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Wed, 22 Aug 2018
The World for People who Think

Pirates

AP lets the cat out of the bag: Saudi-led coalition 'victories' achieved by colluding with and hiring Al-Qaeda in Yemen

yemen
© AP Photo
Coalition-backed fighters advance on Yemen’s Red Sea port town of Mocha in this Jan. 11 2017, photo. The coalition forces eventually captured the town from Shiite rebels known as Houthis. Some fighters in the unit were openly al-Qaida, wearing Afghan-style garb and carrying weapons with an al-Qaida logo, a sign of how closely the militants have been involved in the war against the Houthis, who are seen by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as a proxy for Iranian influence.
Again and again over the past two years, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States has claimed it won decisive victories that drove al-Qaida militants from their strongholds across Yemen and shattered their ability to attack the West.

Here's what the victors did not disclose: many of their conquests came without firing a shot.

That's because the coalition cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself.

These compromises and alliances have allowed al-Qaida militants to survive to fight another day - and risk strengthening the most dangerous branch of the terror network that carried out the 9/11 attacks. Key participants in the pacts said the U.S. was aware of the arrangements and held off on any drone strikes.

Comment: The entire purpose of the war was to support the Wahhabis from the beginning, and the collaboration has been known about since 2015. See Moon of Alabama's latest:
The direct involvement of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and of mercenaries from a dozen countries proves that the war in Yemen is not a "civil war". It is a full fledged attack on Yemen, its resources and applaudably cool (vid) people. The Houthis are Zaida, not Twelver Shia like the Iranians. The are backed by Iranian rhetoric but that's about it.
Why bring this news out of the 'conspiracy realm' and make it official now?


Toys

'Pro-Russia' t-shirts worn at Trump rally - Libtard Dems go hysterical on Twitter

pro russia shirts trump rally
© Jeremy Pelzer
Two ardent Republicans expressed their support for US President Donald Trump - and their disdain for the Democratic Party - in a fairly original way during a rally held by the president in Ohio at the weekend.

Cleveland photographer Jeremy Pelzer spotted the two friends, who had travelled from the city of Delaware to attend the Trump rally, wearing matching t-shirts displaying the controversial slogan: "I'd rather be a Russian than a Democrat."

Unsurprisingly, the photograph has since gone viral and the seemingly pro-Russia sentiment has Democrats fired up in outrage at the thought of Trump supporters "proudly choosing Russia over their fellow Americans".

Comment: That's some great trolling right there!


Bizarro Earth

Myth of benevolent 'Western democracies' stoking aggression abroad, quelling dissent at home

American soldiers at the US army base in Qayyara, south of Mosul
© Alaa Al-Marjani / Reuters
American soldiers at the US army base in Qayyara, south of Mosul
Western policymakers brazenly advocate that to be taken seriously, nations must emulate the Western democratic tradition. But peel back the veneer of these so-called democracies, and there lurks something sinister and rotten.

Just about 2,500 years ago, democracy took its first breath in that fertile hotbed of philosophical thought known as Athens, one of the many city-states that made up ancient Greece. This early experiment in 'rule by the people', which Winston Churchill once described as "the worst form of government, except for all the others," has gone on to generally define the political structure of what is known today as 'the Western world'.

Comment:


Caesar

With Jeremy Corbyn - Who Will Stand?

jeremy corbyn anti-semitism
The febrile atmosphere whipped up over the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn's alleged anti-Semitism demands a response, and at times like this W.B. Yeats hovers into admonitory view:
"Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world:
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
"The worst are full of passionate intensity" is pristinely apt when attempting to place the hounding and character assassination of Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, into some kind of perspective.

The 'worst' in our time is a sundry crew of, in the main, very middle class, very affluent, and very mendacious champions of war - Iraq, Libya anyone?- and defenders of Israel's oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people, who to all intents have been marked out as children of a lesser God.

