Thursday, May 31, 2012

Is US preparing for broad Middle East conflict?

AFP Photo / Romeo Gacad

Source: Russia Today

Does US intransigence on European missile defense, increasing chaos in Syria and a lack of progress in resolving the Iranian standoff point to the eventual outbreak of full-blown violence across the Middle East?

But first, before jumping headlong into the Middle East, a little background from Russia’s perspective is required.

With the arrival of Barack Obama to the White House four years ago, many in Moscow genuinely believed there would be a normalization of relations between the two former Cold War opponents. There is no crime in dreaming, right?

After all, George W. Bush’s almost-eight-year “War on Terror” kept Russia, as well as the entire world, in constant suspense as to what kind of stunt Washington would pull next. They were rarely disappointed. Not only did the Bush administration walk away from the 40-year-old ABM Treaty with Russia, it announced the creation of a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.

Shortly after Obama was elected president, he announced that he had "shelved" the Bush plan for missile defense. Suddenly, the clouds in the Russian-US relationship were dispelled, but briefly. Then it was announced that the US would build a sea-based version instead; Moscow was duly informed that it need not apply to participate in the project. Now, Russian generals are sounding the alarm that the system – still in its earliest stages – may eventually compromise the nation’s nuclear deterrent.

Today, it does not seem too far-fetched to suggest that Barack Obama was foisted upon the world stage to rebrand America’s foreign policy, which had lost most of its credibility and legitimacy under Bush. Ironically, however, with the benefit of hindsight, Obama has turned out to be far more dangerous than his reckless predecessor.

Let’s face it, nobody had any false expectations about Bush; he was, as they say, the real deal. Obama, on the other hand, was marketed as the very embodiment of change. The marketing campaign was a huge success, and America's first black president even went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize while US troops were hunkered down on two fronts.

Fast forward to 2012: Obama has failed to see through a single campaign promise in the realm of foreign affairs. The Guantanamo Bay detention facility remains open for business, drone missile attacks are killing at a deadlier rate than under Bush, while even the simple promise of “sitting down and talking with America’s enemies” has failed to materialize. Although the Iraq War was declared finished last year, tensions remain high across the Middle East where US naval forces are on high alert.

Meanwhile, to all intents and purposes, the fabled reset with Russia appears to be on life support. US and Russian leaders still go through the diplomatic motions, but Washington is behaving as if it does not want a serious, fully-fledged relationship with Moscow. Little surprise, then, that so many observers in Moscow are speculating that the “reset” was nothing more than a stage-managed event designed to make Russia believe that Washington was serious about a partnership. As the missile defense system gets bolted down in former Warsaw Pact real estate, Washington refuses to provide any sort of legal guarantees.

The United States will never give legally binding guarantees that its missile defense system is not aimed against Russia, said Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, former head of the Fourth Central Research Institute of the Russian Defense Ministry.

"The question of creating the European missile defense system at any stage, be it the first one or fourth, lies in the sphere of political differences,” the expert said. "The Americans and NATO will never provide legally-binding guarantees that the US missile defense system is not aimed against Russia, including the technical specifications of counter missiles, because that would slow down the development of their missile defense system.”

From missile defense to Middle East mayhem

America’s hyperactive impetuousness when it comes to getting military invested around the world, combined with its determination to build a European missile defense shield, lends itself to the theory that something sinister is afoot.

Reminiscent of the US attack on Iraq in 2003, America seems to be gearing up for a military move on Syria, especially after reports of a massacre in Houla, where 108 civilians, many of them women and children, were murdered. Undeniably, the event was horrific in its sheer brutality, but the question has yet to be answered: who were the killers? The Syrian government blames “professional terrorists” for the massacre. But as was the case prior to the “preemptive strike” on Iraq, the US does not seem interested in hearing both sides of the story in Syria.

"Those who triggered this and ignited this massacre were seeking to ignite a confessional and sectarian confrontation between the populations in that area,” Bashar Jaafari, Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters following a meeting of the Security Council. “So, those who did it are professional criminals, professional terrorists.”

According to Jaafari, these “terrorists” seek to “instigate a sectarian confrontation in the area,” which could lead to developments “more dangerous than what you have seen so far." The goal of these individuals, he said, is to undermine a peace plan set forth by special envoy Kofi Annan.

Iran’s Press TV conducted an interview with Syed Ali Wasif, from the Society for International Reforms and Research. Wasif argued it was unlikely that Syrian forces would attack innocent civilians in a region that has shown strong support for the government.

“This was a premeditated, pre-orchestrated component of NATO foreign policy…with regard to this premeditated action and this murder, killing a hundred people there,” Wasif argued. “How could the Syrian government kill its own people when [those killed in the massacre] represent the Alawites…and all other pro-Syrian people?”

Meanwhile, Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke of “consequences” for Syria for failing to live up to its commitments, even before the identity of the killers could be established.

"The Syrian government has made commitments. It's blatantly violated those commitments, and, I think it's quite clear, as we have said for many weeks if they continue to do so there should be consequences,” Rice said, without offering any advice on how Syria should move forward while terrorists are sabotaging the process. Rice’s comments suggest that the United States is selectively viewing the turmoil in Syria from the perspective of the opposition forces, which amounts to taking sides with their objectives.

America’s behavior seems inconsistent with that of an impartial, objective observer; it is behaving like a third party to the turmoil with a lot to gain should the Syrian government fall. Instead of waiting for an official investigation to determine the identity of the culprits in the Houla massacre, the US is instigating the situation by tossing rhetorical grenades, needlessly provoking the situation. After all, there are many actors in the region who stand to gain in the event that Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad is removed from power. Israel, a strong ally of the United States, would certainly benefit from such a scenario. Presently, the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks to be on a collision course with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. Tehran says it is developing a nuclear energy program for its civilian sector, but Israel and the United States suspect the Islamic Republic of attempting to build a nuclear weapon.

In the event that Israel decides to go to war with Iran, there is the strong possibility that Syria will come to the aid of the Iranians one way or another. A war with Syria now, with the assistance of the United States, would dramatically reduce such a possibility and protect Israel’s flank in the event of war.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister, expressed his opinion on military involvement in Syria just this week.

"The events in Syria mean the world must take action, not only by talking, but by acting,” Barak, said on Thursday. “These are crimes against humanity, and it is impossible that the international community stand aloof.”

Ali Laridjani, speaker of the Iranian parliament, warned that an attack on Syria would have dire consequences that would most likely extend to the “Zionist regime.”

“US military officials probably have a poor understanding of themselves and regional issues because Syria is in no way similar to Libya, and [the effects of] creating another Benghazi in Syria would spread to Palestine, and ash rising from the flames would definitely envelop the Zionist regime,” Laridjani stated.

“It seems that the United States and the West are seeking to pave the way for a new crisis,” the Iranian official added.

In conclusion, when the Middle East situation is viewed according to the sum of its parts, which include the US missile defense shield over the fence from Russia’s backyard, it looks as if the US, Israel and NATO may be pushing hard for a broad military offensive in the Middle East. After all, in the event of a war in Iran, for example, there is no telling what the results will be.

There is a high possibility of not only Syria, but also Hezbollah in Lebanon getting involved, not to mention the Palestinians. Although it would be impossible to predict the domino effect that would follow in the event of such an altercation in the already troubled Middle East, it may go far at explaining Uncle Sam’s tremendous obsession with installing a missile defense system in Europe.

Why the United States, in direct opposition to the spirit of the much-trumpeted “reset”, does not want to enlist Russia’s valuable assistance in such an ambitious project, however, is an altogether different question that Russia is certainly pondering. Meanwhile, the Russia-US reset wobbles on

US ready to act on Syria outside UN?

Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks to the media after a U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria on May 30, 2012 in New York City (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)speaks to the media after a U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria on May 30, 2012 in New York City (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

Source: Russia Today

The US has hinted at taking actions against the Syrian regime bypassing the authority of the UN Security Council. This comes as pressure is piling up on Damascus following massacre in Houla that claimed over 100 lives.

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has said that if the council does not take swift action to pressure Syrian authorities to end 14-month crackdown on the anti-government uprising, the Security Council members may have no choice but to consider acting outside the UN.

“Members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they are prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this council,” Rice said on Wednesday after the 15-member council met in a closed door session to discuss last week’s massacre.

The United Nations is conducting its own investigation of who exactly is responsible for the bloodshed in the town of Houla. However the US and its allies seem to have come to their own conclusion, saying that the Assad government is solely responsible for the violence.

