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1
To this day I can’t sleep . Moazzam Begg, tortured in Bagram and Gitmo, talks to RT after 20-year US war in Afghanistan ends
2 Sep, 2021 19:15
RT
Tortured by the US in Afghanistan’s Bagram prison and Guantanamo Bay, British-Pakistani author Moazzam Begg told RT of his ordeal and the vindictive, futile US ‘War on Terror’ that he says “destroyed” American soldiers too.
Begg spoke with RT for the ‘Ghosts of War,’ a special project looking at the fallout of the US invasion and 20-year occupation of Afghanistan, which officially ended on Monday.

I was begging to go to Guantanamo because what I had seen and witnessed in Bagram was so destructive, to this day I can’t sleep.

Born in the UK to Pakistani parents, Begg had moved to Taliban-run Afghanistan with his family in July 2001. After the US invasion, they sought shelter in Pakistan. In February 2002, Pakistani authorities arrested him and turned him over to the US troops, “without any legal process at all.” For the next year, he was held in Bagram, a notorious prison camp next to the now-abandoned airbase.

During his year-long detention in Bagram, Begg says he saw two people “beaten to death” by US soldiers. A subsequent US military inquiry found that the cause of death of the two men, identified as Dilawar and Habibullah, was indeed homicide.

“For me this place epitomized what the US was doing in Afghanistan,” he told RT. “They were bringing people to this torture site – Afghans, ordinary Afghans – and abusing them outside the rule of law, and then allowing some of them to go back home. And they would go home and tell people ‘this is what the Americans did’.”

In February 2003, Begg was sent to Guantanamo Bay, a US-controlled enclave in Cuba where a camp had been built for 'enemy combatants' captured in the so-called Global War on Terror.

“We were stripped, we were beaten, we were spat upon, we were humiliated, photographs of us [were] taken,” he told RT. His captors also played sounds from the next room suggesting his wife was being tortured there, and showed him photos of his children. “What they wanted me to do was to sign a confession that I was a member of Al-Qaeda, which I was not,” he said.

Among his fellow inmates were several Taliban members, who he says are now senior figures in the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, proclaimed after the US-backed government collapsed in mid-August. The Taliban takeover prompted a frantic scramble by Westerners and Afghans who worked with them to flee the country, which officially came to an end on Monday when the last US military flight departed Kabul.

At one point in his Guantanamo captivity, Begg says he stopped thinking of himself as a human being and started calling himself 588, the number he was assigned. He showed RT a hand-made calendar he kept and the letters from his children, redacted by US censors.

My children were growing up without me, and every day without them was a stab in the heart.

Begg was released in January 2005 and sent to the UK. The US never charged him with any crime. “The War on Terror was not a police operation, it was a military operation,” he told RT.

While in Guantanamo, some of the American guards treated him with compassion, talking to him, giving him chocolate, and sometimes letting him watch movies on a smuggled DVD player. Begg called those “little acts of humanity that I’ve never forgotten to this day.”

“I left Guantanamo not hating America because of those soldiers,” he told RT.

Begg added that some US troops have written to him afterward, saying that the war “destroyed” them and that they can’t sleep at night. While some 15,000 US troops and contractors died in the ‘War on Terror,’ twice that number have committed suicide, according to the Costs of War project.

“This is a defeat, it’s a military defeat, however you want to look at it,” Begg says of the US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, which left the Taliban in possession of all the military equipment and infrastructure built up for the US-backed regime.

He thinks “imperial hubris” won’t allow the West to come to terms with this outcome and move forward.

2
Newcastle Stop the War / LIBERAL INTERVENTIONISM, THE GAME IS OVER
« on: September 04, 2021, 12:06:42 PM »
LIBERAL INTERVENTIONISM, THE GAME IS OVER
Lindsey German
As the last US soldier left Kabul on Monday night, Joe Biden acknowledged the defeat not just of the war and occupation there but of the whole policy of liberal interventionism. ‘This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries’.

The wars started by George Bush – ably abetted by Tony Blair – have come to an ignominious end. Those of us who argued 20 years ago that this war should never happen, that it would worsen terrorism worldwide and worsen the lives of millions, have been proved right. There were many who saw that the war and intervention launched then would not succeed in its aims. We were ignored by politicians, media and military who launched a propaganda war to cheer the real one.

They have a lot to answer for. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, then Libya and Syria have seen more than a million dead, many more have become refugees, and whole countries have been devastated by their consequences. The human costs have been immense – in the countries wrecked by war but also in those launching the wars. Biden acknowledged in his speech that 18 veterans in the US commit suicide every day. The loss felt by families of those killed never goes away. The future costs of medical care and disability for those who served in the wars runs into billions.

The US has spent $300 million a day on the Afghan war alone, at the expense of health care, education and much else. It has left Afghanistan one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. For all the talk of making Afghanistan free from terrorism ISIS-K has grown as a force under the occupation, just as it did in Iraq. The Taliban, defeated very rapidly in 2001, have been able to seize back a country governed by corrupt pro-US politicians and unable to deliver for most of its citizens.

The whole idea that the world’s largest imperialist nation could ‘remake’ a country was itself a conceit born of overweening power and military might. The vast bulk of Western resources in Afghanistan went into military and related expenditure, as it was always going to. The war and its successors were about regime change and asserting Western imperialism’s role, not championing human rights.

Those who argue for continued ‘humanitarian intervention’ are spreading the illusion that this was ever on offer. It was not. It is therefore right for the troops to leave and for the Afghan people to decide their own future. The west should help through reparations and accepting refugees as equal citizens, not as the pariahs they are treated by Western governments.

Despite the bluster of the British government, the withdrawal has shown its weakness. There is no independent military operation (or even evacuation) without the US.

There is little sign of government or media here facing up to the reality of the past 20 years’ failure. Instead, the very military and politicians who caused such a catastrophe are asked for their opinions on a daily basis while those who predicted this outcome are ignored.

Yet the impact of anti-war movements on public opinion and on shifting perception of wars has been profound and it continues. It’s why Biden still talks about ending the ‘forever wars’. And it’s why, as tensions grow with Iran, Russia and China – all of whom will be playing a role in Afghanistan – we need to keep campaigning.

3
Afghan Aftermath Europe Braces for Another U.S.-Induced Migration Crisis
Finian Cunningham, Information Clearing House

Aug 23, 2021


   "Information Clearing House" - "SCF" -- President Joe Biden vowed "America is back" when he took office, meaning that Washington would realign with and respect European allies under its global leadership after the years of Trump discord.

The European political establishment swooned and cooed like dutiful debutantes apparently having Uncle Sam's affections and patronage again.

How quickly indeed has that supposedly rosy relation between the U.S. and the Europeans been ruptured with bitter recriminations following the disastrous collapse in Afghanistan. The EU is scrambling to cope with the potential fallout of mass migration from the Central Asian country after the return to power of the Taliban.

This is the militant group that Washington and its NATO allies spent two decades fighting at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars – only for the militants to seize power amid a total collapse of a U.S.-backed regime in Kabul.

Yeah, America is back alright. Causing mayhem and political headaches for its supposed European partners.

The U.S.-led military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria have already shaken the European Union to the core with political crisis from the destabilizing influx of migrants from war zones. That crisis came to a head in 2015-2016 when an estimated one million refugees made their way into EU member states. Then German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded with an open-door policy of accepting asylum seekers. But that policy rebounded in explosive tensions within and between member states owing to European nations perceiving an overwhelming challenge to their social systems.

That, in turn, led to EU states closing their borders in violation of the whole concept of a seamless bloc. There was also much open bickering between member countries accusing each other of not sharing the burden of accommodating foreign migrants.

The crisis also fed into the rise of anti-EU populism since the Brussels bureaucracy was perceived as overriding national consent about accepting the influx of non-Europeans.

Let's recapitulate: much of the strain from the migration pressure on the EU stemmed from Washington's illegal wars in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Wars, admittedly, that the European NATO allies assisted in prosecuting.

Having said that, however, it was the minor American partners who seemed to be loaded disproportionately with the repercussions in terms of dealing with the migration from the war zones – not the United States.

The same baleful phenomenon looks like repeating. This week European Union foreign ministers held an emergency summit to assess the aftermath of the Afghanistan debacle.

"We have to ensure that the new political situation created in Afghanistan by the return of the Taliban does not lead to a large-scale migratory movement towards Europe," said Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief.

German foreign minister Heiko Maas said the EU is concerned about "the stability of the region", adding that "neighboring countries will certainly be confronted with further refugee movements."

As the Washington Post reported: "[European Union] officials offered rare criticism of Washington for risking a flood of refugees to their borders and the return of a platform for terrorism in Central Asia."

It is estimated that nearly 570,000 Afghan nationals have applied to the European Union for political asylum over the past six years. Even before the dramatic seizing of power last week by the Taliban, there was a sharp increase in Afghans fleeing to the EU.

The European governments are caught in a public relations nightmare. Earlier this month, six EU member states – Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands and Greece – were pushing for the "forced return" of Afghans who had been refused asylum. Now, that initiative is being suspended because of the politically damaging look of EU states callously sending people back to the Taliban regime, which doesn't exactly share "European values" (whatever that means).

Meanwhile, Germany's Merkel made a veiled swipe at the Biden administration saying she believed the U.S. decision to press ahead with the withdrawal was taken for "domestic political reasons" and was to blame for the ensuing chaos in Afghanistan. The leader of her party, Armin Laschet, went further, calling the entire Afghanistan operation a failure and the withdrawal "the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding" 72 years ago.

Austria and other EU members are striving to set up deportation centers in Pakistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to keep the refugees at bay. But it is far from certain that such a scheme would work.

In that case, the European Union is set to incur another massive migration wave from Afghanistan. With a population of 38 million and an estimated five million internally displaced, the numbers of Afghans seeking to make their way across EU borders could surpass the waves of refugees previously seen from Syria, Iraq, and Libya as well as Afghanistan during the past six years.

The Biden administration is being criticized by other NATO members for hastily pulling out of Afghanistan thereby triggering the implosion of an already shaky puppet regime in Kabul.

America's European allies are in particular facing immense political pressure over the resultant humanitarian crisis and the inevitable flow of refugees clamoring for a safe haven. This will shake the EU to the core again and with that the transatlantic alliance.

Regarding the Biden administration and its unctuous professions of transatlantic unity, the European governments must be wondering with friends like that who needs enemies?

Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.

4
South Tyneside Stop the War / UK gunboat diplomacy fires blanks at China
« on: September 03, 2021, 04:34:42 PM »
UK gunboat diplomacy fires blanks at China
Asia Times , By ANDREW SALMON

AUGUST 31, 2021


   HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group has given areas that could provoke China a wide berth while in the region

SEOUL – The visit of the UK's HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group (CSG) to the Korean peninsula has got underway with less of a bang and more of a whimper.

