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Tue, 25 Oct 2016
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Puppet Masters

Eye 1

German media: Erdoğan is blackmailing Europe

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to believe that he can call the shots in his dealings with the EU because Brussels needs Ankara if it wants to tackle the refugee crisis, Germany's N-TV television news channel asserted, calling Erdogan's strategy "a bitter game of political blackmail."

The media outlet compared Erdogan's behavior to that of a shopper at a supermarket. The Turkish president, according to N-TV, has constantly been asking for more, but failed to deliver much.

Some of his demands and initiatives include additional $3.3 billion in aid, building a new refugee city in Syria, asking Germany to take refugees directly from Turkey, carte blanche to deal with the Kurds, as well as the facilitation of trade and visa requirements with the EU.

Comment: Erdogan's behavior certainly isn't winning him many friends in Europe.

Also see:


Collateral damage redefined: US claims 150 'fighters' killed in Somalia airstrike, nobody believes them

© AP/ Mhamed Sheikh Norus
Deadliest strike in America's drone war calls into question how US defines "combatants"

US airstrikes targeting what the Pentagon is calling an al-Shabaab training facility in Somalia killed over 150 people on Saturday. In an announcement Monday, the Pentagon classified the dead as "militant fighters" who were allegedly preparing a large-scale attack against US and African diplomatic personnel.

International human rights groups quickly contested the Pentagon's official narrative, however, asking how a strike killing in excess of 150 people could be anything but the product of widespread collateral damage.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism scoffed at US assertions calling the death toll from the strike "unprecedented." The Saturday strike was the deadliest single US counterterrorism action since the group began monitoring drone strike reports in 2010.

The Pentagon countered that not only were the dead only al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists, but also that the "fighters" were scheduled to carry out an imminent attack against US interests.

Controversial drone program likely resulting in massive, unreported civilian deaths

The US drone program, a lynchpin in America's global war on terrorism, has faced widening condemnation by the international community in recent years. Legal experts argue that the strikes cannot be legal without a proper congressional war authorization or the presence of ongoing hostilities, or a "hot war," within the targeted territories.

More concerning to human rights advocates, however, are reports in recent years that many of those killed in drone strikes are civilians, who are then reported by White House officials as having been combatants. One report on Nevada-based drone operators observed that they "often do not know who they are killing, they are making a guess."

Furthermore, investigations by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and other advocacy groups, who are backtracking news reports on drone strikes to the locations, indicated they have found startlingly different results than those suggested by the White House.

Repeatedly, when traced to the scene of strikes in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Libya, family members and witnesses on the ground decry the attacks as collateral damage, and claim that their slain family members were civilians.

Washington defines away collateral damage by use of "kill-boxes"

The death misreporting may be legal sleight-of-hand, as anyone who is present in a so-called "kill-box" is a legitimate target. Kill boxes are areas defined as small geographic spaces of hostility in which those present are automatically defined as a combatant.

This notion of a kill box made sense in conventional wars - civilians had notice and would stay away from battlefields. Today, however, a kill zone is defined as a perimeter around a high-level target or targets that actually moves with the target. In effect, US lawyers have simply defined away collateral damage.


Former French diplomat suggests US could be at the origin of Ukraine crisis

© www.themoscowtimes.com
Jean de Gliniasty, former French Ambassador to Moscow
Translated from Le Figaro article June 21, 2015

The French Ambassador to Moscow until 2013, Jean de Gliniasty deems that the Europeans should have "given" Sevastopol to Crimea and that Crimea "was always Russian." Jean de Gliniasty is mad, very mad. Encountered between sessions at the St Petersburg forum, the former French Ambassador to Moscow, who makes no secret of his pro-Russian views, expatiates against the mistakes of European and French diplomacy on the Ukrainian file.

"It's five years of effort, wasted," regrets the man who represented the interests of France in Moscow from May 2009 to October 2013, leaving the Russian capital at the time of the large-scale demonstrations of the Maidan that led to the regime change, then to the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbass.

