Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Bard Weighs In on Russia

Shakespeare said it best

by William Blum - Anti-Empire Report

March 15, 2018

Much ado about nothing. That’s the “Russian interference” in the 2016 American election.

A group of Russians operating from a building in St. Petersburg, we are told in a February 16 US government indictment, sent out tweets, Facebook and YouTube postings, etc. to gain support for Trump and hurt Clinton even though most of these messages did not even mention Trump or Clinton; and many were sent out before Trump was even a candidate.

The Russian-interference indictment is predicated, apparently, on the idea that the United States is a backward, Third-World, Banana Republic, easily manipulated.

If the Democrats think it’s so easy and so effective to sway voters in the United States why didn’t the party do better?

At times the indictment tells us that the online advertising campaign, led by the shadowy Internet Research Agency of Russia, was meant to divide the American people, not influence the 2016 election. The Russians supposedly wished to cause “divisiveness” in the American people, particularly around controversial issues such as immigration, politics, energy policy, climate change, and race.

“The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy,” said Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the inquiry. “We must not allow them to succeed.”

Imagine that – the American people, whom we all know are living in blissful harmony and fraternity without any noticeable anger or hatred, would become divided! Damn those Russkis!

After the election of Trump as president in November 2016, the defendants “used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

The indictment also states that defendants in New York organized a demonstration designed to “show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump” held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, defendants and their co-conspirators, organized another rally in New York called “Trump is NOT my President”.

Much of the indictment and the news reports of the past year are replete with such contradictions, lending credence to the suggestion that what actually lay behind the events was a “click-bait” scheme wherein certain individuals earned money based on the number of times a particular website is accessed. The mastermind behind this scheme is reported to be a Russian named Yevgeny Prigozhin of the above-named Internet Research Agency, which is named in the indictment.

The Russian operation began four years ago, well before Trump entered the presidential race, a fact that he quickly seized on in his defense.

“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” he wrote on Twitter

“The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

Point 95 of the Indictment summarizes the “click-bait” scheme as follows:

Defendants and their co-conspirators also used the accounts to receive money from real U.S. persons in exchange for posting promotions and advertisements on the ORGANIZATION-controlled social media pages. Defendants and their co-conspirators typically charged certain U.S. merchants and U.S. social media sites between 25 and 50 U.S. dollars per post for promotional content on their popular false U.S. persona accounts, including Being Patriotic, Defend the 2nd, and Blacktivist.

Although there’s no doubt that the Kremlin favored Trump over Clinton, the whole “Russian influence” storm may be based on a misunderstanding of commercial activities of a Russian marketing company in US social networks.

Here’s some Real interference in election campaigns

[Slightly abridged version of chapter 18 in William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower; see it for notes]

Philippines, 1950s:

Flagrant manipulation by the CIA of the nation’s political life, featuring stage-managed elections with extensive disinformation campaigns, heavy financing of candidates, writing their speeches, drugging the drinks of one of the opponents of the CIA-supported candidate so he would appear incoherent; plotting the assassination of another candidate. The oblivious New York Times declared that “It is not without reason that the Philippines has been called “democracy’s showcase in Asia”.

Italy, 1948-1970s:

Multifarious campaigns to repeatedly sabotage the electoral chances of the Communist Party and ensure the election of the Christian Democrats, long-favored by Washington.

Lebanon, 1950s:

The CIA provided funds to support the campaigns of President Camille Chamoun and selected parliamentary candidates; other funds were targeted against candidates who had shown less than total enchantment with US interference in Lebanese politics.

Indonesia, 1955:

A million dollars were dispensed by the CIA to a centrist coalition’s electoral campaign in a bid to cut into the support for President Sukarno’s party and the Indonesian Communist Party.

Vietnam, 1955:

The US was instrumental in South Vietnam canceling the elections scheduled to unify North and South because of the certainty that the North Vietnamese communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, would easily win.

British Guiana/Guyana, 1953-64:

For 11 years, two of the oldest democracies in the world, Great Britain and the United States, went to great lengths to prevent Cheddi Jagan – three times the democratically elected leader – from occupying his office. Using a wide variety of tactics – from general strikes and disinformation to terrorism and British legalisms – the US and Britain forced Jagan out of office twice during this period.

Japan, 1958-1970s:

The CIA emptied the US treasury of millions to finance the conservative Liberal Democratic Party in parliamentary elections, “on a seat-by-seat basis”, while doing what it could to weaken and undermine its opposition, the Japanese Socialist Party. The 1961-63 edition of the State Department’s annual Foreign Relations of the United States, published in 1996, includes an unprecedented disclaimer that, because of material left out, a committee of distinguished historians thinks “this published compilation does not constitute a ‘thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of major United States foreign policy decisions’” as required by law.

The deleted material involved US actions from 1958-1960 in Japan, according to the State Department’s historian.

Nepal, 1959:

By the CIA’s own admission, it carried out an unspecified “covert action” on behalf of B.P. Koirala to help his Nepali Congress Party win the national parliamentary election. It was Nepal’s first national election ever, and the CIA was there to initiate them into the wonderful workings of democracy.
Laos, 1960:

CIA agents stuffed ballot boxes to help a hand-picked strongman, Phoumi Nosavan, set up a pro-American government.

Brazil, 1962:

The CIA and the Agency for International Development expended millions of dollars in federal and state elections in support of candidates opposed to leftist President João Goulart, who won anyway.

Dominican Republic, 1962:

In October 1962, two months before election day, US Ambassador John Bartlow Martin got together with the candidates of the two major parties and handed them a written notice, in Spanish and English, which he had prepared. It read in part:

“The loser in the forthcoming election will, as soon as the election result is known, publicly congratulate the winner, publicly recognize him as the President of all the Dominican people, and publicly call upon his own supporters to so recognize him. … Before taking office, the winner will offer Cabinet seats to members of the loser’s party. (They may decline).”

As matters turned out, the winner, Juan Bosch, was ousted in a military coup seven months later, a slap in the face of democracy which neither Martin nor any other American official did anything about.

Guatemala, 1963:

The US overthrew the regime of General Miguel Ydigoras because he was planning to step down in 1964, leaving the door open to an election; an election that Washington feared would be won by the former president, liberal reformer and critic of US foreign policy, Juan José Arévalo. Ydigoras’s replacement made no mention of elections.

Bolivia, 1966:

The CIA bestowed $600,000 upon President René Barrientos and lesser sums to several right-wing parties in a successful effort to influence the outcome of national elections. Gulf Oil contributed two hundred thousand more to Barrientos.

Chile, 1964-70:

Major US interventions into national elections in 1964 and 1970, and congressional elections in the intervening years. Socialist Salvador Allende fell victim in 1964, but won in 1970 despite a multimillion-dollar CIA operation against him. The Agency then orchestrated his downfall in a 1973 military coup.

Portugal, 1974-5:

In the years following the coup in 1974 by military officers who talked like socialists, the CIA revved up its propaganda machine while funneling many millions of dollars to support “moderate” candidates, in particular Mario Soares and his (so-called) Socialist Party. At the same time, the Agency enlisted social-democratic parties of Western Europe to provide further funds and support to Soares. It worked. The Socialist Party became the dominant power.

