Ukraine's Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman has accused Russia of being behind the killing in Kiev of the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko.Yet shortly after the announcement of Babchenko's death and as accusations began to mount against Russia - the Ukrainian government announced that his death was staged by Ukrainian security services.
"I am confident that the Russian totalitarian machine did not forgive him his honesty and principled stance," the prime minister posted on Facebook.
Details of the precise threat to Babchenko's life were murky. Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of the SBU, said Russia's spy agencies had contacted a middleman, identified only as G, and paid him $40,000 to arrange the murder. The middleman in turn approached a former Ukrainian volunteer soldier to carry out the hit, together with additional "terrorist acts", he said.
The middleman was now in custody, Hrytsak said, showing video of a middle-aged, white-haired man being bundled by officers into a van. Hrytsak added that phone intercepts had revealed his contacts in Moscow. Dozens of contract killings had been averted, he suggested, claiming that the list of potential victims in Ukraine stretched to 30 names.
Babchenko was not dead. His murder had been staged in order to catch a contract killer who had been paid $40,000 to assassinate him and who was planning to kill others. Babchenko walked into the room. People cheered. The security services gloated: They had, they said, used the fake murder to catch the middleman who paid the would-be assassin.
Plus, of course, they had finally made the Russians look stupid and themselves look smart. What "chaos"? Who's a "failure" now? They had convinced the world that Babchenko was dead, pulled off a surprise, caught a criminal. Because the security services are under direct control of the Ukrainian president, they may well have helped him in his coming election campaign, and that may well have been part of the point.
Until now, most Western governments have officially avoided the public trolling and open trickery that the Russians use on a regular basis. Instead of producing disinformation to counter disinformation, most mainstream Western journalists have doubled down on facts, believing that in an increasingly unstable world, they should stick as far as possible to the truth.
But the means — the fictitious death, the staged public reports — will reduce even further the already microscopically low levels of trust that Ukrainians have in their government and their media.
Anger at repression is quelled under the military dictatorship -- but the country's punk scene is turning the protest volume back up again.It continued:
The provocative slogan, directed at junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, helped the event's Facebook page go viral, piquing the interest of pro-democracy activists and putting the small underground scene in the national spotlight.Despite Prayuth Chan-ocha being Prime Minister of Thailand - the Western media has repeatedly used the slur "junta leader" to depict both the prime minister himself and the nation's government as a backwards 3rd world dictatorship.
NED is a private, non-profit, grant-making organization that receives an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress through the Department of State. Although NED's continued funding is dependent on the continued support of the White House and Congress, it is NED's independent BOARD OF DIRECTORS that controls how the appropriation is spent.NED itself admits that it is funded through the US State Department. It claims that its board of directors, not the US government itself, then determine how those US tax dollars are spent.
President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new US-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to providing security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Convinced that the establishment of new US-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump, and Chairman Kim Jong Un, state the following:
The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Reaffirming April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Having acknowledged that the US-DPRK summit — the first in history — was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un, commit to implementing the stipulations in the joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to holding follow-on negotiations, led by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the US-DPRK summit.
President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new US-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and the security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.
DONALD J. TRUMP
President of the United States of America
KIM JONG UN
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
June 12, 2018The talks have now concluded with the remainder of the negotiating to take place between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterpart with some suggesting that the next stage is the freeing of American spies incarcerated in North Korea.
As it currently stands, China has monopolized a large chunk of its neighbor's economy, not out of any malicious or neo-imperial intentions but simply because it's been the only lifeline to the "Hermit Kingdom" since the Soviet Union collapsed and Moscow cut off all of its previous aid to the country. For all practical intents and purposes, China controls the North Korean economy, an open secret that's known to even the most casual observers even if it's "politically incorrect" to publicly say and is regularly denied by Beijing. The never-ending international sanctions had the effect of scaring off most other investors, and Russia entered the game way too late in the past couple of years to make any tangible difference. Moreover, by the time that Moscow got interested in North Korea's economic potential as a transit state connecting the investment-hungry but energy-rich Far East region with cash-flush but energy-poor South Korea, international sanctions became tighter, and Russia itself also signed onto them together with China.
The cumulative effect of this latest development, particularly in terms of China's honest participation in the latest round of sanctions (for reasons related to its unease at having a nuclear-armed neighbor play the "useful idiot" in bringing American anti-missile infrastructure closer to its borders), was that North Korea had little choice other than to negotiate with the US and reconsider its nuclear capabilities. Faced with the real fear of experiencing another nationwide famine such as the one that reportedly struck the country in the 1990s, Chairman Kim's immediate interests were purely economic, and he painfully came to perceive of his "big brother" in the north as a Great Power who isn't above playing political games in pursuit of its self-interests. In China's defense, its global strategy of multipolarity was being endangered by what it considered to be Kim's recklessness in engaging in so many nuclear and missile tests, but regardless, the bonds of trust were irrevocably broken between these two.That, however, doesn't mean that North Korea regards China as an "enemy", but just that the young Kim had a rude awakening in terms of how the real world works, learning first-hand that slogans of ideological solidarity about a shared "communist struggle" don't compensate for his country's disadvantageous position as a pawn on the Hyper-Realist "19th-Century Great Power Chessboard". Disheartened by this realization and likely feeling some natural resentment towards his former benefactors, Kim decided to enter into unprecedented denuclearization talks with the US, though prudently taking care to involve China in all manner of his consultations so as not to inadvertently make an actual enemy out of it given how easily this very sensitive situation could have turned into a fast-moving security dilemma between Pyongyang and Beijing had he not had the wisdom to do so. Seeking sanctions relief and a "counterbalance" to China, Kim ultimately agreed to the Singapore Summit with Trump.In an interview with Tasnim News Agency, Korybko also stated that
Having predictably been briefed on the psychological-economic factors that drove Kim to come to the Singapore Summit and in all likelihood agree beforehand on what the outcome of this historic event would be, Trump came to the event with the fullest of confidence but also with a secret ace up his sleeve to sweeten the deal that he was about to publicly clinch with his counterpart. It's now been revealed that Trump showed Kim a Hollywood-style four-minute video extolling the economic and developmental benefits that North Korea could receive if its Chairman chooses the right path at this once-in-a-lifetime crossroad that the film dramatically hints he was fated to appear at. Evidently, Kim must have really enjoyed the promising message that was conveyed because all of his body language immediately after his private viewing of this film with Trump during their one-on-one meeting was exceptionally positive and radiated happiness, sincerity, and confidence as he agreed to advance his country's denuclearization.
After all, North Korea already blew up its only nuclear testing site, and its leader raced to win back Trump's approval for the Singapore Summit instead of the reverse. This implies that the US is negotiating from a position of strength while North Korea is doing so from weakness, showing which of the two wants denuclearization to happen more. The lesson that both parties learned is that their highest representatives need to watch their words in order to not provoke either side into responding with anything dramatic as a means of saving their reputations, thereby potentially endangering the forthcoming talks and complicating North Korea's strategic surrender to the US in exchange for promised aid and investment.So the question is whether or not the North Korean side felt it had no other option than to move forward with a political deal, much like the Iran deal, in order to save face and survive. After all, it is not reasonable to require North Korea to disarm from its only real deterrent while the its enemy who has been breathing down its neck for the last several decades simply promises not to attack it.
In the case of Libya, for example—and it's a different situation in some respects—those negotiations were carried out in private. They were not known publicly. But one thing that Libya did that that led us to overcome our skepticism was that they allowed American and British observers into all their nuclear-related sites. So, it wasn't a question of relying on international mechanisms. We saw them in ways we have never seen before.Notably, the North Korea talks are taking place in public even if they aren't being met with high praise.