During those five years he was a tireless advocate for French companies in Russia, who who responded with appreciation, as he minimized the tightening imposed by Vladimir Putin on civil society on his return to the Kremlin in 2012--views that were sometimes criticized at the Quai d'Orsay. "It was not complicated," he said, "it was necessary to give Sevastopol to Russia and guarantee the status of the Russian language in the Crimea." And the opinion of Kiev in all this? "But Crimea has never belonged to Ukraine, it has always been Russian," replies Jean de Gliniasty, neglecting the fact* that the peninsula was a gift* from Nikita Khrushchev to Ukraine in 1954. (*A typical Le Figaro editorial snip, to which the translator responds "neglecting the fact that Krushchev's gift was contrary to the constitution, which required a vote.")

According to the former diplomat, this official return of Sevastopol to the Russian fold would have been accomplished at the latest at the end of the lease of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea - stationed in the port of Crimea - which was to expire in 2042.

The projects that could have been embarked on when Moscow began to oppose the signing of a Ukraine association agreement with the European Union, have been thwarted by the ignorance of history on the European side, and especially by American actions, analyzes Jean de Gliniasty. "They put themselves in the hands of the Americans," said the diplomat with regret.

Comment: Mr. Giniasty seems to be a little late to the party but it is refreshing to hear a Western diplomat come out on the side of reason. Maybe his years of corporate representation in Moscow gave him a less biased view. Was he saying anything to France and the EU, as a voice of rationality and fair perspective regarding Western meddling, at the start of the turn of events in Ukraine? Doubtful.

Snakes in Suits

GOP leaders and tech execs plot against Trump at secret neocon island meeting

Last Thursday, in a speech delivered at the University of Utah, Mitt Romney blindsided Donald Trump in what amounted to a scathing indictment of the billionaire's ability to lead the country.

"If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished," Romney said, in an apparent effort to play party elder. "If Donald Trump's plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into prolonged recession," Romney continues, hitting Trump on the economy. "A few examples. His proposed 35 percent tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America."

We covered the story exhaustively, and for those who would enjoy a review of the verbal melee, see here, here, and here.

More important than what Romney said (after all, it's not as though he's the first person to essentially call Trump a demagogic lunatic who has no business being President) was what his speech represented: all-out panic on the part of the GOP establishment.

Snakes in Suits

Bernie Sanders on Hugo Chavez: He's just a dead Communist dictator

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

Comment: Many Americans, particularly young Americans, have latched onto Bernie Sanders as the guy who's going to fix America's problems. Yet in his comments below, it's clear he takes the same stance that all politicians who want to become president take, which is to share the same opinions on foreign leaders as the elites for whom he will serve have. If Sanders had done a little homework, he would know that Chavez worked on the same social issues that Sanders purportedly wants to fix.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is a rarity in American politics: a self-described socialist running for the White House. And this September, Sanders sought to distance himself from one of the most well known socialists of the new millennium — Hugo Chávez.

Sanders accused Hillary Clinton supporters of attempting to smear him by linking him with the divisive figure. Clinton is Sanders's biggest rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the comments were allegedly made by pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC Correct the Record. But in trying to distance himself from Chávez, Sander is making many Venezuelans angry.

"Yesterday, one of Hillary Clinton's most prominent Super PACs attacked our campaign pretty viciously...They suggested I'd be friendly with Middle East terrorist organizations, and even tried to link me to a dead communist dictator," Sanders wrote in a fundraising email.

Bad Guys

Syrian Kurds say jihadists used yellow phosphorus in chemical attack on Aleppo

© Lizzie Phelan / Facebook
Armed Islamist opposition fighters have used yellow phosphorous in a chemical attack on the Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Tuesday, Kurdish militia group YPG said.

"We hereby inform you that on March 8, 2016 at 15:00, shelling [was carried out] with rockets that carry chemical material, which we believe to be yellow phosphorous chemical weapon, on Sheikh Maqsud neighborhood by the Syrian armed opposition factions and battalions," Redur Xelilm, YPG's spokesman, said in a statement.

