensa mayoría de los tribunales de justicia en España, todo indica que «su momento» ni ha llegado aún, ni probablemente llegará”. Era sin contar con la perseverancia de los descendientes de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá.

Conclusión

La exhumación del cuerpo de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá permite a sus familiares, en particular a su hija Ascensión, una incansable mujer de 90 años, acceder a sus restos mortales: desde sus 13 años, edad que tenía cuando su padre fue fusilado, anhelo toda su vida el momento vivido este sábado 30 de enero del 2016. Se lee en esta nota de prensa del pasado 21 de enero que: “A mi padre lo enterraron de los primeros, debe estar al final de todo… Ahora lo voy a tener conmigo. Me voy tranquila, feliz”. Por parte de uno de los nietos de esta víctima fusilada en 1939, Francisco Vargas Mendieta, podemos percibir la misma sensación: “Estamos muy felices y contentos. Ahora misma es como si estuviéramos de luto por la muerte de un familiar y nuestro deseo ahora es poder enterrar a mi abuelo donde queramos no donde eligieron sus verdugos. » (ver  nota ).

La tenacidad de Doña Ascensión viene ahora a interpelar ante los ojos de España y del mundo el sistema judicial español y a poner a prueba a sus autoridades: en particular de cara a las obligaciones internacionales contraídas por España en varios instrumentos internacionales y a las interpretaciones hechas por el juez internacional de varias de sus cláusulas.

La exhumación del cuerpo de Timoteo Mendieta Alcalá bien podría convertirse en un emblemático precedente para muchas otras víctimas de la guerra civil española y para sus familiares. También podría contribuir a relanzar el debate en el seno de la sociedad española sobre la pesada deuda que mantiene con su pasado.

Nicolás Boeglin

Foto extraída de artículo de prensa titulado: « La nieta de Ascensión cuenta la lucha de su abuela: « Tal vez su luto sea de esos que conviven en los confines de la eternidad »

Notas

Nota 1: Remitimos al lector al artículo siguiente: LÓPEZ LÓPEZ P., “Los crímenes del franquismo y el derecho internacional”, Vol. 20, Revista Derecho y Realidad (2013), pp. 279-318. Artículo disponible  aquí .

Nota 2: Véase la obra siguiente sobre el particular: CABRERA MARTÍN M., La impunidad de los crímenes cometidos durante el franquismo. Obligaciones del Estado español bajo el derecho internacional, Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (AEDIDH), 2014. Texto integral de esta obra disponible  aquí .

Nota 3: Véase GIMÉNEZ PORCEL J., “Las fosas comunes de la guerra civil: análisis historiográfico”, Universidad de Barcelona (UB). Facultad de Geografía e Historia, 2013, p. 30. Texto del artículo disponible aquí.

Nota 4: Véase FERLLINI TIMMS R., “Experiencias en antropología forense: perspectivas de una voluntaria extranjera”, Número 18, Boletín Galego de Medicina Legal e Forense (Enero 2012), pp. 69-78, p. 71.  Artículo disponible  aquí .

Nota 5: Véase FERLLINI TIMMS R., op. cit.,  p. 76. ( texto del artículo disponible  aquí ). Sobre su experiencia como perito internacional, remitimos a esta  entrevista  realizada en la Revista Cultural Mito a esta profesional de Costa Rica. Con relación a las dificultades encontradas para desarrollar la antropología forense en Costa Rica, remitimos a esta  entrevista  a Roxana Ferllini Timms publicada por La Nación (Costa Rica) en 2013.

Nota 6: En un artículo publicado en España en el año 2012 se lee que:”… es bien sabido que las exhumaciones de la Guerra Civil en España no están siendo realizadas bajo la tutela judicial a excepción de algunos casos puntuales que han sido investigados desde los respectivos juzgados de instrucción…”: véase ETXEBERRIA GABILONDO F., “Exhumaciones contemporáneas en España: las fosas comunes de la guerra civil”, Número 18,  Boletín Galego de Medicina Legal e Forense (enero 2012), pp. 13-28, p. 19. Artículo disponible  aquí . Los gráficos incluidos (pp.14-15) por el autor permiten tener una idea del número de cuerpos encontrados y la repartición geográfica de los trabajos de exhumación en España realizados entre el 2000 y el 2011.

Nota 7: Sobre este episodio de la justicia española, leemos que. “El fiscal jefe de la Audiencia Nacional se opuso a la apertura de la causa por entender que se trataba de delitos comunes ya prescritos. El pleno de la Sala de lo Penal del tribunal decidió, en una reunión convocada con una insólita urgencia, paralizar las exhumaciones ordenadas por Garzón, quien poco después, en noviembre de 2008, se inhibía a favor de 62 juzgados territoriales donde estaban las fosas” (ver  nota  de El Pais del 2009 titulada “El tiempo se acaba para las víctimas de Franco”).

Nota 8: Con relación a los Estados del hemisferio americano pesan estas y muchas más obligaciones, tal y como lo señaló la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en un  informe  del 2014 titulado “Derecho a la verdad en América” (sus conclusiones en páginas 115-117 precisan los desafíos existentes en la región en cuanto a su debida implementación). En un reciente artículo en el que se analiza el caso de las negociaciones de paz en Colombia, se concluye por parte del autor que: “El caso colombiano es ilustrativo de la posición prudente que asume la Corte Interamericana frente a contextos de justicia transicional. Sin embargo, es en el marco de ese caso particular donde serán desarrollados los futuros debates sobre la compatibilidad de las medidas y mecanismos implementados para la terminación negociada de un conflicto armado interno con las obligaciones estatales emanadas del derecho internacional”: véase GUTIÉRREZ RAMÍREZ L.M., “La obligación internacional de investigar, juzgar y sancionar graves violaciones a los derechos humanos en contextos de justicia transicional”, Vol. 16, Estudios Socio-Jurídicos (2014), pp.23-60, en  pp.53-54. Artículo disponible aquí.

Nota 9: En un caso contra Bolivia (caso de detención, tortura y desaparición forzada de José Carlos Trujillo Oroza),  la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos indicó en el 2002 en su sentencia sobre reparaciones que: “115. En este sentido la Corte considera que la entrega de los restos mortales en casos de detenidos-desaparecidos es un acto de justicia y reparación en sí mismo. Es un acto de justicia saber el paradero del desaparecido, y es una forma de reparación porque permite dignificar a las víctimas, ya que los restos mortales de una persona merecen ser tratados con respeto para con sus deudos y con el fin de que éstos puedan darle una adecuada sepultura” (ver  texto  de la sentencia del 27 de febrero del 2002, Caso Trujillo Oroza Vs. Bolivia).

Nota 10: Véase CHINCHÓN ÁLVAREZ J., El tratamiento judicial de los crímenes de la Guerra Civil y el franquismo en España. Una visión de conjunto desde el Derecho internacional, Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao, Número 67, Cuadernos Deusto de Derechos Humanos (2012), p. 142.  Texto integral disponible aquí.

 

Nicolás Boeglin : Profesor de Derecho Internacional Público, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR)

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  • Commentaires fermés sur JusticiA con A de Ascensión: a propósito de la exhumación de una fosa española a solicitud de una jueza de Argentina

Turkish cross-border shelling of Kurdish PYD forces and civilian areas in northern Syria continued for the fifth day, showing no signs of stopping.

An unnamed Ankara official said “(w)e want a ground operation. If there is consensus, Turkey will take part.” 

“Without a ground operation, it is impossible to stop this war” – code language for Russian air power and Syrian troops turning the tide of battle, perhaps decisively, Washington and its rogue partners desperate to change things in their favor, unable to so far.

Neither Turkey or Saudi Arabia intend launching ground and/or air operations without US permission, an American proxy force if unleashed, a reckless act, upping the stakes hugely, risking war with Russia.

Its forces will challenge any threat to their security, authorized by Moscow, local commanders given discretion to act on their own. Make no mistake. They won’t hesitate.

According to Turkish deputy prime minister Yalcin Akdogan, Ankara want to annex a 10 km “secure strip” inside Syrian territory, further aggression if attempted, on the phony pretext of creating an area “free from clashes.”

Government ground forces, likely supported by Russian air power, will contest any lawless Turkish attempt to seize Syrian territory, a potential flashpoint, risking dangerously escalated war.

On Tuesday, Security Council members met in closed-door session, requested by Russia, current SC president Venezuelan envoy Rafael Ramirez, saying:

SC “members are concerned with the Turkish attacks on a number of Syrian regions. (They) agreed to ask Turkey to comply with international law” – a hollow gesture without teeth.

US veto power blocks responsible action, including holding Washington fully responsible for waging war on Syria, using ISIS and other terrorist groups as proxy foot soldiers.

Following the closed-door session, Syria’s UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari minced no words, saying:

“Turkey (is) push(ing) all sides to escalate (conflict) in Syria.” Its “hostile acts (got some of its allies) to express concern.”

He explained “the complicity of Turkey with Qatar and Saudi Arabia (along with Washington and other rogue partners) against Syria and its allies.”

These “terrorism-supporting countries are suffering from hysteri(a) due to the Syrian army’s progress on all fronts” – effectively smashing ISIS and and other terrorist fighters.

Addressing followers in Beirut on Tuesday, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah highlighted the steadfastness of Syrian forces to defend their national sovereignty against US/Turkish/Saudi/Israeli-supported foreign terrorist invaders, saying:

“Syria will remain for its people who will determine their destiny and decide Syria’s future, constitution and leadership, and it will remain the pole of the resistance tent in the region.”

“The project of Turkey to establish Ottoman Empire has failed, and the Saudi project failed too in Syria as it reaped only disappointment.”

“Turkish and Saudi (threatened ground invasion) came after the failure of the terrorists” they support.

Israel “considers the developments in the region a golden opportunity to present itself as a friend” to Arab nations it otherwise considers longtime enemies.

It’s allied with despotic Arab regimes “to hinder any settlement of the crisis in Syria.” Their complicity with Washington may unleash regional war.

Nasrallah reaffirmed his support for Syria, its people and national sovereignty. Obama opposes peace, stability and fundamental freedoms worldwide.

America’s rage for global dominance is humanity’s greatest threat.

 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled « Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III. »

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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  • Commentaires fermés sur The War on Syria, Waiting for « Washington’s Green Light »: “We Want a Ground Operation. … Turkey will Take Part.”

Why Aren’t Public Health Organizations Like CIDRAP Warning Pregnant Women to Abstain from Aluminum or Mercury-containing Vaccines?

A few days ago, I emailed out what I consider overwhelming evidence that debunks the Zika Virus/Microcephaly thesis (that is fast becoming “conventional wisdom”) that we have all been bombarded with over the past month. The email was in the form of an open letter, with documentation, primarily addressed to one of the leading thought leaders in epidemiology in America over the past generation, Dr Michael Osterholm.

Dr Osterholm has been a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He has undoubtedly done valuable work in the epidemiology of infectious diseases over the years.

In my open letter, I asked Dr Osterholm, and the readers, “Why Aren’t Public Health Organizations Like CIDRAP Warning Pregnant Women to Abstain from Aluminum or Mercury-containing Vaccines?” I could have also asked Dr Osterholm, given the fact that lead and mercury have lethal synergistic effects on brain tissue, why aren’t public health organizations not warning lead-intoxicated children in Flint, Michigan to not be given mercury-containing flu shots? (CIDRAP is the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, a non-profit public health information group that Dr Osterholm founded and now directs. For more information on CIDRAP, go to http://www.cidrap.umn.edu.)

In the process of trying to understand CIDRAP’s mission, I watched its promotional video, which was designed to attract donors.

In the very first minute of the video, a breathless narrator says:

One sneeze and the world implodes. Infection takes flight and the next pandemic is born; and our fears become a historical fact.

The narrator quotes Osterholm as saying (totally contrary to the scary tone of the video),

Our job is not to scare people out of their wits, it is to scare them into their wits. We are the super-planners, the “worst case scenario” strategists. 

The video address is http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/donate-now.

For the better part of the last month, I have been doing extensive research into what might be behind the panicky reporting that the media has been doing about what I call “The Zika Virus Freak-out”.

Something’s Rotten in Denmark

As the readers of my Duty to Warn columns that discuss America’s over-diagnosed, over-vaccinated and over-drugged population have come to understand, there is “something rotten in Denmark” when it comes to public health policies. (The phrase, “something’s rotten in Denmark” is a comment that I frequently heard from my German-influenced mother when something didn’t add up).

On Day One of the Zika Scare reporting, I very easily discovered that Brazil had, early in 2015, (when women were getting pregnant, ready to deliver in less than 9 months), mandated that henceforth, all pregnant women were to be inoculated with the aluminum-adjuvanted vaccine, an injected combination of foreign substances that contained antigens for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough). The generic name for the trivalent vaccine was DTaP (or TDaP). The product literature that comes with every batch of the vaccine says:

Sanofi Pasteur PENTACEL DTaP IPV and HIB Combo Vaccine
Data from Clinical Studies, Serious Adverse Events: Encephalopathy

GlaxoSmithKline INFANRIX (DTaP) Pertussis Vaccine
Postmarketing Experience: Encephalopathy

Encephalopathy is literally a “disease of the brain” which can be caused by many agents, including the neurotoxic, blood-brain barrier-toxic, mitochondrial-toxic substances aluminum, mercury and lead, which, in a sane, non-corporate-dominated universe would be contraindicated for pregnant women, fetuses and even babies whose immune systems, brains, bodies, blood-brain barriers, livers and intestines are immature, easily poisoned and very leaky.

Drug-induced poisonings of fetuses can easily occur at the earliest stages of brain and body development. One of the most infamous outbreaks of iatrogenic (medical-industry-caused) congenital anomalies produced the congenital anomaly called phocomelia , which is the term for shortened or absent limbs in babies born because their mothers had been prescribed the sedative Thalidomide in the late 1950s. What is happening in Brazil today is microcephaly which is a spectrum disorder that could present with a totally absent brain (anencephaly), an underdeveloped brain (microcephaly) or just neurological signs and symptoms that could be mis-diagnosed later in life as Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Learning Disorder, etc (all supposedly “of no known cause”).

The apparent motivation for Brazilian public health officials for instituting such a drastic measure as injecting known fetal toxins into pregnant women was the statistical increase in whooping cough cases over the preceding decade from less than one case per 100,000 population to 4 cases per 100,000, an pseudo-alarming increase of 500%!

Looking at the statistics rather than the human reality on the ground (ie fewer than 99,995 Brazilians out of every 100,000 got whooping cough in any given year, and knowing that 90% – 95% of the Brazilian population were already fully vaccinated, the public health officials innovatively (and very unscientifically) decided to inoculate pregnant women – and their very vulnerable fetuses – with a vaccine containing the well-known neurotoxic metal aluminum. For background data, see: Gary G. Kohls, The Zika Virus, the Brazilian Microcephaly Outbreak. Covering-up Another Iatrogenic Disorder, Global Research, February 7, 2016)

Concerned – and frustrated – that there seemed to be a lot of ignorance in the media about what they were reporting, I decided to present my concerns to Dr Osterholm.

My goal was to get his take on some of the facts surrounding the microcephaly outbreak. It was obvious to me that:

the most likely cause of the Brazilian outbreak of the usually rare fetal anomaly microcephaly was far less likely to be a mosquito virus, but rather the aluminum adjuvant in the DTaP shot. Aluminum is a neurotoxic metal that is toxic in parts per billion concentrations and could be predicted to be a cause of serious brain anomalies. Neuroscientists should be aware of the fact that there is no known safe level of either aluminum or mercury (or lead, for that matter) in the living tissues of any animal, especially immature fetuses These metals, as are many other synthetic chemicals that can cross the placental and blood-brain barriers are all mitochondrial toxins and fetuses should not be exposed to them.

Dr Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, USA. He writes a weekly column for the Reader, Duluth’s alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns mostly deal with the dangers of American fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, malnutrition, psychiatric drugging, over-vaccination regimens, Big Pharma and other movements that threaten the environment or America’s health, democracy, civility and longevity.

Many of his columns are archived at

http://duluthreader.com/articles/categories/200_Duty_to_Warn

 

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  • Commentaires fermés sur Scaring People « Out of Their Wits » over Pseudo-Pandemics: Swine Flu, Avian Flu, SARS, Ebola and Now Zika…

South Africa’s Secret Plan to Sterilize Blacks through Vaccines

février 17th, 2016 by Brandon Turbeville

Image: Hector Pieterson being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo after being shot by South African police. His sister, Antoinette Sithole, runs beside them.

South Africa’s apartheid system will always be known for the tragic example of the institutionalized racism that it was as well as for all of the horrific acts of oppression, violence and dehumanization it produced. Much of what took place under the system will never be revealed as both its victims and perpetrators have taken the information to their graves. However, what is known already is more than enough to prove that such a system must never be instituted again.

A number of years after the end of the apartheid system in South Africa, a Truth and Reconciliation Committee was established to reveal the wrongs that had been committed against the people of South Africa and to begin the process of healing and reconciliation between the parties. Yet even during the process of “uncovering” many of the atrocities committed against black South Africans some of that information has been largely ignored throughout the decades after the system ended; most notably, a system of attempted genocide of black South Africans by means of a national vaccine program.

Some of that information came to light in January 1997 when Wouter Basson was finally arrested by South African authorities. A cardiologist by trade Basson was also the head of Project Coast, South Africa’s secret chemical and biological warfare program.When searching his car, hundreds of secret documents were found that revealed the program’s covert operations including connections, contacts, and murder weapons.

As Jerome Amir Singh wrote in his article for Endeavor, entitled “Project Coast: Eugenics in Apartheid South Africa,

The following year, with Basson and others giving evidence before the country’s landmark Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the details of Project Coast began to emerge: poisoned umbrellas, screwdrivers and secret stockpiles of lethal bacteria, chemicals and drugs had been produced and weaponized for use against enemies of the apartheid government [2]. Far less attention has been paid to allegations of a eugenic thrust to the program.

During the course of the Truth and Reconciliation hearings, a number of shocking allegation were made regarding the eugenic-based agenda of the South African authorities connected to Project Coast. A number of these claims were made by Dr. Adriaan Goosen, founder of the front company Roodeplaat Research Laboratory, a front company for the project.

According to Goosen, research at RRL was focused on developing a “bacterial agent that would selectively kill black people.” Goosen stated that the project and the program had been described by South Africa’s then Surgeon General, Dr. Neil Knoble, as “the most important project for the country.”

Goosen himself had plenty of faith in the ability to create this type of weapon. In fact, he even claimed that an unknown European scientist had already developed a strain of bacteria capable of “only affecting, making sick, and killing pigmented people” as far back as the early 1980s.

“Under oath, Goosen went on to state that the government could have used such a weapon as a ‘negotiation back-up’ (to stay in power) and to ‘maintain peace’ (between local whites and blacks),” writes Singh.

Goosen claimed that the plans to connect with the European scientist were eventually abandoned for security reasons, but that South African scientists continued to work on the project. Goosen also stated that Project Coast was far down the road in creating an anti-fertility weapon that would be used to selectively target the black majority.

The delivery mechanism?

A vaccine.

Goosen staetd that one of the most important aspects of the anti-fertility vaccine was that it would not be detectable and even if it was detected it would not be able to be traced back to “clandestine application.” Goosen stated he was convinced that the production of this type of drug was “definitely possible” after an extensive literature search.

Goosen was backed up in his claims by another Project Coast scientist, Dr. Schalk van Rensburg, who confirmed that the development of an anti-fertility vaccine was indeed a major goal of the program and even made up 18% of all RRL projects. Goosen fingered Basson as the leader and creator of the eugenics-based CBW program.

Basson of course argued that this type of vaccine should be designed to prevent the pregnancy of female soldiers and to keep down the population in refugee camps. But van Rensburg revealed otherwise and confirmed what Goosen claims in terms of the real targets of the vaccine.

Singh writes,

Although van Rensburg testified that Blacks were physiologically, biochemically and endocrinologically identical to Whites so it would not be possible to develop a vaccine that worked on one ethnic group and not the other [25], it might be possible to skew the delivery of the vaccine along racial lines. He further testified that while he had warned that such a vaccine could not be racially based, covertly administered and would be reversible, Basson had insisted the laboratory proceed with the research [26].

More specifically, it appears that the Project Coast anti-fertility vaccine was directed largely at women, although some suggestions were that the vaccine would work better in men.

Singh writes,

There also seems to have been a discussion about the most appropriate strategy for such a vaccine. Since there were certain antigens found only on sperm, it would be easier to make males sterile, argued van Rensburg [27]. Basson, however, was keener to develop a female infertility vaccine, he told the commission.

The TRC also heard from Dr Jan Lourens, the head of Protechnik (another Project Coast front organization), who testified that before starting the company, he had designed equipment for animal experiments taking place at RRL. These included a ‘restraint chair’ into which baboons were strapped for experiments, a transparent ‘gas chamber’ into which the chair and baboon were fitted for tests and a ‘stimulator and extractor’ to obtain semen from baboons [22]. Lourens named Dr Riana Borman as the scientist in charge of the baboon experiments ‘to control virility and fertility’ with a view to reducing the birth rate among Blacks [22].

For his part, Basson denied working on any such project. Even more so, Basson denied that any such science existed and was even possible. Still, after having researched the program in depth, Singh comes to a different conclusion which tends to back up the claims made by Goosen and van Rensburg.

As Singh writes,

While Basson may have been technically correct in dismissing the scientific and technical validity of successfully pursuing an ‘infertility vaccine’ the testimony of Goosen, van Rensburg and Lourens strongly suggests that malevolent and potentially genocidal motives were behind some of Project Coast’s operations.

Basson’s statement that such science is not possible is in fact quite laughable. Published studies reveal even in the late 1980s that successful anti-fertility vaccines were being developed. What is also laughable if it were not so tragic is the fact that anyone who suggested that the South African government was developing such a thing as an anti-fertility vaccine to target the general population would have been dismissed as a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

Singh’s article, however, and the testimony of the South African scientists reveal that not only was it possible but that it actually existed. For that reason, one must ask why we are to believe that we are currently outside of history and why such a program with all the technological developments that have occurred since the early 1980s and world governments’ increased focus on population reduction – particularly in the Third World – that such a program does not exist currently.

Remember, it was not so far back in history that the now infamous think-tank, Project for a New American Century stated that “advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes, may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” (source)

One can also not forget the number of reports coming out of places like Africa and the Third World detailing mass sterilizations at the hands of vaccines. No doubt, the victims, and those reporting on the sterilizations are labeled paranoid conspiracy theorists with an extra insult of anti-science thrown in for the mix. Yet the proverbial egg is on the proverbial faces of those who mock and ignore claims of covert sterilization programs and population reduction initiatives, particularly in the Third World. A detailed study of what is currently happening in Africa and much of the rest of the third world (as well as the first) is not possible in this article. But if skeptics are looking for capability, they need look no further than Singh’s article and the testimony of Goosen and Van Rensburg. If they are looking for motive, they can look in the same place. If precedent is what they are seeking, Singh’s article has that, too. If evidence for a program currently under way is what they are searching for then the evidence is at their fingertips.

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 600 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

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It’s that time again — time for the pandemic outbreak propaganda machine to cry « Wolf! » and justify the mass use of vaccines and the necessity for chemical remediation. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already declaredanother global public health emergency.1 We’ve seen a string of these over-hyped virus scares over the past six years, from the bird and swine flu to Ebola — all of which died down as suddenly as they emerged, without causing the predicted widespread catastrophic damage in the real world. This year, it’s the Zika virus, which is being blamed for a rash of reports of microcephaly2,3 among infants born in Brazil. The condition, in which babies are born with unusually small heads, is said to have surged from an average of about 150 cases annually to more than 4,780 cases since October 2015.

Microcephaly Cases Vastly Over-Reported

The Brazilian government has already admitted that overly generous parameters resulted in dramatic over-reporting of the rare condition public health officials have associated with the Zika virus, which has been dubbed by the media as the « shrunken head » virus. To be on the safe side, when Zika-affected areas began seeing a rise in microcephaly, the Brazilian government asked health officials to report any case in which a child was born with a head circumference smaller than 33 centimeters. False positives were expected, and when they realized that most of these babies were in fact healthy and normal, the threshold was lowered to 32 centimeters in December. The limit may be lowered even further, to 31.9 centimeters for boys and 31.5 centimeters for girls. As reported by The New York Times:4

Of the cases examined so far, 404 have been confirmed as having microcephaly. Only 17 of them tested positive for the Zika virus Another 709 babies have been ruled out as having microcephaly … underscoring the risks of false positives making the epidemic appear larger than it actually is. The remaining 3,670 cases are still being investigated. [Emphasis mine]

.

As noted by The New York Times, there’s actually very little scientific evidence tying the Zika virus to this particular condition. Still, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus a global health emergency5 on February 1, noting that the « main worry » is the virus’ potential link to microcephaly and subsequent brain damage. According to WHO, the Zika virus may have infected as many as 4 million people in the Americas, and public health officials in Brazil, Colombia and El Salvador are reportedly all researching the effects of Zika infection in pregnant women.

Poverty, Pollution, and Vitamin Deficiencies May Affect Microcephaly Rates in Brazil

The Zika virus was initially identified in 1947 in Uganda, where it was originally limited to rhesus monkeys. It’s an arbovirus, meaning the disease is transmitted via mosquito, tick or flea bites. According to ATCC,6 a « global biological materials resource…organization whose mission focuses on the acquisition, authentication, production, preservation, development, and distribution of standard reference microorganisms, » the Zika virus7 — which they sell for about $500 — causes paralysis and death.

In humans, Zika infection typically causes only mild flu-like symptoms, if any, and there does not appear to be any prior evidence suggesting it might cause birth defects. That certainly doesn’t exclude the possibility, of course, but there are many other factors and co-factors that offer a far more likely and rational explanation for the rise in microcephaly in this area of Brazil, besides Zika-carrying mosquitoes. For starters, the « outbreak » is occurring in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides.8,9,10

Between these factors and the lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, you already have the basic framework for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in that area.11 Environmental pollution12,13 and toxic pesticide exposure have been positively linked to a wide array of adverse health effects, including birth defects. When you add all these co-factors together, an increase in microcephaly doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched outcome.

Vitamin A Deficiency Linked to Microcephaly

Vitamin A and zinc deficiency is considered endemic in Brazil,14,15,16 and both of these nutritional deficiencies are known to depress immune function.17,18,19 More importantly, vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of microcephaly specifically,20,21 and zinc is known to play an important role in the structure and function of the brain.22 Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists malnutrition and exposure to toxic chemicals as two of the three known risk factors. The third is certain infections during pregnancy, including rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, and others.23 Researchers24 have also noted that microcephaly follows « an apparent autosomal recessive pattern, » and may be the result of a recessed gene.

Atrazine Also Implicated in Microcephaly

The pesticide Atrazine also appears to be a viable culprit. According to research25 published in 2011, small head circumference was listed as a side effect of prenatal Atrazine exposure. Atrazine is used to prevent pre- and post-emergence weeds and is the second most commonly used herbicide after Roundup. As noted by Sott.net:26

The most obvious cause of birth defects in this area is direct contact and absorption of pesticides. A study of pesticide use on tomatoes27 in the Northern State of Pernambuco, Brazil, indicates high exposure to pesticide workers and poor application methods which threaten the ecology of the area. Women washed the pesticide application equipment, generally in the work environment, without protective clothing or without observing the recommended three-fold washing process … Of the women workers, 32% reported being pregnant more than five times … Almost three-quarters of the women (71%) reported miscarriages, and 11% reported having mentally and/or physically impaired offspring.

Why Is Brazil Overlooking Teratogenic Larvicide Added to Drinking Water in Affected Area?

A report28,29 by an Argentine physician’s organization called « Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns » also challenges the theory that Zika virus is responsible for the microcephaly cases in Brazil. They note that for the past 18 months, a chemical larvicide that causes malformations in mosquitoes (pyroproxyfenhas been applied to the drinking water in the affected area of Brazil. Pyroproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, long-term strategic partners of Monsanto, and has been used in a state-controlled program to eradicate mosquitoes. This chemical inhibits growth in mosquito larvae, thereby producing malformations that disable and/or kill the mosquitoes. According to « Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, » it’s also an endocrine disruptor and teratogenic, meaning it causes birth defects. The organization also points out that Zika virus has never been associated with birth defects previously, even in areas where 75 percent of the population has been infected. According to the report:

Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyroproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on the Zika virus for this damage.

Aerial Spraying of Neonicotinoids Also Causes Skeletal Malformations

The list of pesticides that have the potential to disrupt fetal development is long. Yet another suspect is Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid. In October 2012—around the same time that these women would have been getting pregnant–Brazil lifted its ban on aerial spraying of neonicotinoids. In30 2001, it was reported that Imidacloprid fed to pregnant rats and rabbits in « maternally toxic » doses caused skeletal malformation in a small percentage of fetuses.31,32 In December 2013, the U.K. Daily Mail33 also reported that neonicotinoids were suspected of causing developmental problems in babies and children. Another 2013 study34 showed adverse events with embryo development and neonicotinoids. Perhaps it’s not any single one of these pesticides that is to blame. Perhaps the rise in microcephaly cases is the result of exposure to a terrible mixture of toxic pesticides before or during pregnancy?

Mandatory Vaccination Program of Pregnant Women Took Effect 2015

Also, in October 2014 the Brazilian government mandated that all pregnant women must receive the pertussis-containing Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine, effective as of 2015.35 The fact that birth defects began rising toward the end of 2015 seems more suspicious in light of this mandate than the possibility that Zika infection is solely responsible — especially when you consider that pertussis vaccine has previously been linked to brain inflammation and brain damage in infants, and the safety of administering Tdap to pregnant women has never been proven.36 In the summer of 2015, Dr. Kathryn Edwards, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, received a $307,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study the immune responses of pregnant women receiving Tdap, the vaccine in question.37 Her conclusions remain to be seen. But a number of previous studies have demonstrated that stimulating the immune system of a pregnant woman is a very bad idea. So why mandate Tdap vaccine but not vitamin A and zinc supplementation for pregnant women? Studies showing adverse health effects from maternal immune activation include but are not limited to the following samples:


 

Brain Behavior and Immunity 2001:38 Increased cytokine levels during pregnancy is a potential risk factor for psychotic illness in offspring

Biological Psychiatry 2006:39 Immune activation during pregnancy in mice leads to dopaminergic hyperfunction and cognitive impairment in the offspring, and may promote schizophrenia

Brain Behavior and Immunity 2006:40 Immune stimulation during pregnancy was found to promote neurodevelopmental mental diseases, including but not limited to schizophrenia in the offspring

Journal of Neuroscience 2007:41 Maternal immune activation alters fetal brain development, and may predispose children to schizophrenia and autism

Journal of Neuroscience 2008:42 Inflammation during a critical postnatal period causes a long-lasting increase in seizure susceptibility

Medical Veritas 2008:43 Excessive vaccination during brain development may promote autism spectrum disorders


Are Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Linked to Zika Infection?

Interestingly enough, the Gates Foundation has also financed the development of genetically-engineered (GE) mosquitoes,44designed by a biotech company called Oxitec to combat dengue fever and Zika — a project some suspect may have somehow backfired, resulting in a Zika outbreak instead.45 Considering the fact that the transgenic mosquitoes are designed to kill the offspring before they reach breeding maturity — they’re carrying a « suicide » or « self-destruct gene »46 if you will — you may wonder how such mosquitoes could possiblypromote the spread of Zika. Well, they can’t. Not intentionally, anyway, which is what some people have suggested. There are some potential problems though.

This genetic « kill switch » starts to fail in the presence of the antibiotic tetracycline.47 Brazil is the third largest consumer of antibiotics for food and animal production48 and, according to a 2009 analysis,49 an estimated 75 percent of the tetracyclines administered to farm animals end up being excreted in waste. The use of manure and sewage sludge as fertilizers is a major route of spread of antibiotics in the environment. (Little is known about the environmental impact of tetracycline, but Brazilian researchers50 have found alarming situations where the presence of these drugs in drinking water has resulted in bacterial resistance.) According to Oxitec documents,51 in the presence of tetracyclines the survival rate of the GE mosquitoes’ offspring may be as high as 15 percent. However, aside from not decimating the mosquito population as efficiently as intended, there’s really NO evidence to suggest that these GE mosquitoes are somehow intentional carriers of the Zika virus. That said, while the GE mosquitoes are supposed to be all male, which don’t bite, if females either happen to slip through the process, or for some reason survive, there may be a risk that they could transfer their modified DNA to the host. What the ramifications of this might be is unclear.

GE Mosquitoes Claim Success — Yet We Need Harsher Pesticides?

Oxitec released the first batches of transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands in September 2009.52 Malaysia releases followed in 2010. In July 2012, the company had set up a large-scale transgenic mosquito farm in Brazil. The GE mosquitoes were released into the wild in Juazeiro, Brazil in the summer of 2015, and shortly thereafter Oxitec announced53 they had « successfully controlled the Aedes aegyptimosquito that spreads dengue fever, chikungunya, and zika virus, by reducing the target population by more than 90 percent. » Research54 findings published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases claim the sterile breed had reduced the mosquito population in one Brazilian suburb by 95 percent. Despite such claims of successful decimation of the disease-carrying insect, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff recently made an announcement saying: « each federal public official has to transform into a combatant against the mosquito and its reproduction. » Thousands of soldiers and state employees have been enlisted to eradicate mosquitoes wherever they may lurk. « We will do everything, absolutely everything in our reach to protect you, »President Rousseff said55 in her speech, addressing all the mothers and future mothers of Brazil — and then she turns around and orders women and children to be fumigated with toxic chemicals! Oh, the tragic irony!

‘Health Experts’ Call for Return of DDT

Groups like the Manhattan Institute are even calling for the return of DDT56 to address the mosquito problem! This is despite the fact that DDT passes freely through the placenta during pregnancy,57 where it gains direct access to the developing fetus and its brain.58 Studies have linked DDT to high blood pressure, decreased fertility, premature delivery, adult diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.59Moreover, DDT has also been linked to microcephaly,60 so using this toxin would definitely not be the answer to the current problem! As noted by STAT News:61

« The United States banned DDT in 1972 after it was found to persist in the environment for decades, build up in food chains, and kill eagles, pelicans, and other wildlife. But the pesticide was never banned globally. Though the 2001 Stockholm Convention called on countries to eliminate use of DDT and related chemicals, DDT is still used in African and other countries to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes (which, as predicted, evolved widespread resistance to the chemical). A significant concern about DDT is that when a mosquito population evolves resistance to it (as individual insects that harbor DDT-defying mutations leave countless more descendants than vulnerable insects), the creatures also develop resistance to other, safer insecticides… Epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi, Ph.D. of the University of California, San Francisco, who led a 2009 study raising concerns about the human health effects of DDT exposure, agreed that DDT might not work in Brazil and other countries where Zika is spreading. ‘They should use whatever they can to control the virus,’ she said, ‘but they have to do it safely.’ According to news photos, ‘men in hazmat suits are spraying pesticides around women and children’ who have no protective clothing or anything else, she said, ‘which is horrible and upsetting.' »

Foggers and Mosquito Sprays Don’t Work on This Mosquito

It’s astounding how short-sighted many are, but that’s what happens when you incite panic — people don’t stop to think. In this case, recommendations to use toxic foggers and sprays is bound to do FAR more harm than good, if for no other reason than the fact that they’re ineffective against Aedes aegyptithe species of mosquito in question.62 These tiny black and white striped mosquitoes do not fly far — their range being a mere 300 to 600 feet. Since it’s so difficult to catch them airborne, insecticidal sprays and foggers are mostly useless for controlling them. Also, they feed during the daytime, not at night, which is typically when the fog-trucks will roll through the neighborhood. As noted by Medicinenet.com:63

To feed, they have to stick close to their intended targets, a.k.a. us. They live under decks, patio furniture, and in homes that don’t have cool air — they don’t much like air conditioning. They especially love the drip trays that collect extra water under potted plants … They ‘can breed in incredibly small amounts of water,’ says Joe Conlon, spokesman for the American Mosquito Control Association.‘When I was in Suriname, South America, several years ago, I saw them breeding very happily in discarded soda bottle caps,’ he says. In New Jersey, researchers at Rutgers University found them breeding in water that had pooled in discarded snack-size potato chip bags.‘These mosquitoes are in people’s backyards,’ says Dina Fonseca, Ph.D., an entomologist and associate professor at Rutgers. They live in containers, she says, and are ‘urban, domestic mosquitoes.' »

Other questionable suggestions on the table include using X-rays and/or Gamma rays to sterilize mosquitoes. According to Reuters:64

Such laboratory-bred male mosquitoes could then be released in the wild to mate with the females of the species who then bear eggs that never hatch, thus reducing the number of insects in a given area without killing any animals or using chemicals.

Emergency Declaration Begins Another Round of Massive Profiteering

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The emergency declaration begins another round of massive profiteering for drug and vaccine companies. And this year, the chemical- and biotech industries get to ride gunshot too. This is how they survive — scaring the heck out of people at regular intervals while making tons of money in the process. As expected, Zika vaccines are in the works, with companies racing to become the first to deliver a remedy,65,66 no matter how poorly tested and ultimately dangerous they might be — all under the auspices of saving tons of lives, of course.

Yet it’s worth remembering that any pandemic vaccine fast tracked to market in the U.S. during a « public health emergency » is completely shielded from liability for injuries and deaths.

Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck are all looking to develop a Zika vaccine. The Indian company Bharat Biotech somehow got a head start, and began working on two Zika vaccines in November 2014.67 Would it surprise you to find out that this company is also linked to the Gates Foundation? They received $50 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to research and conduct human trials on a malaria vaccine.68 Merck, Syngenta, and Bayer are also partners in the Gates Foundation, as are chemical giants Monsanto69 and DuPont. This unholy alliance is just one of the reasons why I don’t trust Bill Gates’ philanthropy, he might be one of the most dangerous individual powers on the planet.70

U.S. Overreacts Based on Poorly Constructed Fear Porn

Like many other nations, the U.S. has overreacted to the news and is increasing mosquito eradication efforts. According to some models, an estimated 200 million Americans, or over 60 PERCENT of the U.S. population, may become infected with Zika this summer.71 So far, about three dozen cases of Zika virus infection have been confirmed in 11 U.S. states — most of which, according to the report, were thought to have been acquired by people while out of the country. The CDC urges pregnant women to avoid traveling to countries with reported transmissions of the infection — a total of 24 countries so far.72 As noted by Reuters:73

« With no specific federal guideline yet in place to control the spread of the Zika virus in the United States, some mosquito-heavy states like Florida are stepping up spraying and education programs. But, the North and West have yet to boost prevention. Only one out of the more than 30 confirmed cases of Zika in the country appears to have been transmitted locally, in Dallas, Texas. Public health officials are bracing for the time when warmer weather increases the number of mosquitoes that can transmit the virus by biting an infected person and spreading it to others. The types of mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are common in Florida, where mosquito season is year-round, and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, including Houston. »

Panama, India, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Florida in the U.S. are also slated to receive Oxitec’s « self-destruct » mosquitoes74,75 and the longer the Zika scare continues, the more likely these little critters will be released in mosquito-ridden areas across the world. Is this wise? Chances are we may be in for some nasty surprises. As noted by Helen Wallace in 2012, a British environmentalist with the organization GeneWatch:76

This mosquito is Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, plain and simple. To open a box and let these man-made creatures fly free is a risk with dangers we haven’t even begun to contemplate.

We may not like the mosquito, but that doesn’t mean it serves no function in the ecosystem. If we successfully eradicate this mosquito, what might the ramifications be ecosystem-wide?

How Does U.S. Explain 25,000 Microcephaly Cases Annually — Without Zika?

In the U.S., approximately 25,000 infants are diagnosed with microcephaly each year.77 Brazil has about 70 percent of the population the U.S. has, and now reports just over 400 cases, 17 of which tested positive for the Zika virus. So is this reallythe global emergency it’s being made out to be? And more importantly, is Zika virus really responsible for these birth defects? Colombia reports that 3,177 pregnant women have tested positive for Zika virus, yet no cases of microcephaly have occurred.78

The evidence suggests implicating Zika virus may be a matter of convenience — leaders of the public-private partnership between industry and government are quickly blaming the rise in microcephaly on disease-carrying mosquitoes in order to sell more GE mosquitoes, to sell more toxic insecticides, and to have an excuse to develop and sell more vaccines. All the while, they are keeping hidden some of the most likely culprits — poor nutrition and toxic environmental exposures like pesticides, as well as vaccines given during pregnancy when the fetus is most susceptible to harm.

By throwing up a convenient veil in the form of Zika-infected mosquitoes, business can not only go on as usual, but grow and expand profits to boot. I have no immediate answers to this problem, other than a firm suggestion, and that is to put on your thinking cap and assess the situation based on what the actual evidence shows, and do not just go by the sound bytes regurgitated by the talking heads.

Sooner or later the insanity must end. We cannot expect a healthy infant and child population when pregnant women are assaulted with toxins at every turn.

And MORE toxins is NOT the answer! This really should be self-evident.

For all intents and purposes my review of the available evidence strongly suggests that the Zika virus is just another fabricated threat designed to support even further use of profitable but unproven and highly ineffective products like vaccines.

Notes

click here to access the references (1-78)

 

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Putin’s intervention last year in Syria was a geopolitical masterstroke – battling US-supported ISIS and other terrorist groups, halting their advance, systematically smashing them, confronting America’s regional imperial agenda, so far effectively foiling it.

Ousting Assad and installing a US-controlled puppet regime in Damascus is key to Washington’s aim for regional dominance, a vital step toward isolating Iran before attempting to overthrow its government belligerently, the same strategy used against Libya, Syria and elsewhere – raping and destroying countries to rule them, loot their resources and exploit their people.

It’s too early to declare victory. So far things look good. Hopefully Putin foiled Obama’s dirty scheme. It began five years ago on February 17, 2011 against Libya, continued weeks later on the Ides of March (the 15th) against Syria.

America systematically raped and destroyed both countries – the same way it ravaged Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and other nations – an unparalleled record of global criminality and pillaging.

At a US-ASEAN press conference in California, Obama lashed out at Putin showing frustration and desperation – ignoring his aggression on Syria using ISIS and other terrorists as US foot soldiers, bashing Putin’s responsible intervention: :

“(t)he fact that (he) had to send his own troops (support personnel alone are there, no ground combat forces) and his own aircraft and invest this massive military operation (it’s relatively modest compared to how much greater it could be and may become ahead) was not a testament to great strength. It was a testament to the weakness of Assad’s position.”

“(I)f somebody is strong…you don’t have to send in your army to prop up your ally.”

“(W)hat I said (earlier) was that Russia would involve itself in a quagmire. Absolutely it will. If…anybody…thinks that somehow the fighting ends because Russia and (Syrian forces) made some initial advances, (much) of the country (remains) control(ed)” by US-supported terrorists.

Obama ignored reality, calling them “folks other than Assad” – cutthroat killer “folks” armed and trained by CIA operatives in the fine art of committing atrocities, including use of chemical and other banned weapons.

Obama and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state orchestrated the raping of Libya and Syria, the highest of high crimes.

Obama claiming he wants to “stop the suffering (of the Syrian people), stabilize the region,” stop the human flood of refugees, “end the violence, (and) stop (the killing of) innocent civilians,” belies his ruthless agenda – fully responsible for all of the above.

Putin has no intention of occupying Syria or getting bogged down in endless conflict. Obama claiming otherwise is one of his many Big Lies.

He wants Putin to abandon Assad, stop what he  called “indiscriminate bombing,” let Washington and its rogue allies freely use ISIS and other proxy terrorist groups to eliminate Syrian sovereignty, transforming the nation into another US vassal state – without Russian interference.

Obama supports the terrorist scourge he claims to oppose. Putin is committed to degrading and reducing it to a shadow of its peak strength, letting Syrian forces smash its remaining elements.

As long as Washington remains committed to replacing Assad with a puppet regime it controls, and keeps supporting ISIS and other terrorist groups, endless conflict, vast destruction and human suffering will continue.

America is fully responsible for genocidal high crimes against Syria and other independent states targeted for regime change. Russia is a deterrent to US imperialism, an antidote to America’s ruthless rampaging.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled « Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III. »

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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Stocks Dive as Confidence in Fed Fades

février 17th, 2016 by Mike Whitney

Investors are losing confidence in central bank policies. (They) have done all they can do, and these policies may not improve economic growth or may not support financial markets. — Anthony Valeri, investment strategist at LPL Financial

Zero rates and QE have stopped working and that has investors worried. Very worried.

If you want to know why stocks have been taking it on the chin lately, look no further than the quote above. Mr. Valeri nails it. The Central Banks have lost their touch which is why investors are cashing in and heading for the exits. This has nothing to do with the slowdown in China,  bank troubles in Europe, capital flight in the emerging markets,  droopy oil prices, or the deceleration in the global economy. Forget about that stuff.  The real problem is that investors have lost confidence in the Fed. And for good reason.

Keep in mind, that for the last 5 years or so, bad news has been good news and good news has been bad news. What does that mean?

It means that every report that showed the economy was underperforming or getting worse was greeted with cheers from Wall Street because they knew the Fed would promise additional accommodation (QE) or continue to maintain zero rates into the future.  The Fed conditioned investors to ignore fundamentals and merely respond to the Pavlovian promise of more cheap money. That cheap money helped fuel a rally that tripled the value of the S&P 500 while inflating asset bubbles across the spectrum. But now the impact of low rates appears to be wearing thin which has investors concerned that the Fed has run out of bullets.

Why? What changed?

In the last couple of weeks, the second and third biggest central banks (The European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan) either announced or launched additional easing programs, but to no effect.  The BOJ implemented negative rates (NIRP) expecting the yen to weaken and stocks to rally. Instead, stocks fell off a cliff losing an astonishing 7.6 percent on the Nikkei while the yen strengthened by nearly 10 percent against the dollar. In other words, the results were the opposite of what the BOJ wanted.

The same thing happened to the ECB although Mario Draghi has not actually increased QE yet. The ECB is currently buying €60 billion of mainly sovereign bonds per month under the existing program ostensibly to trigger credit growth and boost inflation. Draghi increased speculation that he would boost the bank’s monthly purchases (by €15) at the World Economic Forum in January when he said:

We have plenty of instruments. We have the determination, and the willingness of the governing council to act and deploy these instruments.

Usually, a strong statement like that would be enough to send stocks into the stratosphere, but not this time. Since then, EU markets have tanked and the euro has strengthened against the dollar. Once again, the results have been the exact opposite of what was intended.

So the question is: If the promise of easy money and QE is no longer working in Japan or Europe, why would work in the US?  Or, put differently: Has radical monetary policy lost its ability to prevent stocks from going into freefall? (The Bernanke Put)

This is what investors want to know.

Keep in mind, QE has not increased inflation in any of the countries where it’s been implemented. Nor has it boosted lending, triggered a credit expansion or strengthened growth. It’s a total fraud.  But it has had a big impact on stock prices, which is why central banks love it.

But now that’s changed. Now QE is backfiring and zero rates have lost their potency. Investors know this. They know that monetary policy has run-out-the-clock and that overpriced stocks –which have been outpacing flagging earnings for years–are going to return earth with a thud. This is why the selloff could continue for some time to come.

Of course, now the focus has shifted to “negative interest rates”, the latest fad in central banking that is supposed to boost lending by charging banks a small fee on excess reserves. It’s another nutty attempt to prove that if you put money on sale, people will borrow. But what we’ve seen over the last seven years is that there are times when people won’t borrow no matter how cheap money is. The Fed can’t seem to grasp this. They can’t see to wrap their minds around the simple fact that reducing the cost of borrowing, does not always make it more desirable. Households that are trying to pay down their debts, increase their equity or save for retirement might not want to borrow regardless of how cheap the rates might be.

In any event, negative rates (NIRP) have already been implemented in Europe and Japan where the results are mixed. Here’s how Nomura’s chief economist Richard Koo summed up the phenom in his recent newsletter:

In my view,  the adoption of negative interest rates is an act of desperation born out of despair over the inability of quantitative easing and inflation targeting to produce the desired results. That monetary policy has come this far is a clear indication that both ECB President Mario Draghi and BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda have fundamentally misunderstood the ongoing recession…..” (“Macro and Credit…The Vasa Ship, Macronomics)

Indeed. Now compare Koo’s comments to those of  OECD Economic Committee Chairman, William White, who was asked what he thought the effects of negative rates would be on the economy in a recent Bloomberg interview:

William White: “The truth is, nobody really knows. The thing about these experiments, is that they’re experiments. We have no historic precedence for this kind of behavior by central banks at all. EVER. So the answer is: We don’t know.  The general idea is that if you charge negative interest rates on the reserves that the banks hold at the central banks that somehow this will translate into lower lending rate and more stimulus for the economy.  But you have to realize that these negative rates will actually squeeze the banks margins, squeezing bank profits. This is something we actually don’t want because we want them to make more money so they can build up capital buffers. So what are the banks going to do?

Well, one possibility is that they lower the deposit rates for customers. That’s possible, but then people might take money out. The other possibility is that you simply raise the rate for people to borrow, which is the exact opposite for which the policy was intended. So, I repeat, this is all experimental. We’ll wait and see how it turns out. But I’m rather skeptical.

(“OECD’s White Says More Wage Growth Attention Needed“, Bloomberg)

In other words, it’s just not a very well thought-out plan. Either the banks take the hit or the borrowers do. Either way, the plan won’t boost lending, generate a strong credit expansion or grow the economy. After seven years of this same nonsense, we should be willing to admit that reducing the price of money will not lead to an economic recovery. Of that, we can be 100 percent certain.

So, what will generate a strong recovery? This is the question Bloomberg put to White after he expressed his reservations about negative rates. Here’s his advice:

Those who have fiscal room to maneuver, should use it.

I think there should be more attention paid to wage growth, which has been too low and so spending has been too low in consequence.

We need much more public infrastructure which is an asset to go with a government liability.

We need more systematic approaches to debt reduction and debt relief.

And we need a lot more structural reform to get that low hanging fruit to allow the economy to grow faster and to allow debt service to be more easily managed.  (“OECD’s White Says More Wage Growth Attention Needed”, Bloomberg)

Fiscal stimulus?  Wage growth?  Debt relief?  Progressive reforms?

In other words, we’ve piddled-away seven-long years on radical monetary experiments that have achieved nothing and led us right back to where we began, at plain-old Keynesian fiscal stimulus, the only reliable way to put people back to work, stimulate growth, and get the economy back up-and-running.

Better late than never, I guess.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Equality loving people breathed easier after Justice Scalia’s last breath.  And labor activists partied like it was New Years eve. Their would-be hangman dropped dead and unions gained a stay of execution.

Scalia’s timely departure implies that the landmark union case “Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association” will be a 4-4 stalemate, meaning the pro-labor status-quo prevails. As they cheer the last minute pardon unions shouldn’t forget they’re still on death row. The solace is temporary.

