Sunday, November 29, 2015

Israel Celebrates International Solidarity with Palestine Day with Kindergarten Raid

Dozens Injured in Clashes Across West Bank, Kindergarten Raided

by IMEMC News and Agencies

November 29, 2015

At least 29 kidnapped overnight.

Dozens of Palestinians were injured Sunday, during clashes with Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank, while at least 29 Palestinians were kidnapped by Israeli forces, overnight.

Dozens were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets at the northern entrance of al-Bireh, according to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency.

Following a peaceful rally called for by the Fateh movement and national factions, which took off from the center of Ramallah to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians, clashes broke out between protestors and Israeli forces.

The Secretary of Fateh in Ramallah and al-Bireh, Mwaffaq Suhwahil, asserted that the event is a clear message to Israel that 'Fateh’ and the Palestinian people will continue to fight against the occupation until the establishment of independent state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.'

Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided a kindergarten in Beit Ummar, to the south of Hebron, according to a local official.

Spokesperson of the anti settlement popular committee in Beit Ummar, Mohammed Awad, said that armed Israeli soldiers raided the kindergarten at dawn, after breaking down its main front door and windows.

He said that forces further destroyed the furniture, computers, and children’s belongings, and ripped up the tiles from one of the classrooms before withdrawing from the area.

The Israeli army has previously carried out numerous such attacks, with deliberate and reckless use of force, against schools and educational facilities across the West Bank, in a serious violation of international law and students’ right to pursue education in a safe environment.

To be noted, Defense for Children International (DCI) described the year 2014 as the most difficult year for Palestinian children, due to ongoing Israeli violations, mainly the 2014 summer aggression on the Gaza Strip.

See video: Gaza City's Devastated Al-Shuja'eyya Suburb

The Global Coalition to protect Education from Attack also said, “During situations of armed conflict, attacks on education may violate international humanitarian and criminal law and constitute war crimes (or crimes against humanity during war or peacetime) as set out in the 1907 Hague Regulations, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and customary international humanitarian law.”

Mohammad Awad, the coordinator of the popular committee against settlements and the Apartheid Wall in Beit Ummar, said that clashes also broke out in the al-Thaher area, near the illegal settlement of Karmei Tzur, where Israeli soldiers fired teargas canisters in the direction of Palestinian houses, resulting in suffocation cases.

At least five Palestinian students were injured by live fire, while dozens others suffocated due to teargas inhalation during renewed clashes with Israeli troops at the campus of Palestine Technical University (Kadoorie) in Tulkarem, on Sunday, according to medical sources.

The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) said that five students were injured by live ammunition and dozens others suffocated due to inhaling teargas, as Israeli forces raided the university’s campus. Other students were also injured by rubber-coated rounds, and were treated at the scene.

PRC reported that three students lost consciousness due to excessive tear gas inhalation, which necessitated their transfer to hospital for treatment.

Since the beginning of unrest in October 2015, the university has been a scene of renewing clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians students, which have resulted in numerous injury cases and affected daily classes.

Israeli forces, overnight, abducted at least 29 Palestinians, including minors, from across various West Bank districts, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS).

PPS said that at least 15 Palestinians were detained from the Hebron area, 11 of whom were identified as Turkey al-A’lami, 37, Mohammed Abu Jhaisheh, 21, Mohammed Swaiti, Mo’ath Masalmeh, Mohammed Masharqa, Ayman and Mohammed Masharqa, Khalil Dasseh, 23, 26-year-old Ashraf and Amjad, 26, al-Qadi, in addition to Mohammed, 19, and Mohannad,17, Awad. The identity of the remaining four remains unknown until the moment.

In al-Bireh and Ramallah, forces kidnapped five Palestinians, including a 52-year-old mother of a Palestinian detainee held in Israeli jails, as she was on her way to visit her imprisoned son.

The five were identified as Nada Shokeh, 52, and Fadi Atallah, 17, in addition to three brothers identified as Ahmad, 19, Mahmoud, 21, and Mohannad, 17, Salahat.

Forces further took two more Palestinians from the Nablus area. They were identified as Mohammed Khader, and Ja’afar Ramadan.

In Tulkarem, army soldiers detained minor Ismail I’tair from the village of Faro’un.

In the meantime, forces served a number of Palestinian youths from Qabatiya, to the south of Jenin, with notices ordering them to appear before Israeli intelligence, at Salem military camp, in Jenin.

PPS said that, during the past two days, Israeli forces have detained at least 34 Palestinians, including a young women identified as Maryam Sawafteh, 21, from Tubas.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Bank Crime Pays (Big Time!): Life Under the Mafiocracy

Bank Crimes Pay: Under the Thumb of the Global Financial Mafiocracy

by Andrew Gavin Marshall - Dissident Voice

November 27th, 2015

November 13, the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced it was charging 10 individual bankers, working for two separate banks, Deutsche Bank and Barclays, with fraud over their rigging of the Euribor rates. The latest announcement shines the spotlight once again on the scandals and criminal behavior that have come to define the world of global banking.

To date, only a handful of the world’s largest banks have been repeatedly investigated, charged, fined or settled in relation to a succession of large financial scams, starting with mortgage fraud and the Libor scandal in 2012, the Euribor scandal and the Forex (foreign exchange) rate rigging. At the heart of these scandals, which involve the manipulation of interest rates on trillions of dollars in transactions, lie a handful of banks that collectively form a cartel in control of global financial markets – and the source of worldwide economic and financial crises.

Banks such as HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Bank of America, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS anchor the global financial power we have come to recognize as fraud. The two, after all, are not mutually exclusive. In more explicit terms, this cartel of banks functions as a type of global financial Mafia, manipulating markets and defrauding investors, consumers and countries while demanding their pound of flesh in the form of interest payments. The banks force nations to impose austerity measures and structural reforms under the threat of cutting off funding; meanwhile they launder drug money for other cartels and organized crime syndicates.

Call them the global Mafiocracy

In May, six major global banks were fined nearly $6 billion for manipulation of the foreign exchange market, which handles over $5 trillion in daily transactions. Four of the six banks pleaded guilty to charges of “conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged.”

Those banks were Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, while two additional banks, UBS and Bank of America, were fined but did not plead guilty to the specific charges. Forex traders at Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and other banks conspired to manipulate currency prices through chat room groups they established, where they arrogantly used names like “The Mafia” and “The Cartel.”

The FBI said the investigations and charges against the big banks revealed criminal behavior “on a massive scale.” The British bank Barclays paid the largest individual fine at around $2.3 billion. But as one trader at the bank wrote in a chat room conversation back in 2010, “If you aint cheating, you aint trying.” The total fines, while numerically large, were but a small fraction of the overall market capitalization of each bank – though the fine on Barclays amounted to some 3.4% of the bank’s market capitalization, the highest percentage by far among the group.

Despite the criminal conspiracy charges covering the years 2007 through 2013, the banks and their top officials continue to lay the blame squarely at the feet of individual traders. Axel Weber, the former president of the German Bundesbank (the central bank of Germany), who is now chairman of Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, commented that “the conduct of a small number of employees was unacceptable and we have taken appropriate disciplinary actions.”

Looking at the larger scale of bank fines and fraud in the roughly eight years since the global financial crisis, the numbers increase substantially. In addition to a 2012 settlement for mortgage-related fraud in the U.S. housing market, which amounted to some $25 billion, several large banks paid individual fines related to mortgage and foreclosure fraud – including a $16 billion fine for Bank of America, and $13 billion for JPMorgan Chase. Added to these are fines related to the rigging of the Libor rate (the interest rate at which banks lend to each other) and the Forex rigging, as well as money laundering, violating sanctions, manipulating the price of gold, manipulating the U.S. electricity market and assisting tax evasion, among other crimes.

According to a research paper published in June, the total cost of litigation (fines, penalties, settlements, etc.) paid by 16 major global banks since 2010 has reached more than $300 billion. Bank of America paid the most, amounting to more than $66 billion, followed by JPMorgan Chase, Lloyds, Citigroup, Barclays, RBS, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, BNP Paribas, Santander, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, UBS, National Australia Bank, Standard Chartered and Société Générale.

Virtually all of these banks also appear on a list of data, compiled through 2007, revealing them to be among the most interconnected and powerful financial institutions in the world. This core group of corporations forms part of a network of 147 financial institutions that Swiss scientists refer to as the “super-entity,” which, through their various shareholdings, collectively control and own each other and roughly 40% of the world’s 43,000 largest transnational corporations.

In other words, the big banks – along with large insurance companies and asset management firms – do not simply act as a cartel in terms of engaging in criminal activities, but they form a functionally interdependent network of global financial and corporate control. Further, the banks work together in various industry associations and lobbying groups where they officially represent their collective interests.