At a time when China is acting as a global economic engine for the world's stuttering recovery from Covid-19 and casting an ever-longer shadow across East Asia, the UK's gunboat diplomacy in East Asian waters has been considerably more prudent than it was during the Mediterranean and Black Sea phases of its deployment.

Both London and Seoul appear more reluctant to irk Beijing than is their joint ally, Washington, which last week sent two ships through the strategic Taiwan Strait to Beijing's displeasure.

Against this backdrop, Covid-19 may have provided a face-saving solution for both parties. A planned port call by the CSG to South Korea has been called off and the ongoing drills are low-key.

More unusually, neither US units embedded with the CSG nor those based in South Korea are taking part in the exercises.

Brexit Britannia flexes new muscle The high-profile voyage of the Queen Elizabeth, which left her home base in May, has been hailed in the UK as a showcase of the world-ranging muscle behind a new, post-Brexit "global Britain."

"The presence of the UK Carrier Strike Group in the Indo-Pacific is a powerful demonstration of the UK's commitment to deepening diplomatic, economic and security-based ties in the region," the British government said.

In the region, the CSG has undertaken exercises with the navies of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the US and has also visited Guam. However, the voyage of the British-led multinational flotilla has been overshadowed by a massive humiliation for Western militaries: The fall of Kabul to the Taliban after a 20-year conflict.

The CSG comprises nine ships, 32 aircraft and one submarine and is manned by 3,700 sailors, aviators and marines. US and Dutch warships are in the carrier's escort group, and the bulk of the F35s on her deck have US pilots.

The subordination of US assets to British command suggests both US political approval and close tactical interoperability.

The 65,000 tonne, conventionally powered Queen Elizabeth is not quite as big, butch and hairy as the 100,000 tonne nuclear-powered Gerald Ford-class US Navy carriers. Still, as the crown jewel of the Royal Navy, the GBP3 billion man-of-war showcases cutting-edge air and sea power-projection capabilities.

And she certainly filled a gap in the cash-strapped British forces. Prior to her 2021 cruise, the Royal Navy had been without operational aircraft carriers – the ultimate admirals' toy – since 2014.

Poking the bear, evading the dragon In the Mediterranean, the CSG conducted airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In the Black Sea, a British destroyer from the group conducted a freedom of navigation exercise, or FONOP – sailing within 12 nautical miles of a disputed territory – off the coast of Russia-held Crimea.

The CSG has behaved with greater circumspection in East Asian waters. Given Chinese capabilities – Beijing controls weaponized islands in the South China Sea, and deploys two aircraft carriers with a third under construction – that looks sensible.

Just after the CSG entered the South China Sea, state-run tabloid Global Times – a media known for its kinetic editorial stance – warned:

"We advise US allies to be particularly cautious .they must be bluntly told that if their warships rampantly behave as the US military does in the South China Sea, they will more likely become an example of China defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity – just as a popular Chinese phrase indicates: ‘To execute one as a warning to a hundred.'"

Neither the Queen Elizabeth nor its sub-units conducted FONOPs off China's weaponized islands in the flashpoint South China Sea. Nor has it traversed the Strait of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as particularly sensitive.

USS America conducted a historic bilateral fueling-at-sea with British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender while operating with elements of the HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group in the Philippine Sea on August 24. Photo: AFP / EyePress News

According to Hong Kong media, the Chinese military was "satisfied" with the British-led CSG's activities in the South China Sea.

For Whitehall mandarins, both push and pull factors are at work.

On the one hand, China has been behaving with increasing assertiveness across the world, is powering up its armed forces, and has appalled the UK with its stance on Hong Kong. On the other, post-Brexit Britain is seeking to upgrade trade with partners beyond the EU.

For all these reasons, Whitehall may have decided that despite the bravado surrounding the carrier, which carries two squadrons of top-tier F35s stealth fighters, "poking the Chinese dragon" was not in Britain's best national interests.

Apparent British circumspection toward a country that is both a regional hegemon and an economic superpower is reflected, indeed greatly amplified, in the nation the CSG is operating off today.

Circumspect cruise South Korea – having suffered heavy economic retaliation from China after it permitted the deployment of US anti-missile systems on its soil in 2017 – has already learned to be extremely careful around Beijing's strategic touchiness.

In this vein, Asia Times understands that there had been friction between the Ministry of National Defense and the presidential Blue House in the run-up to the CSG visit.

While military officials have been keen to see the new carrier up close via a port call, and there were hopes of marine drills on land, the Blue House, ever wary of triggering China, has been lukewarm.

In the event, Covid-19 looks convenient.

South Korea is struggling to contain the Delta variant and is under its strictest ever social distancing guidelines. There are reported Covid infections – but no hospitalizations – aboard the visiting flotilla. As a result, a port call to Korea's second city, Busan, was called off on August 24.

Even so, naval exercises started on Monday and are due to continue off Busan on the southeast of the peninsula through Wednesday. The location of the drills appears shrewd.

Exercises in the Yellow Sea, off the western coast port of Pyeongtaek, home to a massive US base, would be sensitive for China and possibly for North Korea.

Likewise, exercises off South Korea's Jeju island, home to a domestic naval base, would also risk peeving China. Jeju is perfectly situated to monitor the egress of naval units from the Yellow Sea, home to key Chinese ports, bases and naval dockyards.

"This part of the world is very sensitive, everybody lives pretty close by, and when you have that kind of proximity, you want to respect personal space," Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean general, told Asia Times. "Unfortunately, sometimes the biggest neighbor forgets to do that – but that is the neighborhood Korea lives in."

Unusually on Monday, Seoul's Ministry of National Defense spokesperson told reporters that no US assets would take part in the joint exercises.

"That caught me off guard," admitted Chun, who said he had no information on the surprise announcement.

Chun assumed that the drills would be based on humanitarian and anti-piracy scenarios, rather than kinetic naval operations.

"We can respect China's concerns, and at the same time achieve our purposes of building standard operational procedures, gaining experience, enhance mutual understanding," said Chun. "All these things are benign in nature but can be used in contingencies."

Distant friends The fact that the CSG's first operational cruise is to the Far East – its ultimate destination is Japan – is a sign of increasing British interest in a part of the world that is strategic in both economic and security terms.

But while post-Brexit London may wish to extend its influence eastward at a time when key ally the US is also encouraging stronger ties between democracies in Western Europe and East Asia, South Korea-UK defense ties remain distant.

The UK dispatched the second largest contingent to the UN Command, the US-led force that fought for South Korea in the 1950-53 Korean War. That conflict, with China as the key combatant against the UN Command, remains the bloodiest London has fought since World War II.

Despite this, and despite London's ongoing membership in the UN Command, South Korea and the UK are not bound by any formal alliance; the obligations of all UN Command "sending states" to South Korea in the even of renewed hostilities are vague.

Moreover, the UN Command – which offers the US eyes on the crossing points of the Demilitarized Zone, and, moreover, maintains depot arrangements in Japan – has not been popular during the Moon Jae-in administration. Some non-US troops assigned to the unit have even faced administrative obstacles from Seoul officialdom.

Even so, since the drawdown of British involvement in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, British units have been traveling to South Korea to scope out the ground and to get a closer look at a large, conscript military that dwarfs the professional UK force.

British Army battalion battlegroup staffs have traveled to South Korea to join US and local forces in annual spring military drills. Those visits were halted by the agreement between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Il to suspend the drills in 2018, and subsequently by Covid.

It is unclear when, or if, they will resume.

Visits by British units to the country to commemorate key anniversaries of the Korean War in 2020 and 2021 were put on hold for the same reason, as has a tour of the country by the British Staff College.

The main military-military cooperation is naval, in the anti-submarine helicopter space. The South Korean Navy operates British Wildcat helicopters, and there is close cooperation between related units.

Multiple models of the latest British naval helicopters are aboard the Queen Elizabeth, and in July, visiting British Minister of Defense Ben Wallace said that the Royal and South Korean navies are in talks to share experience in operating aircraft carriers.

There are widespread rumors in South Korea about the acquisition of an F35 aircraft carrier. A source at the Ministry of National Defense told Asia Times that no acquisition plan has been confirmed, nor has the type or size of the vessel.

One solution would be the conversion of existing helicopter landing ships, a model pioneered and pursued by Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force.

But there are more ambitious ideas. In June, the world's biggest shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries made public a design for a dual-island aircraft carrier with a take-off ramp – the type pioneered by the Queen Elizabeth class.

"Our navies operate similar complements of F-35 aircraft and Wildcat helicopters, as well as many other platforms," said Brigadier Mike Murdoch, the UK defense attache in Seoul, in a statement sent to foreign reporters.

"There is thus already a solid infrastructural basis for our partnership, and in the coming years the Royal Navy plans to maintain a regular deployment to the region."

All this suggests the possibility of defense consulting and sales as well as interoperability between the two mid-sized powers.

A regional footprint? The CSG's next port of call is Japan's China-facing port of Sasebo. Units will subsequently join "Exercise Bersama Gold," which marks the 50th anniversary of the Five Powers Defence Arrangement, alongside Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand.

However, despite erroneous reporting in some British media, the CSG will not be permanently stationed in East Asian waters.

Indeed, the Royal Navy, which is particularly short of frigates and destroyers, has no permanent patrol presence in East Asia waters. Although it has sent a number of surface ships on ad hoc deployments in recent years, there was no permanent patrol presence.

That changed in July, when Whitehall announced that two small Royal Naval offshore patrol vessels, the HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, will be based in the region

The naval base at Singapore, where the Royal Navy maintains a small naval party tasked with logistics and fueling, might act as a convenient home for the vessels. Sasebo or Guam might also be conceivable homes for the ships.

However, Asia Times understands that they will not have a permanent base in the region, and will fly in rotational crews of sailors and Royal Marines from the UK.

The modest UK naval commitment did not impress Global Times.

"The UK simply does not have the ability to reshape the pattern in the South China Sea," the newspaper editorialized. "To be precise, if the UK wants to play the role of bullying China in the region, it is demeaning itself. And if there is any real action against China, it is looking for a defeat."





5

   Former British ambassador to Damascus says OPCW mere ‘puppet' of West against Syria
Press TV

10 July 2021


   It is a "tragedy" that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been "corrupted" in a way that it is being used as a "puppet" by the West to exert pressure on Syria rather than being an international and technical monitoring organization, the former British ambassador to Syria tells Press TV.

Peter Ford, who is also an expert on West Asian affairs, made the comments from Manchester during Press TV's Spotlight program, which was aired on Friday night.