Rice did not specify what “actions” she meant. However the US and European countries had earlier imposed their own sanction on Syria outside the UN. So there are fears that her words could mean the threat of military action.

The US envoy said the worst but most probable scenario in Syria is a failure of Annan's peace plan and a spreading conflict that could create a major crisis not only in Syria but also in the entire region.

"The Syrian government has made commitments. It has blatantly violated those commitments, and, I think it's quite clear, as we have said for many weeks if they continue to do so there should be consequences," Rice said.

Meanwhile, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari has stated Wednesday that the massacre in the town of Houla was carried out by “professional terrorists” who were seeking to ignite a sectarian conflict in the country.

“Many Syrian innocents got killed because of this misbehavior of these outsiders. The Syrian people need one clear-cut message that the international community, if there is an international community, is there to help settling the conflict in Syria," he said referring to last Friday's violence.

Russia’s envoy tot the UN Vitaly Churkin stated that both the authorities and opposition leaders should understand that the current situation in Syria is unacceptable.

Kosovo pattern in Syria?

Susan Rice’s comment became a disturbing reminder of what happened in 1999 when the US and NATO intervened in the former Yugoslavia without a UN Security Council mandate.

“The precedent is already there – we’ve mentioned Kosovo. It’s exactly what happened – you had an allegation of a massacre, which was the village of Racak; you had a UN decree that was severely bullied by the US ambassador who was leading the observation mission on the ground; you had claims that it was brutal unprovoked massacre of innocent civilians by government troops. Serbia was blamed, presented with the ultimatum and then bombed,” historian and author Nebojsa Malic told RT.

“We have the same pattern repeating itself in Syria.”

Blogger Rick Rozoff believes that the US has warned Russia and China that it will push forward military action no matter what.

“Ambassador Rice is basically telling Russia and China and other members of the Security Council that if they do not go along with Western plans for more stringent sanctions and other actions against Syria, the US and its NATO allies reserve a right to act outside the Security Council as they did with Yugoslavia 13 years ago and launch military actions against Syria,” Rozoff told RT.

Radioactive Tuna from Fukushima Found Off California Coast

Original Source: Jessica Menton - IBTV
Source: Global Research TV

On Tuesday the Japanese government said it expected it would have to look at the international monitoring of radioactive fish products following the discovery of a tainted tuna caught off the coast of southern California, but first needed more information.

Low levels of nuclear radiation from the tsunami-damaged Fukushima power plant have turned up in bluefin tuna off the California coast, suggesting that these fish carried radioactive compounds across the Pacific Ocean faster than wind or water can. Scientists reported on Monday small amounts of cesium-137 and cesium-134 were detected in 15 tuna caught near San Diego in August 2011, about four months after these chemicals were released into the water off Japan's east coast.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary said the government still needs more information on this issue. Japan said it will continue to research and monitor the effects of the radioactive material released into the ocean around Fukushima since the March 11, 2011 tsunami crippled and caused a meltdown at the reactors owned by Tokyo Electric Company.

Researchers said in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the amount of radioactive cesium found in the fish off California isn’t thought to be damaging to people if consumed, the but the findings are expected to cause a stir amongst sushi aficionados around the world. Judging by the size of the bluefin tuna the U.S. scientists sampled - they averaged about 15 pounds (6 kg) - the researchers knew these were young fish that had left Japanese water about a month after the accident.

Most of the radiation was released over a few days in April 2011, and unlike some other compounds, radioactive cesium does not quickly sink to the sea bottom but remains dispersed in the water column, from the surface to the ocean floor.

Investors flee Spain as financial crisis worsens

A man shouts slogans during a protest outside the headquarters of Spain's fourth largest bank Bankia in Madrid on May 24, 2012

Source: Press TV

Investors are fleeing Spain as the financial crisis worsens while Madrid battles to contain fears of an economic collapse.

The European Central Bank said on Wednesday that private individuals and companies are withdrawing their money out of Spanish Banks.

Data shows private deposits at Spain's financial institutions fell by more than 30 percent in April.

The interest rate on Spain's 10-year bonds rose to 6.703 percent as the country battled to avoid being the next victim of the eurozone crisis.

Stock prices fell all over the world and Madrid's IBEX-35 index slumped 2.58 percent to a nine-year low at 6,090.4 points.

The euro slumped to a two-year low versus the US dollar amid fears that Spain could be forced into asking for a bailout for its ailing banks.

The European single currency sank below USD1.24, touching a low point last seen on July 6, 2010.

Also on Wednesday, the European Commission said Spain is on top of the list of the eurozone 12 critical economies due to the countries’ deepening financial crisis.

Spain’s central bank reported on Tuesday that Spain’s economy would shrink in the second quarter of 2012, with the recession expected to continue until at least mid-2012.

Battered by the global financial downturn, the Spanish economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking with it millions of jobs.

The worsening eurozone debt crisis has raised Spain's financing costs and raised concerns that the country might have to seek a European Union bailout, like Greece.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Assange loses extradition court battle 14 days to apply to reopen case

Source: Russia Today

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his marathon court battle in UK Supreme Court. The judge has granted him 14 days to make an application to reopen the extradition case.

Assange was not present in court to hear the ruling.

The judge ruled that the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued against Assange for his extradition to Sweden was legal under the Vienna Convention.

Assange’s legal team asked for a 14-day extension to reopen the case on the basis that they thought the ruling would be made under the UK legal system and were not adequately prepared.

Under UK law an EAW can only be issued by a judge and therefore Assange’s lawyers had argued the extradition order against him was invalid as it was made by a Swedish prosecutor.

The judges ruled that under the Vienna Convention the prosecutor was a “judicial authority.”

As a result the whistleblower may be sent to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault and rape by two former WikiLeaks volunteers.

Assange says the allegations are baseless and are founded on political motivations after his website released thousands of diplomatic cables and documents sparking outcry from world governments.

There are fears that Assange will eventually be transferred to the US, where he would join Private Bradley Manning, who is currently facing court-martial for handing over classified documents to the whistleblower’s website

US troops imitate invasion of Iran with Arab allies

Reuters/Lee Jae Won

Source: Russia Today

Around 12,000 troops from more than 19 nations are wrapping up a massive military training drill in the Middle East. But for some of those servicemen, these exercises might be just the beginning of something much bigger to come.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are just a sampling of the many countries — along with European allies — that have been involved in the nearly month-long Eager Lion 2012 exercise expected to end this week. Although much of the drills have been kept under wraps, it isn’t a secret that these states have spent the last month cooperating together through mock combat drills and comprehensive training. Some sources overseas report, however, that as many as 3,000 troops aligned with US forces have conducted a simulated landing and attack on Iran, preparing America and its allies for a war that becomes more likely by the day.

Intelligence sources speaking to Israel’s Debka news agency report that US troops and other forces aligned with America recently staged a landing on a Jordanian beach that was immediately followed by a military seizure of fortified mountain bases and command posts. The exercise was meant to emulate an attack on Iran and accompanies other drills that witnesses say show off just what America’s foes face if they continue to put the heat on the United States and its pals abroad.

Speaking of a drill assumed to be a mockup of a raid on Syria, Major General. Awni el-Edwan, Chief of staff of the Jordanian Operations and Training Armed Forces, says, “The exercise is not connected to any real world event,” reports CNN. “This has nothing to do with Syria. We respect the sovereignty of Syria. There is no tension between the Syrians and us. Our objectives are clear.”

Others, however, say that the intentions of the Eager Lion 2012 drills are obvious.

Gen. James Mattis, head of the US Central Command, visited both sections of the exercise led by American troops in Jordan, adds Debka. Should the US officially attack either Syria or Iran, Gen. Mattis will be the head of the military forces there. Additionally, intelligence sources speaking with the Israeli outlet reveal that Gen. Mattis has recently sought approval from US President Barack Obama to deploy a third aircraft carrier to the Middle East to increase America’s presence.

The United States currently has two massive aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf area, both the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Enterprise, and CNN adds in their report that the Air Force has sent six of the stealth F-22 fighter jets to the neighboring United Arab Emirates.

The US is believed to be engaged in exercises involving the Navy and Air Force in operations on the land, air and sea, with the US Special Operations troops also working in tandem with Jordanian special forces units in counterterrorism to put both teams on the same page.