Comment: In a way, Corbyn's stance on Gaza and Palestinians' right to not be brutalized aren't the real issue here. Certainly, the Israeli lobby has strong influence and would prefer not to see him become the next PM of the UK. But the Tory establishment (including that part of it ensconced within the Labour Party) is at least equally determined to prevent Corbyn from becoming PM. And thus all its media lapdogs have been marshalled to jump on the bandwagon, not out of particular concern for covering up Israeli war crimes, but because it's a convenient mode of attack against Corbyn - which, they hope, will make him less popular. (No chance!)

What's all the more jarring about this mode of attack is that Corbyn is NOT of the 'far-right'. Ideologically, he's 'the opposite'. And yet here we have a 'leftie' being bashed with something usually reserved for bashing the 'populist right-wing'. That it doesn't at all 'fit' Corbyn points to just how 'black' this black propaganda is, and how fecklessly inconsistent its propagators are.


Gold Seal

Syrian Army wraps up successful liberation operation in southern Syria

us weapons syria
© SANA
The Syrian Army displays some of the sophisticated US weapons ISIS surrendered in southern Syria
On August 2, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that warplanes of the Israeli Air Force had bombed several fighters of the ISIS-affiliated Khalid ibn al-Walid Army near the occupied Golan Heights. Seven militants were killed in the strikes according to the Israeli media.

This was the second attack by the IDF on the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army during the last two weeks. On July 26, Israeli warplanes destroyed a rocket launcher allegedly belonging to the group in southwestern Syria.

An official of the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) announced that members of the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army are attempting to cross the border from Syria. According to him, the JAF's 10th Border Guard Battalion clashed with the terrorists in the Yarmouk Valley killing a number of them.

According to Syrian sources, some number of terrorist group members are still hiding near the Golan Heights and at the border between Syria and Jordan. They are attempting to flee the area in order to hide from the ongoing security operation by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).


Comment: Notice that Israeli and Jordanian forces are suddenly fighting against, rather than fighting for, ISIS in Syria. A sea-change indeed, if this new pattern holds. Russia's patience is paying off; regional countries are cooperating with the new World Policeman.


Blue Planet

Pepe Escobar: A US attack on Iran would be an attack on BRICS and Global South

Potin
© AFP/Gianluigi Guercia
President Xi Jinping, President Cyril Ramaphosa, President Vladimir Putin
Rhetorical war has far-reaching consequences, including a potential economic slump via the disruption of global oil supplies

The key takeaway from the BRICS summit in Johannesburg is that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - important Global South players - strongly condemn unilateralism and protectionism.

The Johannesburg Declaration is unmistakable: "We recognize that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges. We underscore the importance of an open world economy."

Closer examination of Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech unlocks some poignant details. Xi, crucially, emphasizes delving further into "our strategic partnership." That implies increased BRICS and Beyond BRICS multilateral trade, investment and economic and financial connectivity. And that also implies reaching to the next level:
"It is important that we continue to pursue innovation-driven development and build the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) to strengthen coordination on macroeconomic policies, find more complementarities in our development strategies, and reinforce the competitiveness of the BRICS countries, emerging market economies and developing countries."
If PartNIR sounds like the basis for an overall Global South platform, that's because it is.

Comment: If there is a forthcoming new world design, it seems to be heading towards a consensus of common aims, vision, and economic platforms that share power and responsibility. Regarding the US and Iran: It's all speculation until it happens, whatever 'it' is going to be.


Clipboard

Endangered species: US journalist Seymour Hersh on 'novichok', Russian links to Donald Trump and 9/11

Seymour Hersh
© Medium
Seymour Hersh
In a rare interview, veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh talks about his illustrious career and how he believes the official versions of some the biggest news stories of our time just don't add up

I'm about to interview the 81-year-old doyen of investigative journalism Seymour Hersh. Sy Hersh - as he is affectionately known by those close to him - was once described by the Financial Times as "the last great American reporter". Hersh has brought out his memoir Reporter covering the span of his career as one of the iconoclastic journalists of the 20th century - the man who exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and who later brought the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in the Iraq War to the attention of the world.