Unions can’t assume the next Justice won’t be another Scalia. The worst should be prepared for; being unprepared last time nearly cost labor its head. The same corporate groups who backed Friedrichs will try again, soon, with a fresh case, new plaintiff, and possibly facing an equally anti-union Supreme Court.Obama’s nominee is unlikely to be pro-labor. The old assumption that Democratic presidents appoint pro-labor judges may now be false. Times have changed. Pundits are speculating that Obama will nominate a Judge the Republicans will support. Progressive legal expert Scott Horton spoke on Democracy Now:

… I doubt [the Supreme Court nominee] is going to be the left equivalent of a Nino Scalia. It’s going to be someone who is more of a moderate, more of a centrist, someone who in normal times would be able to count on Republican support.

Nowadays the Republican Party is viciously anti-union. And while Republicans hate several demographics, unions have become — like African Americans in general — a group that Democrats take for granted and attack when convenient.

Republicans would be especially excited about an anti-union peace offering from Obama. Such a nominee could represent a “grand bargain” to avoid a constitutional crisis, where Obama is allowed to successfully end his presidency and the right wing maintains its dominant position on the Supreme Court.

The Friedrichs case provokes a unique zeal from the right wing because of its vast economic consequences. If unions lose Friedrichs, the labor market would be shifted sharply in favor of corporations. The “natural” pro-corporate laws of the market would accelerate, putting workers at a steeper disadvantage.

Wages in the public sector would quickly drop as union density shrinks, creating knock off effects in broader areas of the labor market. Employers would exploit this new leverage at the bargaining table, slashing benefits and lowering wages. An anti-union Friedrichs decision could set a precedent for a national law affecting all unions, public and private sector alike.

Would Obama actually please Republicans over the bones of unions? Yes, if his record is any indication. He began his presidency with a super majority in Congress, and instead of the bold pro-labor initiatives he promised, he slammed on the  brakes, reaching out to racist Republicans who’d rather torch then touch him.  Obama is too smart not to realize he was throwing away his mandate: the big banks that financed his campaign got their money’s worth.

When it comes to unions, Obama is a moderate Republican, just like the pro-corporate “Blue Dog” Democrats that run the Democratic Party. Obama’s flagship national educational program, “Race to the Top,” was even more anti-union than George Bush Jr.’s “No Child Left Behind.” The two-party system now bonds over anti-unionism.

It’s no coincidence that Obama was completely absent from the two biggest union actions in decades: The 2011 Wisconsin Uprising and the 2012 Chicago Teachers strike. The president’s absence spoke much louder than the few hesitant words he spoke on the subjects.

While every Republican in Illinois was mobilizing to attack the Chicago teachers, Obama’s former Chief of Staff was leading the anti-union charge. The battle lines were adjusted to reflect the new political reality: Democrats and Republicans versus the unions.

Anti-unionism is now a bipartisan issue. As the big banks boomed, union power shrunk, luring the Democrats further to the right; their stance on labor changed from ambivalence to hatred. Now they are staunchly in the Republican camp on the front lines in the class struggle against unions.

This new consensus is reflected in many of Obama’s “top contenders” for Supreme Court nominees. Judge Sri Srinivasan, who earned his current position on the Court of Appeals by a 97-0 vote of the current Congress, is someone whose name has been broadly discussed. The lack of controversy was due, in part, to his years as a corporate attorney. Corporate attorneys are habitually anti-union.

Another top contender is 9th Circuit Judge Paul Watford, yet another corporate attorney who hasn’t dirtied his hands with anything progressive.

The two-party system is so anti-union that it’s possible Scalia’s death won’t even matter; a current judge could easily flip on Friedrichs against unions. Scalia’s death doesn’t freeze the anti-union trajectory of the establishment; a lot of momentum has already been built up.

The establishment is unlikely to sit on their hands, and unions cannot afford to either. Hoping that a pro-union Justice is appointed is not a political strategy, but Russian Roulette; a tactic that can work for a while but always ends the same.

Historically unions have only won at the Supreme Court when expressing their power. The establishment only shows respect when you demand and fight for it.

The “progressive” Supreme Court under Warren Burger that favored unions was a response to the mass movements and active labor movement of the 60’s and 70’s. Burger himself was appointed by Nixon, though moved to the left by the political ground shifting beneath his feet.Labor’s biggest Supreme Court victories came during the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt under a Conservative Supreme Court that was forced to respond to a union-led mass movement. Without mass action the labor movement shrivels.

After the nationwide actions of organized labor in the 1970’s, the establishment chose to appease this power. But now they’ve decided to test it, through Friedrichs. Future tests are inevitable.A prior test provoked the Wisconsin Uprising, showing the potential power of all unions. This is why Friedrichs is actually a gamble for the ruling class; they’re hoping that a national version of Wisconsin doesn’t happen. Unions must dash these hopes through organizing and other actions. A quiet labor movement will go quietly to the gallows; and Scalia was preparing the rope when he died.

The death of Scalia should empower unions to mobilize, not rest on their already-withered laurels. Without constant pressure the establishment will feel comfortable continuing in an anti-union direction. Power must be met with power.

Just like the 15now campaign has been mobilizing at the Democratic debates to amplify their issue, so should unions borrow the tactic to promote a Friedrichs victory. The Democratic nominee must feel the pressure to publicly advocate a pro-union decision.

Forcing this issue into the debates would send a very strong message. And organizing mass demonstrations around Friedrichs — as several labor bodies have called for — will send an even louder message. Unions must re-learn how to express their power. They’ve forgotten, but doing is the best way to practice.

 

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected]

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Featured image: Robert F. Kennedy and Paul Schrade Photo credit: MALDEF / YouTube

This article was first published by WhoWhat Why

The ban on video and audio recordings at Sirhan Sirhan’s parole hearing on February 9 meant the world depended on the one reporter allowed inside the hearing to tell us what happened. He had to condense “more than three hours of intense testimony” into 854 words.

Elliot Spagat’s lively account of the proceeding for the Associated Press omitted one very important document that shooting victim and Kennedy family friend Paul Schrade presented to the parole board. This was a letter from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (image right) to US Attorney General Eric Holder, dated September 25, 2012, supporting Schrade’s request for a new investigation of his father’s murder:

Paul was a close friend and advisor to my father. He was standing beside my father when Daddy was killed and Paul was himself wounded by a bullet. With boundless energy and clear mind, Paul continues to pursue my father’s ideas, an endeavor to which he has devoted his life. He organized with the support of my mother and my family the building of the new Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools on the former Ambassador Hotel site. Paul and his team…strongly believe this new evidence is conclusive and requires a new investigation. I agree and support his request for a new investigation.

RFK, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The request for a new investigation was partly based on a new analysis of the Pruszynski recording, the only known audio recording of the shooting. After studying the tape, forensic audio expert Phil Van Praag concluded 13 shots and 2 guns were fired in the Ambassador Hotel pantry on the night of the shooting.

At Holder’s direction, the FBI Laboratory conducted a very limited and deeply flawed examination of the Pruszynski recording and reportedly “could not confirm the number of shots or determine the identification of specific weapons.”

The FBI refused to accept the papers Van Praag had written detailing his methodologies and discoveries. In fact, the Bureau refused to communicate with him in any way.

The FBI’s examination report, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows the FBI used outdated methodologies and failed to provide their own analyst with critical background materials about the shooting scene.  These included witness statements, the autopsy report and movements of key people, including Stanislaw Pruszynski himself, at the time of the shooting.

The analyst describes searching for videos of Van Praag’s work on Youtube and working from low-resolution screen grabs of my film on Van Praag’s discoveries in an effort to find out precisely where to look, how to look, and what to look for. These are details he could have discovered by simply picking up the phone and calling Van Praag or inviting him to the FBI’s Quantico laboratory  for a briefing.

RFK, Philip Van Praag, Pruszynski Recording

Philip Van Praag

When he agreed to release the 2012 letter to the parole board at Sirhan’s hearing,  Robert Kennedy Jr. signaled publicly, for the first time, his support for a new investigation of his father’s murder. “You’re doing the right thing,” he told Schrade, days before the hearing.

Three years ago, Kennedy Jr. told Charlie Rose that the evidence was “very, very convincing” that his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, was not killed by a lone gunman, and that his father had been privately dismissive of the Warren Commission findings.

As federal authorities have no criminal jurisdiction over Robert Kennedy’s 1968 murder, at the end of Sirhan’s hearing, Paul Schrade formally requested the Los Angeles County District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, to open a new investigation into the case:

I am requesting a new investigation so that after nearly 50 years, justice finally can be served for me as a shooting victim; for the four other shooting victims who also survived their wounds; for Bob Kennedy; for the people of the United States who Bob loved so much and had hoped to lead; just as his brother, President John F. Kennedy, had led only a few years before; and of course for justice, to which Bob Kennedy devoted his life.

RFK, Paul Schrade

Paul Schrade

Schrade addressed his remarks to David Dahle, a retired prosecutor representing the district attorney’s office. Dahle had earlier said Sirhan was guilty of “an attack on the American political process…[and] has still not come to grips with what he has done.”

Schrade reportedly chastised Dahle for the “venomous” statement from the D.A.’s office opposing Sirhan’s release, and asked Dahle to inform District Attorney Lacey of his request for a new investigation. Schrade, who firmly believes a second gunman — not Sirhan — killed Kennedy, plans to make the same request to Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

*****

As AP reported, Sirhan again stuck to his story that he didn’t remember shooting Robert Kennedy. He felt remorse for the victims but couldn’t take full responsibility for the crime: “If you want a confession, I can’t make it now…I just wish this whole thing had never taken place.”

At first, Sirhan didn’t want to attend this week’s hearing. According to one of his attorneys, Laurie Dusek, he was physically sick for hours after his mistreatment at the last hearing in 2011, but his brother Munir and Dusek urged him to reconsider. At the end of the hearing, he said, “This is such a traumatic…horrendous experience, that for me, to keep dwelling on it is harmful to me…”

AP noted that, if released, Sirhan hoped he would be deported to Jordan or could move in with his brother in Pasadena, “to live out my life peacefully, in harmony with my fellow man…”

*****
Victims of a crime have the right to make a statement at the end of parole hearing. They can say what they want and have as much time as they want, so Paul Schrade’s appearance Wednesday “provided much of the drama”, according to the AP report.

Meeting Sirhan for the first time since the 1969 trial, Schrade apologized to Sirhan for not attending his previous parole hearings or doing more to win his release: “I should have been here long ago and that’s why I feel guilty for not being here to help you and to help me.”

AP reported that “Schrade’s voice cracked with emotion during an hour of testimony” but what did he actually say? We won’t have a transcript for 30 days, so drawing on the full text of his prepared remarks, here’s a summary of his testimony below:

“While Sirhan was standing in front of Bob Kennedy and his shots were creating a distraction, the other shooter secretly fired at the senator from behind…”

I am here to speak for myself, a shooting victim, and to bear witness for my friend, Bob Kennedy.
 Kennedy was a man of justice. But, so far, justice has not been served in this case. And I feel obliged as both a shooting victim and as an American to speak out about this — and to honor the memory of the greatest American I’ve ever known, Robert Francis Kennedy. In order for you to make an accurate determination of Sirhan Sirhan’s parole, you need to know my feelings on this case and the full picture of what actually happened.

When Schrade turned to address Sirhan, he “angrily ignored” the commissioner’s instructions not to speak or make eye contact with the prisoner. He said he believed Sirhan did not know where he was or what he was doing and therefore was not responsible for his actions at the Ambassador Hotel:

Sirhan, I forgive you. The evidence clearly shows you were not the gunman who shot Robert Kennedy. There is clear evidence of a second gunman in that kitchen pantry who shot Robert Kennedy…The fatal bullet struck Bob in the back of the head…You were never behind Bob, nor was Bob’s back ever exposed to you…the evidence not only shows that you did not shoot Robert Kennedy but it shows that you could not have shot Robert Kennedy.

RFK, Sirhan Sirhan

Sirhan Sirhan

Sirhan nodded politely and seemed appreciative as Schrade told him he wasn’t guilty and that Robert Kennedy would be appalled, not only by the parole board’s unjust treatment of Sirhan, but by the fact that he was not being given parole based on his rights under law.

Schrade then directed the panel’s attention to documents submitted in advance of the hearing, which proved “Sirhan Sirhan did not shoot — and could not have shot — Robert Kennedy”:

A copy of the autopsy report describing the fatal shot fired from an inch behind Kennedy’s right ear; Phil Van Praag’s declaration showing evidence of 13 shots and 2 guns on the Pruszynski recording; and witness statements from Ambassador Hotel maître d’s Karl Uecker and Edward Minasian confirming Sirhan’s firing position several feet in front of Kennedy. Together, he said, these documents proved:

Sirhan only had full control of his gun at the beginning, when he fired his first two shots, one of which hit me. Sirhan had no opportunity to fire four precisely placed, point-blank bullets into the back of Bob Kennedy’s head or body while he was pinned against that steam table and while he and Bob were facing each other.

After an hour, commissioner Brian Roberts reportedly asked Schrade to wrap up. “Quite frankly, you’re losing us,” he said. “I think you’ve been lost for a long time,” Schrade replied, before concluding:

What I am saying to you is that Sirhan himself was a victim. Obviously, there was someone else there in that pantry also firing a gun. While Sirhan was standing in front of Bob Kennedy and his shots were creating a distraction, the other shooter secretly fired at the senator from behind and fatally wounded him…I hope you will consider all of the accurate details of this crime that I have presented in order for you to accurately determine Sirhan Sirhan’s eligibility for parole. If you do this the right way and the just way, I believe you will come to the same conclusion I have: that Sirhan should be released. If justice is not your aim, then of course you will not. Gentlemen, I believe you should grant Sirhan Sirhan parole…And I ask you to do that today in the name of Robert F. Kennedy and in the name of justice. Thank you.

As Sirhan got up to leave, Schrade reportedly shouted, “Sirhan, I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It’s my fault.” AP reported that Sirhan tried to shake hands with Schrade but a guard blocked him.

Schrade refused to shake hands with the commissioner. Addressing him directly, Schrade told Roberts, “What you’ve done to this man is appalling and Robert Kennedy would find what you did appalling” before turning away.

Schrade found the hearing “very abusive” and upsetting. He later told reporters waiting outside that “Sirhan was being tortured in there.” In a radio interview, he said the parole board was “cold and ruthless about keeping this guy in jail, knowing there’s evidence [of his innocence] in the files”. He found the panel’s treatment of Sirhan “despicable,” destroying his dignity with petty questions that made the commissioners “look like amateur psychiatrists.”

Sirhan was again denied for five years because he “did not show adequate remorse or understand the enormity of his crime” – a statement which the transcripts of Sirhan’s previous parole hearings show is just not true.

*****

Another important document submitted to the parole board two days before the hearing was a new declaration by Dr. Daniel Brown, a psychologist from Harvard Medical School. Since May 2008, Dr. Brown has spent over 100 hours with Sirhan, including a two-day visit last September.

The aim of these sessions was threefold: to “conduct a detailed forensic psychological assessment” of Sirhan’s mental status; to allow Sirhan “to develop a more complete memory…for the events leading up to and of the night of the assassination”; and to determine whether or not Sirhan was the “subject of coercive suggestive influence” at the time of the shooting and if this accounted for his amnesia.

The declaration states that, in Dr. Brown’s expert opinion, Sirhan is normal, does not have a psychiatric condition or personality disorder and shows no evidence of any violence risk if released (the primary consideration for any parole panel).

In his sessions with Sirhan, Dr. Brown found “a variety of personality factors that are associated with high vulnerability to coercive suggestive influence: an extreme dissociative coping style; hypnotically-induced altered personality states; extremely high hypnotizability; and high social compliance”:

Mr. Sirhan is one of the most hypnotizable individuals I have ever met, and the magnitude of his amnesia for actions not under his voluntary [control] in hypnosis is extreme. This unusual combination of personality factors makes Mr. Sirhan the type of individual extremely vulnerable to coercive social influence [and accounts for his] uncharacteristic behavior and strong amnesia for that behavior on the night of Senator Kennedy’s assassination…

Dr. Brown’s declaration traces the seeds of this “coercive suggestive influence” back to his experiences at a local race track, where “Mr. Sirhan regularly practiced self-hypnosis with fellow stable boys…Mr. Sirhan was observed to quickly enter a very deep state of hypnotic trance…and to then respond compulsively and uncritically to suggestions he behave in certain ways for which he subsequently became amnesic.”

“Mr. Sirhan recalls being in the hospital for several weeks. Sometime thereafter he was taken to a military firing range and trained to shoot upon command at vital human organs while in an hypnotic state.”

After a fall from a horse at a ranch in Corona in 1966, Sirhan was briefly hospitalized but, as Dr. Brown notes, “his mother and best friend both state that he was missing for two full weeks. Mr. Sirhan recalls being in the hospital for several weeks. Sometime thereafter he was taken to a military firing range and trained to shoot upon command at vital human organs while in an hypnotic state.”

Dr. Brown notes that Sirhan’s “dissociative vulnerability” causes him “on rare occasions to shift self-states”:
On more than one occasion, I was able to find the cue to induce ‘range mode’, wherein upon hypnotic cue, Mr. Sirhan takes his firing stance, hypnotically hallucinates that he is shooting at circle targets at a firing range, automatically starts shooting, and subsequently is completely amnesic for the hypnotically induced behavior.

This altered personality state only occurs while Mr. Sirhan is in a hypnotic or self-hypnotic state, and only in response to certain cues. This state never spontaneously manifests. While in this altered personality state, Mr. Sirhan shows both a loss of executive control and complete amnesia…This distinctive self-state is cue-specific and state-dependent…and is likely the product of coercive suggestive influence and hypnosis.

On the night of the assassination, Sirhan recalls being led in the Ambassador Hotel pantry by a girl in a polka-dot dress. As Robert Kennedy was approaching him, Dr. Brown writes, “this same woman tapped him on the elbow twice (a common hypnotic cue) [and] he immediately went into ‘range mode’, and believed he was shooting at circle targets at a local firing range.”

Given the new evidence of a second gunman found on the Pruszynski recording, it is Dr. Brown’s expert opinion “that Mr. Sirhan was trained through a variety of coercive persuasion techniques to serve as a distractor on the night of the assassination, so that a second professional shooter could render the fatal shot…”

Sirhan fired his gun on cue, carrying out an involuntary post-hypnotic suggestion and his “strong dissociative coping style…would cause him to be ‘out of it’ and be confused and amnesic for such actions”:

Given the likelihood that Mr. Sirhan was in such a state at the time of the assassination, it should not be assumed at the parole hearing that he should manifest either knowledge of, remorse for, or clear memory for an event wherein his behavior was likely compulsively induced, involuntary, and for which he still has little memory.

Sirhan Sirhan, Notebook, RFK

The self-incriminating writing in Sirhan’s notebooks has always been cited as primary evidence of premeditated murder. The most famous page begins: “May 18 9.45 AM – 68 My determination to eliminate R.F.K. is becoming more the more of an unshakable obsession.” Underneath it are a series of concentric circles that bear a strong resemblance to targets at a firing range.

After exploring Sirhan’s “responsiveness to automatic writing in hypnosis,” Dr. Brown concluded that the automatic writing in his notebooks was “a product of coercive persuasion by a third party”:

Mr. Sirhan was an avid enthusiast of short wave radios. He had a short wave radio in his bedroom, and spent most nights before the assassination communicating on his short wave radio to third parties. Mr. Sirhan frequently entered a hypnotic state while communicating with other parties on the short wave radio. While in trance, Mr. Sirhan would automatically write down what was communicated to him, and subsequently was amnesic for the content of his automatic writing in the spiral notebooks.

Dr. Brown compares the notebooks to “a coerced internalized false confession” and claims they should have been ruled inadmissible at trial. He concludes:

Mr. Sirhan has been in prison for over four decades for a crime that in all likelihood he never committed…Extensive psychological testing by me and others shows no evidence for any clinically significant psychiatric condition and low evidence for violence risk, combined with the new evidence that raises reasonable doubt that Mr. Sirhan was the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, and also reasonable doubt about his previous written and verbal self-incriminating statements being voluntary and reliable, there is, in my opinion, no justifiable reason to deny his parole.

Since he has spent all of his adult life in prison for a crime that he may not have committed, nor has volition about, knowledge of, nor memory for, the compassionate response would be to let Mr. Sirhan live the remainder of his life free. There is little risk here.

*****
On Thursday, after 16 days, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) finally responded to my request seeking the legal justification for the ban on televising parole hearings: “It is at the Executive Officer’s discretion to decide which, if any, media members or other observers to allow into a parole hearing.”

This non-answer is clearly at odds with the relevant title code of CDCR regulations, which states:

2032. (b) Television and radio coverage of Board of Prison Terms’ parole hearings will be authorized, unless such coverage would create a risk to the security of an institution, obstruct the hearing process, pose a risk to the personal safety of any person, or have the potential for prejudicing judicial proceedings…

Without such access, several TV reports on Wednesday ran misleading footage from Sirhan’s 2011 hearing, uncaptioned, and none ran any quotes of what Sirhan said at his own hearing.

Five years ago, the CDCR suddenly stopped allowing televised parole hearings. My question — which they still refuse to answer is —  why?
*****

RFK, Sirhan, District Attorney, Jackie Lacey

Jackie Lacey

With the support of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Paul Schrade has now formally requested a new investigation from the L.A. County District Attorney. Sirhan’s attorneys will take his case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Sirhan will continue to work with Dr. Brown to solve the mystery of what happened to him nearly 48 years ago.

2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s death and 50 years of Sirhan’s confinement. The release of the remaining JFK assassination records next year may give some insight into Robert Kennedy’s private skepticism regarding the Warren Report. It may also lead to growing public acceptance that the Kennedy assassinations were more complex than they seemed, and that one of the victims is still being held in prison in San Diego.

Shane O’Sullivan is an author, filmmaker and researcher at Kingston University, London. His work includes the documentary RFK Must Die (2007) and the book Who Killed Bobby? (2008). He blogs on the Sirhan case at http://www.sirhanbsirhan.com

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Statement prepared for the UN Human Rights Commission on behalf of Yemen by Sheba Rights.

Article 1 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions states that:

“An obligation never to use, produce, transfer or stockpile cluster munitions. It also includes several positive obligations to ensure no further use and to redress past harm caused by the weapons.”[1].

A cluster munitions, is an explosive device containing multiple explosive sub munitions. Like landmines, these sub munitions can remain a fatal threat to anyone in the area long after a conflict ends.

Decades after the initial bombing, these sub-munitions still have potential to claim lives, often surpassing even landmines in their threat to civilians.  Their continued use is met with almost universal abhorrence. The Convention on Cluster Munitions banning their use has 113 signatories[2].

cluster bomb 22

Even countries that haven’t signed the treaty are still bound by customary international humanitarian law, specifically that:

“An indiscriminate weapon is a weapon that cannot be directed at a military objective or whose effects cannot be limited, and the use of such inherently’ indiscriminate weapon is prohibited. [3] Rule 71

Cluster bombs are indiscriminate weapons that are imprecise at the time of use and leave behind submunitions that remain a threat for anyone in the area long after use. When the CBU-52B/Bs are used,[4] it disintegrates in mid-air, depositing up to 220 bomblets at a time on an area roughly the size of a football field.

These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members – and the supplier, the US – are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their “long-term threat to civilians,” according to Human Rights Watch arms director Steve Goose.[5]

“The use of cluster munitions in populated areas may amount to a war crime due to their indiscriminate nature,” the UN spokesperson pointed out.[6]

“The coalition’s repeated use of cluster bombs in the middle of a crowded city suggests an intent to harm civilians, which is a war crime.  These outrageous attacks show that the coalition seems less concerned than ever about sparing civilians from war’s horrors.”

More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 others injured since the strikes began. The Saudi war has also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure. [7]

Since the beginning of the war on Yemen, Sheba Rights Coalition (SRC) has collected credible evidence that Saudi-led coalition used cluster bombs in air strikes on Yemen’s on 56 occasions. [8]

Below are the attacks documented by Sheba Rights coalition:

cluster bomb map

  • Sanaa (1 strike),
  • Saada (34 strikes),
  • Aden (1 strike),
  • Hajjah (11 strikes),
  • Taiz (6 strikes),
  • Lahj (1 strike),
  • Ibb (1 strike), and
  • Marib (3 strikes).

Sanaa:

In the early morning hours of January 6, 2016 the Saudi-led coalition air-dropped cluster bombs in densely populated residential neighborhoods of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.

The areas that were targeted were: Madbah, Sawad Hanash, Al-Sunaina, Hayel Street, Al-Rabat Street, Al-Ziraa zone, Kuwait Street, Tunis Street, the university zone, and Bir Al-Shaif neighborhood.  All the above mentioned areas are densely populated by civilians due to their close proximity to civil facilities such as schools, hospitals and universities.

Deaths and Injuries: A child was killed, and ten civilians injured in the attack.

Damage to Property and Infrastructure:  33 homes were damaged, 5 cars were burnt with 6 other cars damaged.  A girls school was also damaged in the attack.

Eyewitness Accounts:

Eyewitnesses reported hearing dozens of small explosions that were the result of the bomblets dispersed over their neighborhood by coalition jets.  In the morning, eye-witnesses confirmed what appeared to be the aftermath of the detonation of the bomblets with several buildings and cars in the neighborhood having been newly pockmarked by the shrapnel from the bomblets. Some eye-witness testimonies documented finding fragments of the bomblets in their cars and on the street.

1- Shaker Ghaleb Ahmed Shaker: A 25-year old resident on Al-Adel Street was critically injured when a cluster bomb penetrated through his bedroom roof, where he, his wife and his daughter were asleep.  The bomb exploded upon impact with the bedroom floor and shrapnel flew in all directions.  He sustained several shrapnel injuries to his chest, stomach and right arm.  He was rushed to the Republican hospital in critical condition after shrapnel from the bomb got lodged near his kidney, but was transferred to Al-Thawra hospital due to the lack of supplies at the Republican hospital, a result of the air, sea and land blockade imposed by the coalition on Yemen.

2- Mohammed Hamoud Shalaan al-Hashidy: The 30-year old guard of a girls school that was damaged in the strike reported that as he prepared to leave his house, located in the vicinity of the school, for the morning prayer, he heard jets overhead and soon after he saw the sky light up in a fiery red glow and what appeared to be small ball-sized bombs dispersing over a wide area of the neighborhood.

 Three of these bomblets fell on the school grounds causing loud explosions and sending shrapnel flying across the ground causing damage to windows, walls and the school’s water tanks.

2)    HAJJAH

In the afternoon of Saturday, 6th June, 2015, Saudi-led coalition jets targeted a camp for the internally displaced people in Dhughayj located in Hairan district of Hajjah province, just across the border of Yemen with Saudi Arabia.  There were 210 internally displaced families that had set up make-shift camps in the area after having left their homes in Haradh.    The examination of the remnants of the weapons used has identified the weapons as US-made ground-launched M26 cluster munitions rockets.  Coalition members Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates all possess M26 rockets and their launchers.  Unexploded M77 DPICM were also found at the scene.

Deaths and Injuries: 5 civilians were killed and 37 others injured among them several women and children.

Eye-witness Accounts: Upon arrival at the scene of the strikes, 8 cluster munitions that failed to detonate were found, along with 3 rockets and tank shells that were spread over an area of two kilometers pausing a threat to children and livestock grazing in the area.

1- Adel Hassan Ahmed Abdo: 20 year old Adel, a resident of the area stated that he saw apache helicopters striking the camp from a farm he was in located approximately 1 kilometer from the IDP camp.  When the strikes stopped, he and others rushed to the camp where they found several people injured and several unexploded shells and munitions on the ground and across neighboring farms.  On the day following of the attack, two children came across an unexploded bomb while grazing their livestock. They attempted to carry the unexploded bomb but it detonated injuring both children.

3)    SAADA

According to a report from the Legal Center for Rights and Development in Yemen,[9] on June 15, 2015 the coalition fired four cluster bombs on BaniRabia in Razih district of Saada.  The bombs were strewn over a vast area that was used for agricultural purposes.

On July 2, 2015 more than ten civilians were injured when cluster bombs exploded on their homes in al-Nadheer in Razih district. Five homes were damaged by the strike.

On July 22, 2015 the coalition dropped cluster bombs that looked like children’s toys in al-Nadheerdistrict, in Saada

Recommendation

Khiam rehabilitation centerand SALAM for Democracy and Human rights and Sheba Rights coalition call for the UN Human Rights Council to take stronger action in response to widespread and grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Yemen. We urge your delegation to ensure that the UN Human Rights Council adopts at its 31st  session a resolution under agenda item 4 to:

  • Request the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently dispatch investigation teams, with expertise in weapon of mass destruction, to investigate crimes under international law and other widespread and serious violations and abuses of human rights in Yemen, and provide recommendations for accountability.
  • Refer the situation in Yemen to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Such a step would make clear to all sides that those who instigate, collude with or carry out war crimes & by default,  crimes against Humanity, will be held accountable for their actions
  • Call the 116 nations that are part of the Convention on Cluster Munitions to take immediate action in accordance with the Article 21 (2) of the Convention, to prevent any use of cluster munitions in Yemen or in any other nation.
  • Ensure the effective protection& sanctity of civilian lives.  Acknowledge the multiple,  extensive forms of abuse, victimization & repeat victimization. Address the need for accountability.  Ensure intensive and conclusive investigations into the continued use of banned weapons on Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition.
  • Allow access for an independent humanitarian assessment of besieged areas and communities;
  • Protect humanitarian workers, including medical personnel.  Facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of relief supplies, and safeguard the sanctity of hospitals and all medical transport vehicles.

Notes:

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The U.K. government today announced that it is now illegal for “local [city] councils, public bodies, and even some university student unions … to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products, or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.” Thus, any entities that support or participate in the global boycott of Israeli settlements will face “severe penalties” under the criminal law.

This may sound like an extreme infringement of free speech and political activism — and, of course, it is — but it is far from unusual in the West. The opposite is now true. There is a very coordinated and well-financed campaign led by Israel and its supporters literally to criminalize political activism against Israeli occupation, based on the particular fear that the worldwide campaign of Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment, or BDS — modeled after the 1980s campaign that brought down the Israel-allied apartheid regime in South Africa — is succeeding.

The Israeli website +972 reported last year about a pending bill that “would ban entry to foreigners who promote the [BDS] movement that aims to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights.” In 2011, a law passed in Israel that “effectively ban[ned] any public call for a boycott — economic, cultural, or academic — against Israel or its West Bank settlements, making such action a punishable offense.”

But the current censorship goal is to make such activism a crime not only in Israel, but in Western countries generally. And it is succeeding.

This trend to outlaw activism against the decadeslong Israeli occupation — particularly though not only through boycotts against Israel — has permeated multiple Western nations and countless institutions within them. In October, we reported on the criminal convictions in France of 12 activists “for the ‘crime’ of advocating sanctions and a boycott against Israel as a means of ending the decadeslong military occupation of Palestine,” convictions upheld by France’s highest court. They were literally arrested and prosecuted for “wearing shirts emblazoned with the words ‘Long live Palestine, boycott Israel’” and because “they also handed out fliers that said that ‘buying Israeli products means legitimizing crimes in Gaza.’”

As we noted, Pascal Markowicz, chief lawyer of the CRIF umbrella organization of French Jewish communities, published this celebratory decree (emphasis in original): “BDS is ILLEGAL in France.” Statements advocating a boycott or sanctions, he added, “are completely illegal. If [BDS activists] say their freedom of expression has been violated, now France’s highest legal instance ruled otherwise.” In Canada last year, officials threatened criminal prosecution against anyone supporting boycotts against Israel.

In the U.S., unbeknownst to many, there are similar legislative proscriptions on such activism, and a pending bill would strengthen the outlawing of BDS. As the Washington Post reported last June, “A wave of anti-BDS legislation is sweeping the U.S.” Numerous bills in Congress encourage or require state action to combat BDS.

Eyal Press warned in a must-read New York Times op-ed last month that under a Customs Bill passed by both houses of Congress and headed to the White House, “American officials will be obligated to treat the settlements as part of Israel in future trade negotiations,” a provision specifically designed “to combat the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, a grass-roots campaign.” But as Press notes, under existing law — which is almost never discussed — “Washington already forbids American companies to cooperate with state-led boycotts of Israel.”

The real purpose of this new law, as Press explains it, is to force American companies to treat settlements in the West Bank — which virtually the entire world views as illegal — as a valid part of Israel, by outlawing any behavior that would be deemed cooperative with a boycott of companies occupying the West Bank. U.S. companies would be forced to pretend that products produced in the occupied territories are actually produced in “Israel.” The White House announced that it will sign the bill despite its opposition to the AIPAC-backed pro-settlement provision.

Rahul Saksena of Palestine Legal said that “the BDS provision in the federal customs bill, and the dozens of anti-BDS bills being introduced in Congress and state legislatures across the U.S., are examples of the lengths that Israel’s fiercest advocates and the lawmakers who bend over backward to accommodate them will go to shut down any conversation critical of Israeli policies and supportive of Palestinian freedom.” Dylan Williams, vice president of government affairs for J Street (which opposes BDS), told The Intercept: “The references in the Customs Act to ‘Israeli-controlled territories’ are just one instance of a larger effort to sneak Green Line-blurring language into legislation at both the state and national level.”

Under the existing laws, American companies have been fined for actions deemed supportive of boycotts aimed at Israel. For decades, U.S. companies and their foreign subsidiaries, for instance, have been required by law to refuse to comply with the Arab League boycott of Israel. Penalties for violators include up to 10 years of imprisonment.

In 2010, G M Daewoo Auto & Technology Company, a Korean firm owned by General Motors, was fined $88,500 by the Office of Antiboycott Compliance for 59 anti-boycott violations, including the “crime” of declaring on a customs form: “We hereby state that the carrying vessel … is allowed to enter the Libya ports [sic].” At the time, Libyan law did not allow Israeli goods or ships that had previously stopped in Israel to enter Libyan ports, and the company’s seemingly banal declaration that it was complying with Libyan law was deemed by the U.S. government to constitute support for a boycott of Israel, and it was thus fined.

The suppression of anti-occupation activism is particularly acute on American college campuses. Among other things, that is deeply ironic. In the U.S. over the past year, there has been a widespread media debate over censorship on college campuses. Notably, the pundits who have most vocally condemned this censorship and held themselves out as free speech crusaders — such as New York’s Jonathan Chait — have completely ignored what is far and away the most widespread form of campus censorship: namely, punishment of those who engage in activism against Israeli actions.

This campus censorship on behalf of Israel was comprehensively documented in a report last year by Palestine Legal titled “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech.” The nationwide censorship effort has seen pro-Palestinian professors fired, anti-occupation student activists suspended and threatened with expulsion, pro-Palestinian groups de-funded, and even discipline for students for the “crime” of flying a Palestinian flag. The report documents how pro-Israel campus groups and alumni “have intensified their efforts to stifle criticism of Israeli government policies.” The report explains: “Rather than engage such criticism on its merits, these groups leverage their significant resources and lobbying power to pressure universities, government actors, and other institutions to censor or punish advocacy in support of Palestinian rights.”

Notably, the students and administrators justifying the campus censorship of anti-Israel views invoke the very same “PC” rhetoric of “safe spaces” and “hate speech” denounced by ostensibly free-speech pundits. The University of Illinois student who led the campaign to fire Steven Salaita for his pro-Gaza tweets, himself a former AIPAC intern, told the New York Times: “Hate speech is never acceptable for those applying for a tenured position; incitement to violence is never acceptable. … There must be a relationship between free speech and civility.” Another “pro-Israel” student demanding Salaita’s firing said, “It’s about feeling safe on campus.”

This was a classic and extreme case of oppressive censorship on campus — the University of Illinois ended up paying Salaita close to $1 million to settle the resulting lawsuit — yet very few of the pundits who turned “college censorship” into a nationwide cause uttered a peep about this case or the countless other instances of suppression of anti-Israel criticism.

It is now routine for students advocating BDS or otherwise working against Israeli occupation to be disciplined or endure other forms of sanctions. As the Palestine Legal report documents:

These heavy-handed tactics often have their desired effect, driving institutions to enact a variety of punitive measures against human rights activists, such as administrative sanctions, censorship, intrusive investigations, viewpoint-based restriction of advocacy, and even criminal prosecutions. Such efforts intimidate activists for Palestinian human rights, chill criticism of Israeli government practices, and impede a fair-minded dialogue on the pressing question of Palestinian rights.

This report, the first of its kind, documents the suppression of Palestine advocacy in the United States. In 2014, Palestine Legal — a nonprofit legal and advocacy organization supporting Palestine activism — responded to 152 incidents of censorship, punishment, or other burdening of advocacy for Palestinian rights and received 68 additional requests for legal assistance in anticipation of such actions. In the first six months of 2015 alone, Palestine Legal responded to 140 incidents and 33 requests for assistance in anticipation of potential suppression. These numbers understate the phenomenon, as many advocates who are unaware of their rights or afraid of attracting further scrutiny stay silent and do not report incidents of suppression. The overwhelming majority of these incidents — 89 percent in 2014 and 80 percent in the first half of 2015 — targeted students and scholars, a reaction to the increasingly central role universities play in the movement for Palestinian rights.

As we reported in September, the University of California — the largest academic system in the country — has been debating proposals to literally outlaw BDS activism by formally equating it with “anti-semitism”: as though opposition to Israeli government oppression (opposition shared by many Jews) is somehow the equivalent of, or is inherently driven by, animosity toward Jews. If anything, what is actually “anti-Semitic” is to conflate the Israeli government with Jews generally (an ugly anti-semitic trope with a long history). Yet that is the Orwellian tactic being used to justify the criminalization of anti-occupation activism, as it converts that activism into “anti-semitism” or “hate speech” and then bans it on that basis.

This attempt to formalize suppression of anti-occupation advocacy on college campuses is long-standing and widespread. The New York state legislature actually passed “a bill that would suspend funding to educational institutions which fund groups that boycott Israel.” Such legislation is becoming commonplace, as the group United With Israel boasted just last month:

Florida became the fifth state in the U.S. to introduce a resolution to confront the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement when it passed a law on December 21, similar to the first anti-BDS legislation introduced in Tennessee last April.

By doing so, Florida has joined Tennessee, New York, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Another 35 states are reportedly considering similar legislation.

The commendably consistent pro-campus-speech group FIRE, while expressing some criticisms of the BDS movement, has repeatedly documented and denounced attempts to outlaw BDS advocacy on campus:

FIRE’s position on the Israel-focused BDS movement is driven by our concern for academic freedom — for students and professors, and for its continuing importance as a meaningful concept in and of itself. Students and professors must be perfectly free to support boycott, divestment, and/or sanctions against Israel or any other country they wish, and they must not face punishment for this support. As you might expect, FIRE has opposed attempts to punish organizations for supporting BDS, and we have certainly defended professors’ rights to be highly critical of Israel — or, frankly, any other country, person, or idea.

Yet this censorship effort to ban BDS and other forms of Israel criticism continues to grow, in multiple countries around the world. It’s not hard to understand why. The Israeli government and its most powerful supporters have invested vast sums of money and considerable political capital into the campaign to institutionalize this censorship.

Last year, GOP billionaire Sheldon Adelson and Democratic billionaire Haim Saban donated tens of millions of dollars to a new fund to combat BDS on college campuses. Also last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “decided to implement a 2014 resolution to establish a special task force to fight the anti-Israeli sanctions”; that task force has funding of “some 100 million Israeli shekels (roughly $25.5 million).” BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray reported in 2014 that anti-BDS legislation has become a major goal of AIPAC. As part of the controversy at the University of California, Richard Blum, the mega-rich investment banker and husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, threatened the university that his wife would take adverse action against the university if it did not adopt the harsh anti-BDS measures he was demanding.

None of this is to say, obviously, that suppression of anti-occupation activism is the only strain of free speech threats in the West. The prosecution of Western Muslims for core free speech expression under “terrorism” laws, the distortion of “hate speech” legislation as a means of punishing unpopular ideas, threats and violence against those who publish cartoons deemed “blasphemous,” and pressure on social media companies to ban ideas disliked by governments are all serious menaces to this core liberty.

But in terms of systematic, state-sponsored, formalized punishments for speech and activism, nothing compares to the growing multi-nation effort to criminalize activism against Israeli occupation. Rafeef Ziadah, a Palestinian a member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, told The Intercept:

“Israel is increasingly unable to defend its regime of apartheid and settler colonialism over the Palestinian people and its regular massacres of Palestinians in Gaza so is resorting to asking supportive governments in the U.S. and Europe to undermine free speech as a way of shielding it from criticism and measures aimed at holding it to account.”

It is, needless to say, perfectly legitimate to argue against BDS and to engage in activism to defeat it. But only advocates of tyranny could support the literal outlawing of the same type of activism that ended apartheid in South Africa merely on the grounds that this time it is aimed at Israeli occupation (some of Israel’s own leaders have compared its occupation to apartheid). And whatever else is true, commentators and activists who prance around as defenders of campus free speech and free expression generally — yet who completely ignore this most pernicious trend of free speech erosion — are likely many things, but an authentic believer in free speech is not among them.

Glenn Greenwald is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place to Hide, is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world.

Andrew Fishman is a journalist and researcher. Before joining The Intercept, he was a freelance journalist and multimedia producer. His work has appeared on NPR, Al Jazeera English, Bloomberg TV, and other outlets. He lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Pension investments are the last huge liquid asset of the middle class since the devastation of the Global Financial Crisis. They have been relentlessly targeted by corrupt and criminal groups. Corrupt politicians trade pension investment choices for favours like political funding.

Norwegian victims of a massive fraud/embezzlement had documents that overwhelmingly showed the Swiss authorities corruptly covered up financial crimes in which Credit Suisse had directly participated. Switzerland’s sacred Bank Secrecy was abused (raped?) to protect and otherwise assist the bank and other alleged criminals. The Swiss rudely refused to cooperate with Norwegian crime authority OKOKRIM, who then refused to continue with the case.INTERPOL documents in our possession showed an unbelieveably rude and arrogant refusal by the Swiss, making OKOKRIM’s capitulation utterly humiliating. Some would say it was a betrayal of their country to an unfriendly foreign power.

The Credit Suisse share price was then over $70. The share price has since dropped to $12.56 or almost one sixth. It briefly recovered for one day due to « friendly buying » which was marked as a Dead Cat Bounce but majority analyst opinion is negative even at the cheap price: sell, strong sell, debt fear and default risk, too risky, second-lowest capital ratio, etc. Even ex-CEO Brady Dougan liquidated half his shares. That’s all apart from the FIFA Corruption probe into this bank.

Norway’s Sovereign Pension Fund (the « Oil Fund ») is the world’s largest. It owns 98,503,987 shares (5.03%) of Credit Suisse and has INCREASED its holdings.The Oil Fund lost $1.4 billion (NOK12 billion) on CS since 15-Aug-14 when the share price was $28. It was then that they publicly defended investing in this criminal bank, as reported by Finansavisen in an article « Betting on the Big Fraudster » (Satser på storsvindler). It had lost an additional NOK1.5 billion in the previous 8 months – some bankers just don’t learn.The Oil Fund was warned that CS’s profits were significantly dependent on unsustainable illegal or criminal activity. This was officially confirmed by its massive $2.6 billion criminal fraud & conspiracy penalty and reports submitted at its sentencing (see Case 1:14-cr-00188-RBS Document 37 in the Eastern Virginia District).It makes no financial sense for the Oil Fund to gamble more pensioner money on a massively losing bet in an already greatly unbalanced punt on a troubled criminal bank with a 4th quarter loss of $5.75 billion which all but wiped out a $6.4 billion capital raising. It is outright irresponsibility – or worse.The troubling question re-occurs here as elsewhere: what sort of improper influence was exerted on the bankers to make such foolish decisions with pensioners’ money?Total losses since OKOKRIM was rebuffed by the Swiss, when shares were over $70 are huge.Because the Norwegian authorities decided to protect this criminal bank, now Norway’s pensioners face multi-billion dollar losses.

We are in possession of documents from OKOKRIM showing a flippant disregard for their duty. The pattern of robbing pensioners is a global phenomenon. The nation’s lifeblood – its currency – has been expropriated to off-shore secrecy jurisdictions & replaced by debt.

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The U.S. based Blackwater Group has reportedly abandoned the Ta’iz front in western Yemen after suffering heavy casualties over the last two months while fighting alongside the Saudi-led Coalition forces and the Hadi loyalists.

Local activists have reported this news after they intercepted a communication between Blackwater officers and members of the Saudi-led Coalition in the coastal province of Ta’iz.

In a matter of two months, the Blackwater Group has lost well over 100 casualties at the volatile Ta’iz front, including operatives from a dozen countries around the world.

Most of the Blackwater operatives killed in Yemen were believed to be from Colombia and Argentina; however, there were also casualties from the United States (U.S.), Australia, and France.

Blackwater Group’s withdrawal from the Ta’iz Governorate comes just four days after the Houthis and the Yemeni Army’s 48th Brigade of the Republican Guard seized Jabal Al-Shabakah.

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Sir Robert Owen appears to have lacked the legal qualifications to chair the recently-concluded Inquiry in the Alexander Litvinenko [pictured left] death case. His report released on January 21 sparked international controversy when he concluded the murder was likely ordered by Vladimir Putin himself. Now Britain is faced with deciding what to do with Owen’s hopelessly flawed final Inquiry report. (See « Six reasons you can’t take the Litvinenko report seriously. »)

The consequences of this botched report are grave. Tensions have seriously risen between Russia and the UK. Some even plead that more sanctions be imposed upon Russia.

That hands Prime Minister David Cameron a hot potato. Will he continue to bluff his way through, contending that Owen’s report is legitimate? Or will he do the right thing and recall the bogus document?

What was deficient about Owen’s qualifications? There is one overriding issue:

The law requires that an official Inquiry be conducted impartially. Indeed, the Inquiries Act of 2005 carries a clear « requirement of impartiality. »

However, Owen has established an official record for himself that dispels any presumption of impartiality. Earlier, while acting as coroner in the case, he embarked upon a mission to pin culpability on the Russian state. He did that despite the fact that the Coroners and Justice Act specifically prohibits assigning blame. The Act says a coroner is forbidden from issuing a determination of criminal or civil liability.

The mandate is so strong that it enjoins even the appearance of placing either criminal or civil blame. And still worse for Owen, he was forbidden by law from even expressing an opinion on the subject. His job was to ascertain « who the deceased was, » and tell « how, when, and where the deceased came by his or her death. » Finding who to blame was not part of his mandate.

When Owen flatly refused to carry out his statutory duties, Home Secretary Theresa May literally laid down the law. On July 17, 2013, she officially told him to stop his illicit criminal investigation and concentrate on his actual duties. In response, Owen finally capitulated. On December 18, 2013, he wrote:

« I have therefore reluctantly come to the conclusion that Russian state responsibility should also be withdrawn from the scope of the inquest. »

In my book Litvinenko Murder Case Solved I commented on his statement:

« That is an extremely startling development. Previously, Owen had said that the possible culpability of the Russian state was of central importance in the case. Much of Owen’s work had been focused on finding a Russian culprit. »

Now back to the official Inquiry: What’s significant is that Owen had plainly admitted that as coroner he was pursuing Russian state responsibility. He had taken on the pursuit entirely on his own, despite the legal prohibition.

What’s not to understand about Owen’s obvious partiality? Instead of following the law that instructed him not to place blame, he pursued culpability with a vengeance. That means he lacked an overriding qualification for chairing the official Inquiry. He was not impartial. He lacked objectivity.

In a March 2014 report, a select committee in Parliament addressed the problem of objectivity when conducting an official Inquest. It declared:

« One thing is clear to us. Establishing an inquiry should not be a matter of politics. »

That was not to be in the Litvinenko case, however. Owen’s inquiry was hastily authorized as Prime Minister David Cameron was joining in the Russia sanctions frenzy that erupted over the MH17 tragedy. It’s no wonder that laws were overlooked and an illogical verdict was reached.

What we have then is an official Inquiry report with conclusions that are wildly flawed and hard to take seriously, that was written by a retired judge who couldn’t meet the most fundamental qualification, that of impartiality.

There’s little doubt that justice mandates that Owen’s report must be recalled. But will Prime Minister David Cameron now have the courage to do that?

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So-called “incitement” is a phony Israeli catch-all pretext for detaining, brutalizing or murdering anyone considered resisting its occupation – illegal under international law.

On Tuesday, Washington Post Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth and reporter Sufian Taha (a city resident) [both pictured left] were detained on spurious grounds of “incitement.”

They were questioned about an alleged plot supposedly involving Arab youths confronting Israeli police, despite no evidence suggesting it.

Both journalists were interviewing Old City residents when detained. WaPo reporter Ruth Eglash witnessed what happened, saying Booth and Taha were ordered not to speak to each other when  taken in for questioning.

Separately, she twittered

#Israeli border policemen arrest  #journalists at the Damascus Gate, accusing them of incitement!!”

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said both journalists were interrogated about an “unspecified” incident, then released after cleared of involvement in what never happened.

Jerusalem police concocted a phony scenario about an unidentified

“passerby (a likely security force plant) complain(ing) he was witness to the intention on the part of a number of people to stage a provocation…and disturbance (instigated) by young Arabs directed at police (for) propaganda purposes.”

No evidence was presented proving it. None exists, the episode one of multiple daily assaults on fundamental Palestinian rights, including extrajudicial assassinations, journalists frequently targeted, WaPo reporters briefly victimized.

Longtime WaPo editorial policy supports Israel.  Nonetheless, a statement issued by its foreign editor, Douglas Jehl, called what happened “extremely troubling.”

An Israeli government press office apology rang hollow, claiming “(f)reedom of the press is a supreme value of Israeli democracy.”

“Democracy” is pure fantasy, press freedom increasingly jeopardized, Palestinian and Israeli Arab journalists frequently arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for exposing regime crimes.

Jewish bloggers and social media users must now submit their material to a military censor, posting only what’s approved, subject to arrest and prosecution otherwise.

The Foreign Press Association blasted the arrest of WaPo journalists, saying it was based on an “absurd accusation.”

“We do not think it is coincidental that a baseless accusation of ‘incitement’ was made at a time when blanket accusations of bias are being leveled against the foreign press by Israeli officials and commentators,” – as well as Jewish and Arab journalists.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled « Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III. »

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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Syria: At the Gateway of A Greater War

février 17th, 2016 by Tony Cartalucci

Syrian forces backed by Russian airpower have made major advances across the battlefield along multiple fronts.

Around Aleppo, Syrian forces have cut supply lines from Turkey that were for years, supplying terrorists operating inside the country. Just east of a growing encirclement of the city of Aleppo, a secondary encirclement of so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) forces is forming as the offensive to relieve Kuweris Airbase has evolved into a northern advance toward Al Bab – a critical logistical hub used by US-NATO-GCC backed terrorists during the initial invasion of Aleppo in 2012 and onward.

