Sunday, 21 January 2018

Trump’s State Department Spent Over $1m in Iran to Exploit Unrest

By Nafeez Ahmed
Documents reveal ‘regime change’ aspirations pursued under cover of ‘democracy promotion’ programs
At the end of 2017, a dozen cities across Iran, including the capital Tehran, were rocked by spontaneous protests which continued into the New Year. The protests drew attention to the country’s deteriorating economic conditions, along with the regime’s abysmal human rights record.
They also paved the way for President Donald Trump’s announcement on January 12th that this would be a “last chance” for waiving US nuclear sanctions under the Iran nuclear deal for a further 60 days, after which the US would withdraw if its “disastrous flaws” cannot be fixed.
A range of recent official documents, from Congressional research to US foreign aid funding reports, throw new light on the Trump administration’s approach. The documents reveal the US government’s continued interest in triggering major political change in Iran to pull the country into the orbit of American interests. This includes the possibility of exploiting political unrest and other crises — including a worsening water crisis — to turn popular opinion against the regime.
Iran’s unrest has mostly been driven by a convergence of domestic ecological, energy and economic crises. The State Department has sought to exploit these crises to undermine the legitimacy of the regime, by funding opposition groups as well as anti-regime broadcasting to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year.
One State Department funding document, for instance, refers to a project to use Iran’s growing water crisis to drum up public anger against regime “mismanagement”. To date, US government records show that the Trump administration has spent over $1 million, at least, since 2016, on financing anti-regime activism within Iran.
The policy is not new, though. Altogether, since 2006, successive US administrations have invested tens of millions of dollars a year on ‘democracy promotion’ efforts in Iran, serving as cover for longstanding ‘regime change’ aspirations.
Much of the media programming funded by the State Department has focused on glorifying the reign of the Shah of Iran, the brutal US-UK backed dictator who was deposed by the 1979 revolution. The propaganda appears to have worked, with many participants in the latest protests calling for the Shah’s exiled son, Reza Pahlavi, to return to power in Iran.
AXIOM: New US government documents reveal that the Trump administration is intensifying efforts to undermine the Iranian regime, through a combination of diplomatic pressure, military encroachment, and continuing financing of domestic opposition groups.

Militarization of the Iran strategy

Two Congressional documents published early last year, and one released just a month before the protests, throw light on the Trump administration’s policy of escalation in Iran. The documents are research reports published by the Congressional Research Service written by Kenneth Katzman, a former CIA analyst specialising in Iran, Iraq and the Gulf states.
One document, ‘Iran’s Foreign and Defense Policies’ dated February 6, 2017, describes how the administration’s announcement placing Iran “officially on notice” could signal that “the new Administration might change US rules of engagement to include the use of deadly force in future incidents.”
The government’s decision to “at least maintain, if not increase, defense ties to the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] states” are also “pivotal to US efforts to counter Iran”:
“The Trump Administration… has returned to earlier characterizations of Iran as an adversary whose malign activities and ballistic missile tests must be met with US responses.”
The document warns that escalating indirect US pressure on Iran could lead to the pre-emptive collapse of the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA): “… military action to counter Iran’s support for the Houthis, or against Iranian ships in the Gulf — could lead to a pattern of escalation that causes a collapse of the JCPOA.”
The document also highlights the potential for an escalation of military activity to counter Iran led by the Gulf regimes:
“Factors that could force a shift in Iran’s foreign policy could include the expansion or institutionalization of a Saudi-led coalition of Arab Sunni states that might succeed in defeating movements and governments backed by Iran.”
A further Congressional document authored by Katzman titled ‘Iran: Politics, Human Rights, and US Policy’, dated February 17, 2017, provides further detail on the Trump administration’s attempts to escalate pressure on Iran.
Under the heading ‘military options’, the document notes that like Obama, President Trump has kept “potential military action against Iran” on the table, but has moved considerably closer to this option:
“The Trump Administration has not stated a position on whether it would seek to change Iran’s regime, but its characterization of Iran as a US adversary could suggest that the Administration might support efforts to oust the Iranian regime should opportunities to do so present themselves.”INSIGHT: The Trump administration’s Iran policy shift reveals an increasing willingness to support Iran regime change efforts, depending on whether the geopolitical, economic and domestic opportunities to do so materialize.

