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Imperial Capital but America-First Nation

Imperial Capital but America-First Nation

Imperial Capital but America-First Nation

Is America still the world’s last superpower with global policing obligations? Or should we shuck off this imperial role and make America, again, in Jeane Kirkpatrick’s phrase, “a normal country in a normal time”?

“Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand,” said President Donald Trump in an impassioned defense of his decision to cut ties to the Syrian Kurds, withdraw and end these “endless wars.”

Are our troops in Syria, then, on their way home? Well, not exactly.

Those leaving northern Syria went into Iraq. Other U.S. soldiers will stay in Syria to guard oil wells that we and the Kurds captured in the war with ISIS. Another 150 U.S. troops will remain in al-Tanf to guard Syria’s border with Iraq, at the request of Jordan and Israel.

And 2,000 more U.S. troops are being sent to Saudi Arabia to help defend the kingdom from Iran, which raises a question: Are we coming or going?

In his conflicting statements and actions, Trump seemingly seeks to mollify both sides of our national quarrel:

Is America still the world’s last superpower with global policing obligations? Or should we shuck off this imperial role and make America, again, in Jeane Kirkpatrick’s phrase, “a normal country in a normal time”?

In Middle America, anti-interventionism has carried the day. As Trump says, no declaration at his rallies is more wildly welcomed than his pledge to end our Middle East wars and bring the troops home.

But in this imperial capital, the voice of the interventionist yet prevails. The media, the foreign policy elite, the think tanks, the ethnic lobbies, the Pentagon, the State Department, Capitol Hill, are almost all interventionist, opposed to Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds. Rand Paul may echo Middle America, but Lindsey Graham speaks for the Republican establishment.

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

“We Want To Keep The Oil”

“We Want To Keep The Oil”

“Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand,
workin’ in the dark against your fellow man.
But as sure as God made black and white
what’s down in the dark will be brought to the light.”
~ Johnny Cash/traditional, ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’

The Grayzone has an excellent new article out titled “US troops are staying in Syria to ‘keep the oil’ – and have already killed hundreds over it” detailing the many ways the Trump administration has openly admitted that it is keeping US troops in Syria to control the nation’s oil fields so that the Syrian government can’t use it to fund reconstruction efforts.

“We’ve secured the oil, and therefore a small number of US troops will remain in the area where they have the oil,” Trump said in a recent press conference. “And we’re going to be protecting it. And we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.”

“We want to keep the oil,” Trump said in a cabinet meeting a few days earlier. “Maybe we’ll have one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly.”

“A purpose of those [US] forces, working with the SDF, is to deny access to those oil fields by ISIS and others who may benefit from revenues that could be earned,” said Defense Secretary Mark Esper. As Grayzone‘s Ben Norton accurately explains, “and others” necessarily means the Syrian government; preventing Assad from accessing Syrian oil is standing US military policy.

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

“Panic Mode” Run On Lebanon’s Banks Feared After 7-Day Closure Amid Protests

“Panic Mode” Run On Lebanon’s Banks Feared After 7-Day Closure Amid Protests 

Banks across Lebanon have been shuttered now for a seventh consecutive day, with the country’s banking association saying banks would remain closed Friday over “safety concerns” as massive anti-corruption protests have brought multiple cities to a standstill, which began a week ago.

Reuters reports that banking operations have been “limited to paying out customer and employee salaries via ATMs” in a situation which has also hit war-torn Syria, given many Syrians rely on the neighboring Lebanese banking system to hold dollars and savings following the collapse of Syria’s currency. 

Via NBC News

For the first time addressing the protests  dubbed the ‘WhatsApp Revolution’ because it was initially triggered by a government a plan to boost state revenues with a daily tax rate on calls made via voice over internet protocol (VoIP), utilized by applications such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp — Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun in a public speech touted an economic reform package proposed by the prime minister as a “first step” toward staving off economic collapse

Aoun acknowledged state corruption has “eaten us to the bone” and assured the crowds,  “I am ready to meet your representatives who carry your concerns, to listen to your specific demands.”

He also hinted at a government reshuffle potentially in the works, saying that there was “a need to review the current government.”

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

It’s Official: Trump Says US Keeping Syria’s Oil, Secured By “Small Number” Of Troops

It’s Official: Trump Says US Keeping Syria’s Oil, Secured By “Small Number” Of Troops

“Now we’re getting out… let someone else fight over this long bloodstained sand,” President Trump said during a major, unannounced speech from the White House declaring America’s “big success” in Syria. 

As we predicted, he confirmed the US is “getting out” but it’s not quite the reality, because he also confirmed a “small number” of American troops will stay in Syria to protect oil in the region

“We have secured the oil and, therefore, a small number of U.S. Troops will remain in the area where they have the oil,” Trump said. “And we’re going to be protecting it, and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.”

But of course, this oil belongs to the Syrian state and its people, as even former top White House Syria and Iraq envoy Brett McGurk, stated bluntly this week: “Oil, like it or not, is owned by the Syrian state.”

Trump also acknowledged during the Wednesday televised address, in a rare reference to past White House policy, that Obama embarked on a failed “regime change” bid in Syria, which morphed into a nightmarish war taking 500,000 lives. 

Currently, even amid a US troop pullback in the north, American special forces and Kurdish-led SDF forces remain in control of the key oil and gas infrastructure in the Deir Ezzor region, east of the Euphrates. The major oil and gas fields in the eastern region such as al-Omar, Conoco field, and Rumeilan oil field, remain Syria’s only significant domestic energy access.

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

Politicians Live in a Parallel Universe

Politicians Live in a Parallel Universe

I’m convinced of it. Politicians definitely live in a parallel universe, one that could easily be called Bizarro World.

Just read a recent op-ed in the Washington Post by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It provides irrefutable proof that these people live in an alternative universe.

The title of McConnell’s article is “Withdrawing from Syria Is a Grave Mistake.” As you can tell from the title, McConnell, like the good little Republican he is, is an interventionist . That means he believes that the U.S. government should intervene in the affairs of other countries, like with coups, assassinations, invasions, bribery, extortion, sanctions, and embargoes, even while lamenting when foreign governments (e.g., Russia) intervene in the affairs of other countries in the same ways.

Okay, so Republicans are interventionists. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they live in a parallel universe. It just means that they are seriously misguided. The proof that McConnell lives in an alternative universe comes through the analysis he employs to justify his interventionism.

Number 1. McConnell says that that interventionism is necessary to combat “Islamic terrorism.”

What? Is he kidding? He obviously doesn’t get it. He still believes that the terrorists are targeting America because of their supposed hatred for America’s “freedom and values.” He still doesn’t understand that it is interventionism itself (which he ardently supports) that is the root cause of the anger and hatred that foreigners have toward the United States. Stop the interventionism and anti-American terrorism dissipates.

In McConnell’s universe, the “war on terrorism” goes on forever because,  in his mind, the Muslims will hate America forever. The Pentagon and the CIA will just have to continue inflicting death, suffering, and destruction on foreigners on a perpetual basis until the war is “won,” that is, when all the Muslim terrorists are finally eradicated, which just might be never, especially since the interventionism produces a never-ending stream of anger and hatred toward the United States.

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

Betrayal and Deception: Syria Is a Prime Example of US Foreign Policy

Betrayal and Deception: Syria Is a Prime Example of US Foreign Policy 

Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops who had been protecting the SDF (Syrian democratic forces) in the northeast of Syria, prompting Kurdish leadership and the Damascus governed to strike a deal allowing Syrian Arab Army to retake control of the border with Turkey after nearly six years.

With the US troops withdrawn numbering around 150 to 200 (out of the 2,000 to 3,000 illegally squatting in Syria), it is understood that Trump’s decision is for reasons other than those stated.

The primary impression Trump wishes to convey to his voters is that of keeping his electoral promises, including that of defeating ISIS in Syria, meaning that US troops can now come back home.

Although it is clear (at least to those not under the sway of the mainstream media) that ISIS has not been completely defeated and that the US never really fought against the Caliphate, the impression is nevertheless conveyed that the “Winner-in-Chief” has triumphed and is bringing home the boys.

Given that the deep state retains ultimate control of US foreign policy, Trump is allowed to do and say what he wants – provided it is only within the confines of his media playpen, safe in the knowledge that his motivations are purely electoral and not really aimed and upending the foreign-policy consensus of the US establishment.

If we look beyond Trump’s histrionics, we can see that the US deep state continues its illegal stay in Syria, with Trump in reality having no intention of opposing the military-industrial complex (indeed often appointing its members to serve in his administration), with these two parties finding a common point of agreement in the alleged threat posed by Iran.

US troops will only shift near Iraq, looking at disrupting any form of cooperation between Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran.

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

ABC News Busted Using Gun Range Footage To Report Turkish ‘Slaughter’ Of Kurd Civilians

ABC News Busted Using Gun Range Footage To Report Turkish ‘Slaughter’ Of Kurd Civilians

ABC News was just busted using two year old gun range footage while reporting on Turkey ‘slaughtering’ the kurds in the wake of a US withdrawal from the region. 

This video right here appearing to show Turkey’s military bombing Kurd civilians in a Syrian border town. The Kurds, who fought alongside the US against ISIS now horrific reports of atrocities committed by Turkish-backed fighters on those very allies” -ABC News 


Wow! ABC News is trying to pass gun range videos as combat footage from Syria


For comparison, here’s the ABC News report: 

And here’s the footage they used – from the Knob Creek gun range in West Point, Kentucky in 2017. 

Just a simple editing room oversight, we’re sure. 

It’s a New World Order, Alright

It’s a New World Order, Alright

Pavel Filonov The Kolkhoznik (Member of a Collective Farm) 1931

Those winds just keep on shifting, no matter that the western press either doesn’t see them shift, doesn’t recognize them for what they are, or chooses to ignore them. But these winds bring tidings of a tectonic plate-shaking shift in the global political climate.

The fires in Saudi oil installations, whether they were caused by drones or missiles, and whoever fired those, are a major story, and rightly so, because they could shake up economies in drastic ways. But they may still, not be the biggest story after all.

Last Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to annex the Jordan Valley (already occupied territory, 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli settlers live there). He did that to steal votes from the far right in next Tuesday’s (Sep. 17) Knesset election. “Bibi” also called Donald Trump his “friend” every second word for that same purpose. Trump responded in kind. He may come to regret that. Choose your friends wisely. Bit of background from RT:

 

US, Israel Talk About Mutual Defense Treaty – Trump

The US and Israel are discussing a mutual defense treaty that would further cement the already “tremendous” alliance between the two countries, President Donald Trump has revealed. “I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries,” Trump tweeted. 

Trump voiced not-that-veiled support for Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Israel. “I look forward to continuing those discussions after the Israeli Elections when we meet at the United Nations later this month!” Trump wrote. The support surely comes in handy, as Netanyahu’s backing appears to be quite shaky. 

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

Britain Furious Iran Tanker Broke ‘Promise’ Not To Sell Its Oil To Syria

Britain Furious Iran Tanker Broke ‘Promise’ Not To Sell Its Oil To Syria

Britain has slammed Iran for what it says is a breach in assurances regarding the previously detained Grace 1/Adrian Darya 1 tanker. Specifically a condition of the vessel’s release from UK/Gibraltar captivity last month was that it would not offload its 2.1 million barrels of Iranian oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. 

But the UK can do little beyond merely issuing a formal complaint to the United Nations, which it plans to do next month, according to Reuters. London was also reported to have summoned Iran’s ambassador on Tuesday to condemn the moveImage via EPA-EFE

“Iran has shown complete disregard for its own assurances over Adrian Darya 1,” foreign minister Dominic Raab said in a statement. “This sale of oil to (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s) brutal regime is part of a pattern of behavior by the Government of Iran designed to disrupt regional security.”

The diplomatic row comes days after over the weekend Iran’s foreign ministry confirmed the tanker had unloaded its valuable cargo, estimated at $130 million in crude, “on the Mediterranean coast,” according to state media. Just prior the Iranian tanker was observed within a few nautical miles of Syria’s coast via satellite images. 

“Iran’s actions represent an unacceptable violation of international norms,” the UK statement said.

However, we should point out it’s also not within “international norms” – indeed it’s unprecedented – for Royal Marines to raid a foreign vessel in international waters at the bidding of Washington, which is precisely what happen when the tanker was detained in the first place. 

Currently, Tehran is rumored to be preparing the release the British-flagged Stena Impero, captured in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19 in retaliation for Britain’s prior capture of the Grace 1 off Gibraltar on July 4.

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

Netanyahu Confirms Israeli Attacks In Iraq

Netanyahu Confirms Israeli Attacks In Iraq

Recent unprecedented airstrikes on Iraq widely believed to have been carried out by either Israeli drones or stealth jets have been acknowledged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Friday gave belated confirmation that the Israeli military has been active there.  

He said during a Facebook live stream event to political supports that “I am doing everything to defend our nation’s security from all directions: in the north facing Lebanon and Hezbollah, in Syria facing Iran and Hezbollah, unfortunately in Iraq as well facing Iran. We are surrounded by radical Islam led by Iran.”

Image source: The Times of Israel

Over the past six weeks there’s been three significant airstrikes on Iraqi paramilitary forces bases  at least one of which US officials have confirmed Israeli responsibility for. All of them targeted Iran-backed Shia paramilitary units. 

The ‘mystery’ attacks, two of which came in August and one in July, have renewed calls from Iraqi parliament for a complete US troops withdrawal from the country, especially given the demise of the Islamic State and now with no official justification for American forces to be there. 

The political and diplomatic firestorm resulting from the Israeli strikes and violations of sovereign Iraqi airspace have resulted in an awkward Pentagon statement saying the US had no role or foreknowledge of the attacks; however the statement stopped short of naming Israel or alleging who was behind them. 

AP image of one of the recent airstrikes on an Iraqi munitions depot and paramilitary base. 

Last week while on a state visit to Kiev, Netanyahu told reporters“Iran has no immunity, anywhere”. He was responding to a specific question about the mystery attacks on Iraq. 

“We will act — and currently are acting — against them, wherever it is necessary,” he declared.

Another Tanker With Iranian Oil Now Headed For Syria, Intel Sources Say

Another Tanker With Iranian Oil Now Headed For Syria, Intel Sources Say

A new report suggests we could be headed toward yet another Grace 1-type incident and showdown involving an Iranian tanker intercept by US or UK forces.

A tanker full of Iranian oil is said to be currently on its way to Dubai, with an ultimate offload destination of its 600,000 barrels of oil in Syria. According to the breaking Fox report, citing unnamed Western intelligence sources:

The Bonita Queen loaded 600,000 barrels of crude oil on August 2 near the Iranian coast at Kharg Island. Shortly after, the tanker was de-flagged by the country of St. Kitts and Nevis, fearing retaliatory U.S. sanctions.

The vessel is now headed to Dubai, where it will refuel before beginning a months-long journey around the horn of Africa, through the Mediterranean and to the shores of Syria.

Bonita Queen tanker, via Baltic Shipping

The Bonita Queen, according to its reported route, intends to link up with two Syrian-owned tankers in the Mediterranean in the coming months, where it will conduct a ship-to-ship transfer of the Iran-sourced crude. 

Analysts have claimed to identify the Syrian tankers as the “Kader” and “Jasmine” — described as owned by a businessman said to be close to Assad, Muhammad al-Qatirji. Qatirji and his firm, the Qatirji Company, are under sanction by the US Treasury.

We can’t say for sure where Bonita Queen is going because she’s still anchored off of Larak Island in the Strait of Hormuz. There are three other vessels currently en route to Syria. Also, BQ still doesn’t officially have an Iranian flag, and without it she’ll risk arrest at Suez https://twitter.com/HezbollahWatch/status/1163891213830959105 …

https://www.ranian-oil-syria-sanctions 

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

British Marines Seize Oil Tanker Headed For Syria In “Aggressive” Operation

British Marines Seize Oil Tanker Headed For Syria In “Aggressive” Operation

A huge development Thursday regarding enforcement of Iran sanctions and the West’s economic war on both Damascus and Tehran: British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker in Gibraltar off Spain’s southern coast while it was en route to Syria in what’s being called an unprecedented and aggressive move to enforce EU sanctions. 

As critics of the West’s sanctions policy on Syria are noting: the European Union has for years allowed advanced weaponry to flow into the hands of anti-Assad jihadists, but it will act swiftly to block vital oil access to the war-torn and starved population

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Pic: Royal Marines from 42 Commando fast-roping from a Wildcat helicopter onto tanker headed to Syria under cover of darkness

According to Reuters:

The Grace 1 tanker was impounded in the British territory at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea, after sailing around Africa from the Gulf. Shipping data reviewed by Reuters suggests it had been loaded with Iranian oil off the coast of Iran, although its documents say the oil is from neighboring Iraq.

Reports say Gibraltar authorities (Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory) acted on EU sanctions that have been in place for years against Syria; however one EU sanctions and legal expert told Reuters: “This is the first time that the EU has done something so public and so aggressive. I imagine it was also coordinated in some manner with the U.S. given that NATO member forces have been involved.”

The ship has been identified as the Grace 1 — a Panamanian-flagged tanker managed by Singapore-based IShips Management Pte Ltd. — which had apparently taken the unusual step of sailing all the way around the tip of Africa instead of the Suez canal from the Iraqi port of Basra. 

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

Washington’s wager concerning Iran

Washington’s wager concerning Iran

Even more than Syria, Iran is now at the heart of the confrontation between East and West. The astounded public is witnessing Washington’s daily about-turns in what seems – mistakenly – to be an escalation towards war between the two countries. But this is not what it is about. Fortunately, the two Great Powers have demonstrated for the last 75 years that they are reasonable, and have always managed to stand down before they arrive at the point of mutual destruction.

