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Europe Unveils “Special Purpose Vehicle” To Bypass SWIFT, Jeopardizing Dollar’s Reserve Status

In a stunning vote of “no confidence” in the US monopoly over global payment infrastructure, one month ago Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US that would allow Brussels to be independent in its financial operations from Washington and as a means of rescuing the nuclear deal between Iran and the west.

Writing in the German daily Handelsblatt, Maas said “Europe should not allow the US to act over our heads and at our expense. For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels that are independent of the US, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent Swift system,” he wrote.

Maas said it was vital for Europe to stick with the Iran deal. “Every day the agreement continues to exist is better than the highly explosive crisis that otherwise threatens the Middle East,” he said, with the unspoken message was even clearer: Europe no longer wants to be a vassal state to US monopoly over global payments, and will now aggressively pursue its own “SWIFT” network that is not subservient to Washington’s every whim.

Many discounted the proposal as being far too aggressive: after all, a direct assault on SWIFT, and Washington, would be seen by the rest of the world as clear mutiny against a US-dominated global regime, and could potentially spark a crisis of confidence in the reserve status of the dollar, resulting in unpredictable, and dire, consequences.

However, despite the diplomatic consequences, Europe was intent on creating some loophole to the US ability to weaponize the global currency of account at will, something observed most recently as part of Trump’s latest sanctions on Iran, and as a result, late on Monday, the European Union said that it would establish a special payment channel to allow European and other companies to legally continue financial transactions with Iran while avoiding exposure to U.S. sanctions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Battling it out at the UN: Potholes overshadow US-Iran confrontation

Battling it out at the UN: Potholes overshadow US-Iran confrontation

A podcast version of this article is available at https://soundcloud.com/user-153425019/battling-it-out-at-the-un-potholes-overshadow-us-iran-confrontation

It’s easy to dismiss Iranian denunciations of the United States and its Middle Eastern allies as part of the Islamic republic’s long-standing rhetoric. The rhetoric makes it equally easy to understand American distrust.

But as President J. Trump and Hassan Rouhani, his Iranian counterpart, gear up for two days of diplomatic sabre rattling at the United Nations in advance of next month’s imposition of a second round of harsh US sanctions, both men risk fuelling a conflict that could escalate out of hand.

Both are scheduled to address the UN general assembly on Tuesday and Mr. Trump is slated to chair a meeting on Wednesday of the Security Council expected to focus on Iran.

Adding to the likely drama at the UN, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, speaking alongside Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, snubbed Mr. Trump, by announcing the creation of a payment system that would allow oil companies and businesses to continue trading with Iran despite US sanctions.

The risk of escalation is enhanced by the fact that Messrs. Trump and Rouhani are sending mixed messages.

Mr. Trump’s administration insists that its confrontational approach is designed to alter Iranian behaviour and curb its policies, not topple its regime.

Yet, the administration stepped up its engagement with exile groups associated with the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a controversial Saudi-backed organization that calls for the violent overthrow of the government in Tehran and enjoys support among current and former Western officials, as Messrs. Trump and Rouhani battle it out at the UN.

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Trump: “The OPEC Monopoly Must Get Prices Down Now!”

Less than three months after Trump’s latest tweet slamming OPEC, in which he warned the petroleum cartel that “the United States defends many of their members for very little $’s. This must be a two way street. REDUCE PRICING NOW!”…

… Trump was at it again and on Thursday morning, the president lashed out at OPEC, saying that the US protects the countries of the Middle East, and warning these nations that “they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember.

His message: “The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”


We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!


With oil prices close to the highs of the year, the Trump tweet doesn’t come as a surprise,” said UBS’ Giovanni Staunovo. “Considering the upcoming OPEC meeting in Algiers, he wants to keep pressure on the group ahead of the mid-term elections.”

In response, Brent crude, which had traded as high as 0.5% earlier, erased session gains and slumped 0.1% in the red.

And while OPEC and allies are scheduled to meet in Algiers this weekend to discuss the oil market and their production levels, Reuters reported that OPEC is unlikely to agree to further official increases in oil output, which means more angry tweets from Trump will be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, as some have pointed out, with OPEC’s market share below 40%, perhaps Trump should target other oil market members.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Washington’s Matrix Is Closing Down Truth Throughout the Western World

Washington’s Matrix Is Closing Down Truth Throughout the Western World

For a number of years I have emphasized that 9/11 was used by Dick Cheney to significantly reduce the public’s, the judiciary’s, and Congress’ access to information about what the executive branch is doing, thereby preventing legal, legislative, and electoral action against the unlawful and unconstitutional behavior of the executive branch during the Cheney/Bush and Obama regimes.