Australia, 1974-75:

Despite providing considerable support for the opposition, the United States failed to defeat the Labor Party, which was strongly against the US war in Vietnam and CIA meddling in Australia. The CIA then used “legal” methods to unseat the man who won the election, Edward Gough Whitlam.

Jamaica, 1976:

A CIA campaign to defeat social democrat Michael Manley’s bid for reelection, featuring disinformation, arms shipments, labor unrest, economic destabilization, financial support for the opposition, and attempts upon Manley’s life. Despite it all, he was victorious.

Panama, 1984, 1989:

In 1984, the CIA helped finance a highly questionable presidential electoral victory for one of Manuel Noriega’s men. The opposition cried “fraud”, but the new president was welcomed at the White House. By 1989, Noriega was no longer a Washington favorite, so the CIA provided more than $10 million dollars to his electoral opponents.

Nicaragua, 1984, 1990:

In 1984, the United States, trying to discredit the legitimacy of the Sandinista government’s scheduled election, covertly persuaded the leading opposition coalition to not take part. A few days before election day, some other rightist parties on the ballot revealed that US diplomats had been pressing them to drop out of the race as well. The CIA also tried to split the Sandinista leadership by placing phoney full-page ads in neighboring countries. But the Sandinistas won handily in a very fair election monitored by hundreds of international observers.

Six years later, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Washington’s specially created stand-in for the CIA, poured in millions of dollars to defeat Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas in the February elections. NED helped organize the Nicaraguan opposition, UNO, building up the parties and organizations that formed and supported this coalition.

Perhaps most telling of all, the Nicaraguan people were made painfully aware that a victory by the Sandinistas would mean a continuation of the relentlessly devastating war being waged against them by Washington through their proxy army, the Contras.

Haiti, 1987-1988:

After the Duvalier dictatorship came to an end in 1986, the country prepared for its first free elections ever. However, Haiti’s main trade union leader declared that Washington was working to undermine the left. US aid organizations, he said, were encouraging people in the countryside to identify and reject the entire left as “communist”.

Meanwhile, the CIA was involved in a range of support for selected candidates until the US Senate Intelligence Committee ordered the Agency to cease its covert electoral action.

Bulgaria, 1990-1991 and Albania, 1991-1992:

With no regard for the fragility of these nascent democracies, the US interfered broadly in their elections and orchestrated the ousting of their elected socialist governments.

Russia, 1996:

For four months (March-June), a group of veteran American political consultants worked secretly in Moscow in support of Boris Yeltsin’s presidential campaign. Boris Yeltsin was being counted on to run with the globalized-free market ball and it was imperative that he cross the goal line. The Americans emphasized sophisticated methods of message development, polling, focus groups, crowd staging, direct-mailing, etc., and advised against public debates with the Communists.

Most of all they encouraged the Yeltsin campaign to “go negative” against the Communists, painting frightening pictures of what the Communists would do if they took power, including much civic upheaval and violence, and, of course, a return to the worst of Stalinism.

Before the Americans came on board, Yeltsin was favored by only six percent of the electorate. In the first round of voting, he edged the Communists 35 percent to 32, and was victorious in the second round 54 to 40 percent.

Mongolia, 1996:

The National Endowment for Democracy worked for several years with the opposition to the governing Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRR, the former Communists) who had won the 1992 election to achieve a very surprising electoral victory. In the six-year period leading up to the 1996 elections, NED spent close to a million dollars in a country with a population of some 2.5 million, the most significant result of which was to unite the opposition into a new coalition, the National Democratic Union. Borrowing from Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America, the NED drafted a “Contract With the Mongolian Voter”, which called for private property rights, a free press and the encouragement of foreign investment.

The MPRR had already instituted Western-style economic reforms, which had led to widespread poverty and wiped out much of the communist social safety net. But the new government promised to accelerate the reforms, including the privatization of housing.

By 1998 it was reported that the US National Security Agency had set up electronic listening posts in Outer Mongolia to intercept Chinese army communications, and the Mongolian intelligence service was using nomads to gather intelligence in China itself.

Bosnia, 1998:

Effectively an American protectorate, with Carlos Westendorp – the Spanish diplomat appointed to enforce Washington’s offspring: the 1995 Dayton peace accords – as the colonial Governor-General. Before the September elections for a host of offices, Westendorp removed 14 Croatian candidates from the ballot because of alleged biased coverage aired in Bosnia by neighboring Croatia’s state television and politicking by ethnic Croat army soldiers.

After the election, Westendorp fired the elected president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, accusing him of creating instability. In this scenario those who appeared to support what the US and other Western powers wished were called “moderates”, and allowed to run for and remain in office. Those who had other thoughts were labeled “hard-liners”, and ran the risk of a different fate.

When Westendorp was chosen to assume this position of “high representative” in Bosnia in May 1997, The Guardian of London wrote that

“The US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, praised the choice. But some critics already fear that Mr. Westendorp will prove too lightweight and end up as a cipher in American hands.”

Nicaragua, 2001:

Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was once again a marked man. US State Department officials tried their best to publicly associate him with terrorism, including just after September 11 had taken place, and to shamelessly accuse Sandinista leaders of all manner of violations of human rights, civil rights, and democracy. The US ambassador literally campaigned for Ortega’s opponent, Enrique Bolaños. A senior analyst in Nicaragua for Gallup, the international pollsters, was moved to declare:

“Never in my whole life have I seen a sitting ambassador get publicly involved in a sovereign country’s electoral process, nor have I ever heard of it.”

At the close of the campaign, Bolaños announced:

“If Ortega comes to power, that would provoke a closing of aid and investment, difficulties with exports, visas and family remittances. I’m not just saying this. The United States says this, too. We cannot close our eyes and risk our well-being and work. Say yes to Nicaragua, say no to terrorism.”

In the end, the Sandinistas lost the election by about ten percentage points after steadily leading in the polls during much of the campaign.

Bolivia, 2002:

The American bête noire here was Evo Morales, Amerindian, former member of Congress, socialist, running on an anti-neoliberal, anti-big business, and anti-coca eradication campaign. The US Ambassador declared: “The Bolivian electorate must consider the consequences of choosing leaders somehow connected with drug trafficking and terrorism.” Following September 11, painting Officially Designated Enemies with the terrorist brush was de rigueur US foreign policy rhetoric.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs warned that American aid to the country would be in danger if Mr. Morales was chosen. Then the ambassador and other US officials met with key figures from Bolivia’s main political parties in an effort to shore up support for Morales’s opponent, Sanchez de Lozada. Morales lost the vote.

Slovakia, 2002:

To defeat Vladimir Meciar, former prime minister, a man who did not share Washington’s weltanschauung about globalization, the US ambassador explicitly warned the Slovakian people that electing him would hurt their chances of entry into the European Union and NATO. The US ambassador to NATO then arrived and issued his own warning. The National Endowment for Democracy was also on hand to influence the election. Meciar lost.