Deeper within the interior of Syria, Syrian forces have advanced eastward into the Al Raqqa Governorate, approaching the Tabaqa Airbase. The airbase is a crucial waypoint toward seizing back the city of Al Raqqa itself, which has become the defacto capital of ISIS.

Advances Against ISIS in East Only Possible After Cutting NATO-Fed Supply Lines in North

This second operation aimed at ISIS in Al Raqqah has only been made possible because of successes amid the first operation around Aleppo and along the Turkish-Syrian border. It is now demonstrably clear that the source of ISIS’ fighting capacity originated almost exclusively from NATO-member Turkey’s territory and more specifically, from between the Afrin-Jarabulus corridor.

So far, NATO has been unable to account for this obvious fact, or explain why it has been unable to secure the Turkish border from the Turkish side, particularly when nations including the United States and United Kingdom have for years been conducting military and intelligence operations precisely in the same locations ISIS supplies have been crossing over into Syria from.

As Syrian and Kurdish forces backed by Russian airpower close one logistical corridor after another along the border, the fighting capacity of ISIS has withered to the verge of collapsing.

As ISIS Folds US-NATO-GCC Mount Rescue 

For several days now, Turkey has been firing across the border at the pivotal Syrian city of Azaz. The city is on the verge of being overrun by Kurdish fighters who will for all intents and purposes shut down one of ISIS’ last remaining logistical hubs supplying their fighters in Syria from Turkey.

Turkey has vowed not to allow the city to fall and has implied that it is willing to go as far as invade Syria to ensure that it doesn’t.

While Turkey poses as an enemy of ISIS and has not mentioned its presence in the city of Azaz or why it would attempt to protect them, it would be in 2013 that the BBC itself would declare Azaz “seized” by the terrorist group. In their article, “Isis seizure of Syria’s Azaz exposes rebel rifts,” the BBC would report:

…the Free Syrian Army lost the town of Azaz to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or Isis, the most hardline group linked to al-Qaeda on the rebel side. As a measure of the grip the jihadis have in Azaz, one eyewitness inside the town said no-one was smoking on the streets – tobacco is forbidden according to strict Islamist doctrine.

Other reports from last year indicated that ISIS was either near or in the city – suggesting not that it had ever lost control of Azaz – but that at various moments during the conflict, it suited the West and its regional allies better to pretend “moderate rebels” held it instead.

It should be noted that in all Western media stories, it is never precisely mentioned who the Kurds are fighting in Azaz – because it is ISIS.

Considering this, Turkey would be quite literally intervening to save ISIS and other hardcore terrorist groups sharing the city with it.

Saber-Rattling or Wider War? 

An invasion into Syria would constitute an act of war – and beyond that – affirmation that NATO was behind the ISIS menace from the beginning. While leaks like that of the United States’ own Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2015 have exposed this rhetorically, a NATO invasion of Syria to save an ISIS stronghold from destruction would prove it demonstrably.

The fact that the US is attempting to distance itself politically from both Turkey and Saudi Arabia – who has also pledged to carry out ground operations in Syria amid the collapse of terrorist fronts across the country – indicates a possible attempt to produce plausible deniability ahead of a much larger provocation or intervention.

Just as US policymakers had plotted in 2009 to use an apparent “unilateral” attack by Israel upon Iran to provoke a retaliation the US could then use as a pretext to “reluctantly’ go to war, a similar strategy appears to be materializing along Syria’s borders today.

While the US and Europe attempt to distance themselves from Turkey, they have at the same time committed to a campaign of disinformation attempting to frame ongoing security operations moving ever closer toward Turkey’s border as “targeting civilians” and attacking “moderate rebels” at the expense of fighting ISIS. This is to lend Turkey and Saudi Arabia rhetorical cover, however tenuous, ahead of any actual intervention.

What will ultimately determine whether this remains mere “saber-rattling” or transforms incrementally into wider war, will be the actual deterrence Syria and its allies, including nuclear-armed Russia, are prepared to meet continued provocations with.

The next few days pose a critical test to Syria and its allies – a test that may determine whether or not this conflict passes through the gateway toward greater war.

Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

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Five Years on: the US-NATO Destruction of Libya Continues

février 17th, 2016 by Alexander Mezyaev

Five years ago, on Feb. 15, 2011, a war was launched against a project of global significance, which will remain in history as the Libyan Jamahiriya. Libya had shown the international community that there were alternatives to capitalism as a path of development, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This model of development that were based on the principles of social justice was unacceptable to the West and was a primary cause of the outbreak of war in 2011.

Today, five years after the collective aggression of the US, other NATO countries, and many Arab states, the results of that war are evident: the Libyan state is a total loss and there are no visible prospects for any kind of development. Libya is no longer a state. It is a land of chaos. A land that has had no government for five years. A land from which weapons continue to flow into the region. A land where Daesh (the Islamic State) sells oil from captured oil fields and refineries. A land that acts as a way station for migrants and a hub for human trafficking. For example, the Libyan city of Sirte has been transformed into a base for Daesh. Having united with the local al-Qaeda affiliate and the group Ansar al-Sharia, it is now a center for Daesh’s efforts to recruit young people.

On Dec. 17, 2015 most of the political factions that had agreed to take part in UN-brokered negotiations came together in the city of Skhirat (Morocco) to sign a peace agreement. But far from all the forces in Libya were present, and only one political leader – who is no longer with us – knew how to bring them to heel. Thus on Dec. 23 the UN Security Council was forced to adopt resolution 2259, supporting the signing of the agreement and recognizing the state that will be created on its basis.

One can only imagine what the forces that refused to take part in those negotiations think about this recognition. Recognition by individual institutions in Libya will be no less difficult to achieve. For example, paragraph 9 of resolution 2259 asks the National Oil Company, the Central Bank of Libya, and the Libyan Investment Authority to accept the authority of the Government of National Accord. That is a highly unusual addendum, but one must keep in mind a few details that are specific to the situation in Libya today: members of armed groups in Libya are paid through… the Central Bank of Libya!

Simultaneously with the negotiations in Morocco, another event took place in Rome. Representatives of the two main «governments» from Tripoli and Tobruk signed an agreement on Dec. 13 intended to form a national unity government.

The situation in Libya is formally under the control of the UN: an embargo has been introduced on supplies of oil and weapons. But neither embargo is being respected.

The absence of a government that can effectively control the entire country has led to Libya’s losing its vote in the UN General Assembly. It was recently decided that in order for Libya to regain its UN vote, it must first get out of debt, through a minimum payment of $1.5 million…

The International Criminal Court also needs to formally take up the issue of the Libyan situation. Despite the fact that the situation in Libya was referred to the ICC back in February 2011, over the past five years nothing has been done to investigate the mass crimes that are being committed there. Within a few weeks of that time, accusations were made against Muammar and Saif Gaddafi, as well as against the head of Libya’s security service, Abdullah al-Senussi. Of course, no serious investigations were conducted. Without due process, the leaders of a stable and flourishing state were labeled international criminals.

Muammar Gaddafi’s case was «closed» after his murder, although in any court this murder would serve as the basis for opening a new case.

Nor does Fatou Bensouda have much interest in the case of Saif Gaddafi. Of course she regularly and formally «expresses concern» that Saif Gaddafi has still not been moved to The Hague, but the truth is if Saif did end up in the ICC she would have to coach some false witnesses to offer evidence supporting the false accusations. Saif Gaddafi is still held in Zintan after having been sentenced to death. The Libyan government has stated that Saif Gaddafi’s death sentence cannot be carried out in Libya, since it was pronounced in absentia, and thus the accused is entitled to a new trial after he is moved from Zintan and handed over to Libyan authorities. Libya has confirmed that Saif Gaddafi is not in custody within its borders. However, this response only emphasizes that those who call themselves the «government» of Libya do not in fact control anything at all.

Nor does the International Criminal Court want to examine the case against Abdullah al-Senussi. This time it did not hide its reluctance: it stated, that the ICC is the final court of appeal and it will accept the case only if the Libyan judicial system is non-functional. The ICC has come to an astonishing conclusion – the Libyan judicial system is capable of conducting a fair trial and ensuring all international legal protections! This is an interesting conclusion, given the lack of a judicial system in Libya per se. All this is happening against the backdrop of published videos showing scenes of the torture to which Saadi Gaddafi has been subjected inside Al-Hadba prison. There have also been reports of al-Senussi being tortured. According to the ICC prosecutor, these reports are being carefully «investigated»…

In her tenth and most recent report on the investigation of the situation in Libya, ICC Prosecutor Bensouda asserts that there are grounds for opening new cases, in particular with regard to crimes being committed by local armed groups, soldiers from the Libyan army, and extremist groups. However, all the crimes against civilians committed during the NATO bombing have been entirely «forgotten».

For the five years that the ICC has been involved in the Libyan situation, the prosecutor has not conducted a single investigation or filed any charges against those who have destroyed that country. The International Criminal Court has simply been used as a weapon of war against Libya. The ICC’s sabotage of the investigation of crimes in Libya is now a form of direct support for those who first razed that country to its foundations, and who now welcome that devastation and will not allow the country to begin rebuilding.

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One of the most significant losses to the world’s cultural heritage among the many which have resulted from the Syrian civil war has been the destruction of the ancient market town of Aleppo;

Free Syrian Army (FSA) units and various terrorist groups destroyed and set fire to the shopping streets at the beginning of the conflict.

© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

A street in the Old Town of Aleppo.

A RIA Novosti correspondent visited the ancient streets of Aleppo and found out how dangerous it is to be close to the Aleppo citadel, the centerpiece of a UNESCO-recognized cultural heritage site.

Before entering the historic center the correspondent and his team were stopped by the police. The officer asked them if they were sure they wanted to go to the center and the market. He warned them that in some streets, the militants are only separated from the visitors by a metal shield or a building.

© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

Clock Tower in the Old Town of Aleppo.

There are enemy snipers hiding between the buildings. In order to see the ancient castle, one has to go with a guide who is familiar with the safe streets in order to avoid the militants.

Aleppo is the largest and most populous city in Syria. Various powers have fought to control the city for thousands of years. “The pearl of the city has always been the citadel — a massive fortress built on a hill in the heart of Aleppo,” the correspondent noted.

© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

Old Town destruction in Aleppo. This 12th-16th-century set of buildings was included into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1986.

Even now, the fortress has not lost its strategic importance. Today, just as in ancient times, the citadel is considered to be the key to the city: from the height of the tower, defenders can fire upon their enemies in almost any part of the city.

Realizing the importance of the object, in the summer of 2012, 25 defenders of the citadel managed to keep it out of the hands of militants, refusing to surrender for over ten days.

When the tower was finally captured, the residents of the city lived in fear of daily targeted shootings for months until the spring of 2013, when the army carried out a special operation to take control of the castle.

© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

The Citadel, a formidable fortress built on the high hill in the heart of Aleppo, inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1986.

Upon arriving at the site, the correspondent was welcomed by a tour guide, a young woman named ‘Rose’ who is also the only female fighter in the group. The team was given metal shields for protection.

Ancient Aleppo’s covered market was considered to be the largest in the Arab world. The combined length of its streets was 14 kilometers. In peacetime, one could find almost everything there; every street name reflected the goods that were sold on it (silk, gold, spices and so on). Today, aside from the debris of burnt shops strewn with shell casings, there is almost nothing left.

© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

Roofed market in the Old Town of Aleppo.

The tour guide explained that the militants did not hold the market territory for long. Four years ago, they were able to capture and loot it. But when the terrorists realized that they could not hold the territory, they set fire to it. The fire burned for almost an entire week, and horrified local residents were unable to extinguish it as there was fierce fighting all around the area.

“I myself saw how the guys from my squad wept when the history of their homeland was blazing into ashes in front of them. I myself was sickened to look at how the history of our ancient Aleppo was destroyed in just a few days,” the tour guide recalled sadly.

After leaving the indoor market behind, the team arrived at a location from where the fortress, with its impenetrable walls, was clearly visible. Rose asked them not to go beyond the last house. All the open spaces were within the sights of snipers to the east and west.

The Syrian militia uses secret underground tunnels to get into the fortress. From their vantage point, it was possible to view only the western gate of the fortress and the minaret of a mosque.

The team was perched atop the ruins of what was once, in another lifetime, the most popular hotel in Aleppo, the Carlton Citadel Hotel. Of the 30 terrorist attacks in the historic center, the demolition of the Carlton was the largest. The militants laid 55 tons of explosives, which led to the complete destruction of the hotel.

During the bombing, the left wing of the citadel was damaged and part of the wall came down. Several Syrian Army soldiers were killed but a strategic height remained under the control of the government forces.

© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

Old Town destruction in Aleppo.

Although the correspondent and his team could not manage to get inside the citadel, they were able to see the epitome of ancient Syrian culture in ruins, a grim reflection of an almost-ruined country. However, the fortress, which has seen centuries of conflict, could also be seen as a sign of hope that the Syrian people may one day see peace restored.

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Economic Problems Mount in Japan and China

février 17th, 2016 by Nick Beams

Economic data this week from China and Japan, respectively the world’s second and third largest economies, point to the deepening global slump that underlies the turbulence on financial markets.

Japan’s economy contracted at an annual rate of 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, worse than the expected figure of 1.2 percent. The main reason was a significant fall in consumption spending, which dropped by an annual rate of 3.3 percent for the quarter, reflecting the lack of wages growth.

According to Sumitomo Mitsui Trust economist, Genzo Kimura: “The gap between prices and slow wage growth continues to widen, taking away the purchasing power from households in Japan. We’re now facing an economic bottleneck.”

Total wages in Japan have not risen by more than 1 percent for any year since 1997. For the past four years they have fallen in real terms when inflation is taken into account.

Public investment was also down, contracting at an annual rate of 10.3 percent. Far from providing a stimulus to the economy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is actually imposing austerity.

Growth for the full year of 2015 was just 0.4 percent, following zero growth in 2014. The results have shattered the government’s claims that so-called Abenomics would provide a stimulus to the economy.

The announcement of the latest downturn came in the wake of the surprise decision at the end of last month by the Bank of Japan (BoJ) to cut the interest rate on new deposits placed with it to minus 0.1 percent. While the rate cut was not reflected in the output results for the last quarter, it could have an impact on future consumption spending. Economists warn that consumers will not react favourably, viewing the minus rate as evidence of growing economic problems and decide to hold back on spending.

Central bankers eschew claims that they are cutting rates to lower the value of the national currency, lest they be accused of engaging in a currency war. Nevertheless, although that was not the stated aim of the rate cut, it was expected that the value of the yen would fall. However, because of increased turbulence in the global financial system, the currency’s value has actually risen since the BoJ announcement.

Since the start of the year, the yen has risen by 5.6 percent against the US dollar, eroding the competitiveness of Japanese exports.

In anticipation of the poor growth figures, BoJ deputy governor Hiroshi Nakosa called for the government to undertake decisive action to pull the country out of deflation.

The main emphasis of his remarks in a speech last weekend was the need to implement so-called structural reforms aimed at scrapping labour market regulations and implementing changes to the pension system. In other words, deepening attacks on the position of the working class, supposedly with the aim of “unlocking” economic growth.

The economic news from China was as bad as that from Japan. Exports for January fell by 11.2 percent in year-on-year terms, compared to a forecast 3.6 percent decline, while imports contracted by 18.8 percent.

The Chinese trade figures reflected the worsening slowdown around the world. Exports to the US were down by 9.7 percent year-on-year, and those to the European Union fell by 11.9 percent. Exports to Japan and South Korea, China’s two largest trading partners in Asia, fell by 5.3 percent and 15.9 percent respectively.

The Chinese slowdown was graphically revealed in figures for imports of two key industry raw materials. Coal imports were down by 9.2 percent year-on-year while the quantity of oil imports dipped by 4.6 percent.

The fall in imports overall may have been worse than the official figures indicate. The decline of 7.6 percent in December was likely understated because companies used overcharged invoices for imports as a means for moving money out of the country.

The overcharging of imports, by which mainland Chinese companies use a trading partner in Hong Kong to shift out money, is just one aspect of a growing capital flight.

The New York Times carried a report last weekend that wealthy Chinese families were trying to move large sums out of the country, fearing that the currency’s value will fall sharply and they will suffer heavy losses of wealth. The article noted that over the past year individuals and companies have moved nearly $1 trillion out of China. Foreign currency reserves, which once stood at $4 trillion, are now down to $3.23 trillion and have declined at the rate of more than $100 billion for each of the past two months.

“The swell of outflow is a destabilizing force in China’s slowing economy, threatening to undermine confidence and hurt a banking system that is struggling to deal with a decade-long lending binge,” the report said.

The Peoples Bank of China (PBoC) is trying to prevent a rush for the exits. It is using the country’s foreign exchange reserves to prevent a fall in the renminbi. But the continuing rundown in reserves, far from calming the situation, is only adding to concerns that the currency may be heading for a dramatic fall.

The Times article cited a Hong Kong money manager who sits on the boards of numerous state-owned enterprises in China. He said pessimism was becoming the consensus. Among the companies with which he was in contact, “all of them have the intention of moving money out of the country.”

In a bid to quell the outflow, PBoC deputy governor Zhou Xiaochuan gave an interview to the financial magazine Caixin in which he insisted there was no basis for concerns over the falling value of the renminbi. He dismissed suggestions that authorities would introduce tighter capital controls.

“It is normal for foreign reserves to rise and fall as long as the fundamentals face no problems,” he said, adding that it was necessary to distinguish between capital outflow and capital flight.

But it is precisely in the “fundamentals” where the problems of the Chinese economy lie. Key sections of industry have significant overcapacity, debt problems are rising and property values, while still rising in major cities, are falling elsewhere.

Figures released on Monday showed non-performing loans at Chinese banks rose by 51 percent last year, lifting the bad-loan ratio to 1.67 percent of assets, from 1.25 percent in 2014.

The percentage levels might appear small but the amounts involved are huge. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, Chinese indebtedness rose from $7 trillion in 2007 to $28 trillion by the middle of 2014.

“Three developments are potentially worrisome: half of all loans are linked directly or indirectly to China’s overheated real estate market; unregulated shadow banking accounts for nearly half of new lending; and the debt of many local governments is probably unsustainable,”

it said.

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Turkey Pushes for Ground Invasion of Syria

février 17th, 2016 by Bill Van Auken

Turkey is pressing for the US and its allies to launch a ground invasion as the only means of ending the nearly five-year-old civil war in Syria, an official in Ankara told the media Wednesday. “We are asking coalition partners that there should be a ground operation,” said the official, who was authorized to speak on the condition of anonymity. “We are discussing this with allies.”

While adding that such an invasion would not take the form of a “unilateral military operation from Turkey in Syria,” the official insisted, “Without a ground operation, it is impossible to stop the fighting in Syria.”

The potential support for such an escalation of the Syrian war has found expression in a concerted propaganda campaign, particularly in Europe, over the deaths of some 50 civilians in attacks on hospitals and schools in northern Syria on Monday. The Western media and several European governments have blamed the deaths on the Syrian government and the Russian forces supporting it, charges that both Damascus and Moscow have denied.

Earlier this month, both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which, like Turkey, are key patrons of the Islamist militias in Syria, announced that they were prepared to send troops into the country. The Saudi royal regime transferred four of its warplanes to Turkey’s Incirlik air base.

Asked what the goal of such a ground operation would be, the Turkish official replied, to remove “all terror groups from Syria,” adding that Turkey included in this category not only the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but also Syrian Kurdish forces and the Syrian government itself.

While insisting on the need for the “international coalition” to participate in any invasion, the Turkish official left open the possibility of unilateral action if this failed to materialize. “Of course, it is difficult to reckon what could happen in 10 days,” he said. “If conditions change, there might be some options.”

These statements came as Turkey continued its bombardment of northern Syria with long-range artillery for a fourth consecutive day. The target of the Turkish fire is the YPG, or People’s Protection Units, the Syrian Kurdish militia.

Backed by Russian air strikes, the YPG has made major military advances near the Turkish border against Al Qaeda-linked Islamist forces supported by Ankara and the West. Meanwhile, troops loyal to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad have scored similar victories around Aleppo, which was Syria’s largest city and commercial center before the US-orchestrated war for regime-change. This war has claimed the lives of over a quarter of a million Syrians and turned 11 million more into homeless refugees.

During a visit to Ukraine—undoubtedly staged in a deliberate bid to ratchet up tensions with Russia—Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday that Turkey would continue its bombardment of Turkish territory until the YPG withdrew from the strategic border town of Azaz.

The Turkish shelling and demands for an outright invasion of Syria reflect the growing desperation of the imperialist powers and their regional allies over the reversals suffered in their attempt to overthrow the Assad government by arming and funding Salafist jihadi forces in a sectarian civil war.

The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared its support for the so-called war against ISIS initiated by the US with bombing campaigns in both Iraq and Syria. Ankara has used this campaign, however, as a cover for launching its own military assault against Kurdish forces in both of those countries, together with a bloody crackdown against the population in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish provinces. It has drawn an equal sign between ISIS, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military arm, the YPG, branding them all as “terrorist.”

Ankara’s immediate concern is to prevent the YPG advances from linking up two separate Kurdish enclaves in northwestern and northeastern Syria, effectively creating an autonomous Kurdish territory on Turkey’s southern border.

At the same time, both the Erdogan government and the Saudi monarchy are determined to prevent the advances by the YPG and Syrian government forces from cutting off the last supply routes that have been used to funnel massive quantities of arms and supplies to the Islamist militias in an operation coordinated by the CIA.

Any Turkish-Saudi intervention would be directed at crushing the Kurds and supporting the Islamists. Both these aims would quickly pose the direct threat of a military confrontation with the Syrian government and the Russian forces that are supporting it.

Given Turkey’s premeditated ambush of a Russian warplane on the Turkish-Syrian border last November, it is certain that any attempt to send Turkish planes into action over Syria would provoke a swift response. Russia has deployed advanced S-400 antiaircraft weapons systems in Syria for just such a purpose.

Less than a week after the US, Russia and the other 15 members of the International Syria Support Group agreed in Munich on a “cessation of hostilities” by the end of this week, the five-year-old conflict appears to be closer than ever to erupting into a regional and potentially global conflict.

Syrian President Assad issued a warning to this effect on Monday, saying that any ground invasion of Syria would have “global repercussions” and that Turkish and Saudi forces would find that such an adventure would be no “picnic.”

Assad’s statement follows similar warnings by Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev, who said last week that such an intervention would pose the danger of “sparking a new world war.”

The hysteria being whipped up over the 50 civilian casualties reported on Monday is an indication that the threat of a wider war is steadily growing. The French and British governments followed Turkey in alleging that the Syrian and Russian governments were guilty of “war crimes.”

More substantively, German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced her support for a “no-fly zone,” a long-time demand of the Turkish government, which wants to carve out a cordon of Syrian territory as a means of better organizing the war for regime-change, quelling the Kurds and containing the flow of refugees.

Russia denied responsibility for the attacks on the schools and hospitals, insisting that it had no forces capable of firing the missiles that were said to have hit them. The worst of the attacks took place in Azaz, where Prime Minister Davutoglu vowed Turkey would mount “a severe response” to the Kurdish offensive.

The Syrian ambassador to Moscow, Riad Haddad, charged that one of the hospitals had been the target of a US air strike.

The furor over alleged Russian and Syrian government “war crimes” stands in stark contrast to the utter silence of Western governments and media over the deaths of civilians resulting from air strikes by the US-led coalition, which have killed roughly 1,000 in Iraq and Syria since they began in August 2014.

Amid the growing international tensions, it was announced in Syria that Hashem al-Sheikh, also known as Abu Jaber, has been named the new commander of the so-called “rebels” resisting the Syrian government advance on the city of Aleppo. He was, until last September, the leader of Ahrar al-Sham, a hardline Salafist jihadi militia founded by Al Qaeda veterans from Afghanistan. It has fought in close alliance with Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, as well as Chechen Islamist fighters. These are the elements that Washington and its allies routinely refer to as the “moderate opposition.”

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Nous, les Kurdes de Syrie…

février 17th, 2016 by Omar Oussi

À la question posée par un journaliste de l’AFP : « Êtes-vous prêt à accorder aux Kurdes un gouvernement régional autonome au nord de la Syrie, après la fin du conflit ? », le président Bachar al-Assad a répondu : « Cette question dépend directement de la Constitution syrienne ; laquelle, comme vous le savez, n’est pas donnée par un gouvernement, mais par toutes les composantes du peuple consultées par référendum. C’est donc une question qui doit concerner la nation et non s’adresser à un responsable syrien, qu’il s’agisse de gouvernement autonome, de fédération, de décentralisation ou autre. Tous ces sujets feront partie du dialogue politique à venir, mais je veux vous affirmer que les Kurdes font partie du tissu national syrien » [1].

Une évidence qui semble poser problème là il où reste commode d’en trouver un pour travailler à démanteler la Syrie et l’offrir, par petits bouts, à ceux qui ont déjà fait main basse sur le Sandjak d’Alexandrette, le Golan syrien occupé, et leurs alliés d’hier et d’aujourd’hui. Mais qu’est-ce qu’un Kurde syrien ou un Syrien kurde ?

M. Omar Oussi, membre du parlement syrien, président de l’« Initiative nationale des Kurdes syriens », membre de la délégation de la République arabe syrienne rendue à la « Réunion de Genève 3 » le 28 Janvier 2016 pour des pourparlers de paix qui n’ont pas eu lieu, répond à cette question au cours d’une émission de la télévision nationale syrienne [NdT].


Que pensez-vous des menaces d’invasion terrestre de la Syrie par la Turquie et l’Arabie saoudite ?

Je pense qu’ils cherchent une victoire, ne serait-ce que tactique, pour ensuite l’exploiter politiquement au niveau des pourparlers et conférences internationales. En tant que spécialiste des affaires turques et kurdes, je n’exclue pas une telle idiotie de la part de l’AKP [Parti turc de la justice et du développement] dans le but de faire d’une pierre deux coups :

  • En finir avec les cantons d’auto-administration kurdes tels que déclarés par le Parti de l’Union démocratique Kurde [PYD : parti syrien fondé en 2003, dispose d’une branche armée connue sous le nom d’ « Unités de protection du peuple » (YPG), a déclaré son administration autonome dans trois cantons séparés dans le nord et le nord-est de la Syrie en 2013, dirigé par Saleh Muslim, considéré comme terroriste par la Turquie au même titre que le PKK, (NdT)]. D’où la rage d’Erdogan devant le refus de l’administration américaine d’inscrire ce parti sur la liste des organisations terroristes, les sommant de choisir entre lui et les Kurdes [2].
  • Empêcher la libération d’Alep [que les sbires d’Erdogan ont particulièrement martyrisée ; NdT], ce que le premier ministre turc David Oglou a osé camoufler en « exhortant son peuple à acquitter sa dette historique envers ses frères aleppins » [3].

À mon avis, si Erdogan persiste dans cette voie, nous risquons une guerre kurdo-turque qui ne concernera pas uniquement les régions du nord de la Syrie, mais frappera aussi les métropoles turques, étant donné la densité démographique kurde en Turquie et les cellules dormantes du PKK [Parti (turc) des travailleurs du Kurdistan] qui combattent l’État turc depuis le 15 février 1984 ; combat intensifié suite à l’arrêt du « processus de paix » entre le PKK et l’AKP d’Erdogan. […]

Quant aux Saoudiens, ils souffrent d’un complexe historique. Ils voudraient régner sur Damas ou, en tout cas, prendre leur part de pouvoir ou de territoire, en imposant des faits militaires accomplis par l’intermédiaire de DAECH. Pratiquement tous les centres de recherche font état de la coopération entre Erdogan, les Saoudiens et DAECH. Par conséquent la situation est toujours très dangereuse.

Quel a été l’impact de votre présence au sein de la délégation du gouvernement syrien aux pourparlers de Genève 3, la Turquie et l’Arabie saoudite s’étant opposées à la participation du PYD et notamment de Saleh Muslim ?

Sans parler de De Mistura qui a été surpris par la présence d’un Kurde à la droite du Dr Bachar al-Jaafari, tout autant que par la présence de quatre femmes syriennes spécialistes dans divers domaines dont le droit international, vous ne pouvez imaginer le nombre de courriers et de messages que j’ai reçus aussi bien des factions kurdes syriennes qu’irakiennes, reconnaissant que c’était là la preuve d’une ouverture indéniable de l’État syrien. Laquelle est évidente depuis la promulgation par le Président Bachar Al-Assad du décret 49 [7 avril 2011] accordant aux Kurdes étrangers la nationalité syrienne, ce que nous réclamions depuis 1962, [les sources parlent de 200 000 à 300 000 personnes ; NdT] et sa décision concernant l’enseignement de la langue et de la littérature kurdes à l’Université de Damas.

Ainsi Damas, la plus vieille ville du monde encore habitée, est aussi la première capitale du monde à délivrer une Licence en littérature et culture kurdes. D’autres grandes réalisations politiques et législatives sont en route et devront consacrer les droits des Kurdes syriens au niveau constitutionnel. […]

Au début de la crise, l’« Initiative nationale des Kurdes syriens » a été mal comprise, certaines factions kurdes nous accusant d’être des agents de l’État syrien. Soit dit en passant, nous sommes plutôt fiers d’être du côté de l’État syrien plutôt que d’être devenus des agents d’Israël, des USA et de tous les autres gouvernements ennemis de la Syrie. Sans oublier que les régions kurdes en Syrie, sont en réalité des régions de mixité arabo-kurdo-chrétienne par excellence, chacune étant une petite Syrie.

Mais aujourd’hui et au bout de ces cinq années de guerre contre la Syrie, même des opposants syriens kurdes ont fini par adopter notre point de vue. C’est pourquoi, il faut que ceux qui nous écoutent sachent que les élites kurdes ne sont pas toutes engagées dans l’ « opposition » [4]. En effet, nous pouvons diviser la scène kurde syrienne en trois catégories :

  • Des petits partis favorables au « Conseil national kurde » [CNK] parrainé par Massoud Barzani en Irak [5], dont un seul représentant syrien faisait partie de la délégation du « groupe de Riyad », sélectionné par la Turquie, l’Arabie saoudite et les États ennemis, lors des pourparlers de Genève 3.
  • Le PYD, le plus important des partis syriens kurdes, écarté de Genève 3 par un veto turc, avec l’approbation des USA et des Saoudiens ; ce qui implique que nous, les Kurdes, devrions comprendre qui sont nos alliés et qui se tient derrière la tragédie humaine de notre peuple.
  • Un important courant populaire regroupant 60 à 70% des Kurdes syriens présents dans toutes les régions de Syrie et qui font partie intégrante de la patrie syrienne et soutiennent son État. […]

Il est vrai que je n’ai cessé de renforcer et de plaider pour ce courant patriote devant mes collègues du parlement car, comme vous le savez, la politique aussi a horreur du vide. Autrement dit, négliger une région peut la livrer à vos adversaires. Auquel cas, comment voudriez-vous qu’en tant que Kurde syrien ou Syrien kurde, peu importe, je puisse me contenter de Darbasiyah, de Amudah, de Qamishli, de Kobané [Ayn al-Arab], de Efrin, en me coupant de Lattaquié, de Damas, d’Alep et des autres gouvernorats ?

Nous les Kurdes de Syrie, même ceux engagés dans les partis d’opposition, n’avons pas d’agenda en faveur de la partition de la Syrie. Nous n’avons pas l’intention de mettre en place une entité politique indépendante en coupant une partie de la géographie nationale syrienne [6]. La Syrie est une et indivisible. C’est une parole définitive. Même les oppositions kurdes se sont engagées à la respecter.

 

Pourtant, et veuillez pardonner ma franchise, certains considèrent que les Kurdes syriens jouent sur tous les tableaux à la fois dans l’unique but de créer un gouvernement autonome. En pratique, ils négocieraient ouvertement avec les USA, la Russie, la Syrie et même ceux qui soutiennent le terrorisme. Que diriez-vous à ce sujet ?

Dans son ouvrage de 1997, Jonathan Randal arrive à la conclusion que les résistants kurdes ont mené des combats héroïques et ont remporté de grandes victoires militaires qu’ils ont finalement perdues sur les tables des négociations politiques. Dans le même ordre d’idée, je crois que la participation de certains partis kurdes à la « Coalition de Doha » [7] a nui au peuple kurde de Syrie. Et il est vrai que ces gens là ont effectivement commencé par réclamer le fédéralisme pour certaines régions de Syrie.

Je répète, à ceux qui nous écoutent, que la question kurde en Syrie est différente de celles qui se posent au Kurdistan turc, irakien et même iranien. Les régions kurdes de Syrie sont le maillon le plus faible de la « cause kurde » puisque, comme je l’ai déjà dit, ce sont des régions de mixité par excellence : un tiers de kurdes, un tiers d’arabes, un tiers de chrétiens. C’est ainsi !

Par conséquent, même si certains extrémistes kurdes voulaient établir une entité politique indépendante en territoire syrien, ils ne le pourront pas, faute d’assise populaire et géographique. Les trois cantons kurdes du nord, géoraphiquement séparés les uns des autres, sont donc la région de Qamishli [Al-Jazira], Kobané et Efrin ; alors que nous avons un million de Kurdes rien qu’à Damas et aussi dans certaines de ses banlieues malheureuses, d’où est probablement partie l’idée des trois cantons kurdes et de leur administration autonome.

Il n’empêche que cette question peut être réglée dans le cadre du décret concernant les « Administrations locales », en vigueur depuis 1972 [8] jusqu’aujourd’hui [9], par des amendements garantissant les droits des Kurdes au niveau de la future Constitution, à condition que nos frères kurdes ne touchent pas à la souveraineté et à l’unité territoriale de la Syrie, comme l’a déclaré notre géant de la diplomatie syrienne, Monsieur le Ministre Walid al-Mouallem.

Ce qui résoudrait nombre de nos problèmes et nous permettrait de continuer à vivre en harmonie avec nos frères arabes, chaldéens, assyriens, arméniens, tcherkess… ; autrement dit avec toutes les composantes du peuple syrien. Cette mixité est ce qui caractérise la Syrie. Elle a été l’oasis du « vivre ensemble » avant la naissance du Seigneur Jésus Christ. Elle l’est restée jusqu’ici et le restera.

Concernant les négociations des Kurdes avec les Américains, vous savez fort bien que les USA ont armé l’ASL et Al-Nosra, lesquels ont rejoint DAECH, pour réussir leur projet de démantèlement de la Syrie, mais qu’ils ont échoué, surtout depuis l’intervention des Russes et de leurs avions Sukhoï. Ils avaient donc besoin d’un « allié au sol », d’où le choix porté sur les Unités de protection du peuple [YPG] qui les aideraient à contrôler certaines zones géographiques syriennes et ainsi, à se confronter indirectement au camp syro-russo-iranien.

J’ai donc conseillé à mes frères dirigeants de l’YPG de « ne pas mettre leurs œufs dans le panier US ». Les USA ne donneront rien aux Kurdes. Ils les vendront à Erdogan, comme ils ont vendu le PKK et 25 millions de Kurdes, fermant les yeux sur les villes kurdes toujours bombardées par l’armée turque [10]. Ils comptent nous utiliser, nous les Kurdes, dans des opérations au sol à Raqqa ou à Jarablus avant d’inviter les sbires de Turquie à y entrer.

C’est pourquoi, je dis que la place naturelle des combattants héroïques de l’YPG, dont la résistance à Kobané fait désormais partie de la mythologie du peuple syrien, est dans le camp de la Syrie, en coopération avec les deux armées russe et syrienne, lesquelles n’ont pas été avares de leur soutien aux unités de l’YPG et à d’autres.

Une coopération qui a lieu ou qui devrait avoir lieu ?

Une coopération qui a lieu et qui me laisse espérer que nous, les Kurdes, tirerons les leçons de toutes les étapes historiques où les USA nous ont bernés. Savez-vous qu’ils sont derrière l’échec de la Révolution kurde menée par Mustapha Barzani en Irak, suite aux « Accords d’Alger de 1975 » ?

Je vais souvent à Erbil où je rends visite à Massoud Barzani, président de la région autonome du Kurdistan irakien [mais dont le mandat est périmé, NdT] et au premier ministre Netchirvan Barzani avec lequel je suis lié d’amitié. Nous nous tenons mutuellement au courant de la situation. Savez-vous que ni eux, ni le président Jalal Talabani, n’oublieront jamais le soutien des deux Assad aux Kurdes d’Irak, de Turquie et même de Syrie ?

J’ai été, pendant plusieurs années, le conseiller de Abdullah Öcalan [le chef du PKK détenu dans l’île prison d’Imrali depuis 1999 ; NdT] et responsable du dossier kurde dans tout le Moyen-Orient. Savez-vous qu’il a été capturé au cours d’une opération menée conjointement par les services secrets turcs, américains et israéliens ? A priori, ce n’est plus un secret pour personne [11].

Partant de là, comment pourrions-nous admettre que des opposants kurdes syriens soient inclus dans le « groupe de Riyad » ? Comment pourrions-nous accorder notre confiance aux américains ? Les USA n’ont pas d’alliés, même leurs agents sont à durée limitée. Ils ont vendu le Chah d’Iran dont tous les roitelets et émirs du Golfe baisaient la main parce qu’il était du côté d’Israël, alors que les voici qui complotent contre la Syrie et la République islamique d’Iran parce qu’elle est du côté opposé et qu’elle a transformé l’ambassade d’Israël en bureau de l’OLP. Ils ont vendu Pervez Musharraf, Hosni Moubarak, Zein el-Abidine ben Ali, et demain ils vendront les Saoudiens. […]

Les USA ne veulent pas participer directement à un combat au sol et ne souhaitent surtout pas verser le sang de leurs soldats. Que des Turcs, des Saoudiens ou des Kurdes versent le leur, que voulez-vous que ça leur fasse ? Dans tous les cas, leur pragmatisme légendaire les aidera à se retourner contre n’importe lequel de leur allié du moment et à engranger un bénéfice à nos dépens. […]

Ceci sans oublier que tous les blocages que nous avons constatés à Genève étaient clairement destinés à exclure non seulement les Kurdes syriens mais le peuple syrien dans son ensemble, en réservant les pourparlers au « groupe de Riyad » et aux chefs de ses factions armées. Ce qui nous fait dire pour la énième fois : pourquoi dialoguer avec eux ? Autant dialoguer avec leurs maîtres qui ne cherchent toujours qu’à les protéger de l’avancée de nos héroïques soldats, de nos Forces populaires, de nos Unités de protection du peuple, couverts par l’aviation militaire syrienne et les Sukhoï russes…

 Omar Oussi

10/02/2016

 

Source : Al-Fadaiya, M. Oussi est interrogé par Mme Alissar Maala

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj4taZ8Zcy8&feature=youtu.be

Trancription et traduction par Mouna Alno-Nakhal pour Mondialisation.ca

 

Notes :

[1] Le président al-Assad à l’AFP / 12 février 2016

http://sana.sy/?p=335714

[2] Erdogan: Washington doit choisir entre la Turquie et les Kurdes

http://fr.sputniknews.com/international/20160207/1021546560/erdogan-demande-washington-choisir-lui-kurdes.html

[3] Le premier ministre turc promet de « défendre » Alep

http://fr.sputniknews.com/international/20160209/1021610616/turquie-alep-defense.html#ixzz3zhYtlbnx

[4] Regard syrien sur les Kurdes…

http://www.mondialisation.ca/regard-syrien-sur-les-kurdes-et-le-mouvement-du-hamas/5408379

[5] Le Conseil National Kurde

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conseil_national_kurde

« Fondé à Erbil (Irak) le 26 octobre 2011 sous le parrainage de Massoud Barzani, peu de temps après l’annonce de la création du Conseil national syrien (CNS). Le CNK regroupe 15 partis kurdes syriens en mai 2012. Opposé également au régime de Bachar el-Assad, il se différencie du reste de l’opposition syrienne en ce qu’il souhaite une décentralisation et lutte pour l’autonomie des Kurdes. Le CNK est par ailleurs entré en conflit avec le Parti de l’union démocratique (PYD), accusé d’être un soutien au gouvernement baasiste syrien. Le 12 juillet 2012, le Conseil national kurde et le Parti de l’union démocratique ont signé un accord d’union dans une structure commune, le Conseil suprême kurde1. Cependant, le PYD s’est vite trouvé en position dominante dans le Conseil suprême ; en décembre 2013-janvier 2014, le Gouvernement régional du Kurdistan irakien a même fermé brièvement la frontière entre les deux pays pour forcer le PYD à rendre une partie de ses pouvoirs au CNK2. »

[6] Syrie: les Kurdes n’ont pas l’intention de mettre en place une fédération autonome (représentant)

http://french.xinhuanet.com/monde/2013-11/13/c_132883417.htm

[7] la Coalition de Doha (ou plus communément : La Coalition d’Istanbul) ; [NdT].

Fondée en novembre 2012 à Doha suite à un accord entre le Conseil National Syrien [CNS : lancé le 1e octobre 2011 à Istanbul en Turquie] et d’autres forces de l’opposition, avec le soutien de la France, des États-Unis, de l’Arabie Saoudite, du Qatar et de la Turquie… ; son bras armé étant l’ASL [la soi-disant Armée Syrienne Libre].

Regroupe des personnalités, des partis et des représentants de factions armées.

Reconnue par plus de 120 pays lors de la prétendue « Conférence des Amis de la Syrie » à Marrakech fin 2012.

A participé aux réunions de Genève 1[juin 2012] et Genève 2 [janvier 2014]

Dirigée par Khaled Khoja d’origine turkmène, résidant en Turquie.

Nombre de ces éléments, dont les Frères musulmans, se sont retrouvés dans le « groupe de Riyad ».

Cramponnée à l’idée d’un « gouvernement transitoire qui aurait les pleins pouvoirs exécutifs », issue de Genève 1 et interprétée comme une décision internationale de destitution du président syrien.

[8] Administrations locales : décrets 24 et 29/ 1972

http://www.ambassadesyrie.fr/politique1.php

[9] La Constitution de de la République arabe syrienne, Administrations locales : articles 130 et 131 / 2012

http://sana.sy/fr/?page_id=1489

[10] Trois villes kurdes de Turquie devenues zones de guerre

http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2015/12/17/trois-villes-kurdes-de-turquie-devenues-zones-de-guerre_1421451

[11] Syrie et Öcalan : La citadelle des hommes libres !

http://www.mondialisation.ca/syrie-et-ocalan-la-citadelle-des-hommes-libres/5307889

 

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America’s Terror War on Syria. The US Role in Supporting the ISIS

février 17th, 2016 by Michael Jabara Carley

On Thursday, 12 February, US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Munich. Kerry announced that a ceasefire agreement could be implemented «within days». Lavrov replied that «the main result of meeting in Munich was a confirmation of the UN resolution on Syria».

Many media sources say that «the West», largely represented by the United States and its British amanuensis, are in a panic because Russian military assistance to Syria has turned the tide of battle in the proxy, not civil war against the Syrian government in Damascus. Kerry is in a hurry now to stave off disaster and a remarkable Russian «victory».

In fact, the Syrian Arab Army is encircling Jihadist terrorists in Aleppo and moving toward the Turkish border to cut off their supply routes. What sweet irony, the Jihadists who encircled government-held Aleppo, now themselves risk encirclement. Turn-about is fair play everywhere except for the western Mainstream Media (MSM).

The US role in the proxy war against Syria is well known – except in the United States apparently.

The Obama administration has directly or indirectly supported ISIS and various iterations of Al-Qaeda in Syria and is now rushing to save them through a ceasefire agreement that would let them survive and replenish themselves.

US policy is redolent of another Munich agreement in September 1938 when Britain and France sold out Czechoslovakia to get on better terms with Nazi Germany. Then as now, the Russians played a positive role, seeking to organise resistance against an aggressor. The aggressor in 1938 was Nazi Germany; in 2016, the aggressor is a «western» coalition led by the United States, and including various NATO and regional vassal states, amongst them, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. All these desperados would be appropriate candidates for a police lineup in The Hague. In 1938, the idea was to break up Czechoslovakia; in 2016, the idea is to breakup Syria, by overthrowing the legal government in Damascus. In 1938 the Czechoslovak government chose to capitulate; in 2011 the Syrian government chose to fight. Whereas the USSR did not intervene militarily in 1938, the Russian government took a big risk in 2015 and intervened at the request of Damascus to fight the foreign backed, foreign Jihadist armed forces entrenched in Syria.

You would think that Kerry would have chosen another place to meet with Lavrov to avoid the odium of association with another western evil deed done in Munich almost eighty years ago. This time it’s the United States and its vassals waging war against Syria. In fact, as I write these lines, Turkey is bombarding Kurdish and Syrian Arab Army positions in northern Syria. The United States is reported to be pleading with its Turkish NATO ally to stop attacking US Kurdish allies who are fighting against Jihadists who are also US allies.

It’s «illegal», some western commentators like to say about the war against Syria, but that’s just a politically correct euphemism for aggression. There’s no other way to put it unless you believe western fairy stories about spreading «democracy». But who gave the West the right to spread «democracy» at the point of a gun, allied with Arab absolute monarchies?

Yet suddenly the United States has become a humanitarian and wants to stop the fighting it has brokered and nurtured for five years. We have to help refugees leaving Aleppo, the Americans say, to escape Russian bombing, to save children and innocents being threatened by that «barrel-bombing» tyrant, President Bashar al Assad. Trouble is refugees from Aleppo headed for safety in Turkey are reported to be Jihadists on the run from the advancing Syrian Arab Army.

Oh, how the West hates those «others» who do not bow to western hegemony.

We have to provide «humanitarian aid» to help starving Syrians. «This is what the world wants,» say US shills, «Global opinion is clear… We are seeing a lot of people killed… The Russians are bombing hospitals, murdering civilians…» Here we go again. Will Pot ever stop calling Kettle black? Will the West ever stop thinking it represents «global opinion»? Will the US and its vassals ever be shamed by their preposterous hypocrisy and double standards? Clearly not.

This bogus western script is redolent of «Responsibility to Protect» (R2P), the spurious US justification for aggression against Iraq and Libya. It is now a returning refrain, this time, to protect foreign supplied, foreign Jihadists. The Western Mainstream Media has become hysterical about the Russian bombing of «moderate» Jihadists, though there are no «moderate» Jihadists.

And have you noticed? There is virtually no mentioning now in the MSM about the composition of ISIS and Al-Qaeda forces fighting in Syria, about the foreign Jihadists estimated to come from at least forty countries, and numbering several tens of thousands. In fact, the MSM talks about Saudi Arabia and Turkey committing more resources to fighting ISIS. Who does the MSM think it’s fooling? In fact, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are the principal arms purveyors and quartermasters of ISIS and their Al-Qaeda allies. The former is an intimate US vassal, the latter a NATO member. An American report indicates that «US allies have [just] delivered a massive shipment of ground-to-ground ‘Grad’ missiles to rebels in Syria». That was one day after the conclusion of the «ceasefire agreement». One wonders how ordinary Europeans and Canadians feel about NATO members backing a Jihadist proxy war against Syria and risking a confrontation with Russia in defence of their faltering «moderate» Jihadist allies.

Of course the «moderate opposition» is an imaginary cover to justify R2P. A German intelligence source estimates that 95% of combatants fighting against the Damascus government are not Syrian. As one commentator puts it, the «moderates» are only to be found «in fancy suits in Western hotel lobbies». The «four or five» moderates armed by the United States at a cost of $500 million are all that existed as a military force on the ground in Syria. What a fiasco. US armed «moderates» are long gone, either ran away or gone over to Al-Qaeda. «If you want to ask why Assad is still the president of Syria», says the above mentioned commentator, «the answer is not simply Russia or Iran, but the fact that his army remains resilient and pluralistic, representing a Syria in which religion alone does not determine who rises to the top».

Can you imagine anything more despicable than the West’s role in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East? Now we have Munich 2016 where the West is again on the wrong side. Of course, a ceasefire would save the Jihadists from defeat, allow them to resupply and refit from Turkey, Jordan, and apartheid Israel, and enable them to fight another day. The US is still talking about an «interim government» without Assad. So are Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Humanitarian aid would eventually be delivered not by airdrops but by US and other western military forces on the ground, allied with «moderate» Al-Qaeda derivatives, which would then attack the lawful government in Damascus. It is reported that Britain is sending 1600 troops to Jordan to train for action against Russia. Who are they kidding? And to be sure it’s just a coincidence that the MSM is talking up humanitarian aid to the Syrian people in need thanks to western military aggression against them. Kerry’s proposal for a ceasefire has nothing to do with «humanitarian aid» and everything to do with giving new life to the Jihadist proxy war against Syria. It has everything to do too with saving face. Can you imagine the humiliation in Washington, and the US cartoonists’ field day with the Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama, portrayed as a cowardly pipsqueak who cannot stand up to Russia?

Kerry’s ceasefire proposal is a formula for permanent war in Syria and the Middle East. During a ceasefire, will Turkey stop supplying ISIS and Al-Qaeda across its borders? Will Saudi Arabia and Qatar stop funding Salafi Jihadist forces in Syria? Of course, they will not. And what about Iraq? Who will stop ISIS in Iraq from strengthening itself and gaining strength from ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Syria? One American dissident group says the Munich ceasefire is not worth the paper it’s written on, incidentally, the same metaphor used for the Munich accords in 1938.

Lavrov insists that there will be no ceasefire against ISIS and the al-Nusra Front. That’s all to the good. But what about the other Jihadist groups, backed by the US and its vassals? Minister Lavrov undoubtedly knows that Kerry is trying to finesse Russia into stopping its support of the Syrian Arab Army, so that the US can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Time will tell whether Kerry succeeds or not. Will Russia sell out its friends to buy off its enemies, as the West did at Munich in 1938? Not this time. Once burnt, twice shy. I hope that Lavrov will be not be fooled again by his double-dealing, Russophobic western «partners».

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Has the Crash of Global Financial Markets Begun?

février 17th, 2016 by T Sabri Öncü

Even as some insist that the global economy is in “secular stagnation,” the facts suggest that we may be entering the “worst” depression in history. The global markets have been on a slippery slope since the summer of 2007, and things have only been getting worse in 2016. The picture looks dismal, no matter which theoretical lens one uses. (This article was written on 5 February before last week’s tumble in global and Indian markets.)

As the following quotation from Bradford DeLong’s 8 January 2016 Huffington Post article demonstrates, one of the ongoing debates among economists of many tribes is whether the period that began in the summer of 2007 will be called the “Greatest Depression” or the “Longest Depression” by future economic historians.

Unless something big and constructive in the way of global economic policy is done soon, we will have to change Stiglitz’s first name to ‘Cassandra’—the Trojan prophet-princess who was always wise and always correct, yet cursed by the god Apollo to be always ignored. Future economic historians may not call the period that began in 2007 the ‘Greatest Depression’. But as of now, it is highly and increasingly probable that they will call it the ‘Longest Depression’.