Sanitizing direct regime change with indirect ‘democracy promotion’

The report goes on to point out that while the US government has not yet pursued outright regime change, pressure to incite internal policy changes from the Iranian government is being exerted through ‘democracy promotion’ programs:
“In the absence of all-out US pursuit of regime change, successive Administrations and Congress have promoted political evolution in Iran through ‘democracy promotion’ and sanctions on Iranian human rights abuses.”
Under Congressional legislation, “Iran democracy promotion” funds have been “obligated through DRL [Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs] and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in partnership with USAID. Some of the funds have also been used for cultural exchanges, public diplomacy, and broadcasting to Iran.”
AXIOM: State Department ‘democracy promotion’ programs have been actively pursued to undermine the domestic legitimacy of the Iranian regime.

Bankrolling anti-regime propaganda

The US government’s ‘democracy promotion’ projects in Iran have focused heavily on influence through information, according to the Congressional documents.
Projects include “Iran-specific US broadcasting services such as “Radio Farda (‘tomorrow,’ in Farsi) [which] began under Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), in partnership with the Voice of America (VOA), in 2002.”
Based in Prague, Radio Farda broadcasts 24 hours a day and has 59 full time employees. Its budget is approximately $11 million per year. The document denies that any US government assistance has been provided to Iranian exile-run stations.
VOA briefings confirm that its separate Persian Service, previously called Persian News Network (PNN) costs “about $20 million per year”. The service consists of Internet, an hour of radio a day, and six hours of television rebroadcast throughout the day.
In August 2014, VOA officials told the Congressional Research Service that a greater effort was made to reach “young, educated, anti-regime Iranians who are looking for signs of US official support.” VOA Persian is now viewed weekly by nearly one-in-four adults in Iran.
AXIOM: The US government is currently spending at least $33 million a year on soft propaganda through Radio Farda and the VOA’s Persian Service to undermine Iran from within.

Looking forward to an ‘uprising’

The document further confirms that US State Department ‘democracy promotion’ programs in Iran have been escalating since 2006, including an effort to increase “the presence of Persian-speaking US diplomats in US diplomatic missions around Iran,” partly to “facilitate Iranians [to] participate in US democracy-promotion programs.”
Earlier that year, the State Department established its Office of Iranian Affairs, to channel funds to groups that could aid opposition factions within Iran. The Office, according to the new Congressional document “is reportedly engaged in contacts with US-based exile groups.”
A third Congressional document by Katzman, published in November 2017, observes that “Domestic Iranian factors could cause Iran’s foreign policy to shift.” Among these factors, the report says that:
“An uprising in Iran or other event that changes the regime could precipitate policy changes that either favor or are adverse to US interests. The unexpected departure from the scene of the Supreme Leader could change Iran’s foreign policy sharply, depending on the views of his successor.”

The National Endowment for Democracy

In addition to the tens of millions of dollars a year supporting information influence operations through some of these various media and broadcasting efforts, US government funding documents provide further information on funding for ‘democracy promotion’ efforts in recent years.
USAID and State Department records reveal that the Trump administration provided at least $1,146,196 to various opposition NGOs in Iran, from 2016 through some of 2017.
The funds were provided by the State Department through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Full data for the year 2017 is not yet available.
For context, this is considerably more than what Russian-linked actors reportedly paid Twitter, Facebook and Google combined to influence the American elections (a maximum total of around $447,100).
The NED is a non-profit organization funded by US Congress via the State Department, founded in 1983 originally to support anti-Soviet foreign political movements.
Declassified documents released by the Reagan Presidential Library confirm that then CIA director William Casey played a lead role in the NED’s establishment, seeing it as a way to provide legitimate cover to fund groups that would undermine or overthrow foreign governments inimical to US interests.
As of January 2017, the NED has been chaired by Dr Judy Shelton, who served on Trump’s economic advisory team during the 2016 presidential campaign.
For the vast majority of the projects funded in Iran, the recipient NGOs supported have not been disclosed.
The Trump administration ‘democracy promotion’ funding continues a seamless policy pursued by successive Democrat and Republican administrations. The Obama administration spent a total of $1,802,537 from 2014 to 2015.
AXIOM: From 2014 to 2017, the Obama and Trump administration spent a total of nearly $3 million (precisely, $2,948,733) through the State Department to fund opposition activists in Iran promoting a vision of ‘democracy’ aligned with US strategic interests.