El Salvador, 2004:

Washington’s target in this election was Schafik Handal, candidate of the FMLN, the leftist former guerrilla group. He said he would withdraw El Salvador’s 380 troops from Iraq as well as reviewing other pro-US policies; he would also take another look at the privatizations of Salvadoran industries, and would reinstate diplomatic relations with Cuba. His opponent was Tony Saca of the incumbent Arena Party, a pro-US, pro-free market organization of the extreme right, which in the bloody civil war days had featured death squads and the infamous assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

During a February visit to the country, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, met with all the presidential candidates except Handal. He warned of possible repercussions in US-Salvadoran relations if Handal were elected. Three Republican congressmen threatened to block the renewal of annual work visas for some 300,000 Salvadorans in the United States if El Salvador opted for the FMLN. And Congressman Thomas Tancredo of Colorado stated that if the FMLN won, “it could mean a radical change” in US policy on remittances to El Salvador.

Washington’s attitude was exploited by Arena and the generally conservative Salvadoran press, who mounted a scare campaign, and it became widely believed that a Handal victory could result in mass deportations of Salvadorans from the United States and a drop in remittances. Arena won the election with about 57 percent of the vote to some 36 percent for the FMLN.

After the election, the US ambassador declared that Washington’s policies concerning immigration and remittances had nothing to do with any election in El Salvador. There appears to be no record of such a statement being made in public before the election when it might have had a profound positive effect for the FMLN.

Afghanistan, 2004:

The US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, went around putting great pressure on one candidate after another to withdraw from the presidential race so as to insure the victory for Washington’s man, the incumbent, Hamid Karzai in the October election. There was nothing particularly subtle about it. Khalilzad told each one what he wanted and then asked them what they needed. Karzai, a long-time resident in the United States, was described by the Washington Post as “a known and respected figure at the State Department and National Security Council and on Capitol Hill.”

“Our hearts have been broken because we thought we could have beaten Mr. Karzai if this had been a true election,” said Sayed Mustafa Sadat Ophyani, campaign manager for Younis Qanooni, Karzai’s leading rival. 
“But it is not. Mr. Khalilzad is putting a lot of pressure on us and does not allow us to fight a good election campaign.”.

None of the major candidates actually withdrew from the election, which Karzai won with about 56 percent of the votes.

The Cold War Forever

On March 7 British police said that a former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury, a city southwest of London. The police said that Skripal had been “targeted specifically” with a nerve agent. Skripal was jailed in Russia in 2006 for passing state secrets to Britain. He was released in 2010 as part of a spy swap.

Because nerve agents are complex to make, they are typically not made by individuals, but rather by states. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that the Skripal case had “echoes” of what happened to Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB Operative who British officials believe was poisoned in London by Russian agents in 2006, becoming the first victim of lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome.

Before he died, he spoke about the misdeeds of the Russian secret service and delivered public deathbed accusations that Russian president Vladimir Putin was behind his unusual malady.

Because of this the Skripal poisoning looks like an open-and-shut case.

But hold on. Skripal was sent to Britain by the Russian government eight years ago in an exchange of spies. Why would they want to kill him now, and with Putin’s election coming up? And with the quadrennial football (soccer) World Cup coming up soon to be played in Russia. Moscow is very proud of this, publicizing it every day on their international television stations (RT in the US). A murder like this could surely put a serious damper on the Moscow festivities.

Boris Johnson has already dropped a threat:

“Thinking ahead to the World Cup this July, this summer, I think it would be very difficult to imagine that UK representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way and we would certainly have to consider that.”  

It was totally predictable.

Because political opposition is weak, and no obvious threat to the ruling United Russia Party, what would the government gain by an assassination of an opposition figure?

So if Russia is not responsible for Skripal’s poisoning, who is? Well I have an idea. I can’t give you the full name of the guilty party, but its initials are CIA.

US-Russian Cold Wars produce unmitigated animosity. As but one example, the United States boycotted the Olympics that were held in the Soviet Union in 1980, because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union then boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Ideology and Evolution

New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet recently declared:

“I think we are pro-capitalism. The New York Times is in favor of capitalism because it has been the greatest engine of, it’s been the greatest anti-poverty program and engine of progress that we’ve seen.”  

The man is correct as far as he goes. But there are two historical factors that enter into this discussion that he fails to consider:

Socialism may well have surpassed capitalism as an anti-poverty program and engine of progress if the United States and other capitalist powers had not subverted, destabilized, invaded, and/or overthrown every halfway serious attempt at socialism in the world. Not one socialist-oriented government, from Cuba and Vietnam in the 1960s, to Nicaragua and Chile in the 1970s, to Bulgaria and Yugoslavia in the 1990s, to Haiti and Venezuela in the 2000s has been allowed to rise or fall based on its own merits or lack of same, or allowed to relax its guard against the ever-threatening capital imperialists.

Evolution: Social and economic systems have evolved along with human beings. Humankind has roughly gone from slavery to feudalism to capitalism. There’s no reason to assume that this evolution has come to a grinding halt, particularly given the deep-seated needs of the world in the face of one overwhelming problem after another, most caused by putting profit before people.

U.S. Grand Jury Indictment, February 16, 2018
New York Times, February 16, 2018
Mueller Indictment - The “Russian Influence” Is A Commercial Marketing Scheme,” Moon of Alabama, February 17, 2018
The Independent (London), March 6, 2018
Huffington Post, February 27, 2018

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to is provided.

← Issue #155

NATO's Midnight Move: Emptying Incirlik

NATO Relocates Middle East Airbase from Turkey to Jordan

by Andre Vltchek - 21C Wire (via NEO)

March 14, 2018

People in the Middle East are joking, cynically: “From Incirlik, Turkey to Al-Azraq, Jordan with love.”

That is, if they pay any attention to the movement of NATO troops in this part of the world.

They should.

At least one substantial part of an incredibly deadly and aggressive force has been gradually relocated, from an ‘uncertain’ and according to the West suddenly ‘unreliable’ country (Turkey), to the impoverished but obedient Kingdom of Jordan.

Incirlik NATO airbase in Turkey, close to border
with Syria (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

It is now clear that NATO is not sure, metaphorically speaking, which direction is Turkey going to fly in, and where it may eventually land. It is panicking and searching, ‘just in case’, for an exit strategy; almost for an escape plan from the most important regional power.

Entrance to Incirlik airbase, Turkey.

Is the West really losing Turkey? Nobody knows. Most likely, nobody in Ankara is sure, either, including Mr. Erdogan.

But what if … What if Erdogan moves closer to Russia, even to China? What if Turkey’s relationship with Iran improves? What if Ankara has finally gotten tired of being humiliated, for years and decades, by the European Union? And what if it does not want to follow Washington’s diktat, anymore?

These ‘nightmarish’ scenarios are most likely turning many apparatchiks in Brussels, Washington and London, into insomniacs.

NATO does not want to leave anything to chance. If not Turkey, then where? Where should all those nukes, fighter jets, bombers and ‘Western military advisors’ go?

Incirlik, a giant air base located right on the outskirts of the Turkish city of Adana used to just be the perfect place. Incirlik has been, for many years, the most important and lethal air force base in the Middle East, from which the West has been intimidating and directly attacking various targets in the region, and where, as many Turkish experts believe, numerous extremist jihadi cadres operating in Syria and elsewhere, have been receiving their training.

