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For Your Information / Cuba Leads by Revolutionary Example
« Last post by Roger on March 27, 2020, 04:01:12 PM »

Cuba Leads by Revolutionary Example
Ramona Wadi
March 27, 2020
© Photo: REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo
Strategic Culture

“We have more physicians working abroad than practically any other country in the world, not because we are exporting anything but simply because we want to participate in building a world with better health conditions and living conditions,” Cuban doctor Luis Herrera declared in an exclusive interview with TeleSur.

Dr Herrera is credited with developing the Interferon Alpha 2B 40 years ago, which is being used to prevent medical complications that could arise from contracting the COVID-19 strand of coronavirus.

As governments worldwide dedicated to neoliberalism struggle to contain the virus spread, closing borders and imposing military control, Cuba has maintained its internationalist approach, leading by revolutionary example. The Cuban government has allowed a British cruise liner stricken with the virus to dock in its port and the passengers to disembark until chartered flights can return them home. Cuba has been able to take such decisions knowing the country is well prepared in preventive medicine to keep any possible virus transmission under control. And yet, the West often reminds us that socialism doesn’t work; to justify, perhaps, the incessant forms of foreign intervention designed to maintain the West’s supremacy.

COVID-19 has exposed the exploitative systems of capitalism and neoliberalism. In Italy, hospitals cannot keep up with the number of patients requiring intensive care. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed the steps taken by other countries in Europe and internationally to curb the virus spread, callously speaking about developing herd immunity while neglecting the segment of the population that can develop complications from the virus.

Cuba is now receiving international requests to supply the Interferon Alpha 2B. The neoliberal West is seeking the aid of a communist country under blockade to solve its problems and true to its revolutionary spirit, Cuba will be complying with the requests. The Director of BioCubaFarma, Eduardo Martinez Diaz, stated, “We currently have requests from a large number of countries, which we are responding to because we have sufficient capacity, without putting at risk the amounts required by the country,”

Not only Cuban medicine is in demand by Western countries. Italy has requested the aid of Cuban, Venezuelan and Chinese doctors to help in the Lombardy region, which is the most affected by the coronavirus. For now, at least, the duplicity over socialist countries in Latin America has been pushed aside to accommodate what is severely lacking in Europe – politics that prioritise the people.

Clearly, neoliberalism has failed humanity. Yet mainstream media is not yet enamoured of the need to shift its focus upon Cuba’s internationalist example. This would not be the first time that Cuban internationalism has provided a stark contrast to the militarisation methods employed by the West when faced with humanitarian predicaments.

The Cuban Revolution was never about privilege. Indeed, it maintained the principles outlined by Fidel Castro as regards education and healthcare, building a responsible society. By the end of 1960, all Cubans had access to free healthcare, despite the exodus of the medical elite to the U.S. in the aftermath of dictator Fulgencio Batista’s downfall. In Cuba, healthcare forms part of social responsibility and it is this value which enables the country to remain at the helm of providing medical aid internationally. Cuba had also offered to send its doctors to the U.S. in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – an offer that was turned down by the president at that time, George. W Bush, who dismissed the Cuban offer as propaganda. In Bolivia, Cuban doctors treated Mario Teran, the executioner of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, for eye surgery.

In 2010, Fidel spoke out against decisions to militarise humanitarian situations. With reference to Haiti, he declared, “In my view, such events will complicate and create chaos in international cooperation, which is already in itself complex.” Again, the West has emulated the only response plan it is capable of, ensnared as it is in the capitalist predicament. “We send doctors, not soldiers!” Fidel emphatically differentiated.

When the coronavirus urgency is over, will the international community repay Cuba by standing up against U.S. imperialism until the blockade is completely lifted?
2

COVID-19: We Won’t Go Back to Normal, Because Normal Was the Problem
March 27, 2020
© Photo: Pexels
Strategic Culture

When a global pandemic strikes, the private-sector austerity model simply falls apart, writes Vijay Prashad.

Vijay PRASHAD

It is hard to remember that just a few weeks ago, the planet was in motion. There were protests in Delhi (India) and Quito (Ecuador), eruptions against the old order that ranged from anger at the economic policies of austerity and neoliberalism to frustration with the cultural policies of misogyny and racism. Ingeniously, in Santiago (Chile), during its wave after wave of protests, someone projected a powerful slogan onto the side of a building: “we won’t go back to normal, because normal was the problem.” Now, in the midst of the novel coronavirus, it seems impossible to imagine a return to the old world, the world that left us so helpless before the arrival of these deadly microscopic particles. Waves of anxiety prevail; death continues to stalk us. If there is a future, we say to each other, it cannot mimic the past.

Certainly, the coronavirus is a serious matter and certainly its spread is a consequence of its own danger to the human body; but there are social issues here that bear serious thought. Key to any discussion has to be the sheer collapse of state institutions in most of the capitalist world, where these institutions have been privatized, and where private institutions have operated to minimize costs and maximize profit.

Li Zhong (China), Paintings for Wuhan, 2020.

This is most clear in the health sector, where public health institutions have been underfunded, where medical care has been transferred to private corporations, and where private hospitals and clinics operate without any surge capacity. This means that there are simply not enough hospital beds or medical equipment (masks, ventilators, etc.) and that the nurses, doctors, paramedics, janitors, and others on the front line are forced to operate in conditions of acute scarcity, in many cases without basic protection. It is often the people who make the least who are putting the most at stake to save lives in the face of the rapidly spreading pandemic. When a global pandemic strikes, the private-sector austerity model simply falls apart.

Li Zhong (China), Paintings for Wuhan, 2020.

Furthermore, our economic system has been so completely tilted to favor the financial sector and the plutocracy that it has – for a long time – simply ignored the growth of large-scale and permanent precarious employment, underemployment and unemployment. This is not a problem created by the coronavirus or by the collapse of oil prices; this is a structural problem for which a term – precariat, or precarious proletariat – was invented at least a decade ago. With lockdowns and social isolation, small businesses have shuttered, and precarious workers find that their precarity defines them entirely. Even the most hardened bourgeois politicians are now forced to confront the reality of two points:

    That workers exist. The State-imposed general strike to prevent the spread of the virus and its consequences­ have proved that it is workers who produce value in our society and not “entrepreneurs” who generate ideas, which they claim fancifully produces wealth. A world without workers is a world that halts.
    That the share of global wealth and income that workers control is now so low that they have limited reserves when their hard-earned incomes collapse. In the United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, a 2018 Federal Reserve study found that 40 percent of U.S. households do not have the means to deal with unexpected expenses of around $400. The situation is not much better in the European Union, where the Eurostat data shows that 32 percent of households cannot bear unexpected expenses. That is why in the capitalist States there is now openly talk of widespread income support – even a Universal Basic Income – to manage the collapse of livelihoods and to stimulate consumer demand.