Recently I discovered on my bookshelves Charlie Savage’s extraordinary book, Takeover (2007), which describes how Cheney and his minions, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, and Shannen Coffin, used secret Department of Justice (sic) memos and executive orders from George W. Bush to prevent the release of any information that would get in the way of Cheney’s agenda for war in the Middle East and a police state at home. If Americans understood that an immigrant from Korea, John Yoo, wrote secret DOJ memos that shredded both the separation of powers and US civil liberties, there would be even more opposition to immigration of peoples who are not dedicated to our founding document, the US Constitution.

Ten years later David Ray Griffin’s 2017 book, Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World, also documents how Dick Cheney fed the US Constitution into a shredder.

I intend to review these two books together so that you can see that there is nothing left of the United States as defined by the US Constitution. What has caused me to mention them now is The Saker’s interview with Michael Hoffman about Amazon’s use by the government as a proxy censor. In the name of private enterprise choosing what it wants to sell, the Amazon monopoly enables the government to censor without the government violating the First Amendment.

Read this: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50261.htm and you will see how non-enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act has enabled Washington to create private monopolies such as Amazon that do the dirty work for Washington that the First Amendment prevents.

Why the U.S. Seeks to Hem in Russia, China and Iran

Why the U.S. Seeks to Hem in Russia, China and Iran

America’s three principal adversaries signify the shape of the world to come: a post-Western world of coexistence. But neolibera and neocon ideology is unable to to accept global pluralism and multipolarity, argues Patrick Lawrence.


The Trump administration has brought U.S. foreign policy to the brink of crisis, if it has not already tipped into one. There is little room to argue otherwise. In Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, and in Washington’s ever-fraught relations with Russia, U.S. strategy, as reviewed in my previous column, amounts to little more than spoiling the efforts of others to negotiate peaceful solutions to war and dangerous standoffs in the interests of an orderly world.

The bitter reality is that U.S. foreign policy has no definable objective other than blocking the initiatives of others because they stand in the way of the further expansion of U.S. global interests. This impoverished strategy reflects Washington’s refusal to accept the passing of its relatively brief post–Cold War moment of unipolar power.

There is an error all too common in American public opinion. Personalizing Washington’s regression into the role of spoiler by assigning all blame to one man, now Donald Trump, deprives one of deeper understanding. This mistake was made during the steady attack on civil liberties after the Sept. 11 tragedies and then during the 2003 invasion of Iraq: namely that it was all  George W. Bush’s fault. It was not so simple then and is not now. The crisis of U.S. foreign policy—a series of radical missteps—are systemic. Having little to do with personalities, they pass from one administration to the next with little variance other than at the margins.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Staged Filming of False Flag ‘Chemical Attacks’ Has Begun in Idlib: Russian MoD

Russian state media channels, in a near simultaneous blitz of information, have issued breaking alerts this morning that anti-Assad insurgents in Idlib have begun filming “fake footage of chemical attacks” based on Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) statements. The Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation says the “fake footage of chemical attacks”  is expected to be delivered to various TV channels and Western journalists before the end of the day Tuesday.

Russia’s Sputnik News indicates based on official Moscow sources:

According to the information received from inhabitants of Idlib province, militants are now filming a staged provocation in the city of Jisr al-Shugur, where “chemical weapons” are depicted as being used by the Syrian army against civilians. The film crews of several Middle Eastern TV channels arrived in Jisr al-Shugur in the morning, as well as the regional affiliate of one of the main American television news networks”, the Reconciliation Center said.

Idlib residents have begun donning ‘protective gear’ according to an Al-Jazeera report. Image source: Reuters

Jisr al-Shugur is a key al-Qaeda held town in Idlib Province, specifically under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Nusrah Front, or al-Qaeda). There have been international journalists inside Jisr al-Shugur over the past weeks.

Official Russian military sources also say two containers with chlorine-based toxic substance have been brought to Jisr al-Shugur; however, the sources did not cite any specific intelligence or provide evidence for the claim.

The Russian MoD described, per Sputnik:

The plot envisages staged scenes showing ‘activists’ of the Civil Defence (“White Helmets”) ‘helping’ the residents of Jisr al-Shughur after the Syrian army allegedly used the so-called barrel bombs with poisonous substances,” the center said.