The largest European banks and financial institutions are represented by the European Financial Services Round Table (EFR), whose membership consists of the CEOs or Chairmen of roughly 25 of the top financial institutions on the continent, including Deutsche Bank, AXA, HSBC, Allianz, RBS, ING, Barclays, BNP Paribas, UBS, and Credit Suisse, among others.

In the United States, the Financial Services Forum (FSF) represents the largest American along with some European banks and financial institutions. The Forum’s membership consists of less than 20 executives, including the CEOs or Chairmen of such firms as Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, UBS, HSBC, AIG, Bank of New York Mellon, State Street Corporation, Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo, among others.

In addition to these various groups and associations, many of the same large banks and their top executives also serve as members, leaders or participants in much more secretive groups and forums – for example, the International Monetary Conference (IMC), a yearly meeting of hundreds of the world’s top bankers hosted by the American Bankers Association, which invites selected politicians, central bankers and finance ministers to attend their off-the-record discussions. In addition, there is the Institut International d’Etudes Bancaires (International Institute of Banking Studies), or IIEB, which brings together the top officials from dozens of Europe’s major financial institutions for discussions with central bankers, presidents and prime ministers in “closed sessions” with virtually no coverage in the media.

These financial institutions are major owners of government debt, which gives them even greater leverage over the policies and priorities of governments. Exercising this power, they typically demand the same thing: austerity measures and “structural reforms” designed to advance a neoliberal market economy that ultimately benefits those same banks and corporations. The banks in turn create the very crises that require governments to bail them out, racking up large debts that banks turn into further crises, pressuring economic reforms in return for further loans. The cycle of crisis and control continues, and all the while, the big banks and financial institutions engage in criminal conspiracies, fraud, manipulation and money-laundering on a massive scale, including acting as the financial services arm of the world’s largest drug cartels and terrorists organizations.

Welcome to the world governed by the global financial Mafiocracy – because if you’re not concerned, you’re not paying attention.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is co-editor of the book, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.
Read other articles by Andrew Gavin, or visit Andrew Gavin's website.

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: Past Time the World Protected Acts for Palestine

EU Official Martina Anderson Calls for International Protection of Palestinians

by IMEMC News and Agencies 

November 28, 2015

On the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, a European Union official, Friday, called for placing Palestine and the Palestinian people under international protection.

photo: Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency
“Ahead of International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people I would like to reiterate my call to place Palestine and its people under international protection, ” said Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine, MEP Martina Anderson.

“The occupiers will not protect the occupied,” stressed the EU official, according to WAFA.

Commenting on the latest Israeli spree of killings perpetrated against Palestinians, Anderson stated:

“Today Palestinians face as much as hardships as they have throughout their history. The escalation of violence in the region following the Israeli decision to restrict access to Jerusalem holy city on a sectarian basis has resulted in almost one hundred Palestinians losing their lives with thousands more being wounded by police and army’s brutality and indiscriminate settlers’ attacks.”

Anderson also called upon states all over the world to recognize Palestine, and called for the Israeli blockade on Gaza to be lifted, Israeli settler activity and terror, as well as the collective punishment of the Palestinian people and occupation to be ended.

“The collective punishment of Palestinian youths must end and in order to secure peace and stability in the region the occupation must end,” said the EU official.

She also called for the release of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli detention centers.

“Genuine progress towards a peaceful two-state solution cannot be made in a climate of fear and intimidation,” she concluded.

The United Nations observes the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29 each year, a very meaningful and significant day to the Palestinian people.

On that day in 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 181, which provided for the establishment of an “Arab State” and a “Jewish state” with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum under a special international regime.

According to the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) website, the Solidarity Day is meant to provide an opportunity for the international community to “focus its attention on the fact that the question of Palestine is still unresolved and that the Palestinian people is yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the GA, namely the right to self-determination without external influence, the right to national independence and sovereignty and the right to return to their homes and property from which they had been displaced.”

This day features worldwide events, such as the issuance of special messages of solidarity with the Palestinian people, the organization of meetings and photo exhibitions and the screenings of films.

In its resolution A/68/12 of 26 November 2013, the General Assembly decided to proclaim 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (IYSPP).

“The continuation of the Israeli occupation and its persistence with colonial settlement activities, cruel arrests and detention of civilians, affirm Israel's arrogance and intransigence, its violations of international law, its rejection of peace and its adherence instead to the ideology of colonial expansion, subjugation and greed,” Anderson was also quoted in a statement on the official website of Sinn Fein.

“Ending the injustice inflicted on the people of Palestine is a moral and humanitarian responsibility. The international community should compel Israel, the occupying power, to abide by international law to put an end to its violations and its illegal, aggressive and destructive practices.”

She adds, “The status quo under occupation and the Israeli iron fist is unsustainable as it keeps the region in a constant spiral of violence, bloodshed and conflict.

“The Palestine people have the right to enjoy freedom, dignity, sovereignty and independence in their Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

Word Games and False Pretense Frame Syria Bombing "Debate"

Word Games: False Premises Fuel Bogus Debate on Bombing Syria 

by Chris Floyd  - Empire Burlesque

27 November 2015

The debate over bombing ISIS in Syria rests on what one can only assume is a deliberate misapprehension. The imputation of this "debate" is that we "must do something" to quell and defeat ISIS; and the essential, imperative thing we must do to accomplish this vital goal is to bomb Syria. But of course the UK is already bombing ISIS. It bombs ISIS nearly every day -- in the group's heartland, Iraq. It has flown "thousands of missions" against ISIS, dropped tons of bombs, killed many people. Has this quelled or defeated ISIS, or curtailed its reach? Obviously not.

The origins, core strength and power centers of ISIS are all in Iraq. Syria, for all its inherent horrors, is a sideshow, a minor front for ISIS. As Patrick Cockburn notes, in Syria ISIS holds large tracts of desert territory but only one substantial city; in Iraq, it controls several major cities, rich oil fields, and strategic routes that make it a constant threat to the capital itself. The UK has been bombing ISIS in this core for some time: "thousands of missions," Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said this summer. Obviously, these continual bombings in the group's core have not affected its ability to wage war in the region or strike elsewhere in Europe. Why would bombing its hinterland in Syria have any effect?

The rush to bomb Syria is a cynical ploy to exploit the murderous tragedy in Paris for the benefit of the Washington-led agenda of regime change in Damascus. Bombing ISIS can help clear the way for the other militant Islamist rebels (including al Qaeda affiliates, now miraculously transformed into "moderates") whom the West and its Saudi allies favor.

What is wanted is an acquiescent regime in Damascus, unaligned with Iran and Russia, and controlled by Sunnis. The West wants the former, the Saudis want the latter. It's part of their "long war" to finally vanquish Shiite Islam. This was the explicit statement of Prince Bandar, the long-time Saudi ambassador to the US (who grew so close to one of America's ruling family that he was affectionately known as "Bandar Bush") and later head of Saudi intelligence. Here is what he told Richard Dearlove, the then-head of the UK's intelligence agency, MI6:

"The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shia'. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them."

This "chilling" conversation took place before 9/11, Dearlove notes.

The strident call to "bomb Syria" -- without any genuine strategic plan or aim behind it -- thus dovetails with geopolitical and theopolitical agendas that have absolutely nothing to do with the "safety and security of the British people" or "defeating terrorism" or "securing the freedom of the Syrian people to determine their own destiny" or "bringing peace and stability to the strife-torn Middle East." These are demonstrably NOT the overriding strategic concerns of Western leaders and their Middle Eastern allies. (Nor of the Russians, who are intervening in Syria to counter the West's geopolitical moves there and advance their own.)

Thus the "debate" over bombing Syria -- like all the other earnest public broils over government policy in the "War on Terror" -- is based on false premises. There are indeed an array of contentious factors in play, but these have to do with more mundane concerns: the struggle over control of the production and distribution of oil, gas and other natural and economic resources; attempts by various national governments and corporate interests to extend influence and exercise dominance over strategically important regions and markets; and the preservation and extension of power structures in various national governments. (The latter includes the vast and ever-expanding military-security-war profiteering complexes that now play such a commanding role in the politics and economies of major nations.) These are the enduring priorities of our power players, to be pursued by any means available.

Concerns about the safety, security and freedom of ordinary people play little or no role in the actual decisions of the policymakers involved -- unless those concerns can be usefully exploited to advance elite agendas. Abject fear -- or dulled, distracted indifference: these are the preferred states for public opinion. Any attempts at actual engagement, at genuine debate are swiftly marginalized, mocked and crippled, with the policing done by the establishment media and members of the dissenters' own party, eager to prove their loyalty to the greater power structure. This is what we are seeing in the UK right now, as Labour rips its own leader to shreds over his resistance to more war, fear, terror and exploitation.

So there is little point in earnest disquisitions over whether the bellicose policies being proposed will be effective in "confronting the scourge of terrorism." We know they won't. But that is not their intention.