He said that he was completely in agreement with what the Syrian government has recently reiterated that the global chemical watchdog is no longer a technical organization but a political tool in the hands of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to exert pressure on Damascus.

"Sadly I have to agree one hundred percent with that take on the OPCW. It is a tragedy that a very important international monitoring body should be corrupted in this way by being politicized by Western powers. The OPCW should be playing an impartial role and should be seen to be extremely impartial. But for the last few years, decision after decision, it is shown that it is a puppet of the Western powers," Ford said.

He added that the UK and the US, in particular, were responsible as they have staffed the OPCW with officials from their own administrations.

These officials do not respect the impartiality of the watchdog but rather "carry out the wishes of their masters in Washington and London. This is basically why the OPCW is well underway to be completely discredited," Ford further said.

Comments by the former British ambassador to Syria came hours after the chairwoman of the Syrian mission to the OPCW said the US and its allies had lowered the status of the international watchdog, and turned it into a political tool to level baseless accusations against Damascus and exert pressure on it.

Addressing the 97th session of the Executive Council of the OPCW, Rania al-Refaei stated earlier on Friday that anti-Syria claims are meant to advance the agendas of certain countries, and implement the plots hatched by terror outfits.

She categorically dismissed allegations that the Damascus government has chemical weapons in its possession, terming such accusations as "spurious and unfounded."

Syria surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the US and the OPCW, which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry. It has also consistently denied using chemical weapons.

However, the Western media and governments have repeatedly accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against its own citizens in the war against terrorists.

The OPCW, in line with the Western powers, accuses Damascus of using chemical weapons, including an alleged attack in Hama in 2017. Damascus has repeatedly rejected such accusations, describing them as false flag operations.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ford said that the Western powers and the so-called rebels obviously benefit from such accusations and false flag operations.

"The Western powers needed to justify their illegal bombing of Syria. That's why they can never admit, that it was carried out on the basis of falsehood. That's why they continue to sustain this lie. They have to justify their continuing of war on Syria which mainly takes the form of economic warfare, in the shape of sanctions and withholding reconstruction," he added.

Brussels-based Elijah Magnier, a veteran war-zone correspondent and political analyst covering West Asia and North Africa, was the other panelist invited to the Spotlight program, who also confirmed that the OPCW's reports have been politicized.

"When Jose Bustani came out with his narrative saying that we inspectors are scientists and according to scientists' opinion there is no chemical attack on Douma. The reason why the OPCW is insisting is to justify the US, UK and France's attack on Damascus. The whole world watched that the OPCW is lacking trust these days, particularly after the Douma attack and it is obvious that a lot of pressure was put on the organization," he said

If the decision is made before the attack by the West, there is no need to go there and gather evidence impartially, Magnier added.

Current and former staff members of the OPCW decry the organization's new report that blamed the Syrian government for suspected chemical attacks.

On April 7, 2018, an alleged chemical attack hit the Syrian city of Douma near the capital Damascus. Western countries were quick to blame it on the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

A week later, the US, Britain, and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government's capability to produce chemicals.

Damascus, however, said that no chemical attack had happened and that the Douma incident had been staged by foreign intelligence agencies to pressure the government in the face of army advances against militants.

In October 2019, Jose Bustani, the OPCW's first chief, said that convincing evidence of irregular behavior in the OPCW investigation of the alleged Douma chemical attack confirmed doubts and suspicions he already had.

In October next year, he was scheduled to testify at the UN Security Council about the alleged cover-up by the OPCW regarding the Douma chemical attack. However, the US, UK, and France blocked Bustani from testifying, claiming that he left the watchdog in 2002 and thus was not involved in the issues being discussed.

Nevertheless, the Russian envoy at the UNSC read out Butsani's statement, which stated that the OPCW engaged in "evidence suppression, selective use of data and exclusion of key investigators" when it was making its report about the so-called Douma chemical attack.

6
"Stealth jets fight Daesh in first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth":
A "Global Britain" is a Military Threat to the World's People

On Tuesday May 22, the government announced [1] that after spending "weeks working with its NATO allies", its newly deployed UK Carrier Strike Group had launched "stealth jets to fight Daesh (Islamic State)". These bombings and air attacks on Daesh are part of the US-led Operation Shader [2] in Syria, Iraq and the Levant region [3] with British and US F-35 jets carrying out these very first "combat missions" from HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Carrier Strike Group which left Britain for its deployment on May 22 and announced to be stopping at a "100 ports in over 40 countries" is heading to the Asia-Pacific. According to the report, the last leg of the voyage will take the strike group into what is described as the
Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning most serious part of the "journey through the South China Sea, waters which China claims more of than is internationally recognised". This is before taking part in provocative military exercises with Japan and "visiting" South Korea. Such hostile acts will not go unchallenged as Britain continues its military interference in the Middle East and then enters into a dangerous stand-off with China and the DPRK, countries which are rightly already opposing the hostile war preparations of the US in the Indo-Pacific, South China Sea, East China Sea and Yellow Sea. Britain is already carrying out hostile actions in the Black Sea against the Russian Federation and giving warships to Ukraine in a defence deal [4] all aimed at increasing the tensions further between Russia and Ukraine, which is not in the interests of either neighbouring country.

Emphasising that the UK Carrier Strike Group represents "Global Britain" as a military threat to the world's people, the government statement says that "it marks a change of emphasis. From exercises and international engagements, the Carrier Strike Group is now delivering its full might of naval and air power, putting the 'strike' into Carrier Strike Group and contributing to the UK's fight against Daesh." Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed, "The Carrier Strike Group is a physical embodiment of Global Britain and a show of international military strength." He claimed that it would "deter anyone who seeks to undermine global security". This means that such sabre-rattling is not just aimed at Daesh, who they had also claimed to have bombed out of existence in 2019 [5], but it is aimed against any country who challenges the "rules-based international order" dominated by the US.

This is also calculated to accompany what the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, claimed in March was Britain's Indo-Pacific "tilt" at the heart of the national defence and security review. Such a "tilt" in war preparations has to be seen alongside the US "pivot" to Asia and Australia's Pacific "step up". It also coincides with NATO's 2030 agenda confirmed at the NATO Summit in Belgium on June 14 to extend its reach to the Asia-Pacific.

The government statement also emphasises that Britain is to be even more integrated into the US war machine than in the days of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subservience of Britain's then Prime Minister Tony Blair to then US President Bush. The statement quotes Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group: "This is also notable as the first combat mission flown by US aircraft from a foreign carrier since HMS Victorious in the South Pacific in 1943. The level of integration between Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and US Marine Corps is truly seamless, and testament to how close we've become since we first embarked together last October." Of course, what Commodore Steve Moorhouse fails to mention is that in 1943 Britain and the US were in a formal alliance with the Soviet Union against Hitlerite fascism, which was in the interests of all the world's people to defeat the fascist invasions and occupations, and that such integration of forces was against a world war and not, as it is today, preparations to unleash a new world war.

The latest actions of the UK Carrier Strike Group are revealing that once again the mask has slipped in the attempt to project post-Brexit "Global Britain" as part of a "rules-based international order" that is acting for "global security". In other words, the UK Carrier Strike Group represents "Global Britain" as a military threat to the world and integration of British with the US forces. It is a dangerous attempt to continue the Anglo-US "might makes right" war preparations in their rivalry with other powers and in opposition to the rights of the world's people, who wish to live without sanctions and war from the Anglo-US imperialist system of states. In Britain, the working class and people must demand that the UK Carrier Strike Group is recalled to British waters immediately and that all its US forces return to the US. The people should affirm the right to be of all nations and peoples of the world, and take a stand to renew international relations based on international law, declaring that international issues and world security is not settled by force of arms. Another world is a necessity for the people to live in a peaceful world!


Notes
1. "Stealth jets fight Daesh in first combat missions from HMS Queen Elizabeth" - Ministry of Defence and The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, June 22, 2021
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/stealth-jets-fight-daesh-in-first-combat-missions-from-hms-queen-elizabeth
2. Since Operation Shader began in 2014, the RAF has conducted more than a thousand air strikes over Iraq and Syria, using more than 4,300 weapons launched from Tornado, Typhoon and Reaper drone aircraft. By January 2019, the Ministry of Defence stated that "1,700 British air strikes had killed or injured 4,315 enemy fighters" in Iraq and Syria. The number of air strikes carried out in Iraq and Syria has been described as "second only to the United States". The operation is the most intense flying mission the RAF has undertaken in 25 years. Sources: Wikipedia and https://www.forces.net/
3. The Levant region comprises Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Jordan.
4. "UK Giving Ukraine Sandown-Class Vessels in Defence Deal", June 22, 2021
https://www.forces.net/news/uk-giving-ukraine-sandown-class-vessels-defence-deal
5. "On December 19, 2018, President Donald Trump declared that ISIS was defeated and signalled his intention to withdraw all 2,000 US troops supporting the SDF in Syria. But the SDF continued its offensive and in February 2019 launched the final siege on ISIS forces in Baghouz, the last holdout. Baghouz fell on March 23, 2019, formally ending the caliphate's claim to any territory. The mass surrender of ISIS fighters and their families illustrated the lingering challenge: how to deal with jihadists to forestall its transformation into an insurgency in Iraq and Syria. The Baghdadi era of ISIS ended on October 26, 2019, when the leader was killed in a US raid in northern Syria." The Wilson Centre
https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/timeline-the-rise-spread-and-fall-the-islamic-state




Anti-War Movement statements on British actions in the Black Sea
HMS Defender's Encroachment into the Black Sea

Stop The War Statement - June 24, 2021

Stop the War condemns the provocative decision for the UK destroyer HMS Defender to sail into disputed waters in the Black Sea near the Crimea. HMS Defender sailed just 12 miles off the Crimean coast, despite warnings from the Russian forces that they regard these as Russian waters. Moscow's defence ministry said a patrol ship fired warning shots towards the destroyer and a jet dropped bombs in the path of HMS Defender.

The UK government has played down events and denied such a military incident, but Jonathan Beale, a BBC journalist who was on the destroyer, said that the ship was indeed harassed by the Russian military. It is clear that the crew of the Defender knew that their action was likely to cause a dangerous incident. Beale reported that, "the crew were already at action stations as they approached the southern tip of Russian-occupied Crimea. Weapons systems on board the Royal Navy destroyer had already been loaded."

UK government sources have confirmed that the ship's action was deliberate, saying that "it was not there to pick a fight but to make a point". In recent weeks the US and its allies have ramped up their intervention in Ukraine, inflaming an already tense situation which could erupt into a shooting war at any time.