Meanwhile Russian channel RT also featured the charges in breaking news, describing:

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Fighting Starts in Syria’s Idlib: US Military Considers Military Options

Fighting Starts in Syria’s Idlib: US Military Considers Military Options

Fighting Starts in Syria’s Idlib: US Military Considers Military Options

Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari declared on Sept. 7 that his government was determined to wipe out the rebels from the Idlib province. The next day, the Idlib Dawn Operation began, encircling a town 59 km. southwest of the Syrian city of Aleppo. As of Sept. 9, Russian aircraft have attacked the rebel positions in western Idlib, the mountains of the Latakia province, and the Sahl al-Ghab plain, with the goal of softening up peripheral targets and preventing a breakthrough or counterattack. Syria’s forces are ready to move.

The Russian military warned that a false-flag chemical attack staged by the rebels could occur at any time and be used as a pretext for Western missile strikes.  A massive Turkish military convoy, consisting of more than 300 vehicles, including tanks, armored vehicles, and MLRS launchers, has entered Idlib from the province of Hatay.

Syria needs Idlib — the last stronghold of the jihadists and the shortest route from Latakia to Aleppo. The M5 international highway crosses Idlib, linking Turkey and Jordan through Aleppo and Damascus. Control of the province would greatly facilitate the negotiations with the Kurds and strengthen Syria’s position at the UN-brokered Geneva talks. If the negotiation process succeeds, the only territories left to liberate would be the zone controlled by the US, such as the al-Tanf military base and the surrounding area, the northern parts of the country under Turkish control, and small chunks of land still held by ISIS.

Turkey opposes the idea of an Idlib offensive. It wants assurances for the groups in Idlib under its control and it doesn’t want an influx of refugees. These controversial issues can be tackled with Russia as a mediator. Turkey, Iran, and Russia did not agree on everything at the recent summit in Tehran, but the West’s hopes that they would go their separate ways, or even clash in Idlib, have been dashed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New Alliance Emerges in Eastern Mediterranean to Reshape Regional Security Landscape

New Alliance Emerges in Eastern Mediterranean to Reshape Regional Security Landscape

New Alliance Emerges in Eastern Mediterranean to Reshape Regional Security Landscape

The military-political landscape in Europe and the Mediterranean is changing. NATO is not as unified as it once was, and Turkey’s membership has become more of a formality than a real thing. A pro-US group consisting of Great Britain, Poland, and the Baltic States has emerged as part of a North Atlantic Alliance that is divided by differences and the open rift over the 2% financial contribution, a decree that is largely ignored, along with the other divisions that are weakening the bloc. Other groups are arising that also have common security interests. A new pact, an Arab NATO allied with the United States, will soon materialize in the Middle East.  Changes are coming, but they are hard to predict as everything is currently in a state of flux.

“The United States is interested in increasing its use of military bases and ports in Greece,” said General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), on Sept. 4 during his visit to Athens.  “If you look at geography, and you look at current operations in Libya, and you look at current operations in Syria, you look at potential other operations in the eastern Mediterranean, the geography of Greece and the opportunities here are pretty significant,” he added. According to the Military Times, “[N]o specific bases have been identified, but that Supreme Allied Commander Europe Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti is evaluating several options for increased US flight training, port calls to do forward-based ship repairs and additional multilateral exercises.” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross came to Greece right after the CJCS’s visit to take part in the annual Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

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Why America can’t understand the Middle East

Why America can’t understand the Middle East

American thinking bends toward an attempt to remake the world in its own image. This fatal exceptionalism leads writers like David Ignatius into misreading events in the Arab world

A recent editorial in the Washington Post, written by columnist David Ignatius, offers a shining example of the United States’ difficulty in understanding today’s world and, most of all, the Arab world.

Ignatius conveys a genuine concern for “The Unintended Consequences of US Disengagement in the Middle East”, quoting worried comments made by a member of the Arab elite allied with the US.

The journalist expresses uneasiness about the fact that “American power and values won’t matter the way they once did”. His position is steeped in the typical intellectual milieu of American exceptionalism, a position based on the hardwired assumption that the condition for an ideal existence and a stable world order are ensured only when American power and values are strong and shared.

Binary thinking

The article emphasises that, at the moment, there would be “…no constituency in the US for…doing more in the Middle East”. This alleged disengagement apparently began with the Obama administration, but now is strongly attributed, and blamed on, Trump.

Leaving aside the fact that, based on recent history, a significant part of Middle Eastern population would object to the “United States doing more in the Middle East”, it is what follows that is really astonishing.