Josef Lee (Singapore), Comics in Response to the Coronavirus, 2020.

Last week, the International Peoples Assembly and Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research released a 16-point programme for this complex moment. A concatenation of crises has struck us: there are the long-term structural crises of capitalism (decline in the rate of profit, low rates of investment in the productive sector, underemployment and precarious employment), and there are the short-term conjunctural crises (collapse of the price of oil, the coronavirus).

It is now widely recognized, even by the investment houses, that the strategy for recovery from the 2008-09 financial crisis is not going to work; pumping large amounts of cash into the banking sector will not help. Directed investments are necessary in areas that had previously faced serious austerity cuts – areas such as health care, including public health, and income support. Manuel Bertoldi of Frente Patria Grande (Argentina) and I make the case for a serious debate around these issues. More than a debate about each separate policy, we need a debate about the very nature of how to understand the state and its institutions.

A key achievement of austerity capitalism has been to delegitimize the idea of state institutions (notably those that improve the well-being of the population). In the West, the typical attitude has been to attack the government as an enemy of progress; to shrink government institutions – except the military – has been the goal. Any country with a robust government and State structure has been characterized as “authoritarian.”

But this crisis has shaken that certainty. Countries with intact state institutions that have been able to handle the pandemic – such as China – cannot be easily dismissed as authoritarian; a general understanding has come that these governments and their state institutions are instead efficient. Meanwhile, the states of the West that have been eaten into by austerity policies are now fumbling to deal with the crisis. The failure of the austerity health care system is now clearly visible. It is impossible to make the case any longer that privatization and austerity are more efficient than a system of State institutions that are made efficient over time by the process of trial and error.

Abduh Khalil (Egypt), Untitled, 1949.

The coronavirus has now crept into Palestine; most alarmingly, there is at least one case in Gaza, which is one of the world’s largest open-air prisons. The Palestinian Communist poet Samih al-Qasim (1939-2014) used to call his homeland the “great prison,” from whose isolation he gifted his luminous poetry. One of his poems, “Confession at Midday,” offers a brief journey into the emotional damage done to the world by austerity and neoliberalism:

I planted a tree
I scorned the fruit
I used its trunk as firewood
I made a lute
And played a tune

I smashed the lute
Lost the fruit
Lost the tune
I wept over the tree

The coronavirus has only just begun to make its impact on India, whose public health system has been deeply eroded by a generation of neoliberal economic policies. Within India, the state of Kerala (population 35 million) – governed by the Left Democratic Front – is in the midst of a campaign to tackle the coronavirus – as Subin Dennis, a researcher at the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, and I make clear in this report. Our findings suggest that Kerala has certain in-built advantages and that it has put in place measures that are worthy of study.

How is Kerala tackling the Coronavirus pandemic?

    Kerala’s left governments over the past several decades have fought to maintain and even extend the public health system.
    Kerala’s left parties and organizations have helped develop a culture of organization, solidarity and public action.
    Kerala’s left government was swift in enacting measures to trace those infected by the virus through “contact tracing” and testing at transportation hubs.
    The chief minister and health minister held daily press conferences that calmly provided the public with credible information and an analysis of the crisis and unfolding events.
    The slogan “Break the Chain” captures the attempt by the government and by society to enforce forms of physical isolation, quarantine, and treatment to prevent the spread of the virus.
    The slogan “Physical Distance, Social Unity” underlines the importance of raising resources to assist those in economic and psychological distress.
    Public action – led by trade unions, youth groups, women’s organizations, and cooperatives – of cleaning and preparing supplies has lifted the spirit of the people, encouraging them to trust in social unity and not to fragment into trauma.
    Finally, the government announced a relief package worth Rs. 20,000 crores, which includes loans to families through the women’s cooperative Kudumbashree; higher allocations for a rural employment guarantee scheme; two months of pension payments to the elderly; free food grains; and restaurants to provide food at subsidized rates. Utility payments for water and electricity as well as interest on debt payments will be suspended.

This is a rational and decent programme; it, along with the 16-point plan, should be studied and adopted elsewhere. To dither is to play with the lives of people.

Kate Janse van Rensburg (South Africa), Marco Rivadeneira, 2020.

Colombia has implemented a national 19-day quarantine. Meanwhile, in prisons in Colombia, inmates held a protest against overcrowding and bad health facilities, fearing the death count if coronavirus breaches the walls; the crackdown by the state led to the death of 23 people. This is a fear in prisons around the world.

Meanwhile on 19 March, Marco Rivadeneira, an important leader of the agricultural worker and peasant movement in Colombia, was in a meeting with peasants in the municipality of Puerto Asís. Three armed men burst into the meeting, seized Marco, and assassinated him. He is one of more than a hundred leaders of popular movements who has been assassinated this year in Colombia, and one of 800 murdered since 2016 when the civil war was suspended. As Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research dossier No. 23 (December 2019) shows, this violence is a direct consequence of the unwillingness of the oligarchy to allow history to advance. They want to return to a “normal” situation that benefits them. But Marco wanted to create a new world. He was killed for the hope that motivated him.

Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research via consortiumnews.com
3
For Your Information / China Locked in Hybrid War with US
« Last post by Roger on March 18, 2020, 11:52:27 AM »
China Locked in Hybrid War with US
Pepe Escobar
Global Research, March 18 2020

Fallout from Covid-19 outbreak puts Beijing and Washington on a collision course
The working hypothesis of coronavirus as a very powerful but not Armageddon-provoking bio-weapon unveils it as a perfect vehicle for widespread social control – on a global scale.

Cuba rises as a biotech power

Just as a fully masked Xi visiting the Wuhan frontline last week was a graphic demonstration to the whole planet that China, with immense sacrifice, is winning the “people‘s war” against Covid-19, Russia, in a Sun Tzu move on Riyadh whose end result was a much cheaper barrel of oil, helped for all practical purposes to kick-start the inevitable recovery of the Chinese economy. This is how a strategic partnership works.