The British government's use of a navy destroyer to back up US brinkmanship is completely irresponsible. It is a dangerous act of aggression that has nothing to do with defence or security. We call on the government to end its support and participation in NATO's provocations against Russia.



Warmongering British Actions in the Black Sea

Craig Murray, June 24, 2021 (excerpts)


HMS Defender entering the Black Sea

The pre-positioning of the BBC correspondent on HMS Defender shatters the pretence that the BBC is something different to a state propaganda broadcaster. It also makes plain that this propaganda exercise to provoke the Russian military was calculated and deliberate. Indeed that was confirmed by that BBC correspondent's TV news report last night when he broadcast that the Defender's route "had been approved at the very highest levels of the British government".

The Prime Minister does not normally look at the precise positions of British ships. This was a deliberate act of dangerous belligerence.

The presence of a BBC correspondent is more than a political point. In fact it has important legal consequences. One thing that is plain is that the Defender cannot possibly claim it was engaged in "innocent passage" through territorial waters, between Odessa and Georgia. Let me for now leave aside the fact that there is absolutely no necessity to pass within 12 miles of Cape Fiolent on such passage, and the designated sea lane (originally designated by Ukraine) stays just out of the territorial sea. [...]

So far as I can establish, the British are not claiming they were engaged in innocent passage, which is plainly nonsense, but that they were entering territorial waters off Crimea at the invitation of the government of Ukraine, and that they regard Crimea as the territory of Ukraine and Crimean territorial waters as Ukrainian territorial waters.

I want to impress on you how mad this is. The whole point of "territorial sea" is that, legally, it is an integral part of the state and that the state's full domestic law applies within the territorial sea. That is not the case with the much larger 200 mile exclusive economic zone or sometimes even larger continental shelf, where the coastal state's legal jurisdiction only applies to specific marine or mineral resources rights.

Let me put it this way. If somebody is murdered on a ship within twelve nautical miles of the coast, the coastal state has jurisdiction and its law applies. If somebody is murdered on a ship more than twelve miles off the coast, the jurisdiction and law of the flag state of the ship applies, not the law of any coastal state in whose exclusive economic zone the ship is.

In international law, the twelve mile territorial sea is as much part of the state as its land. So to sail a warship into Crimean territorial seas is exactly the same act as to land a regiment of paratroops in the Crimea and declare you are doing so at the invitation of the Government of Ukraine.

[...] the UK government legal position can only be that Russia is an "occupying power". It is impossible that the UK government legal position is that Ukraine is in "effective control" of the territory.

We need to see the legal advice provided by FCO legal advisers. It is simply not the practice in international law to ignore the existence of an occupying power which is a recognised state, and act with armed forces on the authority of a government not in effective control. The difference in British attitude towards Russia as an occupying power and towards Israel is tellingly different.

The legality of the British action is, at very best, moot. In realpolitik, it is an act of brinkmanship with a nuclear power and further effort to ramp up the new Cold War with Russia, to the benefit of the military, security services and armaments companies and the disbenefit of those who need more socially useful government spending. It is further an act of jingoist populism for the neo-liberal elite to distract the masses, as the billionaires' incredible wealth continues to boom.

[...]

Source Workers' Weekly
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-21/ww21-20/ww21-20.htm

7
South Tyneside Stop the War / Exercise BALTOPS 50 kicks off June 7
« on: June 12, 2021, 08:44:05 AM »
Exercise BALTOPS 50 kicks off today
US European Command

June 7, 2021


   The 50th Baltic Operations (BALTOPS 50) exercise, the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region, kicks off today, June 6.

Between June 6-18, air and maritime assets from 18 NATO Allies and partner nations will participate in live training events that include air defence, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious operations, maritime interdiction, mine countermeasure operations.

"This year, we celebrate the 50th BALTOPS, an exercise that sets the foundation of interoperability across the Alliance," said U.S. Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO and commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet. "BALTOPS stands as the keystone of our exercise season, demonstrating half a century of the unwavering commitment of our partners and Allies. Lessons learned in BALTOPS enable international strike group operations, advanced missile defense capabilities and seamless surface action group missions."

BALTOPS 50 consists of two at-sea training phases: the combat enhancement training (CET) and force integration training (FIT) portion and the final tactical phase of the exercise (TACEX).

During the first six days (the CET/FIT phase), ships and aircraft will transit through the Danish Straits, focusing on maritime operations in critical chokepoints, ensuring access and freedom of navigation in the Baltic Sea.

The exercise will continue to move East during its two phases, operating in accordance with international law and supported by participating Allies and partners. The exercise will culminate with the TACEX phase, where the exercise paradigm will shift into a "free-play" portion, and commanders are given more freedom to run their own tactical programs. The TACEX phase is designed to better represent operating in real-world situations.

For the first time, exercise design incorporates defensive cyber warfare tactics, techniques and procedures as BALTOPS continues to adapt and train to ensure an asymmetric advantage in the era of modern warfare.

Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) will again command and control BALTOPS from its headquarters in Oeiras, Portugal.

II Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Expeditionary Strike Group 2 will command and control exercise Marine forces throughout the exercise from aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), demonstrating international naval integration and power projection ashore for an amphibious demonstration in Lithuania.

BALTOPS 50 involves participation from 18 nations. The 16 NATO and 2 partner nations will provide approximately 40 maritime units, 60 aircraft, and 4,000 personnel.

The participating nations are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S.

BALTOPS, held in the Baltic region since in 1972, is a joint, maritime-focused exercise that brings together NATO Allies and partners in order to increase interoperability and enhance flexibility among the participants.



8
Belarus: Western media, even Bellingcat, failed to save the reputation of neo-Nazi soldier Protasevich
Donbas Insider

May 28, 2021


   Since the arrest of Roman Protasevich in Minsk after the emergency landing of the Ryanair flight he was on, a real battle for his reputation has been launched between Belarus and the West, among other things to know whether or not he fought for the neo-Nazi battalion ?Azov? in the Donbass.

On the Russian and Belarusian side, some people quickly pointed out that Roman Protasevich had fought in the neo-Nazi Azov battalion at the beginning of the conflict in Donbass. This was denied by the Western media and even by some Ukrainians, such as Andrey Biletsky, the former commander of the Azov battalion.

On his blog hosted on the Ukra?nskaya Pravda website, Biletsky explains that Protasevich was indeed with the Azov battalion in the Donbass, but allegedly as a ?journalist?.

?I will immediately dot all the ?i?s?. Yes, Roman really fought with Azov and other military units against the occupation of Ukraine. He was with us near Shirokino, where he was wounded. But his weapon as a journalist was not a machine gun, but words,? wrote Biletski.

The problem is that no matter how hard you look on the Internet, you can?t find an article from him about the Donbass war. Rather strange.

Then the cover of the 15th issue of the magazine of the neo-Nazi battalion Azov appeared, on which Protasevich is clearly seen posing in uniform, weapon in hand!

Roman protassevitch sur la couverture du magazine du bataillon n?o-nazi Azov

There was general panic on the Western side, it was absolutely necessary to save the soldier Protasevich by proving that he was not a neo-Nazi mercenary, and to avoid him ending up like Navalny, whose extreme right-wing political positions had caused him to lose his status of political prisoner with Amnesty International (before regaining it after an appropriate change of direction), and his reputation.

For such a difficult assignment, it was Bellingcat and its affiliates such as The Insider (based in Russia) that were put on the case.

It was first Michael Colborne, a Bellingcat ?journalist?, who launched the ?save soldier Protasevich? operation by trying to prove that if he was indeed a member of the neo-Nazi battalion ?Azov?, he was only a journalist.

Some speculated that the cover photo was doctored to add Protasevich?s face. But very quickly someone found an archive of the PDF file published on 8 July 2015 on a page of Azov hosted on the social network VK! There is no doubt that the cover is genuine!

Archive de la page VK d'Azov

The next day, The Insider tried another approach and published an article claiming that the man in the cover photo was not Protasevich but another soldier, Andrey Snitko, who has since died.

But in the meantime a lot of other photos and videos have come out of the bag, including from Protasevich?s own phone, which prove undeniably that he fought in the neo-Nazi battalion ?Azov?.

Roman Protasevich

Roman Protasevich in uniform and weapon with neo-nazi battalion Azov chevron

Roman Protasevich during a parade of neo-nazi battalion Azov in Mariupol

Zoom on Roman Protasevich

Roman Protasevich during a parade of neo-nazi battalion Azov in Mariupol

We see Protasevich in uniform with the battalion?s chevron, the weapon in his hand and a bunch of magazines for his machine gun in the bullet-proof vest! What a strange outfit for a ?journalist?! He can also be seen in a video and photos taken during a parade of the Azov battalion in Mariupol! Since when do journalists march in a military parade ???

At a pro-Belarus event, Protasevich?s own father admitted that his son had fought in the Donbass.

?Cases were filed against my son as early as 2014, when he was on the Donbass territory, fighting alongside the Ukrainian army,? said his father at the time, who of course retracted his statement once his son was arrested in Minsk.

Faced with the rapidly accumulating evidence, The Insider simply deleted the article, but too late. An archive was kept, showing the efforts of this Bellingcat-affiliated ?media? to try to whitewash Protasevich.

The final blow came from Protasevich himself. Indeed, in September 2015, he had given an interview to the media outlet Nasha Niva. His head is hidden in the photo illustrating the article but it is not difficult to recognise the photo of Protasevich found in his phone!

Interview donn?e par Roman Protassevitch ? Nacha Niva

Comparaison des photos

In the interview, Protassevitch is referred to as ?Kim?. He says that he was wounded near Shirokino, which is consistent with other elements of Protasevich?s biography. He also says that he fights in Ukraine because he has Ukrainian ancestors, that he hates communists and Russia as the successor of the USSR, and to ?stop Putin?s Russian horde? before they attack Belarus. He even recounts his first fight and his first shot! What a strange journalist he is.

Then comes the classic argument ?yes, but they are not all neo-Nazis at Azov?.

Problem: another photo of Protasevich proves that he is indeed a neo-Nazi. In this photo he is clearly seen (on the left) wearing a Sva Stone t-shirt with four swastikas!

Roman Protassevitch avec un t-shirt arborant des svastikas

Pull avec le m?me dessin

This brand is an active supporter of the neo-Nazi battalions Azov and Right Sector, as can be seen in this poster.

Affiche du bataillon n?o-nazi Azov

The brand sells T-shirts with explicit names like ?pure blood? or ? perun sekira? (the name of a neo-Nazi music group), as well as ?blitzkrieg? waistcoats, or ?Romper Stomper? (the name of a film about a neo-Nazi skinhead gang in Melbourne), etc.