...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context— both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians "brought it on themselves" by refusing a very good deal.From the writings of Brookings, it is readily apparent for all to see what the latest browbeating over the "terrible" Iran deal and how the Iranians are not living up to their obligations under the agreement coming from the Trump administration are all about. The United States has bullied Iran into accepting a deal it should never have had to agree to in the first place and now the U.S. is attempting to add restrictions and obligations that were never part of the deal to begin with and/or claim that Iran is not living up to its end of the deal. If Iran can be represented as having been uncooperative, Iran will be painted as having refused "a very good deal."
The truth is that these all would be challenging cases to make. For that reason, it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.)Conclusion
Mr. Kim rules with extreme brutality, making his nation among the worst human rights violators in the world.The source of the New York Times' assertions is admittedly a "2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea," officially titled the, "Report of the detailed findings of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" (PDF).
In North Korea, these crimes "entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation," concluded a 2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea.
In the absence of access to witnesses and sites inside the DPRK, the Commission decided to obtain first-hand testimony through public hearings that observed transparency, due process and the protection of victims and witnesses. Victims and witnesses who had departed the DPRK, as well as experts, testified in a transparent procedure that was open to the media, other observers and members of the general public. More than 80 witnesses and experts testified publicly and provided information of great specificity, detail and relevance, sometimes in ways that required a significant degree of courage.In other words, the entirety of the UN's 372-page report - cited as "evidence" of North Korean "atrocities" by prominent media organizations like the New York Times - is based on hearsay gathered by an investigation that never stepped foot once inside North Korea. Despite a lack of actual evidence to substantiate these claimed abuses, the New York Times depicts the UN report's conclusions as fact.
In 2016, Kim Yong-jin, the deputy premier for education, was killed in front of a firing squad after showing "disrespectful posture" in a meeting. Hyon Yong-chol, a general over the armed forces, fell asleep in a meeting. He was executed with an antiaircraft gun.Yet even notoriously unreliable media organizations like Reuters would carefully distance themselves from reporting such stories as fact. In its article, "North Korea executes vice premier in latest purge: South," Reuters would report (emphasis added):
North Korea has executed its vice premier for education and rebuked two high-ranking officials, South Korea said on Wednesday, which, if true, would mark a new series of measures by leader Kim Jong Un to discipline top aides.The article would refer to the alleged death of Hyon Yong-chol by claiming (emphasis added):
A former defense minister, Hyun Yong Chol, is also believed to have been executed last year for treason, according to the South's spy agency.
North Korea's equivalent of a defense minister has been executed by antiaircraft gun for insubordination and treason — including for sleeping during a meeting in which Kim Jong Un was speaking, South Korea's intelligence agency said Wednesday. The report, if true, would starkly illustrate the brutal extent to which the young North Korean leader is going to consolidate power.More recent hearsay reported on by the Washington Post would even include the word "rumor" in the title of its article, "The latest rumor from North Korea: Another general executed," which stated (emphasis added):
Yet another North Korean general is killed by the Pyongyang regime.But clearly, the "pattern" Washington Post writer Anna Fifield and many others claim to have spotted is merely a pattern of unverified claims being made by the Western media - built upon previously and likewise unverified claims, creating a cartoon-like vilification of a state writers at the New York Times and Washington Post know readers are unfamiliar with. The Western media understands their narratives are difficult for the public to question without conducting their own, extensive and time-consuming research. They depend on readers not clicking links - if links are even included - to long UN reports and understanding the paper-thin credibility of such reports when built entirely on "witness testimony."
That's the story that's been doing the rounds this week after a South Korean news agency quoted an anonymous South Korean official from an unnamed South Korean agency as saying that Ri Yong Gil, chief of the Korean People's Army [KPA] general staff, had been executed for corruption.
It fit with the pattern that has emerged since Kim Jong Un took over the leadership of North Korea from his father at the end of 2011: Aging member of the old guard dispatched by young upstart leader.
The statement gave no details or evidence on how the US had come to their conclusion.Thus, the New York Times has presented a case against North Korea that depends solely on supposed witness "testimony" and the credibility of the United States government - and did so presented as fact rather than speculation - or more likely - familiar fabrications.
An Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as a year ago.Miller would go on to claim that US intelligence officials were attempting to verify the claims, noting that "experts said his information seemed reliable and significant."
...the February decision to bomb North Vietnam and the July approval of Phase I deployments make sense only if they are in support of a long-run United States policy to contain China.It also claims:
China—like Germany in 1917, like Germany in the West and Japan in the East in the late 30′s, and like the USSR in 1947—looms as a major power threatening to undercut our importance and effectiveness in the world and, more remotely but more menacingly, to organize all of Asia against us.Finally, it outlines the immense regional theater the US was engaged in against China at the time by stating:
...there are three fronts to a long-run effort to contain China (realizing that the USSR "contains" China on the north and northwest): (a) the Japan-Korea front; (b) the India-Pakistan front; and (c) the Southeast Asia front.The Pentagon Papers provide for us today the context within which to properly view current tensions across Asia-Pacific including upon the Korean Peninsula. The vilification of North Korea represents the primary means by which Washington continues to justify its engagement along the "Japan-Korea front" against China as well as eastern Russia.
...an essential forum for navigating the dramatic economic and political changes defining the twenty-first century by informing and galvanizing its uniquely influential network of global leaders. Through the papers we write, the ideas we generate, and the communities we build, the Council shapes policy choices and strategies to create a more secure and prosperous world.The Atlantic Council seeks to create this "secure and prosperous world" for its corporate-financier sponsors which include weapons manufacturers like Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing - big-oil interests like Chevron, BP, and ExxonMobil - big-banks like JP Morgan, Bank of America, and HSBC - and also governments and organizations like the US State Department itself, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and NATO.
When Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime uses chemical weapons, as it has done on at least four different occasions in the past five years (August 2013, March 2017, April 2017, and April 2018), conspiracy theorists and Russian propaganda outlets immediately kick into gear to begin denying it. They posit that the Syrian regime would never use chemical weapons because, after all, it is already winning the civil war. Instead, these outlets suggest, the anti-Assad opposition (working with external powers) stages "false flag" events to provide excuses for an American military strike aimed at toppling the regime.The article would claim that chemical weapons (CWs) are more psychologically damaging to targeted populations than conventional weapons. The article also makes the claim that to dislodge militants from even a moderately-sized structure, it would require upward to 147 unguided 155mm artillery shells. Thus CWs - Stein and O'Brien argue - are more efficient than conventional weapons.
These denials are absurd for a number of reasons, one of which is that there is an obvious -- but often overlooked -- rationale for the regime's use of chemical weapons. The Syrian conflict has demonstrated the value of these weapons for Assad's enemy-centric approach to counter-insurgent warfare, which is premised on the idea of using overwhelming force to punish local populations where insurgents are active. Rather than working to deliver services and stability to contested spaces to compel popular support, the intent is to re-establish central government control through naked aggression.
...seep into these buildings with relative ease, as long as the shells land even reasonably close to the target. In Syria as well as in other conflicts, the anti-Assad opposition has dug fairly sophisticated tunnel systems that are, in theory, impervious to the regime's heavy artillery and unguided bombs. To effectively target these buried facilities, Assad has turned to chemical weapons, which often descend and concentrate in low-lying areas. The advantage is clear: The regime can ensure heavy casualties with a small amount of effort, either by incapacitating or killing combatants, or by terrorizing these groups and the civilians who live alongside them.Yet in order for this narrative to be viable - readers would need to believe that the Syrian government had only encountered determined, well-entrenched enemies on "at least four different occasions in the past five years," as admitted in the article's opening paragraph - an utterly absurd notion at face value.
