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Washington is warning the Syrian government against a final assault on rebel-held Idlib province, but President Trump's own envoy has admitted that the province is controlled by al-Qaeda. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley meanwhile claims a gas attack is coming and she knows just who's behind it. Will the battle for Idlib end with a whisper, like Aleppo, or something more dangerous...?
Quite a lot happened at the beginning of September, including threats by the US president against a mainstay American ally, Canada; the total cutting of US aid to Palestinians; and release of a national survey showing that 60 per cent of Americans disapprove of President Trump’s performance. The President of the United States certainly shows the world that he has influence. The trouble for Washington is that its mop-haired mover and shaker doesn’t realise the potential effects of his antics and insults.
Then the White House announced that in November Trump will go to Paris to attend a military parade like the one he enjoyed so much last year, after which he’ll travel to Buenos Aires for a global economic forum. He’s not going to bother going to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Papua New Guinea or to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore. This means he will have visited only one single Asian nation in 2018 — and that was Singapore, to meet the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The Australians are far from impressed, because it had been hoped he would visit their country, which has nailed its flag firmly to the mast of US expansionism rather than being sensible and forging closer ties with China, on which it relies so much as an export market.
Contrast Trump’s behaviour with that of his opposite number in China, President Xi, who has just finished hosting a Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing, attended by the leaders of almost every African country who, of course, were treated with appropriate civility. (Trump refers to African countries with his customary insulting vulgarity.)
African statements in Beijing were eminently practical, with, for example, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (the rotating chair of the African Union), saying that China engaged Africa as an equal partner. He commended the two sides’ growing economic and political partnership, and observed that “Africa is not a zero-sum game. Our growing ties with China do not come at anyone’s expense. Indeed, the gains are enjoyed by everyone who does business on our continent.”
Eat your hearts out, Canada and Australia, who are somewhat annoyed with the US because of its president’s spurning of the best allies the Washington Establishment could wish for. But not content with treating friends with spiteful contempt, Trump decided to punish the Palestinians by stopping US aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency, a saintly organisation which works all the hours on the clock in order to “provide assistance and protection for some 5 million registered Palestine refugees to help them achieve their full potential in human development.”
Now : UNRWA isn’t perfect. It’s a UN body, which means that it’s under all sorts of peculiar rules, like being unable to always choose the best person for a job because of such things as “rostering” — but make no mistake, most members of such teams as UNRWA and the UN High Commission for Refugees are worth their weight in gold. And it’s gold we are talking about, because some of that lifesaving 300 million dollars that Trump cut off from the Palestinians will now go to increasing US aid to Israel by 200 million dollars next year.
This handout is in addition to the 3.8 billion dollars that the US is giving Israel in military aid for ten years. And that’s not all, because there are lots of cherries and a great deal of cream on that aid cake. Israel can use 26% of US military aid to purchase equipment from Israeli manufacturers. According to the Congressional Research Service, “no other recipient of US military assistance has been granted this benefit.” In Israel, what goes around, comes around, just as it does, in a very different fashion, in Palestine.
The effects of Trump’s vicious punishment of Palestinians, wholeheartedly endorsed by the US Congress, which is unconditional in its support of Israel, was much regretted by all those of merciful and humanitarian inclination, and especially by the Relief Agency, whose spokesperson said “this decision is likely to have a devastating impact on the lives of 526,000 children who receive a daily education from UNRWA; 3.5 million sick people who come to our clinics for medical care; 1.7 million food insecure people who receive assistance from us, and tens of thousands of vulnerable women, children and disabled refugees who come to us.”
There are going to be countless thousands of young Palestinians who will be gravely affected by this callous, vindictive and totally unnecessary ruling. And this brings us to what is probably going to be the longest-term and most hideous effect of the Trump anti-Palestinian, pro-Israel policy.