Clearly, Roman Protasevich is neither a nice guy who came to bring democracy to Belarus, nor a journalist, but a former fighter of the neo-Nazi battalion ?Azov?, who adheres to the ideology of this battalion, and wanted to organise a violent Maidan-style coup in his home country. It seems that the West can only recruit neo-Nazis and Islamist terrorists to lead its colour revolutions.

Christelle N?ant





9
AFRICOM military's exercise: The art of creating new pretexts for propagating US interests
Peoples Dispatch, Pavan Kulkarni

June 1, 2021


   Phoenix Express 2021 (PE21), a 12-day US-Africa Command (AFRICOM)-sponsored military exercise involving 13 states in the Mediterranean Sea, concluded on Friday, May 28. It had kicked off from the naval base in Tunis, Tunisia, on May 16. The drills in this exercise covered naval maneuvers across the stretch of the Mediterranean Sea, including on the territorial waters of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.

The regimes in these countries, which cover the entire northern and northwestern coastline of Africa, participated in the drill – one of the three regional maritime exercises conducted by the US Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF). Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain were the European states that participated in the drill.

Among the heavyweights deployed in the exercises was the US navy's USS Hershel "Woody" Williams (ESB 4). The 784-feet-long warship is a mobile military base which "provides for accommodations for up to 250 personnel, a 52,000-square-foot flight deck.. and supports MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters with an option to support MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft," according to the Woody Williams Foundation. "The platform has an aviation hangar and flight deck that include four operating spots capable of landing MV-22 and MH-53E equivalent helicopters."

When the warship entered into its maiden service with the US navy in 2017, Capt. Scot Searles, strategic and theater sealift program manager at the Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships, said, "The delivery of this ship marks an enhancement in the Navy's forward presence and ability to execute a variety of expeditionary warfare missions.

The Algerian National Navy frigate El Moudamir (F911), Egyptian Navy frigate Toushka (F906) and Royal Moroccan Navy multi-mission frigate Sultan Moulay Ismail (FF 614) were also part of PE21, bringing with them a range weapon systems including surface-to-surface and surface to air missiles, torpedo launchers, heavy naval guns and naval radars.

According to a press release by the US navy, the purpose of this exercise was to test the ability of the participants "to respond to irregular migration and combat illicit trafficking and the movement of illegal goods and materials."

Smugglers moving goods across the border also illicitly traffic migrants fleeing war or economic crisis in their home countries. AFRICOM has on multiple occasions acknowledged that instability in Libya is the driving force behind the migration crisis.

Who is destabilizing the region?

While ‘Russian intervention' is blamed for the instability in Libya, AFRICOM played a key military role in the Libyan war in 2012, deposing Muammar Gaddafi, who was a staunch opponent of expanding US military footprint in the region, with the help of radical Islamist organizations. With the exception of Algeria, all the other north African states which participated in PE21 had supported this war in Libya, which has led to mass distress migration.

Many Islamist organizations which emerged amid the anarchy caused by the war were also used by the US and its allies in the Syrian war in a bid to overthrow president Bashar al-Assad, triggering another major wave of destabilization and migration.

Noting that "Syrians.. have (also) entered Libya from neighboring Arab states seeking onward transit to refuge in Europe and beyond," a US Congressional Research Service report states: "The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that nearly 654,000 migrants are in Libya, alongside more than 401,000 internally displaced persons and more than 48,000 refugees and asylum seekers from other countries identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)."

The report in 2020 acknowledged that with "human trafficking and migrant smuggling.. trade has all but collapsed compared with the pre-2018 period."

This migration wave, caused in no small part by AFRICOM-coordinated military interventions in Libya, has since been purported as a reason for further militarization of the region through such exercises as PE21 sponsored by AFRICOM.

The hysteria surrounding migration whipped up by right-wing parties has provided politically fertile ground for the US to mobilize state militaries for such drills. This is despite a fall in undocumented migration.

The need to respond to ‘irregular migration' with warships is one of the official pretexts which, like the ‘war on terror', has been used to further the militarization of Africa through AFRICOM since it was established in 2007.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding the fact that the main cause behind the explosion of terrorist organizations in the region was the 2011 Libyan war in which AFRICOM itself was an aggressor, it continues to be portrayed as a bulwark against terrorist organizations. Its operations in Africa over the last decade, including hundreds of drone strikes, correlate with a 500% spike in incidents of violence attributed to Islamist terrorist organizations.

Another justification given by the US for AFRICOM is the perception of a growing Chinese influence. "Chinese are outmaneuvering the U.S. in select countries in Africa," General Stephen Townsend, commander of AFRICOM, told Associated Press late in April, less than three weeks before the start of PE21.

He went on to claim that the Chinese are "looking for a place where they can rearm and repair warships. That becomes militarily useful in conflict. They're a long way toward establishing that in Djibouti. Now they're casting their gaze to the Atlantic coast and wanting to get such a base there."

Calling out the lack of credibility of this claim, Eric Olander, a veteran journalist and co-founder of The China-Africa Project, wrote: "The Chinese are looking for a base but he doesn't provide any specifics or any evidence to back up the claim. Again, we've heard this before for years in fact. For all we know the general doesn't have any more refined intelligence than the same speculation that's been floating around African social media all these years about a new Chinese base in Namibia or was it Kenya or maybe Angola?"

Townsend also pointed to the Chinese investments in several development projects in Africa. "Port projects, economic endeavors, infrastructure and their agreements and contracts will lead to greater access in the future. They are hedging their bets and making big bets on Africa," he claimed.

This has been disputed by Deborah Bräutigam, director of the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, who concluded that China's economic engagements in Africa are not of a predatory nature.

Bräutigam argues that Chinese economic engagements on the continent are very much in line with the economic interests of these African states, providing jobs to locals and improving public infrastructure.

Neither the concocted threat of Chinese domination of Africa, nor terrorism and irregular migration add up to the raison d'etre of AFRICOM. As former AFRICOM commander Thomas Waldhauser explained to the House Armed Services Committee in 2018, the purpose of AFRICOM is to enable military intervention to propagate "US interests" across the continent, "without creating the optic that U. S. Africa Command is militarizing Africa." However, the 5,000 US military personnel and 1,000 odd Pentagon employees deployed across a network of 29 bases of AFRICOM in north, east, west and central Africa present a different picture.

AFRICOM has its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, which sponsored PE21. While this exercise was still underway, preparations for African Lion 21, Africa's largest military exercise, had already begun.





10
Pentagon to Use War Games to Smuggle Weapons to Ukrainian Army, Extremist Formations for War in Donbass
Internationalist 360°, Rick Rozoff

June 2, 2021


   Today's TASS cites Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, warning that the U.S. and NATO will exploit this year's Sea Breeze military exercise in Ukraine to smuggle advanced weaponry and munitions to the nation's armed forces and fascistic paramilitaries and mercenaries of the infamous Azov Battalion and similar units. The arms will be used for the ongoing war in the Donbass region.

In Konashenkov's words:

"Advanced armaments, munitions and materiel are planned to be delivered precisely to that region for Ukrainian troops under the guise of holding the drills.

"Eventually, as was the case in previous years, all this weaponry will be delivered to the Ukrainian troops and nationalist formations stationed close to the areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions uncontrolled by Kiev."

This year's version of the annual U.S.-NATO Sea Breeze exercise in the Black Sea region will run from June 28 to July 10 and include 4,000 troops, forty combat ships and other vessels, thirty military aircraft and over 100 armored vehicles from 29 NATO member and partner states.

Before the U.S.-orchestrated overthrow of Ukraine's legally-elected, internationally-recognized government in 2014 in a violent uprising supported by NATO and the European Union, Sea Breeze war games were largely conducted from Crimea.

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman was also quoted stating:

"The Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation will closely follow the preparations for and the course of the Ukrainian-American exercise Sea Breeze with the involvement of NATO countries and will, if necessary, react appropriately to the developing situation in the interests of ensuring Russia's military security."

It's evident the Russia defense establishment and military see this year's U.S.-led exercise posing a more direct threat than its predecessors have; and not only to the Donetsk and Lugansk republics but perhaps to Crimea and Belarus as well.

The Russian Defense Ministry described the land, sea and air components of the drills as including, in the first two cases, the training of partners according to NATO combat standards, the deployment of troops and equipment to "combat employment areas" and "organizing and conducting an offensive in the maritime area in interaction with a seaborne assault force."

The maritime drills will include "forming and ensuring the cohesion of a multinational naval task force, organizing the navy's interaction with the ground forces and aircraft, planning and conducting joint operations, employing an amphibious assault force in joint operations with land troops."

The only states bordering the Black Sea not NATO members or advanced partners (Enhanced Opportunities Partners) are Russia and Abkhazia, the latter identified by the U.S. and NATO as an occupied territory.

The TASS account described the air component of the upcoming exercise as using combat aircraft in support of naval and ground forces, conducting reconnaissance operations and "delivering strikes against sea and ground targets ."

The warfighting scenario entails U.S., NATO and partner states – notably Ukraine – "stabilizing a crisis" incited by the actions of "some armed formations outlawed in Ukraine and enjoying the all-out support of a neighboring state," the Defense Ministry spokesman added.

That is a dress rehearsal for an invasion of the Donbass region, pure and simple; though as noted above regarding Belarus and Abkhazia an assault on the Donbass may not be all that's planned.




11
Closest Hostile Military Presence Since World War II: U.S. Troops Permanently Stationed Only 6-9 Miles from Belarus Border
Internationalist 360°, Rick Rozoff

June 1, 2021

   The foreign minister of Belarus, Vladimir Makei, recently told the Russian newspaper Kommersant that the threat of a new cold – and behind that a hot – war appeared to be confronting his nation, its region and the world. The following is a representative excerpt from his interview:

"Observing the development of the situation in our region and in the world in general, given the growing confrontation in all directions, we can say that we are heading towards the ‘Cold War 2.0'. If we continue exchanging accusations against each other, the accusations that are really destructive, like the ones made by President Biden, we can assume that this way we will be one step away from a hot war."

The reference to Biden is presumably regarding his harsh condemnation of Belarus on May 24, in which he threatened sanctions against the country and clearly signaled American support for so-called regime change, whether of the past twenty years' color revolution variety or its predecessor, a military coup d'état.

He further reiterated a concern expressed by Belarusian authorities, most notably President Alexander Lukashenko, since last year's presidential election over the build-up of NATO forces in Poland and Lithuania on the Belarusian border:

"Earlier they said that NATO forces or American contingents would be deployed there [Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland; all but Estonia border Belarus] on a temporary basis. Now everything goes to [show] that these forces in the Baltic states, in Poland will be deployed on a permanent basis. They will be deployed 10-15km away from the border, the closest distance ever."