Exploiting citizen discontent

NED records describing these projects show that State Department funding has gone to projects working with a range of Iranian groups on the ground.
One describes its mission being to “engage members of the Iranian intelligentsia in public deliberation on the social, economic, and political prospects of a democratic Iran”.
Another refers to the instrumentalization of human rights activism to “enhance communication and information access for Iranian activists.”
One project aims to develop and consolidate a network of “democratically minded jurists in Iran.”
A further project says its objective is “to galvanize citizens to press for greater transparency and accountability,” and yet another explains that the Iran-based grant recipient “will build the capacity of Iranian citizens to conduct community-level political process monitoring through a focused training program.”
INSIGHT: The consistent pattern with all State Department-funded ‘democracy promotion’ projects in Iran is that they target genuine issues facing Iranian citizens, but exploit them to undermine the legitimacy of the regime.
One NED project funded by the State Department in 2016, for instance, seeks to exploit Iran’s escalating water crisis to ramp up hostility toward the government. According to the NED, the project’s goal is:
“To mobilize public participation in initiatives aimed at ending widespread water mismanagement by national and local authorities. Project activities will raise civil society and public awareness of the role that authorities’ mismanagement of water has played in Iran’s current drought conditions, endeavoring to elevate the issue for debate in the public political sphere.”
The US foreign policy establishment has closely watched the impact of Iran’s water crisis over the last few years. A recent Scientific American piece, for instance, reports the observations of senior US policy wonks from the Atlantic Council and Brookings Institution, which have significant influence on high-level US foreign policy discourse.
The analysts told Scientific American that while the immediate factors behind the protests were low wages, growing mistrust of political leaders, and the collapse of financial institutions (much of which has been amplified by ongoing US-backed sanctions), underlying drivers include the impact of climate change.
Iran has experienced a cycle of intensifying extreme droughts since the 1990s, driven largely by climate change, but exacerbated by official water mismanagement. This has impacted crop production, affecting the lives of rural farmers and worsening already high unemployment rates for young people, even as the state has responded by slashing subsidies in response to mounting economic woes.
Drought conditions are expected to worsen under business-as-usual climate projections.
Meanwhile, under Iran’s new budget fuel prices are pitched to rise by 50 per cent, welfare payments to 30 million Iranians will be cut, while sponsorship of religious and clerical institutions will increase. Climate change, in other words, is amplifying an already unsustainable economic path.
INSIGHT: The role of State Department funding in successfully exploiting Iran’s various domestic crises — from environmental and economic challenges, to systematic human rights abuses — should not be overplayed. Even according toIran’s intelligence minister, “It cannot be said the entire situation was guided by foreigners.”
Having acknowledged that, however, these Congressional and State Department records do provide clear evidence of ongoing US efforts to exploit domestic grievances in Iran to undermine the regime from within.