I offer “Worst Depression” as the third alternative and leave it to future economic historians to call the period that began in 2007 whatever they want. However, some sort of consensus is emerging as the reconciliation prize of this debate. It is that the period that began in the summer of 2007 is some sort of depression, despite Lawrence Summers still calling it secular stagnation.

Market Crash

A second and more heated ongoing debate is whether the global financial markets will crash or not. Of course, there are even those who claim that the global financial markets have crashed already, but we are the minority these days. Apparently to some, an evaporating $14.4 trillion in the world equity markets from its peak of $73.1 trillion on 14 June 2015 to $58.7 trillion on 31 January 2016 does not count as a market crash.1

And there are some minor debates even among those of us who claim that the crash has already occurred. The minor debates are about when exactly the crash started: the third quarter of 2014, or the second quarter of 2015, or the third quarter of 2015, or with the turn of 2016 and the like. I must confess, however, that I appear to be the only one who claims that the crash started in the third quarter of 2014, at least to my knowledge.

But, what did happen in the third quarter of 2014?

On 18 September 2014, the US market index (Standard & Poor’s 500 or S&P 500) peaked and stayed more or less at the same level the next day. It started to decline after 19 September and bottomed on 15 October 2014. The total decline from 19 September to 15 October was about 7.4%, falling short of 10% to qualify as a market correction.

Quantitative Easing Stops

After the fact, many explanations can be and were offered such as concerns about the absence of aggregate demand in the world, the possibility of the Federal Reserve or Fed (the US central bank) raising the interest rates, lower than expected inflation in China, and other such explanations. Ongoing in the background, however, was the Fed’s winding down of the bond purchases in its third bond-buying programme, also known as Quantitative Easing 3 (QE3). This winding down of the QE3 started in February 2014 and ended on 29 October 2014 (I had discussed QEs in an earlier column in EPW (10 October 2015)).

With the benefit of hindsight, I can now say that the real reason for this 7.4% decline from 19 September to 15 October 2014 was the 17 September press release of the minutes of the meeting of the Fed on 16–17 September. The minutes announced that the Fed officials had decided to reduce the bond purchases to $15 billion a month and agreed to end the QE programme after their 28–29 October meeting if the economy continued to improve as expected.

Apparently, it took two days for readers of the minutes to digest the information and the slide started a day after 19 September to continue until 15 October. Then, on 16 October 2014, James Bullard, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, came out and said that the Fed may want to extend its bond-buying programme beyond October to keep its policy options open, given falling US inflation expectations. This calmed fears and the market resumed its upward trend for a while with ups and downs, of course. Had he not done that, would the market have continued sliding down? Who knows?

Then came the second quarter of 2015.

The slide of Chinese stocks began on 12 June 2015. From 12 June to 24 August 2015, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 38% of its value while the world equity market capitalisation declined by about $10 trillion. This was an unquestionable crash that started in the second quarter and ended in the third quarter.

Then, in the third quarter of 2015, came the Chinese yuan devaluation of 11 August 2015.

The People’s Bank of China shocked the markets on 11 August with the yuan’s biggest one-day devaluation in 20 years, lowering its daily mid-point trading price to 1.87% less against the dollar. The devaluation continued until 13 August, totalling a 3% decline of the yuan against the dollar in three days. This sent shockwaves through the financial markets, taking stocks and Asian currencies down with it.

Shortly after, on 18 August 2015, the Shanghai Composite index started crashing again, but this time taking the US equity indexes down with it. From 17 August to 25 August 2015 it crashed about 25%, and individual crashes on 24 August and 25 August were about 9% and 7% respectively. Meanwhile in the US, the S&P 500 fell by 11.2% from 17 August to 25 August 2015, with the largest decline on 24 August. This is now among the “Black Mondays” of history, and some even call 25 August 2015 “Black Tuesday.”

After this, many interventions by the world’s major central banks and others took place, and the markets started to move up happily ever after. Well, not quite. With ups and downs, but up on the average until the turn of the year.

An important event before the turn of the year took place on 16 December 2015. Finally on that day, the Fed did what it had been advertising at least since the summer of 2013: it raised its policy rate—the Fed Funds Target Rate—by 25 basis points. This was the first Fed rate hike in over nine years. The markets took notice, but then it was the holiday season, so nothing serious happened until the turn of the year.

Latest Slide

Then 2016 arrived and the markets opened on 4 January 2016.

Since then the equity markets have been in turmoil. Between 29 December 2015 and 20 January 2016, the S&P 500 has declined by about 11% (a warranted correction) and the world equity market capitalisation dropped by about $7 trillion. After 20 January 2016 and up to 5 February, the markets have recovered some, but up and down daily swings of significant sizes continue to occur.

Here are a few events since the beginning of 2016.

(i) Rumours that the Italian banking system might collapse.

(ii) Rumours that Deutsche Bank could become the next Lehman Brothers.

(iii) Chinese economy is facing a mountain of bad loans that could exceed $5 trillion.

(iv) The negative interest rate programme in Japan.

(v) The 10 Year US Treasury Rate is going below 1.80%, and moving up and down wildly.

(vi) Oil price has gone below $30 per barrel, and has moved up and down wildly.

(vii) Gold price has gone above $1,155 per troy ounce, and has moved up and down wildly.

(viii) The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of the health of world trade, crashed below 300 for the first time in its entire history.

These should be enough. I guess you get the picture.

Let me now throw in some terminology. Marxian “over-accumulation,” “overproduction,” and “underconsumption” crises theories, Keynesian theory of “lack of aggregate demand,” “financial instability hypothesis” of Minsky, “debt deflation theory of depression” by Irving Fisher, Steve Keen’s “excessive private debts,” Michael Hudson’s “debts that cannot be paid will not be,” and the like. No matter which theory you use to look at the picture, your conclusion will be the same.

Whether it is the “longest” or the “greatest,” the world has been in depression since the summer of 2007. And the global market crash is already underway.

On 29 January 2016, the Guardian asked a number of economists whether the gyrating financial markets are facing a global meltdown. One of the economists was the former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. He concluded his response as follows. “Should we be afraid? Yes. Is it inevitable that a new 2008 is coming? In political economics, nothing is inevitable.”

I respectfully disagree.

Note

1 “Bloomberg World Exchange Market Capitalisation in US dollars—WCAUWRLD—Index, weekly data.”

T Sabri Öncü ([email protected]) is an economist based in Istanbul, Turkey.

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Puerto Ricans Suffer as Creditors Feast on Debt Colony

février 17th, 2016 by Matt Peppe

Just an hour before my wife and I landed in her native Puerto Rico last month, the island’s government had defaulted on $1 billion in bond interest payments. It was the second default in five months for the cash-strapped government whose debt now totals $72 billion. None of this was evident as we waded through the crowds in Rafael Hernández airport in Aguadilla, which had been converted into a civilian airport after the closure of Ramey Air Force Base 40 years earlier. People hugged their relatives, welcoming them back home or bidding them farewell. It was a normal scene you’d see at any airport in the world. But the situation in Puerto Rico is not normal, and you don’t have to spend long there to see how regular people are suffering more every day under the crushing burden of debt.

You notice every time you make a purchase at the store or get the check at a restaurant. The sales tax in Puerto Rico now stands at 11.5 percent, after being raised 64 percent in July from 7 percent. The measure was approved by the island’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla, in conjunction with a package of austerity measures to raise money to pay the interest on the island’s debt to creditors.

This might not sound like an astronomical amount, but the impact is felt more in Puerto Rico than it would be in any of the states. Sales taxes are regressive. People with lower incomes spend more of their earnings on things that are taxed than those who can afford to store their income as savings. This means the lower your income, the harder you will be hit by the sales tax.

Puerto Rico’s median average income of less than $20,000 is 50 percent less than the poorest American state. For families already struggling to pay the bills on such meager earnings, the additional sales tax burden is eating away their little disposable income, or worse, forcing them to borrow to pay for their basic necessities.

Outside a beachfront restaurant in Aguada, I noticed an SUV with a bumper sticker that summed up the feelings of many Puerto Ricans. « The debt is not ours, it belongs to the Empire, » it read. Many people may believe this represents Puerto Ricans failing to take responsibility for running up a tab they now can’t pay. But this would falsely assume that Puerto Rico exercises independent control over the conditions that created the debt. In reality, Puerto Rico is a colony whose political and economic structures are determined by the dictates of the empire they belong to.

Constrained by the neoliberal capitalist system of the United States, Puerto Rico is unable to chart its own course for independent economic development. The Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution makes it impossible for Puerto Rico to protect its own industries. They must allow American businesses equal access to Puerto Rico’s markets. The Cabotage Laws make shipping to and from Puerto Rico prohibitively expensive, impeding demand for exports and driving up prices on imports.

The detrimental effects of U.S.-imposed restrictions on Puerto Rico’s economy have forced them to incur debt to pay for social spending. Unlike every other industrial country in the world, the United States does not provide universal health care to its citizens. The federal programs that are supposed to guarantee insurance for the poor and the elderly do not apply equally to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico only receives half the rate of federal healthcare funding as the 50 states, even though its residents pay the same rates in payroll taxes. This strain was further exacerbated last month when the U.S. government cut payments to Puerto Rico’s Medicare Advantage program by 11 percent. My in-laws told us how their prescription deductibles and their co-pays under their Medicare Advantage plans had increased. The Puerto Rican Healthcare Crisis Coalition (PRHCC) called the decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services a “blow to the health of the entire Puerto Rican community.”

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which is supposed to guarantee health insurance to the rest of the population, does not apply equally to Puerto Rico either. While Puerto Rico passed its own laws requiring features of Obamacare – such as prohibiting denial of insurance based on pre-existing conditions and caps on coverage – there is no individual mandate. The result is a “death spiral » for private insurance plans. Elderly and sick people purchase coverage, while younger and healthier customers, who don’t need the same level of costly care, opt not to participate. This drives up premiums drastically, making plans prohibitively expensive for those who need them most.

With federal government spending and local tax revenue insufficient to meet the population’s health care needs, the Puerto Rican government must assume more debt to cover the difference.

Privatization of Public Assets

Like countries across the global South who have found themselves indebted to U.S.-run institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Puerto Rico has been encouraged to privatize its public assets and use the money to pay its creditors.Under former Governor Luis Fortuño in 2009, Act 29 was passed to allow government to enter into public-private partnerships for infrastructure and other projects. It created the Public Private Partnership Authority (PPPA) to “identify, evaluate, and select the projects that shall be established as Public Private Partnerships.”The first target for private takeover of Puerto Rico’s public infrastructure was the island’s most traveled highway, PR-22. Autopistas Metropolitanas de Puerto Rico, LLC (Metropistas), was awarded a 40-year lease for $1.49 billion to operate both the PR-22 and PR-5 highways. The company is a consortium of a Goldman Sachs infrastructure investment fund and a Spanish toll concession company.
PR-22 runs from San Juan west through 12 municipalities towards Aguadilla. Metropistas recently raised the toll prices after the expiration of an initial period where they were prohibited from doing so. But apparently tolls are not the only way they are generating revenue.

A friend explained how the electronic toll collection system, AutoExpreso, had been malfunctioning and issuing fines for not having enough money in your account to pay the toll, even when the account did actually have money. He said that he received four separate fines, none of which was valid. When he tried to contest the fines he was told that based on a technicality (not submitting an appeal in writing by an arbitrary deadline) the fines would stand, even though they should have never been issued in the first place. When he complained, he was told he had a choice to pay or to find another route. Of course, the only alternative for commuters in that heavily populated area of the island is to use inaccessible and inconvenient back roads.

Puerto Rico’s main airport, Luis Muñoz Marin in San Juan, was also recently privatized. The Mexican company Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste SAB de CV and private-equity firm Highstar Capital received a 40-year lease to operate the airport. The deal was negotiated under the previous administration, but did not take effect until García Padilla took office. Unsurprisingly, the first time I visited after the privatization I discovered the airport no longer offered free Wifi.
That Puerto Rico’s public assets have been turned into investment opportunities for American and foreign creditors should come as no surprise. Since its inception as a Commonwealth (a euphemism for colony), the interests of capital have taken priority over the general population. Puerto Rico’s Constitution grants creditors first priority for payment, ahead of even the population whose will the Constitution is supposed to represent.

Daliah Lugo explains this mystifying legal arrangement in her Opinion and Order blog: « That’s right: the entity we know as ‘Puerto Rico’ was in fact set up by Congress and its allies as a corporation, its first duty always to its investors. »

A political arrangement that does not prioritize the people who purportedly consent to it is farcical. Puerto Rico has never achieved self-determination, despite the fact the UN removed the island from its list of Non-Self-Governing territories in 1952. The UN’s Special Committe on Decolonization has recognized this as recently as 2014 when they called on the United States to end their « subjugation » of Puerto Rico and allow its people to « fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination. »

But the United States does not want to acknowledge that, having failed to grant sovereignty to Puerto Rico, they legally hold « the obligation to promote to the utmost … the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, » according to Article 73 of the UN Charter. Only the U.S. Congress – not Puerto Rico’s legislature – has the ability to change Puerto Rico’s political status. But they have never given any indication they intend to do so, despite a 2012 referendum in which Puerto Ricans decisively rejected the current colonial status.

Few Americans are aware of the social and economic crisis consuming Puerto Rico, which is rarely covered by mainstream news organizations (other than some notable exceptions). But as expenses rise – for housing, health care, groceries, utilities – and economic opportunities disappear, families find themselves in a more and more precarious situation. A change in political status that would finally grant the Puerto Rican people a right to govern themselves in their own interest is the only hope to reverse the devastation 117 years as a debt colony has wrought.

Matt Peppe writes the Just the Facts blog. He can be reached on Facebook and Twitter or by email at [email protected].

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In an article in a British newspaper Russia’s ambassador to the UK reveals the Russians were told by the Western powers that after the US proclaimed a no-fly zone ISIS would capture Damascus

Alexander Yakovenko, Russia’s ambassador to Britain, dropped something of a bombshell on Monday, though one that has gone completely unnoticed.

In a piece in the print edition of the London Evening Standard defending Russian policy in Syria he made the following extraordinary disclosure:

Last summer we were told by our Western partners that in October Damascus would fall to IS (ie. the Islamic State – AM).

What they were planning to do next we don’t know.  Probably, they would have ended up painting the extremists white and accepting them as a Sunni state straddling Iraq and Syria.

The summer – when these conversations between the Western powers and the Russians allegedly took place – was the time when the US was in discussions with Turkey and Jordan about setting up a no-fly zone and safe havens in Syria.

I discussed in this article how “no-fly zone” is today simply a euphemism for a US bombing campaign.

What Yakovenko is therefore in effect saying is that the US was planning in the summer to start a bombing campaign to overthrow the government of Syria in the knowledge that this would result by October in the victory of the Islamic State and its capture of Damascus.

ISIS’s flag – flying by now over Damascus if Russia had not intervened

Russia Insider has previously explained that it was to stop the US proclaiming a no-fly zone– i.e. commencing a bombing campaign aimed at overthrowing the Syrian government – that Russia intervened in Syria.

The fact Yakovenko says the US told the Russians this would result in the Islamic State capturing Damascus by October explains why the Russians felt they had to act as they did.

Is Yakovenko however telling the truth?

The first thing to say is that the British and US governments have not denied what he is saying.

That however is not conclusive.  It is not difficult to see why the British and US governments might think that in light of the incendiary nature of what Yakovenko is saying denying it would simply give his comments more publicity if they denied them and that the better approach is silence.

If so, then the fact Yakovenko’s comments have been almost entirely ignored shows this approach has worked.

Is Yakovenko however senior enough to know the details of the discussions that took place in the summer between the Russians and the Western powers as he says?

The answer to that question is almost certainly yes.

Though London is no longer the most important diplomatic posting for a Russian ambassador in Western Europe, it remains an important posting, and any official appointed to be Russia’s ambassador to Britain is by definition a senior official whom Moscow will ensure is kept well-informed.

If there were discussions of the sort Yakovenko says, he would almost certainly have been fully briefed about them.

What Yakovenko says is also consistent with things we know.

In the summer – having just captured Palmyra – the Islamic State was on a roll, making it not implausible that it might reach Damascus by the autumn.

The Syrian army in the meantime had suffered a succession of heavy defeats, and had been forced to withdraw from Idlib province.

In light of all this, in the context of a US bombing campaign, it is not implausible the US was telling the Russians in the summer that the Islamic State would seize Damascus by October.

As for the US’s discussions about setting up a no-fly zone and safe havens, there was nothing secret about those, and they were openly acknowledged.

Why however would the US tell the Russians that they expected the Islamic State to seize Damascus by October?

That is not a difficult question to answer.

No-one in the early summer thought there was any likelihood the Russians would intervene militarily in Syria.  The US probably thought it was not risking anything by telling Moscow its military plans and what their likely consequences would be.

Probably what the US expected was that the threat of a bombing campaign leading to the seizure of Damascus by the Islamic State would terrify Moscow and persuade the Russians to force Assad to stand down, which has been the US objective all along.

In that case the US seriously underestimated the Russians’ resolve and their willingness to act to prevent what the US was threatening from coming to pass.

Overall Yakovenko’s disclosure makes sense, and is therefore probably true.

What it shows is how reckless the US’s Syrian policy had become.

At the very time the US was pretending to fight the Islamic State it was in fact preparing steps that it knew would facilitate its victory.

Even if this was intended as a diplomatic play it was an extraordinary thing to do.

The families of US victims of jihadi terror would surely feel betrayed if they were ever find out about it, whilst it is not difficult to imagine the consternation and recriminations in Washington when the Russians unexpectedly pre-empted the US strategy by intervening in the way they did.

As for the people of Damascus – spared not just US bombing but rule by the Islamic State – and the people of Europe – who would have faced a far bigger refugee flood if what Washington was telling the Russians had come to pass – they both have reason to be grateful to the Russians for making sure that things turned out otherwise.

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The genocide in Rwanda was one hundred percent the responsibility of the Americans. Boutros Boutros Ghali Nov. 21, 2002.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali had the unfortunate role of being secretary general of the United Nations just when the United States proclaimed the New World Order. In ordinary language, that meant the US World Order, where one superpower decided on everything. Mr. Boutros-Ghali still believed in a multipolar, or at least a bipolar world. Here is how the former secretary general described the behaviour of the United States in a 2002 interview.

They didn’t want someone who would question their decisions. They wanted everything, and everything at once! You know, when people have power … I have worked with absolute rulers all my life. They cannot accept discussion; they cannot accept even a minimum of contradiction. I want that! And that’s all. What? You want to discuss the issue? I am the God of Gods, and I will have what I want. And you’re saying that you would like to think about it for a while? [1]

Boutros-Ghali began his mandate as secretary general of the United Nations in January 1992. He was the first African to hold the position. Among the most serious challenges during his mandate was the war in Rwanda that reached a climax in 1994. Washington so disliked Boutros-Ghali, whom US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called “Frenchie,” that they engineered a coup to have him removed and imposed their veto on a second term. He was replaced by Kofi Annan in 1996.

Washington offered Boutros Boutros-Ghali the sort of honours offered to other leaders who they remove. President Clinton promised to receive him at the White House, American Universities would grant him honorary doctorates, and more, but in return he had to step down as Secretary General of his own volition. Boutros-Ghali replied that he did not accept tips.

With his departure it is worth remembering what he said about the Rwandan tragedy:

“The genocide in Rwanda was one hundred percent the responsibility of the Americans.”

Is it a wonder that he was so unceremoniously removed as secretary general of the UN?

Note

[1] Robin Philpot, Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction, p. 224

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France, the Police State, and the Intellectual

février 17th, 2016 by Catherine Shakdam

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In the case of France’s state of emergency, it is the road to Freedom which is littered with gags and shackles. One teacher most of all: Mr Salah Lamrani has learned what it costs to speak “en Français.”

France continues to project this aura of democratic fortitude; lecturing the world on how countries should behave and govern themselves, due to some colorfully narrated history as the “République” representing Freedom, Equality and Fraternity, when in fact it’s on course to become the very despot it warns against.

A police state hiding behind the veneer of Western democratic sainthood, France is in fact a racist and intolerant state vying for complete political, social, economic and intellectual control … Of course one cannot ignore the religious sphere. In the land of Voltaire, one should not overtly say God; only deny his existence, worshiping instead at the altar of secularism.

Where France once stood for Freedom, its state now wrestles with selective freedoms. Paris is actively looking to thin out the rights civilians are still allowed to practice. How beautiful the French Marianne today! How strong the 5th Republic …

What is left to say of a state which persecutes its intellectuals and teachers? What is left to say of a system which promotes witch-hunting and fear-mongering, targeting those with views that differ from the Establishment’s?

Isn’t intellectual diktat the very character of a dictatorship? Has France lost all sense of republican pride and identity that it stooped to policing its most dedicated teachers in the name of politica conformity?

MISR pic (1)

In February 2016, Professor Salah Lamrani, a French Literature Middle School tenured teacher in the Paris popular suburb of Seine Saint Denis was unjustly, and unlawfully suspended for four months following phantasmagorical claims he espoused radical tendencies.

Mr Lamrani, whose professional file remains without so much as a blemish, exemplifies France’s descent into ultra-national fascism – this new sense that France needs to stand puritan and absolute in the declaration of its values – even if it means … actually, especially if it means, silencing those who still dare live pluralism as a God given right.

photo Fl

It all began with one teacher’s love for writing and a passion for the French language. A tradition which gifted the world of the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile Zola and Baudelaire has risen today a tyrant, surpressing thoughts, words and philosophies, wielding fear and repression to better bully so-called potential dissidents into not just silence but intellectual uniformity.

A free thinker, Mr lamrani came to clash with a narrow-minded head-teacher, both a product and a tool of the “system”, for he dared express certain opinions on such matters as politics and foreign policy on his personal blog, outside the sphere of control his office could have ever claimed to exert upon his person. Still, he was castigated.

Lamrani openly challenged France’s state of emergency. He dared suggest Russia and Iran were in fact abiding by the spirit of international law in their resistance against Daesh in Syria. An opinion that saw him likened to those rag-tags mercenaries whose blades have inspired only disgust and fear.

In an interview I conducted with him on February 14, Mr Lamrani explained how his troubles stemmed from the implacable authoritarianism his school’s most senior figureheads demonstrated against his person.

I was suspended without any investigation and in spite of my formal complaint for moral harassment and slander due to my school authoritarian management – who didn’t like my Union and blogger activities, and who accused me publicly of being a dangerous terrorist.

In times such as ours such claims should not be taken lightly as they can result in dramatic repercussions – not the least Mr Lamrani’s personal safety, and freedom.

Mr Lamrani’s “crimes” were that he denounced state repression, while proclaiming personal political truths on a platform which was his own, outside school hours, and without any effect on his work as a teacher.

Because one head-teacher, Mrs Khadidja Bot, imagined herself a “keeper” of the establishment, a self-appointed tyrant of the national education complex, one man’s life and future now stand in jeopardy. Because, she, a person of authority, chose to slander and label, to better assert her “power”, a valuable teacher has been shunned by his community and vilified by his colleagues. Without so much as a shred of evidence, without the authorities ever bothering to open an inquiry into his alleged “radicalism”, one man was stripped of his professional dignity.

This is France’s state of emergency! How it treats its nationals, how it rewards free-thinking and intellectualism. France has many lessons to teach the world when it comes to totalitarianism.

But if Mr Lamrani has lost a battle against the Establishment, he is not admitting defeat. In fact, he has vowed to expose the very system which has claimed his freedom and attempted to silence his voice, so that others will learn to speak unhindered.

It was Jean Jaures who said:

All of us forget that before everything else, we are men, ephemeral beings lost in the immense universe, so full of terrors. We are inclined to neglect the search for the real meaning of life, to ignore the real goals – serenity of the spirit and sublimity of the heart … To reach them – that is the revolution.

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The lack of democracy has been responsible for the economic disaster in the EU, says Yanis Varoufakis. In the U.S. a similar situation with unemployment rates still at 11 – 12 % would have led to the fall of the government while the bureaucrats got fired. Not so in the EU where the opposite is true.

The « comedy of errors » goes on since all important decisions are made in backrooms by unaccountable EU representatives like in the Euro working group. The cartel of interests behind it must be stopped to prevent a crash and an ever widening gap between public opinion and politics. And: Corporations should pay their taxes in Europe. « The reason why we have democracy in Germany, in Britain, in Greece, in the United States is because capitalism without democracy is a very uncivilized system. In which life is nasty, brutish and short. »

 

German Version: Yanis Varoufakis: Demokratie vs. EU-Kollaps

Gäste:  Yanis Varoufakis: Former Finance Minister of Greece and Co-Founder of « Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 » (DiEM25)
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« Le génocide au Rwanda était à 100% la responsabilité américaine. » le 21 novembre 2002

Feu Boutros Boutros-Ghali a eu la malchance d’occuper le poste de secrétaire général de l’ONU au moment où les États-Unis venaient de proclamer le Nouvel ordre mondial. En gros, cela voulait dire le Nouvel ordre mondial américain, un monde où une superpuissance décidait de tout. Boutros-Ghali croyait encore en un monde multipolaire, sinon au moins bipolaire. Voici comment l’ancien secrétaire général a décrit ses relations avec les États-Unis pendant qu’il était à la tête de l’ONU.

 « Ils ne voulaient pas quelqu’un qui discute de leurs décisions. Ils voulaient tout, et tout de suite. Quand on est très puissant — j’ai travaillé avec des souverains absolus toute ma vie. They cannot accept discussion, they cannot accept even a minimum of contradiction. Je veux ça, fini! Comment ça? Discuter? C’est moi le dieu des dieux, je veux ça. Et vous me dites que ‘je vais réfléchir’[1]? »

Boutros-Ghali a commencé son mandat de secrétaire général de l’ONU en janvier 1992. Premier africain a ce poste, il a dû faire face à son plus grand défi en 1994 lors de la guerre au Rwanda. À ce sujet, il n’y allait pas par quatre chemins. Selon lui, « le génocide au Rwanda était à 100% la responsabilité américaine. » Il a précisé que «Les États-Unis, avec l’appui énergique de la Grande-Bretagne, ont tout fait pour empêcher la mise en place au Rwanda d’une force des Nations unies, et ils y sont parvenus.  »

Washington exécrait tant M. Boutros-Ghali — la secrétaire d’État Madeleine Albright le traitait de « Frenchie »  — qu’ils ont ourdi un plan pour l’éjecter du poste, culminant par l’imposition  de leur véto contre son deuxième mandat. Kofi Annan l’a remplacé en 1996.

À l’instar d’autres dirigeants balancés, l’administration de Bill Clinton lui avait offert divers honneurs, dont une réception à la Maison-Blanche offerte par le président, des doctorats honorifiques dans de prestigieuses universités, mais à condition qu’il parte de son propre gré dans un an. Et Boutros-Ghali de répondre : « je leur ai dit que je refusais les pourboires. »

Quand on songe à ses déclarations et à son indépendance d’esprit dans ce Nouvel ordre mondial, est-ce surprenant qu’il ait été si grossièrement congédié du plus haut poste de l’Organisation des Nations Unies?

Qu’il repose en paix!

 Robin Philpot

Robin Philpot est éditeur de Baraka Books. Il a interviewé M. Boutros-Ghali à deux reprises pour son livre Ça ne s’est pas passé comme ça à Kigali, dont l’adaptation anglaise of Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction a paru en 2013.

 


[1] Ça ne s’est pas passé comme ça à Kigali, p. 195.

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usa_afghanistan-soldiersCivilian Casualties in Afghanistan Hit Record in 2015

By Thomas Gaist, February 16 2016

The US war in Afghanistan produced at least 11,000 civilian casualties last year, setting a new official record, according to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

iraqi kurdistanCollapse of Iraqi Kurdistan

By Andre Vltchek, February 16 2016

It used to be presented as a huge success story. We were told that in the middle of a ravished Middle East, surrounded by despair, death and pain, a land of milk and honey was shining brightly like a torch of hope. Or was it more like a delicious cake surrounded by rot? This exceptional place was called Iraqi Kurdistan, or officially the “Kurdistan Region.”

middle-east-mapWar, Conflict and Economic Development in the Arab World

By Dr. Ali Kadri, February 16 2016

Of the countries that are off-track on the road to sound development, many are situated in the Arab World. The worst hit are either in conflict, near conflict or post conflict zones.

Syrian16MonthMap-600x332Turkey Comes to Rescue of ISIS Terrorists, Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Kurdish YPG Target ISIS and Al Nusrah Positions

By South Front, February 16 2016

On Feb.16, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in coordination with Hezbollah and the National Defense Forces (NDF) liberated the village of Misqan in northern Aleppo following a heavy firefight with the militants operating in the area, mostly members of Al-Nusra and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham terrorist groups.

General view of U.N. Special Envoy for Syria de Mistura attending a meeting on Syria with representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, SwitzerlandSyria – Peace Talks and an Empire Running Amok

By Peter Koenig, February 16 2016

February in Geneva. It is utterly frustrating living the daily lie and slander propaganda against Russia and against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, of this ‘neutral’ country, Switzerland, where soon peace talks are expected to begin. The UN hub in Geneva has in the past often served for peace negotiations, for mediation talks, but also failed more often than not, always when the American interests were not accommodated by an agreement.

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Le Secrétaire général de l’Otan, M. Jens Stoltenberg, a déclaré le 2 février qu’il approuvait la proposition du secrétaire d’État à la Défense Ashton Carter de multiplier par quatre les troupes et les armements américains en Europe, pour lutter contre l’agression russe.

Carter l’avait dit un peu plus tôt le même jour, dans cette annonce sur le réarmement américain pour la guerre contre la Russie :

«Nous renforçons notre posture en Europe pour soutenir nos alliés de l’OTAN face à l’agression de la Russie. En langage officiel du Pentagone, nous appelons cela l’Initiative de réassurance européenne, et après y avoir consacré environ 800 millions de dollars l’an dernier, nous avons plus que quadruplé cette somme pour atteindre $3.4 milliards cette année.

Cela permettra de financer beaucoup de choses : plus de rotations de troupes vers l’Europe, plus d’entraînements avec nos alliés, plus de matériels de combat pré-positionnés et une amélioration de l’infrastructure pour les soutenir.

Et, une fois intégré avec les forces américaines déjà basées en Europe – qui sont elles aussi considérables – tout cela nous permettra de former, à la fin de 2017, une force terrestre combinée hautement capable, qui pourra riposter sur ce théâtre d’opérations, si nécessaire.»

Les États-Unis se préparent à envahir la Russie.

A la fin de 2017, les États-Unis seront prêts à envahir la Russie.

relax, the bombs are from NATO

Et M. Carter de continuer :
«La Russie et la Chine sont nos adversaires les plus inquiétants. Elles ont développé et continuent d’améliorer des systèmes militaires qui tentent de menacer nos avantages sur certains secteurs spécifiques. Et pour certains sujets, elles développent des armes et des tactiques avec lesquelles elles comptent atteindre leurs objectifs rapidement, avant même, espèrent-elles, que nous ripostions.

A cause de cela et à cause de leurs actions jusqu’à présent, de l’Ukraine à la mer de Chine méridionale, le Département de la Défense a élevé leur importance dans notre planification et nos allocations de budget.»

Comme il est secrétaire à la Défense, et non secrétaire à l’Offensive, il a aussitôt ajouté : «Bien que nous ne souhaitions aucun conflit d’aucune sorte avec ces pays, soyons très clairs.»

Voilà une affirmation sans preuve ; il n’a même pas fini sa phrase, et encore moins sa pensée. Mais avec désinvolture, il a tenté de donner l’impression que les États-Unis ne sont jamais un agresseur – par exemple : même si les États-Unis ont étendu l’OTAN jusqu’aux frontières de la Russie, c’est la Russie qui est l’agresseur, parce qu’elle amène des troupes et des armes à ses frontières – à ses propres frontières, pour contrer la menace d’invasion des États-Unis et de l’OTAN, évidemment ; mais non : c’est pour menacer l’OTAN, si vous croyez l’Occident. Dans les déclarations d’Ashton Carter, Barack Obama et Jens Stoltenberg, c’est l’agression russe. Dans l’allégorie de George Orwell, 1984, la rhétorique américaine est simplement appelée la novlangue.

C’est comme si, du temps de l’Union soviétique (donc, avant 1991), quand Nikita Khrouchtchev était l’agresseur en 1962 et John Kennedy le défenseur (contre les missiles soviétiques à Cuba), Khrouchtchev avait refusé de céder et dit que les missiles nucléaires soviétiques basés près du territoire américain avaient uniquement un but défensif, et non offensif (ils n’étaient pas là pour une attaque nucléaire éclair, trop rapide pour que les États-Unis puissent réagir et tirer leurs propres missiles en représailles). Kennedy refusa cette idée, et Poutine refuse aujourd’hui cette idée (juste de l’autre côté des frontières russes). Les États-Unis, maintenant que la Russie est post-soviétique, post-communiste, ont inversé les rôles et sont devenus l’agresseur – contre la nation russe, maintenant démocratique. (Et l’approbation de la politique de Poutine, dans les sondages, est d’au moins 80%, à comparer avec le score d’Obama chez les Américains, d’environ 50%.) Nous avons inversé les rôles. Les États-Unis sont en train de devenir une dictature, tandis que la Russie est devenue une démocratie. C’est le grand retournement. La démocratie aux États-Unis est devenue, pendant ces dernières décennies, l’élection de présidents et de députés et sénateurs qui font campagne sur des mensonges, et qui ensuite ont mené une politique exactement contraire à leurs promesses.

Un bon exemple de cela est que, lorsque Obama faisait campagne pour sa réélection à la présidence, en 2012, il s’est ouvertement moqué de la déclaration de son adversaire, Mitt Romney, qui disait : «La Russie, c’est certainement notre adversaire géopolitique N°1.» Mais dès que Obama a été réélu, il a activé un plan, mis au point par la CIA en 1957, pour chasser du pouvoir en Syrie l’allié de la Russie, Bachar el-Assad, et un plan plus récent, signé de la CIA et du Département d’État, pour chasser le président ukrainien Viktor Ianoukovitch, partisan de la neutralité, et pour le remplacer par un gouvernement fanatiquement anti-russe. Le directeur de Stratfor a appelé cela le coup d’État le plus flagrant de l’Histoire, ce fut une action très sanglante, suivie d’une guerre civile – et d’un effondrement économique, avec un niveau de corruption encore jamais atteint. De plus, Obama a adopté un plan français pour renverser un autre allié de la Russie, le Libyen Mouammar Kaddhafi.

Tous ces plans ont été encouragés par les exportateurs de pétrole concurrents de la Russie, tous étant des États arabes sunnites fondamentalistes, financiers du djihad : la famille royale d’Arabie saoudite, la famille royale al-Thani du Qatar, la famille royale al-Sabah du Koweït, et les six familles royales des Émirats. Ensemble, toutes ces monarchies possèdent la majorité du pétrole mondial, et seule la Russie, et son allié l’Iran ont des productions comparables. Toutes ces familles royales (notamment les Saoud) sont les grands argentiers d’al-Qaïda, d’État islamique et d’autres groupes djihadistes, tous sont des sunnites fondamentalistes terroristes, dont le but est d’exterminer tous les chiites – et justement, il se trouve que les chiites sont soutenus par la Russie. (Les États-Unis avaient renversé le président d’Iran, progressiste et démocratiquement élu, en 1953, et l’avaient remplacé par le Shah, un véritable dictateur; les Iraniens se méfient du gouvernement américain depuis lors.)

Le Président Obama, lors de son second mandat, a abandonné ses inquiétudes vis à vis des groupes sunnites comme al-Qaïda, et a recentré la politique américaine contre la Russie, au point de soutenir al-Qaïda, État islamique et d’autres groupes sunnites fanatiquement anti-russes, qui ont jeté des millions de réfugiés hors de la Syrie, de la Libye, etc… jusqu’en Europe. (Oh, bien sûr, Obama est officiellement toujours contre ces extrémistes sunnites – tout comme il était contre la politique de Romney, politique qu’il a pourtant suivie après sa réélection.) Tous ces groupes terroristes sont alliés aux familles royales contre les chiites soutenus par l’Iran, et la Syrie alliée aux chiites.

Les croyances des sunnites fondamentalistes, auxquelles adhèrent les familles royales arabes, au moins depuis 1744, poussent à l’extermination de tous les chiites. Maintenant que les chiites et les pays qui leur sont alliés sont soutenus par la Russie, les États-Unis s’apprêtent plus ouvertement que jamais à conquérir la Russie, pour le bénéfice des grandes familles d’Amérique et d’Arabie.

Et il y a bien d’autres exemples des politiques du président Obama, qui en font le modèle de «l’élection des présidents et des députés et sénateurs qui ont fait campagne sur des mensonges, et qui mènent ensuite des politiques opposées aux promesses qu’ils ont faites», comme son idée d’être le champion de la démocratie en Syrie, alors que ses préoccupations actuelles sont de bloquer la démocratie là-bas, parce que tout montre qu’il en résulterait une victoire massive pour Bachar al-Assad. Un autre exemple est le soutien d’Obama au droit des peuples à l’auto-détermination, pour la Catalogne ou l’Écosse, mais pas pour la Crimée, ni pour le Donbass, ni pour l’Abkhazie. Les Nations-Unies soutiennent le droit des peuples à l’auto-détermination partout, et Ban Ki-moon a clairement déclaré que les volontés américaines pour le départ de Bachar al-Assad sont totalement étrangères aux principes sur lesquels ont été fondées les Nations Unies.

money for war money for jobsDonc : le régime américain se dirige vers une confrontation nucléaire avec la Russie, une mesure défensive contre l’agression russe.

Obama avait auparavant utilisé la menace iranienne comme prétexte pour positionner des missiles anti-missiles en Europe, dans les pays bordant la Russie, mais il ne peut plus agiter cette menace, alors maintenant il brandit un nouvel argument : protéger l’Europe de l’agression russe.

Ce qui avait amené Romney à dire que la Russie «est certainement notre adversaire géopolitique N°1» était qu’il avait été piégé par CNN : on lui avait demandé de commenter cette phrase que Obama avait dite, en privé, à Dmitri Medvedev : «C’est ma dernière élection. Après, j’aurai les mains libres.» CNN n’a pas dit de quoi il s’agissait, mais a simplement appâté Romney pour le faire jouer au chasseur-de-sorcières-anti-communiste-façon-McCarthy, et endosser l’habit du rôle du héros républicain. Reuters a expliqué le contexte, Obama répondant aux inquiétudes de Poutine sur le positionnement des missiles anti-missiles (ABM) en Europe pour retirer à la Russie sa capacité de représailles contre une première frappe venant des forces de l’OTAN en Europe ; Poutine rappelant que c’était inacceptable. Obama disait qu’il aurait «les mains libres» contre les Républicains semeurs de haine contre la Russie, une fois qu’il aurait gagné l’élection. C’était seulement un mensonge de plus de sa part. Il gagna sa réélection, et devint un alter ego de Mitt Romney. En fait, Obama a passé tout son premier mandat à tromper le monde entier, faisant croire qu’il avait enfermé les Républicains dans «une mentalité biaisée datant de la Guerre froide». Il y croyait vraiment. Il aurait dû être à Hollywood, pas à la Maison Blanche.

Laissez le démon sortir de sa boîte, et c’est le monde entier qui sera perdu.

La première priorité pour Bernie Sanders, s’il est élu Président, ou pour Donald Trump, sera de défaire toute la politique étrangère de Bush-Obama, parce que cela ne sera sûrement pas fait, ni par Hillary Clinton, ni par Ted Cruz, ni par Marco Rubio – voilà le principal enjeu de l’élection présidentielle à venir. Ce qui est en jeu est rien moins que la question de savoir si la civilisation va survivre encore quelques années. C’est vraiment une question sérieuse, parce que des centaines de milliards de dollars sont dépensés précisément pour y mettre fin.

Ce ne sont pas des contes pour enfants, ni de la science-fiction. C’est plutôt une question morale, fondamentale et sévère, qui concerne de façon urgente le monde entier. Cela n’a rien à voir avec la religion, mais cela concerne le rétablissement de la démocratie, qui a été tellement pervertie qu’elle n’existe pratiquement plus.

La démocratie requiert un public informé et une information honnête. C’est la vérité. Il faut la rétablir, avant qu’il ne soit trop tard.

La probabilité d’une guerre nucléaire n’a jamais été aussi forte que maintenant, sauf peut-être pendant la crise des missiles de Cuba, mais à l’époque, le monde entier le savait, alors qu’en est-il aujourd’hui ? Aujourd’hui, la situation est peut-être encore plus grave. L’urgence est critique.

Est-ce que c’est cela, ce genre de traitement de l’information que nous allons continuer à recevoir sur les grands sujets du monde – que les Russes envahissent notre territoire – alors que c’est nous qui sommes constamment en train d’envahir le leur (et de déclencher des coups d’État), et qu’ils sont en train de faire ce qu’ils doivent faire, pour défendre le peuple russe contre l’Otan ?

Achevons l’OTAN maintenant. Ou c’est nous (et les médias complaisants de l’Occident) qui serons finis. Toute l’expansion de l’OTAN jusqu’aux frontières russes s’est basée sur la fausse promesse que le Président George Herbert Walker Bush avait faite à Mikhail Gorbatchev en 1990, qui poussa Gorbatchev à dissoudre non seulement l’Union soviétique, mais aussi l’homologue de l’OTAN, le Pacte de Varsovie. La Russie a scrupuleusement respecté sa part du contrat en 1991, mais c’est la violation vicieuse de la promesse de George Bush Senior qui s’en est suivie, par lui-même et par tous les Présidents américains qui lui ont succédé. La tromperie a continué, et les États-Unis cultivent, à un point jamais atteint, le mensonge le plus dangereux de toute l’Histoire du monde.

Eric Zuesse.

Article original :

nato_war

U.S. Now Overtly at War Against Russia, 6 février 2016

Paru initialement ans Strategic-Culture.

Traduit par Ludovic, vérifié par Wayan, relu par Diane et Hervé pour le Saker Francophone.

Note du traducteur Évoquant la crise de Cuba, l’auteur considère que les Soviétiques étaient dans une position offensive, les Américains, eux, jouant en défense. Il ne faut cependant pas oublier que, à la fin des années 1950, les Américains avaient profité de l’entrée de la Turquie dans l’OTAN pour installer des missiles à la frontière turco-soviétique. Les missiles à Cuba étaient donc une réponse. A l’issue de l’accord entre Khrouchtchev et Kennedy, les missiles en Turquie comme les missiles à Cuba furent démantelés.

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Photo : Sarkozy, Cameron et Abdul Jalil célébrant la victoire en Libye, le 15 septembre 2011.

Un des rares bénéfices du bombardement de la Libye va tomber dans la poche des habituels gagnants de cette alliance public-privé que constitue la machine du militarisme sans fin, en lui fournissant un nouveau prétexte pour un nouveau bombardement.

Les jours suivant le bombardement de la Libye par l’Otan ont été une période de grandes congratulations. Tout comme les avocats de la guerre contre l’Irak ont utilisé la capture et l’assassinat de Saddam Hussein comme preuve que leur guerre avait été un succès, les avocats de la guerre contre la Libye ont utilisé la capture et le meurtre brutal de Kadhafi comme une justification de leur décision.

Les fauteurs de guerre comme Anne Marie Slaughter et Nicholas Kristof remplissaient les colonnes des journaux en vantant leur finesse d’analyse tout en se moquant des opposants à la guerre. Le New York Times publiait un article en première page déclarant : «La tactique américaine en Libye pourrait être un modèle pour d’autres actions du genre.» Tout le monde s’attendait à ce qu’Hillary Clinton, une des avocates les plus ferventes et une architecte de la campagne de bombardement, soit vue comme un génie en politique étrangère grâce à son grand succès en Libye : «Nous sommes venus, nous avons vu, il est mort», a-t-elle déclamé en riant telle une hystérique à propos du meurtre collectif de Kadhafi, au cours de l’émission télévisée 60 Minutes.

Depuis lors, la Libye, de manière totalement prévisible, s’est complètement écroulée et se trouve pour des années dans un état d’instabilité, d’anarchie, sous la coupe de milices, de conflits sectaires et de l’extrémisme. L’exécution de Saddam Hussein n’a pas justifié la guerre d’Irak ni amélioré la vie des Irakiens, il en va de même pour Kadhafi. Comme je l’ai écrit le lendemain du jour où Kadhafi fuyait Tripoli et où les loyalistes du Parti démocratique fêtaient la victoire en dansant dans les rues : «Je suis franchement étonné de la volonté omniprésente à voir ce qui s’est passé en Libye comme une sorte de triomphe, alors que nous ne savons encore rien des informations nécessaires pour confirmer ce triomphe, c’est-à-dire le nombre de civils tués, si le sang a fini de couler, comment stabiliser le pays et, par-dessus tout, quel genre de régime va remplacer celui de Kadhafi… Quand une puissance étrangère utilise la force militaire pour renverser un régime tyrannique en place depuis des dizaines d’années, toutes sortes de chaos, de violence, d’instabilité et de souffrances, avec encore bien d’autres conséquences totalement imprévisibles, sont inévitables.»

Mais la grande question était de savoir quand (pas si, mais quand) l’instabilité et l’extrémisme qui s’ensuivraient inévitablement, seraient utilisés comme justification à une nouvelle guerre dirigée par les États-Unis, exactement comme cela s’est passé en Irak. En 2012, j’avais déjà posé la question de cette manière :

Encore combien de temps avant que nous n’entendions qu’une intervention militaire est (encore) nécessaire, cette fois pour contrôler les extrémistes anti-américains qui sont maintenant armés et plus puissants grâce à la première intervention ? Les interventions militaires américaines sont très utiles pour s’assurer qu’à l’avenir d’autres interventions militaires soient toujours nécessaires.

Nous avons maintenant la réponse grâce au New York Times :

Inquiets de la menace croissante que représente État islamique en Libye, les États-Unis et leurs alliés augmentent les vols de reconnaissance et la récolte de renseignements pour préparer d’éventuels frappes et raids commandos, ont annoncé cette semaine des politiciens américains et des membres des renseignements… «Il est exact que nous cherchions des actions militaires décisives contre EI parallèlement au processus politique» en Libye, a déclaré Dunford, le général du Joint Chiefs of Staff. «Le président a été clair, nous avons le droit d’utiliser les forces armées».

Tout comme il n’y avait ni al-Qaida ni État islamique à attaquer en Irak avant que les États-Unis ne bombardent le pays, il n’y avait pas EI en Libye avant que l’Otan ne la bombarde. Et maintenant, les États-Unis vont utiliser les conséquences de leurs propres bombardements pour justifier une nouvelle campagne de bombardements sur le même pays. La page éditoriale du New York Times, journal qui a soutenu la première campagne de bombardement sur la Libye, a, dans son édition d’hier, considéré le projet de nouveau bombardement du pays comme très troublant et expliqué : «Une nouvelle intervention militaire en Libye représenterait une avancée significative pour une guerre qui pourrait facilement s’étendre aux autres pays du continent.» En particulier, «cette escalade importante est prévue sans débat au Congrès sur les mérites et les risques d’une campagne militaire qui doit utiliser des frappes aériennes et des raids par les troupes d’élites américaines». (Le premier bombardement contre la Libye s’est aussi fait non seulement sans l’accord du Congrès mais a été ordonné par Obama alors que le Congrès avait rejeté une telle autorisation).

Les États-Unis et leurs alliés envisagent une intervention militaire contre EI en Libye.

Voici ce qui a été présenté comme le modèle ultime de l’intervention humanitaire. Celle ci n’a engendré aucun bénéfice humanitaire mais a par contre causé de grandes souffrances humaines car, comme d’habitude, les gens qui ont ordonné cette guerre humanitaire (et la plupart de ceux l’ayant soutenue), ne s’y sont intéressés que dans la période où les bombes pleuvaient et les morts mouraient, mais se sont totalement désintéressés des conséquences humanitaires (comme l’a montrée leur totale indifférence aux conséquences des bombardements). Comme prévu, un des rares bénéfices de cette campagne de bombardement sur la Libye va tomber dans la poche des habituels gagnants de cette alliance public-privé que constitue la machine du militarisme sans fin, en lui fournissant un nouveau prétexte pour une nouvelle guerre.

Glenn Greenwald

Article orignal en anglais : The U.S. Intervention in Libya Was Such a Smashing Success That a Sequel Is Coming, The Intercept, 27 janvier 2016.

Traduit par Wayan, relu par Hervé, Diane et Nadine pour le Saker Francophone

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Dans le débat présidentiel démocrate du 11 février, l’ancienne secrétaire d’Etat Hillary Clinton, qui cherche à rebondir après sa défaite dévastatrice de la primaire du New Hampshire, a soulevé à maintes reprises les questions d’identité raciale et de genre. Elle tentait par là de contrer l’appel du sénateur du Vermont Bernie Sanders à la question de l’inégalité économique. Sanders a pour sa part cherché à contrer Clinton en sacrifiant lui aussi à la politique raciale.

L’effort de Clinton pour mettre l’accent sur les questions de race et de genre reflétait d’abord des préoccupations électorales immédiates. Les deux prochains duels de la campagne pour l’investiture démocrate ont lieu dans des Etats ayant un grand nombre d’électeurs des minorités: les électeurs démocrates du Nevada sont à 20 pour cent hispaniques et à 10 pour cent afro-américains et 55 pour cent de tous les démocrates de Caroline du Sud sont noirs.

Mais la mise en avant accentuée des questions identitaires par Clinton, reprise par les médias pro-patronaux, reflète surtout la préoccupation de l’élite dirigeante devant les signes que les questions sociales et de classe fondamentales dominent la pensée politique de larges couches de la population, motivées par une colère profonde contre le krach financier de 2008 et la croissance continue à sa suite de l’inégalité sociale. En même temps, la campagne des primaires démocrates a montré jusque-là que l’intérêt populaire était relativement faible pour la politique étroite de la race, du genre et de l’orientation sexuelle utilisée depuis des décennies pour diviser la classe ouvrière et supprimer le développement de la conscience de classe.

Dans la primaire du New Hampshire, Sanders a remporté de loin le vote des femmes et en particulier des jeunes femmes, en dépit de l’accent mis par Clinton les jours précédant le vote sur la perspective qu’elle pourrait devenir la première femme présidente.

La réponse populaire forte et imprévue aux attaques lancées par le « socialiste démocratique » autoproclamé Sanders contre l’inégalité économique et les crimes de Wall Street est la manifestation initiale d’une large radicalisation politique. La fonction de base de la campagne de ce député et sénateur « indépendant » de longue date ayant toujours soutenu le Parti démocrate, est de détourner l’opposition sociale et politique à tout l’establishment politique et, de plus en plus, au système de profit, et de la ramener derrière le Parti démocrate.