The chessboard is changing at breakneck speed. Once Beijing identified coronavirus as a bio-weapon attack the “people’s war” was launched with the full force of the state. Methodically. On a “whatever it takes” basis. Now we are entering a new stage, which will be used by Beijing to substantially recalibrate the interaction with the West, and under very different frameworks when it comes to the US and the EU.

Soft power is paramount. Beijing sent an Air China flight to Italy carrying 2,300 big boxes full of masks bearing the script, “We are waves from the same sea, leaves from the same tree, flowers from the same garden.” China also sent a hefty humanitarian package to Iran, significantly aboard eight flights from Mahan Air – an airline under illegal, unilateral Trump administration sanctions.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic could not have been more explicit:

    “The only country that can help us is China. By now, you all understood that European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale on paper.”

Under harsh sanctions and demonized since forever, Cuba is still able to perform breakthroughs – even on biotechnology. The anti-viral Heberon – or Interferon Alpha 2b – a therapeutic, not a vaccine, has been used with great success in the treatment of coronavirus. A joint venture in China is producing an inhalable version, and at least 15 nations are already interested in importing the therapeutic.

Now compare all of the above with the Trump administration offering $1 billion to poach German scientists working at biotech firm Curevac, based in Thuringia, on an experimental vaccine against Covid-19, to have it as a vaccine “only for the United States.”

Social engineering psy-op?

Sandro Mezzadra, co-author with Brett Neilson of the seminal The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism, is already trying to conceptualize where we stand now in terms of fighting Covid-19.

We are facing a choice between a Malthusian strand – inspired by social Darwinism – “led by the Johnson-Trump-Bolsonaro axis” and, on the other side, a strand pointing to the “requalification of public health as a fundamental tool,” exemplified by China, South Korea and Italy. There are key lessons to be learned from South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

The stark option, Mezzadra notes, is between a “natural population selection,” with thousands of dead, and “defending society” by employing “variable degrees of authoritarianism and social control.” It’s easy to imagine who stands to benefit from this social re-engineering, a 21st century remix of Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death.

Amid so much doom and gloom, count on Italy to offer us Tiepolo-style shades of light. Italy chose the Wuhan option, with immensely serious consequences for its already fragile economy. Quarantined Italians remarkably reacted by singing on their balconies: a true act of metaphysical revolt.

Not to mention the poetic justice of the actual St. Corona (“crown” in Latin) being buried in the city of Anzu since the 9th century. St. Corona was a Christian killed under Marcus Aurelius in 165 AD, and has been for centuries one of the patron saints of pandemics.

Not even trillions of dollars raining from the sky by an act of divine Fed mercy were able to cure Covid-19. G-7 “leaders” had to resort to a videoconference to realize how clueless they are – even as China’s fight against coronavirus gave the West a head start of several weeks.

Shanghai-based Dr. Zhang Wenhong, one of China’s top infectious disease experts, whose analyses have been spot on so far, now says China has emerged from the darkest days in the “people’s war” against Covid-19. But he does not think this will be over by summer. Now extrapolate what he’s saying to the Western world.

It’s not even spring yet, and we already know it takes a virus to mercilessly shatter the Goddess of the Market. Last Friday, Goldman Sachs told no fewer than 1,500 corporations that there was no systemic risk. That was false.

New York banking sources told me the truth: systemic risk became way more severe in 2020 than in 1979, 1987 or 2008 because of the hugely heightened danger that the $1.5 quadrillion derivative market would collapse.

As the sources put it, history had never before seen anything like the Fed’s intervention via its little understood elimination of commercial bank reserve requirements, unleashing a potential unlimited expansion of credit to prevent a derivative implosion stemming from a total commodity and stock market collapse of all stocks around the world.

Those bankers thought it would work, but as we know by now all the sound and fury signified nothing. The ghost of a derivative implosion – in this case not caused by the previous possibility, the shutting down of the Strait of Hormuz – remains.

We are still barely starting to understand the consequences of Covid-19 for the future of neoliberal turbo-capitalism. What’s certain is that the whole global economy has been hit by an insidious, literally invisible circuit breaker. This may be just a “coincidence.” Or this may be, as some are boldly arguing, part of a possible, massive psy-op creating the perfect geopolitlcal and social engineering environment for full-spectrum dominance.

Additionally, along the hard slog down the road, with immense, inbuilt human and economic sacrifice, with or without a reboot of the world-system, a more pressing question remains: will imperial elites still choose to keep waging full-spectrum-dominance hybrid war against China?

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
4
The British Kangaroo Court Proceedings Against Julian Assange
Moon of Alabama

February 26, 2020


   Britain is currently holding an obscene show trial against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The hearing is designed to end with the extradition of Assange to the United States or with his death. In the U.S. he would be accused of a conspiracy to reveal secrets and put into jail for the rest of his life.

Over the years Wikileaks has revealed material on many important issues. As Patrick Cockburn remarked: With WikiLeaks, Julian Assange did what all journalists should aspire to do. Wikileaks provided the material its sources revealed to partner media who profited from it, but then went on to betray Assange. As Kit Klarenberg wrote a few days ago: â They Should Be In Jailâ : How The Guardian and New York Times â Set Upâ Julian Assange.

Those who are not familiar with the false case against Julian Assange should read this interview with Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who provides detailed insight. In Melzer's learned view Assange, as the main editor of Wikileaks, has not committed any crime.

Melzer has also written at his medium page about the case:

Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange

State Responsibility for the Torture of Julian Assange

The false 'rape' case in Sweden which was used to incarcerate Assange is also detailed in Marcello Ferrada de Noli's book: Swedenâ s Geopolitical Case Against Assange 2010-2019. It can be downloaded for free.

That the current extradition case against Assange is crooked and that a bad outcome is likely assured can be deducted from the persons behind the current proceedings. Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis at Declassified UK have done some digging:

REVEALED: Chief magistrate in Assange case received financial benefits from secretive partner organisations of UK Foreign Office

UK minister who approved Trumpâ s request to extradite Assange spoke at secretive US conferences with people calling for him to be â neutralizedâ Craig Murray and Kevin Gosztola are in the court room to document the proceedings. Gosztola tweets live (day 1, day 2, day 3) from the Woolwich courthouse in London and provides daily write ups at Shadowproof.com:

Assangeâ s Defense Details CIA-Backed Espionage Operation, Trumpâ s Politicization Of Justice Department Assange Extradition Hearing: Chelsea Manningâ s Grand Jury Resistance A Major Hurdle For Prosecutors Ambassador Craig Murray publishes daily summaries at his site:

Your Man in the Public Gallery â " Assange Hearing Day 1 Your Man in the Public Gallery â " Assange Hearing Day 2

George Galloway held a speech yesterday about the abstruse processes around the hearing. The video of it is here.