Unlike expensive precision-guided munitions (and the advanced command, control, communications, and intelligence systems needed to use them), even smaller and less advanced states can field chemical weapons programs relatively cheaply.And:
If you're an army forced to fight a war on the cheap, chemical weapons make a great deal of sense.Yet this is entirely untrue. Syria does indeed have access to precision-guided munitions in the form of the Russian air force.
Five months after the first Russian warplanes slipped into Syria to reinforce the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the Kremlin's air wing near Latakia—on Syria's Mediterranean coast in the heart of regime territory—has found its rhythm, launching roughly one air strike every 20 minutes targeting Islamic State militants, U.S.-backed rebels and civilians in rebel-controlled areas.
"From Feb. 10 to 16, aircraft of the Russian aviation group in the Syrian Arab Republic have performed 444 combat sorties engaging 1,593 terrorist objects in the provinces of Deir Ez Zor, Daraa, Homs, Hama, Latakia and Aleppo," the Russian defense ministry claimed in a statement.
Assad can count on the presence of Russian forces in Syria to act as a deterrent against strikes that could threaten regime stability. He can reasonably assume that American military action has to be refined to try and prevent unintended escalation, and will therefore be relatively small in scale.However - it was the staged CWs attack in 2013 and subsequent attempts to cite such attacks as a basis for US-led regime change that - in part - prompted Russia's direct military intervention in the first place.
In his Stanford speech, [then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson] laid out five US goals in Syria: the defeat of Isis and al-Qaida, a UN-brokered resolution for Syria that involved Bashar al-Assad's departure, a curb on Iran, conditions for the safe return of refugees, and the complete elimination of remaining chemical weapons.The Bottom Line
Hong Kong's leading independence activist has been jailed for six years for his involvement in some of the city's worst protest violence for decades.Western pundits decried the jail sentence as the breakdown of the "rule of law" in Hong Kong. Yet the riots were violent and destructive, and most certainly against the law. For Hong Kong not to jail Leung for his role in criminal activity would constitute an actual breakdown of the rule of law.
Edward Leung was convicted in May of rioting over the 2016 running battles with police, when demonstrators hurled bricks torn up from pavements and set rubbish alight in the commercial district of Mong Kok.
Protest leaders said they had not received any funding from the United States government or nonprofit groups affiliated with it. Chinese officials choose to blame hidden foreign forces, they argued, in part because they find it difficult to accept that so many ordinary people in Hong Kong want democracy.Yet what the protest leaders claim, and what is documented fact are two different things. Accusations of US interference are based on evidence - some of which recipients of US funding have attempted to erase or hide. But even the New York Times article itself admits that:
...the National Endowment for Democracy, a nonprofit directly supported by Washington, distributed $755,000 in grants in Hong Kong in 2012, and an additional $695,000 last year, to encourage the development of democratic institutions. Some of that money was earmarked "to develop the capacity of citizens — particularly university students — to more effectively participate in the public debate on political reform."While the New York Times and Hong Kong opposition deny this funding has gone to protesters specifically, annual reports from organizations opposition members belong to reveal that it has.
Benny Tai: a law professor at the University of Hong Kong and a regular collaborator with the US NED and NDI-funded Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) also of the University of Hong Kong.
In the CCPL's 2006-2007 annual report, (PDF, since deleted) he was named as a board member - a position he has held until at least as recently as last year. In CCPL's 2011-2013 annual report (PDF, since deleted), NED subsidiary, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is listed as having provided funding to the organization to "design and implement an online Models of Universal Suffrage portal where the general public can discuss and provide feedback and ideas on which method of universal suffrage is most suitable for Hong Kong."
In CCPL's annual report for 2013-2014 (PDF, since deleted), Tai is not listed as a board member but is listed as participating in at least 3 conferences organized by CCPL, and as heading at least one of CCPL's projects. At least one conference has him speaking side-by-side another prominent "Occupy Central" figure, Audrey Eu. The 2013-2014 annual report also lists NDI as funding CCPL's "Design Democracy Hong Kong" website.
Joshua Wong: "Occupy Central" leader and secretary general of the "Demosisto" party. While Wong and other have attempted to deny any links to Washington, Wong would literally travel to Washington once the protests concluded to pick up an award for his efforts from NED subsidiary, Freedom House.
Audrey Eu Yuet-mee: the Civic Party chairwoman, who in addition to speaking at CCPL-NDI functions side-by-side with Benny Tai, is entwined with the US State Department and its NDI elsewhere. She regularly attends forums sponsored by NED and its subsidiary NDI. In 2009 she was a featured speaker at an NDI sponsored public policy forum hosted by "SynergyNet," also funded by NDI. In 2012 she was a guest speaker at the NDI-funded Women's Centre "International Women's Day" event, hosted by the Hong Kong Council of Women (HKCW) which is also annually funded by the NDI.
Martin Lee: a senior leader of the Occupy Central movement. Lee organized and physically led protest marches. He also regularly delivered speeches according to the South China Morning Post. But before leading the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong, he and Anson Chan were in Washington D.C. before the NED soliciting US assistance (video).
During a talk in Washington titled, "Why Democracy in Hong Kong Matters," Lee and Chan would lay out the entire "Occupy Central" narrative about independence from Beijing and a desire for self-governance before an American audience representing a foreign government Lee, Chan, and their entire opposition are ironically very much dependent on. NED would eventually release a statement claiming that it has never aided Lee or Chan, nor were Lee or Chan leaders of the "Occupy Central" movement.
But by 2015, after "Occupy Central" was over, NED subsidiary Freedom House would not only invite Benny Tai and Joshua Wong to Washington, but also Martin Lee in an event acknowledging the three as "Hong Kong democracy leaders." All three would take to the stage with their signature yellow umbrellas, representing their roles in the "Occupy Central" protests, and of course - exposing NED's lie denying Lee's leadership role in the protests. Additionally, multiple leaked US diplomatic cables (here, here, and here) indicate that Martin Lee has been in close contact with the US government for years, and regularly asked for and received various forms of aid.Interestingly enough, much of the evidence was first exposed by independent bloggers. Evidence that was picked up by larger media networks was admitted to. Other evidence that was not, has since been deleted. One wonders if the evidence had not contradicted denials by "Occupy Central" leaders regarding US funding, why would they have systematically deleted entire webpages and even annual reports from the Internet.
The photos, published by news website Bastille Post on Wednesday night, showed three members of the group -- including Edward Leung Tin-kei and Ray Wong Toi-yeung -- meeting two consulate staffers. The quintet reportedly chatted for around an hour and a half, speaking in Putonghua at times, before going their separate ways.And of course, foreign forces - specifically Washington - is confirmed to have been funding and backing virtually every aspect of the 2014 protests.
Some mainland media and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying have both claimed that there were foreign forces behind the city's pro-democracy protests of 2014.
I think it's perfectly normal to meet with consulates of different countries. I know it is a practice for consulates of different countries to meet and communicate with civil organizers and politicians. Our meeting with the US consulate was not private. It took place at a rather public setting.
In the past, for them to understand localists and us, they did it through foreign media and (other) media. But most of the media have established views, or are bias in order to create news value. I guess the most direct way is for us to tell them our beliefs and stances.When asked if he had been approached by other consulates apart from the US, he replied while laughing:
Yes, but I cannot discuss that.Virtually every comment Ray Wong made was untrue. Had photos of his and Edward Leung's meeting not been leaked online, he and the rest of Hong Kong Indigenous would have categorically denied any ties or meetings with the US government - just as many other Occupy Central groups have attempted to do.