Place yourself in the body, in the mind, of a clever teenage Palestinian boy. Try to imagine what he might feel about the United States of America. Is he going to regard the US as a benevolent democracy that exercises compassionate guidance throughout the world?
Of course he’s not. He is going to loathe Trump and America and every American with a profound, unrelenting, everlasting hatred that could well find release explosively, in all meanings of the word.
There he is, a thin, malnourished, ill-clad, intelligent Palestinian young man whose ambition is limited entirely by what he sees in the world around him. He sees life stretching before him in a confined line dictated by malevolent outsiders. He sees little ahead but poverty and persecution. His people are downtrodden, and he has experienced nothing but suffering in his entire life, so far. The lure of revenge by terror must beckon with compelling attraction.
The young Palestinian has seen and will continue to see demolition of Palestinian villages by the Israeli army in order to build condo-blocks for Israeli settlers; if he lives in Gaza he will have witnessed the slaughter of 152 unarmed Palestinians by the Israeli army; he will have seen thousands of his compatriots wounded by Israeli army gunmen; and he will know well that “across the Gaza Strip, psychological trauma, poverty and environmental degradation have had a negative impact on residents’ physical and mental health; many, including children, suffer from anxiety, distress and depression.”
And many feel anger. Anger at their Israeli oppressors, and anger at the United States. What Trump and Washington do not realise is that they could win over the Palestinians and remove or at least diminish their hatred of everything that is American by behaving in a reasonable manner.
Simple recognition of their right to their lands, combined with expressions of understanding and compassion, would at least initiate an approach to tranquillity, as well as benefitting millions of utterly blameless Palestinians. But of much more importance, it would remove the anger that one of these days is most probably going to result in a terrorist strike of catastrophic proportions.
US Navy Seizes Aden Pirate Booty
September 9, 2018 by gCaptain
Sailors stack a cache of more than 1,000 AK-47 automatic rifles aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham. US Navy Photo by Jonathan Clay.
MANAMA, Bahrain — The guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham seized an illicit weapons shipment found aboard a stateless skiff in the international waters of the Gulf of Aden, Aug. 28 now at counted 2,521 AK-47 automatic rifles.
The count follows an initial estimate of over 1,000 rifles. The skiff was determined to be stateless following a flag verification boarding, conducted in accordance with international law. The origin and intended destination of the skiff have not yet been determined.
“We are actively involved in searching for illegal weapons shipments of all kinds,” said Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and the Combined Maritime Forces. “Ensuring the flow of commerce for legitimate traffic continues to be paramount to the U.S. Navy and its regional partners and allies.”
The seizure comes after four weapons seizures in 2015 and 2016 accomplished by Combined Maritime Forces and U.S. 5th Fleet assets.
The first seizure was by Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Melbourne Sept. 27, 2015, when it intercepted a dhow containing 75 anti-tank guided munitions, four tripods with associated equipment, four launch tubes, two launcher assembly units and three missile guidance sets.
The second seizure was by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin, which intercepted a dhow Feb. 27, 2016, confiscating nearly 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 81 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 60mm mortar tubes.
The third seizure was by the French Navy destroyer FS Provence March 20, 2016, and yielded again almost 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 64 Dragunov sniper rifles, nine anti-tank missiles and six PK machine guns with bipods.
The fourth seizure was by U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship USS Sirocco (PC 6) operating as part of U.S. 5th Fleet March 28, 2016, when it intercepted a dhow containing 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50 caliber machine guns.
The United Kingdom-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research studied and linked three of the caches to weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles.
Based on crew interviews, a review of onboard records and an examination of the arms aboard the vessel, the United States concluded that the arms from the four interdictions in 2015 and 2016 originated in Iran and were intended to be delivered to the Houthis in Yemen in contravention of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216.
'Blame already assigned': Staged chem attack in Idlib begins filming, according to Russian MoD RT
Published on Sep 12, 2018
Moscow has been warning of a possible staged chemical attack by militant fighters in Idlib province - which is the last terrorist stronghold in the country - and says it's designed to frame Damascus and provoke large-scale foreign military intervention.