One hopes that the British court will not extradite but free Assange. Unfortunately that seems currently unlikely. But the case will be fought hard and over many month and sometimes good things do happen




5
For Your Information / Pentagon reveals deal with Britain to replace Trident
« Last post by Roger on February 23, 2020, 01:37:30 PM »
Pentagon reveals deal with Britain to replace Trident
MPs dismayed after US defence officials leak news of nuclear weapons deal before parliament is told
Jamie Doward  The Guardian
Sat 22 Feb 2020 18.05 GMT
Last modified on Sat 22 Feb 2020 21.20 GMT
 
 The Royal Navy Vanguard class nuclear submarine HMS Vengeance, which carries Trident missiles. Photograph: EPA
Britain has committed itself to buying a new generation of nuclear warheads to replace Trident, which will be based on US technology. The decision was revealed by Pentagon officials who disclosed it before an official announcement has been made by the government.
The revelation has dismayed MPs and experts who question why they have learned of the move – which will cost the UK billions of pounds – only after the decision has apparently been made. It has also raised questions about the UK’s commitment to staunching nuclear proliferation and the country’s reliance on the US for a central plank of its defence strategy.
Earlier this month, Pentagon officials confirmed that its proposed W93 sea-launched warhead, the nuclear tip of the next generation of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, would share technology with the UK’s next nuclear weapon, implying that a decision had been taken between the two countries to work on the programme.
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In public, the UK has not confirmed whether it intends to commission a new nuclear warhead. The Ministry of Defence’s annual update to parliament, published just before Christmas, says only: “Work also continues to develop the evidence to support a government decision when replacing the warhead.”
But last week Admiral Charles Richard, commander of the US strategic command, told the Senate defence committee that there was a requirement for a new warhead, which would be called the W93 or Mk7. Richard said: “This effort will also support a parallel replacement warhead programme in the United Kingdom, whose nuclear deterrent plays an absolutely vital role in Nato’s overall defence posture.”

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
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Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “It is totally unacceptable that the government seems to have given the green light to the development of new nuclear weapon technologies with zero consultation and zero scrutiny. Britain under Johnson increasingly looks like putty in Trump’s hands. That Britain’s major defence decisions are being debated in the United States, but not in the UK, is a scandal. Under Johnson, it seems that where Trump leads, we must follow.”
Alan Shaffer, Pentagon deputy under-secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, also made reference to the new UK programme in a briefing session at the annual nuclear deterrence summit, in Alexandria, Virginia. “I think it’s wonderful that the UK is working on a new warhead at the same time, and I think we will have discussions and be able to share technologies,” Shaffer said.
David Cullen, director of pressure group the Nuclear Information Service, said: “The UK’s reliance on US knowledge and assistance for their nuclear weapons programme means they will find it almost impossible to diverge from any development path the US decides to take. “We are legally bound to take steps towards disarmament under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but this would take us in the opposite direction.”
It is understood that the US had agreed with the UK not to make any announcement while parliament was in recess. However, US defence officials were apparently oblivious to the agreement and confirmed the programme’s existence – to the embarrassment of the UK government.
Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, said the development of the new warhead posed significant geopolitical problems. “Britain and the US have come a long away from being leaders in reducing the role of nuclear weapons and contemplating the possible road toward potential disarmament to re-embracing nuclear weapons for the long haul. They are obviously not alone in this, with Russia, China and France doing their own work. So, overall, this is a serious challenge for the international non-proliferation regime,” he said.
Tom Plant, director of proliferation and nuclear policy at the independent security thinktank, Rusi, said the lack of debate about the new weapon was a concern. “There’s been a presumption from those in opposition and analysts like myself that it should come to parliament in some way, like the 2016 vote on Trident. I suspect that the MoD’s position is that they don’t want it to. What the programme doesn’t need from their perspective is lots of scrutiny. But if there’s going to be a decision it should absolutely come to parliament.”
The MoD said: “As previously stated in the 2015 defence review, we can confirm that we are working towards replacing the warhead. We have a strong defence relationship with the US and will continue to remain compatible with the US Trident missile. An announcement about the UK’s replacement warhead programme will be made in due course.”
6
For Your Information / Syria - Turkey Invades Idleb But Its Bluff Will Be Called
« Last post by Roger on February 13, 2020, 09:17:09 AM »
Syria - Turkey Invades Idleb But Its Bluff Will Be Called
Moon of Alabama

February 10, 2020


   Since last week's post on the Syrian Idleb campaign the Syrian army has made significant progress.

Saraqib, Al Eis and dozens of other cities and towns were liberated. Large parts of the M5 highway in Idleb are now under Syrian government control.

The aim of the current campaign is to regain control over the M5 highway between Damascus and Aleppo city and the M4 highway between Latakia and Aleppo. These highways are of importance for the revival of Syria's economy.

It was originally Turkey's task to guarantee free civilian traffic on both highways. The Sochi Memorandum of Understanding between Turkey and Russia, signed on September 17 2018, provides (machine translated):

3. A demilitarized zone with a depth of 15-20 km will be created in the de-escalation zone. 4. The specific passage of the lines defining the demilitarized zone will be agreed upon in the course of further consultations.

5. All radical terrorist groups will be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone by October 15, 2018.

6. All tanks, artillery, MLRS and mortars of the conflicting parties will be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone by October 10, 2018.

7. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey and the military police of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will carry out coordinated patrols and monitoring using unmanned aerial vehicles in the demilitarized zone.

8. In the interests of ensuring free movement of local residents and goods, as well as restoring trade and economic ties, transit traffic along the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored before the end of 2018.

None of these points were ever fulfilled by Turkey.

Idleb is still under control of the al-Qaeda aligned Hayat Tahrir al Shams (HTS) which has continued to attack Syrian government positions as well as civilian targets. HTS is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization, including by Turkey. But Turkey has done nothing to remove it. It instead provides the organization with weapons and other supplies.

The reaction of Turkey's wannabe Sultan Erdogan to the Syrian army campaign has been hysterical. He threatened several times that he would militarily intervene if the Syrian army operation does not stop. Over the last days more than 1,450 Turkish military vehicles, including tanks, heavy artillery and armored infantry vehicles, invaded the terrorist held Idleb area.