Using human rights to promote monarchy

While the US government routinely uses Iran’s abysmal human rights record as a core justification for its anti-regime efforts, its alliance with similarly abusive Gulf regimes like Saudi Arabia — in the name of isolating and weakening the Iranian regime — discredits the idea that US policy is genuinely motivated by humanitarian or democratic considerations.
Longstanding US interests in Iran are candidly described in a 1977 research memorandum published by the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, authored by then SSI analyst and Iran specialist, Dr. Robert Ghobad Irani.
“In terms of population, resources, land, and power potential, Iran and Saudi Arabia remain the two principal centers of power in the Persian Gulf area, with Iran clearly being in the leading position. The principal significance of Iran and Saudi Arabia lies in their huge oil reserves and tremendous oil production. The Gulf area contains approximately 70 percent of the known oil reserves of the Western World and presently produces about 30 percent of the Western World’s annual oil supply. The main producers are Iran and Saudi Arabia.”
The memorandum goes on to highlight the need for the US to support a specific brand of pro-Western leadership:
“Ideally, both the United States and the USSR must improve their understanding of the rapid and complex changes that are taking place in the Gulf area. They should mutually agree to encourage moderate, pragmatic, and farsighted leaders in the area.”
The memorandum celebrated the overthrow of the democratically-elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, lamenting that his government oversaw “the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company”; and welcomed the “return to power” of the previously deposed monarch, the Shah — which was, we now know, covertly orchestrated by a coup backed by MI6 and the CIA.
According to Amnesty International in 1975, the Shah’s Iran retained “the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief.” This was not considered a problem for US strategy.
“Tehran and Riyadh, assisted by the West, will play decisive roles in maintaining a promonarchial balance of power in the Gulf region,” the US Army SSI paper said. “As long as these two major regional powers remain moderate, pro-Western, and anti-Communist, the balance of power in the Gulf area will also remain favorable to the West.”
This US vision was dramatically overturned two years later under the 1979 revolution.
A Pentagon study released in late 2017, unveiled by INSURGE, similarly conceded that the real reason for US hostility to “revolutionary forces” such as Iran or North Korea has little to do with any threat to the West, but more that they are “neither the products of, nor are they satisfied with, the contemporary order.” The key problem is that they are blocking US expansionism:
“At a minimum, they intend to destroy the reach of the US-led order into what they perceive to be their legitimate sphere of influence. They are also resolved to replace that order locally with a new rule set dictated by them.”
But the leaning toward undemocratic solutions has not waned. In early 2017, the son of the late Shah, Reza Pahlavi, was broadcast into Iran via the US government-funded VOA and Radio Farda, advocating the idea of “peaceful regime change,” through protest and civil disobedience.
Such pro-Shah Western broadcasting offers few if any criticisms of the repressions and inequality of the era, instead romanticizing it as a glorious past.
Pahlavi had previously written formally to Trump to congratulate him on winning the 2016 elections.
In the recent demonstrations, many protestors across Iran chanted pro-Shah sloganscalling for the re-instatement of monarchical rule, such as “Reza Shah, rest in peace”, “What a mistake we made by taking part in the revolution” and “Bring back the Shah”.
INSIGHT: US ‘democracy promotion’ activities in Iran have pro-Shah leanings which have resulted in many Iranian protestors calling for a return of the monarchy. This suggests that US propaganda has had a degree of success in influencing the sentiments of a significant proportion of protestors.