Shootdown: Why NATO Would Use Turkey to Provoke Russia

NATO Attack on Russian Air Forces: Reasons and Consequences

by Christopher Black - NEO

The NATO attack on a Russian military jet on Tuesday November 24, using the Turkish air force to do its dirty work, is a dangerous act of war against Russia with very dangerous consequences for the world. The murder of one of the pilots, shot by ISIS terrorists while parachuting to the ground, is a war crime for which Turkey and the NATO countries are collectively responsible.

President Putin has rightly called it a stab in the back by Turkey, a betrayal that cannot be forgiven and will forever be remembered.

If anyone ever doubted that the joint criminal enterprise called NATO was supporting and directing the terrorist groups in Syria, the same groups, they claim, that conducted the attacks in Paris and on the Russian airliner over Sinai, they now have the proof. Can there be any doubt that this attack on Russian forces in Syria is intended to disrupt the Russian-Syrian campaign against those NATO supported terrorist groups? Can there be any doubt that if they are willing to shoot down one Russian aircraft they are willing to shoot down more? Can there be any doubt that this attack is intended to push Russia to react with counter force against Turkey resulting in a claim by NATO that it is under attack, resulting in a general war?

This attack is intended to both test Russian resolve in Syria and to provoke it into a reaction that will be used to justify further military actions by the Turkish and US military forces against the Russian forces. It was preceded by hysterical claims by NATO leaders that Russia and the Syrian government are the reasons ISIS exists and calling for action against both. It was preceded by the sudden appearance of the refugee crisis in Europe and then the attacks in Sinai and Paris and the constant fear raising alerts in Belgium, Germany, Britain and the United States.

Just days before this attack, Russia was subjected to the sabotage of the electric power lines connecting Crimea with the Ukraine electricity grid that the Kiev regime has not attempted to repair, cutting off power to Crimea at the same time as shelling of the Donbass republics increased, accompanied by a build up of Kiev forces in the region. Who would be surprised if Crimea also found itself subject to further sabotage and then shelling by the Kiev forces pushing Russia on this front as well, to react to defend its territory, again testing its resolve?

The only reaction from the NATO countries on Tuesday was to call an emergency meeting and it has to be asked if they knew this attack was coming since none of the NATO leaders has so far condemned Turkey’s action and it is logical to assume that the order for the attack came from Washington, desperate to save its terrorist proxy forces in Syria from being annihilated by the joint Syrian-Russian campaign against ISIS. No doubt the order was to seek a target of opportunity, bring it down, and see what happens, what Russia will do in response.

Whatever Russia does it will be serious but necessarily measured in order to avoid a general war in the Middle East. But act it will.

The New York Times, the journal that speaks for the American ruling class and intelligence services on the same day as the shoot down ran an opinion piece by their former ambassador to the United Nations, the aggressive John Bolton, who clearly defined the American strategy in Syria and Iraq. He wrote:

“Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan. If, in this context, defeating the Islamic State means restoring to power Mr. Assad in Syria and Iran’s puppets in Iraq, that outcome is neither feasible nor desirable. Rather than striving to recreate the post-World War I map, Washington should recognize the new geopolitics. The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.”


“Creating an American-led anti-Islamic State alliance instead of Moscow’s proposed coalition will require considerable diplomatic and political effort. American ground combat forces will have to be deployed to provide cohesion and leadership. But this would be necessary to defeat the Islamic State even if the objective were simply to recreate the status quo ante.”


“This Sunni state proposal differs sharply from the vision of the Russian-Iranian axis and its proxies (Hezbollah, Mr. Assad and Tehran-backed Baghdad). Their aim of restoring Iraqi and Syrian governments to their former borders is a goal fundamentally contrary to American, Israeli and friendly Arab state interests. Notions, therefore, of an American-Russian coalition against the Islamic State are as undesirable as they are glib.

In Syria, Moscow wants to dominate the regime (with or without Mr. Assad) and safeguard Russia’s Tartus naval base and its new Latakia air base. Tehran wants a continuing Alawite supremacy, with full protection for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria.

As for Iraq, Russia and Iran want the Sunni territories returned to Baghdad’s control, reinforcing Iran’s regional influence. They may wish for the same in Kurdistan, but they lack the capability there. Sunnis today support the Islamic State for many of the same reasons they once supported Al Qaeda in Iraq — as a bulwark against being ruled by Tehran via Baghdad. Telling these Sunni people that their reward for rising against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq will be to put them back in thrall to Mr. Assad and his ilk, or to Shiite-dominated Baghdad, will simply intensify their support for the jihadists. Why would they switch sides? This is why, after destroying the Islamic State, America should pursue the far-reaching goal of creating a new Sunni state. Though difficult in the near term, over time this is more conducive to regional order and stability.”

So there we have it, the plan by Washington and its dependencies to continue their aggression against Syria and Iraq in order to create a new state serving its interests and wrecking the strategic interests of Russia and Iran. This is a statement of intent to carry out a war of aggression against sovereign states, members of the United Nations, in complete defiance of and contempt for the United Nations Charter, and all international law and humanity. It matters not to them how many innocents are slaughtered in the process. They know no morality, have no conscience.

The shooting down of the Russian jet, the murder of its officers is in the logic of this madness. And how long will it be before a French fighter jet shoots down a Russian jet as well, claiming it was too close to them and further escalating the situation?

Can Russia trust the French after the Mistral Affair, the refusal by the French, to deliver two naval ships bought and paid for by Russia in order to sabotage Russian strategic interests, and after they learned that the French aircraft carrier was already on its way to the region before the Paris attack; giving credence to the strong possibility that the attack in Paris, and the bombing of the Russian airliner, were Gladio style NATO operations with the blame shifted to their assets in ISIS? No one in NATO can be trusted except to commit every crime and to cut every thread that
weaves civilization together.

The world watches and waits for the next phase of this war, a war which is developing with breathtaking rapidity into a world war in which all of us will suffer. Hopes for peace in our time have vanished along with the humanity required to achieve it. The anti-NATO, anti-war movement has not developed as we hoped and those who are engaged in the effort now risk arrest and worse as accomplices of ‘terrorism.” All I can say is prepare yourselves as best you can for what is coming, and try to resist, try to speak out, and try to hold the flame of civilization aloft as long as you can.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Israel's Field Executions

B'Tselem: Israeli Government Encourages Field Executions

by IMEMC News

Thursday November 26

Israeli human rights center, B'Tselem, is holding PM Benjamin Netanyahu's government responsible for the committing of field executions against Palestinians by both Israeli forces and civilians.

The director general of the center, Hagai Elad, said that the Israeli government encouraged Israeli forces to act as judge or executioner and to shoot Palestinians dead, even after apprehending them.

Elad noted that the security camera footage shows Israeli police shooting both Hadil and Nurhan Awad as they lay motionless on the ground. The footage shows that an Israeli civilian knocked Nurhan to the ground before being shot.

He also noted the incident in which Ashraqet Qatnani, aged 16, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers after being run over by Gershon Mesika, the former head of the Shomron regional council. Gershon confirmed that the soldiers shot her dead even though she was posing no danger to anyone.

The center reported, according to Al Ray, that Israeli ministers and other politicians, as well as top military and police officers, openly encourage civilians to shoot and kill any Palestinian suspected of assaulting Israelis, regardless of the extent of danger that he or she poses at the time.

It explained that the willful killing of a person who does not pose danger is patently unlawful and entails personal criminal responsibility.

Search IMEMC: "B'Tselem"

F*ck ISIS, Our Humanity is the Issue

Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake  

by Ramzy Baroud -

I still remember that smug look on his face, followed by the matter-of-fact remarks that had western journalists laugh out loud.

“I’m now going to show you a picture of the luckiest man in Iraq,” General Norman Schwarzkopf, known as ‘Stormin’ Norman, said at a press conference sometime in 1991, as he showed a video of US bombs blasting an Iraqi bridge, seconds after the Iraqi driver managed to cross it.

But then, a far more unjust invasion and war followed in 2003, following a decade-long siege that cost Iraq a million of its children and its entire economy.

It marked the end of sanity and the dissipation of any past illusions that the United States was a friend of the Arabs. Not only did the Americans destroy the central piece of our civilizational and collective experience that spanned millennia, it took pleasure in degrading us in the process. Their soldiers raped our women with obvious delight.  They tortured our men, and posed with the dead, mutilated bodies in photographs - mementos to prolong the humiliation for eternity; they butchered our people, explained in articulate terms as necessary and unavoidable collateral damage; they blew up our mosques and churches and refused to accept that what was done to Iraq over the course of twenty years might possibly constitute war crimes.

Then, they expanded their war taking it as far as US bombers could reach; they tortured and floated their prisoners aboard large ships, cunningly arguing that torture in international waters does not constitute a crime; they suspended their victims on crosses and photographed them for future entertainment.