Turkey says that these are just reinforcements for its 'observer posts'. But in reality these forces are configured to attack the Syrian army. One Turkish artillery groups tried to set up a position at the former Syrian military airbase Taftanaz north of Saraqib. Earlier today it came under Syrian artillery fire. At least six Turkish soldiers were killed and several wounded. A Turkish helicopter was allowed to come in to evacuate the casualties.

The Turkish military claimed that it retaliated for the attack:

The Turkish army responded to the targets determined in the region, said the statement.

â The necessary response was given, the targets were destroyed and the blood of our martyrs was not left on the ground. The developments are being closely monitored and necessary measures are being taken,â said the statement.

There is no evidence that any such retaliation has taken place.

Turkey demands that the Syrian army retreats back to the lines where its current campaign started months ago.

That is not going to happen.

Today, while the Turkish army settled among the terrorist, HTS sent two suicide vehicles against the Syrian lines. It is not yet known if they caused casualties. If the Turkish army wants to be the bodyguard of such terrorist it will be handled appropriately.

The Russian and Syrian air forces are in control of the airspace over Idleb. Russian war ships are deployed near the coast of Syria and are ready to launch their cruise missiles. Russia can reinforce its airforce in Syria within 24 hours. Turkey's airforce is not able to change that picture.

After the 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan nearly three quarters of Turkey's airforce pilots were dismissed. The maintenance status of Turkey's 240 F-16 fighter jets is dubious. It is estimate that less of a quarter of them are ready to fly. The F-16s are no match for the Russian Su-34 jets which cover Syria. They also lack the capabilities to overcome the Russian air defenses. Then there is also Russia's economic leverage over Turkey.

Over the last few days there have been intense talks between the Russian and the Turkish side. The Russians are not budging. Syria will liberate the two highways that Turkey promised would be opened under the Sochi MoU. Should the Turkish army try to prevent that it will be bombed to high heaven.

Erdogan can not risk a war with Russia in Syria. He is bluffing and his bluff will be called.




7
For Your Information / Re: Operation Barbarossa II: Setting The Stage For War
« Last post by Roger on February 08, 2020, 03:45:48 PM »
Moscow concerned over low-yield nuclear warheads deployed on US submarines
TASS

February 5, 2020


   Moscow is highly alarmed over the deployment of W76-2 new low-yield nuclear warheads on US submarines, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Wednesday.

"We are reacting to this with a serious concern not because we see a threat to the security of our country - this security is reliably ensured as a result of the efforts that were taken with regard to the armament and with regard to developing advanced weapon systems, but from the viewpoint of doctrines and concepts, which the Americans are using in the nuclear sphere. This is very alarming," the senior Russian diplomat said.

The deployment of low-yield charges on US strategic delivery vehicles suggests that "the pronouncements made by the American side in the declarative form about the possibility of deploying such means in a hypothetical conflict are already being embodied in the metal and items," Ryabkov said.

"This indicates that the US is really reducing the nuclear threshold and admits of a limited nuclear war for itself and the victory in that war," the deputy foreign minister said.

In this context, Moscow's proposal to "confirm again the commitment to the well-known formula that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it must never be unleashed" is becoming especially important, the high-ranking Russian diplomat said.

Russia formally handed over this proposal to Washington back in 2018, he added.

"All the developments in their entirety and all the signs I am speaking about set us up for the need to double efforts in order to try to contain the US further drift in the dangerous direction and Washington's further slide into the planning of absolutely inadmissible catastrophic scenarios," Ryabkov stressed.

US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood stated on Tuesday that the US Navy had started deploying W76-2 new low-yield nuclear warheads on submarines. The US Department of Defense said in a statement that it identified the requirement to modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads "to address the conclusion that potential adversaries, like Russia, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States and its allies and part.
8
For Your Information / Operation Barbarossa II: Setting The Stage For War
« Last post by Roger on February 08, 2020, 03:43:54 PM »
Operation Barbarossa II: Setting The Stage For War
Christopher Black, New Eastern Outlook

February 7, 2020


   I have written several times about the continuing NATO preparations for an attack on Russia, a second Operation Barbarossa, the code name for the Nazi invasion of the USSR in 1941. Circumstances prompt me to write about it again, for as of the last week in January the Americans and their gang of lieutenant nations in NATO have commenced the biggest military exercises in 25 years to take place in Europe. The code name for this operation is Defender-Europe 20 but we can interpret that as Attack-Russia 20; in effect a preparation for an attack on Russia comparable to the Nazi invasion in 1941 that killed 27 million Soviet citizens, wounded countless more and destroyed everything west of the Urals and led ultimately to the crushing of the Nazis that launched the attack.

For the past several years the US has been building up bases in Eastern Europe, building up their logistics systems, prepositioning vast amounts of munitions and weapons of every type and calibre, securing convoy routes from the USA across the Atlantic and across Europe right up to Russia's borders for the rapid movement of military equipment and formations, installing nuclear capable missile systems in key locations from Poland to Romania, increasing intelligence flights in the Baltic, particularly with regard to the Russian base at Kaliningrad and the approaches to St. Petersburg, and the Black Sea, Crimea and Ukraine as well around the Russian bases at Vladivostok, all the while, in their propaganda talking about false flag operations they could use to blame Russia and provide the pretext for their attack. Kaliningrad has been mentioned several times by US generals and officials as one possible scene for staging a false flag operation for this purpose. But the number of scenarios they could use is limited only by their imagination and capabilities.

These conventional military exercises are complemented by the withdrawal of the United States from several nuclear arms treaties to give the US a free hand to develop and deploy nuclear weapons which, according to their National Defence Strategy, they will use whenever and wherever they see fit, without limitation or restrictions, including the intention to launch a nuclear first strike. The clear targets are Russia and China. The "pivot to the Pacific" that the Americans began some years ago is a part of these preparations, and while this applies pressure against China it also threatens Russia.

But the new exercises are raising alarms in Moscow and Minsk The Belarusian Minister of Defence, Andrei Rakov, noted that:

"NATO's military contingent deployed in the countries neighbouring Belarus during the Atlantic Resolve and Enhanced Forward Presence has been increased by 13 times in the past six years, from 550 to more than 7,000 troops, and the number of hardware units has grown fivefold and that the Defender-Europe 20 exercises to be organized on the territories of ten states, including Poland and the Baltic republics that border Belarus involve about 37,000 troops, with 20,000 of them from the United States."