Anything the West wants to bomb, be it in Syria, Iraq, or potentially Iran, Lebanon, Yemen or even Afghanistan, Incirlik is there, with perfect infrastructure and a ‘fantastic’ geographical location. For NATO, a dream-come-true place, really! But only until recently; until Mr. Erdogan’s era, until the 2016 failed coup, and the consequent, incomprehensible, but real ‘Turkish rebellion’.

Suddenly, Turkey is ‘not trusted anymore’; at least not in the Western capitals.

That is perhaps very good for Turkey and its future, but definitely not for NATO.

So where to move Incirlik, really?

The Kingdom of Jordan seems to be the best candidate. Conveniently, it is greatly impoverished, and it has been historically submissive to its Western handlers. It is essentially dependent on foreign, mainly Western, aid and would do just about anything to please the rulers in Washington, London or Berlin.

Most importantly for the West, Amman is sufficiently oppressive, lacking any substantial opposition. If dissent gets too vocal, its members get kidnapped and tortured.

Therefore, it is natural that both Europeans and North Americans feel safe and at home here. In 2017, the German Wermacht moved its soldiers, pilots and Tornados, more than 200 people and dozens of airplanes in total, to Al-Azraq base, which is located only some 30 kilometers from the border with Saudi Arabia, and a similar distance from Syria. Iraq is just 200 kilometers away.

It is obvious that Angela Merkel and Recep Erdogan feel a certain (some would say ‘great’) distaste for each other. It is also a well-known fact that NATO countries like to work closely with oppressive, market-oriented and obedient countries.

But Jordan?

Even the official German television network, Deutsche Welle (DW), displayed clear cynicism towards the move, although it expressed, simultaneously, true understanding of the situation:

“King Abdullah II is a leader very much to the West’s liking. In contrast to the princes in the Arabian Peninsula, he is usually dressed in a dark suit. He received a military education in Britain and studied in Oxford and Washington. Under his leadership, Jordan has reliably positioned itself in line with Western politics in all major Middle East conflicts.

And this won’t change, according to Udo Steinbach, who was in charge of the Hamburg-based German Orient Institute for many years.

“He was a man of the West, he is a man of the West, and he has no alternative whatsoever to being a man of the West,” Steinbach said.
“Jordan is a poor country, and without Western aid, it wouldn’t be able to survive at all.” 

Azraq Airbase. (Andre Vltchek)

NATO has been already using Muwaffaq Salti airbase near Al-Azraq, for years, mainly to illegally bomb numerous targets located on the Syrian soil.

In Brussels, Al-Azraq is truly a ‘household name’, as it has been used by both NATO and the EU air forces, concretely by the Belgians (2014-2015), and now both Dutch and Germans. The US air forces were operating from here already for several years.

The base is situated in yet another gloomy part of the Middle East; economically depressed, with countless small businesses and factories that have been closing down and now rusting and rotting, and with the almost totally drained-out Azraq Wetlands Reserve – an oasis once renowned as a ‘migratory birds’ sanctuary’.

The oasis used to extend almost all the way to the border with Saudi Arabia. Now most of the territory of the ‘reserve’ is dry. Not many birds would fly here, anyway, as they’d be confronted with the deafening roar of airplane engines and the engine-testing facilities, not unlike those that I witnessed in Okinawa.

Azraq collapsing. (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

The people who come to this corner of Jordan are mostly ‘adventurous’ Western tourists, ready to ‘explore’ the nearby castle which was once used as a base by the glorified sinister British intelligence agent, Thomas Edward Lawrence, otherwise known as “Lawrence of Arabia”. They also come to visit ‘wildlife reserves’ and several smaller archeological sites.

Ms. Alia, who works at the artisan center of Al-Azraq Lodge, confessed:

“Sometimes we are very scared here… It is because our place is sitting right next to perimeter of the air force base, while it is also serving as a hotel for foreign tourists. There are many reasons why someone could consider attacking this place…”

But is this really a ‘tourist’ inn, I ask, after observing numerous hangars and military planes from the parking lot, at the back of the structure. She hesitates for a few moments, but then replies:

“Originally this used to be an eco-lodge, but now the bookings are mainly from the base. Both Americans and Germans are staying here; while couple of years ago it was Belgians. Officers sometimes live here for one entire month – you know: training, meetings… They work inside the base, but sleep at our place.”

There is a “US Aid” sign screwed into the wall near the entrance to the inn. And there are countless black and white historical photos of the area, decorating the walls, as well as a figurine of a soldier wearing an old British colonial uniform.

Azraq refugee camp. (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

Azraq town is dusty and half-empty. It is surrounded by the brutally dry desert. There are countless ruins of houses and services lining up along the main road. Some people live in misery, in torn up tents.

I stopped near a cluster of humble dwellings. An old woman wearing a black dress waved a cane at me, threateningly.

An old-looking man approached the car. He extended his hand towards me. It was wrinkled and hard. I shook it. I had no idea how old he was; most likely not too old, but he looked tired and dejected.

“Is this base,” I waved my hand, abstractly, towards the walls: “Is it helping the town, at least a little bit?”

The man stared at me for several seconds. Then he mumbled:

“Helping? Yes, perhaps… Perhaps not… I don’t really know.”

My driver and interpreter, who used to be a salesman only several years ago, before hitting hard times, commented, as we were slowly departing from Al-Azraq:

“It is very bad here! The situation is tragic. West Amman and this – as if two different universes would exist on a territory of one single country. Such a contrast! Well, you can see it yourself.”

I asked him, whether Jordanian people would mind having this deadly air force base expanding into their area, in their country? After all, the only purpose of it is to brutalize fellow Arab nations, while killing countless innocent human beings.

He shrugged his shoulders:

“They don’t care. Most of the people here don’t think about such things. They want to be able to eat, to get by. Government convinced them, that collaborating with the West could improve their standard of living. It’s all they think about. Our leaders, in the Gulf and here, are corrupt, and people are humiliated; they don’t see any bright future here, or any way out from the present situation…”

Around 70 kilometers towards the capital, Amman, we slow down, as we are passing several checkpoints and a concrete fence, which looks similar to those built by the West in Afghanistan. The driver wants me to know:

“Look, this is where they have been training the so-called Syrian opposition, for years.” 

Around Azraq base. (Photo: Andre Vltchek)

Back in Amman, I met several friends, mainly foreigners, who have been working here.

“There are already numerous Western air force bases operating in Jordan,” one of them said. “This topic is not discussed here, openly. Right or wrong, it does not matter. Nobody cares. The spine of this part of the world has been already broken.”

Al-Azraq is not only a large air force base. It is also a place synonymous with one of the major refugee camps in the Middle East. It is a new camp, built in the middle of the desert, designed to accommodate mainly Syrian people fleeing the war.

In 2016 and 2017 I worked here, or more precisely, I tried to work, before being chased away by aggressive local security forces.

Refugee crises, the Western military bases, foreign aid and tourism, these are the main sources of income for the Kingdom of Jordan.