Since the U.S.-engineered, NATO-supported coup in Ukraine in 2014 and the war in the Donbass it generated, the Pentagon and NATO have deployed troops near Belarus and increased air patrols by multirole combat aircraft operating from bases in Lithuania ( iauliai Air Base) and Estonia (Ämari Air Base). The NATO warplanes are in immediate striking distance of Minsk. And St. Petersburg.

In speaking of the NATO and American forces near his nation's border, the foreign minister was referring to NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroups and troops assigned to the U.S.'s Operation Atlantic Resolve, also established after the overthrow of the Ukrainian government and ensuing war in the Donbass seven years ago. Both operations maintain troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. In the latter case under Pentagon command; in the former under British, Canadian, German and U.S. command respectively.

NATO acknowledges that the so-called Baltic Air Policing operations are now coordinated with its battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, and no doubt they also work in conjunction with the American military in those nations.

Belarus is besieged by NATO and the U.S. It is being undermined and attacked on several fronts, including the incitement of ethnic Polish separatism/irredentism after the Kosovo model of the late 1990s in the west of the country, by so-called color revolution activities, by impending sanctions and travel bans and, as the nation's foreign minister points out, the coup de grâce of a direct NATO military attack. It is also a trap that is being laid for Russia which, whether it should intervene or not in that eventuality, will be made to pay a severe penalty.





12
Biggest Navy Exercise in a Generation Will Include 25,000 Personnel Across 17 Time Zones
Military.com, Gina Harkins

May 21, 2021


   Tens of thousands of sailors and Marines will participate in the biggest U.S. naval exercise in a generation to test how the services will fight across vast distances as they prepare for possible conflict with China or Russia.

Aircraft carriers, submarines, planes, unmanned vessels, and about 25,000 personnel will participate in Large Scale Exercise 2021, which will begin in late summer. The massive exercise will span 17 time zones with sailors and Marines in the U.S., Africa, Europe and the Pacific joining.

Live forces will participate in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

"LSE is more than just training, it is leveraging the integrated fighting power of multiple naval forces to share sensors, weapons, and platforms across all domains in contested environments, globally," said Adm. Christopher Grady, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, told Military.com in an email.

The exercise, he added, will be the first in a series "that will continue to push the envelope of what it means to be the superior maritime force."

The Navy and Marine Corps are working more closely after decades of missions focused on the Middle East. As competition for influence builds with China and Russia, the Department of the Navy is shifting its focus from a largely land-based fight against terror groups to deterring aggression.

Three dozen units will participate in physical portions of the large-scale exercise, while more than 50 will join the exercise remotely, said Lt. Cmdr. Tabitha Klingensmith, with U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Participating units will include personnel from all three Marine expeditionary forces and sailors from the Navy's Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Tenth fleets.

While the U.S. has held big naval exercises like Bold Alligator and Rim of the Pacific, Klingensmith said the training events are growing in scope and complexity. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday has referred to the upcoming large-scale exercise as the biggest naval training event in a generation.

That's because combining live and virtual participants "will expand the playing field beyond what has ever been achieved in live-only exercises," Klingensmith said.

"LSE 2021 will use technologies similar to what you see in virtual video gaming environments to expand the number of participants by linking commands and units around the globe virtually, thereby increasing the number of players, real and synthetic, to better replicate the realistic scale of scenarios the Navy and Marine Corps team is likely to face in the future," she added.

The sailors and Marines participating will test several concepts they're likely to encounter in a possible conflict with China. Scenarios will test the sailors and Marines' ability to conduct distributed operations; expeditionary advanced-base operations; littoral operations in a contested environment; and command and control in a contested environment.

"We've been applying warfighting concepts like Distributed Maritime Operations ... to fleet battle problems at the strike group level to rapidly advance organizational learning," Grady said. "LSE 2021 is important because we will apply those lessons learned at-scale to further our employment of synchronized, integrated operations across all domains globally, to ensure we remain the superior maritime force in a high-end fight."

The Navy and Marine Corps are finalizing details on the exercise, but Klingensmith said they plan to incorporate at least one unmanned platform -- the Autonomous Littoral Connector, a surface vessel that can provide logistics support from shore to ship.

That's traditionally a Navy mission, she said, but during the exercise it'll be under the command and control of the Marine Corps. The 2021 updates to Commandant Gen. David Berger's Force Design plans for the Marine Corps call for that service to -- in partnership with the Navy -- explore developing "littoral maneuver groups" to operate the future light amphibious warship.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the number of time zones involved in the exercise.





13
Dangerous military confrontations with Russia in the Ukraine and Black Sea:

All Anglo-US Forces Must be Withdrawn Immediately

The US and NATO are once again increasing their dangerous military confrontations with Russia in the Ukraine and Black Sea. Britain is also directly contributing to the situation in Ukraine with reports that six RAF Typhoon jets are "bolstering" Ukraine's forces and a "small number" of British and US special forces are "monitoring the situation". On April 14, Russia warned the US and NATO over their activity in the Black Sea and Ukraine. Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in a session on the security of Crimea in Sevastopol said, "Stepped-up military activity by the NATO bloc, and the US in particular, in close proximity to Russia's borders in the Black Sea region has been determined." He noted that the US and its allies are "pushing Ukraine to stage provocations against Crimea, and NATO has ramped up its activities in direct proximity to Russia's borders in the Black Sea region". Russia had also said that the report of two US warships deploying to the Black Sea was "an unfriendly provocation". Later the same day, there was a confirmed report from Reuters that Turkish diplomatic sources had said, "The United States has cancelled the deployment of two warships to the Black Sea".

In the Ukraine, US-led imperialism is confronting Russia. The US-led camp, as well as the countries of "old Europe" and especially Britain, are sensing that they can make gains and lay waste to the vast plains of Ukraine and Russia even if that means, as one commentator put it, "launching these people not only into a suicidal war against Donetsk and Luhansk but also Russia herself". They have no concern for the Ukrainian and Russian people but are driven in part by the prospect of the access to and control over huge energy resources for the monopolies and oligopolies that they represent.

As some commentators have pointed out, the Anglo-US forces and NATO may not in fact be planning to attack Russia at this time but they are certainly unleashing the Ukrainian neo-Nazi forces against the Donbass, Luhansk and Crimea there by "punishing" both the Ukraine and Russia at the expense of the peoples of the region. This is at the heart of these provocations that prompted Russia to say it "will not stand aside" if it believes hostilities could lead to "mass civilian casualties" in East Ukraine.

The fascists and neo-Nazis [1] have certainly been used to foment violence in Ukraine and have taken up key positions of state. The Ukrainian "Orange Revolution" in 2004 had imposed a coalition of neo-fascists and neo-liberals, instigated and propped up by the George W Bush administration, which seized power in Kiev through mass demonstrations in the city's central Maidan Square. Ten years later in 2014, under the Obama administration, another coup took place along many of the same lines using these neo-fascists and neo-liberals to overthrow the government. Since then, many of these neo-fascists have been incorporated into Ukrainian armed forces and trained by US and British forces to be used against their own countrymen in the Donbass and Lugansk. On May 2, 2014, amongst many other crimes, these fascists set fire to a trade union building in Odessa killing around 50 people.

This is the old world of imperialism and the same Nazi "might makes right" that is being tragically played out in Ukraine by the US and NATO. These neo-liberal powers have caused huge loss of life with thousands being killed. This is a huge tragedy for the Ukrainian people who have contributed so much to the world's people in building the world's first socialist state, the Soviet Union, that made so many sacrifices in the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. The working class and people of Britain must play their part, alongside those of the US, and indeed around the world, in ending the intervention of Britain and the US in the region, their confrontation with Russia, and the use of force to settle international differences, which is causing such tragedies for the people.

As a justification for intervention, there is also never-ending talk of the "annexing" of the Crimea by Russia in 2014 when the referendum of the people of Crimea united them with the Russian Federation [2]. It should be noted that the ruling elite does not apply the same word of "annexation" to the north of Ireland's being part of the United Kingdom, or even offer a referendum to the people of northern Ireland on the question of a United Ireland.

For the peoples, the burning issue is how the equality of countries and the sovereign rights of nations and peoples, irrespective of their ethnic make-up, can be established or re-established. The question is how these rights can be realised and given a meaningful guarantee under the prevailing conditions.

The working class and people here in Britain must condemn the government for their direct interference and dangerous military confrontations in the Ukraine and demand that all Anglo-US armed forces of land, air and sea be withdrawn from Ukraine and the Black Sea immediately.


Notes
1. These are the heirs of the massacres at Babi Yar, which, as is common knowledge, were the tip of the iceberg of the Nazi extermination of millions of Jewish people, Roma, communists and others considered as less than human.
2. In the referendum of March 16, 2014, citizens of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and of the city of Sevastopol voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. The final voting figures were reported to be 96.77% in favour of joining the Russian Federation on a turnout of 83.1% of the eligible voters. Despite the media and government hysteria in Britain, Europe and Nrth America, the 135 international observers from 23 countries reported that there was neither voting under pressure nor any violations of voting rules.


Source: http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-21/ww21-13/ww21-13-01.htm

14
Vinyard of the Saker


[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]

Intro: cause vs pretext

It is not an exaggeration to say that in the mythology of the AngloZionist Empire Putin is something akin to Satan or, at least, that he is a kind of "Sauron" who is the epitome of evil. And, we all heard that recently, Biden, in a recorded interview, declared that Putin is "a killer". When given a chance to soften this statement Jen Psaki did no such thing. We can, therefore, conclude that this was an official, deliberately planned, characterization of the Russian leader.

This kind of language was never used by western officials during the Cold War, at least not on the top levels. So why this seething hatred for Putin?

It is not because he is ex-PGU KGB SSSR. Yuri Andropov was a former KGB Chairman, and he did a lot to strengthen the KGB, its personnel and operations. Yet nobody called him a killer. Neither is this because of Crimea or the Donbass, at least not directly, because when the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia and, before that, Hungary, western politicians did not call Khrushchev or Brezhnev "killers". It is not because of the shooting down of MH-17 (western leaders all know that these are lies created by western special services), because there have been quite a few civilian airliners shot down by various states, but that did not result in the kind of total demonization of the leaders of these states. I could go on and on, but you get the point: even if we carefully parse all the accusations against Putin, we find out that the kind of total demonization he has been the subject of is quite unique in its intensity and scope.

There is a huge difference between the concepts of "cause" and "pretext", and all the examples I have given are nothing but pretexts. We need to look at the real causes of such a blind hatred for Putin.