Clinton a été malmenée par l’attaque de ses liens étroits avec Wall Street qui lui a versé des millions en frais de conférences et des dizaines de millions en contributions à sa campagne et à son super-PAC (Comité d’action politique). Depuis que Bill Clinton a quitté la Maison Blanche, lui et sa femme ont engrangé 153 millions de dollars de revenus, ce qui rend difficile à Clinton de prétendre de façon crédible qu’elle compatit avec la situation des travailleurs à faible revenu, des chômeurs de longue durée, des étudiants criblés de dette, et des retraités qui vivent d’un revenu fixe. Elle se tourne vers la politique identitaire pour cacher le vaste abîme de classe qui sépare non seulement elle, mais l’élite dirigeante américaine, de la masse de la population.

L’establishment du Parti démocrate se mobilise aux côtés de Clinton. Le comité d’action politique des membres noirs du Congrès l’a soutenue cette semaine et le député de Caroline du Sud James Clyburn, le numéro trois démocrate à la Chambre des représentants, a dit qu’il ferait une annonce avant la primaire démocrate du 27 février dans son Etat. Clyburn, qui est afro-américain, est quasi certain de soutenir Clinton.

La Maison Blanche en est elle aussi. Dans un discours devant l’Assemblée générale de l’Illinois à Springfield mercredi, à la veille du débat démocrate, Obama a déclaré son opposition à quiconque tenterait de déterminer si lui ou tout autre politicien démocrate était un « vrai progressiste. » Ce fut une claire réprobation de la campagne de Sanders qui avait parlé ainsi en critiquant les liens de Clinton avec Wall Street.

Dans le débat de jeudi à Milwaukee, dont l’hôte était le réseau de télévision public (PBS) Clinton a d’abord affirmé être d’accord avec Sanders sur le financement des campagnes politiques et la réforme de Wall Street, puis elle a dit: « Mais je veux aller plus loin. Je veux lutter contre ces obstacles qui se dressent sur la voie d’un trop grand nombre d’Américains en ce moment. Les Afro-Américains qui font face à la discrimination sur le marché de l’emploi, l’éducation, le logement et le système de justice pénale. Les familles d’immigrants qui travaillent dur, qui vivent dans la peur, qu’on devrait sortir de l’ombre afin qu’elles puissent avec leurs enfants avoir un avenir meilleur. Il faut garantir la rémunération du travail des femmes, l’égalité de salaire que nous méritons. »

Cela fut un thème récurrent tout au long de la soirée; Clinton a suggéré que Sanders était trop porté sur les questions économiques comme l’emploi, l’inégalité des revenus et des soins de santé, alors qu’elle se préoccupait de questions plus vastes touchant les électeurs afro-américains et hispaniques, comme la discrimination raciale, la violence policière et la réforme de l’immigration.

Sanders ne s’est guère efforcé de démasquer la prétention de Clinton à se faire la championne des opprimés. Comme Clinton, il a discuté de questions comme la discrimination salariale et de l’emploi, la violence policière et les attaques sur les immigrants comme si elles étaient des questions touchant les seules minorités raciales et non la classe ouvrière tout entière. Malgré ses références occasionnelles et pour la forme au socialisme – le mot n’a effectivement pas été prononcé durant le débat – Sanders sépare le racisme, le sexisme et l’attaque des droits démocratiques du système capitaliste qui les engendre.

Il a fait ses critiques habituelles de Wall Street et des inégalités économiques d’un ton nettement plus modéré que dans les débats et discours précédents. De manière significative, il n’a pas parlé des attaques contre les droits des travailleurs dans le Wisconsin en 2011, qui avaient déclenché un mouvement de protestation dans tout l’État contre l’administration du gouverneur républicain Scott Walker. Ce mouvement a finalement été détourné par les syndicats et le Parti démocrate qui l’ont fait dérailler. Clinton a parlé deux fois, de façon désobligeante, de Walker mais Sanders n’a jamais prononcé son nom.

Le caractère réactionnaire des campagnes de Clinton et Sanders a été le plus clairement exprimé dans leur concurrence pour l’héritage de Barack Obama. Le plus fort échange entre les deux candidats a été quand Clinton a suggéré que Sanders avait formulé des critiques injustifiées envers Obama, affirmant qu’il parlait « comme un républicain. » Ce que Sanders a furieusement dénoncé comme « un coup bas. »

Après le débat, Tad Devine, le stratège en chef de Sanders s’est plaint qu’« ils essaient de placer un obstacle, un mur, une division entre le sénateur Sanders et le président Obama. Il n’y a qu’un problème avec cela: elle n’en existe pas. » On ne saurait faire critique plus dévastatrice de la campagne de Sanders. Le gouvernement Obama a été le principal instrument de l’aristocratie financière américaine ces sept dernières années dans sa guerre à la classe ouvrière américaine et dans le maintien des intérêts mondiaux de l’impérialisme américain.

Clinton a mentionné le nom du président 21 fois au cours du débat de deux heures, selon un décompte des médias; Sanders a vainement cherché à la surpasser en s’alignant sur la politique de ce gouvernement droitier de la grande entreprise.

Il était notable que dans la partie du débat sur la politique étrangère, qui fut relativement brève, Sanders s’est identifié complètement avec Obama et a souligné les différends de Clinton avec la Maison Blanche sur des questions comme l’imposition d’une zone d’exclusion aérienne en Syrie. Sanders a fait les commentaires les plus étendus de sa campagne sur la question de l’Ukraine et de la Russie, il a souscrit pleinement à la politique d’Obama, qui menace une escalade allant jusqu’à l’affrontement militaire direct avec la Russie, la deuxième puissance nucléaire du monde.

Sanders a déclaré, « Les actions agressives de la Russie en Crimée et en Ukraine ont créé une situation où le président Obama et l’OTAN disent – correctement, je crois – nous allons devoir renforcer le niveau de nos effectifs dans cette partie du monde pour dire à Poutine que son agressivité ne restera pas sans réponse … Nous devons travailler avec l’OTAN pour protéger l’Europe de l’est contre toute sorte d’agression russe. »

 Patrick Martin

Article paru en anglais, WSWS, le 13 février 2016

  • Posted in Francais @fr
  • Commentaires fermés sur Dans le débat démocrate, Clinton presse Sanders sur les questions de race, de genre et du soutien à Obama

Quelques heures seulement après que le secrétaire d’Etat américain John Kerry et le ministre russe des Affaires étrangères Sergueï Lavrov eurent dévoilé un vague plan de « cessation des hostilités » en Syrie, le 12 février, les alliés des États-Unis ont poussé à une escalade majeure de la guerre à la Conférence sur la sécurité de Munich où étaient réunis les dirigeants de nombreux grands pays.

Samedi, les responsables turcs et saoudiens ont confirmé leur intention de commencer des bombardements et de lancer une invasion terrestre de la Syrie. « La Turquie et l’Arabie Saoudite peuvent lancer une opération terrestre », a déclaré le ministre turc des Affaires étrangères Mevlut Cavusoglu à Yeni Safak, ajoutant que l’Arabie Saoudite était « prête à envoyer avions de combats et troupes » à la base aérienne turque d’Incirlik.

Washington a donné sa bénédiction à ces opérations, bien qu’elles menacent de déclencher une guerre pouvant submerger l’ensemble du Moyen-Orient et dégénérer en guerre mondiale. Le secrétaire américain à la Défense Ashton Carter avait déclaré le 12 février qu’il s’attendait à ce que des commandos d’Arabie Saoudite et des Emirats Arabes Unis envahissent la Syrie. Carter a affirmé qu’ils attaqueraient l’Etat islamique (EI); mais la Turquie et l’Arabie Saoudite soutiennent les forces islamistes sunnites en Syrie comme l’EI et leur objectif y serait de détruire le régime du président syrien Bachar al-Assad.

Parlant au Süddeutsche Zeitung allemand le même jour, le ministre saoudien des Affaires étrangères Adel al-Jubeir a personnellement menacé le président syrien. « Il n’y aura pas de Bachar al-Assad à l’avenir, » a-t-il dit.

L’armée iranienne, dont les unités opèrent aux cotés des forces gouvernementales syriennes et russes contre les groupes islamistes sunnites soutenus par l’OTAN, a prévenu dimanche qu’ils riposteraient à l’escalade militaire turque et saoudienne. « Nous ne laisserons pas la situation en Syrie devenir incontrôlable pour que des Etats voyous puissent réaliser leur politique. Si nécessaire, nous prendrons des décisions appropriées », a déclaré le chef adjoint d’état-major, le brigadier-général Masoud Jazayeri.

Le Premier ministre russe Dmitri Medvedev a déjà averti que des opérations saoudiennes au sol pourraient provoquer une « nouvelle guerre mondiale. » Il a dit au Handelsblatt, « une opération terrestre entraînerait tous les participants dans une guerre. Par conséquent, les Américains et nos partenaires arabes doivent bien considérer s’ils veulent une guerre permanente. »

Alors que les bombardements russes et les offensives syriennes menacent de reprendre la ville d’Alep à l’opposition, l’OTAN et ses alliés signalent qu’ils sont prêts à se livrer à une escalade d’une stupéfiante irresponsabilité pour assurer la défaite d’Assad et de Moscou. La Conférence sur la sécurité a donné lieu samedi à une dispute sur la Syrie, Kerry et le premier ministre français Manuel Valls attaquant la Russie et avertissant que l’OTAN ne permettrait pas que ses mandataires islamistes soient battus.

Kerry a accusé Moscou « d’agressions répétées » en Syrie, et a déclaré: « À ce jour, la grande majorité, à notre avis, des attaques russes ont été menées contre des groupes d’opposition légitimes. »

« Assad et ses alliés, dont la Russie, croient peut-être qu’en défiant la volonté de la communauté internationale, ils peuvent gagner la guerre. Si tel est ce que pensent la Russie et Assad, alors je pense que les leçons des cinq dernières années leur ont échappé » a-t-il dit. Les forces de l’opposition soutenues par les Américains « peuvent être repoussées ici et là, mais elles ne vont pas se rendre, » ajouta Kerry.

Le premier ministre français s’est fait l’écho de la ligne dure de Kerry. «Nous savons que pour retrouver le chemin de la paix, le bombardement russe de civils doit cesser, » a-t-il déclaré.

Quel que soit le nombre de morts causé en Syrie par les frappes aériennes de l’oligarchie du Kremlin, les critiques de Kerry et Valls sont de l’hypocrisie et de la fausseté pures. La cause principale de la guerre, qui a fait 300.000 morts et forcé onze millions de Syriens à fuir leurs foyers, est la campagne de l’OTAN et de ses alliés au Moyen-Orient pour renverser Assad. Les milices islamistes sunnites comme Ahrar al-Sham ou les Brigades Farouq, qu’ils soutiennent comme forces « modérées d’opposition », préconisent en fait la création de théocraties sunnites et la violence sectaire contre les musulmans chiites.

Medvedev, qui était assis à côté de Valls dans la salle de conférence, a répondu en l’accusant de fabriquer ses accusations contre la Russie: « Il n’y a aucune preuve que nous bombardions des civils, même si tout le monde nous en accuse. »

Medvedev a ensuite attaqué la position de l’OTAN envers la Russie, la qualifiant d’hostile, et a comparé la situation à la crise des missiles cubains de 1962. « Nous sommes tombés dans une nouvelle guerre froide », a-t-il dit. « Presque chaque jour, on nous reproche d’être la plus terrible menace pour l’OTAN, pour l’Europe, pour l’Amérique et d’autres pays. Ils font des films d’horreur où la Russie commence une guerre nucléaire. Je me demande parfois: sommes-nous en 2016 ou en1962? »

L’allusion de Medvedev à la crise des missiles cubains, qui faillit conduire à une guerre nucléaire entre les Etats-Unis et l’Union soviétique, n’est pas une question futile. Au milieu de l’escalade des crises entre la Russie et l’OTAN – depuis l’Ukraine et la confrontation navale de la mer Noire et des républiques baltes, à la Syrie — de plus en plus de responsables militaires et diplomatiques arrivent à la conclusion qu’une guerre totale entre puissances nucléaires est possible ou même inévitable.

Le Munich Security Report 2016, le document officiel de la conférence, montre clairement que la guerre mondiale est une possibilité. Il affirme: « pour la première fois depuis la fin de la guerre froide, l’escalade de la violence entre grandes puissances ne peut être écarté comme un cauchemar irréaliste. »

Le fait que les dirigeants du monde se disputent vivement entre eux tout en sachant qu’ils conduisent le monde vers des guerres qui pourraient annihiler l’humanité, témoigne de la faillite de l’ordre social capitaliste. En proie aux inégalités sociales et aux tensions de classe, déchiré par la concurrence pour le profit et l’avantage stratégique entre grandes puissances, le capitalisme mondial a atteint une impasse.

Les dirigeants des principaux pouvoirs impérialistes, comme les États-Unis, l’Allemagne, la France et la Grande-Bretagne, ne voient pas d’alternative à la guerre. Ainsi le président de la Conférence de Munich, Wolfgang Ischinger, a déclaré dans son discours de clôture, « Il y a un besoin d’utilisation de la force militaire pour faire et imposer la paix. Il est triste qu’il en soit ainsi, mais c’est le cas ».

Le rapport de la conférence énumère de nombreuses questions régionales comme autant de menaces graves. Il cite les crises du Brésil et de la Turquie, la dissolution de l’UE, une sortie britannique de l’UE, des « menaces nucléaires à peine voilées» en Europe de l’Est, la nécessité de trouver des centaines de millions d’emplois pour la population croissante de l’Afrique et le poids économique et géostratégique croissant de la Chine. Les responsables réunis sont aussi de plus en plus conscients et préoccupés du danger de lutte sociale, d’un soulèvement de la classe ouvrière par le bas.

Il est significatif que le rapport identifie la colère sociale de masse comme l’un des « 10 premiers risques pour 2016. » Il s’inquiète de ce que, « alors que le ralentissement de la croissance et la stagnation du niveau de vie attisent le mécontentement populaire, des citoyens en colère descendront dans la rue. »

La conférence a aussi discuté la crise des migrants alors que des centaines de milliers de refugiés syriens, irakiens, afghans fuient la guerre et vont en Europe où la plupart arrivent en Allemagne. Le ministre allemand des Affaires étrangères Frank-Walter Steinmeier s’en est servi pour promouvoir la remilitarisation allemande, une politique déjà annoncée à la Conférence de 2014.

« Je pense que beaucoup d’entre vous étaient ici il y a deux ans, lorsque nous avons discuté l’évolution du rôle de l’Allemagne et de ses responsabilités, » a-t-il observé. « Aujourd’hui, nous envisageons notre responsabilité d’une manière absolument différente: lorsque la crise de la migration a commencé, nous nous sommes rendu compte qu’il s’agissait plutôt de certaines actions que de devoirs abstraits. »

Cette question a provoqué une réplique réactionnaire du premier ministre français. Avertissant d’une éventuelle dissolution de l’Union européenne, Valls a déclaré que Paris n’était « pas favorable » à l’appel de Berlin à des quotas de réfugiés à répartir dans l’UE et que la France ne serait d’accord que pour en prendre 30.000.

Alex Lantier

Article paru en anglais, WSWS le 15 février 2016

  • Posted in Francais @fr
  • Commentaires fermés sur Washington dénonce la Russie et soutient l’escalade de la guerre en Syrie

La nouvelle donne en Syrie.

février 16th, 2016 by Pierre Van Grunderbeek

Les insurgés syriens et les djihadistes internationaux viennent d’essuyer une cuisante défaite au nord d’Alep.  On ne sait pas encore si ce sera une déroute ou un simple revers de fortune mais cela mérite qu’on évalue la gravité de la situation dans laquelle se trouvent les combattants qui ont pris les armes contre le gouvernement légitime de Bachar al Assad et de voir quelle pourrait être l’évolution régionale si la ville d’Alep venait à être totalement reconquise par les forces syriennes.

Il est inutile de revenir sur la participation décisive de l’aviation russe, du déploiement des systèmes antiaériens de dernière génération (S-400) ainsi que du performant système de brouillage électronique Krassoukha-4 [1] dans les opérations militaires en Syrie.  [2]  Le matériel de guerre syrien a été modernisé en ce qui concerne l’aviation et il a été renforcé avec du matériel moderne pour l’armement blindé. Tout cela a déjà été lu et relu en long et en large dans tous les médias traditionnels et je n’ai rien de neuf à ajouter.


Accueil des troupes de l’Armée syrienne à Nebbol et Zahraa.Ce qui est plus rarement évoqué, c’est la surprenante métamorphose de l’armée russe qui est passée d’une armée en guenilles dans les années 90 à une armée disposant des équipements les plus sophistiqués en 2016 et cela avec un budget militaire 7,2 fois inférieur à celui des États-Unis [3].  Ceux qui s’intéressent à ce sujet savent que les États-Unis et la Russie sont les seuls pays au monde à disposer d’une capacité de production indépendante pour toutes les armes que leur armée utilise.  Y arriver avec un budget aussi réduit est une performance pour la Russie.

L’explication vient sans doute de coûteuses erreurs de conception ou d’utilité stratégique commises par l’armée étasunienne comme l’avion multirôle F-35 ou le bouclier antimissiles par exemple, de l’épuisement de l’armée US dans des guerres asymétriques, de la dispersion des forces sur l’ensemble de la planète, de la priorité donnée à des systèmes de protections contre les attaques d’ennemis moins puissants pendant plus de 10 ans (guérillas et attaques suicides), de la corruption et des gaspillages divers. 

Pendant ce temps, la Russie a lancé un programme de restructuration de son armée à la fois sur le plan stratégique, tactique et qualitatif qui doit arriver à son terme en 2020.  Les premiers résultats en ce début 2016 atteignent déjà des résultats étonnants alors que la plupart des nouveautés sont encore au stade de prototypes [4].  

Comment expliquer la défaite d’Alep ?

Contrairement à tout ce que les médias mainstream prétendent, ce n’est pas l’Armée arabe syrienne qui a ouvert les hostilités ces derniers jours.  Le groupe terroriste « Front al-Nosra » [5] affilié à Al-Qaïda avait tenté à plusieurs reprises de prendre la localité de Bachkoy située au nord d’Alep.  Lors de leur dernière tentative, l’AAS a contre-attaqué avec l’appui de l’artillerie et des aviations syrienne et russe en provoquant la débandade des terroristes.  L’AAS a profité de la situation pour atteindre les villages chiites de Nebbol et Zahraa qui étaient assiégés depuis trois ans et demi et par la même occasion, de couper la principale route qui relie Alep à la Turquie.  Les 5000 défenseurs de ces deux villages se sont alors joints à l’AAS pour repousser les terroristes encore plus loin.  

Une autre explication de cette défaite est que de nombreux djihadistes, on parle de plusieurs milliers, ont quitté la Syrie pour la Libye.  On peut penser que ces combattants aguerris ont manqué pour faire face à l’AAS.

Les perdants.

On ne peut évaluer que sur base de la situation actuelle qui évolue vers un siège des quartiers tenus par les rebelles.  Il n’est pas possible de prévoir une éventuelle intervention militaire de la Turquie et de l’Arabie saoudite.  Une telle évolution du conflit conduirait la guerre dans une direction imprévisible et je ne me risquerai pas à faire une prospective sans avoir des éléments concrets en mains.

On cite généralement avec raison la Turquie comme principale perdante.  La guerre en Syrie a remis en selle les différents groupes indépendantistes kurdes.  Le comble pour Recep Erdogan est que les États-Unis soutiennent militairement leur ennemi historique kurde qui lutte avec succès contre l’État islamique.  Le soutien russe est seulement diplomatique et ne concerne que des armes légères pour le moment mais que ferait la Turquie si Vladimir Poutine se mettait à fournir des armes lourdes aux Kurdes ?  L’acquisition d’armement de toute nouvelle conception [6] permettra aux Russes de se défaire sans problème de leur armement actuel.  Recep Erdogan devrait peut-être y réfléchir à deux fois avant de se mettre définitivement les Russes à dos.  C’est à lui de trouver la solution pour sortir du bourbier dans lequel il s’est enlisé.

L’Arabie saoudite et le Qatar ont beaucoup dépensé pour renverser Bachar al Assad.  Ce sera une perte sèche pour eux.  

Une invasion de la Syrie pour des » motifs humanitaires » par les deux complices du terrorisme islamique que sont la Turquie et l’Arabie saoudite n’est pas exclue.   Malheureusement, on ne peut pas faire confiance en leur sincérité.  Ce serait une opération destinée à sauver leurs protégés au nord et au sud de la Syrie.  Le tout est de savoir si cela entrainerait une implication des États-Unis sans qui le succès d’une telle opération est impossible.  

Ce qui est probable, c’est que cela entrainerait un embrasement de tout le Moyen-Orient avec la prévisible fermeture du détroit d’Ormuz et toutes les conséquences qui en découleraient pour l’Europe.

 

Le détroit d’Ormuz.

Le risque d’une révolution de palais est élevé en Arabie saoudite.  Le jeune prince Mohammed ben Salmane qui a reçu les rênes du pouvoir de son père, le roi Salmane qui serait gravement malade [7], risque de ne plus longtemps être accepté vu sa gestion désastreuse du pays malgré la vigilance des protecteurs étasuniens. 

Le Qatar ne verra pas la réalisation de son gazoduc à travers la Syrie.  Il lui resterait son championnat du monde de football de 2022… si le scandale de la corruption ne revenait pas à la surface.

La France perdra surtout la face.  Elle qui a été en pointe pour renverser Bachar al Assad et qui a utilisé les moyens les plus retors pour y arriver [8].  On peut s’attendre à voir la presse française écrire comme d’habitude des récriminations dépitées contre la politique étrangère russe.  

Israël a finement joué.  Il a soutenu l’opposition quand elle avait le vent en poupe et accepte une certaine neutralité maintenant que les Russes sont à la manœuvre.  L’ennemi proche est le Hezbollah.  Israël compte sur la Russie pour le contenir.  L’Iran, l’ennemi lointain, a obtenu la réintégration dans la communauté mondiale et n’a plus intérêt à provoquer Israël.  Son ennemi est plutôt l’Arabie saoudite et le wahhabisme conquérant. 

Les gagnants.

On aurait tendance à penser qu’il n’y aura pas de gagnant mais peut-être juste des vainqueurs.  L’Irak et surtout le Syrie sont en ruines et le statu quo ante bellum n’est pas envisageable.  

On ne sait si les Kurdes obtiendront une indépendance ou s’ils devront se contenter d’une autonomie régionale dans leurs pays respectifs.  Et quid des Kurdes de Turquie et de ceux disséminés dans les grandes villes syriennes et irakiennes ?  

Si un Sunnistan de Racca à Mossoul doit être créé, il n’est pas envisageable qu’il soit dirigé par le groupe armé État islamique, mais comment le déloger surtout qu’il semble être en mesure de fabriquer des armes chimiques [9].  Les États-Unis n’ont aucune envie de recommencer une invasion de l’Irak.  Quel autre pays ou coalition est prêt à engager son armée dans une guerre longue et coûteuse sans doute sans l’aval du Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU ?  La boîte de Pandore a été ouverte et il faudra très longtemps pour éliminer tous les maux qui s’en sont échappés.

À condition qu’elle ne subisse pas de revers, la Russie pourrait tirer son épingle du jeu à court terme mais est-il envisageable qu’elle maintienne des activités militaires aussi intenses pendant de longues années ?  C’est pourtant ce qui risque d’arriver.

C’est peut-être l’Iran qui sera le principal gagnant.  Il est redevenu une puissance régionale courtisée par tous sans avoir fait beaucoup de concessions.  Voir l’Iran prendre de plus en plus d’importance pour les Occidentaux rend les Saoudiens nerveux.

Les États-Unis.

Ses alliés attendaient depuis le début un engagement direct des États-Unis contre les dirigeants syriens.  C’est tout-à-fait contraire à la doctrine que Barack Obama a adopté qui consiste à rester en deuxième ligne.  Les États-Unis sont impatients de se retirer du Moyen-Orient pour pouvoir concentrer leurs forces en Extrême-Orient, là où les grands enjeux du XXIe siècle vont se dérouler.  Ils savent que chaque jour qui passe permet à la Chine de devenir plus puissante.  Une intervention militaire au Moyen-Orient aurait pour conséquence d’encore retarder le basculement vers l’Asie.

Toutes les tentatives de renverser Bachar al Assad ont échoué.  Peu de diplomates, de dignitaires du régime ou de haut gradé ont répondu positivement aux offres en monnaies sonnantes et trébuchantes des Saoudiens.  L’envoi de dizaines de milliers de djihadistes étrangers n’a pas fait s’effondrer l’Armée arabe syrienne.  La distribution massive de centaines de millions de dollars dans les territoires sous contrôle rebelle n’a pas réussi à acheter le cœur des Syriens.  L’intervention des aviations étasunienne et française en septembre 2013 sous un prétexte mensonger [10] n’a pas pu avoir lieu. L’étape suivante ne peut être qu’une confrontation directe avec la Russie mais elle a déjà été repoussée par Barack Obama.

Alep et l’heure de vérité.

L’ASL et les islamistes sont entrés dans la ville alors qu’elle n’était que faiblement défendue [11] en juillet 2012.  Le reste du pays était déjà en effervescence depuis un an. 

 

Alep en 2010.

Ces groupes armés ont recruté des combattants, souvent de force, dans les quartiers qu’ils occupent.  Maintenant que la situation se détériore pour les rebelles, on voit que nombre d’entre eux cherchent un arrangement avec le gouvernement syrien.  Le ralliement ou la neutralité de ces militants sera décisif pour la manière dont la ville sera reprise.

On peut s’attendre à ce que la lassitude, le manque de perspectives victorieuses et les effets de l’arrêt du ravitaillement aient raison de la combativité des groupes armés à Alep. 

L’Europe et son absence de politique étrangère.

Le premier risque viendra de l’arrivée de millions de migrants.  Une victoire militaire de l’AAS signifierait que les vaincus, c’est-à-dire les islamistes de tous bords et leurs familles, prendront le chemin de l’exil.  L’Union européenne s’est déjà engagée à verser 3 milliards d’euros à la Turquie pour qu’elle empêche ces réfugiés de venir en Europe.  Cette somme sera alors à doubler ou à tripler sans garantie que le gouvernement turc tienne ses promesses.

Un deuxième risque viendrait d’un embrasement général du Moyen-Orient dont l’Europe est partiellement dépendante pour son pétrole.

Les hystériques.

La défaite des groupes armés rend complètement hystériques une série de faiseurs d’opinion français.

La perspective d’un retour à la paix et l’éradication des fanatiques islamistes leur sont indifférents.  Ils n’ont qu’une obsession : le départ de Bachar al Assad quitte à ce que cela passe par une guerre avec la Russie.  Avoir eu tort depuis le départ leur est insupportable.  Heureusement, leurs diatribes suscitent de plus en plus de rejets de la part de leurs auditeurs et de leurs lecteurs qui ont la possibilité de s’informer ailleurs.

Voici quelques cas exemplaires.

Un œil sur la Syrie.  C’est un blog du journal Le Monde tenu par Ignace Leverrier mais il s’appelait en réalité Wladimir Glasman [12].  Il est décédé le 21 août 2015 mais il continue à publier des articles incendiaires contre le gouvernement légitime syrien [13].  Comprenne qui pourra !  On ne sait pas si c’était un collectif qui était aux commandes depuis le début ou si ces drôles ont décidé de perpétuer les publications univoques de Wladimir Glasman.  

Daniel Cohn Bendit.  Voici un numéro complètement déjanté sur Europe 1 d’un « has been » des années 60 dont le style « donneur de leçons » devient de plus en plus insupportable [14].

Bernard-Henri Levy.  On ne sait pas si c’est plus un menteur ou plus un tartuffe [15].  Des principes, toujours des principes pendant que les ennemis de l’Occident gagnent partout du terrain.  Mouammar Kadhafi faisait le boulot que Recep Erdogan ne fait pas.  Il ne permettait pas le passage des migrants.  BHL est un imposteur et son discours est plein de contrevérités.  Non seulement, Mouammar Kadhafi bloquait le passage des migrants mais il combattait aussi les islamistes.  Son pays avait le plus haut niveau de développement humain et le plus haut niveau de vie de l’Afrique.  La population profitait des richesses du pays avec la gratuité de la plupart des services.  J’aimerais bien avoir un dictateur pareil.  

De plus, il faisait vivres des centaines de milliers de travailleurs de l’Afrique subsaharienne en Libye et il accordait des aides à ses voisins du sud.  

Tout cela est tombé à l’eau et remplacé par l’insécurité de l’AQMI.  Il ne faut pas chercher plus loin la raison pour laquelle 50 % des migrants (et pas quelques pourcents comme BHL l’affirme) qui arrivent en Europe sont Africains.  

Un autre mensonge est d’affirmer que les migrants du Moyen-Orient sont Syriens.  Il y a aussi des Irakiens, des Afghans, des Pakistanais et d’autres nationalités qui ont acquis de vrais/faux passeports syriens pour 50 $.  La majorité des réfugiés syriens qui fuient les islamistes se réfugient en zone gouvernementale, à Damas et sur la côte méditerranéenne.

Les images récentes de réfugiées qui attendent le passage de la frontière turque montre des femmes en hijab ou en niqab.  Cela indique que ce sont les familles des islamistes qui fuient devant l’AAS.

Conclusion.

La dite opposition syrienne est formée d’une mosaïque de groupes mafieux qui combattent l’armée syrienne tout en faisant régner leur loi sur les régions qu’ils occupent.  

Est-ce que quelqu’un peut citer le nom d’un de ces groupes qui aurait un projet sociétal proche du nôtre et qui serait respectueux du statut de la femme ?  Un groupe qui a réellement du poids sur le terrain évidemment !

Il n’y en a pas.  Alors, pourquoi vouloir les présenter comme des oppositions honorables ?

Ce qu’il y a de plus proche de nos valeurs occidentales, c’est la constitution syrienne actuelle et les lois d’ouverture au multipartisme qui ont été promulguée en 2011 [16].   

Il y a en Syrie et hors de Syrie une opposition qui n’a pas pris les armes.  Elle est opposée à la révolte armée.  Pourquoi est-elle boycottée par les pays occidentaux ?

La vérité, c’est qu’on a cherché un changement d’alliance de la Syrie.  Je précise bien un changement d’alliance et pas un changement de régime.  Bachar al Assad avait été reçu en grandes pompes à Paris dans le cadre de l’Union pour la Méditerranée.  On attendait de lui un rapprochement avec l’Occident et une rupture avec l’Iran et le Hezbollah pour normaliser les relations avec lui.  Depuis la neutralisation de l’Iran, ces ruptures n’ont plus la même importance d’où le revirement du secrétariat d’État étasunien concernant Bachar al Assad. 

Je crois que des accords ont été conclus entre les États-Unis et la Russie.  Un remodelage des frontières régionales semble inéluctable.  Le tout, c’est de tracer ces frontières et ce sera sans doute par les armes.  Une situation de uti possidetis juris s‘ensuivra. 

Une Syrie utile regroupera les grandes villes de l’Ouest et intégrera peut-être Deir ez-Zor et ses champs pétroliers.

 Une raffinerie en feu dans l’est de la Syrie.  


La région de Racca et ses tribus proche des tribus sunnites irakiennes peut former un nouvel État à condition qu’il ne soit pas dirigé par l’État islamique.

Un pays Kurde unifié semble plus difficile à établir.  100 ans de séparation ont eu des conséquences qui me feraient plutôt pencher vers des autonomies régionales mais le débat est ouvert.  Bien sûr, la Turquie est aussi concernée, d’où sa nervosité.

L’autre pays nerveux est l’Arabie saoudite.  Ma connaissance de ce pays me fait plutôt pencher pour un éclatement en plusieurs entités.  Les rivalités entre les clans deviennent de plus en plus tendues

Un élément qui est peu connu c’est que les deux principaux clans rivaux disposent chacun d’une armée de force à peu près égale : l’armée régulière commandée par le Ministre de la Défense, le fils du roi Salman, Mohamed ben Salmane du clan des Soudairi, et la Garde nationale sous le commandement du fils de feu le roi Abdullah, Mutaib bin Abdullah, qui fait partie de la tribu des Chammar.

La succession du roi Salmane éliminera un des deux clans du pouvoir et je ne vois pas quel compromis serait accepté sauf une partition du pays, négociée ou violente.

Les Européens n’ont pas conscience de l’importance des liens tribaux au Moyen-Orient (en Libye aussi) d’où notre erreur de croire que les normes démocratiques sont exportables.

Les États-Unis et la Russie sont bien plus pragmatiques.  Le désintérêt relatif des États-Unis pour cette région pourrait aussi être motivé par leur refus d’être impliqués dans une guerre régionale dans laquelle ils ne voient pas d’intérêt [17].

Il a souvent été écrit que 2016 sera une année dangereuse pour la paix mondiale. Nous sommes proches du moment de vérité sur plusieurs fronts et les Européens ne sont pas prêts.  On parle de réforme de l’orthographe, de la laïcité ou de la théorie du genre… comme les Byzantins parlaient du sexe des anges en 1453 quoi !

 

La prise de Byzance par les Turcs en 1453.

Pierre Van Grunderbeek


[1]  Krassoukha-4 est un système de brouillage de radar de haute technologie qu’on avait déjà vu à l’œuvre en Ukraine.  https://resistanceauthentique.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/larme-ultrasecrete-qui-permet-a-poutine-dassoir-sa-suprematie-dans-la-guerre-electronique-en-syrie/

[2] Les Hazaras sont des Afghans d’origine persane.  https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazaras 

[3] Budgets de la défense en 2014.  États-Unis : 610 milliards de dollars.  Russie : 84,5 milliards de dollars.  Le budget de la défense français est un peu inférieur au russe (62,3 milliards de dollars) mais il n’arrive ni à égaler ni à approcher le large éventail d’armes que la Russie parvient à produire.  http://fr.express.live/2015/04/21/voici-les-pays-qui-ont-le-plus-de-depenses-militaires-au-monde-exp-212875/

[4] L’armée russe semble favoriser le développement de drones de tous types.  Ici, une vidéo du prototype de l’Uran-9.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE3f7oNFTlE&feature=youtu.be

[5] Il n’y a aucun problème de qualifier le Front al-Nosra de terroriste vu qu’il est appelé comme cela par l’ONU.  http://fr.sputniknews.com/international/20151222/1020493303/Daech-front-Nosra-terroristes.html

[6] En 2020, l’armée russe sera équipée de 70 % d’équipement de dernière génération.

http://reseauinternational.net/lours-se-reveille-la-puissance-militaire-de-la-russie-est-de-retour/

[7]  Les rumeurs indiquant que le roi Salman souffre de la maladie d’Alzheimer sont de plus en plus nombreuses.  J’avais déjà évoqué cela dans un article en 2013 dans le paragraphe « Intrigues et tractation ».  Les traitements médicaux parviennent à maintenir le roi Salmane concentré quelques heures par jour.

http://www.agoravox.fr/actualites/international/article/quel-avenir-pour-l-arabie-saoudite-141160

[8] L’accusation d’emploi d’armes chimique contre la population civile de la Ghouta se révèle tous les jours plus inexacte. 

Le rapport de l’OPCW (prix Nobel de la paix 2013)  qui vient de sortir accuse (avec preuves) les rebelles d’être responsables du massacre.  http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/assad-never-used-chemical-weapons-islamist-rebels-did/

Une conférence avec l’ex otage Pierre Piccinin où il répète ce qu’il a entendu.  http://www.agenceinfolibre.fr/gaz-sarin-syrie/

Un article paru en 2012.  http://www.agoravox.fr/actualites/international/article/la-syrie-et-le-rapport-du-mit-147902

[9] Le groupe État islamique aurait fabriqué des armes chimiques.   http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-has-made-and-deployed-chemical-weapons-says-us-intelligence-official-a6864821.html

[10] Ce que les médias appelaient des frappes était en réalité un acte de guerre qui aurait pu avoir des conséquences désastreuses.  Le prétexte mensonger est maintenant établi.

[11] Une confirmation que les combattants sont venus de l’extérieur.  https://etudesgeostrategiques.com/tag/bataille-dalep/

[12] Wladimir Glasman s’est octroyé des titres et des activités diplomatiques qu’il n’a jamais eus.  http://www.mondialisation.ca/syrie-grandeur-et-decadence-dun-journal-au-dessus-de-tout-soupcon/5353235

[17] Cependant les États-Unis n’auraient aucun scrupule à fournir des armes à tous les belligérants.

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Closure of Balkan Refugee Route Deepens Rifts in the EU

février 16th, 2016 by Martin Kreickenbaum

Diplomatic tensions between the EU member states are intensifying in the run-up to the meeting of heads of state and governments this week. The issue of what measures can better seal off Europe against refugees is further inflaming these conflicts.

While the countries of the “Visegrad Group,” consisting of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, together with Austria, are insisting on the complete closure and militarization of the Macedonian-Greek border in order to strand refugees in Greece. Germany, France and Italy, above all, reject such a step, which would mean the de facto exclusion of Greece from the Schengen Area.

The German government, which is also supported by the European Commission, is pursuing the plan to seal off the Mediterranean passage between Greece and Turkey, using NATO warships and the prompt deportation of refugees who still land in Greece back to the Turkish mainland.

In return, the EU countries are ready to receive fixed quotas of civil war refugees from Turkey, which has taken in more than 2.5 million refugees from Syria. The aim is, in the medium term, to return to the Dublin process, under which the state where a refugee first arrives in Europe is responsible for processing their asylum application.

A meeting of Eastern European government leaders in Prague last Monday refused any further admission of refugees based on quotas. By sealing off the border at the Macedonian town of Gevgelija they are attempting to create a fait accompli.

For days, soldiers on the Greek-Macedonian border have been building a massive border fence some 37 kilometres long. A Macedonian officer said, “The message to the immigrants is: Give up trying to cross the border illegally.” The Hungarian government had already provided the NATO barbed wire, concrete pillars and the necessary construction equipment in December.

The Visegrad Group have recently received support in their endeavours from Austria. The government in Vienna had agreed a few weeks ago to take no more than 37,500 refugees this year. Since they will have reached this quota in a few weeks, the coalition of the conservative Austrian Peoples Party and Austrian Social Democratic Party is now looking to seal off the border.

Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told Die Welt, “I support the considerations for a civilian-military mission at the Greek-Macedonian or Serbian-Macedonian border. Macedonia must be the first country to be ready after Greece to stop the influx.” Kurz described it as the “duty” of Austria to help the Macedonian government with border security.

Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil sang the same tune when he announced the dispatch of soldiers to Macedonia to deter refugees there. “We can’t wait for an EU solution, we must rely on border security measures both nationally and on the Balkan route,” the Ministry of Defence told the news agency APA.

On broadcaster TA3, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico accused the German government of “trying to impose dictates against all those holding other views on refugee policy.” Fico also reported that the German government had even protested against the meeting of the Visegrad Group through an official diplomatic note. “What allows the Visegrad Four, together with Bulgaria and Macedonia, to speak on the protection of external borders?” the note said, according to Fico.

The approach of the Visegrad Group, unauthorised in the eyes of the EU, met with unusually sharp reprimands from parts of the German government. According to the ddeutsche Zeitung, in an open letter to the Social Democratic government leaders and foreign ministers in Europe, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, “a formal expulsion of a member state from Schengen or its de facto exclusion are false solutions that poison the European debate. Europe’s external borders cannot be simply redefined, and especially not over the heads of the member states concerned.”

The criticisms from the German government are not directed against the humanitarian consequences of the closure of the Balkan route, but represent an attempt to preserve EU institutions. The German plans for repelling refugees are no less militarized.

The plans of Chancellor Merkel to use NATO in sealing off the Aegean also include the illegal rejection of refugees. Such “pushbacks”, as the measures on the high seas are called, would mean that the crossing becomes increasingly dangerous for refugees, leading to a rapid rise in thethe death toll on the Aegean.

Immediately before the EU summit Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel is gathering together what the media has dubbed a “coalition of the willing”, a group of government leaders to negotiate a quota solution with Turkey.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the proposal involves taking in some 240,000 specially chosen refugees from the Syrian civil war. However, the Turkish government wants to move this figure upward if faced with a further growth in refugee numbers, while the EU is insisting on a penalty mechanism. If the number of so-called “illegal” border crossings from Turkey to Greece rises above a predetermined value, the quota that the EU wants to take will automatically fall.

In this way, while Turkey is made Europe’s guard dog in deterring refugees, and the border to Syria is simply closed, as at Kilis, the EU Commission is increasing the pressure on the Greek government to strengthen border controls and to register all refugees who land. The government in Athens has received an ultimatum from Brussels to work through a list of 50 measures to deter refugees within three months. Otherwise, the country will be excluded from the Schengen Area.

The Syriza-led government under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras supports the EU’s brutal methods to deter refugees. It has now ordered the army to the Aegean islands of Kos, Chios, Lesbos and Leros to construct the so-called “hotspots” (internment camps where refugees are registered) ordered by the EU Commission.

But the closure of the border with Macedonia would bring the entire system down like a house of cards. Each day, despite the cold and dangerous seas, more than 2,000 desperate refugees risk the crossing from the Turkish mainland to the Aegean islands. Since the beginning of the year, the Greek authorities have registered more than 80,000 new refugees, an increase of about 20 times compared with the same period last year. According to official figures, at least 366 have drowned trying to cross the Aegean. Within a month, the newly created asylum structures in Greece will be completely overcrowded.

Under these conditions, calls are increasing within the ruling coalition in Germany for Greece to be expelled from the Schengen Area, and for the sealing off of the Balkan route. All the refugees are to be held in this small country.

The general secretary of the Christian Democratic Party’s influential economic council told Die Welt, “The basic conditions for completely open borders within Europe are no longer guaranteed at the moment in all member states.” Speaking of Greece, he added, “If a country fails to meet its obligations, then Schengen must move toward central Europe.” The cost of temporary border closures was less than continuing the “open door policy”, Geiger added.

Similar voices can also be heard from the Social Democratic Party.” We need the shutdown of the Balkan route”, the deputy chairman of the party’s parliamentary group, Axel Schäfer, told Der Spiegel, adding, with twisted logic, “Those who want to keep open borders in Europe, must also close borders.”

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Le capitalisme ne s’écroulera pas un vendredi.

février 16th, 2016 by Stratediplo

Cet article fait suite à : Les Etats-Unis préparent la fin de la cotation des métaux précieux et verrouillent le cours officiel du dollar

A ceux qui rétorquent que le capitalisme ne peut pas s’écrouler on répondra plus tard, et pour l’heure on affinera le propos : le monde capitaliste ne constatera pas sa ruine un vendredi.

Il y a certes de mauvais lundis, des mardis catastrophiques, des mercredis encore pire et des jeudis fatals. Mais le dernier vendredi noir ne sera pas permis.

Un lundi un nouveau pays, significatif au niveau des échanges économiques mondiaux, déclarera à son tour qu’il n’accepte plus de paiements en dollars de Monopoly. Un mardi d’autres pays suivront. Les marchés financiers sur lesquels des leveurs étatiques de capitaux et des revendeurs privés de titres obligataires vendent des dettes d’Etat, c’est-à-dire reçoivent des fonds actuels (dont la valeur est connue) en échange d’une promesse de versement d’intérêt annuel et de remboursement du principal à terme (à une valeur future incertaine) se rendront compte que les grands spéculateurs capitalistes ne veulent plus acheter d’obligations libellées en dollars, même émises par des gouvernements qui n’ont pas la possibilité d’imprimer des dollars à volonté et de dévaluer la devise dans laquelle ils devront rembourser plus tard, et qu’ils cherchent même à vendre les obligations qu’ils détiennent. Cela peut même se produire en une période d’intérêts négatifs comme en ce moment, où l’économie mondiale est tellement mal en point (sauf dans la presse économique qui semble célébrer quelque mystère positif chaque fois que le Baltic Dry Index casse un nouveau record d’immobilisation du fret maritime international) que les spéculateurs préfèrent payer pour prêter aux Etats plutôt qu’acheter des parts de produits financiers voire des actions d’entreprises véritables, ou simplement confier leurs capitaux à une banque, sachant que même si les banques continuent d’émettre des relevés de compte désormais mensongers, légalement on ne dépose plus d’argent sur un compte mais on prête de l’argent à la banque, qui entre donc dans son compte d’exploitation au même titre que les frais bancaires.

Dès le mardi la haute finance apatride cherchera coûte que coûte à se débarrasser de tout ce qu’elle appelle « actifs » (souvent des titres de passif ou certificats de dette) libellés en dollars, dont la grande braderie précipitera la chute du cours. Parallèlement elle cherchera à replacer les fonds rescapés dans des titres libellés en d’autres devises, en premier lieu les quelques grandes monnaies acceptées dans le monde (euro, yuan, franc), puis celles de grandes puissances économiques aux monnaies plus instables (real, rouble, livre), enfin d’autres devises car les sommes dépasseront les capacités d’absorption des principaux marchés de devises. Or, si le lundi voire le mardi les indicateurs de change indiquent que le cours du dollar baisse par rapport aux autres monnaies (ou que le cours de celles-ci, exprimé en dollars, grimpe), dès le mercredi un rééquilibrage des monnaies du panier principal aura lieu puisque les économies de tous les grands pays, que leurs gouvernements émettent des obligations en dollars ou pas, sont liées à la plus grande économie débitrice de tous les temps.

Même les pays qui n’exportent rien aux Etats-Unis, ce grand acheteur déficitaire mondial, leur ont fait crédit puisque les Etats-Unis absorbent 80% du produit de l’économie mondiale, ce qui signifie par exemple que les excédents financiers du commerce local entre la Malaisie et l’Indonésie sont placés aux Etats-Unis, convertis en dollars. Aussi même si les Etats-Unis ne décident pas à ce moment-là de miner toute alternative au dollar en déclenchant la révolution verte en Europe ou en vitrifiant Shangaï, les faillites bancaires et étatiques précipitées dans le monde entier par le renvoi du dollar à sa vrai valeur priveront les capitaux apatrides de tout refuge. Les opérateurs chargés de sauver ces grands capitaux tenteront de mettre la main sur des matières premières jusqu’alors dédaignées car n’apportant pas la rentabilité d’un produit financier (métaux) ou connaissant un fléchissement de leur demande en raison du ralentissement de toutes les économies (pétrole). Les grands courtiers, qui avaient encouragé leurs clients étatiques, institutionnels et privés à se défaire de leurs métaux précieux d’abord parce qu’ils ne rapportaient rien puis ces dernières années pour satisfaire la Chine et retarder d’autant l’écroulement du dollar et du capitalisme dollarisé, chercheront à la dernière minute quelque lingot. En dépit des accords de manipulation des cours, le cartel qui dicte le faux prix de l’or et de l’argent depuis le 6 septembre 2011 ne pourra empêcher une institution ou deux de dévoiler un soudain appétit pour le peu de métaux précieux qui reste sur les marchés occidentaux dont le volume d’échanges a été peu à peu réduit à peau de chagrin, l’essentiel des ventes entre les pays capitalistes et la Chine (via les fonderies suisses et pour un temps sudafricaines) passant désormais par des accords de gré à gré, hors marché visible de cotation officielle.

On a déjà évoqué l’encadrement du marché des métaux précieux aux Etats-Unis, qui a cessé très officiellement d’être un libre marché de l’offre et de la demande le 22 décembre 2014, date depuis laquelle toute appréciation de l’or (il en est de même pour les autres métaux) supérieure à 200 dollars, soit 16% du cours actuel, entraînerait une suspension de séance suivie d’une réouverture au cours de la veille (acheteurs et vendeurs n’ont pas le droit de s’entendre sur un cours supérieur), puis fermeture si cela se produit quatre fois dans la même journée… et réouverture le lendemain au cours de l’avant-veille, ce qui interdit toute envolée subite de l’or (en fait tout écroulement subit du dollar) puisque selon ce système il faudrait au moins quatre jours pour retrouver simplement le cours du 6 septembre 2011.

Or, bien évidemment, après quatre jours consécutifs de baisse du dollar, il se relèvera le vendredi. On fera ce qu’il faudra pour ça, on garde toujours une dernière cartouche pour tirer dans la lampe du plafonnier et éteindre la lumière avant d’être totalement défait. Un pays au bord de la banqueroute (Vénézuela par exemple), ou très lié à l’économie étasunienne (Canada par exemple), ou dont on arrivera à corrompre ou menacer le gouvernement, déclarera soudain qu’il vend ses réserves d’or, soulageant le marché (vu le volume qui reste au Comex pour justifier la fixation du cours, dix petites tonnes changeraient la donne), donnant prétexte à la presse économique d’expliquer que c’était une fausse alerte, qu’il y a eu une « bulle spéculative » injustifiée mais qu’il y aura toujours de quoi satisfaire la Chine, les prix repartiront à la baisse et des particuliers ou de petites banques se laisseront convaincre qu’ils vont encore baisser et vendront précipitamment ce qui leur reste. Ce vendredi-là le cours de l’or et des autres métaux précieux, après quatre jours d’une envolée toute relative (puisque toute hausse supérieure à 200 dollars entraînera suspension de marché et réouverture au prix antérieur) baissera, en dollars. Ce vendredi-là le dollar ne s’appréciera pas seulement face aux métaux précieux mais également à toutes les autres devises.

Puis quelque chose se passera dans le monde le samedi ou le dimanche, qui fera la première page des journaux du lundi matin dans le monde entier. Ce même lundi matin, le marché des matières premières ou Commodities Exchange new-yorkais n’ouvrira pas (il suffira de reconnaître qu’il n’y a rien à vendre ou que l’immeuble a brûlé), le marché londonien non plus, et les derniers acheteurs d’or et d’argent recevront une indemnisation en dollars au dernier cours du vendredi. Certes un nouveau défaut aura eu lieu, mais sur un marché très insignifiant en volume et relativement sage (puisque manipulé) les derniers jours. La Commission Européenne ou la Banque Centrale Européenne (sûrement pas les vingt-huit chefs d’Etat) se verra proposer d’accélérer le grand marché transatlantique justifiant la « fusion » des monnaies, celle des douze étoiles et celle du trou noir gigantesque, c’est-à-dire le camouflage (un sauvetage étant impossible) de la dette étasunienne par l’économie européenne et la compensation des déficits étasuniens par les excédents européens, les Etats-Unis étant totalement exemptés de toute obligation de conformité aux critères de convergence de l’euro. Si, au nom de ses peuples et citoyens non consultés, l’Union Européenne accepte, le dollar sera définitivement fixé à un euro et tirera la valeur de celui-ci vers le bas.