Their entertainers, media experts, intellectuals and philosophers made careers from dissecting us, dehumanizing us, belittling everything we hold dear; they did not spare a symbol, a prophet, a tradition, values or set of morals.  When we reacted and protested out of despair, they further censured us for being intolerant to view the humor in our demise; they used our angry shouts to further highlight their sense of superiority and our imposed lowliness.

They claimed that we initiated it all. But they lied. It was their unqualified, inflated sense of importance that made them assign September 11, 2001 as the inauguration of history. All that they did to us, all the colonial experiences and the open-ended butchery of the brown man,  the black man, any man or woman who did not look like them or uphold their values, was inconsequential.

All the millions who died in Iraq were not considered a viable context to any historical understanding of terrorism; in fact, terrorism became us; the whole concept of terror, which is violence inflicted on innocent civilians for political ends, abruptly became an entirely Arab and Muslim trait. In retrospect, the US-Western-Israeli slaughter of the Vietnamese, Koreans, Cambodians, Palestinians, Lebanese, Egyptians, South Americans, Africans, was spared any censure. Yet, when Arabs attempted to resist, they were deemed the originators of violence, the harbingers of terror.

Furthermore, they carried out massive social and demographic experiments in Iraq which have been unleashed throughout the Middle East, since. They pitted their victims against one another: the Shia against the Sunni, the Sunni against the Sunni, the Arabs against the Kurds, and the Kurds against the Turks. They called it a strategy, and congratulated themselves on a job well done as they purportedly withdrew from Iraq. They disregarded the consequences of tampering with civilizations that have evolved over the course of millennia. 

When their experiments went awry, they blamed their victims. Their entertainers, media experts, intellectuals and philosophers flooded every public platform to inform the world that the vital mistake of the Bush administration was the assumption that Arabs were ready for democracy and that, unlike the Japanese and the Germans, Arabs were made of different blood, flesh and tears. Meanwhile, the finest of Arab men were raped in their jails, kidnapped in broad daylight, tortured aboard large ships in international waters, where the Law did not apply.

When the Americans and their allies claimed that they had left the region, they left behind bleeding, impoverished nations, licking their wounds and searching for bodies under rubble in diverse and macabre landscapes. Yet, the Americans, the British, the French and the Israelis, continue to stage their democratic elections around the debate of who will hit us the hardest, humiliate us the most, teach the most unforgettable lesson and, in their late night comedies, they mock our pain.

We, then, sprang up like wild grass in a desert, multiplied, and roamed the streets of Rabat, Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, calling for a revolution. We wanted democracy for our sake, not Bush’s democracy tinged with blood; we wanted equality, change and reforms and a world in which Gaza is not habitually destroyed by Israel and children of Derra could protest without being shot; where leaders do not pose as divinities and relish the endless arsenals of their western benefactors. We sought a life in which freedom is not a rickety dingy crossing the sea to some uncertain horizon where we are treated as human rubbish on the streets of western lands.

However, we were crushed; pulverized; imprisoned, burnt, beaten and raped and, once more, told that we are not yet ready for democracy; not ready to be free, to breathe, to exist  with even a speck of dignity.

Many of us are still honorably fighting for our communities; others despaired: they carried arms and went to war, fighting whoever they perceive to be an enemy, who were many. Others went mad, lost every sense of humanity; exacted revenge, tragically believing that justice can be achieved by doing unto others what they have done unto you. They were joined by others who headed to the West, some of whom had escaped the miseries of their homelands, but found that their utopia was marred with alienation, racism and neglect, saturated with a smug sense of superiority afflicted upon them by their old masters.

It became a vicious cycle, and few seem interested now in revisiting General Schwarzkopf’s conquests in Iraq and Vietnam - with his smug attitude and the amusement of western journalists - to know what actually went wrong. They still refuse to acknowledge history, the bleeding Palestinian wound, the heartbroken Egyptian revolutionaries and the destroyed sense of Iraqi nationhood, the hemorrhaging streets of Libya and the horrifying outcomes of all the western terrorist wars, with blind, oil-hungry dominating foreign policies that have shattered the Cradle of Civilization, like never before.

However, this violence no longer affects Arabs alone, although Arabs and Muslims remain the larger recipients of its horror. When the militants, spawned by the US and their allies, felt cornered, they fanned out to every corner of the globe, killing innocent people and shouting the name of God in their final moment.  Recently, they came for the French, a day after they blew up the Lebanese, and few days after the Russians; and, before that, the Turks and the Kurds, and, simultaneously, the Syrians and the Iraqis.

Who is next? No one really knows. We keep telling ourselves that 'it's just a transition' and ‘all will be well once the dust has settled’. But the Russians, the Americans and everyone else continue bombing, each insisting that they are bombing the right people for the right reason while, on the ground, everyone is shooting at whoever they deem the enemy, the terrorist, a designation that is often redefined. Yet, few speak out to recognize our shared humanity and victimhood.

No - do not always expect the initials ISIS to offer an explanation for all that goes wrong. Those who orchestrated the war on Iraq and those feeding the war in Syria and arming Israel cannot be vindicated.

The crux of the matter: we either live in dignity together or continue to perish alone, warring tribes and grief-stricken nations. This is not just about indiscriminate bombing - our humanity, in fact, the future of the human race is at stake.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His books include ‘Searching Jenin’, ‘The Second Palestinian Intifada’ and his latest ‘My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story’. His website is:  

Follow the Tax Money: Where Canada's Bombs Go

Operation IMPACT – Air Task Force-Iraq airstrikes

by Canadian Forces

Air Task Force-Iraq (ATF-I) is part of Joint Task Force-Iraq (JTF-I). It is currently deployed as part of Operation IMPACT, which is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) support to the Middle East Stabilization Force (MESF) – the multinational coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Republic of Iraq and in Syria.

The following provides information about airstrikes conducted by Canadian CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft to date. An airstrike is an aerial attack which is intended to inflict damage on or destroy an objective.

This map details CAF airstrikes between June 14 (14 / 6) 
and July 5 (5 / 7)  25 Nov 2015
Related links: Operation IMPACT

On 25 November 2015, while taking part in coalition airstrikes to increase Iraqi security forces' freedom of movement in the region, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position in the vicinity of Ramadi using precision guided munitions.
19 Nov 2015

On 19 November 2015, while taking part in coalition airstrikes to increase Iraqi security forces' freedom of movement in the region, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS weapons production facility in the vicinity of Mosul using precision guided munitions.
18 Nov 2015

On 18 November 2015, while taking part in coalition airstrikes in support of Iraqi security forces offensive operations, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck three separate ISIS fighting positions, one south of Kirkuk and two others northwest of Mosul, using precision guided munitions.
17 Nov 2015

On 17 November 2015, while taking part in coalition airstrikes in support of Iraqi security forces operations to clear ISIS from Ramadi, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck three ISIS fighting positions during two separate airstrikes in the vicinity of Ramadi using precision guided munitions.
15 Nov 2015

On 15 November, while taking part in coalition airstrikes in support of Iraqi security forces offensive operations, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position southeast of Haditha using precision guided munitions.
13 Nov 2015

On 13 November 2015, while taking part in coalition airstrikes in support of Iraqi security forces operations to clear ISIS from Ramadi, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS compound and two separate ISIS fighting positions in the vicinity of Ramadi using precision guided munitions.
12 Nov 2015

On 12 November 2015, while taking part in coalition airstrikes in support of Iraqi security forces operations to clear ISIS from Sinjar and seize portions of a significant ISIS supply route between Ar Raqqah, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS ammunition cache in the vicinity of Sinjar and an ISIS fighting position in the vicinity of Tal Afar using precision guided munitions.
7 Nov 2015

On 7 November 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position southeast of Mosul using precision guided munitions.

On 7 November 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position south of Sinjar using precision guided munitions.
6 Nov 2015

On 6 November 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position in the vicinity of Ramadi using precision guided munitions.

On 6 November 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck two ISIS fighting positions north of Fallujah using precision guided munitions.
5 Nov 2015

On 5 November 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck two ISIS compounds southwest of Sinjar using precision guided munitions.

Stones and Bullets: 100th Palestinian Killed Since October 1

100th Palestinian killed by Israeli troops since Oct. 1st: 21 year old shot during protest

by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News 

November 26, 2015

Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded the town of Qotna, northeast of occupied Jerusalem, early Thursday morning, shooting and killing one Palestinian, in addition to kidnapping and wounding many residents.

The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that the soldiers killed Yahya Yosri Taha, 21 years of age, with one live round in the head, during clashes that took place between the soldiers and local youths.

Medics who rushed to the scene said the soldiers kept Taha bleeding on the ground for more than 90 minutes, and prevented Palestinian medics from even approaching him.

Clashes took place in various parts of Qotna, after dozens of soldiers completely surrounded the village, and invaded it. The troops stormed and ransacked dozens of homes, and kidnapped scores of residents.

Yahya Yosri Taha (image from family)

The town’s youngsters hurled stones and empty bottles at the soldiers, who fired dozens of live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs.