In a sinister, surreal way, everything here comes around in a big circle, ‘makes perverse sense’: ‘Entire countries are being flattened from the military bases, which Jordan is willing to host on its territory; of course, for a hefty fee. Consequently, hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees would continue to flood to this ‘island of stability in the Middle East’, bringing further tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid into the coffers of Amman.’ No industry, production, or hard work is really needed.

Could this arrangement be defined as ‘immoral’? ‘And does it really matter?’ I was told on several occasions, during this as well as during my previous visits to the Kingdom of Jordan, that ‘nobody cares’. Almost all ideology, together with the spirit of solidarity and internationalism, has already been destroyed by the Western-sponsored education and media indoctrination programs and campaigns, camouflaged as ‘help’ and ‘aid’.

I say ‘almost’, because now, a flicker of hope is once again emerging. Not everything is lost, yet. A neighboring country – Syria – is still standing. It has fought and lost hundreds of thousands of its people, but it has almost managed to defeat the brutal Western intervention. This could be the most important moment in modern Arab history.

The people of the Middle East are watching. The people of Jordan are watching. Turkish people are watching. Apparently, the imperialists can be defeated. Apparently, collaboration is not the only way how to survive.

The huge NATO air force base is slowly moving from Turkey to Jordan.

The West has already lost Syria. It may be also losing Turkey. Who knows: one day even Jordan might wake up. Some say: the ‘Domino effect has begun.’


Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are his tribute to “The Great October Socialist Revolution” a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Corbyn Assailed for Requesting Evidence on May's "Russian Chemical Attack" Claims

Corbyn Smeared as 'Russian Stooge' for Requesting Evidence on Poisoned Spy 


March 16, 2018

While harshly condemning the Salisbury nerve agent attack, the Labour Party's leftist leader requested evidence that the Russian government carried it out. A deluge of smears followed. The leftist leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party is under attack, simply because he calmly called for an investigation in line with international law.

On March 4, a former Russian spy who had been a double agent for the British government was found unconscious in Salisbury, England. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia had reportedly been poisoned, and were hospitalized in critical condition.

A week later, the United Kingdom’s Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May claimed the Russian-made nerve agent Novichok had been used in the attack.

JEREMY CORBYN: The attack in Salisbury was an appalling act of violence. Nerve agents are abominable if used in any war. It is utterly reckless to use them in a civilian environment. 

Britain's Slow Killing of Journalist Julian Assange

The Truth About Julian Assange & Wikileaks w/ Suzie Dawson

by Redacted Tonight

March 15, 2018

Redacted Tonight is a comedy show written and performed by Americans, in America covering American news.

FREE TICKETS to our tapings (Thursday nights in Washington, DC) ~ Stand Up Comedy Tour - Weekly Podcast - 

Find Us On These Awesome New Decentralized Social Media Platforms: MEDIA REVOLT - MINDS - MASTODON -

Vial Lies: May's Pandora's Box

Of A Type Developed By Liars 

by Craig Murray

16 Mar, 2018   

I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so.

Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation.

The Russians were allegedly researching, in the “Novichok” programme a generation of nerve agents which could be produced from commercially available precursors such as insecticides and fertilisers. This substance is a “novichok” in that sense.

It is of that type. Just as I am typing on a laptop of a type developed by the United States, though this one was made in China.

To anybody with a Whitehall background this has been obvious for several days. The government has never said the nerve agent was made in Russia, or that it can only be made in Russia. The exact formulation “of a type developed by Russia” was used by Theresa May in parliament, used by the UK at the UN Security Council, used by Boris Johnson on the BBC yesterday and, most tellingly of all, “of a type developed by Russia” is the precise phrase used in the joint communique issued by the UK, USA, France and Germany yesterday:

"This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War."

When the same extremely careful phrasing is never deviated from, you know it is the result of a very delicate Whitehall compromise. My FCO source, like me, remembers the extreme pressure put on FCO staff and other civil servants to sign off the dirty dossier on Iraqi WMD, some of which pressure I recount in my memoir Murder in Samarkand. She volunteered the comparison to what is happening now, particularly at Porton Down, with no prompting from me.

Separately I have written to the media office at OPCW to ask them to confirm that there has never been any physical evidence of the existence of Russian Novichoks, and the programme of inspection and destruction of Russian chemical weapons was completed last year.

Did you know these interesting facts?

OPCW inspectors have had full access to all known Russian chemical weapons facilities for over a decade – including those identified by the “Novichok” alleged whistleblower Mirzayanov – and last year OPCW inspectors completed the destruction of the last of 40,000 tonnes of Russian chemical weapons

By contrast the programme of destruction of US chemical weapons stocks still has five years to run

Israel has extensive stocks of chemical weapons but has always refused to declare any of them to the OPCW. Israel is not a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention nor a member of the OPCW. Israel signed in 1993 but refused to ratify as this would mean inspection and destruction of its chemical weapons. Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise “Novichoks”.

Until this week, the near universal belief among chemical weapons experts, and the official position of the OPCW, was that “Novichoks” were at most a theoretical research programme which the Russians had never succeeded in actually synthesising and manufacturing. That is why they are not on the OPCW list of banned chemical weapons.

Porton Down is still not certain it is the Russians who have apparently synthesised a “Novichok”. Hence “Of a type developed by Russia”. Note developed, not made, produced or manufactured.

It is very carefully worded propaganda. Of a type developed by liars.


This post prompted another old colleague to get in touch. On the bright side, the FCO have persuaded Boris he has to let the OPCW investigate a sample. But not just yet. The expectation is the inquiry committee will be chaired by a Chinese delegate. The Boris plan is to get the OPCW also to sign up to the “as developed by Russia” formula, and diplomacy to this end is being undertaken in Beijing right now.

I don’t suppose there is any sign of the BBC doing any actual journalism on this?

Four Years After Maidan: Nadezhda Savchenko Accused of Ukraine 'Fawkes' Plot

Maidan icon Savchenko faces arrest after claiming top Ukraine official ‘led snipers to central Kiev’ 

by RT

March 15, 2018
Ukrainian MP Nadezhda Savchenko, who was lauded as a hero for her role in the Donbass military campaign and her prosecution in Russia, is now accused of plotting to blow up the national parliament in Kiev.

The General Prosecutor’s Office in Kiev has requested that the parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, strip Savchenko of legal immunity and allow her arrest. MPs in Ukraine normally enjoy protection from prosecution. However, General Prosecutor Yury Lutsenko filed the request on Thursday after Savchenko failed to show up for a scheduled questioning.

Lutsenko threatened he would do so earlier this week while Savchenko was on a visit to Europe in her capacity as MP. Savchenko responded by accusing Lutsenko of covering up the involvement in the deadly 2014 Maidan shooting, which escalated mass protest into an armed coup and ultimately brought the current Ukrainian government into power.

“Lutsenko called to go on offensive from the podium. He promised weapons. I saw armed people arriving in a blue van. Those people are now in the parliament,” she said.

Adding that she saw “[current Rada Speaker Andriy] Parubiy leading the snipers to the hotel ‘Ukraine’,” from which shots were later fired.

She added that she gave her testimony on these events to people investigating the mass killings, but that led nowhere.