Si l’Europe refuse, le dollar restera définitivement fixé aux alentours d’un mille-cinq-centième ou d’un deux-millième d’once d’or, mais comme il ne sera rapidement plus accepté en paiement de quoi que ce soit dans le reste du monde, ses utilisateurs verront sa valeur fondre rapidement au rythme de l’hyperinflation aux Etats-Unis.

Dans les deux cas le dollar aura connu un artificiel soubresaut récupérateur le dernier jour d’existence des marchés occidentaux de métaux précieux. Le capitalisme ne s’écroulera pas un vendredi.

 Delenda Carthago

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Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan Hit Record in 2015

février 16th, 2016 by Thomas Gaist

The US war in Afghanistan produced at least 11,000 civilian casualties last year, setting a new official record, according to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

The total number of civilians killed and wounded during combat actions by US and US-backed government forces, Taliban militias and other insurgent groups rose nearly five percent above 2014’s figure, according to the UN.

Afghan government forces were responsible for 17 percent of the casualties, while US and NATO forces were responsible for 2 percent, the UN found. The report identified at least 1,000 civilian casualties that could not be definitely attributed to any of the warring parties.

The UN report repeats the claims of the US military, blaming the Taliban for the bloodshed and implying that the relative drawdown of international forces carried out since 2014 has intensified the killing. In reality, responsibility for the deepening social catastrophe in Afghanistan lies squarely with American imperialism, which has fomented and waged a series of wars against the Afghan people over a period of decades.

Since the invasion in 2001, US forces have carried out a continuous reign of terror against the population, in which regular killing of civilians has been considered unavoidable “collateral damage.”

The latest UN report found that “targeted and deliberate killings” accounted for a substantial share of civilian deaths caused by American and US-backed Afghan units. Indeed, as last October’s bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz made clear, the murder of civilians has increasingly been employed as a deliberate tactic to intimidate adversaries of the US-installed Kabul government. US special forces scouted the hospital just days before it was bombed by an American gunship, working in concert with another commando team.

It was subsequently revealed that US military officers suspected the hospital of providing aid and shelter to Taliban forces, treating wounded insurgents and allowing them to use its facilities as a staging area.

The disaster inflicted on the country is being utilized to justify an expanded US military presence and permanent occupation of the country. Over the past six months, the White House has repeatedly signaled its agreement with Pentagon demands for a much larger US military role in Afghanistan, for years and decades to come.

Last October, the White House announced that it was delaying a planned “drawdown,” keeping at least 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through the end of Obama’s term. US military leaders now speak openly about their plans to indefinitely maintain a force of thousands of combat troops on the ground, along with extensive special forces deployments and a network of permanent bases.

The US determination to continue combat operations in Afghanistan is fueled by the growing breakdown of the US-backed puppet government in Kabul, the instability of which is threatening Washington’s ability to use the country as an organizing center for military operations throughout Central Asia, countering both Russian and Chinese influence in the region.

“Afghanistan is at serious risk of a political breakdown during 2016, occasioned by mounting political, economic and security challenges,” US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned earlier in February.

The fragility of the Afghan government, headed by President Ashraf Ghani, flows from the fact that it is little more than a loosely organized drug mafia, propped up by opium money and massive doses of US military violence. Until recently, the Kabul regime was headed by Hamid Karzai, a man with close family ties to the country’s leading drug trafficker. The State Department’s own Afghanistan special inspector characterized the political regime in Afghanistan as a burgeoning “narco-terrorist state” in recent testimony, noting that US anti-drug officials often refuse to visit Afghanistan out of fear for their lives.

Despite Washington’s constant rhetorical denunciations of the Taliban, the US is striving to stabilize its puppet regime by working out a compromise with sections of the Taliban via the Afghan Peace Process. US and Afghan leaders have issued increasingly open calls for members of the Islamic fundamentalist militia to join the ruling coalition in recent days.

“Any opposition group that seeks to live in brotherhood with us is welcome,” President Ghani said Monday.

“I think there are a lot of Taliban who want to come to the peace table,” US commander in Afghanistan John Campbell said on Saturday in statements from Kabul. Noting the absence of “one person who speaks for the Taliban,” Campbell called for efforts to “get the right people to the table.”

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War, Conflict and Economic Development in the Arab World

février 16th, 2016 by Dr. Ali Kadri

Of the countries that are off-track on the road to sound development, many are situated in the Arab World. The worst hit are either in conflict, near conflict or post conflict zones. Even when not undergoing the war disaster, the fragility of their development is further compounded by the prospects of war. In addition to the actual or potential woes of conflicts, their slow rate of progress is characteristic of small risky markets or capital scarce structures that have adopted unconditional liberalisation measures (real capital scarce and not financial capital).  For the most part, these countries still depend for their economic growth on the export earnings from a primary product: namely oil. When oil prices fall, economic growth stumbles, and an already poor development showing suffers yet another setback.

Yesterday’s accomplishments are frequently written off by a combination of war dislocation or anti-developmental macroeconomic policies. The latter are policies whose interface with reality does not sufficiently mobilise idle resources, as in putting the unemployed to decent work. For the group of risk laden and underachieving Arab countries, which comprises the overwhelming majority, the crunch on their course of development happens to be fourfold.

First, the determining moment in their development lies in the fact that the decision making circles often involve a cross-national class alliance for which another small country developing its productive capabilities in a world that is already consumed by a crisis of overproduction is unwanted. Furthermore, US-led imperialism, for which militarisation is not only a domain of accumulation, but the gyroscope that steadies its course of development, stands to benefit from the war and its social, political and financial impact.

Secondly, in addition to the calamity of war, the prospects of spreading conflict dampen investment and impose a drag on economic, social and institutional development. In many cases, war acts as a massive primitive accumulation measure expropriating labour and de-nationalising resources, after which the newly socialised working people (people thrown into the job market in search of wage jobs) and denationalised resources are only selectively re-engaged back into production. In the Arab World, once uprooted as a result of war or development-supressing macro policy (as in the simultaneous retreat of supply and demand), more of the dislocated people remain jobless or per the necessity for survival engage in informal poverty employment.

Thirdly, although economic growth, rapid industrialisation and technological advancement are indispensable conditions for development, they are pointless when governments restrain popular participation or, to use of the phraseology of the right development from the cold war era, constrain the capabilities of people to achieve different valuable human ‘functionings.’ The cold war competition for social development raised the ceiling and the resources needed to achieve socially desirable targets (UN convention on the right to development 1986).

Fourthly, the Arab World is a region that exhibits acute income inequality (UTIP 2011). Labour share from total income declined significantly between 1980 and 2010, and reached rates of around 25 percent (Guerriero 2012; ILO 2014). Without more evenly distributed income and wealth among different sections of society, the demand component that drives the momentum for auto-generated growth slows down.

Since the beginning of the neoliberal era (circa 1980), most of Arab economies have come to increasingly grow from ‘without’ by the incongruity of oil prices, geopolitical rents and war-like tensions. The fact that so far they have not harnessed their internal resources for the purpose of development implies that the goal of development was not a constituent part of the national security structure. It also implies that such departure of security from development concerns is a product of an internal social class disarticulation and, hence, a serious crisis not only of governance but also of the state. The consistent instantiation of a schismatic social contract, including its attendant non-autonomous legislative and judicial functions, blocks the intermediation of the interests of various strata in society.

Moreover, in spite of hollow growth exhibiting a low elasticity of growth to unemployment reduction over the past three decades, macroeconomic policies dictating resource allocation remained unchanged. The jobs I am speaking of are always in the decent work category of the ILO, unless otherwise indicated. In a sense, one can safely say that the historical agency in charge of development reproduced pretty much the same policies cum meagre development outcomes time and again.

Another characteristic of Arab economies is the slow dynamic rise in labour productivity or, the often observed, negative productivity growth rate. Labour productivity growth is the nucleus of wealth creation and, when missing, it demonstrates the slow progress of indigenously based growth – growth from within derived by national capabilities – or growth that is based on the infusion of national R&D and knowhow in production. One is aware of the rising technical composition of capital from technology imports displacing labour; however, in the Arab world, there are no significant positive linkages between the spill over of externally imported modern technology and local capacity. At any rate, in the composition of growth, the elements of nationally based production, consumption and the policy designated automatic stabilisers cannot steady the business cycle in the face of minimal external shocks. Oil price drops and the business cycle follows suit. Only a decade or so ago, budgets were formulated on the basis of around 20 US$ a barrel. In 2015, the budgets required roughly 80 US$ per barrel to be balanced. Dependency on oil grew at very high rates and most Arab economies became more vulnerable still.

The positive developmental impact resulting from a transient rise in oil prices is either a stabilisation measure, which does not filter into the sphere of production (it mostly boosts consumption), or is sapped by poorly conceived macro policy, which does not redress the most pressing economic concern: the often negative productivity growth rate. Moreover, without the synergy of productivity-based growth with rising incremental value-added income (including wages) driving the demand for the infusion of knowledge in production, the cultural spinoffs that would egg on progressive institutional change would be missing (UNHCHR 2004). Tangentially, the goal of ‘nationalising’ jobs (replacing foreign by national labour) or synchronising labour to capital’s requirement is pointless when the virtuous circle of productivity growth cum economic growth has not taken root or when growth largely depends on oil revenues. There are no significant decent jobs in the technical skills category being created by the national economy; these qualitative jobs pertain to the industrial culture of the more advanced countries. The conditions for the brain drain are therefore objective. By the standard definition of development, which is economic growth, with expanding output and employment, institutional transformation and technological progress, Arab countries have been experiencing lumpen development.

In times of high oil prices, output per worker growth (a proxy of labour productivity) appears positive and somewhat astronomically high, but when oil revenues are deducted from total income, output per worker growth is more often negative than positive. The productive capital stock per worker, or equipment of the modern technology type that grows from the nationally-induced need to capitalise both capital and labour in order to meet demand, is not rising (Kadri 2014).

It is true, but more so a truism, to assert that reviving these debilitated economies requires an end to conflicts and the creation of a politically stable environment, conducive to both domestic and foreign investment – investment of the higher output to capital ratio type – along with rising internal demand. Yet, as true as this assertion may seem, the regional security/insecurity arrangement is now anchored in a bellum americanum or continuous war condition emerging from more acute international divisions over regional control. The spinoffs of war on the political and economic side are regressive. On the national political scene, a process of ‘selective democracy’ similar to the one practiced in ancient times – as opposed to universal or popular democracy – which enshrines the right of the few at the expense of the many has grown further. On the macroeconomic side, policies may have taken a turn into a sort of extreme neoliberalism, as in lifting subsidies on essential commodities in countries that already experience a high rate of malnutrition in children (Everington 2014).

Although it is practical to develop a macroeconomic strategy that envisages development in view of risk, the current policy interface between external shocks/conflicts and the national economy is based almost entirely on the non-existent assumptions of an even-playing field, a risk-free environment and a market that works best with little government intervention. Not that demanding a limited role for the government in the economy would be necessarily functional anywhere, but to propose a small government under war or war-like conditions, as did the International Financial Institutions, is beyond the pale.  When the elephant in the room, the wars or their resonances and the lopsided institutional context, is overlooked, then it is no longer myopia on the part of the cross-national agency in charge of development, which is causing the past errors to be repeated, it is rather its marked lack of will to carry out development.

In circumspect operational terms, reaching the development goal in such an uncertain context has to address the issue of managing the welfare intermediated side of the macro-economy subject to a plethora of economic and extra economic constraints of which, principally, the political risk/insecurity level reproduced conjointly by regional and extra-regional agents overshadows the course of events. Nowhere is it easy separate the politics from the economics, but in small developing countries exposed to war-like risk or historical uncertainty, the operational problematic prioritises ‘politics’ or the decision making level as the principal control variable. The past and current performances, a caption of which is reviewed below, overlook the interrelatedness and the structure of determination between politics, much of which revolves around a primacy of political and strategic extra-regional control (imperialist) considerations, and the national ‘economic’ framework.

The past recipes of economic reform intended to crowd in political reform as a result of oiling the market machinery for a frictionless welfare maximising outcome occurred only on the pages of first-year economics textbooks. Moving from the public to the private sector and from closed to open economies did not shift resources into more competitive areas. According to the World Bank, the Arab share of manufacturing in investment is declining almost everywhere, and the share of manufacturing in GDP is lower than that in all other developing regions except Sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank 2011; World Development Indicators various years). The share of high-technology exports from total manufactured exports in the AW is at around 1 to 2 percentage points, below the rank of Sub-Saharan Africa – including South Africa, which is around 5 per cent (World Development Indicators various years; World Bank 2011).

Because of capping indigenous industrial supply capacity, or the type of production that issues from a multi-layered and nationally-based supply chain, Arab countries had to remain namely dependent on raw material exports (UNIDO 2014). For fast neoliberal reformers and slow reformers alike, the present condition of low oil price, steep deficits cum low output growth is telling of how past and present parochial policies failed to identify the principal conduit of regional development, which is overdetermination by their mode of integration with the global economy through the intertwined channels of oil and war. Not that there are exceptions to the rule of development failures, but in case there is an odd or sporadic achiever, the explanation of developmental success could be carried out more fittingly on geopolitical grounds or as a result of geopolitical rents rather than ‘indigenous economic performance’ grounds. The shifting regional cordon sanitaire is a primary explanatory variable of development, or mostly, underdevelopment.

The putative case may be that some Arab countries may have needed to liberalise trade, but not willy-nilly as they have done. Trade liberalisation could have been selective and conditional and within their own respective regions first, such that their negotiating position and accession into the global economy does not come at the expense of national industry and food security, for instance. But, it was not. Arab countries import more than half their food consumption and some food dependent and cash-strapped countries have to borrow to buy their basic foods (Bush 2015). More so than in the run of the mill circumstance, in a war-tense atmosphere, even the United Nations thinks it may be wise to be choosy about what to liberalise and only in relation to developing the national industry and to respond to the strategies of the big trading partners and the demands of their markets (UN 2008). However, deindustrialisation or the shift from industry to commerce based growth in the neoliberal era, also shifted the social structure, its class formation and the entrepreneurial mind-set. Just as in the days of colonialism, the leading strata is re-confined to the practice of commercial undertakings; but of course, this time around without military colonial presence. In a sense, the new merchant class in charge, a subordinate partner of international financial capital, acted as the surrogate colonialist. For such a class, short term profits from commerce and finance outstripped the prevailing slow growing profit rates of national industry.

In the neoliberal era, the bonds of the merchant class to international financial circles grew over time, and its reproductive base has come to depend more on the safety of the international financial markets than the capacity of the national economy to produce. As a result of shifting the ties of the national governing structure from the national to the international base, disciplining profit rates for the sake of industrialisation, as did East Asia for instance, was not tabled in development considerations and practice.

Argumentatively, it may have been valid that there need be a boost to the environment for the growth and development of the private sector, but such position need not view the public/private investment relationship as antagonistic, as does conventional wisdom. In practical terms, for public investment to crowd out private investment is nearly impossible (Weeks 2014). When the risks to private returns are high, and potential resources are plenty, a better managed public sector acts as a quasi-insurer of private interests. The downgrading of the public sector in terms of size and quality performance could only be attributed to unfettered short-term profiteering around the deconstruction of state functions and is partly responsible for the overall slack in economic performance. The social consequences of such measures could at times buttress the real conditions for war-making or compare with the baleful effects of war.

That development required diversification away from primary products was the refrain that one often heard in every Arab summit since of the early 1980’s. However, as regionalism and/or transforming countries into regional building-blocs to expand markets requires at least the promotion of investment in intraregional infrastructure, given the low rate of regional integration (intra-regional trade and investment are quite low in global standards, UN 2011), moving away from oil appears to have never been a seriously pursued goal. Other palpable indicators of diversification would include rearing national industrialisation by protection and market expansion, and complementarities that synchronise physical and human capital in the composition of economic growth; both of which, however, exhibited declining rates (industrialisation, as in the manufacturing side, declined [UNIDO 2014] and structural unemployment rose [ILO 2014]). Once a merchant or extractive mode as opposed to an industrial mode takes hold of an economy, the extraction of surplus would not depend on value added and market expansion – exchange-based trade alone creates little added value – and entrepreneurs become sort of economic introverts whose spoils arise from raising their income shares within their own fief.

When addressing the macro economy in this class of risk-exposed countries, questions have to be put differently. There is already the inherent weakness of being born a colonially-bread late-developer. Naturally, colonialism blocks developing countries’ modernisation relative to its own ability to control because, at least on logical grounds, if all modernise, things do not add up as result of the adding up fallacy. With the exception of the sparsely populated Gulf states, Arab countries represent roughly less than half a percentage point of world purchasing power (WDI various years). Having a vantage starting point and being secure, the opposite of what Arab countries are, matters in the race for development. In addition, the neoliberally inspired resource allocation mechanisms were more like the tribute delivered to empire as a condition of surrender.  In retrospect, the merchant class was smug with Arab defeats and used defeatism to drive the unconditional neoliberally imposed policy agenda.

Consider why that when revenues from the export of primary commodities rise, the rate of retained savings dwindles afterwards, as in the aid syndrome. The policy set up is such that as consumption, namely of the conspicuous type, rises steadily drawing on national savings and reserves, less and less savings would be left for investment in productive activity when oil revenues fall. One can dwell on the point, but what is important to realise is that an economic contraction/expansion could be triggered by an external shock, however, its magnitude and duration is determined by the adequacy of economic stabilisers, the sturdiness of the industrial constituents of growth and the efficiency of institutions. The prolonged economic contraction in these countries, (a 1 percent real GDP per capita growth on average between 1980 and 2010 [WDI various years]), therefore raises more questions regarding the decision making process behind the macroeconomic constellation, including why governing structures had foreknowledge that they had to diversify and support national industry, and yet failed persistently to implement such a project. Of course, the leading social forces, US-led financial capital through its imperialist thrust point and the financially integrated local merchant class, whose organic ties grow by the homogenising effect of financialisation, have become undifferentiated in the role they have played in such regressive process. While financially groomed profit rates reduce the share of wages everywhere by varying degrees of austerity, for lack of internationalist ideology and organisation, labour has become ever more divided.

Let us for the sake of argument follow another of the mainstream’s positions as applied to the Arab World, as in freeing the environment to invest, which presumably could have been a boon. In reality, the rates and quality of investment fell consistently over the neoliberal period (WDI various years). Without an investment guiding institution and an insurance framework underwriting war-like contingencies or force majeure attributed losses, small, risky and fragmented markets, presided over by a mercantilist-like class, channelled investment into short gestating capital, speculative or non-productive activity, which in turn, required low productivity service sector jobs. To boot, reducing the public sector’s job creation rate and investment did not better employment conditions. Alongside public sector cuts, deindustrialisation reduced the rate of decent job creation far below the rate of new entrants into the labour force (UNIDO 2014). One has to keep in mind, that population growth rates tapered down steadily as of 1960, and unemployment cannot be attributed to rising population levels, especially when the mix of macro policy adopted, since circa 1980, lowers the rate of growth, changes its input composition and lowers its reliance on upskilling national labour. Hence, rising unemployment and poverty were necessary outcomes of unconditional liberalisation.

Welfare in this instance could not have been conceived with a view in which private interests carry forth the betterment of public interests. The extractive and merchant bases of the institutional context and its rules are such that, at the intersection where private and public interests meet, there is more antagonism than complementarity. Moreover, because of the stronger material ties of the governing merchant class to the international financial market, as finance dictates lower labour shares through austerity, private interests exhibit a necrotrophic relationship with the public sector (they feed of it until it perishes). In a situation, which is overdetermined by a constellation of extra-national (militarised imperialism), and a subordinately national merchant classes, the end goal of the decision making arrangement is not necessarily the wellbeing of the region. Ironically Milton Freidman’s ‘bang for buck’ appears hold, but in reverse of course. Being in Milton’s long term now, there are currently higher returns from past social investment, market rigidities and government intervention that trail from way back in the seventies and continue to impart welfare and a modicum of institutional integrity; past spending on social investment more than paid off the initial costs. All on its own, a social efficiency criterion under selective openness in which social investment and decent job creation was state planned appears to have outperformed an economic efficiency criterion based on fantastic marginal magnitudes making prices ‘right’ for growth. In short, the rigidities of the past contributed to enhancing health, education, productivity and the sort of self-reliance that boosted national security.

Macro issues are interrelated and questions about their efficacies beg their own answers. For instance, to what extent is the problem of unemployment in some of these countries an outcome of monetary policy that targets low rates of inflation with no regard to unemployment? To what extent is the problem of stagflation in some countries an outcome of a policy-mix of increasing short term interest rates along with national currency devaluations? To what extent has the adverse impact of a chronically high rate of unemployment aggravated the contraction triggered by an external shock (falling oil price) and thus created a debilitating path dependence?

To parody this situation without the trappings of postmodern hallucinations, the mechanisms behind these questions are like various irrigation valves channelling resources between several nationally based working strata and internationally based financial interests. To demystify, they are about who (which class) has enough power to get a higher share of income and how much. As labour share from total income fell to the lowest global ranks as a result of and absence of politically organised labour, inflation and wage compression, the steadying of the national currency against the dollar (pegged rate) channelled wealth not only up within the same society, but also abroad. Countries with balance of payment constraints are short leashed by institutional lenders who can wreak havoc on nation states by simply delaying disbursements that support the national currency (if national currency devalues, inflation rises, etc.). In a sense, this policy, as do many other neoliberal measures, makes corruption legal. That is to say, if corruption is defined as the diversion of public wealth to private use: the past and still ongoing exchange rate and monetary policy under open capital account regimes, which was not only legal but also supported by major international financial institutions, is corruption at large.

But to go back to our questions, the answer to all three problems may be drawn from any standard second-year macroeconomic textbook: a country cannot peg to the dollar under an open capital account, and still hold on to an effective monetary policy. However, it is not the effectiveness of monetary policy that comes first; it is the ownership of policy or policy autonomy emanating from the margin of state sovereignty. The sovereignty qua security of Arab states has become less substantiated by developmental capabilities, knowledge assets, human wellbeing and freedoms. More so, in times of war or war-like conditions, in the Arab World, the ultimate sovereign may be allegorically deduced from the inscription on the side of Louis XIV’s canon: ultima ratio regum (the final argument of kings). The military balance of forces, in which imperialist intervention holds sway, has become the broker of sovereignty and, along with the ideological avalanche of neoliberalism, these explain much of the lost policy autonomy since 1980.

Regaining development means regaining policy autonomy under conditions of popular sovereignty. The positive relationship between policy space and positive developmental outcome is such a straightforward question that, in spite of its sensitivity, was addressed by the UN: ‘the idea of policy space refers to the freedom and ability of governments to identify and pursue the most appropriate mix of economic and social policies to achieve equitable and sustainable development’ (UN 2014). Yet, in the typical half-truth type positioning resulting from the UN’s subordination to the dominant imperialist power, it attributes loss of autonomy, in one instance, to ‘various legal obligations emerging from multilateral, regional and bilateral agreements’ (UN 2014). It appears as the UN Security Council deals with the possibility of regional wars escalating into global ones, state sovereignty has become a by-product of a universally democratic international law, in which honouring agreements is part of the gentlemanly behaviour of Western nations. In significant swathes of the third world, violent forms of class power exercise determine much of autonomy. Class power is not the ahistorical person or group in executive office with megalomaniac individual agency; it is the full weight if history, its dominant ideology, and monolithic institutions into which Arabs and Africans are born.

The higher rate of value and resource dislocation resulting from the violence of war has been contravening the covenants of international law and the charter of the UN since 1945. In hierarchically articulated class structures, smelting together with finance and socially cutting across national boundaries, the consumption of humans and nature, often by brutal means, is necessarily but not exclusively a historical precursor to global economic growth. The Arabs and the Africans are not ‘wretched’ by historical coincidence. They are so as a result of all round and systemic imperialist assault.  The order of causal determination, whose recognition is the litmus test of independent scholarship, begins with the leading class’s ideological bent to promote the under-valorisation of the weakest spots in the developing world by aggression.

Ali Kadri is Senior Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore. He was previously Visiting Fellow at the Department of International Development, London School of Economics (LSE) and Head of the Economic Analysis Section at the United Nations regional office for Western Asia in Beirut. 

His current research is on the political economy of development in the Arab World. During his work at the United Nations, he was the lead author of the UN flagship publication dealing with the economic and social conditions of Arab Western Asia, and he has published widely on aspects of the labour process in the Arab world. His recent book, Arab Development Denied (2014), discusses the formidable obstacles facing development in the Arab world.

He can be reached at [email protected]

References

UN, General Assembly, 4 December 1986 A/RES/41/128, 97th plenary meeting,

http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/41/a41r128.htm

UTIP (University of Texas Inequality Project) (2011) Estimated Household Income Inequality Data Set. http://utip.gov.utexas.edu/data.html

Guerriero, M. (2012) ‘The Labour Share of Income around the World: Evidence from a Panel Dataset’, IDPM Development Economics and Public Policy Working Paper Series, no.32

UNHCHR, Economic and Social Council, Working Group on the Right to Development, Geneva, 11-20 February 2004.

Kadri A., ‘The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World,’ Fawaz Gerges (ed.) A pre Arab Spring Depressive Business Cycle, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Everington J. and El Gazzar S., Consumers hit hard as Egypt subsidy cuts send fuel prices soaring 78%, July 5, 2014, http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/economics/consumers-hit-hard-as-egypt-subsidy-cuts-send-fuel-prices-soaring-78

World Bank (2011) Middle East and North Africa Region, Assessment of the Local Manufacturing Potential for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Projects (Washington DC: World Bank).

Bush R., Uprisings without Agrarian Questions in Development Challenges and Solutions after the Arab Spring, ed. Kadri A., Springer 2015

UN (2008) Survey of Economic and Social Developments in Western Asia, 2007–2008 (New York: United Nations).

Weeks J., The Irreconcilable Inconsistencies of Neoclassical Macroeconomics: A False Paradigm (Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy), Routledge 2014

UN (2011) Survey of Economic and Social Developments in Western Asia, 2007–2008 (New York: United Nations).

ILO (International Labour Organisation) (2014) Key Indicators of the Labour Market, 8th ed. http://www.ilo.org/empelm/what/WCMS_114240/lang–en/index.htm

UNIDO (2014). Industrial Statistics Database, INDSTAT4 – 2014 edition. (Geneva: UNIDO)

UNCTAD, Trade and Development Report, 2014, http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/tdr2014overview_en.pdf

 

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African Americans are still brutally murdered with impunity

One of the most outrageous and well publicized lynching in the history of the United States took place nearly seven decades ago on July 25, 1946 when two African American couples were brutally killed by a white mob in Monroe, Georgia.

George W. and Mae Murray Dorsey along with Roger and Dorothy Malcolm, all of whom were in their 20s, were employed as sharecroppers on the land of a white man named J. Loy Harrison. On July 11, Roger Malcolm was said to have stabbed in self-defense a white man employed on the Harrison farm by the name of Barnette Hester.

Malcolm spent nearly two weeks in jail but was released after Harrison paid his bail. Harrison drove Dorothy Malcolm and the Dorseys to pick up Malcolm when they were allegedly hijacked by a lynch mob which killed both couples.

This cold blooded and calculated massacre was carried out in the aftermath of World War II during a wave of such killings throughout the South. George W. Dorsey had served in the military during the war in the Pacific and had only been out of the army for nine months when he was victimized by the lynch mob.

Some 2.5 million African American men registered for the draft between 1941-45, along with over 6,000 Black women who volunteered in segregated units of the army corps and the navy. After experiencing racism within the military while deployed in the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Pacific, many veterans were not willing to accept legalized segregation and racial exploitation.

A more militant political mood was evident in the South and other regions of the U.S. beginning during the war and extending into the late 1940s and early 1950s. This discontent with the status-quo prompted violent retributions by white racists who dominated law-enforcement, agricultural production, business and public service.

Another highly publicized racist attack occurred on February 12 against a recently returned African American war veteran. According to an entry on the website Today in Civil Liberties History, “Hours after being discharged from the Army following World War II, Sgt. Isaac Woodard was taken from a bus in Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina, beaten and blinded by police and then jailed. Reports of the brutal incident aroused national outrage.”

The Dorseys and Malcolms worked on a plantation where they were subjected to slave-like conditions in the immediate aftermath of an imperialist war which ostensibly was designed to end racial oppression and legal impunity. Although Dorsey served in the military during the war he could only find work as a field hand after returning to the South.

In a book published as a petition to the United Nations in 1951 authored largely by Atty. William L. Patterson, he notes in regard to the social atmosphere after the WWII and the beginning of the Korean War, that “Now there is not a great American city from New York to Cleveland or Detroit, from Washington, the nation’s capital, to Chicago, from Memphis to Atlanta or Birmingham, from New Orleans to Los Angeles, that is not disgraced by the wanton killing of innocent Negroes. It is no longer a sectional phenomenon. “(We Charge Genocide, p. 8, 1951)

Patterson also says “Once the classic method of lynching was the rope. Now it is the policeman’s bullet. To many an American the police are the government, certainly its most visible representative. We submit that the evidence suggests that the killing of Negroes has become police policy in the United States and that police policy is the most practical expression of government policy.”

Lynching Sparked National Outrage

The exploitative and repressive conditions in the Post World War II period has been captured as well by the African American press during the period which was filled with accounts of police beatings, killings, mob violence and the rise of the Dixiecrat party, a splinter from the Democratic Party bitterly opposed to even minimal reforms related to granting civil rights to the former enslaved oppressed nation.

In the specific situation of the Malcolms and Dorseys, they rode with Harrison from the local jail in Walton County where Monroe is located ostensibly returning to the farm where they worked. Harrison claims that he was stopped by a group of 15-20 men who ordered the African American men out of the vehicle initially and later took the women into mob custody.

They were tied to trees, beaten severely and shot to death while Harrison stood in silence he claimed. Mae Murray Dorsey was seven months pregnant at the time of the lynching.

Despite a nationwide outcry demanding justice, no one was ever indicted for murder or civil rights violations against the couples. A large number of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents were sent into Monroe to investigate the lynching by taking statements from potential witnesses and collecting material evidence.

U.S. District Judge T. Hoyt Davis impaneled and directed a 23-man grand jury, which included two African Americans. The grand jury began to hear testimony in the case on December 2, 1946.

The then Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall stated « that 15 to 20 of the mob members are known by name. » The evidence collected from the investigation was delivered to the grand jury by U.S. District Attorney John P. Cowart and John Kelly who were employed by the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.

Judge Davis « pointed out that federal courts have no jurisdiction over the offense of murder except under well-defined conditions. » After all was said and done some five months later, the federal court, the White House and the FBI said there was insufficient evidence to file charges against the 20-30 white men involved in the massacre. One man who testified before the grand jury was charged with perjury for providing false information about where he was at the time of the lynching.

Later in the 1990s, interests in the 1946 mass lynching resurfaced demanding a reopening of an investigation into the massacre. Nonetheless, these efforts did not result in any criminal charges being filed against those who may have participated and were still alive.

Every year a re-enactment of the lynching is staged to keep this horrendous crime in the minds of subsequent generations of African Americans and others.

Lynchings Continue in 2016

This pattern continues through today where African Americans are gunned down routinely by the police and vigilantes and in the overwhelming number of cases no one is held accountable.

The local law-enforcement agencies, the courts and the federal government have in most cases proved incapable of prosecuting those who engage in racist violence against the oppressed. The Justice Department has admitted that it does not accurately document police killings and their racial implications.

Corporate media outlets documented in 2015 the police killing of at least 975 people. A significant and disproportional number of these victims were African Americans.

Mass demonstrations and urban rebellions against the unjustified use of lethal force by the police have accelerated since the killings of Travon Martin in Florida during 2012 and Michael Brown in Missouri on August 9, 2014.

Nonetheless, organized and racialized state violence against the nationally oppressed will not be ended until there is a structural transformation of the system of capitalism. Violence and repression against the oppressed and working people in general is designed to maintain the capitalist and imperialist system.

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David Cameron nobly declared in 2010 that: “It is our ambition to be one of the most transparent governments in the world”  and “Greater transparency across government is at the heart of our shared commitment to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account; to reduce the deficit and deliver better value for money in public spending; and to realise significant economic benefits by enabling businesses and non-profit organisations to build innovative applications and websites using public data” and – “…we will extend transparency to every area of public life.”

The Cabinet Office still has these pledges posted on its website today. It was clear in 2010 that Cameron’s Government was going dismantle state secrecy in favour of accountability.

Cameron cleverly used transparency and visibility because public confidence in politicians and politics more widely had been so severely dented that just 15 percent of the population trusted anything they said or said they would do. This was an all-time low ever recorded and came on the back of the expenses scandal in 2009 that ended with the infamous “Rotten Parliament” label being firmly etched into the history books of British politics.

Cameron vowed to open up the books of central and local government spending, along with other commitments including a Public Transparency Board headed by leading experts. He also specifically included the strengthening of the Freedom Of Information Act, publishing government department datasets on the basis of public demand, with the Ministry of Justice to support the public’s Right to Data.

In reality, Ministers talked in dark corners of how journalists prized open the expenses scandal in 2009 that embarrassed them so. Freedom of information enlightened the public on just how much secret data the government and their agencies were holding on British citizens, what police knew about child sexual exploitation, details of tax avoiding party political donors and Russian oligarchs that the Conservative party is so beholden for their survival.

Setting new standards is something the Conservatives are doing, just not as we were led to believe. As an example, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is to be diluted by making it harder to get information, described by journalist as “an attack on democracy“. Once redrawn, the FoI Act will be more a charter for cover-ups of ministerial and departmental malfeasance.

There are more examples of state secrecy. Recently, the British Government signed a secret security pact with a Gulf state and is now attempting to illegally prevent details of the deal from being made public. As The guardian reported:

“The Home Office released no details of her (Thersa May) trip at the time or announced that the deal had been signed. The only public acknowledgement was a year later in a Foreign Office report which obliquely referenced an agreement to “modernise the Ministry of the Interior”.

Government or their officials should not be signing deals with foreign entities in secret.

The number of cases where the government now shields itself behind ‘national security‘ is both absurd and becoming farcical and amounts to nothing more than suppression of relevant public information. The illegal activities of GCHQ, British spy satellites, interceptions of communications, the silencing of Ben Griffin – the SAS whistleblower, official secret trials, the treatment of Assange and Wikileaks, torture, extraordinary rendition and the hushing up of British detainees abroad is to name but a few.

The Guardian reported in 2013:

“that Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) had illegally withheld 1.2 million (later revised to 600,000) historic documents from the public, in flagrant breach of the UK Public Records Act. The documents – which include the desk diary of Soviet spy Donald Maclean; case files from Nazi persecution compensation claims; and masses of material removed from Hong Kong – were being held at Hanslope Park, a secretive, high-security compound in Buckinghamshire that the FCO shares with intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6.”

In June last year Vice headlined “UK Government Protecting Companies Accused of Selling Torture Weapons?” Amazingly, the case brought against the two manufacturers was dropped for “lack of evidence” even though the two manufacturers concerned were publicly thrown out of the London arms fair for doing so. The senior press officer at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and HMRC along with the CPS simply refused to answer any further questions on the matter. Case closed.

The use of secret courts is an alarming escalation of government power getting out of control. Secret courts are where trials take place not open to the public, nor generally reported in the news and generally no official record of the case or the judge’s verdict is made available. Often there is no legal allegation. The accused is usually not able to obtain the counsel of a lawyer or confront witnesses for the prosecution. You would think this is the stuff of cold war Russia and Nazi Germany, actually it’s the stuff of modern Britain today.

MP Richard Burgon (Leeds East- Labour) said in a speech just two weeks ago in parliament:

“What about being held to account? We have seen the Trade Union Bill and the gagging Act. There is the strangling of the finances of political opponents, in contravention of decades-old convention. The Human Rights Act is seen as nothing but an irritant. There is the NHS weekly bulletin, which was due to begin publication late last year, but which no longer includes figures on four-hour waits. There are the new rules revealing that hospitals had effectively been banned from declaring major incidents—all that from a Prime Minister, who said airily just before entering high office, let “sunshine” be “the best disinfectant”. However, there is some cleaning up to do, because, put simply, this is a Prime Minister and a Government who do not like being challenged. This is a Prime Minister and a Government who do not like scrutiny.”

There is nothing new about government propaganda in Britain. For instance, in 2013, the Guardian reported that:

“The new Official Secrets Act of 1989 removed some of the more ridiculous aspects of the old one – such as forbidding the revelation of anything that was done in Whitehall (paperclip purchases, for example) – but at the same time tightened it, by disallowing a “public interest” defence in the cases it still covered. Then they – specifically, the secretary of the D-notice committee – wined and dined journalists to appeal to their patriotism to keep stumm. Apparently even Private Eye was nobbled this way. Chapman Pincher (famous English journalist specialising in espionage writing) was also kept on side by feeding him privileged information – not always accurate. Even more subtle was the wheeze of allowing certain academics and others access to the secret archives and permission to publish from them, so long as they were “trustworthy”; that is, “writers would be selected for their willingness to portray things in a positive light.”

And of course, there is no more confirmation of government secrecy than the negotiations of Britain, the EU and US on TTIP.

It is here we see an out of control government handing enormous state powers not just to domestic but also foreign corporations and thus make capitalism more powerful than democracy. Lawmakers, charities, legal groups and protestors in their millions have challenged and taken legal action in a valiant but vain effort to gain access to some of the documents relating to the negotiations. Well-funded corporate lobby groups have access to the top table, no-one else does. People’s right to know is fundamental to democracy and we don’t have it because of Britain’s new era of state secrecy.

How David Cameron, indeed government itself harmonises manifesto pledges that ‘the Government must set new standards for transparency’ whilst agreeing to the biggest trade deal in the history of the human species in total secrecy is unfathomable.

Graham Vanbergen – truepublica.org.uk

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Avancée Otan à l’Est et au Sud

février 16th, 2016 by Manlio Dinucci

Photo : Le secrétaire étasunien à la défense, Ash Carter

Les ministres de la défense Otan ont décidé de « renforcer la présence avancée dans la partie orientale de notre Alliance ». Cela sert à « nous défendre des menaces élevées provenant de la Russie », a clarifié le secrétaire étasunien à la défense, Ash Carter. Dans ce but les USA quadruplent les financements pour l’ «Initiative de réassurance de l’Europe » qui, avec une rotation de forces (environ 6mille soldats), permettra davantage d’exercices militaires Otan (les plus de 300 effectués en 2015 n’ont pas suffi), la potentialisation d’aéroports, le pré-positionnement d’armements lourds, le déploiement permanent à l’Est d’unités cuirassées. Cela, a souligné Carter,  « permettra aux USA de former en Europe une force armée à haute capacité, à déployer rapidement dans le théâtre régional».

En accusant la Russie de « déstabiliser l’ordre de la sécurité européenne », USA et Otan ont rouvert le front oriental, entraînant l’Europe dans une nouvelle guerre froide, voulue surtout par Washington pour briser les rapports Russie-Ue dommageables pour les intérêts étasuniens.

En même temps USA et Otan préparent d’autres opérations sur le front méridional. A Bruxelles le chef du Pentagone a « accueilli » (en considérant l’Europe comme chez lui) les ministres de la Défense de la « Coalition globale contre l’EI », dont font partie sous commandement étasunien, avec l’Italie, l’Arabie Saoudite et autres sponsors du terrorisme de « marque islamiste ». La réunion  a lancé un non plus précisé « plan de la campagne militaire » en Syrie et Irak. Là-bas les choses vont mal pour la coalition, non pas parce que le groupe État islamique (Daech) est en train de vaincre mais parce qu’elle en train de perdre : soutenues par la Russie, les forces gouvernementales syriennes sont en train de libérer des parties croissantes du territoire occupé par Daech et d’autres formations, qui reculent aussi en Irak. Après avoir fait semblant pendant des années de combattre l’Isis, tout en l’approvisionnant en sous-main en armes à travers la Turquie, les USA et alliés demandent à présent un cessez-le-feu pour des «raisons humanitaires». En substance ils demandent que le gouvernement syrien cesse de libérer de l’EI son propre territoire, parce que – a déclaré le secrétaire d’Etat John Kerry en renversant les faits- « plus Assad conquiert de territoire, plus il arrive à créer de terroristes ». En même temps l’Otan renforce les « mesures de réassurance » de la Turquie, qui vise à occuper une bande de territoire syrien dans la zone frontalière.

En Afrique du Nord, la coalition sous conduite USA se prépare à occuper, sous prétexte de les libérer du groupe État islamique, les zones côtières de la Libye les plus importantes économiquement et stratégiquement. L’intensification des vols depuis le hub aérien de Pise, limitrophe à la base étasunienne de Camp Darby, indique que l’opération « sous conduite italienne » a déjà commencé avec le transport d’armes dans les bases d’où elle sera lancée.

Dans le même cadre stratégique se place la décision des ministres de la défense, « sur requête conjointe de l’Allemagne, de la Grèce et de la Turquie », de déployer en Egée le Second groupe naval permanent de l’Otan, aujourd’hui sous commandement allemand, qui vient à peine de conclure « des opérations étendues avec la marine turque ».

La mission officielle de la flotte de guerre « n’est pas d’arrêter ou repousser les embarcations des réfugiés, mais de fournir des informations contre le trafic d’êtres humains », en collaborant avec l’agence Frontex de l’Ue. Dans le même objectif « humanitaire », sont aussi envoyés, à la demande des USA, des avions radar Awacs, centres de commandement volants pour la gestion du champ de bataille.

« La mobilisation atlantique est un bon signe », commente Il Fatto Quotidiano * (12 février), en rappelant que «ce n’est pas la première fois que l’Alliance s’engage dans une action humanitaire ». Exactement comme en Yougoslavie, Afghanistan et Libye.

Manlio Dinucci 

Edition de mardi 16 février 2016 de il manifesto

Traduit de l’italien par Marie-Ange Patrizio

* Note de l’auteur : Il Fato Quotidiano est considéré comme « un journal de gauche » .

Manlio Dinucci est géographe et journaliste. Il a une chronique hebdomadaire “L’art de la guerre” au quotidien italien il manifesto. Parmi ses derniers livres:  Geocommunity (en trois tomes) Ed. Zanichelli 2013; Geolaboratorio, Ed. Zanichelli 2014;Se dici guerra…, Ed. Kappa Vu 2014.

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On Feb.16, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in coordination with Hezbollah and the National Defense Forces (NDF) liberated the village of Misqan in northern Aleppo following a heavy firefight with the militants operating in the area, mostly members of Al-Nusra and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham terrorist groups.

The Kurdish YPG units and their allies seized the rebel stronghold of Tal Rifa. Earlier, the YPG cut the road between the towns of Tall-Rifaa and Azaz. The Kurdish has established a fire control of the road with sniper and mortar fire.

The YPG also launched a military opertion in the Aleppo’s district of Al-Hillak. According to reports, the operation was conducted from the YPG positions at Sheikh Maqsoud. Now, the clashes are ongoing inside Al-Hillak. This draws attention of the terrorists already involved in heavy clashes against the government’s forces in the district of Bustan Al-Pasha.

Meanwhile, the SAA secured the Thermal Power Plant located in eastern Aleppo. Now, the SAA units are securing the area and cleaning it from IEDs planted by terrorists. The Thermal Power Plant has a key value because it is able to provide a significant electricity supplies to the city.

The Turkish army continued to hit Kurdish militia targets in Syria for the third day in a row Feb.15. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu said Ankara will not allow the town of Azaz in northern Syria to fall to the Kurdish YPG forces and promised the “harshest reaction,” if the group attempts to re-take the city. Thus, al Nusra, ISIS and other terrorist groups have got a significant artillery support in Northern Syria which will likely stop advances against terrorists in a few of directions.

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Collapse of Iraqi Kurdistan

février 16th, 2016 by Andre Vltchek

It used to be presented as a huge success story. We were told that in the middle of a ravished Middle East, surrounded by despair, death and pain, a land of milk and honey was shining brightly like a torch of hope.

Or was it more like a delicious cake surrounded by rot? This exceptional place was called Iraqi Kurdistan, or officially the “Kurdistan Region.”

This is where the victorious global capitalism has been injecting “massive investments,” while the West was “guaranteeing security and peace.”

Here, Turkish firms were building and financing countless projects, while their road tankers and later a pipeline, were moving mind-boggling quantities of oil toward the West.

At the smart Erbil International Airport, European businessmen, soldiers and security experts were rubbing shoulders with UN development specialists. Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, MEA and other major airlines were busy inaugurating flights to this new “hip” hub of the Middle East.

Never mind that the government of the Kurdistan Region kept clashing with the capital city of Baghdad, over the oil reserves, over the extent of self-rule, and many other essential issues.

Never mind that (as it often happens in extreme capitalist societies), the macroeconomic indicators were suddenly in frightening contrast with the growing misery of local people.

As long as the oil was flowing, as long as this self-administered region was pledging eternal allegiance to the West. But then the economy began slowing down, and then it halted. All social indicators nosedived.

The happiness of Western and Turkish investors, and especially of the political handlers, looked increasingly out of place, becoming almost insulting to those who were trying to make ends meet.

And on the day that I was leaving, February 9, 2016, “Iraqi Kurdistan” suddenly exploded in series of violent protests, over “austerity measures to avert an economic collapse.”

Reuters reported:

“Protests intensified in Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Tuesday… A decade-long economic boom in the autonomous region came to an abrupt halt in 2014 when Baghdad slashed funding to the Kurds after they built their own oil pipeline to Turkey and began exporting oil independently. That left the KRG struggling to meet a bloated public payroll of 875 billion Iraqi dinars ($800 million) per month. The KRG has tried to make up the shortfall by increasing independent oil sales to around 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), but at current prices the region is still left with a monthly deficit of 380-400 billion Iraqi dinars ($717 million).”

© Andre Vltchek

© Andre Vltchek

But the dispute with Baghdad and the financial shortfall are not the only issues that led to the present situation. Social policies in the Kurdistan Region had long been grotesquely inadequate, and the welfare of the local population had never been considered a priority.

One night, I met a UN education specialist, Ms. Eszter Szucs, who is based in Erbil. We had a short, intense talk:

“Iraqi Kurdistan is definitely not a social state. People are unhappy with the situation. They protest a lot, but it does not do them any good. Natural resources are privately owned. Social services are mostly extremely expensive: those who can afford it travel to get medical treatment in Turkey. The Kurdish Region is a very complex place.”

“Not a paradise in the heart of the charred Middle East?” I ask, ironically.

“Definitely not,” she replies. “There is of course really substantial investment flowing from abroad: mainly from the West and Turkey. But it is directed toward macroeconomic growth, through the oil industry. Not much comes back to the pockets of the ordinary people.”

I know that. I saw those “ordinary people” digging out dirty roots for dinner, in the middle of the villages located right near the oil refineries owned by KAR, the Kurdish oil company.

On February 9, 2016, protesters flooded the cities and towns of Sulaymaniyah, Koya, Halabja and Chemchemal. Suddenly, it was clear that the “success” of Iraqi Kurdistan has been nothing more than a house of cards. It became unsustainable, and it began its gradual collapse.

© Andre Vltchek

© Andre Vltchek

As we drove on Route 2, the road connecting the cities of Erbil and Mosul, I asked my interpreter: “Why do you think there are no funds to pay salaries, pensions, even wages of the local armed forces, the Peshmerga?”

No money because the oil prices collapsed, and because of war with the ISIS,” the interpreter says. “Before, Baghdad was covering 75 percent of the costs of welfare for our people… Now it is sending nothing.”

I am wondering: “But why should you get money from Baghdad, if you are much closer to Washington. You keep pledging allegiance to the West, antagonizing rest of Iraq, threatening to declare full independence. You even built a direct pipeline leading to Turkey…”

“But Baghdad is still our capital…”

“But you are severing links with Iraq, and the Middle East…”

Silence.

“Do you get any money, any substantial help from the United States?” I ask.

“No.”

“Do Kurdish people feel disappointed because they get no support from the West?”

“Yes, very disappointed,” replies my interpreter. “We feel unsafe in our own land, especially lately. Everything could collapse at any moment. People here just want to get out of here – go to the US or UK.”

Is this the end of euphoria?

The road is surrounded by garbage dumps. Electric wires and high fences cut through the land. And the land lies idle; there is almost no agriculture left here. It is all oil, military bases, and inactivity and apathy.

Our car is stopped at several checkpoints. My colleague is harassed, because she has a Syrian visa in her passport. I have Iranian visa in mine… As our documents are being scrutinized, Turkish trucks and road tankers are sailing by, freely, enjoying undefined but obvious privileges.

© Andre Vltchek

© Andre Vltchek

South of Erbil, in the villages near Qushtapa, the road is severely damaged by Turkish and Kurdish tankers and trucks. On this thoroughfare connecting Iraq, Turkey and Iran, there seem to be more trucks and tankers than ordinary cars or buses. It is all about business, about “trade.” People hardly travel.

A few days ago, outraged citizens blocked the road, demanding changes in social policies, and that the government take action.

I make it all the way to the village of Degala. There, guards and local people look at me with suspicion.

“Why are you protesting?” I ask.

They try to avoid real issues first: “We want our road to be fixed…”

I insist: “Why, really?”

After a while, the ice is broken and one of the villagers begins with his lament:

“For six months we are not getting paid. On this road we see it clearly: there is so much business, so much money, but we get absolutely nothing. We are so angry! Trucks are carrying food and oil, but they don’t stop here. We are abandoned.”

As we drive towards Erbil, I see again that total neglect: fields lie idle. There is no diversification of the economy.

I ask my driver: “Was it always like this? Was Kurdistan producing food under Saddam Hussein? Was there agriculture?”

“Yes,” he shrugs his shoulders. “It was like… a different country.”

“Better?” I ask.

“Of course, much better.”

Then silence, again.

© Andre Vltchek

© Andre Vltchek

And now, there is a war.

One year ago, I managed to get all the way to the front line, just 7 kilometers from Mosul. I was shown the hills occupied by ISIS, I saw the destroyed bridge over the Khazir River, and then Sharkan village, Hassan Shami, and other villages bombed and ruined by the US forces.

Battalion commander Colonel Shaukat from the Zeravani militarized police force (part of the Peshmerga armed forces), took me around, in his armored Land Cruiser. Machine guns, smokes and bravado everywhere…

I asked him: “How many civilians died in those villages?”

“Not one,” he replied. “I swear! We provided great intelligence, so the US forces knew what to bomb.”

He treated me as if this was my first warzone. Hundreds died. It was obvious, and the relatives of the victims later confirmed it to me. There was hardly anything left of the villages. Most likely, most of the villages vanished during the attack. Colonel Shaukat was trained primarily in the UK. He knew how to talk.

This time I speak to Omar Hamdy, the manager of the 5-star Rotana Hotel in Erbil:

“I am Iraqi, from Mosul. I lost my brother and uncle in that city, after ISIS took it. Of course ISIS were created and trained by the West and Turkey, but I also blame the Iraqi army – 54,000 of them just threw away their weapons and ran away.”