People were angry at a draft law that would allow 99-year concessions in planned special economic zones, which some view as sweetheart deals for foreign and specifically Chinese firms.Though the Post and others across the Western mainstream media claimed the protests were "peaceful," they eventually spiralled out of control resulting in assaults on police and vandalism of public buildings.
Quynh, a single mother of two, had given interviews to Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, her lawyer Vo An Don said. She founded a network of bloggers in her homeland and has written about deaths in police custody, environmental disasters and human rights.Other US-European sponsored opposition figures include Nguyen Van Dai who heads the so-called "Brotherhood for Democracy," another transparently US-funded and directed front aimed at pressuring, destabilising, co-opting and/or overthrowing Vietnam's political order.
She received the Woman of Courage award at the U.S. State Department in March this year, presented by Melania Trump. Vietnam said the award "was not appropriate and of no benefit to the development of the relations between the two countries", the Guardian reported.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is greatly troubled by the arrest in Vietnam of Le Quoc Quan. Le Quoc Quan, a lawyer, has recently been in residence at NED on a congressionally-funded Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship, pursuing independent research on the role of civil society in emerging democracies. He was arrested on March 8 in his hometown in Nghe An province, only 4 days after his return from Washington to Vietnam. At this time, Le Quoc Quan's whereabouts are unknown, and there are no public charges against him.Frontline Defenders, a front funded by Western governments and corporate foundations like George Soros' Open Society, would mention Le Quoc Quan's anti-Chinese activities, stating that:
"It is a deep insult to the United States that the Vietnamese regime would harass someone in this way who has just participated in a citizen exchange program supported by the US Congress and Department of State," said NED President Carl Gershman. "Le Quoc Quan is someone who is optimistic about the future of his country, who is most concerned about improving the lives of his fellow citizens, and who is nothing if not a Vietnamese patriot."
As well as providing legal representation to those who are persecuted for claiming their rights, Le Quoc Quan runs a blog. In this blog he writes about various issues including civil rights, political pluralism and religious freedom. He has also participated in a number of protests against China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.It is clear that Vietnam's so-called opposition is in no way "nationalist," and merely opposes Chinese interests in Vietnam because Washington opposes them. By taking US and European funding and carrying out Western directives, they are actively undermining Vietnam's sovereignty, not upholding it.
...a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.Mattis would draw heavily from the NDS document throughout his opening remarks and repeatedly during the following question and answer session.
In Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual Asian security conference that this year includes defense ministers and military chiefs from more than 20 countries including U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, [John Harris, chief executive officer of Raytheon International Inc.] said "last year about 32 percent of our sales were international and 30 percent of that was here in the Asia Pacific region. We see this as a growth market."The article also noted:
Harris [said] some of that growth was coming from emerging regional customers, and from providing new capabilities to longstanding customers such as South Korea and Japan, which continue to pursue their defensive capabilities even as they endorse Trump's efforts to seek a deal for North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal.Bloomberg's article highlights the intertwined relationship between security risks the US intentionally cultivates throughout the region and the profits of US and European arms manufacturers like Raytheon.
A generation from now, we will be judged on whether we successfully integrated rising powers, while increasing economic prosperity, maintaining international cooperation, based on agreed-upon rules and norms, protecting fundamental rights of our peoples and avoiding conflict.The integration of rising powers refers directly to China and its integration into the US-led world order. This is not merely drawn from the 2018 NDS, it is a decades-long agenda US special interests have pursued and articulated in policy papers for years.
The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it. And it is poorly suited to the needs of a Chinese dictatorship trying to maintain power at home and increase its clout abroad. Chinese leaders chafe at the constraints on them and worry that they must change the rules of the international system before the international system changes them.Kagan would mention the necessity to both contain China and begin integrating into the US-made and led world order. However, Kagan himself is merely echoing US policy objectives stretching back even earlier, including the US Department of Defense's Pentagon Papers released in 1969.
...the February decision to bomb North Vietnam and the July approval of Phase I deployments make sense only if they are in support of a long-run United States policy to contain China.It also claims:
China—like Germany in 1917, like Germany in the West and Japan in the East in the late 30′s, and like the USSR in 1947—looms as a major power threatening to undercut our importance and effectiveness in the world and, more remotely but more menacingly, to organize all of Asia against us.And finally, it outlines the immense regional theater the US was engaged in against China at the time by stating:
...there are three fronts to a long-run effort to contain China (realizing that the USSR "contains" China on the north and northwest): (a) the Japan-Korea front; (b) the India-Pakistan front; and (c) the Southeast Asia front.Mattis' "Indo-Pacific" strategy is merely the latest iteration of plans aimed at "containing China." Each front mentioned in the 1969 Pentagon Papers was likewise mentioned by Mattis in relation to encircling and containing China. Mattis' remark regarding the integration of rising powers indicates the final vision Washington sees in Asia - one in which China is subordinate to a still US-dominated international order.
...this is an America that if you go back several hundred years to President Jefferson, from then one, we saw this as an opportunity out in the Pacific to and with nations. Our first Treaty of Amity was with Thailand back in the early 1800s. For 200 years we've been here. For 200 years we've watched the European colonial wave come through and then recede.And yet even a cursory grasp of the last 200 years of American history in Asia reveals precisely the opposite. The United States was - as a matter of fact - part of that European colonial wave that swept through the region before the World Wars. The US invaded, colonized, and brutally put down an independence movement in the Philippines between 1899--1902. The Philippines were not granted independence from the US until 1946.
We have watched fascism, imperialism, wash over the region, and at a great cost to many of us in this room and our forefathers it was pushed back and defeated by 1945. We watched Soviet communism as it tried to push into the region, and the Cold Ware blunted stopped and rolled that back, so we have been here. We have seen those who want to dominate the region come and watch them go, and we've stood with you.
So this is not about one decision at this point in time. This is not about any areas that we may find uncommon right now, and we may be dealing with in unusual ways, but the bottom line is, that we have been through thick and thin, we have stood with nations, and they all recognize today, we believe in the free, and independent and sovereign nations out here.
Beijing is trying to end the long-running conflicts along its border with Myanmar — but only because it can't exploit the region's resources at will anymore.
In 2015, elections raised up the Nationwide League for Democracy, an opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, though the military retained control of important ministries and substantial influence in the parliament through a new constitution. Instead of a client state on its southwestern border, China had to deal with a government that was keen to find great powers to balance Beijing's influence.Of course, those "great powers" being referred to reside in Washington, London, and Brussels. And despite hopes that Myanmar would bend entirely before the West, it appears that many deals are still being pursued by Beijing and there are still receptive parties in Myanmar working to meet Beijing half way.
China's hopes to restart the [Myitsone] dam were complicated by a resumption of fighting between the KIA and Myanmar's military after a cease-fire had broken down after two decades in 2011, shortly before the dam was put on hold. The instability has often closed the border and threatened China's huge business interests in timber, gold, and jade.Repeated claims that Myanmar is now a "democracy," and that China must answer to protests and opposition to their projects, sidesteps the fact that opposition to Chinese projects is anything but "democracy" in action. Those behind these protests are funded and directed by US and UK government organizations.
An unusual aspect of this case is the role grassroots organizations have played in opposing the dam, which speaks to the growing strength of civil society groups in Kachin State, including recipients of [US] Embassy small grants.KDNG general secretary Steve Naw Aung would make a point about China's close relationship with Myanmar's military and the resistance to Chinese-led projects from the new - and very much US-UK-backed - government headed by Suu Kyi.