BBC airs Maidan fighter admitting he fired on police before Kiev massacre

Savchenko later corrected herself, saying that she meant another senior Ukrainian official, Sergey Pashinsky, rather than the parliament speaker. Parubiy was a self-proclaimed “commandant of Maidan” during the mass protests in Ukraine. He was named as a possible ringleader by some critics who allege that the mass killings were initiated by the protestor side.

Pashinsky, who was an MP at that time and remains one in the current parliament, was famously caught on camera helping a man with a hunting rifle escape from an angry crowd. Some people believe that Pashinsky was part of a conspiracy to escalate violence in Kiev and rushed to protect the man believing him to be one of the snipers responsible for the bloodbath.

The prosecutors want to question Savchenko over alleged links to a man named Vladimir Ruban, who was earlier arrested while trying to smuggle a large cache of weapons from the rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine into territory that remains under Kiev’s control. The Ukrainian authorities claim Ruban was planning an armed coup in central Kiev.

Lutsentko told the Rada that the MP was part of the “terrorist” plot:

“The prosecution has proof that Nadezhda Savchenko, a member of parliament, personally planned, recruited and directed a terrorist attack in this very hall. She wanted to destroy two balconies with grenades and make the dome collapse by mortar fire. The survivors would have been finished off with firearms.”

Responding to the accusation, Savchenko did not deny, but downplayed Lutsentko’s accusations.

“Ukrainians, just think about it. Who of you never thought about taking down that government just like they were calling on us to do at all the Maidan protests? Who didn’t think about blowing up [the president’s administration] or [the Parliament]?
Are we living in 1937, Stalin’s times, when thinking about such things is a crime? Talking about it in the street? Only a lazy person now does not say such things,” she told journalists.

Earlier Savchenko publicly supported Ruban, who has a long record of acting as an intermediary for prisoner swaps between the eastern Ukrainian rebels and forces loyal to Kiev. Savchenko, who was a military service member before rising to prominence in Ukraine, has been a vocal supporter of such exchanges.

Villain or hero? The many faces of Nadezhda Savchenko

She has also been advocating a reduction of violence in eastern Ukraine and direct talks between Kiev and the rebels, a measure that the Ukrainian government strongly rejects.

Savchenko became a public figure after being arrested in Russia, where she was accused of being an accessory to the murder of two Russian journalists, who were killed by mortar shelling while reporting on the Ukrainian conflict. Russian law enforcement said the shelling deliberately targeted the non-combatants and that Savchenko served as a target spotter for the mortar crew behind the killings.

She was tried and sentenced to 22 years in prison for the crime.

While in pre-trial detention in Russia, Savchenko was elevated to celebrity status in Ukraine and in the Western media, where she was depicted as a heroic figure persecuted by Moscow. She was elected as an MP in absentia, appointed a member of Ukraine’s delegation to PACE and made into a symbol of struggle against Russia.

Her portrait was featured on a giant banner in the Rada’s main hall along with the call to: “Free Nadya!”

Savchenko was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin and returned to Ukraine in May 2016. There she proved to be an independent character and did not follow the mainstream narrative about the situation in Ukraine.

Within months she alienated the very politicians who had scored political points via her image and became a fierce critic of President Petro Poroshenko over his perceived corruption and lack of support for the Ukrainian Army.

Critics branded her a Kremlin plant, claiming she must have been recruited while in detention.

After shadows gathered over her head with the Ruban case, Savchenko was rumored to have fled to Moscow, which proved to be false. Responding to the plot allegations, she said she is cooperating with European authorities investigating allegations of the Ukrainian president’s corruption.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

NATO Cornerstones Back Russia Chemical Attack Theory

The Four Large NATO Powers Issue Statement Condemning Russia: Saying it is 'highly likely' that Russia staged a chemical poisoning in England 

by Roger Annis - A Socialist In Canada

March 15, 2018

Below is the text of a statement condemning Russia that was issued jointly by the United States, Britain, Germany and France on March 15. The four countries say it is “highly likely” that Russia staged a chemical poisoning in England on March 4 of two former Russian nationals now living in the country, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

What evidence for the accusation do the four-countries provide? None. Instead, they string together impressions which do not even amount to circumstantial evidence. They say “there is no plausible alternative explanation”.

They cite that Russia did not respond to Prime Minister Theresa May’s ultimatum late on March 12 that Russia furnish proof of its innocence of Britain’s accusations within 24 hours. And lastly, they cite an unnamed “pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behavior”.

The 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention outlawed the use of chemical weapons. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was established to enforce the convention. The OPCW has a strict protocol for examining alleged violations. In this present case, Britain and now its three allies have declined to take their ‘evidence’ to the body, despite Russian government demands that Britain do so.

A 2013 report by the OPCW examined the class of chemical named by Britain as having poisoned the two individuals on March 4, 2018, so-called Novichoks. The report concluded,

“Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB [Scientific Advisory Board] makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of ‘Novichoks’.”

A former chemical scientist named Vil Mirzanyanov who worked in the Soviet Union and now lives in the U.S. claims he developed ‘Novichoks’. He published a book in 2007 titled State Secrets: An Insider’s Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program containing what the author claims to be the very formula for the mysterious chemical. In an interview on March 14, Mirzanyanov says he is convinced the Russian government carried out the alleged March 4 attack in England. He told AFP that Sergei Skripal was no threat to Russia but the Kremlin could have killed him just to intimidate potential opponents.

Mirzanyanov also said that ‘Novichoks’ are “ten times” more powerful than the deadly VX nerve agent, the one that allegedly killed a North Korean diplomat in Singapore (though not his attackers). Somehow, Sergei Skripal and his daughter survived the ‘Novichok’ attack on March 4.

In October 2017, the OPCW confirmed the destruction of the last of Russia’s chemical weapon stockpile in accordance with the 1997 convention.

U.S. white phosphorus shell - Mosul, Iraq in June 2017 
(photo by Getty Images, on Human Rights Watch)

Chlorine and white phosphorus are not outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention, but their use in warfare is outlawed. Both chemicals burn the skin and lungs; they are not nerve gases. Chlorine is a less effective substance to use as a chemical weapon compared to nerve gases because chlorine dissipates in wind or rain. White phosphorus is a powder which is delivered by bombs or artillery shells.

The United States has routinely used two chemical weapons in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere—white phosphorus and artillery shells hardened with deleted uranium. The U.S. defends its use of white phosphorus by saying it is used to create “smokescreens”. U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for the U.S.-led forces in Iraq and Syria, told international media on June 9 that,

“In accordance with the law of armed conflict, white phosphorus rounds are used for screening, obscuring and marking in a way that fully considers the possible incidental effects on civilians and civilian structures.”

The U.S. use of deleted uranium has been causing death and illness all the way back to the American War in Vietnam. (There, the U.S. also dropped massive quantities of other chemical weapons, including napalm and Agent Orange.)

Human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued conditional protests in 2016 and 2017 of continued U.S. use of white phosphorus in Iraq. Amnesty International said on October 28, 2016,

“We are urging Iraqi and coalition forces never to use white phosphorus in the vicinity of civilians. Even if civilians are not present at the time of its use, due to the residual risks they should not use airburst white phosphorus munitions unless it is absolutely necessary to achieve military objectives which cannot be accomplished through safer means.”