I said: “But they were most likely scared, knowing that behind the ISIS were the NATO countries.”

Yes, definitely,” he replied.

“And what about Russia?”

He answered:

“I am actually very, very interested in Russia and what it is now doing in the Middle East. Russia truly fights against ISIS. The US – they come; bomb the villages taken by ISIS, kill mainly civilians, and also ‘by mistake’ drop the weapons to the area, so ISIS can get their hands on them… I have many friends who are actually fighting against ISIS, in Mosul, therefore I am always well informed.”

Families are on both sides of the line, and the mobile phones are working. It is possible to keep informed about the situation in Mosul, by simply calling relatives and friends.

Then he continues:

“Even if Mosul would ever be freed from ISIS, there would be many different factions and perpetual conflicts.”

“Not unlike the Libyan scenario?” I interrupt him.

“Exactly. Not unlike the Libyan scenario…. Also, what worries me is what is happening to the children of Mosul; ISIS is heavily indoctrinating them.”

That happens in many countries that the West destabilized,” I utter.

He does not know. He only knows that it has been happening in his city and country.

© Andre Vltchek

© Andre Vltchek

When I returned to my hotel, a British dude was practicing politics with a female receptionist. Military talk, about training local military folks, and then oil production talk – it is all in vogue, or at least acceptable as a social interaction between “hip” locals and macho expats.

There are all those private security experts, military men, instructors, intelligence officers and advisors. It is one huge mind-blowing medley of military bravado, openly paraded and spiced with turbo-capitalist dogmas.

I am studying local sources. And more I do, it becomes obvious that things are going from bad to worse.

Statistics Director in Suleymaniyah, Mahmud Osman, told recently BasNews:

“Compared to 2014, in 2015 the expenditure of each family has decreased by 30 percent – that it includes buying basic needs, home stuff, traveling and so on… the unemployment rate in the [Kurdistan] Region was 7 percent in 2013, but now it has risen to 25 percent…”

The poverty increased dramatically, too. And the Region has extremely lax ways of calculating poverty: if a family does not spend IQD 105,000 ($87) in a month, the family is considered poor. That is $21.75 per person per month, lesser than a dollar a day! Not to mention, that Kurdish families have, on average, more than four members.

I ask my driver how much a family of five needs to survive in and outside Erbil.

”At the absolute minimum, $1,000 a month in the city, and $600 in the countryside.”

“How many families are making that much?” I wonder.

“Not even one half… Much lesser than half,” he says.

© Andre Vltchek

© Andre Vltchek

I am puzzled; I want to know, to hear from the people of “the Region,” whether their lives have truly collapsed.

In Kawergosk village, an elderly man, Mohamad Ahmad Hasen, is chillingly frank about the situation:

“They [the government, the system] are not helping us with absolutely anything. And now we have absolutely nothing. There, look, see that huge oil refinery? They are on their own and we are on our own. There are no new jobs and we are living hand-to-mouth.”

In another village, I speak to one of many families that managed to escape from ISIS-occupied territories. They come from the city of Hammam al-Alil, near Mosul. They all agree that things were much better before the US invasion:

“During Saddam Hussein, Iraq was a proud and decent country. Security was good. Now we don’t even know who our enemies are, and who is behind them.”

Next door, a woman shares her plight. According to a conservative culture of Mosul, she is not supposed to talk to us. But she has several children, all near starvation. She is fed up, and she says:

“Our men are in the Peshmerga. They are fighting ISIS. I have seven children. My neighbor has seven children. Nobody is working anymore. There is no help. Even the Peshmerga is not getting paid. It is all extremely difficult and I am not even sure how are we going to survive!”

But Turkish truck and tankers are moving up and down the roads, day and night.

© Andre Vltchek

© Andre Vltchek

Not long ago, during our meeting in Istanbul, Professor E. Ahmet Tonak summarized the situation between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan:

“Turkey is very supportive of the regime in Erbil; if for nothing else, at least for economic reasons. Whoever goes there – to northern Iraq – or what we call southern Kurdistan, would notice that Turkish companies are dominating that Kurdish Region almost completely… There is oil there, obviously, but there is also another, political factor: the Iraqi Kurdish regime is the only friendly Kurdish force Ankara has in the entire area.”

But the allies of the Kurdistan Region do not seem to be too interested in the plight of local people.

While the social system is collapsing, Erbil is turning into one of the most segregated places on earth: with 12-lane roads, fragmented communities, absolutely no public transportation, almost no cultural institutions, but plenty of malls for the rich, as well as luxury hotels for the expats.

In the area where the majority of people live on less than $1 per day, a decent hotel room now costs over $350, and the daily rate for car hire from a hotel is around $400.

There is great fear in the Kurdistan Region. And fear is feeding anger. And anger may lead to violence against the corrupt pro-Western regime.

And what is Erbil’s “solution”? Reuters reported on February 11, 2016:

“Massud Barzani, de facto president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, declared in early February that the « time has come for the country’s Kurds to hold a referendum on statehood.”

Baghdad is watching and warning: “Don’t do it! You will not be able to survive without us.”

But the regime in Kurdistan Region appears to be too stubborn. As in all colonies of the West, it is business as usual: “Profit over people.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. Discussion with N. Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East.
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Putin’s Stellar Economic Performance for Russia

février 16th, 2016 by Eric Zuesse

Despite Barack Obama’s economic sanctions against Russia, and the plunge in oil prices that King Saud agreed to with Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry on 11 September 2014, the economic damages that the U.S. and Sauds have aimed against a particular oil-and-gas giant, Russia, have hit mostly elsewhere — at least till now.

This has been happening while simultaneously Obama’s violent February 2014 coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych (and the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor calls it “the most blatant coup in history”) has caused Ukraine’s economy to plunge even further than Russia’s, and corruption in Ukraine to soar even higher than it was before America’s overthrow of that country’s final freely elected government, so that Ukraine’s economy has actually been harmed far more than Russia’s was by Obama’s coup in Ukraine and Obama’s subsequent economic sanctions against Russia (sanctions that are based on clear and demonstrable Obama lies but that continue as if they weren’t).

Bloomberg News headlined on February 4th, “These Are the World’s Most Miserable Economies,” and reported the “misery index” rankings of 63 national economies — a standard ranking-system that calculates “misery” as being the sum of the unemployment-rate and the inflation-rate. They also compared the 2016 rankings (which were based on 2015 figures) to the 2015 rankings (which were based on 2014 figures).

Top rank, #1 both years — the most miserable economy in the world during 2015 — was Venezuela, because of that country’s 95% dependence upon oil-export earnings (which crashed when oil-prices plunged). The U.S.-Saudi agreement destroyed Venezuela’s economy.

Bloomberg hadn’t reported misery-index rankings for 2014 showing economic performances during 2013, but economist Steve H. Hanke of Johns Hopkins University did, in his “Measuring Misery Around the World, May 2014,” which ranked 90 countries; and, during 2013 (Yanukovych’s final year as President before his being forced out by Obama), Ukraine’s rank was #23 and its misery-index was 24.4.

Russia’s was #36 and its misery index was 19.9.  So: those can be considered to be the baseline-figures, from which any subsequent economic progress or decline may reasonably be calculated. (On 3 February 2015, a year after Yanukovych had been overthrown by the UAE royals’ friend Obama, their Khaleej Times issued a “List of Most Miserable Countries,” and calculated that in 2013 the misery-index for Ukraine was 51.8. That figure was more than a bit rich, and their methodology wasn’t explained, but maybe it was just that they wanted to give those royals’ American aristocratic friends a favorable baseline for their propaganda pumping their Ukraine-coup operation.)

The figures given in the recent Bloomberg report are, for Ukraine, during 2014 (the year of the February 2014 coup), #2 with a misery-index of 57.8; and during 2015 (the latest available figure), #5 with a misery-index of 26.3.

Bloomberg (also) doesn’t explain their ranking’s methodology, but fudging the numbers would be too crude a way for Western ‘news’ media to deceive their audiences and so is rarely practiced in those more ‘polite’ countries.

The figures in Bloomberg for Russia are: during 2014, #7 with a misery-index of 21.1; and during 2015, #14 with a misery-index of 14.5.

Thus: whereas Russia became economically less miserable throughout the entire period 2013-2015, starting with a misery-index of 19.9 and ending with one of 14.5, Ukraine went from a misery-index of 24.4 to one of 26.3. During that three-year period Ukraine’s figure peaked in the year of Obama’s coup at 57.8. So, at least Ukraine’s misery seems to be heading back downward in the coup’s aftermath. But meanwhile, Russia went from 19.9 to 21.1 to 14.5 — and had no year that was as bad as Ukraine’s best year was during that period of time. And yet: that coup and the economic sanctions and the U.S.-Saudi oil-agreement were targeted against Russia — not against Ukraine.

The U.S. performance during that same period was: from 11.0, to 4.6, to (the latest, 2015) 6.4.

Saudi Arabia started with 18.9 during 2013, and was ignored (not ranked at all) in the Bloomberg article.

During the interim, and even in the years leading up to 2014, Russia had been (and still is) refocusing its economy away from Russia’s natural resources and toward a broad sector of high technology: military R&D and production.

On 15 December 2014, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute headlined, “Sales by Largest Arms Companies Fell Again in 2013, but Russian Firms’ Sales Continued Rising,” and reported, « Sales by companies headquartered in the United States and Canada have continued to moderately decrease, while sales by Russian-based companies increased by 20 per cent in 2013.”

The following year, SIPRI bannered, on 14 December 2015, “Global Arms Industry: West Still Dominant Despite Decline,” and reported that:

« Despite difficult national economic conditions, the Russian arms industry’s sales continued to rise in 2014. … ‘Russian companies are riding the wave of increasing national military spending and exports. There are now 11 Russian companies in the Top 100 and their combined revenue growth over 2013–14 was 48.4 per cent,’ says SIPRI Senior Researcher Siemon Wezeman. In contrast, arms sales of Ukrainian companies have substantially declined. … US companies’ arms sales decreased by 4.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014, which is similar to the rate of decline seen in 2012–13. … Western European companies’ arms sales decreased by 7.4 per cent in 2014.”

This is a redirection of the Russian economy that Vladimir Putin was preparing even prior to Obama’s war against Russia. Perhaps it was because of the entire thrust of the U.S. aristocracy’s post-Soviet determination to conquer Russia whenever the time would be right for NATO to strike and grab it. Obama’s public ambivalence about Russia never persuaded Putin that the U.S. would finally put the Cold War behind it and end its NATO alliance as Russia had ended its Warsaw Pact back in 1991. Instead, Obama continued to endorse expanding NATO, right up to Russia’s borders (now even into Ukraine) — an extremely hostile act.

By building the world’s most cost-effective designers and producers of weaponry, Russia wouldn’t only be responding to America’s ongoing hostility — or at least responding to the determination of America’s aristocracy to take over Russia, the world’s largest trove of natural resources — but would also expand Russia’s export-earnings and international influence by selling to other countries weaponry that’s less-burdened with the costs of sheer corruption than are the armaments that are being produced in what is perhaps the world’s most corrupt military-industrial complex: America’s. Whereas Putin has tolerated corruption in other areas of Russia’s economic production (figuring that those areas are less crucial for Russia’s future), he has rigorously excluded it in the R&D and production and sales of weaponry. Ever since he first came into office in 2000, he has transformed post-Soviet Russia from being an unlimitedly corrupt satellite of the United States under Boris Yeltsin, to becoming truly an independent nation; and this infuriates America’s aristocrats (who gushed over Yeltsin).

The Russian government-monopoly marketing company for Russia’s weapons-manufacturers, Rosoboronexport, presents itself to nations around the world by saying:

“Today, armaments and military equipment bearing the Made in Russia label protect independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of dozens of countries. Owing to their efficiency and reliability, Russian defense products enjoy strong demand on the global market and maintain our nation’s leading positions among the world’s arms exporters. For the past several years, Russia has consistently ranked second behind the United States as regards arms exports.”

That’s second-and-rising, as opposed to America’s first-and-falling.

The American aristocracy’s ever-growing war against Russia posed and poses to Putin two simultaneous challenges: both to reorient away from Russia’s natural resources, which the global aristocracy wants to grab, and also to reorient toward the area of hi-tech in which the Soviets had built a basis from which Russia could become truly cost-effective in international commerce, so as to, simultaneously, increase Russia’s defensive capability against an expanding NATO, while also replacing some of Russia’s dependence upon the natural resources that the West’s aristocrats want to steal.

In other words: Putin designed a plan to meet two challenges simultaneously — military and economic. His primary aim is to protect Russia from being grabbed by the American and Saudi aristocrats, via America’s NATO and the Sauds’ Gulf Cooperation Council and other alliances (which are trying to take over Russia’s ally Syria — Syria being a crucial location for pipelining Arab royals’ oil-and-gas into Europe, the world’s largest energy-market).

In addition, the hit to Russia’s economic growth-rate from the dual-onslaught of Obama’s sanctions and the plunging oil prices hasn’t been too bad. The World Bank’s April 2015 “Russia Economic Report” predicted:

« Growth prospects for 2015-2016 are negative. It is likely that when the full effects of the two shocks become evident in 2015, they will push the Russian economy into recession. The World Bank baseline scenario sees a contraction of 3.8 percent in 2015 and a modest decline of 0.3 percent in 2016. The growth spectrum presented has two alternative scenarios that largely reflect differences in how oil prices are expected to affect the main macro variables.”

The current (as of today) “Russia GDP Annual Growth Rate” at Trading Economics says:

« The Russian economy shrank 3.8 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2015, following a 4.1 percent contraction in the previous period, according to preliminary estimates from the Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev. It is the worst performance since 2009 [George W. Bush’s global economic crash], as Western sanctions and lower oil prices hurt external trade and public revenues.”

The World Bank’s report went on to describe “The Government Anti-Crisis Plan”:

On January 27, 2014, the government adopted an anti-crisis plan with the goal to ensure sustainable economic development and social stability in an unfavorable global economic and political environment.

It announced that in 2015–2016 it will take steps to advance structural changes in the Russian economy, provide support to systemic entities and the labor market, lower inflation, and help vulnerable households adjust to price increases. To achieve the objectives of positive growth and sustainable medium-term macroeconomic development the following measures are planned:

  • Provide support for import substitution and non-mineral exports;
  • Support small and medium enterprises by lowering financing and administrative costs;
  • Create opportunities for raising financial resources at reasonable cost in key economic sectors;
  • Compensate vulnerable households (e.g., pensioners) for the costs of inflation;
  • Cushion the impact on the labor market (e.g. provide training and increase public works);
  • Optimize budget expenditures; and
  • Enhance banking sector stability and create a mechanism for reorganizing systemic companies.

So: Russia’s anti-crisis plan was drawn up and announced on 27 January 2014, already before Yanukovych was overthrown, even before Obama’s agent Victoria Nuland on 4 February 2014 instructed the U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine whom to have appointed to run the government when the coup would be completed (“Yats,” who did  get appointed). Perhaps, in drawing up this plan, Putin was responding to scenes from Ukraine like this. He could see that what was happening in Ukraine was an operation financed by the U.S. CIA. He could recognize what Obama had in mind for Russia.

Putin’s economic plan has softened the economic blow upon the masses, even while it has re-oriented the economy toward what would be the future growth-areas.

The country that Putin in 2000 had taken over and inherited from the drunkard Yeltsin (so beloved by Western aristocrats because he permitted them to skim off so much from it) was a wreck even worse than it had been when the Soviet Union ended. Putin immediately set to work to turn it around, in a way that could meet those two demands.

Apparently, Putin has been succeeding — now even despite what the U.S. aristocracy (and its allied aristocracies in Europe and Arabia) have been throwing to weaken Russia. And the Russian people know it.

PS: The present reporter is an American, and a Democrat, not inclined to condemn Democratic politicians, but Obama’s grab for Russia is not merely exceedingly dangerous for the entire world, it is profoundly unjust, it is also based on his (and most Republicans’) lies, and so I don’t support it, and I no longer support Obama, at all. But this certainly doesn’t mean that I support the Republican Party, which is even worse on this (and other matters) than Democratic politicians are. I support Bernie Sanders, but I am not a part of anyone’s political campaign, in any way. I am rigorously above partisanship, but this doesn’t mean that my views are wishy-washy or vague. To the exact contrary. It clarifies the reality.

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An ardent attempt is afoot on Capitol Hill to prevent states from requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods – made especially urgent by the fact that Vermont’s labeling bill is set to take effect July 1st.

Although proponents of these foods scored a major victory in July when they induced the House of Representatives to pass a bill (HR 1599) that would ban such state-enacted legislation, a version of that bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate; and because of the intense focus on crafting and passing crucial legislation that will provide necessary funding to keep the federal government functioning, none is likely to be during this session. Accordingly, biotech advocates are endeavoring to get key provisions of HR 1599 attached as a rider to the must-pass appropriations bill – and sneak them into law without meaningful scrutiny and debate.

But this attempt could be quickly foiled by one simple occurrence: the dissemination of a few essential facts. Moreover, if these facts had been widely known in July, HR 1599 could not have even made it through the House. That’s because the bill has always relied on disinformation – and could not survive an open airing of the truth.

The DARK Act’s Survival Depends on Keeping People in the Dark

HR 1599 was artfully titled the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.”

But because it would actually restrict the labeling of GE foods, public interest groups dubbed it the DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right to Know Act). Moreover, not only would that proposed legislation keep consumers in the dark, the legislators were significantly operating in the dark themselves. Indeed, it’s safe to say that virtually every member of the House who voted on that bill – whether for or against – was mistaken about at least one of the key relevant facts.

The false belief that there are no legitimate safety concerns

Some of the greatest confusion involves food safety. For instance, the bill’s sponsor, Congressman Pompeo, declared that consumer demands for labeling of GE foods have nothing to do with health or safety, and its other supporters have backed that assertion and proclaimed that no legitimate food safety concerns exist. Even the main witness who testified against the bill before a congressional committee in 2014 declared that there aren’t any. But this is flat-out false. For example, science-based concerns about the dangers to human health were repeatedly raised in memos written by the technical experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when they analyzed the risks of genetic engineering in 1991. The pervasiveness of the concerns within the scientific staff is attested by a memo from an FDA official who asserted: “The processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different, and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks.”(1)

Such concerns have been expressed in subsequent years by numerous other scientists and scientific institutions as well, including the British Medical Association, the Public Health Association of Australia, and the respected medical journal The Lancet. One of the strongest set of cautions appeared within an extensive report issued by the Royal Society of Canada, which declared (a) that it is “scientifically unjustifiable” to presume that GE foods are safe and (b) that the “default presumption” for every one of them should be that the genetic alteration has induced unintended and potentially harmful side effects (2).

Laboratory testing has confirmed the legitimacy of the concerns, and a number of well-conducted research studies on GE foods published in peer-reviewed scientific journals have detected statistically significant instances of harm to the laboratory animals that were consigned to consume them. Moreover, a review of the scientific literature on GE foods (itself published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2009) concluded that “most” of the safety assessments have not only indicated problems, but indicated that “many GM [genetically modified] foods have some common toxic effects.” (3)

The erroneous notion that the FDA is responsibly regulating GMOs

Confusion also reigns regarding the adequacy of federal regulation, and it’s widely believed that the FDA is assiduously following the law and subjecting GE foods to rigorous scientific review. But in reality (and as will be seen), that agency has not conducted a genuinely scientific review for any GE food on the market, and far from following the law, it’s been deliberately violating the law’s express mandates in order to enable these products to be marketed without the kinds of testing that the law requires.

Accounting for the Confusion: The Decisive Role of Deception

The widespread misconceptions about GE foods have been created and sustained through the systematic spreading of disinformation by a large number of their proponents. Deplorably, one of the chief spreaders has been the FDA; and if that agency had not routinely distorted the facts – and instead told the truth – the GE food venture would almost surely have collapsed.

For instance, when the FDA issued its policy statement on GE foods in 1992, it claimed it was “not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way,”(4) despite the fact its files contained multiple memos from its own scientists explaining how GE foods do indeed differ, why they pose greater risks, and why none should be presumed safe unless its safety has been demonstrated through rigorous testing.

Moreover, the FDA compounded the fraud by claiming that GE foods were “Generally Recognized as Safe” among experts and could be marketed without the requirement of any safety testing at all, even though its files reveal that it knew there was no expert consensus – and even though the law mandates that foods containing novel substances must be established safe through solid technical evidence (5).

Furthermore, to create the illusion that responsible regulation was being exercised, the agency set up a voluntary consultation process that it claims affords “rigorous” review. But the process is not a genuine scientific review, and the FDA’s Biotechnology Strategic Manager has acknowledged that fact – while admitting that the agency does not even request or receive any original test data (6).

The agency’s shameful behavior continues, and although by now it is well aware of much more information showing that GE foods significantly differ from others, it persists in its bogus claim that it is “not aware” of any; and this blatant falsehood was repeated by an FDA official on October 21st at a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She also asserted that the consultation process is so rigorous that it resolves “all safety issues,” which is not only misleading but ridiculous, because the process is far too superficial to achieve such certitude (7).

The Delusions Cannot Last Much Longer

Because the facts weigh so heavily against the GE food venture, and because it has relied on distorting them in order to survive, it cannot long endure. When enough people in general, or even a small number on Capitol Hill, finally learn the truth – and realize the extent to which the truth has been consistently twisted – there will be dramatic change. And if a sufficient dose of enlightenment were to soon suffuse The Hill, the Dark Act would be dead.

Steven M. Druker is Executive Director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity

Notes

1) Document 1 at http://biointegrity.org/24-fda-documents The FDA covered up the memos from its scientists, and they only came to light because a lawsuit initiated by the Alliance for Bio-Integrity compelled the agency to release its files on GE foods.
2) “Elements of Precaution: Recommendations for the Regulation of Food Biotechnology in Canada; An Expert Panel Report on the Future of Food Biotechnology prepared by The Royal Society of Canada at the request of Health Canada Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Environment Canada” The Royal Society of Canada, January 2001
3) Dona, A., and I. S. Arvanitouannis (2009) Health Risks of Genetically Modified Foods. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 49: 164-75.
4) Statement of Policy: Foods Derived From New Plant Varieties, May 29, 1992, Federal Register vol. 57, No. 104 at 22991
5) The legal requirements are delineated at 21 CFR Sec. 170.30 (a-b). For a fuller explanation of what the law requires for GRAS status and how the FDA has been violating the requirements, see Chapter 5 of my book, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, or my article, “Why the FDA’s Policy on Genetically Engineered Foods is Unscientific, Irresponsible, and Illegal.
6) Maryanski, J., “Safety Assurance of Foods Derived by Modern Biotechnology in the United States,” July 1996.
7) Statement of Susan Mayne, PhD, Director, FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, U.S. Senate, October 21, 2015.

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The Dissenting Jurisprudence of Antonin Scalia

février 16th, 2016 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

“We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law.”  These words from Texas Governor Greg Abbott say much about the late Justice Antonin Scalia and his conservative dominance on the bench he made his own from 1986.  The Constitution, treated as a substitute divinity, provided the late justice with a range of rationales for his judgments.

What was, then, the primary importance of Scalia?

The Constitutional text, or textualism, as it is sometimes called, provided him with what was meant to be some line in the sand.  In sticking to the text, in so far as reasonable, aberrations might be avoided.  Judicial hands might stay clean, above the fray.  As Scalia noted in Roper v Simmons (2005) citing Alexander Hamilton’s words to the citizens of New York, granting “life-tenured judges the power to nullify laws enacted by the people’s representatives” would pose “little risk” as “[t]he judiciary… ha[s] neither the force or will but merely judgment.”

Not so in the case of Roper, where a divided bench considered that the Constitution prohibits the execution of juveniles.  Scalia thereby saw himself taking the barometric readings of a moral state of affairs – and it was specifically American and exceptioanlist.  In taking this view on the “evolving standards of decency”, the Court “thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation’s moral standards – and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures.”  Unfortunately, someone was going to be doing the judging, whatever the outcome.

Scalia did have some scepticism about being able to know the original meaning behind the text.  In a sense, he was not a true “originalist,” in so far as he still permitted a degree of evolutionary intention, something which could only be gathered from previous judgments.  Thus, stare decisis, that onerous and ever present doctrine that keeps judges in check and the law supposedly consistent, was evoked at stages to scold and chide other judges.  Judges, Scalia was found quoting Hamilton in Roper, are “bound down by strict rules and precedents which serve to define and point out their duty in every particular case that comes before them.”

Time and time again, he would find himself disagreeing with approaches that seemingly contradicted this stance.  To that end, evolutionary approaches to nature of unions between couples – be there heterosexual or homosexual – were to be dismissed as revolutionary infractions of accepted doctrine.  “Today’s opinion,” he expressed in Lawrence v Texas (2003), a decision striking down a Texas law criminalizing sex between two people of the same sex, “dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned.”[1]

The caustic tone continued in Obergerfell v Hodges (2015), which saw Scalia attacking the finding by the majority that same-sex unions were a fundamental constitutional right.  The dissenting judgment commences with a terse observation: “to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy”.  Drawing on his own mystical concept of “the People’s wisdom,” he argued in a footnote in the decision that, “The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

Significantly, Scalia claimed to defer to the wisdom of Congressional and executive authority on subjects of a moral nature. Deciding on the protection of same-sex marriage was hardly within the province of judicial wisdom.  His fellow judges, claimed Scalia in Obergerfell, had effectively ended a debate that had been going on since the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868.  “Since there is no doubt whatever that the People never decided to prohibit the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples, the public debate over same-sex marriage must be allowed to continue.”

Such a stance invariably came with its hazards, rendering a powerful arm of government less scrutinising than it might be.  A Court’s balancing act might invariably cancel out certain decisions of the executive. Justice Scalia would treat carefully on that score.

That said, Scalia was not necessarily hostile to the Fourth Amendment guarding against unreasonable searches and seizures, and the insurance of a search warrant based on probable cause.  Given the rampant nature of the surveillance state, the decisions of Kyllo v Unied States (2001) and United States v Jones (2012) still rank as important considerations on intrusive technology.

Kyllo saw the Justice writing for the majority arguing that using a thermal-imaging device aimed at a private home from a public street to detect heat within its environs constituted a search within the meaning of the amendment.[2]  As the judgment observed, “The Fourth Amendment’s protection of the home has never been tied to measurement of the quality or quantity of information obtained.”

The Supreme Court in Jones similarly held that police needed to obtain a warrant to affix a GPS surveillance device to a car. To use such a tracking device, “and subsequent use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements on public streets, constitutes a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”[3]

Unfortunately, the post-Snowden questions on the legitimacy of dragnet surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency remain unanswered in the United States’ highest forum, leaving Justice Scalia’s successor a complicated, and challenging legacy.

Perhaps fittingly, Scalia has left a traumatic and speculative maelstrom in his wake, a polarising blast that has affected the entire GOP concerned that the Supreme Court is slipping out of its hands.  President Barack Obama is expected to sit idle, allowing the Court to operate with eight justices.  “We owe it to him and the Nation,” claimed Ted Cruz, “for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.” Hamilton’s notion of a limited judge, indeed!

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]

Notes:

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Why does the British government buy millions of pounds of generic drugs, for the NHS, from Israeli companies instead of from EU manufacturers and why do we buy arms and defence systems from a non­-European state that is outside NATO, rather than from the 27 member states of the European Union who comprise the NATO alliance with North America?

Israel is not bound by any EU law; is not in Europe and is not a contributor to European democratic values. It continues its illegal six year blockade of essential goods to1.8m civilians in Gaza in a failed attempt to bring about regime change and it continues its illegal settlement agenda in the Occupied Territories in an attempt to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. These actions deliberately violate the Geneva Conventions and international law and are condemned by both the EU and the UN.

Israel refuses to be a party to the nuclear NPT, Non Proliferation Treaty, or to the international chemical or biological weapons agreements, signed by all EU member states, that ban the manufacture or use of such weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, the Israeli state is in continuous breach of the human rights provisions of an EU Association Agreement that currently affords it free access to the world’s largest single market: Europe.

Israel’s international lobbyists in cities around the world promote propaganda from their Foreign Ministry intended to exert influence on legislators in Washington, London, Berlin, Paris, Canberra and Ottawa, in order to skew foreign and domestic policies of these governments to the political and economic advantage of their own state.

There must be a specific reason that the allegedly pro-European, Cameron government feels obliged to buy many millions of pounds of arms and goods from a maverick state in the Middle East rather than from its own European partners. Perhaps that reason has something to do with a specific lobby in London.

[email protected]   London February 2016

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Syria – Peace Talks and an Empire Running Amok

février 16th, 2016 by Peter Koenig

Featured image: General view of United Nations (U.N.) Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attending a meeting on Syria with representatives of the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5) at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse   – RTX228S7

February in Geneva. It is utterly frustrating living the daily lie and slander propaganda against Russia and against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, of this ‘neutral’ country, Switzerland, where soon peace talks are expected to begin. The UN hub in Geneva has in the past often served for peace negotiations, for mediation talks, but also failed more often than not, always when the American interests were not accommodated by an agreement.

How could it be different in the case of Syria? – Switzerland, like Brussels, has become the epicentre of European neoliberal politics with a broadcast system emitting half-hourly Putin and Assad bashing news. The first being labelled as a human rights abuser responsible for the Ukrainian war, for the ‘annexation’ of Crimea, for thousands of Syrian deaths and tens of thousands of refugees, as a result of Russia bombarding Syria; refugees stranded and starving at the Turkish border and eventually invading Europe. Mr. Assad is being called a ferocious dictator, who does not shy from killing his own people and has to be removed for the good of the world. There is constant talk about a ‘transition government’, meaning without Mr. Assad, not even remotely considering that Syria is a sovereign nation, and that the Syrian people should have a say in who will be their president – and not at all foreign forces, who are responsible for the criminal massacres and war in the first place.

Mr. Assad and his secular Arab Socialist Ba’ath party is indeed not convenient for the neo-colonial interests of the west. Never mind that he had been re-elected with a more than 80% majority by Syrians, just about 20 months ago. Mr. Gadhafi, who intended with the riches of Libya to free Africa from the continuous economic oppression of the west, was also a socialist at heart and very inconvenient for the fascist capitalist west. Frankly, what Swiss news are portraying is worse than Fox and CNN together and doesn’t make for neutral grounds amenable for peace talks.

Constant western-biased anti-Russia, anti-Assad propaganda is not offering the friendly neutral environment needed to talk seriously about peace. It rather emits an ambiance of negative vibes, a premise for doomed negotiations, even before the talks begin. Add to this, that Washington has absolutely no intention to reach a permanent cessation of armed conflicts, a ‘peace agreement’. All Washington wanted in Munich and will want in Geneva is time and space for its allies-in-crime, the European NATO puppets, the Saudis, the Turks, the Isis – and the ‘moderate rebels’ (sic-sic) to re-arm and regroup.

Washington will never let go – of its objective of regime change in Syria. It is not in their game plan; it’s not in the cards, it’s not part of the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) which is still highly valid and being followed almost to the letter. The PNAC pursues total submission of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – and ultimately full spectrum dominance and world supremacy, control of all the globe’s resources and of all the globe’s people. A dispensable army of slaves. In fact, this massive army of serfs is much too large for the Zionist-Anglo-Saxon empire’s taste. These people cost too much; they eat too much; they use too many resources.

And here we come to a number of the monster’s multiple destructive tentacles: The people-mass eventually has to be reduced to about a billion or two. Easier to control and manage. The Rockefeller / Kissinger dictum of the fifties and sixties – from which emerged an economy of control: GMO-agriculture that can inflict famine, infertility (as already tested in the 1990s in India) and deadly or debilitating diseases. Another tentacle spreads biological and disease warfare, take the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 and the recent Zika outbreak, not coincidentally emerging and being tested in Central and South America, notably in Brazil, a country Washington wants to subdue and dominate, much like they have managed in Argentina with an ‘election coup’

(http://www.globalresearch.ca/argentina-a-quiet-neoliberal-coup-detat-in-latin-americas-southern-cone/5492654

 http://www.globalresearch.ca/argentina-revisited-one-month-on-towards-a-neoliberal-democratic-dictatorship/5502615).

The Zika virus has been created in the early sixties, is patented and is owned by the Rockefeller Foundation

(http://www.globalresearch.ca/who-owns-the-zika-virus/5505323).

Yet another killer-arm of the Washington monster is inflicting mass destruction through the western dollar-based financial system, as We the People continue witnessing in Greece, without even a hint of interfering in solidarity with our European brothers. Nothing, zilch. Self-styled King Obama knows there is no risk of interference by Europe. His puppet, Draghi, a Goldman Sachs exec, and President of the so-called European Central Bank (sic) is directing the European economy on behalf of the FED. Mr. Draghi is the epitome of a hypocrite.

The European un-leaders are bought by neo-capitalism and its projected personal gains for them. They are spineless stooges without courage of standing up for their sovereign rights. Anybody, any nation who would dare to intervene on behalf of Greece, on behalf of European solidarity, on behalf of the cradle of Europe and of Democracy itself, is scared to be sanctioned, economically, or if must be, by assassination. As a daily occurrence, killer drones – all approved by Assassin-in-Chief Mr. Obama himself – are launched from the US main military base in Europe, the Ramstein airbase in Germany, the stronghold of Europe who has sold her soul and honor to the Anglo-Zionist empire, based in Washington, with branches in Tel-Aviv and Brussels.

The EU is so subjugated to the nefarious White House – Pentagon – FED-cum-Wall Street ‘troika’ – for reasons which are difficult to comprehend – that they keep obeying orders for ‘sanctioning’ Russia, like pathetic masochists. These sanctions hurt Europe much more than they hurt Russia. We are made to believe that Russia’s economy suffers tremendously, that Russians become increasingly unhappy with their government, that Russia is at the brink of breaking down with social upheavals. This is far from correct. Maybe that would be the case, if Russia were still to depend on the west, as she did when Gorbachev and Yeltsin sold out the Russian Federation to Washington in the 1990s. But Russia is no longer dependent on the west. Russia and China have forged a new alliance with the remaining BRICS (Brazil, India and South Africa), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and Iran. The truth is that Mr. Putin still has an approval rating of close to 80%.

So – what chance for Syria? – Let it not be forgotten, the empire will never let go, not as long as it is still kicking. And kicking it is, though ever more feebly – but ever more ferociously, as does a dying beast. The United States and her vassal allies are on a deadly amok rampage which includes Syria and the entire MENA region. Any country in the path of resistance, like Venezuela, Brazil, Iran, Syria, Palestine and others – will never be free and at peace, no matter how many billions are spent on fake peace talks, and even make-believe Peace Accords, see Iran – these countries are intended to eventually go the way of Libya, or the way of Greece – or both – unless – unless Europe wakes up. Granted, it would almost take a revolution. But it is never too late. Over the past few months there has been plenty of talk by EU/EC officials, including Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, that the EU and its common currency are at the verge of collapse. Do they actually believe it? Or is it again sheer propaganda? It doesn’t really matter, but a collapse might be the solution for countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland – back to their roots, regroup and rehabilitate their economy as sovereign nations.

This is the premise we have to keep in mind when we talk about possible ‘solutions’ to the “Syria crisis”, the “refugee crisis”, the “economic crisis”, even “the oil crisis”. They are all fabricated. While the western elite is in charge and We, the People, allow the empire to lash around the world with economic sanctions, with bombs, with threats of a nuclear WWIII – and nobody even remotely seems to attempt stopping the monster (except for Russia) – there is simply no chance in heaven and on earth that our globe will be able to live in harmony and peace. To have a chance at peace, the multi-tentacled monster must be subdued and silenced. And we are not talking about more blood. It is a question of countries like Switzerland which had a historic reputation of diplomatic mediation to wake up, to shed their fears of Washington, regain full sovereignty and regain their prowess of independence and autonomy to act as a fair and honest peace broker. The same applies to the rest of Europe: Wake up!

What is of course never mentioned by the main stream media pundits, who pretend knowing every detail so arrogantly well, down to the populace convincing details, is that this war was instigated by the CIA already in 2007, identifying and training their terror organizations, leading in 2011 to a full-fledged civil war under the pretext of the Arab Spring (sic) against the legitimate, democratically elected President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. That’s not all: these terrorist groups have now permanent US / NATO advisors, permanent funding from the US, NATO and EU NATO countries, the Saudis, Qatar and Turkey.

Russia’s Prime Minister, Dimitri Medvedev, when he recently talked to Euro News, made a few excellent points, about Russian sovereignty and Russia’s growing economic independence from the west. But he seems to still be dreaming of ‘coming to an agreement with our [western] colleagues and partners on key issues [on Syria]…’ – what is meant with colleagues and partners are the US and its European minions. – Mr. Medvedev, what does it take to get real, to face reality? There is no intention of the US and its allies-in-crime to reach an agreement on Syria, under which Syria would remain a sovereign nation, that would be honoured by the west. Everything is fake. The ‘serious’ peace talks are fake. Look at Palestine. Fifty years of ‘Peace Talks’, but the Israeli killing (with full US consent) of Palestinians and the destruction of their legitimate home land is today more brutal than ever.

How, Mr. Medvedev, could such peace talks be real if the main protagonist, the government of Bashar al-Assad is not even invited to the table in Munich or eventually in Geneva? How can that be real? Terrorists and assassins, like the Saudis, the Turks, Washington and their common brain-children, the IS terrorists in various forms and shapes, including ‘soft or moderate opposition groups’ are there. Moderate opposition – Media pundits, give us a break! – Even a Pentagon general not long ago admitted it was difficult to identify the five or six moderate rebels, whose training cost the US hundreds of millions. Does this speak for peace, or for war, for more bloodshed? How come, Mr. Medvedev, the legitimate leader of the Syrian Republic, whose fate is being discussed, is not invited? Does this give you hope to eventually reach an agreement with those criminals you would like to see as ‘colleagues and partners’, whose only goal is ‘regime change’? – With all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister, facing reality is healthier than being disappointed time and again.

Then there is the illusion that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed and therefore in force and being implemented. Do you realize, Mr. Medvedev, that the United States never honors any agreement that does not serve them and has absolutely no intention, never had, to implement this or any other arms reduction treaty? To the country. You must be aware that Washington and the Pentagon just a few days ago announced with big fanfare to quadruplicate the military budget for NATO in Europe, putting more men and tanks and missiles closer to the Russian border. This is not exactly an arms reduction – wouldn’t you say?

Perhaps and most likely you know this all. But playing the ‘diplomatic hope card’ vis-à-vis these warrior thugs does not – never – incite them to be honest peace makers. To the contrary, when Washington and its European cronies see Russia’s desperate attempt to make friends with the west, they just further demolish, denigrate, vilify and deceive Russia through their presstitute media, so as to ridicule any truthful Russian effort to seek world harmony rather than conflict.

To witness how Washington thinks and acts by imposing punishment (sanctions) and lifting them (the carrot and stick approach), just look at Iran – some of the sanctions were barely lifted a few weeks ago, when new ones were imposed. And the game goes on. In the foreseeable future no authentic and truthful coalition or military cooperation is likely between your country, Mr. Medvedev, which has candid intentions, and the deceptive west, not as long as the monster is breathing.

If the US is calling the shots on Syria peace talks, whenever and wherever they may take place, with the legitimate government of Syria not even present, there is no hope for Syria. Russia must be firm. Regime change is not on the table. The people of the sovereign nation of Syria are the only ones to elect their president. This principle must be upheld, not only for Syria’s sake, but it must set a precedent for other cases to follow.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, CounterPunch, TeleSur, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

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US-Made Cluster Munitions in Yemen used against Civilians

février 16th, 2016 by Cluster Munition Coalition

Featured image: Two BLU-108 canisters, one with with two skeet (submunitions) still attached, found in the al-Amar area of al-Safraa in northern Yemen’s Saada governorate after an attack on April 27, 2015.

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition is using recently transferred US-manufactured cluster munitions in civilian areas of Yemen contrary to US export requirements.

Field research by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations; interviews with witnesses and victims; and photographs and video evidence confirm that a Saudi Arabia-led coalition is using banned cluster munitions in Yemen. The coalition of nations has been conducting a military operation in Yemen against Houthi forces, also known as Ansar Allah, since March 26, 2015.

Human Rights Watch believes the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is responsible for all or nearly all of these cluster munition attacks in this period because it is the only entity operating aircraft or multibarrel rocket launchers capable of delivering five of the six types of cluster munitions that have been used in the conflict.

One type of air-dropped cluster munition used by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon, manufactured by Textron Systems Corporation of Wilmington, Massachuetts. Human Rights Watch has investigated at least five attacks involving the use of CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons in four governorates since March 2015.

Most recently, CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons were used in a December 12, 2015 attack on the Yemeni port town of Hodaida, injuring a woman and two children in their homes. At least two civilians were wounded when CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons were used near al-Amar village in Saada governorate on April 27, 2015, according to local residents and medical staff.

“Sensor Fuzed Weapons are touted by some as the most high tech, reliable cluster munitions in the world, but we have evidence that they are not working the way they are supposed to in Yemen, and have harmed civilians in at least two attacks,” said CMC chair Steve Goose, Human Rights Watch arms division director. “The evidence raises serious questions about compliance with US cluster munition policy and export rules.”

While any use of any type of cluster munition should be condemned, there are two additional disturbing aspects to the use of CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons in Yemen. First, US export law prohibits recipients of cluster munitions from using them in populated areas, as the Saudi coalition has clearly been doing. Second, US export law only allows the transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of less than 1 percent. But it appears that Sensor Fuzed Weapons used in Yemen are not functioning in ways that meet that reliability standard.

In recent years, the US has supplied these weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), both of which possess attack aircraft of US and Western/NATO origin capable of delivering them. CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons are the only cluster munitions currently exported by the US, and the recipient must agree not to use them in civilian areas. According to the US government, CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons are the only cluster munition in its active inventory “that meet[s] our stringent requirements for unexploded ordnance rates,” with a claimed failure rate of less than 1 percent.

According to a Textron Systems Corporation datasheet, the CBU-105 disperses 10 BLU-108 canisters that each release four submunitions the manufacturer calls “skeet” that are designed to sense, classify, and engage a target such as an armored vehicle. The submunitions explode above the ground and project an explosively formed jet of metal and fragmentation downward. The skeet are equipped with electronic self-destruct and self-deactivation features.

However, photographs taken by Human Rights Watch field investigators at one location and photographs received from another location show BLU-108 from separate attacks with their “skeets” or submunitions still attached. This shows a failure to function as intended as the submunitions failed to disperse from the canister, or were dispersed but did not explode.

Yemen, the US, and Saudi Arabia and its coalition members should join the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, Human Rights Watch said.

In a March 30, 2015 letter the Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. urged President Barack Obama to review the 2008 cluster munitions policy, and to remove the exception allowing cluster munitions that result in less than 1 percent unexploded ordnance rate.

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Every villain needs a safe house and the Islamic State (IS) is no exception. Luckily for IS, it has two, possibly three waiting for it, all of them courtesy of NATO and in particular the United States.

The war in Syria has been going particularly poor for IS. With Russian air power cutting their supply lines with Turkey and the Syrian Arab Army closing in, it may soon be time for them to shop for a new home.

If the war is going bad for IS, it is going even worse for the supporting powers that have armed and funded them. To understand where IS might go next, one must first fully understand those supporting powers behind them. The premeditated creation of IS and revelations of the identity of their supporters were divulged in a Department of Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo first published in 2012.

It admitted:

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).

The DIA memo then explains exactly who this “Salafist principality’s” supporters are (and who its true enemies are):

The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.

Before the Syrian war, there was Libya…

The DIA memo is important to remember, as is the fact that before the Syrian conflict, there was the Libyan war in which NATO destroyed the ruling government of Muammar Qaddafi and left what one can only described as an intentional and very much premeditated power vacuum in its place. Within that vacuum it would be eventually revealed through the death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens that from the Libyan city of Benghazi, weapons and militants were being shipped by the US State Department first to Turkey, then onward to invade northern Syria.

And it appears the terrorists have been moving back and forth both ways through this US-sponsored terror pipeline. IS has since announced an official presence in Libya, and Libya now stands as one of several “safe houses” IS may use when finally pushed from Syria altogether by increasingly successful joint Syrian-Russian military operations.

Before Libya, there was Iraq… 

Iraq, devastated by a nearly decade-long US invasion and occupation, has teetered on the edge of fracture for years. Sectarian extremism is eagerly promoted by some of the US’ strongest regional allies, particularly Saudi Arabia. The US itself has been cultivating and encouraging the separatist proclivities of select Kurdish groups (while allowing Turkey to invade and torment others) in the north, while Wahhabi extremists seek to dominate the north and northwest of Iraq.

IS itself has made its way into all of these trouble spots, coincidentally. And should the terrorist organization be flushed for good from Syria, it may find these spots yet another “safe house” that surely would not have existed had the US not intervened in Iraq, divided and weakened it and to this day worked to keep it divided and weak.

Before Iraq there was Afghanistan..

Of course, and perhaps the most ironic of all of IS’ potential “safe houses,” there is Afghanistan. Part of the alleged reasoning the United States embarked on its war in Afghanistan, stretching from 2001 to present day, was its supposed desire to deny terrorists a safe haven there.

Yet not only are terrorists still using the country as a safe haven, as pointed out in great detail by geopolitical analyst Martin Berger, the US intervention there has created a resurgence of the illegal illicit narcotics trade, and in particular a huge resurgence of opium cultivation, processing and exporting. This means huge financial resources for IS and its supporters to perpetuate its activities there, and help them project their activities well beyond.

Berger’s analysis lays out precisely the sort of narco-terrorist wonderland the US intervention has created, one so perfect it seems done by design, a blazing point on a much larger arc of intentionally created instability.

Where Russian bombs cannot follow… 

Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan would be ideal locations to move IS. Libya’s state of intentionally created lawlessness gives the US and its allies a fair degree of plausible deniability as to why they will be unable to “find” and “neutralize” IS. It will be far more difficult for Russia to organize military resources to effectively strike at IS there. Even in Iraq, Russia has significant hurdles to overcome before it could begin operating in Iraq to follow IS there, and only if the Iraqi government agreed.

Afghanistan would be problematic as well. The ghosts of Russia’s war in Afghanistan still linger, and the US is already deeply entrenched, allegedly fighting a terrorist menace that seems only to grow stronger and better funded by the presence of American troops.

But while IS will be safe from complete destruction in Syria, where it looks like finally Damascus and its allies have begun to prevail, relocating outside of Syria and its allies arc of influence in the Middle East will drastically reduce its ability to fulfill its original purpose for being, that is, the destruction of that very arc of influence.

Furthermore, its reappearance elsewhere may change regional geopolitical dynamics in unpredictable ways. It is very unlikely IS’ new neighbors will wish to sit idly by while it broods. Libya’s neighbors in Egypt and Algeria, Afghanistan’s neighbors in Pakistan, China and Iran, and Iraq itself along with Syria and Lebanon, all may find themselves drawn closer together in purpose to eliminate IS in fear that it may eventually be turned on any one of them as it was on Syria.

What is least likely is that those “supporting powers” realize this is a trick tried one time too many. While that is certainly true, it appears to be the only trick these powers have left. They will likely keep IS around for as long as possible, if for no other reason but to exhaust its enemies as they attempt to chase it to the ends of the earth.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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Solidarity with Ghana represented over a century of identification with the homeland

Five decades ago on Feb. 24, 1966, a coup was carried out against Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the leader of the Ghana independence movement and the chief architect of the 20th century African revolutionary struggle.

Nkrumah, the founder of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) in 1949, which led the former British colony of the Gold Coast to national independence in 1957, was out of Ghana on a peace mission aimed at bringing an end to the United States intervention in Vietnam. The president had stopped over in Beijing, Peoples Republic of China, for consultations with Premier Chou En-lai and had planned to continue on to Hanoi.

When Nkrumah later met with Chou he informed him that there had been a military coup in Ghana. His initial reaction was disbelief yet the Chinese leader told him that these setbacks were in the course of the revolutionary struggle.

The coup was carried out by lower-ranking military officers and police officials with the direct assistance and coordination by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the State Department. Leading members of the CPP were killed, arrested and driven into exile while the party press was seized along with the national radio and television stations.

CPP offices were attacked by counter-revolutionary mobs encouraged by the CIA and the military-police clique that had seized power. Books by Nkrumah and other socialist leaders were trashed and burned.

Cadres from various national liberation movements who had taken refuge in Ghana and were receiving political and military training were deported by the coup leaders who called themselves the “National Liberation Council” (NLC). Other fraternal allies of the Ghanaian and African Revolutions were fired from their jobs within the government, the educational sector and media affairs.

The CIA involvement was widely believed to be pivotal at the time but in later years firm documented proof was brought to light with the declassification of State Department files which originated under the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. A letter of protest had been sent by U.S. Undersecretary of State for African Affairs, G. Mennen Williams, to the Ghana embassy in Washington during late 1965 in the aftermath of the publication of Nkrumah’s book “Neo-colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism”, which outlined the central role of Washington and Wall Street in the continuing underdevelopment of Africa.

Nkrumah and African American History

Kwame Nkrumah was born in the Nzima region of Ghana at Nkroful in 1909. He would later travel to the U.S. in 1935 to pursue higher education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the country founded during slavery in 1854.

Lincoln was an ideal atmosphere for Nkrumah who studied the social sciences, philosophy and theology. He became involved in the African American struggle through work with the African Students Association where he served as president for several years as well as the Council on African Affairs with Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, Dr. William A. Hunton and Paul Robeson.

He became a licensed Presbyterian clergyman giving him access to speaking engagements in numerous African American churches. Nkrumah worked during his college days doing odd jobs and experiencing severe economic deprivation.

Leaving the U.S. in 1945, Nkrumah settled in Britain for two years where he helped organized the historic Fifth Pan-African Congress at Manchester in October of that year. The gathering was chaired by Du Bois and enjoyed the participation of other leading figures within the African liberation movements including George Padmore of Trinidad, who had worked with the Communist International during the late 1920s and early 1930s; Amy Ashwood Garvey, the first wife of Marcus Garvey, who held left-leaning politics; Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya; along with representatives of trade unions, farmers’ organizations and students.

After Nkrumah returned to Ghana in late 1947 and with the founding of the CPP less than two years later, he would land in prison twice for organizing against British imperialism. Due to his party’s mass support during a colonial-controlled reform election in February 1951, Nkrumah was released from prison and appointed Leader of Government Business as part of a transitional arrangement towards independence won later in March 1957.

Nkrumah MLK

During the independence period Ghana became a haven for African American political figures, artists, professionals and business people. Some within this group became staunch defenders of the Nkrumah government which was under increasing pressure from the CIA and the State Department after 1961.