Prior to the outbreak of World War II, the Kachin, along with the Karen and Chin ethnic groups, comprised the overwhelming majority of local troops who served in Britain's Burmese colonial army, a force that also consisted of Gurkha from Nepal and Punjabi troops from India. The Kachin and the other groups were all considered trusted "martial races" by the colonial authorities. In contrast, Burma's colonial army had few if any members of the Burman majority, a deliberate policy of divide and rule whose legacy is still felt in the country today.The article also mentioned the US government's role in training factions of Kachin fighters during World War II, stating (emphasis added):
Although the KIO did not begin its armed insurrection against Burma's government until 1961, more than 16 years after the end of World War II, a good portion of the founding leadership of the KIO, including the group's first head Zau Seng (no relation to the aforementioned major), were veterans of the Second World War who were trained in guerrilla fighting as part of Detachment 101 operated by the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a predecessor of the CIA, or under a similar group organized by Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE) called the Kachin levies.As revealing as this is - it still enables Western governments and media to claim Kachin fighting after the World War was done on their own accord. However, a revealing history is laid out by Kachinland News in a piece titled, "The Biography of Du Kaba Lahpai Naw Seng (Part III)," which published part of a British officer's speech to his Kachin fighters at the conclusion of World War II.
You endured many hardships displaying extraordinary stamina and perseverance. Due to this, you have vanquished the more powerful, better-equipped Japanese troops despite having much less manpower. Defeating the Japanese is just the beginning of your legacy. Now to protect and safeguard the recaptured lands, we will begin creating all-Kachin Battalions.Of course, this "safeguarding" was being done on behalf of the British Empire as a means of re-consolidating control over British Burma. Those "all-Kachin Battalions" would eventually be formed and would form the foundation of Kachin militant groups now fighting in Myanmar today.
Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MeK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.Brookings would elaborate regarding its terrorist background, stating (emphasis added):
Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MeK's advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership's main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001.Brookings also mentions MEK's attacks on US servicemen and American civilian contractors, noting:
In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran.Brookings would also emphasize (emphasis added):
The group itself also appears to be undemocratic and enjoys little popularity in Iran itself. It has no political base in the country, although it appears to have an operational presence. In particular, its active participation on Saddam Husayn's side during the bitter Iran-Iraq War made the group widely loathed. In addition, many aspects of the group are cultish, and its leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, are revered to the point of obsession.Brookings would note that despite the obvious reality of MEK, the US could indeed use the terrorist organization as a proxy against Iran, but notes that:
...at the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.And in 2012, after years of lobbying, that is precisely what the US did. Regarding that decision, the US State Department's 2012 statement titled, "Delisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq" would claim:
With today's actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK's past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members.Nothing in the US State Department's statement indicates that MEK is no longer a terrorist organization. It simply notes that it has publicly - as a means of political expediency - renounced violence. It should be noted that the Brookings Institution's 2009 policy paper's mention of MEK is under a chapter titled, "Inspiring an Insurgency," inferring armed violence all but guaranteeing MEK militants will indeed be one of several fronts carrying out that violence in their capacity as US proxies.
The Secretary's decision today took into account the MEK's public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.
Close allies of U.S. President Donald Trump have told a "Free Iran" rally in Paris that the end of the Iranian regime is near and that sanctions against the country will be "greater, greater, and greater."
"We are now realistically being able to see an end to the regime in Iran," legal adviser Rudy Giuliani said on June 30 at the rally, organized by exiled opponents including the former rebel People's Mujahedin, which is banned in Iran.
Giuliani pointed to recent protests that have erupted in Iran amid continued financial hardships following Trump's decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.Thus, virtually every aspect of the 2009 Brookings paper is being openly pursued as a matter of US foreign policy, including US support for MEK - an organization that has previously killed US servicemen and American civilian contractors, and by its own supporters' admissions, is still involved in terrorism.
For more than a decade, Thailand has been wracked with color-coded street protests between the typically rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother Thaksin--who served as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006--and their mainly urban opponents, backed by the powerful royal palace, military and judiciary. The pro-Yingluck faction wear red. Their opponents wear yellow.However, this is patently untrue. In Thailand's 2011 elections, Thaksin Shinawatra's PTP won support from a mere 35% of all eligible voters. Of those that voted, PTP failed to win a popular majority. PTP's opponents include not only Bangkok, but also Thailand's central and southern provinces which are unmistakably agricultural and rural.
A slew of parties will contest the elections, but the race will chiefly pit Abhisit and his Democrat Party against the opposition Pheu Thai party, which is led remotely by wealthy businessman Thaksin Shinawatra. The elected prime minister who was ousted by the army in the 2006, Thaksin lives abroad, having fled after being convicted of corruption and given a two-year prison sentence he did not serve. Pheu Thai's campaign slogan is "Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts," and party executives acknowledge that Thaksin is expected to name his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, a businesswoman with no political experience, as the party's candidate for prime minister.Thus, a convicted criminal and fugitive led a party contesting Thailand's 2011 elections, and having won them, became the defacto prime minister of Thailand with his sister Yingluck Shinawatra merely a placeholder.
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.The article would continue by describing contracts already awarded to companies to procure this technology - and by describing the capabilities of such technology:
The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries".The article also admits:
Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions.
In what appears to be the first regional Twitter bot campaign, a flood of suspicious new followers has been reported by users across Southeast Asia and beyond, including Thailand, Myanmar Cambodia, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Sri Lanka among other places.
While it is true that the new accounts have done nothing yet, the fact that a large number of newly created accounts have popped up out of nowhere with the aim of following the region's most influential voices should be enough to concern Twitter. Especially since this is Southeast Asia, a region where Facebook is beset with controversies — from its role inciting ethnic hatred in Myanmar, to allegedly assisting censors in Vietnam, witnessing users jailed for violating lese majeste in Thailand and aiding the election of controversial Philippines leader Duterte.However, what TechCrunch failed to consider was the possibility that these bots were not created to assist local governments in defending against Western meddling depicted in the article as censorship and repression - but to aid in further meddling in the region's internal political affairs.
In ones and twos they trickle in by the minute, new followers in what's become the familiar rhythm of social media. They have authentic Thai-sounding names such as @Fah12113 or @Thanaphorn_1230. Those few that have profile photos look like any face plucked from the Thai social mediaverse.The article also noted:
Where it gets weird is that all are new accounts with no followers and, in almost all cases, no tweets. Yet each follows a few dozen accounts representing a who's who list of online influencers including journalists, media companies, scholars and celebs. Some user names are written in Thai script, but all of those have machine-generated strings such as @hjZuotIwLtiSojc and @hIrQMl1B71tIYKF as account names.
Whether the accounts are machine- or human-made, they are very locationally aware. In each country, the identities use regionally authentic names, languages and profile photos to follow local influencers.Again - Khaosod like TechCrunch - attempted to float the idea that these accounts may have been part of a plot by China or local governments to thwart Western influence and Western-backed organizations and opposition groups in the region - deflecting suspicion away from the West itself.
|Image: A recent protest featured between 80-200 protesters with media outnumbering demonstrators nearly 5-1 and police outnumbering them nearly 10-1. The protesters represent interests that have repeatedly targeted the capital with violence and bloodshed and are particularly unpopular among city residents. Bolstering protester numbers would require busing in paid demonstrators from upcountry. Conversely, it appears that the opposition finds creating nonexistent supporters online more convenient.|
Audiences worldwide have been transfixed by the Shakespearian twists and turns that saw Malaysia's opposition defeat the world's longest-ruling coalition. But the unprecedented May 9 win was also the culmination of a decades-long civil rights movement by activists who took great personal risks to bring about change.The article cites Maria Chin Abdullah who headed Malaysian street front Bersih, online media platform Malaysiakini, political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque (also known as Zunar), Malaysia Muda and legal group Lawyers for Liberty as examples of those that have finally helped make Malaysian democracy "work."