Hersh has recently been in London for a talk at the Centre for Investigative Journalism at Goldsmiths. It makes for a raucously entertaining two hours in which he holds court on everything from Vietnam and the war on terror to the Skripal novichok poisoning, Trump and the alleged Russian hacking of the election. Octogenarian Hersh is already back in Washington by the time we speak on the phone.

Comment: In the US, Hersh is among the last of a dying breed: journalists who can think.


Pirates

Big revelation: UK's Royal Navy rescued Manchester bomber from Libyan war 3 years before he killed 22

HMS Enterprise
© AFP/Getty
HMS Enterprise arrives in Malta in 2014, with Abedi among the 110 evacuees from Libya
The Manchester suicide bomber was rescued by the Navy from war-torn Libya three years before his pop concert atrocity, the Mail reveals today.

HMS Enterprise plucked Salman Abedi, then 19, from the Libyan coast and took him to Malta for a flight home to Britain in August 2014.


Comment: 'Home' to Britain? He was a refugee (of Libyan birth/nationality) at that point, surely?


Last May he set off a bomb in Manchester Arena that killed 22, including seven children.

Abedi's younger brother, Hashem, who is in jail in Tripoli facing trial over the attack, was also rescued by HMS Enterprise.

The pair had been caught up in fighting in Libya and were among more than 100 British citizens taken to safety.


Comment: Whoa! So they were British 'subjects' who went to Libya to 'free' it with NATO, then got lucky on the return trip.


Photographs released by Ministry of Defence officials at the time showed the group being brought on board the Navy vessel.

Comment: Not that it comes as much of a surprise. The UK establishment never met a jihadist it didn't like.

See also: British-Libyan terrorists: "MI5 gave us free passage to fight Gaddafi"








USA

Robert Fisk found missile casings in terrorist-held parts of Syria. Guess which US arms manufacturers he traced them back to...

Missiles
© EPA
Readers, a small detective story. Note down this number: MFG BGM-71E-1B. And this number: STOCK NO 1410-01-300-0254. And this code: DAA A01 C-0292. I found all these numerals printed on the side of a spent missile casing lying in the basement of a bombed-out Islamist base in eastern Aleppo last year. At the top were the words "Hughes Aircraft Co", founded in California back in the 1930s by the infamous Howard Hughes and sold in 1997 to Raytheon, the massive US defence contractor whose profits last year came to $23.35bn (£18bn). Shareholders include the Bank of America and Deutsche Bank. Raytheon's Middle East offices can be found in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Kuwait.

There were dozens of other used-up identical missile casings in the same underground room in the ruins of eastern Aleppo, with sequential codings; in other words, these anti-armour missiles - known in the trade as Tows, "Tube-launched, optically tracked and wire-guided missiles" - were not individual items smuggled into Syria through the old and much reported CIA smugglers' trail from Libya. These were shipments, whole batches of weapons that left their point of origin on military aircraft pallets.

Bizarro Earth

Finian Cunningham: When does a 'blessed democrat' become an 'authoritarian strongman' leader?

Trump and Putin
Former US President Barack Obama was in South Africa last week for the centennial anniversary marking the birth of the late Nelson Mandela. Obama delivered a speech warning about encroaching authoritarianism among nations and the "rise of strongman politics".

Coming on the heels of the summit in Helsinki between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, media reports assumed that Obama was taking a swipe at these two leaders for supposed growing authoritarianism.

Obama's casting of the "strongman" as a foreboding enemy to democracy is a variant of the supposed threat of "populism" that Western political establishments also seem concerned about.

Trump, Putin, Turkey's Erdogan, Italy's Salvini, Victor Orban in Hungary and Sebastian Kurz in Austria, among many others, are all lumped together as "strongman politics", "populists" or "authoritarians".

Here we are not trying to defend the above-mentioned political leaders or to make out that they are all virtuous democrats.

The point rather is to debunk the false narrative that there is some kind of dichotomy in modern politics between those who, on one hand, are supposedly virtuous, liberal, democratic, multilateralists, and on the other hand, the supposedly sinister "strongman", "authoritarian", or "populist".