The way forward

The Trump administration has adopted an approach to Iran which appears designed to justify a more militarized strategy, aimed at weakening — and ultimately toppling — the incumbent regime. Generating a justification to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal seems to be a core component of this strategy.
This approach, however, only aggravates tensions, encouraging Iran to crackdown brutally on domestic democracy activists and opposition groups on the pretext that they are funded by the United States. It also threatens to destabilize an already volatile region, and take us steps closer to a nuclear confrontation.
The US government still does not appear to have learned its lesson that democracy cannot be imposed from outside.
ACTION: The US sanctions and their counterproductive impact on Iran’s economy could be acknowledged and reviewed. This could further accompany a full House or Senate inquiry into the full dimensions of the US strategy toward Iran since the 1979 revolution to identify how the policy has worsened the situation.
In the absence of a significant US change of course, other countries can — with a view to safeguard against a rapid deterioration of international security — move to leverage their relationships with the US.
ACTION: US allies and partners in Europe and beyond could exert diplomatic and economic pressure on the US to pull back from its efforts to scupper the Iran nuclear deal, an arrangement which at least demonstrates the non-emergence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Iran, equally, has failed to grasp that its increasingly draconian efforts to crackdown on public opinion and legitimate anti-regime sentiment at home only fuels this dissent.
ACTION: Iran could review and roll back its domestic police state apparatus, address its appalling human rights record, and begin to restore accountability in the way it treats its citizens. By pro-actively attempting to salvage its claim to be a ‘republic’, the government could open the way for a more active and open engagement between opposition groups and the political establishment.
On the other hand, Iran has failed to understand and manage the impact of a convergence domestic economic, energy and environmental crises.
ACTION: The Iranian authorities could commission the UN, or another agency, to conduct a wide-scale independent review of how ongoing mismanagement has exacerbated the country’s water crisis, which on a business-as-usual trajectory, will lead to intensifying national crisis in coming years. The resulting recommendations could lead to a comprehensive re-organization of the country’s agricultural and industrial enterprises to create more sustainable water policies, as well as more effective climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Iran’s democratic civil society movement should, in turn, be mindful of how legitimate opposition to the regime’s authoritarian tendencies is being actively exploited by foreign forces, whose self-serving geopolitical goals could destabilize the entire Middle East.
The irony of course is that, with the US government pursuing its anti-Iran agenda in alliance with some of the region’s most undemocratic human rights abusers, the Trumpian and Iranian regimes seem more similar everyday.
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is the founding editor of INSURGE intelligence. Nafeez is a 16-year investigative journalist, formerly of The Guardian where he reported on the geopolitics of social, economic and environmental crises. Nafeez reports on ‘global system change’ for VICE’s Motherboard, and on regional geopolitics for Middle East Eye. He has bylines in The Independent on Sunday, The Independent, The Scotsman, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, New York Observer, The New Statesman, Prospect, Le Monde diplomatique, among other places. He has twice won the Project Censored Award for his investigative reporting; twice been featured in the Evening Standard’s top 1,000 list of most influential Londoners; and won the Naples Prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award created by the President of the Republic. Nafeez is also a widely-published and cited interdisciplinary academic specializing in complex systems analysis.
Nafeez Ahmed, Investigative journalist, recovering academic, tracking the Crisis of Civilization .
This article was originally published by Medium

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“US Attempts to Blame Syrian Gov’t for Chemical Attacks Unfounded” is locked US Attempts to Blame Syrian Gov’t for Chemical Attacks Unfounded

Sputnik – 20.01.2018
The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the United States was ignoring the objective evidence of chemical weapons’ use by terrorists in Syria, targeted against the civilian population and the country’s government troops.
The ministry went on by saying that the US attempts to blame the Syrian government for the use of chemical weapons have never been grounded by any hard evidence

“The US administration is at best not showing any interest and often ignores the objective factors of terrorists using poisonous substances while fighting against government forces and civilians,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to the Russian military, Washington has failed to fulfill their obligations on the destruction of chemical weapons, preserving at least 10% of their arsenal operational.
“Following our commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention, Russia has eliminated its entire chemical warfare agents arsenal early, while the United States, using false pretexts, has at first halted and then completely stopped fulfilling its commitments due to a ‘lack of financing,’ still keeping around 10 percent of its arsenal in a combat ready condition,” the ministry added.
The statement was made after on Friday the US State Department accused Russia of seizing every opportunity to defend Syrian President Bashar Assad, who allegedly used and continues to use chemical weapons, disseminating the corresponding report at the United Nations on January 9.
Following this move, Moscow urged the UN Security Council to give assessment of US attempts to distort facts around chemical weapons use in Syria.
“All the ongoing attempts by the United States to accuse the Syrian authorities of using chemical agents during the military actions against so-called ‘opposition’ are based exclusively on the rumors from social networks, militants testimonies, and have not been supported by evidence,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has refuted allegations that chemicals had been delivered to Syria from Libyaand Iraq, noting, however, that these routes of delivery could really have been used, and the issue must be a subject to further investigation.
The Russian side reminded that it had provided facts proving that the Khan Sheikhoun chemical incident could have been plotted to damage the image of the Syrian governmental troops but this evidence was not taken into account during the investigation. The ministry also pointed out that all members of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission represented NATO states or their allies, which raises an issue of the team’s impartiality.
On October 26, the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) presented its report on the incidents in Syria’s Umm Hawsh on September 15-16, 2016 and in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4, 2017. According to the report, the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for the use of sarin in the Khan Sheikhoun incident, while the Daeshis responsible for the use of sulfur mustard in Umm Hawsh.
Russia has pointed to the absence of tangible results in the work of the OPCW-UN mission on numerous occasions. The Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations stated that the JIM’s report was based mostly on assumptions and the selective use of facts.