[Bersih 2.0 chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan] admitted to Bersih receiving some money from two US organisations — the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI) — for other projects, which she stressed were unrelated to the July 9 march.The article would also cite Maria Chin Abdullah as well, claiming:
Fellow Bersih steering committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah, explained that both NDI's and OSI's funding were specifically for to the electoral watchdog's delineation projects.The NDI is a subsidiary of the NED. Details of funding provided to Bersih were disclosed on the NDI's website, stating (our emphasis):
In July 2005, NDI organized a national-level workshop for party leaders on election reform. NDI has since conducted workshops across Malaysia to promote electoral reform in collaboration with Research for Social Advancement (REFSA), the secretariat for BERSIH. In 2006, NDI conducted a workshop for BERSIH that focused on pimproving the action plancs of each participating organization or political party. In 2007, NDI and BERSIH conducted a series of workshops in the politically neglected provinces of Sabah and Sarawak to educate previously disenfranchised political aspirants.It is clear that Bersih's leadership, including Maria Chin Abdullah attempted to first conceal their US government funding from the public, then attempted to downplay the implications this funding had regarding their work.
The advent of online media was vital in amplifying alternative views such as Zunar's in Malaysia where the major newspapers and broadcasters have been under tight state control. "New technology, independent websites such as Malaysiakini, and social media, have played a really important role for people who would otherwise be unable to voice their opinions," said Tricia Yeoh, an analyst from the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, a Malaysian think tank.The Diplomat also makes mention of Malaysia Muda researcher, Fadiah Nadwah Fikri. While Malaysia Muda's funding is not disclosed anywhere among its online presence, its activities include attendance at events sponsored by US NED-funded organisations.
I said Mr. Secretary you must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm. And he said, well yeah, he said but but not really, he said because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein and we didn't. And this was just after the Shia uprising in March of 91' which we had provoked and then we kept our troops on the side lines and didn't intervene. And he said, but one thing we did learn, he said, we learned that we can use our military in the region in the Middle East and the Soviets wont stop us. He said, and we have got about five or ten years to clean up those all Soviet client regimes; Syria, Iran, Iraq, - before the next great super power comes on to challenge us.And of course, that is precisely what the US embarked upon doing. General Clark would also mention a later conversation he had at the Pentagon, regarding how the US planned to use the attacks on September 11, 2001 as a pretext to expand from military operations in Afghanistan and accelerate this process to invade and overthrow the governments of at least seven other nations.
I came back to the Pentagon about six weeks later, I saw the same officer, I said why why haven't we attacked Iraq? We are sill going to attack Iraq, he said, oh sir he says, its worse than that. He said he pulled up a piece of paper of his desk, he said, I just got this memo from the Secretary of Defense's office, it says we are going to attack and destroy the governments in in seven countries in five years. We are going to start with Iraq and then we are going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran seven seven countries in five years.While all of these nations were part of a singular, cynical, hegemonic agenda, each nation has been targeted and attacked under false pretenses ranging from false accusations regarding "weapons of mass destruction," to the use of the "responsibility to protect" (R2P) - leveraging "human rights" as a pretext to intervene in wars of Washington's own engineering.
...China and Russia were indeed moving inexorably toward Western-style economic and political liberalism. Russian reform ground to a halt in the late 1990s, amid economic crisis and political chaos. Over the next 15 years, Vladimir Putin gradually re-established a governing model of increasingly undisguised political authoritarianism and ever-closer collusion between the state and major business interests.And of China, Brands claims:
China, for its part, has been happy to reap the benefits of inclusion in the global economy, even as it has increasingly sought to dominate its maritime periphery, coerce and intimidate neighbors from Vietnam to Japan, and weaken U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific.Brands uses "moving toward Western-style economic and political liberalism" as a euphemism for domination by Western institutions and the corporate-financier interests that control them. He does however obliquely admit both Russia and China's policies reflect a response to NATO's expansion toward Russia's borders and the extensive US military presence in Asia Pacific - thousands of miles from America's own shores.
The trouble here was that Russia and China were never willing fully to embrace the U.S.-led liberal order, which emphasized liberal ideas that were bound to seem threatening to dictatorial regimes -- not to mention the expansion of NATO into Moscow's former sphere of influence and the persistence of U.S. alliances and military forces all along China's East Asia periphery. And so, as Beijing and Moscow obtained, or regained, the power to contest that order, they increasingly did so.
...the U.S. needs to become both tougher and less ambitious in its approach to great-power relations and the international system. Less ambitious in the sense that it needs to set aside the notion that the liberal order will become truly global or encompass all the major powers anytime soon. And tougher in the sense of understanding that more strenuous efforts will be required to defend the existing order against the challenges that revisionist powers represent.By "revisionists" Brands is referring to nations that refuse to subordinate themselves to "US-led global integration." It is interesting to note that while the US seems to view Russia and China's refusal to subordinate themselves to a US-led international order, the US itself refuses to participate in a multipolar alternative even as an equal.
This will require taking difficult but necessary steps, such as making the military investments needed to shore up U.S. power and deterrence in Eastern Europe and the Western Pacific, and developing capabilities needed to oppose Chinese coercion and Russian political subversion of their neighbors. It will require rallying old and new partners against the threat posed by Russian and Chinese expansionism. Above all, it will mean accepting that great-power relations are entering a period of greater danger and tension, and that a willingness to accept greater costs and risks will be the price of meeting the revisionist challenge and preserving American interests.What Brands refers to as "Russian and Chinese expansionism" is in reality simply Russia and China reclaiming territory and spheres of influence they possessed both before the post-Cold War period, or before Western colonialism. This includes territory and spheres of influence in which populations speak Russian or Chinese, are within geographical proximity of Russia and China's borders, and at one time actually existed within their borders.
|Image: Hal Brands works for the CSBA, a corporate-financier funded policy think tank with a particular emphasis on the defense industry. Could an educated and informed professor like Brands be promoting a policy that will provide monetary benefits for his sponsors at the expense of American peace and prosperity in the future? Or is there another reason to promote global hegemony under the guise of "Western liberalism?"|
The White Helmets, officially known as the Syria Civil Defence, is a humanitarian organisation made up of 3,400 volunteers -- former teachers, engineers, tailors and firefighters -- who rush to pull people from the rubble when bombs rain down on Syrian civilians.
They've been credited with saving thousands of civilians during the country's continuing civil war. They have also exposed, through first-hand video footage, war crimes including a chemical attack in April. Their work was the subject of an Oscar-winning Netflix documentary and the recipient of two Nobel peace prize nominations.Indeed, the White Helmets have provided evidence of chemical weapons attacks - as noted by multiple OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) reports - but it is evidence the OPCW has never been able to verify.