Here we come across another list of possible reasons: first, it is undeniable that while Eltsin almost destroyed Russia as a country, Putin single-handedly "resurrected" Russia in an amazingly short time. From a country which was in tatters and a population which wanted nothing more than to become the next Germany or, failing that, at least the next Poland, Putin turned Russia into the strongest military power on the planet and he completely reshaped the Russian perception of themselves and of Russia. Not only that, but Putin used every single move by the West (like, say, sanctions, boycotts or threats) to further strengthen Russia (by means such as import substitutions, international conferences and military maneuvers). Most importantly, Putin de-coupled Russia from a lot of US controlled institutions or mechanisms, a move which also immensely served Russia.

US politicians spoke of a country with an "economy in tatters" and of a "gas station masquerading as a country". But in the real world (Zone B), the Russia economy did much better than the western ones and, as for the "energy war" between the US, the KSA and Russia, it ended in a catastrophic defeat for the USA and a triumph for Russia and, to a lesser degree, the KSA.

Then came COVID and the truly epic disaster of the West's total mismanagement of this crisis. Not only that, but the contrast of how Russia (and China!) handled the crisis and what the West did could not have been bigger. As for Russia being the first country to create a vaccine (by now, no less than three of them actually; now Russia is about to release yet another vaccine, this time protecting animals from COVID) and, worse, the country which created the best vaccine on the planet – this is a PR disaster for the West and there is nothing the West can do to soften the blow. If anything, things are only getting worse as shown by all the coming lockdowns in Europe – contrast that with this photo of happy Lavrov in China wearing a mask with "FCKNG QRNTN" written on it!

But that is not the real reason either, as shown by the fact that the West already hated Putin long before COVID.

The "stolen" Cold War victory

In truth, the West has a very long list of reasons for which to hate Putin and everything Russian, but I believe that there is one reason which trumps them all: the western leaders sincerely believed that they had defeated the USSR in the Cold War (even medals were made to commemorate this event) and following the collapse of the former superpower and the coming to power of a clueless, alcoholic puppet, the triumph of the West was total. At least in appearance. The reality, as always, was much more complicated.

[Sidebar: the causes and mechanisms of the collapse of the Soviet Union are not our topic today, so I will just indicate that I believe that the USSR never "collapsed" but that it was deliberately destroyed by the CPSU apparatus which decided to break up the country in order for the Party and Nomenklatura to remain in power, not at the helm of the USSR, but at the helm of the various ex-Soviet republics. Weak leaders and ideologies which nobody really believes in do not inspire people to fight for their rulers. This is why the Russian monarchy collapsed, this is why the masonic democracy of Kerenskii collapsed and this is why the Soviet Union collapsed (this is also one of the most likely reasons for the final collapse of the US as a state).]

Putin, who was not very well known in the West or, for that matter, in Russia, came to power and immediately reversed Russia's course towards the abyss. First, he dealt with the two most urgent threats, the oligarchs and the Wahabi insurrection in the Caucasus. Many Russians, including myself, were absolutely amazed at the speed and determination of his actions. As a result, Putin suddenly found himself one of the most popular leaders in Russian history. Initially, the West went into a kind of shock, then through a process reminiscent of the so-called "Kübler-Ross model" and, finally, the West settled into a russophobic frenzy not seen since the Nazi regime in Germany during WWII.

To understand why Putin is the Devil incarnate, we have to understand that the leaders of the collective West really thought that this time around, after a millennium of failures and embarrassing defeats, the West has finally "defeated" Russia which would now become a leaderless, culture-less, spiritual-less and, of course, history-less territory whose sole purpose would be to provide resources for the "Triumphant West". Not only that, but the AngloZionist leaders of the Empire executed the 9/11 false flag operation which gave them the pretext needed for the GWOT, but which completely distracted the West from its previous focus on the so-called "Russian threat" simply because by 2001 there was no Russian threat. So there was a certain logic behind these moves. And then, "suddenly" (at least for western leaders) Russia was "back": in 2013 Russia stopped the planned US/NATO attack on Syria (the pretext here was Syrian chemical weapons). In 2014 Russia gave her support to the Novorussian uprising against the Ukronazi regime in Kiev and, in the same year, Russia also used her military to make it possible for the local population to vote on a referendum to join Russia. Finally, in 2015, Russia stunned the West with an extremely effective military intervention in Syria.

In this sequence, Russia committed two very different types of "crimes" (from the AngloZionist point of view, of course):

The minor crime of doing what Russia actually did and The much bigger crime of never asking the Empire for the permission to do so

The West likes to treat the rest of the planet like some kind of junior partner, with very limited autonomy and almost no real agency (the best example is what the USA did to countries like Poland or Bulgaria). If and when any such "junior" country wants to do something in its foreign policy, it absolutely has to ask for permission from its AngloZionist Big Brother. Not doing so is something akin to sedition and revolt. In the past, many countries were "punished" or daring to have an opinion or, even more so, for daring to act on it.

It would not be inaccurate to summarize it all by saying that Putin flipped his finger to the Empire and its leaders. That "crime of crimes" was what really triggered the current anti-Russian hysteria. Soon, however, the (mostly clueless) leaders of the Empire ran into an extremely frustrating problem: while the russophobic hysteria did get a lot of traction in the West, in Russia it created a very powerful blowback because of a typical Putin "judo" move: far from trying to suppress the anti-Russian propaganda of the West, the Kremlin used its power to make it widely available (in Russian!) through the Russian media (I wrote about this in some detail here and here). The direct result of this was two fold: first, the CIA/MI6 run "opposition" began to be strongly associated with the russophobic enemies of Russia and, second, the Russian general public further rallied around Putin and his unyielding stance. In other words, calling Putin a dictator and, of course, a "new Hitler", the western PSYOPs gained some limited advantage in the western public opinion, but totally shot itself in the leg with the Russian public.

I refer to this stage as the "phase one anti-Putin strategic PSYOP". As for the outcome of this PSYOP, I would not only say that it almost completely failed, but I think that it has the exact opposite intended effect inside Russia.

A change of course was urgently needed.

The redirection of US PSYOPs against Putin and Russia

I have to admit that I have a very low opinion of the US intelligence community, including its analysts. But even the rather dull US "Russia area specialist" eventually figured out that telling the Russian public opinion that Putin was a "dictator" or a "killer of dissidents" or a "chemical poisoner of exiles" resulted in a typically Russian mix of laughter and support for the Kremlin. Something had to be done.

So some smart ass somewhere in some basement came up with the following idea: it makes no sense to accuse Putin of things which make him popular at home, so let's come up with a new list of accusations carefully tailored to the Russian public.

Let's call this a "phase two anti-Putin PSYOP operation".

And this is how the "Putin is in cahoots with" thing began. Specifically, these accusations were deployed by the US PSYOPs and those in its pay:

Putin is disarming Syria Putin will sell out the Donbass Putin is a puppet of Israel and, specifically, Netanyahu Putin is a corrupt traitor to the Russian national interests Putin is allowing Israel to bomb Syria (see here) Putin is selling the Siberian riches to China and/or Putin is subjugating Russia to China Putin is corrupt, weak and even cowardly Putin was defeated by Erdogan in the Nagorno-Karabakh war

The above are the main talking points immediately endorsed and executed by the US strategic PSYOPs against Russia.

Was it effective?

Yes, to some degree. For one thing, these "anti-Russian PSYOPS reloaded" were immediately picked up by at least part of what one could call the "internal patriotic opposition" (much of it very sincerely and without any awareness of being skillfully manipulated). Even more toxic was the emergence of a rather loud neo-Communist (or, as Ruslan Ostashko often calls them "emo-Marxist") movement (I personally refer to as a sixth column) which began an internal anti-Kremlin propaganda campaign centered on the following themes:

"All is lost" (??????????????): that is thesis which says that nothing in Russia is right, everything is either wrong or evil, the country is collapsing, so is its economy, its science, its military, etc. etc. etc. This is just a garden variety of defeatism, nothing more. "Nothing was achieved since Putin came to power": this is a weird one, since it takes an absolutely spectacular amount of mental gymnastics to not see that Putin literally saved Russia from total destruction. This stance also completely fails to explain why Putin is so hated by the Empire (if Putin did everything wrong, like, say Eltsin did, he would be adored in the West, not hated!). All the elections in Russia were stolen. Here the 5th (CIA/MI6 run) column and 6th column have to agree: according to both of them, there is absolutely no way most Russians supported Putin for so many years and there is no way they support him now. And nevermind the fact that the vast majority of polls show that Putin was, and still is, the most popular political figure in Russia.

Finally, the big SNAFU with the pension reform definitely did not help Putin's ratings, so he had to take action: he "softened" some of the worst provisions of this reform and, eventually, he successfully sidelined some of the worst Atlantic Integrationists, including Medvedev himself.

Sadly, some putatively pro-Russian websites, blogs and individuals showed their true face when they jumped on the bandwagon of this 2nd strategic PSYOP campaign, probably with the hope to either become more noticed, or get some funding, or both. Hence, all the nonsense about Russia and Israel working together or Putin "selling out" we have seen so many times recently. The worst thing here is that these websites, blogs and individuals have seriously misled and distressed some of the best real friends of Russia in the West.

None of these guys ever address a very simple question: if Putin is such a sellout, and if all is lost, why does the AngloZionist Empire hate Putin so much? In almost 1000 years of warfare (spiritual, cultural, political, economic and military) against Russia, the leaders of the West have always hated real Russian patriots and they have always loved the (alas, many) traitors to Russia. And now, they hate Putin because he is such a terrible leader?

This makes absolutely no sense.

Conclusion: is a war inevitable now?

The US/NATO don't engage in strategic PYSOPs just because they like or dislike somebody. The main purpose of such PSYOPs is to break the other side's will to resist. This was also the main objective of both (phase one and phase two) anti-Putin PSYOPs. I am happy to report that both phases of these PYSOPs failed. The danger here is that these failures have failed to convince the leaders of the Empire of the need to urgently change course and accept the "Russian reality", even if they don't like it.

Ever since "Biden" (the "collective Biden", of course, not the potted plant) Administration (illegally) seized power, what we saw was a sharp escalation of anti-Russian statements. Hence, the latest "uhu, he is a killer" – this was no mistake by a senile mind, this was a carefully prepared declaration. Even worse, the Empire has not limited itself to just words, it also did some important "body moves" to signal its determination to seek even further confrontation with Russia:

There has been a lot of sabre-rattling coming from the West, mostly some rather ill-advsied (or even outright stupid) military maneuvers near/along the Russian border. As I have explained it a billion times, these maneuvers are self-defeating from a military point of view (the closer to the Russian border, the more dangerous for the western military force). Politically, however, they are extremely provocative and, therefore, dangerous. The vast majority of Russian analysts do not believe that the US/NATO will openly attack Russia, if only because that would be suicidal (the current military balance in Europe is strongly in Russia's favor, even without using hypersonic weapons). What many of them now fear is that "Biden" will unleash the Ukronazi forces against the Donbass, thereby "punishing" both the Ukraine and Russia (the former for its role in the US presidential campaign). I tend to agree with both of these statements.