Russia's Defence Ministry claims that the filming of such an assault has already begun.
Rebels in Syria's Idlib train in case of a regime offensive AFP news agency
Published on Sep 11, 2018
Rebel fighters from the newly-formed National Liberation Front are training in Idlib in the event of a military offensive by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally on the country's last rebel stronghold. Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned Syria and its backers against launching a full-scale battle in Idlib, saying the province "must not be transformed into a bloodbath."
The War in Syria: UN warns worst could be yet to come in Idlib TRT World
Published on Sep 11, 2018
The United Nations has warned top diplomats from Russia, Iran and Turkey that the worst could be yet to come in the Syrian province of Idlib. Talks are being held in Geneva over concerns that a majoroffensive is aboutto be launched regime. Over the past week the regime and Russia have been bombing the province - which is the last remaining rebel stronghold. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned there will be global repercussions if nothing is done. Hasan Abdullah has more. #idlib#turkey#un
Ron Paul on Syrian tensions: 'US playing too many games with al-Qaeda' RT
Published on Sep 13, 2018
The US effort to preserve its global dominance is a costly endeavor based on threats and keeping the American people in the dark about what is going on, told RT former US congressman and libertarian politician Ron Paul.
BAKU - Known for its output of hydrocarbon resources and for its close proximity to some of the world’s busiest maritime traffic lanes, as well as the cradle of the Islamic faith, Saudi Arabia has a monumental impact on the political events in the Middle East. Yet, the kingdom also faces several inherent domestic and foreign complications that shape its geopolitical behaviour.
A top Israeli military and energy official has questioned Israel and China's growing economic ties just as a Chinese company is set to begin operating Haifa Port as part of a major 25-year contract previously struck in 2015.
“When China acquires ports,” Israeli Brigadier General Shaul Horev began in an interview this week with national news source, Arutz Sheva, “it does so under the guise of maintaining a trade route from the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal to Europe, such as the port of Piraeus in Greece. Does an economic horizon like this have a security impact?"
Gen. Horev, who has also served as navy chief of staff and chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, continued to sound the alarm over a Chinese takeover, "We are not weighing that possibility sufficiently. One of the senior American figures at the conference raised the question of whether the U.S. Sixth Fleet can see Haifa as a home port. In light of the Chinese takeover, the question is no longer on the agenda.”
He is calling for an Israeli security mechanism that that will review and scrutinize Chinese investments in Israel and the Mediterranean to ensure they don't harm the security interests of Israel or its partners, like the United States.
Chinese military ship at Haifa port in 2012.
The Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) will manage Israel's largest port at Haifa as part of a contract to be inagurated in 2021, which will run for 25 years. Meanwhile a separate Chinese firm was recently awarded a contract to construct a new port in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod.
According to various reports China has been spending roughly $150bn a year in the countries involved in its massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which seeks to link Asia, Europe, and Africa in a vast Chinese-underwritten free trade infrastructure. Mediterranean outposts like Haifa are a key link in this corridor, a corridor which China hopes will be fully established as a "21st century Silk Road" by 2049.
But as we've noted recently, major multi-billion dollar infrastructural projects in host counties could come at a cost, namely it could open the door to Chinese spying and expanding influence of its security services.
Representatives of China's Shanghai International Port (Group) Co Ltd (SIPG) join hands with Israeli port authorites at a ceremony to sign a deal that empowers the Chinese company to run a new port in northern Israel for 25 years on May 29, 2015. Image source: Xinhua News
The Israeli military official's statements came after a major defense conference hosted in the city of Haifa last month, where the issue of Chinese economic expansion into Israel was discussed and debated.