He also said that "the number of NATO drills near the Belarusian border and the number of personnel involved in these drills had more than doubled in the past five years. Defence spending has increased as well. In the past five years, Poland's military budget soared by 30%, that of Lithuania — by 2.5 times, and Latvia's — threefold."

In such conditions, he underscored, "Belarus is forced to take response measures. We are forced to react to the scale-up of military activities in Europe, including in close proximity to our border. Our response will not necessarily be tit-for-tat. We were ready for such development of the military political situation that is why our reaction has a planned character," he noted. "Thus, in the past three years, the Belarusian military have increased the number of exercises by more than 20% and the number of snap combat readiness checks have doubled."

The Russian Foreign Ministry on January 17 stated that,

"NATO's military drills on the eastern flank of NATO are increasingly more reminiscent of purposeful preparations for a large-scale military conflict" and, "NATO countries are constantly building up their military presence close to our borders, working to improve the operational efficiency of redeploying forces to the eastern flank. The intensity of the drills whose scenarios are increasingly more reminiscent of preparations for a large-scale military conflict is increasing. The systematic development of the European segment of the US/NATO missile defence system continues."

On February 4th Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated,

"Russia will react to the US military exercise in Europe Defender 2020 due in March, but it will do so in a way that will rule out unnecessary risks. Naturally, we will react. We cannot ignore processes that arouse very great concerns. But we will react in a way that will not create unnecessary risks."

However it is certain the United States and its armed gang in NATO will do everything they can do take risks that could kill us all. For the Defender-Europe 20 exercises are on a vast scale, involving according to a US Army fact sheet, four Army prepositioned weapons and ammunition and other logistics sites in three European countries, transport materiel four thousand kilometres across twelve convoy routes, involve nine thousand US troops already in Europe, seven thousand National Guard soldiers, use 14 major ports and airfields, major elements of the US Navy, major elements of US Air Force units from the US, Europe and Africa, the deployment of 20,000 Army and Marine US soldiers from the US to Europe, twenty thousand pieces of equipment to be moved from the US to Europe including trucks, tanks, and artillery pieces, all having the objective, the US claims of

"increase strategic readiness and interoperability by exercising the U.S. military's ability to rapidly deploy a large combat-credible force and equipment from the United States to Europe; and alongside its allies and partners, quickly respond to a potential crisis."

And, they add,

"The joint, multinational training exercise is scheduled to take place from April to May 2020, with personnel and equipment movements occurring from February through July 2020. The exercise supports objectives defined by NATO to build readiness within the alliance and deter potential adversaries."

The last sentence in the US Army Europe statement reveals the strategic objective of the exercises, to build readiness for war on Russia. There is no other interpretation possible.

On February 26, 2016 the Atlantic Council, the preeminent NATO think tank, issued a report on the state of readiness of the NATO alliance to fight and win a war with Russia. The focus of the report was on the Baltic States. The report is called "Alliance at Risk."

It has the sub-heading "Strengthening European Defense in an Age of Turbulence and Competition." Layer upon layer of distortion, half-truths, lies and fantasies obscure the fact that it is the NATO countries that have caused the turbulence from the Middle East to Ukraine. NATO is responsible for nothing according to this report, except "protecting the peace." Russia is the supreme aggressor state, intent on undermining the security of Europe, even intent on attacking Europe, an "existential threat" that NATO must prepare to repel.

It states a series of lies at page 6 that,

"The Russian invasion of Crimea, its support for separatists, and its invasion of eastern Ukraine have effectively ripped up the post-Cold War settlement of Europe. President Vladimir Putin has shattered any thoughts of a strategic partnership with NATO; instead, Russia is now a de facto strategic adversary. Even more dangerously, the threat is potentially existential, because Putin has constructed an international dynamic that could put Russia on a collision course with NATO. At the center of this collision would be the significant Russian-speaking populations in the Baltic States, whose interests are used by the Kremlin to justify Russia's aggressive actions in the region. Under Article 5 of NATO's Washington Treaty, any military move by Putin on the Baltic states would trigger war, potentially on a nuclear scale, because the Russians integrate nuclear weapons into every aspect of their military thinking."

Lies, because none of this is true and it is the NATO war alliance that threatens the peace and incorporates nuclear weapons into all their military thinking and planning.

This supports warnings made the past two years of a move by NATO in the Baltic states which will be justified by false flag hybrid war operations conducted by NATO, as I have stated several times in other essays. This is emphasized by the recommendation in the report that "to deter any Russian encroachment into the Baltic States, NATO should establish a permanent presence in the region to prevent a Russian coup de main operation "

The document also uses language that indicates that the NATO powers do not recognize Russian sovereignty over Kaliningrad that was established at the end of the second world war, claiming that Russia "has ripped up" the post-Cold War settlement of Europe, whatever that means to them, because as far as we know the Cold War was supposed to end with the withdrawal of the Red Army from Eastern Europe in exchange for a commitment by USA that NATO would not move east. Instead the NATO powers, with the treachery that is their custom, moved quickly into those territories and began conducting regular and expanding military exercises threatening Russia directly.

Once again, the NATO powers are preparing the ground for an incident involving Kaliningrad, home base of their Baltic Fleet and guardian of the approaches to St. Petersburg and what the Guardian stated is "emerging as a critical square on the east European chessboard in Vladimir Putin's efforts to push back assertively against NATO expansion."

The situation has become so critical that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved their Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight last week citing as a primary reason the immediate danger of nuclear war between the United States and Russia. They stated, "Civilization-ending nuclear war—whether started by design, blunder, or simple miscommunication—is a genuine possibility. But even they, a US organisation, lied about the true state of affairs and blamed Russia as much as the US for the situation the US and its allies have created.

As for international law, it is nowhere to be seen. The preparations for war by NATO are a violation of the UN Charter and the fundamental principles of international law contained in it. They are war crimes under the Nuremburg Principles and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, because they are part of the conspiracy to commit, and preparations for, a war of aggression against Russia, and, since the use of nuclear weapons is a certainty if war breaks out, genocide of the entire human population.

The UN cannot act to prevent this because the Security Council, neutered by its own structure cannot act. The ICC continues to be an irrelevancy. And since, in the absence of a world government with policing powers, international law relies on a shared sense of morality, ethics and humanity to be effective, the total negation of morality by the leadership of the United States and the NATO countries has led to a breakdown of international law. Thugs, gangsters and pirates recognise no laws, and we live in a world where these are the people that are now in power in the west.