...it was determined that the risk of a visit to the incident area would be prohibitive for the team. Therefore, the team could not visit the site shortly after the allegation to observe, assess, or record the location of the alleged incident, could not canvass directly for other witnesses, and could not collect environmental samples and/or remnants of the alleged munitions.This meant that all evidence and witness testimony considered by the OPCW was handed to them. The OPCW admits (emphasis added):
Through liaison with representatives of several NGOs, including Same Justice/Chemical Violations Documentation Centre Syria (CVDCS), the Syrian Civil Defence (also known as White Helmets, and hereinafter "SCD"), the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), and the Syrian Institute for Justice (SIJ), the FFM identified a number of witnesses to be interviewed. These witnesses were expected to provide testimony and potentially relevant evidence.The report admits it was the White Helmets who allegedly were first to arrive at the scene of the attack and repeatedly cites them throughout the report as the primary source of accusations regarding the attack. The report would note (emphasis added):
At the time of handover, the team was informed that all samples provided on 12 and 13 April 2017 were taken by the chemical sample unit of the SCD [White Helmets]. A member of the chemical sample unit who took the samples was present at the handover and provided information on every sample.As to what risks prevented the OPCW team from collecting the evidence itself instead, a Deutsche Welle article titled, "Death toll rises in Syria 'gas attack'," would provide a clue:
Idlib province, where Khan Sheikhun is located, is mostly controlled by the Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is dominated by the Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly known as the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front.Thus, the OPCW was not able to visit the site because it resided in territory occupied by Al Qaeda's Syrian branch, Al Nusra. This fact is also why we do not see Western media personalities on the ground embedded with their supposed "moderate rebels," because none exist.
The UK is willing to offer asylum to some of the 500 members or relatives of the Syrian volunteer civil defence forces known as the White Helmets who have been rescued from Syria and evacuated to Jordan, the Guardian has learned.Thus, allegedly, hundreds of White Helmets - who worked with and for Al Qaeda - will now be scattered across Europe and North America. However, this in itself is not the White Helmet's final performance.
The White Helmets and their families were evacuated by Israeli defence forces on Saturday night, crossing from northern Israel into Jordan at three points. The Israelis had initially put the numbers evacuated at 800, but later the figure was revised downwards by James Le Mesurier, a former MI5 officer who is considered to have founded the group in Turkey in 2013.
At this week's summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed what President Trump described as an "incredible offer" — the Kremlin would give special counsel Robert S. Mueller III access to interviews with Russians who were indicted after they allegedly hacked Democrats in 2016. In return, Russia would be allowed to question certain U.S. officials it suspects of interfering in Russian affairs.The Washington Post would compound confusion and hysteria by also claiming (emphasis added):
One of those U.S. officials is a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, a nemesis of the Kremlin because of his criticisms of Russia's human rights record.
The willingness of the White House to contemplate handing over a former U.S. ambassador for interrogation by the Kremlin drew ire and astonishment from current and former U.S. officials. Such a proposition is unheard of. So is the notion that the president may think he has the legal authority to turn anyone over to a foreign power on his own.In reality, the proposal never entailed the US or Russia handing anyone over for interrogation. Bloomberg in an article titled, "Trump 'Looks Weak' by Considering Putin's Interrogation Idea, McFaul Says," would more accurately summarize the deal, stating:
Putin proposed letting Russians observe interrogations of McFaul and other Americans. In exchange, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller could send members of his team to watch Russian questioning of 12 Russian intelligence agents indicted by a U.S. grand jury last week in connection with hacking Democratic Party email accounts and disseminating those messages before the 2016 presidential election.Americans of interest would be questioned in the United States, by Americans, merely with Russian representatives present, in exchange for American representatives travelling to Russia to watch a Russian interrogation of suspects relevant to ongoing US investigations.
We can actually permit representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can let them into the country. They will be present at questioning. In this case, there's another condition. This kind of effort should be mutual one. Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate. They would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States whom we believe — who have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia. And we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.Despite these facts, the hysteria has continued to spread in part due to a dishonest media eager to fan the flames of conflict with Russia and Western audiences eager to believe them.
...we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [IS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.There have also been more indirect admissions, in which the US and European media have claimed that large amounts of US-provided arms and cash were "accidentally" falling into the hands of IS via supposedly "moderate rebels," including when large numbers of these so-called moderate rebels would defect to IS.
Western-backed "moderate" rebels fighting jihadists in Syria are refusing to do battle and even defecting for lack of weapons and other promised support, leaders said.With them, they took US weapons including US-made TOW anti-tank missiles which eventually turned up in large numbers among IS terrorists. An earlier Telegraph article from 2012 would indirectly admit US weapons and cash were falling into Al Qaeda's Al Nusra Front's hands through similar "defections."
In October 2014 and December 2014, months after the Islamic State declared the creation of their caliphate in late June of that same year, Sujan - using the alias Peter Soren - purchased four antennas used for drones from Company 3 and a micro-turbine used in radio-controlled planes from Company 4. At Sujan's request, these two companies shipped these items direct to Sanliurfa, Turkey - a town located an hour's drive from the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad, which the Islamic State controlled, and around a two-and-half hour drive to the group's headquarters in Raqqa, Syria.The report would note that tens of thousands of dollars of drone parts were ordered and to be shipped to Sanliurfa, Turkey before being brought over the border into Syria and onward to IS territory.
Critics have called the vote a sham as the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which narrowly lost the last election, has been dissolved.
The US said the poll was "flawed".However, the BBC never explains why the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved.
"We are profoundly disappointed in the government's choice to disenfranchise millions of voters, who are rightly proud of their country's development over the past 25 years," a statement from the White House said.
The US will consider placing visa restrictions on more government officials, it added. The EU has said it is considering economic sanctions.
Sokha says he has visited the US at the government's request every year since 1993 to learn about the "democratisation process" and that "they decided" he should step aside from politics to create change in Cambodia.
"They said if we want to change the leadership, we cannot fight the top. Before changing the top level, we need to uproot the lower one. We need to change the lower level first. It is a political strategy in a democratic country," he said.
"And, the USA that has assisted me, they asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they can changed the dictator Slobodan Milosevic," he continues, referring to the former Serbian and Yugoslavian leader who resigned amid popular protests following disputed elections, and died while on trial for war crimes.
"You know Milosevic had a huge numbers of tanks. But they changed things by using this strategy, and they take this experience for me to implement in Cambodia. But no one knew about this."
"However, since we are now reaching at this stage, today I must tell you about this strategy. We will have more to continue and we will succeed."
"I do not do anything at my own will. Their experts, professors at universities in Washington, DC, Montreal, Canada, hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the dictator leader in Cambodia."
...in Washington, a panel of "witnesses" convened by the House Foreign Affairs Committee -- including Kem Sokha's daughter, Kem Monovithya -- called for additional action in response to the political crackdown. In a statement, Monovithya urged targeted financial sanctions against government officials responsible for undermining democracy. She also called on the US to suspend "any and all assistance for the central Cambodian Government", while "continuing democracy assistance programs for civil society, particularly those engaged in election-related matters".
Kem Sokha, a former Cambodian senator and official, heads the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, which is supported by U.S. government funds. The center has held public forums to hear complaints about conditions in Cambodia.Regarding Kem Monovithya herself, the Washington Post would note:
Monovitha Kem, a business school graduate and aspiring lawyer, said she would lobby U.S. and international institutions to fight Hun Sen's decision.The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) are both subsidiaries of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which, together with the US government itself, have supported myriad subversive activities within Cambodia for years.
"I would like to see the charges dropped not just for my father, but for all other activists," she said in an interview Monday. "I hope they will amend the defamation law."
Monovitha Kem has met with officials at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, the U.S. Agency for International Development and major human rights groups.
China announced a major infrastructure project in Cambodia midway through its election campaign and denounced proposed economic sanctions by the European Union on the Southeast Asian nation.Thus, while many may be tempted to defend US meddling in Cambodia as they have similar US meddling elsewhere as merely "promoting democracy" and "human rights," it is clear that US meddling in Cambodia sought to prevent China from building constructive ties with a friendly government by creating a client state that would spur Beijing in favour of Washington.
China's ambassador in Phnom Penh also attended a ruling party rally in the Cambodian capital, according to a media report.
The flurry of moves during the three-week campaign shows China is leaving nothing to chance to ensure its most loyal ally in Southeast Asia, Cambodia's long-time ruler Hun Sen, comfortably wins Sunday's poll, political analysts said.
As the army attempted to move on the camp, they were confronted by well-armed men who fired M16 and AK-47 assault rifles at them, particularly at the Khok Wua intersection on Rajdamnoen Road. They also fired grenades from M79s and threw M67 hand grenades at the soldiers. News footage and videos taken by protesters and tourists show several soldiers lying unconscious and bleeding on the ground, as well as armed men operating with a high degree of coordination and military skills. According to some accounts, they specifically aimed at the commanding officers of the army units involved in the crowd dispersal operations, sowing panic among the soldiers. Human Rights Watch investigations concluded this group consisted of Black Shirts deployed among the UDD protesters.HRW would further describe the "Black Shirts" as:
Members of these armed groups were captured on photographs and film armed with various military weapons, including AK-47 and M16 assault rifles, as well as M79 grenade launchers, during their clashes with government security forces.The HRW report includes several reports made by Western journalists at that time, many of whom would later downplay or cover up the role of the "Black Shirts" during the 2010 violence.
After she resisted intimidation by the Thai military to stay silent, the life of Natthida "Waen" Meewangpa -- a volunteer nurse who witnessed the shooting of civilians and unarmed supporters of protesting "Red Shirts" by soldiers during the 2010 political confrontations in Bangkok -- has turned to hell.HRW would not only link to its 2011 report, indifferent to the possibility that readers might read HRW's own admissions that the violence was in fact triggered by armed terrorists, not a military "crackdown," it also concludes by claiming:
So long as Natthida remains locked up, there is little prospect of justice for the victims of one of Thailand's bloodiest episodes. Worse still, soldiers and their commanders will have good reason to believe that next time around, they can again get away with murder.Yet the violence HRW is referring to and that Meewangpa claims to have witnessed, is depicted in concise detail in HRW's own 2011 report. It involved multiple gun battles between Thai troops and pro-Shinawatra terrorists around the downtown temple of Pathum Wanaram.
The "safe zone" at the temple was not in a very safe location. Wat Phatum Wanaram is very close to the Central World shopping complex, which Red Shirt arsonists were torching at the same time as crowds were fleeing into the temple. Throughout the afternoon and evening of May 19, sporadic gunfire and clashes took place in the immediate vicinity of the temple. Several foreign journalists said they saw UDD militants, some of them armed, on the street outside the temple between 2 and 4 p.m. that day.HRW's report would include testimony from Andy Buncome, a journalist for the Independent. He would be quoted as saying (my emphasis):
Around lunch time, the Red Shirt leaders said that it was all over, and asked people to go home. I went out again and probably got to the temple around 3:30 to 4 p.m. Things were calm then, but tense. Some of the malls had been set on fire....Then we heard very clear shooting. Other reporters said that the troops and Red Shirts were shooting at each other. We remained at the rear of the temple. We knew there was a curfew. So we started heading out, but we paused and went back to try and get a phone number of a monk so we could call him later. As we were leaving around 5:30, the shooting got going again. My colleagues ran to the back, but I was caught in the front, taking cover with other people. I remember thinking that I should get out of there. I was watching the number of injured pouring into the temple from outside.In other words, the shooting around the temple was not a "crackdown," it was very clearly a gun battle between armed terrorists and Thai troops. The resulting injuries, as was the case throughout the entirety of the violence, was a result of bystanders caught in the crossfire. HRW in 2011 admitted as much. HRW today, is attempting to gloss over this fact.
I don't know how I was hit or where the bullet came from. I was lying down. I could not really see the gun battle, I could only hear it. There was vast gunfire outside. The Red Shirts with guns, I think, were out in the streets. Maybe when the army was firing back at them, some of it was coming back into the temple. I could see some bullets ricocheting off the walls. It is hard to know. I could see where some of the shots were hitting and would therefore have to guess some of them were coming from the west.
Our mission is very, very clear: It is focusing on the defeat of ISIS and then helping our partners in both Iraq and Syria stabilize the situation and specifically in Iraq to help create a platform that can lead to a long-term political solution through the U.N. process.Several aspects of this statement make it clear what the US was doing in Syria to begin with, and what it seeks to do now.
If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).
The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.ISIS would take shape precisely in eastern Syria where the DIA memo had said its "Salafist" (Islamic) "principality" (State) would. It would attempt to place pressure on Damascus and isolate it - particularly from Iranian logistical efforts traversing Iraq and entering Syria along the Euphrates River before moving deeper into Syrian territory itself.
Iraq's Popular Mobilisation said missiles hit one of its positions on the Iraqi-Syrian border overnight. The paramilitary force is led by Iran-backed Shia Muslim militias and is itself fighting IS.While General Votel - when asked what the US was doing to "stop Iranian expansion into Syria," would claim the US was solely focused on fighting ISIS, it is the US' occupation of eastern Syria that prevents Syrian forces from defeating ISIS there, and allows ISIS militants to attack and undermine Iranian support for the Syrian government. It is also the US occupation of eastern Syria that has provided a perpetual pretext to and foothold from which to strike at Syrian forces and their allies directly as they struggle to keep the Syrian-Iraqi border open.
The Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear programme and its support of militant groups, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.US forces occupying nations along Iran's periphery will be a key component to both supporting covert proxy violence inside Iran, and any direct military operations launched against Iran. US troops are currently in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. US forces are also stationed in the Persian Gulf.
3D gun printing advocate Defense Distributed has emerged triumphant in a legal battle to freely publish online blueprints that could allow users to manufacture firearms.
The victory spells the end of an ongoing lawsuit against the US Department of State -- which in 2013, forced Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson to pull down files from the DEFCAD website because they violated International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) protections. The State Department argued that blueprints of Wilson's 'Liberator' pistol, which had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times, were classified as 'exports' and could therefore not be distributed according to law.
We are not engaged in the civil war. We will help to prevent, you know, the killing of innocent people.Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a personal appeal to Congress on Wednesday not to restrict the United States' support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, as the sponsors of a privileged resolution to end Washington's involvement announced that the Senate would vote on the matter next week.Support includes US intelligence gathering for Saudi operations, the sale of of US weapons to the Saudi regime, and even US aerial refueling for US-made Saudi warplanes dropping US-made munitions on Yemeni targets selected with the aid of US planners.
The war in Yemen has inspired much controversy in Congress, as lawmakers have questioned why the United States has involved itself so closely on the Saudi-backed side of a civil war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel forces. Successive presidential administrations have presented the campaign as a necessary component of the fight against terrorism and to preserve stability in the region. As Mattis put it in his letter to congressional leaders Wednesday, "withdrawing U.S. support would embolden Iran to increase its support to the Houthis, enabling further ballistic missile strikes on Saudi Arabia and threatening vital shipping lanes in the Red Sea, thereby raising the risk of a regional conflict."
The spat appeared to have been sparked last week when Canada's foreign ministry expressed its concern over the arrest of Saudi civil society and women's rights activists, in a tweet that echoed concerns previously voiced by the United Nations.The Guardian would also claim:
Saudi Arabia swiftly shot back, making plans to remove thousands of Saudi students and medical patients from Canada, and suspending the state airline's flights to and from Canada, among other actions.
...the US said it would remain on the sidelines while Saudi officials lashed out at Canada over its call to release jailed civil rights activists.Canada's feigned concern for "human rights" in Saudi Arabia comes at a time when the Canadian government continues approving of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms sales to Riyadh. This includes small arms and armored personnel carriers Saudi forces are using in their ongoing invasion and occupation of neighboring Yemen.