Human Rights Watch said on June 14, 2017 that U.S. forces should “take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm” when using white phosphorus weapons.

According to Wikipedia, 96 per cent of the world’s chemical weapons stockpiles have been destroyed by the year 2017. Conventional weapons, nuclear weapons, and chemical bombs and shells disguised as ‘conventional’ have seen no such decline.

Related readings: 
* The strange case of the Russian spy poisoning, by James O’Neill, published in Consortium News, March 13, 2018 (James O’Neill is a barrister and geopolitical analyst in Australia.) Applying the principle of cui bono – who benefits? – to the case of Sergei Skripal might lead investigators away from the Kremlin as the prime suspect and towards Western intelligence agencies 
* Novichok – toxic questions about chemical at center of Skripal saga in Britain, including Russia’s UN-verified destruction of its entire chemical weapons capacity in 2017, RT, Mar 13, 2018

* Russian to judgement, by Craig Murray, published on his website, Mar 13, 2018 (Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010)

Statement of the United States, Britain, France and Germany

March 15, 2018

(Text drawn from

We, the leaders of France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom abhor the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, United Kingdom, on March 4, 2018. A British police officer who was also exposed in the attack remains seriously ill, and the lives of many innocent British citizens have been threatened. We express our sympathies to them all, and our admiration for the United Kingdom police and emergency services for their courageous response.

This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War. It is an assault on the United Kingdom’s sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all.

The United Kingdom thoroughly briefed its allies that it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack. We share the United Kingdom’s assessment that there is no plausible alternative explanation, and note that Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the United Kingdom further underlines Russia’s responsibility. We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury.

Russia should, in particular, provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Our concerns are also heightened against the background of a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behavior. We call on Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the U.N. Security Council to uphold international peace and security.

The Other Stephen: Hawking, Progressive Fighter

Stephen Hawking: Fighter for Progressive Politics


March 15, 2018

Scientist Stephen Hawking spoke out against wars, called for action against climate change, and defended socialist programs - Ben Norton reports.

Ben Norton is a producer and reporter for The Real News. His work focuses primarily on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, media criticism, and movements for economic and social justice. Ben Norton was previously a staff writer at Salon and AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton

Macron's Foreign to Foreign Policy Policies

President Macron’s foreign policy

by Thierry Meyssan - Voltaire Network

March 13, 2018

According to President Macron, "France is back" (in English in the text), and intends to play an international role once more, after ten years of abandon. However, Emmanuel Macron has never yet explained what might be the policy he intends to apply. Picking up the elements he has already developed in these columns, and placing them in the European context as well as the context of this country’s History, Thierry Meyssan analyses the change of direction which has just been announced.

When Emmanuel Macron began his campaign for the Presidency of the French Republic, he knew nothing about international relations. His mentor, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, head of the General Inspectorate of Finances (a corps of 300 senior civil servants), made sure he was given accelerated training. France’s prestige had been considerably depleted by its two former Presidents, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, the position of France perceived as "inconsistent" due to its absence of priority and its innumerable changes of direction.

This was the reason Macron began his mandate by meeting as many heads of state and government as possible, demonstrating that France was repositioning itself as a mediating power, capable of talking to anyone.

After having shaken hands and distributed dinner invitations, however, he had to give a content to his policy. Jean-Pierre Jouyet [1] proposed that France remain in the Atlantist camp, gambling on the US Democrats who, in his opinion, should soon be back in the White House, perhaps even before the elections of 2020. When the British were leaving the European Union, France confirmed its close alliance with London while maintaining its relationship with Berlin. The Union had to be recentred on the governance of the Euro. It would put an end to free exchange with partners who did not respect it, and would create huge enterprises on the Internet capable of rivalising with those of the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon). It should also develop a common defence against terrorism. With its allies, it would engage in the struggle against the Russian influence. Finally, France would pursue its military action in Sahel and the Levant.

In September 2017, Jean-Pierre Jouyet was nominated as French ambassador to London. In January 2018, France and the United Kingdom relaunched their diplomatic and military cooperation [2]. Still in January, the two states formed a secret authority, the "Little Group", to reprise the Franco-British colonisation of the Levant [3].

This policy, which has never been discussed in public, not only ignores the History of France, but also the German demand to play a more important international political role. Indeed, seventy years after its defeat, the fourth economy in the world is still limited to a secondary role [4].

Concerning the Arab world, President Macron – an ENA alumnus (Ecole Nationale d’Administration) and ex-collaborator with Rothschild & Co - adopted the point of view of his two consultants on the subject. They were the Franco-Tunisian Hakim El Karoui (another ex-Rothschild & Co) for the Maghreb, and ex-ambassador to Damascus Michel Duclos – another ENA alumnus – for the Levant. El Karoui is not a product of Republican integration, but of the transnational haute bourgeoisie. He alternates a Republican attitude on the international plane, with another, communitarian, on the interior. Duclos is an authentic neo-conservative, trained in the USA under George W. Bush by Jean-David Levitte [5].

El Karoui has still not understood that the Muslim Brotherhood is an instrument of the British MI6, just as Duclos has still not understood that London has not yet digested the Sykes-Picot-Sazonov agreements which caused the loss of half of its empire in the Middle East [6]. Consequently, the two men see no problem with the new "entente cordiale" with Theresa May.

We may already note certain incoherencies in this policy. In application of the decisions of the "Little Group", France has re-adopted the habit of President Hollande’s team of relaying to the UNO the positions of its employees in the Syrian opposition (those who pay allegiance to the flag of the French mandate in Syria [7]). But times have changed. The letter by the current President of the Syrian Negotiation Committee, Nasr al-Hariri, transmitted to the Security Council in the name of France, insults not only Syria, but also Russia [8]. It accuses one of the two major military powers in the world [9] of perpetrating crimes against Humanity, which contravenes the "mediating" position of a permanent member of the Council. While Moscow preferred to ignore this slip of the tongue, Damascus replied angrily [10].

Finally, the policy of Emmanuel Macron is almost the same as that of Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, even though, because of the presence of Donald Trump in the White House, it relies more on the United Kingdom than the United States. The Elysée pursues the idea of an economic recovery for its multinationals – not in France but in its erstwhile colonial Empire. These are the same choices as those made by the Socialist Guy Mollet, one of the founders of the Bilderberg Group [11].

In 1956, the President of the French Council allied himself with London and Tel-Aviv in order to conserve France’s shares in the Suez Canal, which had been nationalised by President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Mollet proposed to his British counterpart, Anthony Eden, that France join the Commonwealth and pay allegiance to the Crown, and that the French people adopt the same civil status as the population of Northern Ireland [12]. This project for the abandon of the Republic and the integration of France into the United Kingdom under the authority of Queen Elizabeth II was never discussed publicly.

Never mind the ideal of equal rights exposed in 1789 and the rejection of colonialism expressed by the French People when they were faced with the aborted coup d’etat of 1961 [13] – in the eyes of Power, foreign policy has nothing to do with democracy.

Thierry Meyssan

Pete Kimberley

[1] “From the Saint-Simon Foundation to Emmanuel Macron”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 16 April 2017.