Light Saber

Alexander Mercouris: Libyan crisis showed US foreign policy is a train wreck

Obama in the Oval Office - alone and lost
New York Times articles intended to explain how the US intervened in Libya show a government in chaos

The New York Times has recently published two linked articles about the US role in the 2011 Libyan crisis (see here and here).The articles have attracted a lot of interest because of what they say about Hillary Clinton.It has long been known that she was the key advocate of the US intervention in Libya, and the two articles show the extent to which this was so.

There have been some complaints about the articles. It was said that they show Hillary Clinton in too favourable a light. It has also been said the articles ignore the extent to which the uprising against Gaddafi in Libya was clearly pre-planned and pre-prepared by outsiders.Both criticisms are valid, though I would say that in the case of the uprising in Libya the events point to France, Britain and Qatar being behind the uprising rather than the US.

It was apparent at the time that the US military and Obama himself were unenthusiastic about the intervention, and the "salty" comments to the French about Susan Rice - at the time the US's ambassador to the UN, now Obama's National Security Adviser - which are mentioned in the article, make it clear the US felt it was being led by the nose into an adventure in Libya that had been authored by its allies.

Comment: Further reading:


Erdogan's fantasy: A 'refugee city' in Syria, only a devious smokescreen

© themuslimissue.wordpress.com
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent suggestion about building a 'refugee city' on a foreign territory is only a smokescreen, which conceals his true intentions, among which are a push for a buffer zone and air cover for his 'moderate rebels,' says the German media.

Ahead of the Turkish-EU emergency summit on refugee crisis, which is currently underway in Brussels, the Turkish leader has come up with a suggestion to build a "refugee city." However, the city is to be located near the Turkish border, on the territory of a foreign state. "I am going to tell you something. What is the formula? We found a city in the north of Syria," Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul late Friday.

The Turkish president said he had even discussed the idea with US President Barack Obama, which however "has not yet come to fruition." German's Zeit Online is convinced that the suggestion is a "smokescreen" which conceals the Turkish president's true intentions.

Comment: Erdogan, the master puppet, has dared take on a fantasy life of his own, flailing his string-tied arms in the air with hardly a leg to stand on. He believes his ploys are indiscernible and therefore out of sight. But strings are there for a purpose and this marionette is but "an emperor in his own mind."

Eye 2

Terrorists in Kiev shell eastern Ukraine checkpoint, sending Russian journalists into hiding

© Ruptly
A group of Russian journalists, including a stringer for RT's Ruptly video agency, have come under shelling by Kiev forces at a checkpoint near the town of Yasinovataya in eastern Ukraine.

No one was injured in the incident on Tuesday, but the journalists were forced to hide in a basement until the end of the bombardment.

The shelled reporters represent RT's Ruptly video agency, Russia's VGTRK, Channel One, Channel Five, and RIA-Novosti news agency, as well as local Donetsk News Agency.

The Ukrainian forces used mortars, grenade launchers, and fire arms in the attack, RIA-Novosti reported.

Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) spokesman Eduard Basurin said earlier that Kiev's forces were trying to battle through to rebel-held territory near the strategic transport-hub of Yasinovataya.


Yemen has received just 2% of required $1.8Bln in aid

© AP Photo/ Hani Mohammed
The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, launched in Geneva last month, is currently just 2 percent funded, according to spokesman for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) Leo Dobbs.

Yemen has received just 2 percent of $1.8 billion required to provide 13.6 million people with necessary humanitarian assistance, spokesman for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) Leo Dobbs said Tuesday.

"The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, launched in Geneva last month, seeks $1.8 billion for more than 100 humanitarian partners to provide critical and life-saving assistance to 13.6 million people in need. It is currently just 2 percent funded," Dobbs told reporters in Geneva.

Yemen is engulfed in a military conflict between Houthis, the country's main opposition faction, and government forces. In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states began airstrikes against Houthi positions in Yemen at the request of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

According to UNHCR data, in 2015, donors provided $892 million out of $1.6 billion, or 56 percent, requested by humanitarian organizations in Yemen.

Comment: No funding for humanitarian aid, but plenty of funding for the wars that lead to the necessity of that aid. See also: