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Tue, 23 May 2017
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Puppet Masters


'Cairo does not trust what Americans say': Egypt backs US-proposed 'Arab NATO', but doesn't want bloc to fight in Syria

© AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
Egypt "is going to join" the Middle Eastern military alliance, informally known as Arab NATO, if it is created, Egyptian lawmaker Ahmed Ismail, a member of the parliamentary National Security and Defense Council, told Sputnik Persian.

United States President Donald Trump appeared to have indirectly mentioned the bloc while on a visit to Saudi Arabia during a key speech.

"Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God," Trump said during his first overseas visit. "We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond."

The issue is said to have also been on the agenda of Trump's meetings with leaders of Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.


Shadow Education Secretary: Claims that Jeremy Corbyn supported IRA is a "dead cat"

© Mark Winter / Barcroft Media / Getty Images
Claims by the press and Conservatives that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn supported the IRA have been dismissed as baseless slurs by Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner.

"I think it's a bit of dead cat because the Conservatives know at the moment they are on the rack, because they are trying to bring in a dementia tax which will hurt older people," Rayner told the Independent on Monday.

"Jeremy Corbyn on [the Sky News program with] Sophy Ridge did condemn the bombing [by the] IRA, he did condemn that bombing and he was quite clear about that.

She said Labour had a "proud record" of bringing together the peace process in Northern Ireland.


The Macedonian crisis isn't over: A bigger Balkan one is just beginning

© REUTERS/ Ognen Teofilovski
The US didn't resolve Macedonia's crisis, it made it much worse, and the fate of the Balkans is now in jeopardy because of the latest American-brokered "deal".

Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Yee visited Skopje a few weeks ago and successfully "convinced" Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov to give pro-American SDSM opposition leader Zoran Zaev the mandate to form a new government.

On paper at least, this was supposed to end the two-and-a-half-year-long political crisis in the country, and the announcement was certainly celebrated as such by unipolar media.

In reality, however, this decision existentially endangers the Republic of Macedonia because the only thing preventing its forthcoming "federalization" and eventual partition between its Albanian and Bulgarian neighbors is the signed pledge of convicted (but pardoned) Zaev that he won't pursue the notorious "Tirana Platform".

Bad Guys

Daesh relocates headquarters from besieged Iraqi city of Mosul to Hawija

© REUTERS/ Muhammad Hamed
Daesh, outlawed in Russia, has relocated its headquarters from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul to the town of Hawija in the province of Kirkuk, a source in the province's security services told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"All IS [Daesh] leaders left Mosul for the Hawija district located 55 kilometers [35 miles] west of Kirkuk. The headquarters was relocated because of the impending defeat of the group in Mosul's Old City," the source said.


Dan Coats: US intelligence initiated no assessment on info Trump Revealed to Lavrov

The US intelligence community has not begun an assessment to look into what information President Donald Trump may have been shared with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov or Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during their meeting at the White House, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Both Trump and numerous Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly denied claims of alleged Moscow's collusion with the US president's campaign, as well as of the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 US election.

"We have not initiated an assessment," Coats stated when asked if the intelligence community had begun to assess the nature and impact of the information revealed by the president.

Comment: More from the hearing: Former CIA Director Brennan cannot confirm alleged Trump-Russia collusion


Developing partnership: What you need to know about Russia-Philippines ties

© AP Photo/ Aaron Favila
Russian Navy and a Philippine officer salute as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte alights from the Russian anti-submarine Navy vessel Admiral Tributs in Manila, Philippines on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday arrived on his first official visit to Russia, which will last for almost an entire week through Friday in what will become the first high-level Philippine trip to Russia in almost a decade.

Diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Philippines were established on June 2, 1976. On December 28, 1991, the Philippines officially recognized Russia as the USSR's successor. The Philippines are a promising partner for Russia in the Asia-Pacific region. The two countries maintain a regular political dialogue at various levels.


Buh-bye backstabbing Western imperialists! Duterte arrives in Moscow with aim of increasing ties with Russia

© Reuters/ Kim Kyung-Hoon
On Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Russia on a five-day visit. Prior to the visit, Duterte said that security and defense issues will be on the agenda of his talks in Moscow.

Earlier, the Kremlin reported that Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to have a meeting on May 25. A package of documents is expected to be signed as a result of the talks.

In an interview with Russian media ahead of his visit, Duterte reiterated that his country should have ties with Russia and China, as Western nations are only interested in double talk and disregard the Philippines' interests.


'Not a single hint of a protester' in Saudi Arabia-Trump official praises autocratic rule

© Andrew Harnik/AP
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
Putting a fine point on the spin that President Donald Trump's trip to the Middle East has been a glowing, peace-dealing success, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross praised the fact that there were no protesters in Saudi Arabia—a nation where political dissonance is punishable by death.

Speaking to CNBC on Monday, Ross, who accompanied Trump on the weekend trip to Riyadh, said he found it "fascinating" that he did not see "a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there. Not one guy with a bad placard."

In turn, "Squawk Box" host Becky Quick pointed out "that might be—not necessarily because they don't have those feelings there—but because they control people and don't allow them to come and express their feelings the same way we do here."

Comment: Saudis can't protest or else: Why is Saudi Arabia bombing its own people? Because they are Shia


Former CIA Director Brennan cannot confirm alleged Trump-Russia collusion

© AFP 2017/ Jewel Samad
A collusion between Russian officials and members of US President Donald Trump campaign cannot be confirmed, former CIA Director John Brennan stated during a testimony at the US Senate on Tuesday.

Both Trump and numerous Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly denied claims of alleged Moscow's collusion with the US president's campaign, as well as of the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 US election.

"I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign," Brennan stated. "I don't know and cannot confirm if collusion existed."


US Defense Intelligence finds no evidence Russia transfers weapons, money to Taliban

© AP Photo/ Allauddin Khan
Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that there is no evidence Russia has transferred weapons or money to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier this month that Moscow is only working with the Taliban (a terrorist movement outlawed in Russia) in order to assist the implementation of a UN Security Council decision requested by the Afghan government that would allow the group to take a role in the political process.

"They're in conversation with [the] Taliban, we've seen indications that they've offered some level of support, but I have not seen real physical evidence of weapons or money being transferred," Stewart stated.