The soldiers also assaulted and clubbed many residents after forcing them out of their homes. In each of the homes they invaded, the soldiers forced the families into one room and forced them to remain there while the troops ransacked and searched their property.

It is worth mentioning that four Palestinians from Qotna have been killed by Israeli army fire in the last two months, and dozens have been injured and kidnapped in repeated military invasions.

The victim of today’s attack, Yahya, was a close friend and relative of Anas Taha, who was shot dead by the army in August of this year.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the number of Palestinians killed since October 1, has reached 100, including 22 children and four women; one of the slain women, 30 years of age,was killed along with her two year old child, in their own home, in an Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Eighteen of the slain Palestinians were killed in Gaza, one in the Negev, and the rest in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem.

The Ministry said the more than 12.000 Palestinians have been injured since October 1, 1578 of them with live Israeli rounds, 1085 with rubber-coated steel bullets, and were all moved to hospitals, in addition to 1528 who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets and received treatment by Palestinian medics.

Picture of Yahya Yosri Taha after he was killed (image from family)


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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Cozy Relationship: Israel and IS

Israeli Colonel Caught with IS Pants Down

by F. William Engdahl - NEO

This was definitely not supposed to happen. It seems that an Israeli military man with the rank of colonel was “caught with IS pants down.” By that I mean he was captured amid a gaggle of so-called IS–or Islamic State or ISIS or DAESH depending on your preference–terrorists, by soldiers of the Iraqi army. Under interrogation by the Iraqi intelligence he apparently said a lot regarding the role of Netanyahu’s IDF in supporting IS.

In late October an Iranian news agency, quoting a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, reported the capture of an Israeli army colonel, named Yusi Oulen Shahak, reportedly related to the ISIS Golani Battalion operating in Iraq in the Salahuddin front.

In a statement to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency a Commander of the Iraqi Army stated, “The security and popular forces have held captive an Israeli colonel.” He added that the IDF colonel “had participated in the Takfiri ISIL group’s terrorist operations.”

He said the colonel was arrested together with a number of ISIL or IS terrorists, giving the details:

“The Israeli colonel’s name is Yusi Oulen Shahak and is ranked colonel in Golani Brigade… with the security and military code of Re34356578765az231434.”

Why Israel?

Ever since the beginning of Russia’s very effective IS bombing of select targets in Syria on September 30, details of the very dirty role of not only Washington, but also NATO member Turkey under President Erdogan, Qatar and other states has come into the sunlight for the first time.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that at least a faction in the Obama Administration has played a very dirty behind-the-scenes role in supporting IS in order to advance the removal of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and pave the way for what inevitably would be a Libya-style chaos and destruction which would make the present Syrian refugee crisis in Europe a mere warmup by comparison.

The “pro-IS faction” in Washington includes the so-called neo-conservatives centered around disgraced former CIA head and executioner of the Iraqi “surge” General David Petraeus. It also includes US General John R. Allen, who since September 2014 had served as President Obama’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and, until she resigned in February 2013, it included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Significantly, General John Allen, an unceasing advocate of a US-led “No Fly Zone” inside Syria along the border to Turkey, something President Obama refused, was relieved of his post on 23 October, 2015. That was shortly after launch of the highly-effective Russian strikes on Syrian IS and Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front terrorist sites changed the entire situation in the geopolitical picture of Syria and the entire Middle East.

UN Reports cites Israel

That Netanyahu’s Likud and the Israeli military work closely with Washington’s neo-conservative war-hawks is well-established, as is the vehement opposition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Israel regards the Iranian-backed Shi’a Islamist militant group, Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, as arch foe. Hezbollah has been actively fighting alongside the Syrian Army against ISIS in Syria. General Allen’s strategy of “bombings of ISIS” since he was placed in charge of the operation in September 2014, as Russia’s Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov have repeatedly pointed out, far from destroying ISIS in Syria, had vastly expanded their territorial control of the country. Now it becomes clear that that was precisely the intent of Allen and the Washington war faction.

Since at least 2013 Israeli military have also openly bombed what they claim were Hezbollah targets inside Syria. Investigation revealed that in fact Israel was hitting Syrian military and Hezbollah targets who are valiantly fighting against ISIS and other terrorists. De facto thereby Israel was actually helping ISIS, like General John Allen’s year-long “anti-ISIS” bombings.

That a faction in the Pentagon has secretly worked behind-the-scenes to train, arm and finance what today is called ISIS or IS in Syria is now a matter of open record. In August 2012, a Pentagon document classified “Secret,” later declassified under pressure of the US NGO Judicial Watch, detailed precisely the emergence of what became the Islamic State or ISIS emerging from the Islamic State in Iraq, then an Al Qaeda affiliate.

The Pentagon document stated, “…there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition [to Assad-w.e.] want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).” The supporting powers to the opposition in 2012 then included Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the USA and behind-the-scenes, Netanyahu’s Israel.

Precisely this creation of a “Salafist Principality in eastern Syria,” today’s territory of ISIL or IS, was the agenda of Petraeus, General Allen and others in Washington to destroy Assad. It’s what put the Obama Administration at loggerhead with Russia, China and Iran over the bizarre US demand Assad must first go before ISIS can be destroyed. Now the game is in the open for the world to see Washington’s duplicity in backing what the Russian’s accurately call “moderate terrorists” against a duly-elected Assad. That Israel is also in the midst of this rats’ nest of opposition terrorist forces in Syria was confirmed in a recent UN report.

What the report did not mention was why Israeli IDF military would have such a passionate interest in Syria, especially Syria’s Golan Heights.

Why Israel wants Assad Out

In December, 2014 the Jerusalem Post in Israel reported the findings of a largely ignored, and politically explosive report detailing UN sightings of Israeli military together with ISIS terrorist combatants. The UN peacekeeping force, UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), stationed since 1974 along the Golan Heights border between Syria and Israel, revealed that Israel had been working closely with Syrian opposition terrorists, including Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front and IS in the Golan Heights, and “kept close contact over the past 18 months.” The report was submitted to the UN Security Council. Mainstream media in the US and West buried the explosive findings.

The UN documents showed that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were maintaining regular contact with members of the so-called Islamic State since May of 2013. The IDF stated that this was only for medical care for civilians, but the deception was broken when the UNDOF observers identified direct contact between IDF forces and ISIS soldiers, including giving medical care to ISIS fighters. Observations even included the transfer of two crates from the IDF to ISIS forces, the contents of which have not been confirmed. Further the UN report identified what the Syrians label a “crossing point of forces between Israel and ISIS,” a point of concern UNDOF brought before the UN Security Council.

The UNDOF was created by a May, 1974 UN Security Council Resolution No. 350 in the wake of tensions from the October 1973 Yom Kippur War between Syria and Israel. It established a buffer zone between Israel and Syria’s Golan Heights according to the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement, to be governed and policed by the Syrian authorities. No military forces other than UNDOF are permitted within it. Today it has 1,200 observers.

Since 2013 and the escalation of Israeli attacks on Syria along the Golan Heights, claiming pursuit of “Hezbollah terrorists,” the UNDOF itself has been subject to massive attacks by ISIS or Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front terrorists in the Golan Heights for the first time since 1974, of kidnappings, of killings, of theft of UN weapons and ammunition, vehicles and other assets, and the looting and destruction of facilities. Someone obviously does not want UNDOF to remain policing the Golan Heights.

Israel and Golan Heights Oil

In his November 9 White House meeting with US President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu asked Washington to reconsider the fact that since the 1967 Six-Days’ War between Israel and the Arab countries, Israel has illegally occupied a significant part of the Golan Heights. In their meeting, Netanyahu, apparently without success, called on Obama to back formal Israeli annexation of the illegally-occupied Golan Heights, claiming that the absence of a functioning Syrian government “allows for different thinking” concerning the future status of the strategically important area.

Of course Netanyahu did not address in any honest way how Israeli IDF and other forces had been responsible for the absence of a functioning Syrian government by their support for ISIS and Al Nusra Front of Al Qaeda.

In 2013, when UNDOF began to document increasing contact between Israeli military and IS and Al Qaeda along the Golan Heights, a little-known Newark, New Jersey oil company, Genie Energy, with an Israeli daughter company, Afek Oil & Gas, began also moving into Golan Heights with permission of the Netanyahu government to explore for oil. That same year Israeli military engineers overhauled the forty-five mile border fence with Syria, replacing it with a steel barricade that included barbed wire, touch sensors, motion detectors, infrared cameras, and ground radar, putting it on par with the Wall Israel has constructed in the West Bank.

Interestingly enough, on October 8, Yuval Bartov, chief geologist from Genie Energy’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil & Gas, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that his company had found a major oil reservoir on the Golan Heights: “We’ve found an oil stratum 350 meters thick in the southern Golan Heights. On average worldwide, strata are 20 to 30 meters thick, and this is 10 times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities.” As I noted in an earlier article, the International Advisory Board of Genie Energy includes such notorious names as Dick Cheney, former CIA head and infamous neo-con James Woolsey, Jacob Lord Rothschild and others.