JPEG - 30.4 kb

Tension is apparently rising between Washington and Teheran. As usual, President Trump is blowing hot and cold. Thus, on 21 June, he went as far as ordering the bombing of Iran, then changed his mind a few minutes before attacking his targets. And yet this behaviour, which has often allowed Donald Trump to win successes in the West, does not carry much weight with the Persian psychology [1]. But is he trying to impress Iran ?

The attitude of the North Americans must be understood from the point of view not only of their Middle Eastern policy, but also their global policy [2]. More than a conflict with Iran, it’s the balance of power between East and West that is at stake.

 Since the Second World War, the central preoccupation of the United States has been their rivalry with the USSR, then Russia. Since the first Geneva Conference (June 2012), on the margins of the Syrian conflict, Moscow has proposed to be the guarantor of regional peace alongside and in equality with Washington. This recalibration of international relations was imagined under the auspices of the ex-Secretary General of UNO, Kofi Annan.

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

Narrative Management = Reality Management

Narrative Management = Reality Management

The Grayzone‘s Max Blumenthal has published the first part of an investigative series on how so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are being used to manipulate the narrative about what’s going on in Syria by posing as impartial investigative bodies and circulating pro-imperialist disinformation to the western political/media class as objective fact. Part one is titled “Behind the Syrian Network for Human Rights: How an opposition front group became Western media’s go-to monitor“, and it documents a mountain of evidence that one of these “NGOs” is in fact very much state-funded and highly biased in favor of anti-Assad forces, yet still gets cited as an independent source by western mass media outlets in a way that just so happens to help make the case for western interventionism in Syria.

“Citing the Syrian Network for Human Rights as an independent and credible source is the journalistic equivalent of sourcing statistics on head trauma to a research front created by the National Football League, or turning to tobacco industry lobbyists for information on the connection between smoking and lung cancer. And yet this has been standard practice among correspondents covering the Syrian conflict,” Blumenthal writes. “Indeed, Western press has engaged for years in an insidious sleight of hand, basing reams of shock journalism around claims by a single, highly suspect source that is deeply embedded within the Syrian opposition – and hoped that no one would notice.”

Major media outlets rely on the Syrian Network for Human Rights as a go-to source.

They won’t tell you that @snhr is based in Qatar & run by Syrian opposition leaders who clamor for US intervention.@MaxBlumenthal rips the lid off a propaganda front: https://thegrayzone.com/2019/06/14/syrian-network-for-human-rights-opposition-snhr/ …35212:16 AM – Jun 14, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacyBehind the Syrian Network For Human Rights: How an opposition front group became Western media’s…Top media outlets turn to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) for figures on deaths and detentions, never noting the group’s seamless connection to Syria’s opposition, the support it receives…thegrayzone.com

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

The Most Crucial Pipeline Of The Middle East?

The Most Crucial Pipeline Of The Middle East?

Pipeline

Contemporary Middle Eastern history is strongly influenced by energy politics. Besides providing revenue for the state’s coffers, oil is also a potent geopolitical tool in the hands of resource-rich countries. Recently, officials from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq have engaged in talks to restart the dysfunctional pipeline that once connected oilfields near Kirkuk in Iraq with the coastal city of Tripoli in Lebanon. Restarting the pipeline could have long-term political, economic, and strategic consequences for the involved states and the wider region.

The original infrastructure was constructed during the 30s of the previous century when two 12-inch pipes transported oil from Kirkuk to Haifa in British mandated Palestine and Tripoli in French-mandated Lebanon. The Tripoli line was supplemented by a 30-inch pipeline in the 50s which could transport approximately 400,000 barrels/day. The Kirkuk-Tripoli pipeline was suspended by Syria during the Iraq-Iran war in an attempt to support Tehran in its struggle against Baghdad.

(Click to enlarge)

Paving the way

The current political climate, which has enabled cooperation between Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, is the consequence of one country’s foreign policy. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Iranian influence has grown considerably across the Middle East. Tehran’s support for proxies in neighboring countries has strongly influenced regional politics and made Saudi Arabia nervous of what it sees as “Persian encroachment”.

The Iranian support for Syria’s President Assad provided a lifeline to the regime during the country’s civil war. Tehran has invested significantly in maintaining the position of its ally in Damascus. In neighboring Iraq, the democratization process installed a Shia-dominated parliament which is supported by powerful paramilitary groups funded and organized by the Quds force, the branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard responsible for extraterritorial activities. Despite significant military and political gains, consolidation is required to cement the ties between Iran’s Arab partners, which would also benefit Tehran.

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

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