And so Russia reacts to defend itself, preparations for war intensify, and any hope we have of the American people delivering us from the criminals they keep raising to power, of us doing the same in the other NATO countries, of calling for peace as the World Peace Council does, giving peace a chance, as Lennon said, is buried deeper and deeper under layers of lies and propaganda and we are left with little but despair unless the people, the mass of people release the power latent in them and confront those in power and replace them with leaders dedicated not only to the welfare of their people, but also dedicated to peace, peace now and peace forever. I joined the Canadian Peace Congress to try to do that. I urge all of you to wake up to the danger, join peace groups wherever you are, do whatever you can, but block the road to war.




9
The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) Called the Bluff of the US and Made History
Mohamad Shaaf, Information Clearing House

February 1, 2020


   Since the end of WWII the US, as the world hegemon, has conducted coups against many nations, including Iran in 1953. Although actions in 1953 are officially confirmed by unclassified CIA documents, the role of the CIA in creating the IRI still remains classified. After the revolution in 1979, the IRI was very popular. However, that popularity was short lived; it was encouraged by the US and allies in an effort to topple the IRI by the establishment and support of four fifth columns:

1. MKO, with Saudi's financial support

2. Pro-monarchy activists, again with Saudi's support

3. Israeli government

4. Iranian Intelligentsia?

Opposition criticism of the IRI since 1979 has been as follows:

First, the IRI as a theocracy has been breaking the promise of democracy and deceiving Iranians, therefore, needs to be replaced by a secular democracy. ?

Second, the IRI committed executions and imprisoned many Iranians in the name of god, Islam, and the revolution. ?

Third, indications suggest that IRI, as an anti-communist force, came to power with the help of the US. It is now known that the IRI has helped the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, though it has been campaigning against the US since coming to power. Those contradictions suggest that, IRI may be a US puppet, as was the Shah. ?

Fourth, policies of IRI resulted in Iranians suffering under US pressure in the form of illegal embargos, threats of war, including nuclear, economic sanctions, and assassinations, resulting in continuous social fear and anxiety for Iranians. ?

Fifth, many Iranians have felt the need to immigrate, resulting in hardship, loss of income and wealth, and a steady and massive brain drain. ?

Sixth, the IRI war with Iraq, promoted and supported by the US, lasted from 1980 to 1988, costing more than 600,000 lives. ?

Seventh, the IRI has made life much more difficult economically as well, including double-digit inflation rate and unemployment, poverty, and inequality. ?

Eighth, the state budget has been growing, including massive waste, dependent mainly upon exports of oil.

However, as yet the IRI has not been toppled. ?

IRI Advancing Military Power to Resist the US: Since the Collapse of the USSR in 1989 the strategic value to the US of IRI declined, US threats of war against Iran increased and, after 9-11, the frequency and the level of threats have been increasing steadily. Moreover, as General Clark revealed, the US planned to invade Iran. In response, IRI made a Defense Agreement with Syria in 2005. In December 2011 Iran's cyber warfare unit seized a US drone, safely landed and successfully copied it; they then started domestic mass production with improvement in precision and range. ?

After the war in Syria, the IRI recruited two army divisions of zealous Muslims, one from Afghanistan and one from Pakistan (video in Farsi). In 2012, IRI moved those forces and those of Hezbollah to Syria. With Russian air protection they defeated US-created ISIS and the Obama doctrine of terrorist proxy war. That was a major strategic success for both Iran and Russia. In November 2016, Iran acquired Russian S-300 air defense, which they copied and reproduced, thereby arming itself with home-made defense and retaliatory weapons for relatively low cost. ?

Uniting Iran: Several vital factors encouraged Iranians to be united with IRI:

First, since 1979, the US has been increasingly hostile, causing the general population of Iran to become united in support of IRI. That unity peaked and was confirmed recently by the funeral of General Soleimani inside and outside Iran. ?

Second, Iranians worry that the US, using its established fifth columns mentioned earlier, might induce another "revolution" and replace the IRI with another US-puppet that might be even worse than IRI, as the IRI was worse than the Shah. ?

Third, IRI has created a semi-welfare state by subsidizing basic necessities, and lately providing free medical insurance to all, a situation that does not exist even in the US. ?

Fourth, overt US existential threats including a steady increase of sanctions, as economic terrorism have had a direct impact on ordinary Iranians. ?

Fifth, the US demand for Iranians to topple the IRI is believable based upon recent US history of regime changes in many countries, specifically in the Middle East, Central and South America. ?

Sixth, Trump's "maximum pressure" on the Iranian people rather than IRI via sanctions has had a significant impact on ordinary Iranians. ?

Seven, by now Iranians, as well as the world, have recognized that western democracy is based on wealth and is not true democracy. ?

IRI Strategic Planning and Calling the US Bluff: IRI moved on many fronts to thwart the US:

First, going to Syria and defeating US-created ISIS and western backers was a vital strategic act. Because Iran stopped ISIS in Syria, devastation, as in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, was prevented in Iran. ?

Second: Policies and the ability to produce defensive and offensive weapons have made the prospect of a US invasion costly; the US backed down. ?

Third, development of strategic alliances with Russia and China, with their UN veto power has effectively made overt US aggression illegal. ?

Fourth, IRI making a major strategic shift to the balance of world power in favor of Iran, Russia, and China, against western imperialists. ?

Fifth, in June 2019 Iran surprised the world by shooting down a US drone in the Persian Gulf; there was no US military response. ?

Sixth, in late December 2019 IRI conducted military exercises with Russia and China in the Gulf of Oman. ?

Seventh, on January 3, 2020 the US assassinated General Soleimani, an act condemned around the world. Following that action, Iran labeled the Pentagon a terrorist organization and US a terrorist state. ?

Eighth, the most important strategic achievement of Iran was its response to that killing, shooting 22 missiles into two US military bases in Iraq, again without a US response. ?

Ninth, IRI developed a policy of changing US assets into liabilities; also showed that the sole purpose of US weapons has been to increase corporate profit, not for defense. ?

Tenth, according to Duff, Trump's attempts to force Iraqi's PM to resign, by suggesting he and his defense minister could be killed, failed when the PM refused and made it public. Then Duff concluded: "We now enter a new world, not just one with America "schooled" but with America's actual role exposed, occupier, terrorist and thief." ?