Of course no reasonable person in their right mind would suggest there might be a link between Israeli military dealings with the ISIS and other anti-Assad terrorists in Syria, especially in the Golan Heights, and the oil find of Genie Energy in the same place, and with Netanyahu’s latest Golan Heights “rethink” appeal to Obama. That would smell too much like “conspiracy theory” and all reasonable people know conspiracies don’t exist, only coincidences. Or? In fact, to paraphrase the immortal words of Brad Pitt in the role of West Virginia First Lieutenant Aldo Raine in the final scene of Tarantino’s brilliant film, Inglorious Basterds, it seems that ‘Ol Netanyahu and his pecker-suckin pals in the IDF and Mossad just got caught with their hands in a very dirty cookie jar in Syria.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
First appeared:

How Britons Resist Fracking: Voices from the Gasfields

Voices from the Gasfields: It started with Just ONE Well

by Ian R. Crane - 

This is the film the UK & Australian Governments do NOT want you to see! Documenting the accounts of families living with the hydrocarbon industry as a neighbour, this hour long documentary is shocking, as it reveals the day to day pollution these people live with – pollution of water, air, light and sound, some of the the basic human requirements needed to survive. The blind eye that the authorities and the hydrocarbon industry turn to these families living conditions, and the complete disregard to the environmental damage done to the bush by this, is truly disgraceful.

I have not seen another film like it, telling us, warning us how really dreadful life is living amongst the gas wells. I have a huge respect for the families in Australia that held onto their land and shared their stories with us. It was especially moving when Brian Monk speaks directly to the audience near the end of the video, very powerful indeed - we would be very wise to listen and act accordingly.

This film should be distributed and shown as widely as possible so we can learn and act. 

Full credit to Ian R Crane and his colleagues for turning around this moving, informative, high quality film in less than four months since his return from Australia. Thank you Ian and the families from Australia for the absolutely invaluable insight this film gives.

We need to take heed of the “Voices from the Gasfields” so these honourable families have not stayed loyal to their lands in vain.

Please support by donating via


East is East: Rejoining the Cold War Arms Race

Do We Really Want a New World War With Russia?

by F. William Engdahl - NEO

November 25, 2016

Washington continues making an international fool of herself by her inability to effectively counter the impression around the world that Russia, spending less than 10% of the Pentagon annually on defense, has managed to do more against ISIS in Syria in six weeks than the mighty US Air Force bombing campaign has done in almost a year and half.

One aspect that bears attention is the demonstration by the Russian military of new technologies that belie the widely-held Western notion that Russia is little more than a backward oil and raw material commodity exporter.

Recent reorganization of the Russian state military industrial complex as well as reorganization of the Soviet-era armed forces under Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s term are visible in the success so far of Russia’s ISIS and other terror strikes across Syria. Clearly Russian military capabilities have undergone a sea-change since the Soviet Cold War era.

In war there are never winners. Yet Russia has been in an unwanted war with Washington de facto since the George W. Bush Administration announced its lunatic plan to place what they euphemistically term “Ballistic Missile Defense” missiles and advanced radar in Poland, Czech Republic, Romania and Turkey after 2007. Without going into detail, BMD technologies are the opposite of defensive. They instead make a pre-emptive war highly likely. Of course the radioactive ash heap in such an exchange would be first and foremost the EU countries foolish enough to invite US BMD to their soil.

Then came the highly provocative US-instigated coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014, installing a cabal of gangsters, neo-nazis and criminals who launched a civil war against its own citizens in east Ukraine, an ill-conceived attempt to bring Russia into a ground war across her border. It followed two UN Security Council vetoes by Russia and China of US proposals for No Fly zones over Syria as was done to destroy Qaddafi’s Libya. Now Russia has surprised the West by accepting the request of Syrian President Bashar al Assad to help eliminate the terrorism that has ravaged the once-peaceful country for over four years.

What the Russian General Staff has managed, since the precision air campaign began September 30, has stunned western defense planners with Russian technological feats not expected. Two specific technologies are worth looking at more closely: The Russian Sukoi SU-34 fighter-bomber and what is called the Bumblebee hyperbaric mortar weapon.

Sukhoi SU-34 ‘Fullback’ fighter-bomber

The plane responsible for some of the most damaging strikes on ISIS and other terror enclaves in Syria is manufactured by the Russian state aircraft industry under the name Sukhoi SU-34. As the Russian news agency RIA Novosti described the aircraft, “The Su-34 is meant to deliver a sufficiently large ordnance load to a predetermined area, hit the target accurately and take evasive action against pursuing enemy planes.” The plane is also designed to deal with enemy fighters in aerial combat such as the US F-16. The SU-34 made a first test flight in 1990 as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the chaos of the Yeltsin years caused many delays. Finally in 2010 the plane was in full production.

According to a report in US Defense Industry Daily, among the SU-34 features are:

• 8 ton ordnance load which can accommodate precision-guided weapons, as well as R-73/AA-11 Archer and R-77/AA-12 ‘AMRAAMSKI’ missiles and an internal 30mm GSh-301 gun.

• Maximum speed of Mach 1.8 at altitude.

• 3,000 km range, extensible to “over 4,000 km” with the help of additional drop tanks. The SU-34 can also refuel in mid-air.

• It can fly in TERCOM (Terrain Contour Matching) mode for low-level flight, and has software to execute a number of difficult maneuvers.

• Leninets B004 phased array multimode X-band radar, which interleaves terrain-following radar and other modes.

Now new EW technologies

Clearly the aircraft is impressive as it has demonstrated against terrorist centers in Syria. Now, however, beginning this month it will add a “game-changer” in the form of a new component. Speaking at the Dubai Air Show on November 12, Igor Nasenkov, the First Deputy General Director of the Radio-Electronic Technologies Concern (KRET) announced that this month, that is in the next few days, SUKHOI SU-34 fighter-bombers will become electronic warfare aircraft as well.

Nasenkov explained that the new Khibiny aircraft electronic countermeasures (ECM) systems, installed on the wingtips, will give the SU-34 jets electronic warfare capabilities to launch effective electronic countermeasures against radar systems, anti-aircraft missile systems and airborne early warning and control aircraft.

KRET is a holding or group of some 95 Russian state electronic companies formed in 2009 under the giant Russian state military industry holding, Rostec.

Russia’s advances in what is euphemistically termed in military jargon, Electronic Counter Measures or ECM, is causing some sleepless nights for the US Pentagon top brass to be sure. In the battles in eastern pro-Russian Ukraine earlier this year, as well as in the Black Sea, and now in Syria, according to ranking US military sources, Russia deployed highly-effective ECM technologies like the Krasukha-4, to successfully jam hostile radar and aircraft.

Lt. General Ben Hodges, Commander of US Army Europe (USAREUR) describes Russian ECM capabilities used in Ukraine as “eye-watering,” suggesting some US and NATO officers are more than slightly disturbed by what they see. Ronald Pontius, deputy to Army Cyber Command’s chief, Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, told a conference in October that, “You can’t but come to the conclusion that we’re not making progress at the pace the threat demands.” In short, Pentagon planners have been caught flat-footed for all the trillions of wasted US taxpayer dollars in recent years thrown at the military industry.

During the critical days of the March 2014 Crimean citizens’ referendum vote to appeal for status within Russia, New York Times reporters then in Crimea reported the presence of Russian electronic jamming systems, known as R-330Zh Zhitel, manufactured by Protek in Voronezh, Russia. That state-of-the-art technology was believed to have been used to prevent the Ukrainian Army from invading Crimea before the referendum. Russian forces in Crimea, where Russia had a legal basing agreement with Kiev, reportedly were able to block all communication of Kiev military forces, preventing a Crimean bloodbath. Washington was stunned.

USS Donald Cook…

Thereafter, in April, 2014, one month after the accession of Crimea into the Russian Federation, President Obama ordered the USS Donald Cook into the Black Sea waters just off Crimea, the home port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, to “reassure” EU states of US resolve. Donald Cook was no ordinary guided missile destroyer. It had been refitted to be one of four ships as part of Washington’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System aimed at Russia’s nuclear arsenal. USS Donald Cook boldly entered the Black Sea on April 8 heading to Russian territorial waters.

On April 12, just four days later, the US ship inexplicably left the area of the Crimean waters of the Black Sea for a port in NATO-member Romania. From there it left the Black Sea entirely. A report on April 30, 2014 in Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta Online titled, “What Frightened the American Destroyer,” stated that while the USS Donald Cook was near Crimean (Russian by that time) waters, a Russian Su-24 Frontal Aviation bomber conducted a flyby of the destroyer.

The Rossiyskaya Gazeta went on to write that the Russian SU-24 “did not have bombs or missiles onboard. One canister with the Khibin electronic warfare complex was suspended under the fuselage.” As it got close to the US destroyer, the Khibins turned off the USS Donald Cook’s “radar, combat control circuits, and data transmission system – in short, they turned off the entire Aegis just like we turn off a television by pressing the button on the control panel. After this, the Su-24 simulated a missile launch at the blind and deaf ship. Later, it happened once again, and again – a total of 12 times.”

While the US Army denied the incident as Russian propaganda, the fact is that USS Donald Cook never approached Russian Black Sea waters again. Nor did NATO ships that replaced it in the Black Sea. A report in 2015 by the US Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office assessed that Russia, “does indeed possess a growing EW capability, and the political and military leadership understand the importance…Their growing ability to blind or disrupt digital communications might help level the playing field when fighting against a superior conventional foe.” Now new Russian Khibini Electronic Counter Measure systems are being installed on the wingtips of Russia’s SUKHOI SU-34 fighter-bombers going after ISIS in Syria.

Killer Bumblebees

A second highly-advanced new Russian military technology that’s raising more than eyebrows in US Defense Secretary ‘Ash’ Carter’s Pentagon is Russia’s new Bumblebee which Russia’s military classifies as a flamethrower. In reality it is a highly advanced thermobaric weapon which launches a warhead that uses a combination of an explosive charge and highly combustible fuel. When the rocket reaches the target, the fuel is dispersed in a cloud that is then detonated by the explosive charge. US Military experts recently asked by the US scientific and engineering magazine Popular Mechanics to evaluate the Bumblebee stated that, “the resulting explosion is devastating, radiating a shockwave and fireball up to six or seven meters in diameter.” The US experts noted that the Bumblebee is “especially useful against troops in bunkers, trenches, and even armored vehicles, as the dispersing gas can enter small spaces and allow the fireball to expand inside. Thermobarics are particularly devastating to buildings — a thermobaric round entering a structure can literally blow up the building from within with overpressure.”


We don’t go into yet another new highly secret Russian military technology recently subject of a Russian TV report beyond a brief mention, as little is known. It is indicative of what is being developed as Russia prepares for the unthinkable from Washington. The “Ocean Multipurpose System: Status-6” is a new Russian nuclear submarine weapons system designed to bypass NATO radars and any existing missile defense systems, while causing heavy damage to “important economic facilities” along the enemy’s coastal regions.

Reportedly the Status-6 will cause what the Russian military terms, “assured unacceptable damage” to an adversary force. They state that its detonation “in the area of the enemy coast” (say, New York or Boston or Washington?) would result in “extensive zones of radioactive contamination” that would ensure that the region would not be used for “military, economic, business or other activity for a long time.” Status-6 reportedly is a massive torpedo, designated as a “self-propelled underwater vehicle.” It has a range of up to 10 thousand kilometers and can operate at a depth of up to 1,000 meters. At a November 10 meeting with the Russian military chiefs, Vladimir Putin stated that Russia would counter NATO’s US-led missile shield program through “new strike systems capable of penetrating any missile defenses.” Presumably he was referring to Status-6.

US Defense Secretary Carter declared on November 8 in a speech that Russia and China are challenging “American pre-eminence” and Washington’s so-called “stewardship of the world order.” Carter added that, “Most disturbing is Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling,” which in his view, “raises questions about Russian leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons…”

Not surprisingly, Carter did not mention Washington’s own very loud nuclear saber-rattling. In addition to advancing the US Ballistic Missile Defense array targeting Russia, Carter recently announced highly-advanced US nuclear weapons would be stationed at the Büchel Air Base in Germany as part of a joint NATO nuclear program, which involves non-nuclear NATO states in Europe hosting more than 200 US nuclear warheads. Those NATO states across Europe, including Germany, have just become a potential Ground Zero in any possible nuclear war between the United States and Russia. Perhaps it’s time for some more sober minds to take responsibility in Washington for restoring a world at peace, minds not obsessed with such ridiculous ideas of “pre-eminence.”

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
First appeared:

International Law and Syria: What You Need to Know

Breaking International Law in Syria

by Sharmine Narwani - RT

November 25, 2015

The war drums are getting louder in the aftermath of ISIS attacks in Paris, as Western countries gear up to launch further airstrikes in Syria.

But obscured in the fine print of countless resolutions and media headlines is this: the West has no legal basis for military intervention.

Their strikes are illegal.

“It is always preferable in these circumstances to have the full backing of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) but I have to say what matters most of all is that any actions we would take would…be legal,” explained UK Prime Minister David Cameron to the House of Commons last Wednesday.

Legal? No, there’s not a scrap of evidence that UK airstrikes would be lawful in their current incarnation.

Then just two days later, on Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2249, aimed at rallying the world behind the fairly obvious notion that ISIS is an “unprecedented threat to international peace and security.”

"It's a call to action to member states that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures against (ISIS) and other terrorist groups," British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters.

The phrase “all necessary measures” was broadly interpreted – if not explicitly sanctioning the “use of force” in Syria, then as a wink to it.

Let’s examine the pertinent language of UNSCR 2249:

The resolution “calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter…on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq.”

Note that the resolution demands “compliance with international law, in particular with the UN Charter.” This is probably the most significant explainer to the “all necessary measures” phrase. Use of force is one of the most difficult things for the UNSC to sanction – it is a last resort measure, and a rare one. The lack of Chapter 7 language in the resolution pretty much means that ‘use of force’ is not on the menu unless states have other means to wrangle “compliance with international law.”

What you need to know about international law

It is important to understand that the United Nations was set up in the aftermath of World War 2 expressly to prevent war and to regulate and inhibit the use of force in settling disputes among its member states. This is the UN’s big function – to “maintain international peace and security,” as enshrined in the UN Charter’s very first article.

There are a lot of laws that seek to govern and prevent wars, but the Western nations looking to launch airstrikes in Syria have made things easy for us – they have cited the law that they believe justifies their military intervention: specifically, Article 51 of the UN Charter. It reads, in part:

“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

So doesn’t France, for instance, enjoy the inherent right to bomb ISIS targets in Syria as an act of self-defense - in order to prevent further attacks?

And don’t members of the US-led coalition, who cite the “collective self-defense” of Iraq (the Iraqi government has formally made this request), have the right to prevent further ISIS attacks from Syrian territory into Iraqi areas?

Well, no. Article 51, as conceived in the UN Charter, refers to attacks between territorial states, not with non-state actors like ISIS or Al-Qaeda. Syria, after all, did not attack France or Iraq – or Turkey, Australia, Jordan or Saudi Arabia.

And here’s where it gets interesting.

Western leaders are employing two distinct strategies to obfuscate the lack of legal justification for intervention in Syria. The first is the use of propaganda to build narratives about Syria that support their legal argumentation. The second is a shrewd effort to cite legal “theory” as a means to ‘stretch’ existing law into a shape that supports their objectives.

The “Unwilling and Unable” Theory – the “Unable” argument

The unwilling and unable theory – as related to the Syria/ISIS situation - essentially argues that the Syrian state is both unwilling and unable to target the non-state actor based within its territory (ISIS, in this case) that poses a threat to another state.

Let’s break this down further.

Ostensibly, Syria is ‘unable’ to sufficiently degrade or destroy ISIS because, as we can clearly see, ISIS controls a significant amount of territory within Syria’s borders that its national army has not been able to reclaim.

This made some sense - until September 30 when Russia entered the Syrian military theater and began to launch widespread airstrikes against terrorist targets inside Syria.

As a major global military power, Russia is clearly ‘able’ to thwart ISIS –certainly just as well as most of the Western NATO states participating in airstrikes already. Moreover, as Russia is operating there due to a direct Syrian government appeal for assistance, the Russian military role in Syria is perfectly legal.

This development struck a blow at the US-led coalition’s legal justification for strikes in Syria. Not that the coalition’s actions were ever legal – “unwilling and unable” is merely a theory and has no basis in customary international law.

About this new Russian role, Major Patrick Walsh, associate professor in the International and Operational Law Department at the US Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Virginia, says:

“The United States and others who are acting in collective defense of Iraq and Turkey are in a precarious position. The international community is calling on Russia to stop attacking rebel groups and start attacking ISIS. But if Russia does, and if the Assad government commits to preventing ISIS from attacking Syria’s neighbors and delivers on that commitment, then the unwilling or unable theory for intervention in Syria would no longer apply. Nations would be unable to legally intervene inside Syria against ISIS without the Assad government’s consent.”

In recent weeks, the Russians have made ISIS the target of many of its airstrikes, and are day by day improving coordination efficiencies with the ground troops and air force of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies -Iran, Hezbollah and other foreign groups who are also in Syria legally, at the invitation of the Syrian state.

Certainly, the balance of power on the ground in Syria has started to shift away from militants and terrorist groups since Russia launched its campaign seven weeks ago – much more than we have seen in a year of coalition strikes.

The “Unwilling and Unable” Theory – the “Unwilling” argument

Now for the ‘unwilling’ part of the theory. And this is where the role of Western governments in seeding ‘propaganda’ comes into play.

The US and its allies have been arguing for the past few years that the Syrian government is either in cahoots with ISIS, benefits from ISIS’ existence, or is a major recruiting magnet for the terror group.

Western media, in particular, has made a point of underplaying the SAA’s military confrontations with ISIS, often suggesting that the government actively avoids ISIS-controlled areas.

The net result of this narrative has been to convey the message that the Syrian government has been ‘unwilling’ to diminish the terror group’s base within the country.

But is this true?

ISIS was born from the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in April, 2013 when the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a short-lived union of ISI and Syria's Al-Qaeda branch, Jabhat al-Nusra. Armed militants in Syria have switched around their militia allegiances many times throughout this conflict, so it would be disingenuous to suggest the Syrian army has not fought each and every one of these groups at some point since early 2011.

If ISIS was viewed as a 'neglected' target at any juncture, it has been mainly because the terror group was focused on land grabs for its "Caliphate" in the largely barren north-east areas of the country - away from the congested urban centers and infrastructure hubs that have defined the SAA's military priorities.

But ISIS has always remained a fixture in the SAA's sights. The Syrian army has fought or targeted ISIS, specifically, in dozens of battlefields since the organization's inception, and continues to do so. In Deir Hafer Plains, Mennagh, Kuweires, Tal Arn, al-Safira, Tal Hasel and the Aleppo Industrial District. In the suburbs and countryside of Damascus - most famously in Yarmouk this year - where the SAA and its allies thwarted ISIS' advance into the capital city. In the Qalamun mountains, in Christian Qara and Faleeta. In Deir Ezzor, where ISIS would join forces with the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA): al-Husseiniyeh, Hatla, Sakr Island, al-Hamadiyah, al-Rashidiyah, al-Jubeileh, Sheikh Yasseen, Mohassan, al-Kanamat, al-Sina'a, al-Amal, al-Haweeqa, al-Ayyash, the Ghassan Aboud neighborhood, al-Tayyim Oil Fields and the Deir ez-Zor military airport. In Hasakah Province - Hasakah city itself, al-Qamishli, Regiment 121 and its environs, the Kawkab and Abdel-Aziz Mountains. In Raqqa, the Islamic State's capital in Syria, the SAA combatted ISIS in Division 17, Brigade 93 and Tabaqa Airbase. In Hama Province, the entire al-Salamiyah District - Ithriyah, Sheikh Hajar, Khanasser. In the province of Homs, the eastern countryside: Palmyra, Sukaneh, Quraytayn, Mahin, Sadad, Jubb al-Ahmar, the T-4 Airbase and the Iraqi border crossing. In Suweida, the northern countryside.

If anything, the Russian intervention has assisted the Syrian state in going on the offensive against ISIS and other like-minded terror groups. Before Russia moved in, the SAA was hunkering down in and around key strategic areas to protect these hubs. Today, Syria and its allies are hitting targets by land and air in the kinds of coordinated offensives we have not seen before.

Seeding ‘propaganda’

The role of propaganda and carefully manipulated narratives should not be underestimated in laying the groundwork for foreign military intervention in Syria.

From “the dictator is killing his own people” to the “regime is using chemical weapons” to the need to establish “No Fly Zones” to safeguard “refugees fleeing Assad”…propaganda has been liberally used to build the justification for foreign military intervention.

Article 2 of the UN Charter states, in part:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”

It’s hard to see how Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity has not been systematically violated throughout the nearly five years of this conflict, by the very states that make up the US-led coalition. The US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the UAE and other nations have poured weapons, funds, troops and assistance into undermining a UN member state at every turn.

“Legitimacy” is the essential foundation upon which governance rests. Vilify a sitting government, shut down multiple embassies, isolate a regime in international forums, and you can destroy the fragile veneer of legitimacy of a king, president or prime minister.

But efforts to delegitimize the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have also served to lay the groundwork for coalition airstrikes in Syria.

If Assad is viewed to lack “legitimacy,” the coalition creates the impression that there is no real government from which it can gain the necessary authority to launch its airstrikes.

This mere ‘impression’ provided the pretext for Washington to announce it was sending 50 Special Forces troops into Syria, as though the US wasn’t violating every tenet of international law in doing so. “It’s okay – there’s no real government there,” we are convinced.

Media reports repeatedly highlight the ‘percentages’ of territory outside the grasp of Syrian government forces – this too serves a purpose. One of the essentials of a state is that it consists of territory over which it governs.

If only 50 percent of Syria is under government control, the argument goes, “then surely we can just walk into the other ‘ungoverned’ parts” – as when US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and US Senator John McCain just strolled illegally across the border of the sovereign Syrian state.

Sweep aside these ‘impressions’ and bury them well. The Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is viewed by the United Nations as the only legitimate government in Syria. Every official UN interaction with the state is directed at this government. The Syrian seat at the UN is occupied by Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari, a representative of Assad’s government. It doesn’t matter how many Syrian embassies in how many capitals are shut down – or how many governments-in-exile are established. The UN only recognizes one.

As one UN official told me in private: “Control of surface territory doesn’t count. The government of Kuwait when its entire territory was occupied by Iraq – and it was in exile – was still the legitimate government of Kuwait. The Syrian government could have 10 percent of its surface left – the decision of the UN Security Council is all that matters from the perspective of international law, even if other governments recognize a new Syrian government.”

Countdown to more illegal airstrikes?

If there was any lingering doubt about the illegality of coalition activities in Syria, the Syrian government put these to rest in September, in two letters to the UNSC that denounced foreign airstrikes as unlawful:

“If any State invokes the excuse of counter-terrorism in order to be present on Syrian territory without the consent of the Syrian Government whether on the country’s land or in its airspace or territorial waters, its action shall be considered a violation of Syrian sovereignty.”

Yet still, upon the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2249 last Friday, US Deputy Representative to the United Nations Michele Sison insisted that “in accordance with the UN Charter and its recognition of the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense,” the US would use “necessary and proportionate military action” in Syria.

The website for the European Journal of International Law (EJIL) promptly pointed out the obvious:

“The resolution is worded so as to suggest there is Security Council support for the use of force against IS. However, though the resolution, and the unanimity with which it was adopted, might confer a degree of legitimacy on actions against IS, the resolution does not actually authorize any actions against IS, nor does it provide a legal basis for the use of force against IS either in Syria or in Iraq.”

'British government doesn't want left out of Syrian bombing campaign'

On Thursday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron plans to unveil his new “comprehensive strategy” to tackle ISIS, which we are told will include launching airstrikes in Syria.

We already know the legal pretext he will spin – “unwilling and unable,” Article 51, UN Charter, individual and collective self-defense, and so forth.

But if Cameron’s September 7 comments at the House of Commons are any indication, he will use the following logic to argue that the UK has no other choice than to resort to ‘use of force’ in Syria. In response to questions about two illegal drone attacks targeting British nationals in Syria, the prime minister emphasized:

“These people were in a part of Syria where there was no government, no one to work with, and no other way of addressing this threat…When we are dealing with people in ISIL-dominated Syria—there is no government, there are no troops on the ground—there is no other way of dealing with them than the route that we took.”

But Cameron does have another route available to him - and it is the only ‘legal’ option for military involvement in Syria.

If the UK’s intention is solely to degrade and destroy ISIS, then it must request authorization from the Syrian government to participate in a coordinated military campaign that could help speed up the task.

If Western (and allied Arab) leaders can’t stomach dealing with the Assad government on this issue, then by all means work through an intermediary – like the Russians – who can coordinate and authorize military operations on behalf of their Syrian ally.

The Syrian government has said on multiple occasions that it welcomes sincere international efforts to fight terrorism inside its territory. But these efforts must come under the direction of a central legal authority that can lead a broad campaign on the ground and in the air.

The West argues that, unlike in Iraq, it seeks to maintain the institutions of the Syrian state if Assad were to step down. The SAA is one of these ‘institutions’ - why not coordinate with it now?

But after seven weeks of Russian airstrikes coordinated with extensive ground troops (which the coalition lacks), none of these scenarios may even be warranted. ISIS and other extremist groups have lost ground in recent weeks, and if this trend continues, coalition states should fall back and focus on other key ISIS-busting activities referenced in UNSCR 2249 – squeezing terror financing, locking down key borders, sharing intelligence…”all necessary measures” to destroy this group.

If the ‘international community’ wants to return ‘peace and stability’ to the Syrian state, it seems prudent to point out that its very first course of action should be to stop breaking international law in Syria.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony's College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. Sharmine has written commentary for a wide array of publications, including Al Akhbar English, the New York Times, the Guardian, Asia Times Online,, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English, BRICS Post and others.
You can follow her on Twitter at @snarwani