Debka reports that, during Eager Lion 2012, a command post was also established by around 700 US Marines onboard the USS New York amphibious transport dock that was stationed in the Red Sea. The entire exercise there, they say, was “clearly visible” to observers in a neighboring Israeli port. Only days earlier, Debka reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told his country that “all options remain on the table” involving an attack on Iran, and that the Jewish state will strike first if necessary, even without the assistance of American forces.

"There is no need to tell us what to do, and we have no reason to panic. Israel is very, very strong, but we do know that the Iranians are accomplished chess players and will try to achieve nuclear capabilities,” said Barak

Russia will veto military intervention in Syria at UNSC - Foreign Ministry

Russia will veto initiative on Syria intervention in UNSC - Foreign Ministry (AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)

Source: Russia Today

Russia is firmly dedicated not to let pass an initiative of foreign military intervention into Syria in the UN Security Council.

“We always said we’re strongly against any kind of external interference into the Syrian conflict, because it would only worsen the situation and bring unpredictable consequences for Syria and the whole region,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Interfax.

He also said that Russia is opposing the convention of a new UN Security Council meeting on Syria in the near future.

The UN Security Council president's statement concerning the tragic events in Houla, “is a strong enough signal to the Syrian parties and is a sufficient reaction of the Security Council,” the Russian diplomat told Interfax. Any new measures to affect the situation “would be premature for the Security Council,” he stressed.

China is siding with Russia regarding the Syrian conflict. On Wednesday, the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Liu Weimin confirmed the official position of Beijing being against any sort of foreign military intervention into internal Syrian affairs.

The Russian diplomat commented on the statement of the French President Francois Hollande about possible foreign military interference into Syria.

Earlier, the French president did not exclude military intervention in Syria, saying “Military interference is not out of the question, but only with due respect to norms of the international law, which means a decision of the Security Council of the UN”.

At the same time the French president noted that “another solution” is preferable. He called on for more sanctions to be imposed on the Syrian government. Uniting Syrian opposition is another task he spoke of.

The French position has also been supported by Belgium and Australia

SYRIA: Killing Innocent Civilians as part of a US Covert Op. Mobilizing Public Support for a R2P War against Syria

By: Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Source: Global Research

US military doctrine envisages the central role of "massive casualty producing events" in which innocent civilians are killed.

The killings are deliberately carried out as part of a covert operation. The enemy is blamed for the resulting atrocities.

The objective is to justify a military agenda on humanitarian grounds. The doctrine dates back to 1962 Operation Northwoods.

Under a secret 1962 Pentagon Plan entitled Operation Northwoods, civilians in the Cuban community in Miami were to be killed as part of a covert operation. The objective was to trigger a "helpful wave of indignation in US newspapers". The killings were then to be blamed on the Cuban government of Fidel Castro.

The objective of this sinister plan --which Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President J. F. Kennedy-- refused to carry out, was to drum up public support for a war against Cuba:

"In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba's then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.

America's top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," and, "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation."

.... The documents show "the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government," writes Bamford. (U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba - ABC News emphasis added. This Secret Pentagon document was declassified and can be readily consulted (See Operation Northwoods, See also National Security Archive, 30 April 2001)

The Northwoods 1962 document was titled “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba". ”The Top Secret memorandum describes U.S. plans to covertly engineer various pretexts that would justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba. These proposals - part of a secret anti-Castro program known as Operation Mongoose - included staging the assassinations of Cubans living in the United States, developing a fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,” including “sink[ing] a boatload of Cuban refugees (real or simulated),” faking a Cuban airforce attack on a civilian jetliner, and concocting a “Remember the Maine” incident by blowing up a U.S. ship in Cuban waters and then blaming the incident on Cuban sabotage. Bamford himself writes that Operation Northwoods “may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government.”

( , emphasis added)

Flash Forward, Cuba 1962, Syria 2012...

While the implementation of Operation Northwoods was shelved, its fundamental premise of using civilian deaths as a pretext for intervention (on humanitarian grounds) have been applied on several occasions.

The fundamental question: Were the May 2012 killings of civilians in the city of Houla part of a carefully planned covert operation, with the intent to drum up public support for a war on Syria?

The deaths are blamed on the Al Assad government, with "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers causing a helpful wave of indignation.". Meanwhile, several European countries, Canada and Australia have cut off diplomatic relations with Syria.

Was the Houla massacre part of a sinister covert operation bearing the fingerprints of Operation Northwoods?

There is absolutely no evidence that the Syrian government was behind these killings.

There are indications as well as documentary evidence that from the outset of the insurgency in March 2011, terrorists supported by foreign powers have been involved in the killings of innocent civilians. Israeli intelligence sources (August 2011) confirm an organized process of recruitment of terrorist fighters by NATO:

NATO headquarters in Brussels and the Turkish high command are meanwhile drawing up plans for their first military step in Syria, which is to arm the rebels with weapons for combating the tanks and helicopters ...

Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (Ibid, emphasis added)

(DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011)

ANNEX Excerpts from Operation Northwoods

Page 138-139 of file (page 7-8 of actual Joint Chiefs report)

A series of well coordinated incidents will be planned to take place in and around Guantanamo to give genuine appearance of being done by hostile Cuban forces.

A. Incidents to establish a credible attack:

(1) Start rumors (many). Use clandestine radio.

(2) Land friendly Cubans in uniform "over-the-fence" to stage attack on base.

(3) Capture Cuban (friendly) saboteurs inside the base.

(4) Start riots near the base main gate (friendly Cubans).

(5) Blow up ammunition inside the base: start fires.

(6) Burn aircraft on air base (sabotage).

(7) Lob mortar shells from outside of base into base.

(8) Capture assault teams approaching from the sea or vicinity of Guantanamo City.

(9) Capture militia group which storms base.

(10) Sabotage ship in harbor; large fires – naphthalene.

(11) Sink ship near harbor entrance. Conduct funerals for mock-victims.

A "Remember the Maine" incident could be arranged: We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.

We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington.

Page 141 of file (page 10 of actual Joint Chiefs report)

Hijacking attempts against civil air and surface craft should appear to continue as harassing measures condoned by the government of Cuba.

It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner enroute from the United States. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students off on a holiday.

An aircraft at Eglin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplicate for a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CIA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At the designated time the duplicate would be substituted for the actual civil aircraft and would be loaded with selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual aircraft would be converted to a drone.

The drone aircraft and the actual aircraft will be scheduled to allow a rendezvous south of Florida. From the rendezvous point the passenger-carrying aircraft will descend to minimum altitude and go directly into an auxiliary field at Eglin AFB where arrangements will have been made to evacuate the passengers and return the aircraft to its original status. The drone aircraft meanwhile will continue to fly the filed flight plan. When over Cuba the drone will be transmitting on the international distress frequency a "MAY DAY" message stating he is under attack by Cuban MIG aircraft. The transmission will be interrupted by destruction of the aircraft which will be triggered by radio signal.

SYRIA: NATO's Next "Humanitarian" War?
Pentagon Proposed Pretexts for Cuba Invasion in 1962
Unclassified Document – Dept of Defense 1962 – Operation Northwoods

What Drives the Fevered Response to the Massacre at Houla?

By: Ralph Schoenman
Source: Global Research

The evidence that 32 children under the age of ten were slaughtered at Houla, specifically by forces of the government of Bashar al Assad or its instruments is based upon claims that have not in fact been verified.

While the role of forces supporting the regime in Damascus can not be ruled out, the actual events that gave rise to it are rooted in daily escalating operations of specific foreign funded terror forces of imperialism derived from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait and Libya.

The horrors of Houla are thus deployed in an identical manner in which the N.A.T.O - U. S. war on Libya was managed. Coordinating U.S., British and cognate foreign intelligence and mercenary forces were installed specifically in Libya to hijack popular disaffection and displace it for the purpose carving up the country

In Libya, the slaughter of fifty thousand people ensued while competing foreign run militia ravage Libya whose 44.2 billion barrels of oil assets and resources are parceled out among scavenging imperial predators who set the process in motion when they hijacked the uprising that began with the oil workers of Ras Lanuf.

Similarly, the current armed attacks in Syria are foreign in origin bearing the same imprint as that which ensued in Libya and engendering escalating violence and terror bombings, ascribed invariably to the target regime.

With imperialism, its hands dripping in the blood of the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, calling for military removal of the al Assad regime, claims regarding specific responsibility for the butchery at Houla of these children under the age of ten must be subject to evidence beyond proclamations by U.S. commanders.

The same is true of the daily media campaign by CIA's talking heads at CNN, who conjoin their propaganda "reports" to orchestrated demands that a U.S/ NATO military invasion overthrow the government in Damascus.