Quoting the same Arab source, Ignatius affirms that US disengagement could imply that Arab nations will need to do things on their own. So far nothing wrong, except that, for Ignatius and his source, Arab nations going it alone has only one meaning: “closer relations with Russia and China”. Another depressing and frustrating example of Western binary thinking.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Geopolitics of Energy

The Geopolitics of Energy

The Geopolitics of Energy

Some brief notes on the situation around the world with respect to the influence that energy has on political developments.

1. The Middle East

The Middle East continues to play a major role in the global energy scene. Notwithstanding changes that have occurred in the political situation of many countries in the area — i.e., Libya, Iraq, Qatar, and Iran — the Middle East still remains one of the most important providers of oil and natural gas in the world. This is why many global powers, namely the United States, China, and Russia, keep a close eye on developments there. Events in Iraq, Iran, and on the Arabian peninsula continue to ring alarm bells in major world capitals, since whatever happens there has severe repercussions on the price of energy. This in turn affects the economic welfare of many parts of the world and puts huge strains on the diplomatic efforts of major countries to design policies to deal with the resulting problems.

The antagonism between Saudi Arabia and Iran sets off a variety of political reverberations affecting the countries of the Persian Gulf, unsettling the situation between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and entangling Russia and the United States in the ensuring imbroglio.

The countries of North Africa, Egypt, and of course Israel/Palestine are part of the same puzzle that mixes energy and diplomacy at every step of the way.

2. The Russian Federation

Russia plays a crucial role in the politics of global energy. Russia is one of the world’s most important exporters of oil and natural gas. This means that apart from playing a pivotal role in the formation of world energy prices, its presence, behaviour, and diplomatic manoeuvring is of paramount importance when it comes to energy security and the possibility of preventing or causing peripheral animosities or establishing peace and stability.

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The Deal: Smelling a Rat, Arabs Sense a Coming Humiliation

The Deal: Smelling a Rat, Arabs Sense a Coming Humiliation

The Deal: Smelling a Rat, Arabs Sense a Coming Humiliation

“The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

What on earth does this tweet from President Trump – “I am asking for World Peace” – mean? It does not at all gel with NY businessman pragmatism: that he wants to diss Obama; or, that he wants to implode Iran in order to recover US energy dominance; or, that with Iran’s implosion, the hitherto obstructed path, would thus be cleared for all Sunni Arab states desirous of normalising and trading with Israel – so to do.

But the extravagant capitalisation of WORLD PEACE implies that Trump has some wider vision, behind this new American ‘war of choice’ on Iran. ‘WORLD PEACE’: It strongly suggests Trump leading us toward a definite destiny: not just for America, but for all humanity (‘no less’). It is an apocalyptic vision. (i.e. an event that implies something not bad, but rather that the implosion of Revolutionary Iran, somehow will bring human Salvation).

The conviction that the crimes and follies of the past can be left behind in some all-encompassing transformation of human life is a secular reincarnation of early Christian beliefs. The very idea of ‘an event’ which transforms humanity and leads to ‘Salvation’ owes to religious conviction – in this case the Jewish apocalyptic current (of which Jesus was an adherent) that was assimilated into early Christianity.

Is this religious eruption Trump’s own? Or, did he absorb it from Ivanka’s conversion to Orthodox Judaism; or, has it emerged out from Trump and Pence’s Evangelical base?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

China to Support Syria Along with Russia Against USA

COMMENT: Mr. Armstrong; You said that China would eventually send troops to the Middle East and join with Russia in Syria. China just openly told that to the newspapers. Your contacts behind the curtail are quite amazing.

BH

 REPLY: Qi Qianjin was appointed the ambassador to Syria back in 2016. You are correct, on August 1st, 2018, the Chinese ambassador to Damascus, Qi Qianjin, told pro-government Syrian newspaper Al Watan that the Chinese military was ready to join Idlib in the upcoming military operation. This has been widely reportedin the Middle East. China has NEVER been engaged in war sending its troops outside of its claimed territory. It is important to understand that China has always been invaded and hence that was the very reason behind constructing the Chinese Wall – to keep other out.

Qianjin confirmed that China was entering a positive military cooperation with Syria in the region under counter-terrorism. It is Syria who is fighting against the ISIS terrorists. The witch-hunt against Russia by those in Congress has been setting the stage for world war led by the Democrats. This really has to stop and the mid-term elections will see the Democrats out to take the Congress at all costs and they have become the part of anti-Russia. Socialists always want to conquer the world and force others to comply with their demands. 