The Haifa conference was held in conjunction with the conservative Washington-based Hudson Institute. Several of the American participants were former senior Pentagon and navy personnel. The remarks of the senior figure Horev quoted were sharper than the polite tone he used. The Americans who were at the conference think Israel lost its mind when it gave the Chinese the keys to Haifa Port. Once China is in the picture, they said, the Israel Navy will not be able to count on maintaining the close relations it has had with the Sixth Fleet.
Critical voices of Israel's closer relations with China noted that such decisions as the Haifa port deal with the SIPG were made solely under the oversight of the Transportation Ministry and the Ports Authority, but reportedly had no involvement of the the National Security Council or Israel's navy.
USS Iwo Jima docks in the Port of Haifa, via YNet News
This is concerning, critics say, as President Trump has ratcheted up his rhetoric over China's threat to American business and interests at home and overseas.
The US military for example, routinely conducts exercises with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and docks ships and carriers at Israeli ports, including Haifa Port — soon to be operated by a Chinese company.
This is also worrisome considering China's increased ties with Iran and refusal to abide by White House sanctions on Tehran and Trump's demand that countries should stop importing Iran's oil.
China had jumped at the opportunity to be a prime mover in Iran's economy since international sanctions were lifted in January 2016 as part of the 2015 nuclear deal brokered by the United Kingdom, United States, France, Russia, China, and Germany, but which the Trump White House pulled the US out of last May.
Relations between China and Iran began to thaw from the moment Chinese President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, and by January 2016 - at the moment sanctions were lifted - Xi visited Tehran, meeting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani - which marked the first time a Chinese president visited Iran in 14 years.
Critics of the Chinese takeover of Haifa port say this will grow increasingly awkward for Tel Aviv, which has an official position that Iran seeks to wipe Israel off the map.
Iran's President Rouhani and Xi have since the Israel-China Haifa port deal signed agreements related to the Belt and Road. This included 17 multi-billion-dollar deals covering areas of energy, finance, communications, banking, culture, science, technology, and politics, with a further ten year road map of broader China-Iran cooperation. In total this could see trillions pumped into the Iranian economy over the coming decades while physically connecting China with Europe and Africa on an infrastructural level and in an expanding trade relationship.
And this all brings back the original questions: if China is to play a crucial lifeline for Iran as it attempts to survive aggressive US sanctions, and if Israel is growing economically closer to China, won't such an alignment be dangerous to Israel's long term security and its tied-at-the-hip relations to Washington?
Or perhaps trade and free markets will produce the opposite effect: soften tensions, turn nations away from war and toward pragmatism, and bring greater regional stability.
Published on Sep 21, 2018
RT correspondent Dan Cohen joins In Question to bring us the latest on a story which exposes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as lying when he told Congress that Saudi and Emirati forces are taking measures to reduce civilian casualties in Yemen. Pompeo reportedly lied in order to protect arms industry sales. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act requires Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates implement steps in order to prevent civilian loss of life in Yemen.
Published on Sep 22, 2018
4 facts which constitute, in my opinion, the core of the conflict.
Tell me what you think about the conclusion !
You know that Palestine is constituted of the West Bank, here and of the Gaza Strip, here. This is were protests were held. Those people are prisoners, confined to a very tiny strip of land measuring 41km long and between 6 and 12 km wide, with one of the highest population densities in the world. They live in horrible conditions and they can’t escape. They can’t cross the Israeli fence, they can’t even fish at more than 3, 6 or 9 nautical miles from the shore, depending on the Israeli authorizations, and they can hardly cross the Egyptian border with no guarantees that they will be able to return!
BREAKING! Shoigu: Syria Will Receive SS-300s and State of the Art Guidance System Vesti News
Published on Sep 24, 2018
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The Russian Defence Ministry announced the decision to reinforce the capabilities of the Syrian anti-missile system. The appropriate measures will be adopted in accordance with Putin's instructions in the context of the tragedy in the Syrian sky that took the lives of the Russian crew of the Il-20 survey aircraft.