Conclusions: While the Iranian people had low approval of the IRI for years, they have been gradually uniting as the government counters US provocations, sanctions, sustained hostility, aggression, and existential threats against Iranians. Recently, they have been more critical of the US than the IRI. There is general support of IRI's series of major strategic achievements including defeating ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and their strategic alliances with the emerging world powers of China and Russia. Most importantly, IRI prevented US from invading Iran, made history and changed the world balance of power against US aggression, hopefully moving toward a more peaceful and safer world. However, fifth columns in Iran still exist, but with less support from Iranians; the feeling of independence has not been as strong since nineteenth century. ?




10
For Your Information / The Nasty Secret Behind Aramco, ISIS and Trump in Syria
« Last post by Roger on January 31, 2020, 04:45:45 PM »
The Nasty Secret Behind Aramco, ISIS and Trump in Syria
Gordon Duff, New Eastern Outlook

Jan 28, 2020

   The Saudi Arabian oil company, Aramco, is now hiring oil workers throughout Deir Ezzor Province inside Syria as part of a joint effort, nominally with an unknown American entity and with full partnership with both ISIS and the United States Army.

Thousands of unemployed Syrian engineers and oil workers are being asked to apply for jobs paying $3000 per month.

No one knows who they will be working for.

This is the story we will be examining, how it began and where it is going now.

In 2017, soon after Trump took office, Aramco, the Saudi owned oil conglomerate, opened offices in Deir Ezzor province in Syria.

Under the protection of both ISIS and the United States Army, Aramco began an exploration of 12 new oil and gas deposits recognized by American SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) military satellites, retasked for this purpose.

These oil and gas fields represent significant finds, equaling the Kirkuk field in Iraq and the largest of Saudi Arabia's oil finds.

Similarly, as early as 2012, massive oil and gas deposits were discovered in the Mediterranean Sea, some off Gaza, others off Cyprus, but the largest traversed inland, into Syria, across Latakia and Idlib Provinces, areas now held by ISIS and al Qaeda with US support.

We know that prior to the Russian Aerospace Forces eliminating oil trafficking by ISIS from both Syria and Iraq, the famous satellite photos of 12,000 oil trucks four abreast that the American led coalition never saw, a massive theft of oil was going on under the guise of terrorism.

We also know that when the US went into Iraq, its oil fields were looted for year after year, a process that continues unabated under the partial American occupation of Iraq.

In November 2018, Trump announced the US was going to "secure Iraq's oil" in order to develop the oil fields and bring in American companies.

We now know that process began 18 months earlier, but the company wasn't American, it was Saudi. In fact, that 18 months was spent identifying new oil deposits on both sides of the border, in Iraq as well as Syria and in securing the ability to explore and service these new finds through the cover of anti-ISIS operations.

In fact, we find that there were, in fact, no ISIS operations at all but rather mercenaries hired by Saudi Arabia and the US, operating in conjunction with American air and artillery cover, to hide oil exploration in the region.

By late December 2019, the security situation across Syria had changed dramatically. Russian forces had taken over many of America's oil bases in the North of Syria and had moved toward the Turkey, Iraqi border.

They were unaware, at that time, that the real moves were coming from the South, from al Tanf, and the US occupied zone on the Jordanian border.

Then, in early January 2020, an inexplicable resurgence of ISIS capabilities blocked highways from Palmyra to al Bukamal and across the region, forces that should not exist. Those ISIS forces were deployed from American training camps in the US occupied zone of Southern Syria.

Their job was to secure transit routes for oil drilling equipment to be transited from Saudi Arabia, some transiting Iraq as well, under US protection in order to comply with Trump's policy of "seize the oil."

The problem, however, is that there would be no way to build and service these massive new oil and gas fields under the current political situation. It would become necessary for Iraq's Anbar Province, perhaps Nineveh as well, to be broken off into a new Sunni only entity, as had happened in early 2014 when Sunni based ISIS, mostly led by former Sunni leaders loyal to Saddam Hussein, enabling Aramco to set up full scale operations.

In order to create a political situation that would facilitate this, Iraq's Shiite led government would have to be put under pressure and collapsed.

Since 2018, Adel Abdul Mahdi had been prime minister, from Al Jazeera:

"Newly elected Iraqi President Barham Salih has named independent Shia candidate Adel Abdul Mahdi as prime minister-designate, ending months of deadlock after an inconclusive national election in May.

The presidency, traditionally occupied by a Kurd, is a largely ceremonial position, but the vote for Salih in parliament on Tuesday was a key step towards forming a new government.

Under Iraq's constitution, Salih – a 58-year-old, British-educated engineer who has held office in both the Iraqi federal and Kurdish regional governments – had 15 days to invite the nominee of the largest parliamentary bloc to form a government. He chose to do so less than two hours after his election.

Since Saddam Hussein was toppled in a 2003 US-led invasion, power has been shared among Iraq's three largest ethnic-sectarian components.

The most powerful post, that of prime minister, has traditionally been held by a Shia Arab, the speaker of parliament by a Sunni Arab and the presidency by a Kurd.

A former vice president, oil minister and finance minister, Abdul Mahdi now has 30 days to form a cabinet and present it to parliament for approval.

He faces the daunting tasks of rebuilding much of the country after four years of war with the armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), healing its ethnic and sectarian tensions, and balancing foreign relations with Iraq's two major allies – Iran and its rival, the US.

Abdul Mahdi, 76, is a trained economist who left Iraq in 1969 for exile in France, where he worked for think-tanks and edited magazines in French and Arabic. He is the son of a respected Shia leader who was a minister in the era of Iraq's monarchy, overthrown in 1958."

The US has chosen to not recognize the authority of the Mahdi government and, after the murder of General Soleimani, has refused legal demands of that government to leave Iraq.

The US demanded that Abadi be named prime minister, who had kept a blind eye on American misconduct during his time in office.

The US only recognizes Abadi's authority though he freely accepted Mahdi's election, congratulating him on his election.

Conclusion In Syria, we now see a massive resurgence of ISIS, not under the lack of America's efforts against ISIS but rather with America's full support of ISIS.

We also see why, Syrian oil, Iraqi oil too, not minor oil discoveries but massive ones. We also see an inexplicable relationship with the US Army and a private Saudi owned company that has personal relationships with White House envoy and Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

We also look at the Soleimani killing and wonder if it was intended to bring about an Iraqi civil war that would be required for Saudi Arabia to seize Syria's oil fields under US military occupation, or is that US military and ISIS occupation?

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He's a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook."

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