It may have been Khrushchev who boasted that Communism would defeat Capitalism when he said “We will bury you“, but today this is rapidly becoming the slogan of the Democrats for the upcoming Mid-Term Elections.

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Robert Fisk: “I Traced Al-Qaeda Missile Casings In Syria Back To Their Original Sellers”

Finally, a journalist for a mainstream UK media outlet is methodically tracking weapons shipment serial numbers and English-language paperwork recovered from al-Qaeda groups in Syria, and he’s literally showing up at arms factories and questioning arms dealers, including officials at the Saudi Embassy in London, asking: why are your weapons in the hands of terrorists? 

Veteran Middle East war correspondent Robert Fisk recently published a bombshell report entitled, I traced missile casings in Syria back to their original sellers, so it’s time for the west to reveal who they sell arms to. In it Fisk recalls a bit of detective sleuthing he’s lately been engaged in after stumbling upon a batch of missile casings and shipment paperwork last year hidden in what he describes as “the basement of a bombed-out Islamist base in eastern Aleppo” with the words “Hughes Aircraft Co/Guided Missile Surface Attack” emblazoned on the side of the spent tubes.

Of course, the Syrian government recaptured the area from Islamist insurgents including al-Nusra terrorists and their allies in December 2016, and has made rapid gains throughout the country’s east and south since; and Fisk has been trekking around the country to see what he can find.

Image source: Washington Business Journal

His “detective story” as he calls it actually seems to solicit the help of the public, and begins as follows:

Readers, a small detective story. Note down this number: MFG BGM-71E-1B. And this number: STOCK NO 1410-01-300-0254. And this code: DAA A01 C-0292. I found all these numerals printed on the side of a spent missile casing lying in the basement of a bombed-out Islamist base in eastern Aleppo last year.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Madness Gripping Washington

The Madness Gripping Washington

The Madness Gripping Washington

The United States and Israel have been threatening Iran for something like twenty years, using the pretext that it was developing a nuclear weapon initially, but also more recently declaring that Tehran has become a threat to the entire Middle East. Both contentions are essentially lies, concocted by an Israel and Saudi Arabia that would prefer to have Iran removed as a possible impediment to their own ambitions. And they would like the United States to do the removing.

Iran is the hottest of all hot spots in the American view, but the tendency of the White House to threaten first before engaging in negotiations has meant that most nations have come to see the United States as the greatest threat to peace worldwide. In a recent interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin observed how the U.S. believes it can intervene militarily anywhere in the world because it is “spreading democracy,” a justification that no one believes in any event as the results of recent crusades in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya have been less that encouraging. Putin commented that Washington should treat all other nations with respect and it will then get respect – and cooperation – in return.

The track record of the Trump White House is not encouraging. It has twice launched barrages of cruise missiles against targets in Syria based on fabricated or incomplete intelligence suggesting that the government in Damascus had used chemical weapons against its own people. It also uniquely added juvenile humiliation to the American diplomatic arsenal, with Trump describing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as a “rocket man” before going off into a rhapsody about how the nuclear arsenal button accessible to Trump was “bigger and more powerful” than that available to Pyongyang.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“There Is No End In Sight” Army Major Warns Of “Perpetual War” On Terror

Cutting through the haze of humanitarian bullshit and liberation,  West Point graduate and author Major Danny Sjursen told ‘Watching The Hawks’ that the War on Terror is a “battle for basic hegemony in the Middle East”, warning that it may go on indefinitely.

In the brief but eye-opening interview, Sjursen calls the US’ now 17-year War on Terror “unprecedented in American history,” noting that soon kids who were born after 9/11 will be joining the military.

Sjursen called the War on Terror a misnomer. “How do you fight a war against a tactic. Terrorism is a tactic,” he asked.

“What it really has been, in my opinion, is a war for basic hegemony in the Middle East,” Sjursen said.

He believes that even though some of it may be backed by humanitarian impulses, “I don’t suspect that the government necessarily fights just for oil or whatever the different conspiracies [are].”

“The War on Terror, as far as I see it, is potentially perpetual. There is no end in sight,” he added.

Calling for a teaching of the mistakes from the “messy history” of the US misadventure in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sjursen warned that the US is “apt to repeat” these mistakes “whether it’s in Iran, whether it’s in West Africa.”

American soldiers are dying countries Americans can’t pronounce, they can’t find on the map, and part of the problem and part of the reason for that they aren’t really educated on this.”

Sjursen called for the War on Terror to be taught in schools and for honest and critical conversations to be had publicly in order to educate the average American on it.

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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