Major General Robert Mood, the head of the U.N. international unit in Syria pointedly avoided ascribing responsibility for the massacre of the children in Houla, stating. "Whatever I have learned on the spot in Syria is that one can not jump to conclusions."

The collection of killer squads run in Syria by Saudi, Qatar, Libyan and mercenary forces have transformed what was a movement of popular disaffection into a foreign and imperial-run terror operation with the specific objective of removing the government and sidelining, not empowering popular opposition.

The imperial campaign is intended to liquidate popular opposition not merely to the regime in Damascus but to the foreign terror squads put in place and set in motion by imperial sponsors whose agenda in Syria as elsewhere is to carve up Syria and render it a non-viable state.

The U.S. and N.A.T.O military and political functionaries who are orchestrating imperial overthrow in Damascus continue apace to slaughter and torment the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya. In their daily predations they deploy the same methods and ideological cover.

Imperial killer squads are the fitting instruments of U.S. and N.A.T.0. rulers whose power is predicated upon the permanent destruction of democratic aspirations and of political movements and programs capable of displacing a dying order.

The last thing the imperial carvings-up of target countries intend is to facilitate popular control over national economic and social resources.

The real political agenda of which "Target Syria" is the current expression, is permanent subjugation of the mass of the Syrian people, the very condition obtaining in the countries whose mercenary forces have been organized, armed and insinuated in Syria by U.S. and N.A.T.O. rulers.

This is the abiding political and military setting for the war proclamations emanating yet again from Washington and N.A.T.O. capitals, and punctuated ad nauseam by the scripted declarations of the country-selling regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.

Ralph Schoenman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Ralph Schoenman

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Government Repression of Quebec Student Movement Sparks Massive Protests

By: Roger Annis

Source: Global Research

Quebec's student movement and the swelling ranks of its popular allies staged a massive rally and march in Montreal on May 22 in favour of the students’ fight for free, quality public education and against government repression. Estimates by some mainstream news outlets and by independent observers place the number of participants as high as 400,000. It was the largest social protest in Canadian history and amounted to a massive display of civil disobedience against a special law adopted by the Quebec government four days earlier that aims to break a more than three-month long strike of post-secondary students in the province.

Lead banners on the march read, “100 days of strike, 100 days of (government) contempt!” and “Block the sexist tuition fee hike!” A massive banner of the militant, CLASSE student association was carried overhead by hundreds of marchers and read, “May 22: This is only the beginning!”

Contingents of teachers, professors, high school students, public service workers and other trade unionists joined the march. Marchers bused into Montreal from across the province while people streamed into the city center from neighborhoods throughout the metropolitan region. French-language media termed the march a “monster” demonstration. Montreal's English language daily covered its front page with an aerial photo of the march and a headline reading “River of Red,” referring to the symbolic color of the student movement (symbolizing student indebtedness) that was omnipresent that day.

Leaders of the three largest student associations held an impromptu press conference along the route of the march. Léo Bureau-Blouin of the association of junior college (CEGEP) students (the FECQ) told journalists, “We are united today in this huge demonstration aiming not only to mark 100 days of the strike but also to denounce the Charest (Quebec) government and the course of events following its decision to choose repression over discussion...”

Referring to the draconian Bill 78 that was adopted by Quebec's National Assembly on May 18 and that effectively proscribes the right of students to strike and to protest, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a leader of CLASSE, the largest of the student federations, told reporters that the law is “absurd and unenforceable. The proof of that is here today, where the street is speaking forcefully.” Challenging Quebec's minister of public security, he stated, “If the minister wants to be true to his law, he will have to levy fines on tens of thousands of people.”

Cops Wield Truncheons and Handcuffs

The students are on strike to block a proposed 75 per cent hike in post-secondary tuition fees over the next seven years. Many consider their fight to be one front in a broader struggle for a society of social and environmental justice.

François-Xavier Clermont, a student at CEGEP du Vieux-Montréal, told the Montreal daily La Presse, “We are fighting against the tuition hike, but we're also fighting against the Northern Plan (a proposal by the Quebec government to expand natural resource exploitation in the vast, north of the province) and against this corrupt government.” He continued, “We have succeeded in opening up a debate over the future of Quebec society. This is already a victory.”

The government of Premier Jean Charest has made an apparent about-face in agreeing to resume talks with the student associations on May 28. But this comes on the heels of a massive escalation of repression in the preceding days, so the government's intent is not clear.

During the evening of May 23, provincial and municipal police forces arrested 518 protesters in Montreal and 150 in Quebec City. Thirty six were arrested two nights earlier in Sherbrooke. The number of arrests in Montreal that evening exceeds those during the infamous declaration of martial law by the Canadian government in October 1970.

Police held the arrested Montreal protesters in buses overnight. The cops had declared an evening protest “illegal” under municipal regulations. One young woman who was detained told CBC Radio that police acted like “animals.” The detainees were denied bathroom access and one man who suffered a cardiac emergency was denied emergency medical treatment. The fine for the alleged offences is $634.

Commentators widely noted that while the arrests in Quebec City and Sherbrooke were done in the name of Bill 78, the eventual charges were for violations of municipal regulations or provincial traffic laws. The government is without doubt aware of the tenuous legality of its law. A two-front legal challenge to Bill 78 has been launched by lawyers on behalf of the student associations. They are seeking a ruling that the law is unconstitutional, which could take a year or more. More immediately, they want the Quebec court to immediately suspend the law's applicability.

Bill 78 allows for fines of student associations that could easily bankrupt them. It assigns criminal responsibility to the associations if they fail to control the acts of their individual members.

While there were few arrests during the monster demonstration on May 22, 113 people were arrested at the evening protest that followed. Some 2,500 arrests have been made since the onset of the student strike.

Repression is Backfiring

The government is counting on a combination of threats, fines and police violence to quell and eventually discourage the student movement. But the opposite is happening – the protest movement is growing. The nightly protests in Montreal that students and supporters have been waging for 30 consecutive nights are now growing exponentially. Roger Rashi, a longtime activist with the Quebec solidaire party, reports that the nightly march of May 24 drew several tens of thousands of participants, ten or twenty times the pre-Bill 78 nightly numbers. What's more, multiple marches are taking place concurrently.

One of the inspirations of the spreading movement is “Angry Mothers in Solidarity” (Mères en colère et solidaires). Nightly, spontaneous protests by mothers in support of the students began weeks ago in working-class districts in the center of Montreal such as Rosemont, Villeray, and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. It began with the banging of pots and pans each evening from apartment balconies and streets, gradually emerging into street protests.

The “pots and pans” movement has now coalesced into multiple, nightly marches and is spreading like wildfire throughout the province. (RT Video Link).

Pots & Pans Protest: Angry Canadians make a bang

Timing and locations each evening are coordinated via Twitter. Thousands of mothers from the movement joined the May 22 March. “I march alongside the other mothers because I am one, but this is really about future generations,” Marie Christine Chabot, 45, a nurse, told the Montreal daily The Gazette on the May 22 march. “The more that education is accessible to everyone, the more society is likely to make the right choices. I see it in my work: People with more education smoke less, eat better, exercise more, and have less stress. We'd all be better off if people were better educated.” 

“It's important to show it's not just students out in the streets protesting,” Marie-Claude Gagnon, a social worker and founder of Mères, told the paper. “The symbol of mothers is a good one, and it also helps protect us in the crowd,” said Gagnon, whose children are aged 3, 9 and 13. “The police think twice about wading into a group of mothers and children.”

A new website invites people to post personal declarations of defiance of Bill 78 by posting a photo of themselves along with their written dedication. Called “Arrest Me, Someone!” (Arretez-moi, quelqu'un!) The site has more than 5,000 declarations and the number is growing.

Protesters of all political persuasions are also taking to wearing face covering, in defiance of a Montreal municipal law rushed into adoption May 17 and a similar law threatened by the federal government that makes it illegal to wear a face covering (mask) at a protest declared “illegal.”

A micro-brewery has placed its ‘Grande Noirceur’ beer on special sale. The name translates as ‘the great darkness,’ a term deeply embedded in popular culture that describes the years of rightist government in Quebec under Premier Maurice Duplessis from 1944 to 1959.

The brewery says its daily production is limited to less than 50 bottles in deference to the provision of Bill 78 that requires protests of more than 50 people to seek advanced police permission.

Trade unions, opposition political parties and the Quebec Bar Association have all denounced Bill 78 and called on the government to reach a negotiated settlement with the students.

Discussion Over the Future of the Struggle

The largest student association, CLASSE, is calling for defiance of Bill 78. That issue is being widely discussed among progressive social and political forces, including among members of the Québec solidaire party. The party has voiced strong support for the strike and its members have mobilized.

During the course of May 22 protest, CLASSE did not inform the police of its route for the protest that day, as required by Law 78. The two other large student associations as well as the large trade union contingents joining with them on the march did so. Nevertheless, the vast majority of demonstrators followed the lead of CLASSE in marching on the route of their choosing for hours through the downtown core of the city, including during the afternoon rush hour. The police were powerless to act.

Some student and union leaders quietly project an eventual, electoral outcome to the struggle over tuition fees and the broader issues it has sparked. The opposition Parti québécois, which is supported by most trade union centrals, sits well in polls. The bourgeois nationalist party says it would immediately repeal Law 78 if elected.

But it's not at all clear if the government can call an election. It has problems not just with the student struggle but also with a corruption scandal weighing heavily on it. Last year, the government was obliged to convene a special commission of inquiry into the close ties between the criminal syndicates that run much of the construction industry in the province and successive Liberal Party governments.

Coincidentally, the commission began its public hearings on May 21 and these will continue into the autumn months. Testimony is expected to be especially damning to the party and the current government. A recent poll showed 80 per cent of the population believes the Liberal Party to be thoroughly corrupt.

The Parti québécois is also threatened by potential revelations before the commission. The same poll showed 65 per cent of respondents say they consider past PQ governments to be tainted by similar corruption. The party governed the province for 18 of the past 36 years.

Support for the student strike in Quebec from the rest of Canada has been building, albeit slowly. Students and unions in Ottawa are organizing a solidarity action on May 29, to include a march across the Ottawa River into the neighbouring Gatineau region of Quebec. Ottawa students have already joined several actions in Quebec, including the May 22 march. Hundreds of people attended a solidarity rally in Vancouver on May 22. In Ontario, a student solidarity network has been formed to step up support action in that province.

Trade unions in Canada have provided financial support and contingents of activists came to Montreal for May 22, including Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan. News of the student protest is spreading around the world and solidarity actions have taken place in Paris and New York City.

On the other hand, support from the NDP, the federal party to which many trade unions in English Canada are affiliated, has been all but absent. Party leader Thomas Mulcair explains his party's silence by the fact that education is a provincial responsibility. However, Bill 78 is a massive violation of the rights and freedoms supposedly guaranteed by the Canadian Constitution.

In last year's federal election, the NDP became the official opposition party for the first time in Canadian history. Nearly 60 per cent of the party's MPs represent electoral districts in Quebec. They have apparently been muzzled by the party brass.

The student protest is beginning to worry business interests in the province. A string of large summer events and festivals, including a Grand Prix auto race next month in Montreal, draws hundreds of thousands of cash-wielding visitors each year. Already, hoteliers in Montreal say that bookings in May were down ten percent compared to last year.

In a delicious irony for striking students, a co-leader of CLASSE, Jeanne Reynolds, has won an award for academic excellence from the office of the titular head of the provincial government of Quebec, its Lieutenant Governor. Her “excellence” on the picket lines and in street protests, along with that of tens of thousands of student colleagues, is also winning awards – in the hearts and minds of growing numbers of working-class people in the province.

The Quebec government risks being swept away by a growing tide of human solidarity, with important repercussions for all of Canada. •

Roger Annis is a retired aerospace worker in Vancouver who recently spent time in Montreal reporting on the student strike. He can be reached at

A legal defense committee for students and student associations in Quebec threatened with legal action has been established and can be reached at the following link. 

'Black Out, Speak Out:' Canadian internet campaign targets 'undemocratic' bill

Source: Russia Today

A sweeping omnibus bill introduced last month to the Canadian parliament has been harshly condemned as “undemocratic.” Over 13,000 websites across Canada are planning to protest with a June 4 blackout to highlight their cause.

Bill C-38 – otherwise known as the “Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act” – is a 425-page document that has been described by critics as “a statutory juggernaut.”

What was submitted as a budget bill to the Canadian House of Commons will introduce, amend or repeal nearly 70 federal laws.

With the ruling Conservative Party calling the shots, critics have accused the legislation of tightening the screws on organized labor by way of a provision that would require unions to publicly list all recipients of contracts valued at $5,000 or more.

A line buried deep in the document also ominously states, "The Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act is repealed."

The change would eliminate a 1985 law forcing companies bidding on federal contracts to pay “fair wages and overtime.”

Opposition New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin called the proposal a “solution without a problem.”

“The only conclusion I can come up with is that it's a war on labor and the left. It's what the Americans did with the right-to-work states and the end result is $8 or $9 an hour is now the average wage in places like North Carolina," the Canadian Press cites him as saying.

The bill will also overhaul the country’s immigration rules, its temporary foreign workers program and its employment insurance system. In a further blow to the middle class, provisions in the legislation would effectively raise the country’s retirement age from 65 to 67 in a decade's time.

'Bill C-38 undoes decades of environmental law’

Environmentalists are also up in arms as the bill would repeal the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. It would also jettison red tape for major resource development projects, shorten the list of protected species, and overhaul the country’s Fisheries Act so that the federal government would only regulate the country’s major waterways.

The Green Party of Canada warned that if the bill passed in its current form, it would “undo decades of environmental law," and “profoundly degrade the Canadian government’s ability to defend our environment.”

As the battle of the mega-bill is just getting started, some 13,000 websites across Canada will go “black” next Monday to rally the public against it.

Campaign organizers have called potential supporters to join “a committed group of organizations representing millions of Canadians” as they darken their websites “in defense of nature and society.”

While many websites will go offline, campaign organizers have asked volunteers unable shut down entirely to at least feature a splash page explaining why their site appears black.

‘Rise of tyrannical policies’

The bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec, Dennis Drainville, was anything but diplomatic in his condemnation of the bill.

Drainville accused the Harper government of “using every tyrannical tool they can find to ensure that their corporate agenda and ideological policies become the law of the land.”

“In the last 12months I have seen clearly the rise of tyrannical policies and the application of such mind and state control that the people of Canada, unless they soon react, will find themselves not only slaves to a corporate and political domination they never chose but they will experience the extinguishing of any of the hopes and dreams that they once had for a nation firmly based upon the foundations of compassion, justice and peace.”

“For God’s sake, for all of our sakes, wake up Canada,” the letter concluded.

Writing for the National Post, conservative columnist Mat Gurney called the federal government’s decision to insert a slew of unrelated laws and regulations into a so-called budget bill as “sneaky,” “undemocratic” and unnecessary “for a majority government.”

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has claimed the Tory government is not bypassing public oversight by cramming such broad legislative changes into a budget bill. But critics warn that omnibus bills are designed to keep specific changes from being studied at the relevant parliamentary committees.

Growing opposition to the new bill comes on the heels of another controversial act passed earlier this month, which has many in the Canadian province of Quebec up in arms.

Bill 78, an emergency law that lays down strict government regulations for demonstrations numbering more than 50 people, has been condemned as a draconian law that restricts the right of free assembly. The law followed mass protests in Quebec that have been raging for over 100 days, with 2,500 arrests made so far. Students originally took to the streets to protest a massive 75 per cent tuition fee hike, though students are also taking to the streets to challenge the emergency law.

Student activists in the province of Ontario are also planning a June 5 protest in solidarity with their peers in Quebec. A recently formed Student Solidarity Network in Ontario claims that tuition fees in the province have risen by as much as 71 per cent since 2006.

And a controversial “Internet spying bill” proposed by the current administration has further increased fears the government is trying to chip away at civil liberties.

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper has attempted to rebrand the bill as an anti-child pornography act, civil liberties groups say the expensive domestic spying program would allow the Canadian government to monitor its citizens’ online activities.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Shafiq HQ in Cairo set on fire

Egyptians held a demonstration to protest against the results of the first round of the presidential election in Cairo on May 28, 2012

Source: Press TV

Thousands of Egyptians have staged an anti-Ahmed Shafiq demonstration in Cairo and some protesters set fire to the Egyptian presidential candidate’s campaign headquarters in the capital.

An annex of Shafiq's headquarters in Cairo was torched late on Monday, AFP reported.

"We were inside when they attacked us," said one campaign staff member of Shafiq, a former prime minister under the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak. "They set fire to the garage that had General Shafiq's campaign literature."

Firefighters later said that the fire was quickly brought under control.

Meanwhile, on Monday several thousand people demonstrated across Egypt to protest against the results of the first round of the presidential election.

Earlier in the day, the Egyptian electoral commission confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi would face Shafiq in the second round of Egypt's presidential election on June 16 and 17.

Electoral commission chief Faruq Sultan announced the results of the presidential election, saying Morsi had won 5,764,952 votes or 24.77 percent of the ballots cast, while Shafiq garnered 5,505,327 or 23.66 percent of the vote.

Many Egyptians are outraged that former regime officials are even allowed to run for posts after the revolution.

The Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar has reported that the Supreme Constitutional Court is expected to rule on June 11 in a landmark case examining the constitutionality of a law disallowing Mubarak-era officials from running for office.

Earlier this week, the Muslim Brotherhood urged Egyptians to rally behind their presidential candidate in the June run-off, warning the country would be in danger if Shafiq won.

Laying the Foundations for Preemptive Nuclear War Against Iran

By: Nile Bowie

Nile Bowie’s Blog

Source: Global Research

As prospects for a preemptive strike on Iran remain ever present, the recent round of talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Baghdad on May 23rd, 2012 have resulted in a familiar stalemate. As a precondition for any deal to stop higher-grade uranium enrichment, Tehran requested immediate relief from economic sanctions as a show of reciprocity [1].

Iranian chief negotiator Saeed Jalili emphasized Tehran’s right to develop peaceful nuclear energy as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while the P5+1 refused to scale back economic sanctions, insisting Iran suspend its 20% uranium enrichment program [2].

As leaders in Tel Aviv assert that Israel may conduct military strikes against Iran before the US Presidential elections in November [2], Major General Hassan Firouzabadi of the Iranian Armed Forces reiterated Iran’s commitment to the full annihilation of the Zionist regime and the continual support of Palestinian autonomy [3]. Even if Tehran reaches an agreement with the IAEA, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak refused to rule out a military strike against Iranian facilities, demanding that Iran dismantle its uranium enrichment sites and use only imported fuel [4].

Although the recent conference in Baghdad failed to meet the expectations of its participants, Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have agreed to hold another round of talks in Moscow on June 18th [5]. As a further indication of division between P5+1 participants, Germany has pledged to work toward a political and diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear energy issues by providing Tehran with technical assistance in developing a peaceful nuclear program [6], while the US Senate recently approved a new round of sanctions against Iran aimed at any country or company that provides technology or resources to develop Tehran’s oil and uranium resources [7]. The new legislation targets Iran’s national oil and tanker firms and widens sanctions on Iran’s energy sector to any international joint venture where Tehran is a substantial partner or investor. As the US continually pressures Beijing to join its oil embargo, the Chinese Foreign Ministry remains vocally opposed to the new package of economic sanctions against Iran [8].

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich blasted the US for imposing new unilateral sanctions against Iran, describing the move as an irrational measure intended to the harm pace of negotiations [9]. India has remained adamant against expanding sanctions on Iran [10], as New Delhi and Tehran agree to increase annual bilateral trade two thirds to $25 billion by 2015, confirming their intent to bypass US sanctions by making payments for a significant portion of its oil purchases from Iran in rupees [11]. As further cooperation between the US and the Persian Gulf monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) remains evident through their unanimous support of Syria’s armed opposition, Saudi Arabia remains a major beneficiary under the continued imposition of sanctions on Tehran from Washington. Japan and South Korea once accounted for 26% of Iran's oil exports [12], now both Seoul [13] and Tokyo [14] have sought stable supplies of crude oil from Saudi Arabia. As South Africa turns to Saudi Arabia after halting business with Iran [15], the kingdom’s crude output is at a thirty-year high [16], as shipments to the United States quietly rise to 25% [17].

As a result of sanctions on Iran, Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund predicts that oil prices could spike as much as 30% and hover around $160 per barrel if Iran's crude oil exports fell sharply [18]. As Iranian production hits a ten-year low as of March 2012, industry-wide fears of a recession-fueled fall in demand have prompted the reduction of total world oil production through the imposition of embargoes on Iranian oil; higher prices triggered by a supply squeeze from the sanctions work to further benefit international oil companies and producers like Saudi Arabia [19]. In March 2012, the US granted Japan and 10 EU nations a six-month reprieve to gradually cut their imports of Iranian oil, lest they be subjected to their own financial sanctions and cut off from the US financial system [20]. Under the 2012 US National Defense Authorization Act, Barack Obama can impose financial sanctions on foreign banks that carry out financial transactions with Iran's central bank "for the purchase of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran" [21].

Given the fragile state of the European economy, the further implementation of financial sanctions on nations who fail to comply with the oil embargo on Iran is thoroughly unreasonable, with entirely negative implications for the European Union. Any further escalation of tensions with Iran would likely trigger inflated oil prices, which could further cripple the unstable economies of Greece and Portugal and potentially lead to those nations leaving the European Union. Despite Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi downplaying the negative effects of sanctions [22], inflation is soaring within Iran as the cost of food increases between 25% to 125%, with 60% of the population relying on cash subsidies handed out by Tehran [23]. Iran’s budget deficit for the 2011/2012 fiscal year is expected to be between $30 to $50 billion, as the Iranian rial continues to plunge after the imposition of the oil embargo, causing widespread panic buying of gold among the Iranian public [24].

As commodity prices in Iran continue to skyrocket, former Mossad director Efraim Halevy remarked, “The rial is going down, it's gone down by over 50 percent. It's almost impossible to describe the damage done," while former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami forewarns, "When a national currency loses 50% of its value in a matter of weeks, economic collapse is at hand.” [25][26]. As Iran struggled to replace it’s client base following the imposition of US-led economic sanctions, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz spoke before the Israeli cabinet predicting the collapse of the Iranian economy [27]. Haaretz reports the remarks of an unnamed senior official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, "These aren't sanctions against Iran. Instead, they are sanctions imposed by the West to curb Israel's attack plans, had Israel not spoken out about its intention to attack, none of this would be happening. The Iranians are frightened. You have to understand what's going on there in stores; citizens grab food off the shelves because they are worried about an impending attack. Inflation is soaring and the currency has lost half its value. All this attests to fear." [28]

As the black market in Iran expands amid an increasing lack of public confidence in the rial, the role of the state is indirectly strengthened because smuggling imports requires strong connections within the regime, leaving the poor and lower middle class susceptible to poverty while the officials being targeted by sanctions themselves benefit from the embargo [29]. The fact that Obama administration chose to preemptively impose sanctions on Iran before the P5+1 meeting in Baghdad even took place indicates that the objective of US-Israeli policy toward Iran seeks not mutual agreement and reconciliation, but the further perpetuation of conflict to ensure that the question of Iran’s nuclear energy issue remains unsolved. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the scope for sanctions over Iran's nuclear program had been exhausted and any additional measures were intended to provoke discontent in the Iranian population [30].

As the United States and its allies offer unflinching support to armed opposition groups under cover of “democratic activism” in non-acquiescent countries in the region, any popular revolution in Iran would unquestionably be supported and used to pressure the government from within, even using the opportunity to launch an armed opposition insurrection. An articled published in The New Yorker by Seymour M. Hersh entitled, “Our Men in Iran?,” documents how members of Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian dissident group and US State Department-listed terrorist organization, were trained in communications, cryptography, small-unit tactics and weaponry by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) at a base in Nevada starting in 2005 [31]. JSOC instructed MEK operatives on how to penetrate major Iranian communications systems, allowing the group to intercept telephone calls and text messages inside Iran for the purpose of sharing them with American intelligence. The group has been implicated in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists [32] and the planting of the Stuxnet malware that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz [33].

MEK was founded in 1965 as a Marxist Islamic mass political movement aimed at agitating the monarchy of the US-backed Iranian Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The group initially sided with revolutionary clerics led by Ayatollah Khomeini following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but eventually turned away from the regime during a power struggle that resulted in the group waging urban guerilla warfare against Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1981. The organization was later given refuge by Saddam Hussein and mounted attacks on Iran from within Iraqi territory, killing an estimated 17,000 Iranian nationals in the process [34]. MEK exists as the main component of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a “coalition of democratic Iranian organizations, groups and personalities,” calling itself a "parliament-in-exile” seeking to “establish a democratic, secular and coalition government” in Iran [35]. Following the toppling of Saddam Hussein, UN special representative in Iraq Martin Kobler organized efforts to relocate MEK insurgents to a former US military base near the Baghdad airport, with the full support of the US Embassy in Iraq and the State Department to avoid violent clashes between the MEK and the Shiite-led Iraqi government [36].

MEK has long received material assistance from Israel, who assisted the organization with broadcasting into Iran from their political base in Paris, while the MEK and NCRI have reportedly provided the United States with intelligence on Iran's nuclear program. Despite the documented cases of atrocities committed by MEK forces, elder statesmen such as former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley K. Clark, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former 9/11 Commission Chairman Lee Hamilton were paid $20,000 to $30,000 per engagement to endorse the removal of the Mujahideen-e Khalq from the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations [37]. NBC News reports that Israel provided financing, training and arms to Mujahideen-e Khalq, who are responsible for killing five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 using motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars [38]. A recent investigation by the US Treasury Department has indicated that Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization is financially sponsored by the Israeli regime and Saudi Arabia [39].

Upon launching a war against Iran, aggressor nations would likely utilize MEK forces as opposition insurgents and could even recognize the touted “parliament-in-exile”, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, as Iran’s legitimate representative, much like how the Friends of Syria group has recognized the opposition Syrian National Council [40]. From her political base in Paris, exiled NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi is a strong candidate for Western support in contrast to internal opposition figures such as Mir-Hossein Mousavi, former Iranian Prime Minister turned political reformist and figurehead of the Green Movement demonstrations in 2009 following the victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in elections widely perceived as a fraudulent [41]. Although Mousavi has advocated greater personal freedoms in Iran and the disbanding of religious police enforcers, he is a strong advocate of Iran’s nuclear energy program and would likely never yield the kind of acquiescence to Western policy that exiled figures such as Maryam Rajavi would uphold in exchange for political support and material assistance [42]. It is widely believed that Mousavi is currently held under house arrest without an arrest warrant, charge or trial [43].

While figures such as Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi publically renounce nuclear weapons [44], Iranian scientists claim to be enriching uranium to 20% to develop radiopharmaceuticals and industrial isotopes under the supervision of the IAEA inspectors [45]. On October 1, 2010, the IAEA proposed a deal according to which Iran would send 3.5% enriched uranium abroad and receive 20% enriched uranium from potential suppliers in return, namely France and the United States, who Tehran accused of stalling negotiations from the start [46]. Tehran was offered a deal at a time when its supplies of 20% enriched uranium were nearly depleted, however Iranian lawmakers rejected the deal after technical studies showed that it would only take two to three months for any country to further enrich the nuclear stockpile and turn it into metal nuclear plates for the Tehran Research Reactor, while suppliers had announced that they would not return fuel to Iran in any time less than seven months [47].

Iran has made efforts to ensure the transparency of its nuclear program by allowing IAEA probes to inspect Iranian sites such as the Parchin military complex where the agency has reported suspicious activities in the past [48]. The IAEA’s recent discovery of traces of uranium enriched up to 27% at Iran's Fordo enrichment plant sparked controversy, although the enrichment figure is still substantially below the 90% level needed to make the fissile core required in nuclear arms; officials conceded that the likely explanation for the increased level of enrichment was attributed to centrifuges initially over-enriching at the start as technicians adjusted their output [49]. It should be noted that former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Hans Blix has challenged the IAEA’s own reports on Iran’s nuclear activities, accusing the agency of relying on unverified intelligence from the US and Israel [50]; the IAEA’s most recent report cited Tehran's progress toward enrichment technology with complete cooperation with the agency and confirms the non-weaponized status of Iranian nuclear activities [51].

Clinton Bastin, former director of US nuclear weapons production programs, has sent an open letter to President Obama regarding the status of Iran’s capacity to produce nuclear weapons [52]. Bastin reiterates, “The ultimate product of Iran's gas centrifuge facilities would be highly enriched uranium hexafluoride, a gas that cannot be used to make a weapon. Converting the gas to metal, fabricating components and assembling them with high explosives using dangerous and difficult technology that has never been used in Iran would take many years after a diversion of three tons of low enriched uranium gas from fully safeguarded inventories. The resulting weapon, if intended for delivery by missile, would have a yield equivalent to that of a kiloton of conventional high explosives” [53]. The US-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) has recently released claims that Iran’s total production of enriched uranium over the past five years would be enough for at least five nuclear weapons stating, "This total amount of 3.5 percent low enriched uranium hexafluoride, if further enriched to weapon grade, is enough to make over five nuclear weapons." [54]

Bastin’s assessment of Iran’s nuclear program further emphasizes the impracticality of weaponizing the hexafluoride product of Tehran’s gas-centrifuges, as the resulting deterrent would yield the equivalent explosive capacity equal to a kiloton of conventional explosives, producing a highly inefficient nuclear weapon. If Iran chose to produce nuclear weapons in this way, it would take several years to reach the 90% enrichment levels needed for a nuclear deterrent; Iran has complied with the IAEA and the United Nations on this issue and there is no substantial evidence indicating that Tehran has any intention of enriching uranium to 90% for the purpose of creating nuclear weapons. On March 23rd, 2012, Reuters released a special report entitled, “Intel shows Iran nuclear threat not imminent”, concluding that the United States, its European allies and even Israel agree that Tehran does not have a bomb, it has not decided to build one, and it is years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead [55]. As the West continually implements an unyielding regime of sanctions against Iran when they themselves acknowledge the civilian nature of the Iranian nuclear program, the overwhelming motive behind their actions to pressure Iran into full-scale war on an unprecedented scale is self-evident.

The United States has produced more than 70,000 nuclear weapons between 1951 and 1998 [56], while Israel possess a nuclear weapons stockpile ranging from 75 to 400 warheads [57]. While the hazardous ramifications of Iran’s nuclear development pervade public consciousness, the fact that US legal doctrine has worked to further blur the line between conventional and nuclear warfare remains rarely acknowledged. The March 2005 Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations released by the Joint Chiefs of Staff envisages “contingency plans” for an offensive first strike use of nuclear weapons against both Iran and North Korea, providing the legal mandate to carry out pre-emptive nuclear war, both in terms of military planning as well as defense procurement and production [58] The 2002 adoption of the Pentagon’s 2001 Nuclear Posture Review by the US Congress marked the cease of prohibition on low yield nuclear weapons and provided funding allocations to pursue the development of tactical nuclear weapons, such as bunker buster (earth penetrator) mini-nukes [59].

The revised Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations (March 2005) envisaged five scenarios where “the use of nuclear weapons might be requested,” namely, “to attack adversary installations including weapons of mass destruction, deep, hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons, or the command and control infrastructure required for the adversary to execute a WMD attack against the United States or its friends and allies” and “to counter potentially overwhelming adversary conventional forces”. The doctrine further cites, “Responsible security planning requires preparation for threats that are possible, though perhaps unlikely today. The lessons of military history remain clear: unpredictable, irrational conflicts occur. Military forces must prepare to counter weapons and capabilities that exist in the near term even if no immediate likely scenarios for war are at hand. To maximize deterrence of WMD use, it is essential US forces prepare to use nuclear weapons effectively and that US forces are determined to employ nuclear weapons if necessary to prevent or retaliate against WMD use” [60].

The possibility of nuclear strikes against Iran pose staggeringly frightening implications for the human family, as the very nations crying foul about the danger of nuclear weapons have prepared the legal infrastructure to use them against others, preemptively. While trust towards the Iranian regime remains questionable among segments of the Iranian population and the international community, Tehran has complied with the IAEA and no evidence exists to implicate Iran with constructing a nuclear weapon. While the fiery rhetoric of Iranian and Israeli officials remains entirely counterproductive, Tel Aviv has shown the least initiative to constructively partake in diplomacy with Iran, as top Israeli officials refuse to even meet with US envoy to the P5+1, Wendy Sherman, who reportedly was sent to Tel Aviv to "reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel's security" [61]. As Israel aggressively employs an apartheid policy domestically, nuclear-armed Tel Aviv boasts its right to strike Iran without consent from any other nation [62]. As our species approaches the increasingly dangerous crossroads of the 21st Century, nations such as Germany, Russia, India and China must utilize their collective influence and technology to mediate this impending security crisis in the Middle East.

Although Iran has asserted its right to develop peaceful nuclear technology as a signatory to the nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty, its uranium-based fuel has wrought negative and inaccurate accusations regarding Tehran’s intentions to weaponize. To ensure the further deflection of erroneous accusations, Iran can truly make an example of itself by phasing out uranium-based nuclear technology and shifting to a liquid fuel based on molten-fluoride salts used in Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) nuclear technology powered by thorium, an obscure, mildly radioactive metal produced as a waste product from the mining of rare earth minerals. Thorium is plentiful, easily accessible and energy dense, a metric ton produces as much energy as 200 tons of uranium, or 3,500,000 ton of coal [63]. Thorium-based reactors consume their own hazardous waste and would serve Iran’s internal needs far more effectively than its current technology. As a nuclear fuel, thorium is both cleaner and safer than uranium and produces benign alpha radiation, unable to even penetrate skin [64].

The governments of China [65] and India [66] have expressed great interest in further developing thorium molten-salt reactor technology. Iran holds 9% of the world’s oil reserves and 17% of its natural gas reserves; the abundant supply of fossil fuel resources has indirectly discouraged the pursuit of alternative renewable energy sources [67]. Iran has enormous potential as a producer of geothermal energy, particularly in the provinces of Azerbaijan and Tehran [68]. There is no shortage of solutions to the current problems faced by the international community in its efforts to oversee peaceful energy technology in Iran. China, Germany and India could share their growing technical expertise with Iran to develop energy solutions that can never be used as a pretext for external military strikes. No credible basis exists to warrant the implementation of economic sanctions against Iran, which are ostensibly in place to coax social unrest and collapse the Iranian economy.

For all the belligerence exuded by the current Iranian regime, the unwavering aggressive it receives from outside forces does nothing to offer the people of Iran any tangible solutions to better themselves and their standard of living. Although the further application of sanctions will inevitably have damaging effects on Tehran, inflated oil price fluctuations have the potential to fracture the fledging austerity-states of the European Union. The failure of emerging markets to adhere to full embargoes on Iran once they come into effect would send a strong message to the architects of such disastrous policy. As nations such as China and Russia acknowledge the imbalanced nature of power in the Security Council and the aggressive stance of the United States and Israel, these nations can best utilize their power by offering technological and diplomatic solutions to avert the detrimental social, economic and spiritual consequences of war.

Video Source: Russia Today

Nile Bowie is an independent writer and photojournalist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


[1] Iran accuses world powers of creating 'difficult atmosphere' in nuclear talks, Haaretz, May 24, 2012
[2] Iran claims ‘undeniable right’ to enrich Uranium: new talks, same deadlock, Russia Today, May 25, 2012
[3] Israel takes back promise to Obama not to attack Iran before the election, Russia Today, May 24, 2012
[4] Top Commander Reiterates Iran's Commitment to Full Annihilation of Israel, FARS, May 20, 2012
[5] Deal or no deal, Iran may be bombed – Israeli minister, Russia Today, May 23, 2012
[6] Germany Ready to Find Diplomatic Solution to Iran's N. Issue, FARS, May 25, 2012
[7] US Senate approves sanctions against Iran, New Straits Times, May 22, 2012
[8] China slams new US sanctions against Iran, PressTV, May 23, 2012
[9] Moscow Raps US New Sanctions against Iran as Irrational Move, FARS, May 25, 2012
[10] India against more sanctions on Iran, The Hindu, February 11, 2012
[11] India, Iran look at $25 billion trade by 2015, The Economic Times, March 12, 2012
[12] Japan to reduce oil imports, BBC, January 12, 2012
[13] Saudi oil minister pledges Seoul stable crude supply, The Korea Herald, February 3, 2012
[14] Japan to seek stable oil supply from Saudi Arabia, Reuters, May 7, 2012
[15] South Africa Engen buys Saudi crude to replace Iranian supplies, Al Arabiya, May 9, 2012
[16] Saudi Arabia says kingdom pumping 10 million bpd, the most in 5 months, Al Arabiya, May 8, 2012
[17] Exclusive: Iran sanctions seen spurring more Saudi oil sales to U.S. Reuters, March 16, 2012
[18] Iran: Meetings with IAEA Head Paves Way for Negotiations with 5+1, FARS, May 24, 2012
[19] Turkey cuts 20% of oil purchases from Iran, Financial Times, March 30, 2012
[20] U.S. exempts 11 states from Iran sanctions; China, India exposed, Reuters, March 21, 2012
[21] Ibid
[22] Iranian Minister Blames EU Sanctions for Hike in Oil Prices, FARS, March 25, 2012
[23] No One Can Afford Another Round of Iran Sanctions, OilPrice, May 21, 2012
[24] Iran raises interest rate on bank deposits, Financial Times, January 27, 2012
[25] Warning Iran, and lacerating Mitt Romney, a former Mossad chief steps out of the shadows, The Times of Israel, March 28, 2012
[26] Iran’s Nuclear Grass Eaters, Project Syndicate, April 4, 2012
[27] Steinitz: SWIFT sanctions may lead to Iran's economic collapse, YNET News, March 18, 2012
[28] Israeli threats of attack sparked new wave of Iran sanctions, officials say, Haaretz, March 16, 2012
[29] Iran’s Middle Class on Edge as World Presses In, The New York Times, February 6, 2012
[30] Q&A: Iran sanctions, BBC, February 6, 2012
[31] Our Men in Iran? The New Yorker, April 6, 2012
[32] Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran's nuclear scientists, U.S. officials tell NBC News, MSNBC, February 9, 2012
[33] Stuxnet Loaded by Iran Double Agents, ISSSource, April 11, 2012
[34] Moqtada Sadr Reiterates Iraqis' Demand for Expulsion of MKO Terrorists, Fars News Agency, September 19, 2011
[35] About the National Council of Resistance of Iran, The National Council of Resistance of Iran, 2010
[36] Are the MEK’s U.S. friends its worst enemies? Foreign Policy, March 8, 2012
[37] Mujahideen-e Khalq: Former U.S. Officials Make Millions Advocating For Terrorist Organization, Huffington Post, August 8, 2011
[38] Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran's nuclear scientists, U.S. officials tell NBC News, MSNBC, February 9, 2012
[39] Israel funds terrorist MKO: Investigation, PressTV, May 24, 2012
[40] Friends of Syria recognize SNC as 'legitimate representative', Russia Today, April 1, 2012
[41] Iran's supreme leader orders investigation into claims of vote fraud, Xinhua, June 15, 2009
[42] Iran's presidential candidates, BBC, June 12, 2009
[43] Iran: Further information: Opposition leaders arbitrarily held, Amnesty International, 2011
[44] Iran: We do not want nuclear weapons, The Washington Post, April 13, 2012
[45] Iranian Experts Place Fuel Plates into Heart of Tehran Research Reactor, FARS, May 23, 2012
[46] Ibid
[47] Ibid
[48] UN nuclear chief: Deal reached on Iran probe, Russia Today, May 22, 2012
[49] Traces of uranium enriched to higher than previous levels found at Iran site, Haaretz, May 25, 2012
[50] Blix: US, Israel source most of IAEA allegations, PressTV, March 25, 2012
[51] Envoy: UN Atomic Report Endorses Peaceful Nature of Iran's N. Activities, FARS, May 26, 2012
[52] Iran has a Nuclear Power, Not a Weapons Program, 21st Century & Technology, December 2, 2011
[53] Top US Nuclear Expert Tells Obama: There Is No Weapons Threat From Iran, LaRouche Pac, February 25, 2012
[54] 'Iran has enough enriched uranium for 5 nuclear bombs' The Times of India, May 26, 2012
[55] SPECIAL REPORT-Intel shows Iran nuclear threat not imminent, Reuters, March 23, 2012
[56] 50 Facts About U.S. Nuclear Weapons, Brookings Institute, August 1998
[57] Nuclear Weapons - Israel, Federation of American Scientists, January 8, 2007
[58] Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff, March 2005
[59] Ibid
[60] Ibid
[61] U.S. sends senior envoy to Israel to brief government on Iran nuclear talks, Haaretz, May 25, 2012
[62] Bad news unwelcome: Israel refuses to listen to US envoy’s report on Iran, Russia Today, May 26, 2012
[63] How Iran can have nuclear power and the world can have peace, Russia Today, May 07, 2012
[64] Thorium: How to save Europe’s nuclear revival, Centre for European Reform, June 2011
[65] India plans 'safer' nuclear plant powered by thorium, The Guardian, November 1, 2011
[67] Renewable energy in Iran: Challenges and opportunities for sustainable development, International Journal of Environmental Science & Technology, Spring 2004
[68] Status of Geothermal Energy in Iran, 19th World Energy Congress, September 2004

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