Nkrumahs and Dubois

Several hundred African Americans took up residence in Ghana including Maya Angelou, a writer, dancer and supporter of African liberation movements; Alice Windom of St. Louis, a social worker and educator who helped organize the itinerary of Malcolm X when he travelled to Ghana in May 1964; Vicki Holmes Garvin, a labor activist and member of the Communist Party served as a co-worker with Robert and Mabel Williams in China several years later after leaving Ghana; Julius Mayfield, a novelist and essayist who left the U.S. amid the attacks on Robert Williams, worked in Ghana as a journalist and editor of African Review, a Pan-Africanist journal in support of the CPP government; W.E.B. Du Bois was given Ghanaian citizenship and appointed as the director of the Encyclopedia Africana; Shirley Graham Du Bois, the second wife of Dr. Du Bois, a political organizer, member of the Communist Party, prolific writer and producer, was appointed by Nkrumah to head Ghana National Television; among others.

Malcolm X in Ghana with Maya Angelou, Julius Mayfield, Alice Windom, Vicki Garvin

After the coup in February 1966, most of the progressive African Americans were forced to leave Ghana due to the pro-imperialist character of the NLC regime. Dr. Du Bois had died in August 1963. However, his wife who worked as a leading figure in the Ghana government was placed under house arrest by the military-police officials. Shirley Graham Du Bois left Ghana and later lived in Egypt and China where she died in 1976.

 U.S. Imperialism Continues Destabilization of Africa

Five decades later the CIA and State Department are still heavily engaged in destabilization of African states and progressive movements. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), founded in 2008, is constructing airstrips, drone stations and military bases in various regions across the continent. The anti-imperialist struggle in regard to interventions in Africa is just as relevant today as it was in 1966.

African American political organizations played a key role in influencing Nkrumah from the 1930s, until his removal from power in 1966 and beyond, right up until his death in 1972 in Romania. Although the overthrow of the Nkrumah government was designed by U.S. imperialism to halt the advance of the African Revolution and the internationalization of the struggle of African Americans, solidarity efforts accelerated from the late 1960s through the 1990s when the last vestiges of white-minority rule were eliminated in South Africa and Namibia.

Younger generations of African American activists can gain much from the study of the intersection between the struggle for liberation inside the U.S., the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and the African continent. It was during this period after the conclusion of World War II and extending to the beginning of the 21st century that tremendous gains were won in the areas of national liberation, Pan-African unity and socialist-orientation.

Today with a strong emphasis being placed on the demonstrations against the use of lethal force against African Americans by the police and vigilantes, identification with broader struggles taking place within the African world are often overlooked. Despite the ideological advances of the previous period where people of African descent began to identify as African Americans, there appears to be an uncritical reversion back to a U.S.-centered approach resurrecting “blackness” in contravention to notions of an “African Personality and Pan-Africanism” advanced by Nkrumah and his collaborators.

These developments, if gone unchecked, will break off the African American movement from its most natural allies among like-minded forces within the entire African world. In addition, with a lack of emphasis on internationalism, the African American struggle will be hard pressed to reach its full potential through winning allies throughout the world.

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A follow-up of the interview, given by the American political analyst Andrew Korybko to the Macedonian agency NetPress. He speaks about the wider geopolitical context of the Macedonian turmoil – refugee crisis in Europe, Balkan pipelines projects, Russia-China alliance to counter hegemonic world order and calls to build resistance networks. The first part of the exclusive English source of the interview is available here.

***

Q: The subordinate attitude that the European Union has in relation to the United States has resulted in a serious refugee and migrant crisis afflicting the continent. The agenda of destabilizing, weakening, and demographically changing Europe, implemented primarily by the Soros machinery, is no longer a conspiracy theory but an obvious fact. The terrorist attacks in Paris, as well as the sexual and physical assaults across Germany, don’t seem to be causing serious changes in official Berlin’s policy regarding the continuous reception of huge numbers of migrants and refugees.

Why is it that the leading European leaders in this matter work not only against their national interests, but also against those of Europe in general? And how do you comment on the measures that the Macedonian government has been implementing in this context and the efforts of the Western machinery to stop the decision to protect our border with Greece from illegal entries with a fence?

The first thing that I need to do is refresh our audience with my analysis of the “refugee” crisis. It’s a byproduct of the wars that the US helped engineer all throughout the Mideast, using the so-called “Arab Spring” events to usher in a theater-wide regime change scenario. The brave and patriotic resistance of the Syrian people in fighting back against the terrorists for over five years now was a major impediment in the US’ plans for retaining its unipolar hegemony in the region. Realizing that one of the expected tangential results of its War on Syria would be the massive increase in refugees (both international and internal), the US sought to weaponize this human flow in order to achieve one of the other important grand objectives that it’s had, which is to deepen its control over the EU.

None of this is a ‘conspiracy theory’ either, as I warmly welcome your audience to read to the work from Cornell University’s Kelly M. Greenhill about “Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement as an Instrument of Coercion” (available for free PDF download here). The author summarized some of the key findings from her 2010 book (available for sale here if anyone was interested) in proving that refugees have been exploited as strategic weapons since at least the end of World War II, documenting at least 56 incidences of this occurring. The way that it relates to the present predicament is that Turkey had already built several refugee-hosting facilities along its border with Syria since before the war even began, obviously expecting some sort of oncoming influx. After ‘incubating’ the two million or so refugees that entered the country over the past couple of years, Turkey, in coordination with the US, ‘set them free’ from their movement-restricted refugee camps and utilized intelligence-affiliated drug and human trafficking networks to bring them to Europe, including the Albanian mafia in the Balkans.

The goal was to create the socio-political circumstances where once previously peaceful and stable EU societies, hitherto largely ethno-religiously homogenous in terms of their demographics, were now overwhelmed to such an extent by an unexpected flood of civilizationally dissimilar individuals (both in terms of the sheer size of this wave and the perception that the recipient population has of it) that they would remain in a state of tense and easily manipulatable division for the foreseeable future. There would obviously be a vocal outcry against this, both by pragmatic patriots and nefarious fascist-affiliated provocateurs, which would divide society along the triple strata of citizen vs. citizen, citizen vs. government, and citizen vs. refugee. These are near-perfect ‘laboratory’ conditions for utilizing Color Revolution threats against the targeted government, since experienced external actors such as US intelligence agencies could easily exploit the situation on command in order to prompt uncontrollable riots and guaranteed violence, be it in patriots fighting against fascists, “refugees” attacking regular citizens, or a panicked government responding with unnecessary and disproportionate violence to a subjectively peaceful anti-government demonstration.

The purpose of achieving such a strong degree of control over the EU via this Machiavellian mechanism is to keep the EU and its strongest states in an indefinite state of weakness and tension, thereby giving Washington the blackmailing upper hand in provoking destabilizing violence if its European subordinates don’t support its hegemonic policies and instead turn their back on the US by pragmatically working with Russia and China. To explain, Germany is totally vulnerable to ethno-religious destabilization if it moves too closely and rapidly in its rapprochement with Russia, and the same goes for France. Additionally, the heightened military and police measures that these states have found necessary to implement in order to try to control their borders and internal situations means that they’ll expand their respective budgets for the coming years by taking these pressing factors into account. It goes without saying that the US would find a way to divert this money into its ‘partners’’ NATO ‘commitments’ in ‘paying their fair share’ to ‘contain Russia’. Finally, pro-American forces inside the EU can start promoting the talking point that the TPP is the best way to ‘create jobs’ for the “refugees” and newly unemployed Europeans, when in reality this is only a means of “lawfare” in institutionalizing the US’ control over Europe and preventing it from ever independently negotiating a trade agreement with China.

6a00d8341bfae553ef01bb086daf94970d-800wiIt must be said at this point that there are legitimate refugees and then there are what I term “economic piggybackers”, or what are more politely and more commonly referred to as “economic migrants”. I draw a difference between the latter two because an “economic migrant” actually wants to work for his or her share of Euros or whatever other currency they may be receiving, whereas an “economic piggybacker” wants to abuse the EU’s generous welfare state privileges and live a comfortable life without contributing anything. Unfortunately, many of the people that have entered the EU as a result of this manufactured crisis are economic piggybackers and they regretfully tarnish the reputation of legitimate refugees and only make the situation more difficult for those that sincerely need as much help as they can get.

Having explained the essential background context for the “refugee” crisis and its strategic imperatives vis-à-vis the US’ grand unipolar designs, we can now talk about why Merkel and others are so blatantly working against their national and continental interests. It was already explained that Germany is being strategically blackmailed, and not only that, Turkey is literally forcing billions of euros worth of economic concessions from the EU in exchange for its ‘compliance’ in this crisis. Spineless bureaucrats can’t say no in the face of intimidating bullies, and they meekly agree to whatever is being demanded of them. There’s also the possibility that the US’ globally embedded NSA surveillance system, specifically targeting politicians in many cases, is to blame as well, since it’s plausible that the US government has some kind of physical blackmail that they can use against individual EU leaders such as Merkel (e.g. if it turned out that she was a closet lesbian and they had proof). Sometimes a single or a handful of blackmailed individuals at the upper echelons of government can be all that an external power needs to control the entire state apparatus, but other times it’s necessary to take ‘precautions’ and ‘guarantee’ success by influencing on-the-ground factors such as wide-scale demographic engineering and the manufactured creation of socio-political conflict (i.e. Color Revolution social and structural preconditioning).

The final explanation addressing the feebleness of EU leaders in defending their national and continental interests is that quite a lot of them are Cultural Marxists, including Merkel for the most part. What is meant by this is that these individuals believe in the most radical form of leftist ideology, which the author has previously at times termed “hyper liberal-progressivism”, which is pretty much the same thing in this context. As it relates to the topic at hand, Cultural Marxists/hyper liberal-progressives categorically deny the existence of socio-cultural differences between individuals and blindly believe that all people have the same set of psychologically conditioned traits. These ideas manifest themselves through the anti-religious promotion of homosexual privileges such as “gay marriage” (including with state-supported benefits) and an open-door policy to civilizationally dissimilar “refugees”, while simultaneously refusing per the latter to acknowledge that there are embedded socio-cultural psychologically preconditioned differences between the ‘new arrivals’ and the native locals that could instigate identity tensions. These concepts are so abnormal and fringe that not even the Marxist-espousing states of the Soviet Union and China practiced them, instead keeping homosexuality out of the public purview and giving preference to ethnic minorities through the granting of autonomous territories and government preferences (“korenizatsiya” in Russian).

If we look at what the Republic of Macedonia and its leadership have chosen to do, it’s the complete opposite of what the EU has done. Prime Minister Grueveski and the National Security Council acutely recognized that their country is on the literal frontlines in the US’ unconventional campaign against the EU and that decisive action needed to urgently be taken. Adhering to its international obligations, Macedonia allows legitimate refugees fleeing the war-torn countries of Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to transit its territory en route to their further destinations, and those that would sincerely like to integrate and assimilate into Macedonian society are warmly welcomed to do so. For better or for worse, most of them are not interested in this and are eager to get to the welfare ‘utopias’ of Germany and Sweden.

Macedonia wouldn’t have had to take the step of building border fortifications in order to defend its sovereignty and more efficiently process the tens of thousands of refugees and economic piggybackers streaming into the country if Greece had done its fair share in helping to stem this flow. That absolutely hasn’t happened in any single way, and Athens has eschewed its legal responsibilities in handling the situation for a variety of reasons. This could partly be blamed on the overwhelming nature of the situation at hand and the fact that the penniless government simply doesn’t have the economic resources to deal with it, but on the other hand, Syriza’s Cultural Marxist ideals and the antipathy that some Greek authorities feel towards the Republic of Macedonia and its independent and proud identity undoubtedly played a role. Per the last remark, there is no other way to explain why the Greek government directed the refugees and economic piggybackers to the Macedonian border when they could have just as easily (and in some cases, even more easily) been transported to the Albanian and Bulgarian ones instead. The US obviously has an interest in seeing this human tidal wave crash into the Balkans and unbalance each and every transit state it passes through, but that by itself doesn’t explain the sheer enormity of individuals that the Greek authorities and civil society conscientiously chose to place on Macedonia’s southern doorstep.

What the Republic of Macedonia and its leadership has chosen to do is courageously defy the US and its Cultural Marxist proxies in the EU and make a strong stand for national sovereignty, which by extension also supports the security and independence of the rest of Europe. It’s for these reasons why the Soros network, the wealthy US government-allied transnational network of Cultural Marxists and anti-border/anti-sovereignty individuals, hates Macedonia so much at the current moment, even more than they ever have before.

Q: The aggressive actions of the Western dirty players in their attempts to retain dominance in the unipolar world, as opposed to the multipolar approach offered by the BRICS countries like Russia and China, is a conflict that will continue in the New Year. What will happen in the region around Macedonia in 2016 in this context, especially regarding the 2 major roadmaps with BRICS for the Balkan (Turkish) stream project as well as for the Balkan Silk Road?

Let’s begin by talking about what could be in store for the Balkan region before I speak more specifically about Balkan Stream and the Balkan Silk Road. Up north, the US has provoked aCroatian-Serbian missile race in order to raise tensions, pressure Serbia, and create a pretext for deepening the American and NATO footprint in the area. The pressure point between these two rival states is Bosnia, which is going through its own internal crisis at the moment. At no point before in its post-war history has Sarajevo behaved as legally and physically aggressive against Republika Srpska as it has now, and this is pushing Banja Luka into a corner where it’s forced to defend its constitutionally guaranteed sovereignty. The US would like for President Dodik to lose his cool and react in a violent manner, which would then create the pretense for openly working towards the dismantlement of Republika Srpska’s existence, seen by American strategists as a major impediment for the Balkans’ incorporation into the unipolar fold.

With Sarajevo stating that it will formally apply for EU membership this year, Brussels will be more involved in the country’s affairs than ever, and this renewed focus on its domestic dynamics will serve as the ‘plausible’ reason for the bloc to bully Republika Srpska in the future. Let’s not forget that a small-scale terrorist attack already occurred in Zvornik and one was narrowly foiled in Janja. In such a tense situation as the one that currently exists between the Muslim-Croat entity and Republika Srpska, all it may take to set the entire unit aflame is one strategically directly terrorist attack. Serbia is also vulnerable to terrorism (both Albanian- and ISIL/Wahhabi-affiliated) in Sandzak and the Presevo Valley, but also in other parts of the countries possibly traversed by “refugee”-pretending terrorists. However, the most discernable destabilization scenario in Serbia comes from the actions of the Serbian government itself, particularly Prime Minister Vucic’s surprise announcement to hold elections two years before schedule.

trtworld-nid-12780-fid-39176This announcement was made in order to catch his political opponents off guard and deny them the opportunity to properly run a competitive political campaign, but it also reveals that Vucic is not at all confident that he’ll still have the public’s support by 2018. It appears as though he predicts that the domestic situation will deteriorate to such a level that he’ll be embarrassingly voted out of office by a huge margin (similar to how Zaev is expected to lose the forthcoming elections in April), which explains why he feels compelled to summon the little remaining political capital that he still has left in order to hold on to power and push forward with his pro-EU agenda. That’s another thing, too, and it’s that his preferred policy in attempting to balance between the US/EU and Russia is untenable. Russia sees no problem with it so long as Serbia doesn’t advance towards NATO, but then again, Serbia signed an Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with the military bloc almost exactly one year ago, which was an unnecessary step taken solely to further ingratiate the Vucic government towards the West. Anyhow, it’s the US, not Russia, which will eventually apply pressure on Serbia and force it to choose sides, just as it did to Ukraine, and predictably, with similarly destructive results if this scenario advances (especially if Vucic betrays his countrymen and de-facto recognizes “Kosovo” as ‘independent’).

Moving along, the NATO-occupied Serbian Province of Kosovo is a complete mess, a failed state by any metrics. It’s a drug- and human-trafficking powerbase for the Albanian mafia, and it’s also bleeding thousands of disaffected people a year that flee to Central and Western Europe in order to escape the social devastation. ISIL, and Wahhabism in general, has made strong inroads there, and there’s a real fear that the totally dysfunctional entity of “Kosovo” might turn into a European base for jihadists, most likely with the full backing of the American instructors at Camp Bondsteel (the same forces who advised the Kumanovo terrorists). Neighboring Montenegro is in a very unpredictable situation, but it looks like there’s a high risk of political violence sometime in the near future. The opposition won’t back down in their appeal that the government put its unilateral NATO-joining decision up to a public referendum, but contrarily, Djukanovic is dedicated to retaining power at all costs, including the use of wanton violence against his people. This makes for an explosive situation that could blow up again at any time, especially as the country progressively moves closer to the day that it becomes a formal member of the pro-American bloc.

On Macedonia’s western flank, Albania is prone to experiencing more political unrest if its domestic problems don’t subside and the government doesn’t find a way to properly deal with them (they seem neither eager to do so nor even capable of this if they wanted to). One of the less-discussed consequences of the “refugee” crisis has been that the EU isn’t as welcoming to illegal Albanian migrants as it was before, and if anything, these Balkan emigrants are seen as less urgent of a people to accommodate than Mideast- and North African-originating ones, so Albania no longer has as unrestricted access to the socio-economic pressure valve that it had earlier depended on for years. The return of deported Albanians to the country and the arrival of their Kosovo-based counterparts in desperate search of work are creating a situation where people are finally beginning to direct their anger against the real culprit, the Albanian authorities. It’s likely that the decrease in Albanian emigration and the continued arrival of Kosovo-originating Albanians will lead to more political protests such as the ones that shook Tirana in early December, panicking the authorities and leading to their reactionary impulse in promoting the savage myth of “Greater Albania”. If the agitated masses fall for this ploy just like they did when it was last evoked in full during the 1997 crisis, then it’s foreseeable that Macedonia will inevitably be victimized by this virus just as Serbia was at the end of the last century.

Looking to the east, Bulgaria remains an oligarchic state with a barely functioning government. Civil society and the economy still exist, but the state is all but invisible except in matters pertaining to taxation, extortion, and any other type of money-making enterprise that the elite can partake in against the population. In fact, except for these instances, the Bulgarian government only really shows itself whenever the US, NATO, or the EU need something from them, remaining practically invisible for the rest of the time. Bulgaria is sadly a shadow of its former self, and it represents the archetypical vassal state that the US wants to replicate the world over. Greece is regretfully somewhat similar, except the oligarchy that operates there is mostly foreign-based. The Cultural Marxist coalition that governs the country is slightly more visible in civil affairs, although it’s shown no interest in defending the country’s sovereignty from the refugees and economic piggybackers that the US has unleashed against it. If anything, it actually aims to facilitate this process judging by its radical ideological precepts and how actively they’ve ushered these individuals towards the Macedonian border. However, Syriza is in a tight position, with discontent rising from both fellow leftists and right-wing elements (including fascist ones), and the civil war- and military coup-era hostilities between the Left and the Right might violently burst back to the forefront of domestic affairs if Tsipras isn’t careful (or if the US sees the need to do this in intensifying its control over the country).

Shifting the focus to speak more about the regional multipolar processes that are underway, I’d like to direct the audience’s attention to my article from late November where I spoke about the current state of Balkan Stream and the Balkan Silk Road in-depth (accessible here). To summarize, Balkan Stream is indefinitely suspended due to Turkey’s aggression against Russia by shooting down its anti-terrorist jet in Syria, but in the event that Erdogan leaves office (be it through a democratic uprising, constitutional or military coup, or otherwise), however unlikely that may appear at the moment, the project will immediately be continued. Still, things don’t look too good for its viability in the short-term, so it’s better to concentrate on the Balkan Silk Road. This project, if the audience isn’t all that familiar, is China’s plan to construct a high-speed rail network from Budapest to the Greek port of Piraeus via Belgrade and Skopje. The meeting late last year between China and the Central and Eastern European countries (the China-CEE format) in Suzhou saw Beijing officially committing to the Budapest-to-Belgrade portion of the project. When and if it’s completed, then this would give the Balkans an economic alternative to the EU, thereby safeguarding their sovereignty but also presenting a transit route for strong multipolar influence into the heart of Europe. Accordingly, the US is fearful that it could lose its influence over the continent and thus wants the project scuttled, which could happen if the Republic of Macedonia is thrown into Hybrid War chaos.

I discuss more of the details in the aforementioned link and strongly encourage all interested readers to check it out, but for the most part, the Balkan Silk Road is much more of a current target of the US’ destabilizing designs than the now-suspended Balkan Stream is. In spite of this, Russia is not giving up on engaging the region, as although energy played an important role in its plans, it wasn’t the sole determinant. Russian investment and diplomatic-strategic engagement still continues, and China’s plans are beholden to the goodwill that the Moscow can help the region maintain towards Beijing. Being a civilizationally similar state to the Balkans than China is, the local people trust it and its judgements, thereby having no misgivings about interacting with China since it’s currently Russia’s number one strategic partner. Hand in hand, Russia and China are working to liberate the Balkans from unipolar influence, but it’s just that the current dynamics have shifted to where China is playing the leading infrastructural role while Russia moves into the less-publicized but still important one of providing support for this ambitious and globally impactful endeavor.

MapChinaNewSilkRoad EAU

Q: The Syrian president Bashar al Assad has described his Russian college Vladimir Putin as the sole defender of the Christian civilization on which it can rely. The New World Order will continue in its systematic attempts to weaken, demoralize and destroy Christian countries. In what direction can we expect these attacks to occur in the upcoming year?

Absolutely, there’s definitely a concerted campaign at play to attack Christianity, but not only that, to attack all global religions in general, including conventional Islam. Allow me to explain. Like we spoke about earlier, Cultural Marxism is a big thing in the West, especially in the EU and the Democratic Party in the US. It’s one of the elite’s ideologies, not the only one, but one of the main concepts that they use to advance their agendas. There are definitely those that truly believe in it such as Angela Merkel and Barack Obama (in different ways for each), but then there are those who cynically understand its value in the strategic sense, represented by the Deep State triad of the Defense-Intelligence-Diplomatic permanent bureaucracies in Washington.

Cultural Marxism has a two-track policy whereby it ‘succeeds’ even if it ‘fails’. If it’s able to accomplish its desired objectives, then it removes socio-cultural attributes that once were the source of uniqueness and pride and replaces them with an indiscernible yet impressionable mass of beings that are very easy to control. To tie this in with the War on Religion that’s playing out all across the world right now (and which I’ll describe in more detail momentarily), getting rid of countries’ established and traditional religious identities is part and parcel of this strategy. On the other hand, even the attempt to impose Cultural Marxism can reap strategic successes for the US simply by virtue of its existence, since it immediately divides the population, especially those not initially preconditioned to its principles like populations in Eastern Europe and the Balkans or those that aren’t prepared for its full-scale implementation like what is being experienced in Western, Central, and Northern Europe vis-à-vis the manufactured “refugee” crisis. As the geopolitical inheritor of the British Empire, the US is a master at divide-and-rule strategies, and strategically promoting a Cultural Marxist agenda in certain targeted states can bring about the intended results of fracturing a society and turning it against itself for facilitated external manipulation.

Now about the War on Religion, one of its subsects, the War on Christianity, is being fought against believers in Europe on behalf of the Cultural Marxist ruling clique and in the Mideast through ISIL and other Wahhabi terrorists, but something similar is happening against conventional Islam (which the absolute vast majority of Muslims practice). Instead of a war from “without”, that is, one community being victimized by a separate one, the War on Islam is largely fought using internal means. The Wahhabi ideological virus was cultivated and promoted by the US and its Saudi ally in order to appeal to the over one billion Muslims in the world to join the worldwide anti-Soviet coalition that Reagan was creating through his 1980s “rollback” policy (ideologically inherited from Zbigniew Brzezinski and Jimmy Carter). Afterwards the US kept using misinterpreted Islam as a recruiting instrument in seeking to cull de-facto mercenaries from this massive population pool, guiding them against strategic targets afterwards and continuing to do so up to the present day.

The conventional Muslim community is well aware of the danger that this weaponized version of their religion poses both to them and to other people, but it’s very difficult to root out once it’s been embedded in certain areas like parts of the Mideast, North Africa, and even select immigrant communities abroad in Western countries. There’s also the Muslim Brotherhood, which while not being Wahhabi, is “Islamist”. This latter adjective is commonly misused by people who aren’t aware of what it fully connotes, but to educate the reader in case they’re unaware, “Islamists” are those that want to violently impose their religion onto others, be they conventional or secular Muslims or any sort of non-Muslim such as Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, or atheists. Aside from certain divergences and disagreements over religious interpretation which are too esoteric for most secular individuals and non-Muslims to understand, Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood basically work towards the same goal as it relates to their victims (both Muslim and non-Muslim), and this has the effect of dividing the Muslim community and making it pliant to externally directed manipulation like the kind that the US is currently practicing.

img_56a46a2089c2dThat being said, the War on Religion will intensify on all fronts, be it the War on Christianity, the War on Islam, or the ‘fabled’ “Clash of Civilizations” between them and others that US strategists so desperately want to set into full motion. The Wahhabis and Muslim Brotherhood Islamists that have infiltrated into Europe under the cover of being “refugees” will continue their sexual terrorism and engage in more stereotypical terrorist acts such as suicide bombings, indiscriminate machine-gunning, and beheadings. They will also keep committing these acts of violence and intimidation against Mideast- and African-based Christians as well, and we could even expect a jump in attacks to take place in Buddhist and Hindu areas of Asia soon, too. These same individuals will simultaneously eat away at conventional Islam and continue the “Muslim Civil War” that the US created between the misguided radicals and the conventional and secular followers of the faith like the majority of the people in Syria. The Wahhabis and Muslim Brotherhood Islamists want to discredit conventional Islam, radicalize it, or destroy it, and that’s part of the reason why they’re fighting in Syria against the most historically tolerant civilizational manifestation of Islam. Furthermore, there’s also the chance that the Sunni-Shia split that the US worked so hard to resurrect after over a millennium of dormancy might soon become a tangible factor in geopolitical affairs, which could then see sectarian killings against the Shia skyrocket anywhere that they reside (such as Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc.).

***

All told, the future doesn’t look too bright when discussing the War on Religion or Balkan geopolitics, but each and every individual can do their own part by understanding the true nature of what’s going on and educating their family, friends, and associates. American power is predicated on manipulating information and depriving critical elements of it from the masses, but if we can band together in sharing the truth, then we can create more effective resistance networks and avoid being led astray into the US’ predetermined traps. 

If you found my interview informative and intriguing, even if you don’t entirely agree with all of its contents, I warmly welcome you to share this with the people that you know in order to expose them to an unconventional and non-mainstream understanding of the most pressing problems facing the world today.

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The Syrian Sea of Hostility

février 16th, 2016 by Pepe Escobar

There could hardly have been a more appropriate start for the Chinese Year of the Monkey, geopolitically, than the prime monkey business enacted in Munich between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Syrian charade now proceeds under a vague “cessation of hostilities” – which is not a ceasefire – to be implemented within a week. Further on down the road, as this is the real world, “hostilities” will inevitably resume. 

As Lavrov stressed multiple times, “we made proposals on implementing a ceasefire, quite specific ones.” And yet Washington and the Saudi-Turkish combo relented. A frightened, cornered House of Saud – with its remote-controlled “moderate rebel” gaggle being routed on the ground – even started spinning the ludicrous notion of sending ground troops, a.k.a. a bunch of mercenaries, to “help the US effort” against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS).

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and US Secretary of States John Kerry meet for diplomatic talks on February 11, 2016 in Munich, southern Germany
© AFP 2016/ CHRISTOF STACHE

The monkey business reached such a level of un-sustainability that Russian premier Dmitry Medvedev felt compelled to tell an interviewer from Germany’s Handelsblatt, “The Americans and our [Arab] partners must think hard about this: Do they want a permanent war?”

 

Saudi troops pose in front of an helicopter
© AFP 2016/ PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA

Sultan Erdogan and the House of Saud certainly do – because their Syrian regime change dreams are in tatters. But the lame duck Obama administration’s case is way more complicated.True to its trademark, clueless foreign policy mode, there’s not much left for Team Obama except spinning.

The proverbial unnamed “US officials” spin on overdrive on Western corporate media that this postponed “cessation of hostilities” is a Russian trap – as Washington wanted an immediate ceasefire (no wonder; CIA remote-controlled “moderate rebels” are also being routed.)  European and Arab vassals spin that Damascus and Moscow are “torpedoeing the peace efforts.”

And yet Kerry caved in – to realism, actually. Lavrov must have made it very clear the two non-negotiables for Russia; win the Battle of Aleppo, still in progress, and seal the Syria/Turkey border against any manifestation of the Jihadi Highway, “moderate” or otherwise.

Do the Munich Spin

There’s a nifty historical echo about the war in Syria being negotiated in parallel to the Munich Security Conference – traditionally dedicated to global security. But the most pressing question is whether this new Munich Pact will actually hold.

What’s certain is that Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS) and al-Nusra Front, a.k.a al-Qaeda in Syria, will keep being targeted by both Russians and Americans even after the “cessation of hostilities”.

The “4+1” coalition – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – will also keep targeting every outfit remotely connected with Jabhat al-Nusra (and they are legion).

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) will for its part intensify its attacks against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS). Call it the “all roads lead to Raqqa” syndrome. As soon as the Syria/Turkey border is sealed – with crucial input by the YPG Kurds – the march to Raqqa will be inevitable.

Suspected Daesh terrorists waving the trademark Jihadits flag as vehicles drive on a newly cut road through the Syrian-Iraqi border between the Iraqi Nineveh province and the Syrian town of Al-Hasakah. file photo
© AFP 2016/ ALBARAKA NEWS

This is the ground scenario for the next few days. So no wonder the Saudi-Turkish combo is absolutely desperate; if they as much as try to support their “moderate rebels” with their aerial assets, they will be reduced to ashes by the Russian Air Force.Enter extra Exceptionalistan spin, according to which NATO is “exploring the possibility” of joining the US-led from behind coalition against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS).

This is nonsense; the Pentagon is already implicated. Major powers at NATO such as France and Germany want to extricate themselves from a Syrian crisis, not to get into a ground war. The whole charade amounts to Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan desperately trying, over and over again, to get NATO into the fray, even if it that takes a lethal provocation of Russia; after all his dream – now in tatters – of creating a “safe zone” on the Turkey/Syria border refuses to die.

That Hostile Sultan

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, January 26, 2016
© REUTERS/ MAXIM SHEMETOV

Behind the whole “cessation of hostilities” charade, there’s a stark fact; the lame duck Obama administration does not seem to want to escalate those proverbial “tensions” with Moscow to an irreversibly critical level (Pentagon/NATO Cold War 2.0 obsession is another story.) The skies above Syria won’t offer a prelude for a US-Russia total war.But that doesn’t mean the Pentagon will desist from trying.

The Pentagon’s Ash “Empire of Whining” Carter and Britain’s Michael Fallon will be meeting with GCC and Turkey brass in Brussels. And guess who’s the head of the Saudi delegation: Warrior Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the actual House of Saud supremo as it stands (considering King Salman drifts on and off), as well as defense minister and responsible for the Saudi debacle in Yemen.

The Warrior Prince is absolutely livid that his remote-controlled “rebels” are being shellacked on the ground by the SAA and the Russian Air Force. Yet Yemen will be nothing compared to the drubbing his “Special Forces”, a.k.a. mercenaries will suffer under experienced SAA, Iranian and Hezbollah fighters.

The plot thickens. Both sides will deny it, but there are back-room channels being used by the House of Saud and Moscow to clearly demarcate areas to be run by the SAA and some acceptable “rebels” under the framework of fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. This proves Saudis and Russians can join their efforts as long as it’s against hardcore jihadism.

With deranged Sultan Erdogan, on the other hand, any possibility of a deal is beyond remote. Especially after the PYD northeastern Syrian Kurds — which Ankara regards as “terrorists” — opened a representative office in Moscow this past Wednesday, at the invitation of President Putin.

So keep an eye on this “cessation of hostilities”. Because the real hostilities may be just about to begin.

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The following text are excerpts from Dr. Rasmus’ recent book, ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy’

GLOBAL STOCK MARKETS

In the past year the stock markets in China erupted, contracting by nearly 50% in just three months, after having risen in the preceding year by 130%–truly a ‘bubble event’. That collapse, commencing in June 2015, continues despite efforts to stabilize it. Chinese bankers then injected directly $400 billion to stem the decline. Including other government and private sources, estimates are that no less than $1.3 trillion was committed to prop up stock values. So far it has produced little success, with more than $4 trillion in equity values having been wiped out in less than four months.

Another $500 billion in foreign currency reserves were committed by China to prop up the currency, the Yuan, which has declined in tandem with its stock markets. To finance its efforts to support its currency, China then began to sell its large pile of US Treasury bonds. Nevertheless, capital continues in 2015 to flee China in large volumes in the wake of the stock contraction, expectations of more currency disinflation, an initial devaluation by China of the Yuan, and a general expectation of more of the same.

Both China stocks and foreign exchange effects spilled over to other equity and currency markets throughout Asia, and as well to stock markets in the US, Europe and EMEs. In the case of the US and Europe markets, the contagion effect has not been that severe. Estimated around $150 billion, other counter-vailing forces also exist in US-Europe-Japan—i.e. potential more QE and suspension of US interest rate hikes—that have offset the initial China contagion effects. Not so, however, in the EMEs where financial assets in stocks and currencies followed the China trajectory more closely.

The stock and currency declines in China and the accelerating pace of capital flight from China will likely more than negate any future efforts by China to stimulate its real economy, already slowing noticeably. Money capital flows out of China perhaps faster than China’s central bank and state banks will try to pump it in. Should China’s stock markets decline another 10% to 20%, the financial markets in and out of China, will experience even greater contagion effects and become potentially severely unstable.

Meanwhile, European, Japan and US stock markets continue largely driven by the prospect of continuing QE, delays in US interest rate hikes, historic levels of corporate buybacks of stock, and record merger and acquisition activity—all of which provided a floor under artificially maintain stock levels. However, these forces may eventually become overwhelmed by China-EME market contractions. Contagion effects from the latter may eventually play a larger role in 2015 US-European-Japan stock financial asset deflation.

Except in the case of China, however, instability in global equity markets is not the potentially most severe source of financial instability in today’s global economy. That dubious distinction will likely reside with the bond markets. Globally stock markets represent about $40 trillion in value. Global bond markets, in contrast, equal at least two and a half times that with more than $100 trillion in assets. A bond market crash, even in one of its segments, could easily spread quickly to other bond segments and in turn other financial assets quickly as well, resulting in a crisis far worse than 2008-09.

GLOBAL BOND MARKETS

Several segments of global bond markets are prime candidates for precipitating a financial instability event of major dimensions.

One is the high yield or ‘junk’ bond market in the US and Europe. Another is the excessive corporate bond debt escalation Emerging Markets, especially that increasing growing sub-segment of EME bonds issued in dollars. Massive issuance of corporate bond debt in China and what are called ‘CoCo’ bonds in Europe should be added to the list. Sovereign bonds is another area of bond instability, especially in Latin America, Africa, and in the Eurozone southern periphery (especially Greece, Italy, Portugal-Spain) and even in that region of the Eurozone referred to as ‘Emerging East Europe’, including Ukraine. Longer term, theUS Treasury bonds market might be added to the bond instability list of prime candidates for instability, given the emerging issues of growing Treasury bond volatility and concern over liquidity should T-bond transactions accelerate in a crisis.

Hi Yield junk bonds in the US, and to a lesser extent Europe where they are growing especially fast, are perhaps the most unstable—along with EME and China corporate bonds. The junk bond segment represents bonds issued at high interest rates by the more financially strapped companies who cannot raise money through investment grade bonds or obtain bank loans. The bonds are typically short term borrowing earmarked for long term investing, a dangerous combination should bond prices begin to fall rapidly in a crisis.

Within the junk sector in the US, a large proportion of the bonds have been issued to fund expansion of the shale-gas fracking industry which is now in severe contraction. Junk defaults have doubled in the US compared with the past year, and the default rate is forecast to double in 2015, according to bank research projections. As companies default and go bankrupt in oil and energy, the instability will result in price instability transmitted to other US junk bond segments. And as the US junk bond market contracts in general, it can easily spill over to Europe and to EME markets that have a similar ‘high cost, short term’ bond composition. While Europe has previously not been a big market for issuing high yield corporate bonds in the past, the market has there has accelerated especially fast since 2008 in terms of growth, from a mere $20 billion that year to $600 billion in the past year, as the traditional bank lending has declined and weak companies desperate for financing have turned to junk bond issues.

The escalation of corporate bond debt in EMEs has been even more unprecedented. In the case of Latin American EMEs in particular, a large (and growing) proportion of that debt is also issued in US dollars. (Unlike for China, where the majority of corporate bond debt is in its local currency). The special problem this presents is, since the debt is in dollars, that debt must be repaid in dollars to investors. But if EME economies are in recession or slowing rapidly and global trade is stagnating—both of which are now the case—it means EMEs can’t earn from increasing export sales to the US or countries requiring payment in dollars, the necessary income with which to make the dollar denominated payments on their bonds as they come due.

Government bond debt in the EMEs is yet another potential severe point of instability. This is true in particular of those EMEs that have been heavily dependent on ‘servicing’ or paying their sovereign debt from income earned from oil and other commodity sales. As prices for both have deflated dangerously and as demand for their oil and commodities have collapsed simultaneously, many of the EMEs are now approaching default conditions. Latin American EMEs—Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador—and African EMEs like Nigeria and others in Asia have will soon experience growing instability in their sovereign bond markets.

As for European sovereign bonds, especially in the Euro periphery, their level of debt has not been significantly reduced since 2009, while in Greece, Italy, and elsewhere Eurozone government bond debt continues still to rise. Ukraine government bonds represent a special ‘black hole’ for Europe, with thus far no end in sight of financial support necessary to keep Ukraine’s bond markets, government and private, from further collapse near term.
In the case of US Treasury bonds, it may seem counter-intuitive that this traditional safest haven for bond investing is a candidate for instability, even longer term. But it is. It is not just that the US Treasury market has exploded from $4.5 to nearly $13 trillion in assets since the 2008 crisis. The problem is that structural changes in the US financial system in recent years has created increasingly volatile liquid markets for US government bonds, often marketed by high risk taking shadow bankers. A potential crisis point is reflected in the increasing use of these bonds by corporations to borrow short term in the US repurchase agreements, or Repos, in the market to fund longer term investments.

With Repos, a company puts up its government bonds as collateral to borrow cash short term from investors, often shadow bankers. Should short term investments collapse in price, liquidity for selling the bonds could prove significant insufficient, thereby driving down the price of Treasuries to excess levels and causing bond rates to rise. The Repo market (see below) is thus a serious weak point in the US financial system and US bonds. And US Treasury markets are thus subject to potential instability should the Repo market crack—as it did in 2008 in the case of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers investment banks, which had borrowed heavily and became dependent on repo financing. They went under when the Repo market shut down for them. The vast increase in the Treasury markets of nearly $9 trillion, much at low interest rates, will pose a related problem as the US government needs to refinance them in coming years, almost certainly at much higher rates of interest. Short period, massive escalations of multi-trillion dollars in asset values almost never end well—as China’s stock market crash shows or as the subprime housing bond market before 2007 or the tech dot.com bust of 2001 all have illustrated.

As will be noted in more detail below, corporate bond debt has exploded as well in China to unsustainable levels—just as China’s stock markets had. While not yet dollar denominated to a great extent, the rise in volumes of China corporate bond debt since 2008 are so huge that the money capital that will be needed to refinance it all in the near time raises serious questions whether China private corporate debt can ever be successfully refinanced. In 2018 alone, 5 trillion Yuan (about $800 billion) will need to be refinanced, or rolled over, according to China government banking reports; hundreds of billions of dollars more as well before and after 2018.

Given the especially large volumes involved and questionable repayment problems on the horizon—EME corporate bonds, China corporate debt, bonds associated with repo markets, government bonds in commodity-dependent EMEs, Euro periphery government bonds all reflect serious and growing ‘cracks’ in global bond markets that are expanding.

EMERGING MARKETS CORPORATE DEBT

EME corporate debt represent a problem not only of excessive issuance of corporate bond debt, both in domestic currencies as well as in dollars, but non-bond debt—i.e. corporate loans—as well. In Latin America the latter, dollar composition, is especially a problem. In some countries, like Mexico, the majority of the debt is issued in dollars. Even after subtracting China from the escalation of corporate debt from $5.5 to $18 trillion in EMEs since 2007, EME debt issued in dollars has risen by almost $2 trillion in the non-China EME sector. In China, corporate debt in general has risen from $2 trillion to about $12 trillion. So non-China EME corporate debt has nearly doubled, from $3.5 to $6 trillion while China’s has risen six-fold. The magnitudes of such corporate debt escalation cannot be end poorly.

The same risks apply with regard to making payments on this debt for EMEs, whether involving bond debt or loan debt. Loan debt is of even greater volume and thus a problem and potential source of financial instability, as repayments become more difficult as EME economies falter and slip into recessions.

CHINA FINANCIAL MARKETS

Compared to other EME financial markets, China’s financial markets are even more potentially unstable, and because of the sheer size of China’s economy and markets are even more capable of precipitating a generalized global financial crisis. China’s equity and corporate bond markets have been noted above, but there are additionally three big financial markets that are particularly unstable in China today—Local Government Financial Vehicles (LGFVs), Wealth Management Products (WMPs), and debt associated with what are called ‘Entrusted Loans’. In all three markets, China shadow banks are deeply involved in providing the credit and therefore excessively leveraged debt that makes these three especially unstable.

LGFVs represent the way in which local governments in China have financed infrastructure and commercial and residential construction spending beyond the financing provided by China government operated banks. Much of the LGFV financing has been arranged through shadow banks. Local governments have then sold real estate it obtains through forced sales from private owners to make payments on the debt. The problem is that land sales have been largely used up but the debt remains. In the process of debt escalation, real estate prices became a bubble. Now they are deflating, raising the real debt previously incurred while reducing the income source (real estate land acquisitions) for making debt payments. The LGFV debt was roughly 20% of China GDP in 2007, or $550 billion; it rose to 40% and $3.8 trillion by 2014.

It is estimated that 30% of more than $3 trillion in all ‘nonperforming’ debt in China today from all sources is non-performing LGFV debt. That means debt payments are not being made and more than $1 trillion in LGFV debt is in technical default. The government solution has been to rollover the debt at lower interest rates. Whether it can continue to do so, as more than $7 trillion in such debt must be refinanced during 2016-2018, remains to be seen. The potential contagion effects of LGFV defaults starting in 2016 may prove significant, both within China and throughout the rest of the global economy.

A second major financial asset of great potential instability is called the Wealth Asset Products or WMPs. These are also provided in significant degree through shadow banks. They represent bundled asset products sold to wealthy investors—comprised of roughly one third of stocks, one third local government debt, and one third industrial loans of small and medium businesses and state enterprises that are financially in need of private funding. The debt is opaque and held ‘off balance sheet’, not on the books of banks or other institutions. Like LGFVs, the escalation in such financial assets has been from just several hundred billion in 2007 to $2.9 trillion in 2014. Tied to stocks and local real estate, as these markets have deflated in 2015, the WMPs have no doubt lost massive valuation as well, making them highly unstable.

A third severe problem area in China financial markets involved ‘Entrusted Loans’, or ELs. These are associated with the major shadow bank sector in China called ‘Trusts’, as well as the China banking system. Entrusted loans provide a kind of ‘junk loans’ to industrial companies in particular, especially government enterprises in coal, steel, and other commodities production, that have been in severe distress as China growth has slowed and global demand for China steel, etc., has declined sharply. These loans are highly leveraged and thus subject to great volatility should financial asset deflation spread between markets in China, as stock markets implode, real estate values continue to decline, and LGFV and WMPs values fall further. Like LGFVs and WMPs, Entrusted Loans have surged from $272 billion in 2007 to nearly $3 trillion.

The three combined financial asset markets—LGFVs, WMPs, and ELs—combined represent more than $10 trillion private sector debt that is potentially highly unstable. When considered in relation to China equity and general corporate debt instability, the potential for a general financial crisis in China is not insignificant. Granted, China’s economy has great reserves in terms of foreign currency and assets available, and its government is capable of rapid response to major crises. However, the combined effects of all the above may prove overwhelming in the short term, and government responses may not be able to offset the panic by investors in the short term that could lead to a major financial contraction, followed quickly by a subsequent real economic contraction by an economy already slowing in those terms.

US FINANCIAL MARKETS

US financial markets today are not the primary locus of instability. The massive injections by the federal reserve central bank has offset the financial asset losses of most large banks and shadow banks, as well as big private investors, that occurred in 2008-09—in the process taking the losses onto its own Fed balance sheet. The private debt was not eliminated; it was only moved. Notwithstanding that, there are several financial markets in the US that are candidates for financial instability.

The junk bond market was previously noted, as was the Repo market and its strategic relationship to US Treasuries and the issue of bond liquidity. Mutual funds’ total assets have accelerated tremendously since the crisis as well, reflecting the extraordinary growth of financial wealth in the wake of the Fed liquidity injections and subsequent exploding values in US stocks and bonds. Mutual funds are also connected to the Repo situation, however. And should the Repo market experience significant liquidity problems, mutual funds will be exposed as well as bonds. The US government and Fed therefore are desperately trying to reform and shield the Repo and Mutual Funds markets from future instability, although have succeeded thus far poorly in doing so.

Other growing unstable markets include those for Leveraged Loans and Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs. The former has surged again as banks and shadow banks have been providing highly leveraged debt to companies and investors involved in historic high merger and acquisition (M&A) activity (up 179%)—which, along with corporate stock buybacks (up 287%), has been driving much of US speculative stock gains in the past year. One shadow bank alone, Blackrock, controls more than a third, over $1 trillion, of the assets in this market. Since 2013 global M&A investing has risen to $4.6 trillion in 2015, compared to $2.2 trillion in 2009, according to the global research firm, Dealogic. These loans represent short term borrowing to finance long term investing, a classic condition for financial instability. ETFs are a new financial innovation that allow investors to bundle stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other assets and ‘trade’ them instantaneously as if they were stocks. Because they ‘link’ market securities for stocks, bonds, etc. into one financial asset, they represent a kind of securitized asset product. And because their price can change by the minute and second, ETF asset values are highly volatile and can collapse precipitously as any of the bundled asset market securities in them collapses, as they did by 30%, for example, on August 24, 2015 in the case of Blackrock.

US defined benefit pension funds and municipal state and local bonds are also potentially unstable. Neither have fully recovered from the last crisis. Pension funds depend upon general interest rates remaining sufficiently high to ensure returns on investment to pay for retirement benefits. But a decade of central bank zero interest rates has played havoc with pension fund returns, forcing them to search desperately for more ‘yield’ (returns) by undertaking risky asset investments. Public sector pension funds are further at risk due to the still largely unrecovered financial losses experienced by many states, and especially cities, school districts, and other local government entities since the 2008 crash. Some states and many cities remain in the red financially still today from financial investment losses associated with the 2008-2009 crash. The picture remains highly uneven throughout the US for US defined benefit pension funds. Some states and cities recovering, but many are still not. Should another financial crisis erupt, municipal bond rates will no doubt rise even further, resulting in a state and local government fiscal crisis far worse than in 2008-09.
Another area of consumer finance and debt in the US is the student loan market. In recent years it has escalated from several hundred billion to more than $1.3 trillion. While not a source of major financial instability, student debt functions already as a major drag on the real economy and consumption in particular. In a strange arrangement, the federal government profits significantly from this asset, much but not all of which it legislatively has redirected away from the private banks.

EUROPEAN FINANCIAL MARKETS

Government sovereign loans and debt remains a major problem in the Eurozone in particular. The debt is unevenly distributed, making it politically explosive, moreover, where it is focused in particular in the Euro periphery. Eurozone monetary and fiscal policies continue to exacerbate the debt, causing government bond rates to remain excessively high in the affected economies and, conversely, driving bond rates in Germany and elsewhere into negative territory and thus further yet unknown consequences for instability.

One solution proposed has been the issuance of a new security called a Convertible Bond, or CoCo bond. This new bond is designed to convert from a bond to equity in the event of a financial crisis. Because it may convert, and result in almost a near total loss as is potentially the case of equities compared to bonds, the CoCo bond pays a higher interest rate to investors. It is riskier in other words. It is a kind of government analog to junk bonds. In the desperate search for yield by many investors, they have piled into the security. However, should a severe instability event erupt in Europe, CoCos could quickly lose much of their value.

The general government debt problem, which now after 8 years in Europe has not abated but actually continued, combined with Europe’s stagnant economic real growth, has resulted in a high level of non-performing debt remaining on Euro bank balance sheets. Non-performing loan and bond debt in the Eurozone is estimated by some as high as $1 trillion. As in China’s case, and increasingly for EMEs in general, companies with a high level of current non-performing corporate debt typically become companies that default in a subsequent crisis.

OTHER GLOBAL FINANCIAL MARKETS

Two remaining financial markets of general global relevance are foreign exchange currency trading (FX) and derivatives speculation.

As the data table above illustrates, FX has exploded in terms of its size since 2009, which reveals the contribution of the massive liquidity injections by central banks, a good part of which has found its way to global currency trades and speculation. The daily trading volumes have almost doubled, to $5.3 trillion in purchases of currencies daily. Much of that is done by central banks, banks, and global corporations, but a significant segment of 10% of the trading is now ‘retail’; that is, done by speculators large and small, hedge funds and even small investors who, up to recently, had been financing this trade by use of credit cards. As governments continue to inject liquidity via QE they in effect create excess liquidity that fuels currency wars and volatility. And as countries attempt to devalue their currencies to gain a temporary advantage for exports, the volatility grows further. It all draws in more shadow bankers and speculators who feed off of the volatility, making currency markets more subject to financial speculation and causing havoc to economies and economic policies.

Not least, another problem globally is the role played by derivatives—interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, and other innovative financial products that continue to proliferate and grow and, in the process, add to potential contagion effects and further asset price volatility. Sometimes reference is made to what is called the notational value of derivatives, now in excess of $700 trillion. The more important figure, however, is not the notational but the potential loss values measured in what is called the ‘gross value’ of derivatives. While not $700 trillion, gross value and potential loss represents a massive $21 trillion, up from $15 trillion in 2008. In other words, derivatives and their potentially extreme financial destabilizing effects—which were clearly revealed in the 2008-09 crisis, have not been reduced. In fact, they have grown continually. And new forms of financial speculation involving derivatives have been created as well. An example of such is the ‘swaptions’ market for credit default swaps, or CDSs. It represents betting on the movements of CDS. The latter are a kind of a ‘bet’ that financial assets will deflate significantly, in which case a ‘payoff’ for the CDS is made. But swaptions take it one step further: betting on the broad index of CDSs as a financial security itself.

Derivatives trading is growing rapidly, having reached record levels in 2014. Previously largely concentrated in the USA and UK, it has begun to grow as well in Southern Asia—in particular in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia. Japan has begun significant volumes of derivatives trading. Europe is attempting to promote it. And China will open a trading section in Shanghai in 2015.

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