At the end of the day, the AngloZionist Empire was always racist at its core, and that empire is still racist: for its leaders, the Ukrainian people are just cannon fodder, an irrelevant third rate nation with no agency which has outlived its utility (US analysts do understand that the US plan for the Ukraine has ended in yet another spectacular faceplant such delusional plans always end up with, even if they don't say so publicly). So why not launch these people into a suicidal war against not only the LDNR but also Russia herself? Sure, Russia will quickly and decisively win the military war, but politically it will be a PR disaster for Russia as the "democratic West" will always blame Russia, even when she clearly did not attack first (as was the case in 08.08.08, most recently).

I have already written about the absolutely disastrous situation of the Ukraine three weeks ago so I won't repeat it all here, I will just say that since that day things have gotten even much worse: suffice to say that the Ukraine has moved a lot of heavy armor to the line of contact while the regime in Kiev has now banned the import of Russian toilet paper (which tells you what the ruling gang thinks of as important and much needed measures). While it is true that the Ukraine has become a totally failed state since the Neo-Nazi coup, there is now a clear acceleration of the collapse of not only the regime or state, but of the country as a whole. Ukraine is falling apart so fast that one could start an entire website tracking only all this developing horror, not day by day, but, hour by hour. Suffice to say that "Ze" has turned out to be even worse than Poroshenko. The only thing Poroshenko did which "Ze" has not (yet!) is to start a war. Other than that, the rest of what he did (by action or inaction) can only be qualified as "more of the same, only worse".

Can a war be prevented?

I don't know. Putin gave the Ukronazis a very stern warning ("grave consequences for Ukraine's statehood as such"). I don't believe for one second that anybody in power in Kiev gives a damn about the Ukraine or the Ukrainian statehood, but they are smart enough to realize that a Russian counter-attack in defense of the LDNR and, even more so, Crimea, might include precision "counter-leadership" strikes with advanced missiles. The Ukronazi leaders would be well-advised to realize that they all have a crosshair painted on their heads. They might also think about this: what happened to every single Wahabi gang leader in Chechnya since the end of the 2nd Chechen war? (hint: they were all found and executed). Will that be enough to stop them?

Maybe. Let's hope so.

But we must now keep in mind that for the foreseeable future there are only two options left for the Ukraine: "a horrible ending or a horror without end" (Russian expression).

The best scenario for the people of the Ukraine would be a (hopefully relatively peaceful) breakup of the country into manageable parts. The worst option would definitely be a full-scale war against Russia.

Judging by the rhetoric coming out of Kiev these days, most Ukrainian politicians are firmly behind option #2, especially since that is also the only option acceptable to their overseas masters. The Ukrainians have also adopted a new military doctrine (they call it a "military security strategy of Ukraine") which declares Russia the aggressor state and military adversary of the Ukraine (see here for a machine translation of the official text).

This might be the reason why Merkel and Macron recently had a videoconference with Putin ("Ze" was not invited): Putin might be trying to convince Merkel and Macron that such a war would be a disaster for Europe. In the meantime, Russia is rapidly reinforcing her forces along the Ukrainian border, including in Crimea.

But all these measures can only deter a regime which has no agency. The outcome shall be decided in Washington DC, not Kiev. I am afraid that the traditional sense of total impunity of US political leaders will, once again, give them a sense of very little risk (for them personally or for the USA) in triggering a war in the Ukraine. The latest news on the US-Ukrainian front is the delivery by the USN of 350 tonnes of military equipment in Odessa. Not enough to be militarily significant, but more than enough to further egg on the regime in Kiev to an attack on the Donbass and/or Crimea.

In fact, I would not even put it past "Biden" to launch an attack on Iran while the world watches the Ukraine and Russia go to war. After all, the other country whose geostrategic position has been severely degraded since Russia moved her forces to Syria is Israel, the one country which all US politicians will serve faithfully and irrespective of any costs (including human costs for the USA). The Israelis have been demanding a war on Iran since at least 2007, and it would be very naive to hope that they won't eventually get their way. Last, but not least, there is the crisis which Bliken's condescending chutzpah triggered with China which, so far, has resulted in an economic war only, but which might also escalate at any moment, especially considering all the many recent anti-Chinese provocations by the US Navy.

Right now the weather in the eastern Ukraine is not conducive to offensive military operations. The snow is still melting, creating very difficult and muddy road conditions (called "rasputitsa" in Russian) which greatly inhibit the movement of forces and troops. These conditions will, however, change with the warmer season coming, at which point the Ukronazi forces will be ideally poised for an attack.

In other words, barring some major development, we might be only weeks away from a major war.

The Saker

15
   The overthrow of Evo Morales and the first lithium war
Voltaire Network, by Thierry Meyssan

Mar 16, 2021


   The world was used to oil wars since the end of the 19th century. Now the wars over lithium, a mineral that is essential for mobile phones, but above all for electric cars, are beginning. Foreign Office documents obtained by a British historian and journalist show that the UK engineered the overthrow of Bolivian president Evo Morales to steal the country's lithium reserves.

While you were watching him clown around, Boris Johnson oversaw the overthrow of President Morales in Bolivia, occupied the island of Socotra off the coast of Yemen, and organised Turkey's victory over Armenia. You haven't heard any discussion of this.

Remember the overthrow of Bolivian President Evo Morales in late 2019. At the time, the mainstream press claimed that he had turned his country into a dictatorship and had just been ousted by his people. The Organisation of American States (OAS) issued a report certifying that the elections had been rigged and that democracy was being restored.

However, President Morales, who feared he would end up like Chilean President Salvador Allende and had fled to Mexico, denounced a coup d'état organised to seize the country's lithium reserves. But he failed to identify the principals and was met with nothing but sarcasm in the West. Only we revealed that the operation had been carried out by a community of Croatian Ustasha Catholics, present in the country in Santa Cruz since the end of the Second World War; a NATO stay-behind network [1].

A year later, President Morales' party won new elections by a large majority [2]. There was no challenge and he was able to return triumphantly to his country [3]. His so-called dictatorship had never existed, while that of Jeanine Áñez had just been overthrown at the ballot box.

Historian Mark Curtis and journalist Matt Kennard had access to declassified Foreign Office documents which they studied. They published their findings on the Declassified UK website, based in South Africa since its military censorship in the UK [4].

Throughout his work, Mark Curtis has shown that UK policy was hardly changed by decolonisation. We have cited his work in dozens of articles on Voltaire Network.

It appears that the overthrow of President Morales was a commission from the Foreign Office and elements of the CIA that eluded the Trump administration. Its aim was to steal the country's lithium, which the UK covets in the context of the energy transition.

The Obama administration had already attempted a coup d'état in 2009, which was repressed by President Morales and led to the expulsion of several US diplomats and officials. In contrast, the Trump administration apparently gave the neoconservatives a free hand in Latin America, but systematically prevented them from carrying out their plans.

Lithium is a component of batteries. It is found mainly in the brines of high-altitude salt deserts in the mountains of Chile, Argentina and especially Bolivia ("the lithium triangle"), and even in Tibet, the "salars". But also in solid form in certain minerals extracted from mines, particularly in Australia. It is essential for the transition from petrol cars to electric vehicles. It has therefore become a more important issue than oil in the context of the Paris Agreements supposed to combat global warming.

In February 2019, President Evo Morales gave permission to a Chinese company, TBEA Group, to exploit his country's main lithium reserves. The UK therefore devised a plan to steal it.

Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian, became president of Bolivia in 2006. He represented the producers of coca; a local plant essential to life at high altitude, but also a powerful drug banned worldwide by the US virtue leagues. His election and governance marked the return of the Indians to power who had been excluded since Spanish colonisation.

- As early as 2017-18, the UK sent experts to Bolivia's national company, Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB), to assess the conditions for Bolivian lithium mining. - In 2019-20, London funded a study to "optimise the exploration and production of Bolivian lithium using British technology". - In April 2019, the UK Embassy in Buenos Aires organised a seminar with representatives from Argentina, Chile and Bolivia mining companies and governments, to present the benefits of using the London Metal Exchange. The Morales administration was represented by one of its ministers. - Immediately after the coup, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) was found to be financing the British projects. - The Foreign Office had commissioned - long before the coup - an Oxford company, Satellite Applications Catapult, to map lithium reserves. It was not paid by the IADB until after the overthrow of President Morales. - A few months later, the UK embassy in La Paz organised a seminar for 300 stakeholders with the help of Watchman UK. This company specialises in how to involve people in projects that violate their interests, in order to prevent them from revolting.

Before and after the coup, the British embassy in Bolivia neglected the capital La Paz and focused on the Santa Cruz region, where the Ustasha Croats had legally taken power. There, it multiplied cultural and commercial events.

To neutralise the Bolivian banks, the British embassy in La Paz organised a seminar on computer security eight months before the coup. The diplomats introduced DarkTrace (a company set up by the British internal security services), explaining that only banks that used DarkTrace for their security would be able to work with the City.

According to Mark Curtis and Matthew Kennard, the US did not participate in the plot as such, but officials left the CIA to prepare it. DarkTrace, for example, recruited Marcus Fowler, a CIA cyber operations specialist, and especially Alan Wade, the agency's former head of intelligence. Most of the operation's personnel were British, including the heads of Watchman UK, Christopher Goodwin-Hudson (a former career military officer, then director of security at Goldman-Sachs) and Gabriel Carter (a member of the very private Special Forces Club in Knightsbridge who had distinguished himself in Afghanistan).

The historian and the journalist also state that the British embassy provided the Organisation of American States with the data it used to 'prove' that the election had been rigged; a report that was later refuted by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) [5] before being refuted by the Bolivians themselves during the following elections.

The current situation proves Mark Curtis's work as a historian right. For example, in the three years since the coup in Bolivia (2019), we have shown London's role in the Yemen war (2020) [6] and the Nagorno-Karabakh war (2020) [7].

The UK conducts short wars and covert operations, if possible without the media picking up on its actions. It controls the perception of its presence through a multitude of news agencies and media outlets that it secretly subsidises. It creates unmanageable living conditions for those on whom it imposes them. It uses them to exploit the country to its advantage. Moreover, it can keep this situation going for as long as possible in the certainty that its victims will still appeal to it, it only being capable of calming the conflict it has created itself. Thierry Meyssan Translation Roger Lagassé

http://markcurtis.info/2007/02/01/web-of-deceit/

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