[2] “The Franco-British « Entente cordiale »”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Al-Watan (Syria) , Voltaire Network, 30 January 2018.

[3] « Syrieleaks : un câble diplomatique britannique dévoile la "stratégie occidentale" », par Richard Labévière, Observatoire géostratégique, Proche&, 17 février 2018.

[4] This is also the case for Japan.

[5] Jean-David Levitte, alias « Diplomator », was the permanent French representative to the United Nations in New York (2000-02), then ambassador to Washington (2002-07).

[6] From the British point of view, the Sykes-Picot-Sazonov agreements of 1916 are not a fair sharing of the world between the three empires, but a concession made by the United Kingdom to ensure the support of France and Russia (Triple Alliance) against the German Reich, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy (Triplice).

[7] “France: seeking old mandate in Syria”, by Sarkis Tsaturyan, Oriental Review (Russia) , Voltaire Network, 6 October 2015. In 1932, France imposed a new flag on mandated Syria. It is composed of three horizontal bands representing the dynasties of the Fatimides (green), the Omeyyades (white) and the Abbasides (black), symbolic of the Chiite Muslims for the first and the Sunnis for the two others. The three red stars represent the three minorities - Christian, Druze and Alaouite. This flag was still in force at the beginning of the Syrian Arab Republic, and returned in 2011 with the Free Syrian Army.

[8] “Russia and Syria charged by France”, by François Delattre, Voltaire Network, 9 February 2018.

[9] “The new Russian nuclear arsenal restores world bipolarity”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 6 March 2018.

[10] “Syria’s response to France”, Voltaire Network, 28 February 2018.

[11] “What you don’t know about the Bilderberg-Group”, by Thierry Meyssan, Komsomolskaïa Pravda (Russia) , Voltaire Network, 9 May 2011.

[12] “When Britain and France nearly married”, Mike Thomson, BBC, January 15, 2007. « Frangland? UK documents say France proposed a union with Britain in 1950s : LONDON: Would France have been better off under Queen Elizabeth II? », Associated Press, January 15, 2007. Guy Mollet was not accepting the proposition for a Franco-British Union as it was formulated by Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden in 1940, after the French defeat, to create a provisional fusion of the two nations in order to fight the Nazi Reich. He was in fact inspired, in the context of the Suez crisis and the hope of saving the French Empire, by the proposition of Ernest Bevin, eleven years earlier, to create a third block against the USA and the URSS, by joining the British, French and Dutch empires within the framework of a Western Union. This project was abandoned by London for the benefit of the CECA (ancestor of the European Union) on the economic level, and NATO on the military level.

[13] In 1961, a military coup d’etat, organised in secret by NATO, attempted to overthrow General-President Charles De Gaulle in order to preserve France’s colonial policy. The French People refused massively to join this movement. « Quand le stay-behind voulait remplacer De Gaulle », by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 10 September 2001

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Ghost of Colin Powell Haunts Salisbury

The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam

by Craig Murray

14 Mar, 2018

As recently as 2016 Dr Robin Black, Head of the Detection Laboratory at the UK’s only chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, published in an extremely prestigious scientific journal that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown. Yet now, the British Government is claiming to be able instantly to identify a substance which its only biological weapons research centre has never seen before and was unsure of its existence.

Worse, it claims to be able not only to identify it, but to pinpoint its origin. Given Dr Black’s publication, it is plain that claim cannot be true.

"In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, ‘Novichoks’ (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the ‘Foliant’ programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures.
Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published." - (Black, 2016) Robin Black. (2016) Development, Historical Use and Properties of Chemical Warfare Agents. Royal Society of Chemistry

The world’s international chemical weapons experts share Dr Black’s opinion. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is a UN body based in the Hague. In 2013 this was the report of its Scientific Advisory Board, which included US, French, German and Russian government representatives and on which Dr Black was the UK representative:

"[The SAB] emphasised that the definition of toxic chemicals in the Convention would cover all potential candidate chemicals that might be utilised as chemical weapons. Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”.
The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks”." - (OPCW, 2013) OPCW: Report of the Scientific Advisory Board on developments in science and technology for the Third Review Conference 27 March 2013

Indeed the OPCW was so sceptical of the viability of “novichoks” that it decided – with US and UK agreement – not to add them nor their alleged precursors to its banned list. In short, the scientific community broadly accepts Mirzayanov was working on “novichoks” but doubts he succeeded.

Given that the OPCW has taken the view the evidence for the existence of “Novichoks” is dubious, if the UK actually has a sample of one it is extremely important the UK presents that sample to the OPCW. Indeed the UK has a binding treaty obligation to present that sample to OPCW. Russa has – unreported by the corporate media – entered a demand at the OPCW that Britain submit a sample of the Salisbury material for international analysis.

Yet Britain refuses to submit it to the OPCW. Why?

A second part of May’s accusation is that “Novichoks” could only be made in certain military installations. But that is also demonstrably untrue. If they exist at all, Novichoks were allegedly designed to be able to be made at bench level in any commercial chemical facility – that was a major point of them. The only real evidence for the existence of Novichoks was the testimony of the ex-Soviet scientist Mizayanov. And this is what Mirzayanov actually wrote:

"One should be mindful that the chemical components or precursors of A-232 or its binary version novichok-5 are ordinary organophosphates that can be made at commercial chemical companies that manufacture such products as fertilizers and pesticides." - Vil S. Mirzayanov, “Dismantling the Soviet/Russian Chemical Weapons Complex: An Insider’s View,” in Amy E. Smithson, Dr. Vil S. Mirzayanov, Gen Roland Lajoie, and Michael Krepon, Chemical Weapons Disarmament in Russia: Problems and Prospects, Stimson Report No. 17, October 1995, p. 21.

It is a scientific impossibility for Porton Down to have been able to test for novichoks, without possessing some to develop the tests. As Dr Black has revealed Porton Down had never seen any Russian novichok, they cannot have a test for it unless they synthesised some themselves to develop the tests. And if they can synthesise it, so can many others, not just the Russians.

And finally – Mirzayanov is an Uzbek name and the novichok programme, assuming it existed, was in the Soviet Union but far away from modern Russia, at Nukus in modern Uzbekistan. I have visited the Nukus chemical weapons site myself. It was dismantled and made safe and all the stocks destroyed and the equipment removed by the American government, as I recall finishing while I was Ambassador there.

There has in fact never been any evidence that any “novichok” ever existed in Russia itself.

To summarise:

1) Porton Down has acknowledged in publications it has never seen any Russian “novichoks”. The UK government has absolutely no “fingerprint” information that can safely attribute this substance to Russia.
2) Until now, neither Porton Down nor the world’s experts at the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were convinced “Novichoks” even exist.
3) The UK is refusing to provide a sample to the OPCW.
4) “Novichoks” were specifically designed to be able to be manufactured from common ingredients on any scientific bench. The Americans dismantled and studied the facility that allegedly developed them. It is completely untrue only the Russians could make them, if anybody can.
5) The “Novichok” programme was in Uzbekistan not in Russia. Its legacy was inherited by the Americans during their alliance with Karimov, not by the Russians.

With a great many thanks to sources who cannot be named at this moment.