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مركز ثقل العالم يتّجه شرقاً وأميركا تنازع الروح في المتوسط

محمد صادق الحسيني

يناير 20, 2018

إنّ دخول الصين وروسيا في شرق المتوسط من البوابة السورية بات قادراً عملياً على خنق أساطيل الولايات المتحدة ومنعها من دخول البحر الأسود، ويكفي خطأ أميركي ثانٍ حتى يغلق عليهم المتوسط كله انطلاقاً من الجزائر باتجاه مضيق جبل طارق…!

هذا ما نطق به في هذه الساعات وزير الحرب الأميركي ماتيس عندما أعلن انّ استراتيجية بلاده الجديدة هي منافسة القوى العظمى وليس مكافحة الإرهاب…!

وإن من سمّاهما بالقوى الرجعية كالصين وروسيا هما المقصودتان في التنافس..!

ولم ينس التعريج على الدولتين «المارقتين» كوريا الشمالية وإيران الذي قال إنهما تعملان مخالفتين للقرارات الدولية..!

طبعاً، لا ننسى أن زميله في مهنة محاربة «الرجعيين» والقوى «المارقة» أي وزير الخارجية تيلرسون كان قد سبقه في الإعلان الى ان قوات بلاده باقية في العراق وسورية، لمنع عودة داعش ومكافحة النفوذ الإيراني ومساعدة السوريين في إطاحة الاسد…!

والرؤية لا تكتمل بالطبع إلا بـ«صفعة القرن»، كما صار اسمها العربي، والتي كلفت فيها القوى الرجعية العربية وهذه المرة فعلاً رجعية بالتسمية العلمية وليس الأميركية المسيّسة، والتي كلفت على ما يبدو بالضغط على الفلسطينيين ليقبلوا بتصفية قضيتهم كرمى عيون بقاء هذه الرجعية العربية حليفة الصهيونية العالمية قابضة على مقدرات الأمة بأمر عمليات أميركي صهيوني عالمي بامتياز..!

ولإكمال بعض المربعات المحيرة في الجدول لا بدّ من تذكر موضوع العاصفة الرعدية القطرية الوهمية التي اخترعها الثنائي كوشنر – محمد بن سلمان والتي يبدو أنها ستنجلي قريباً بإعلان قطر منتصرة، بعدما وقع الناتو معاهدة تعاون أمني معها، لتثبت رؤيتنا التي لطالما قلنا إنها محطة قديمة متجددة للتحشيد الاستراتيجي الأميركي الصهيوني العالمي ضد روسيا والصين وإيران …!

نعم كتبنا عن هذا مبكراً، وقبل اعلان استراتيجية أميركا «الدفاعية» الجديدة على لسان ماتيس. وقلنا إن لا تسويات أميركية مع روسيا، ولا مثل ذلك مع إيران وإن سياسة المواجهة مع محور المقاومة والصين وروسيا ستكون هي الأساس في عهد ترامب الأميركي الذي ثبت انه لا يغرّد خارج السرب، كما يتوهم البعض من العرب «الطيبين» والتقليديين، بل هو يمثل أميركا الحقيقية التي لا تريد لغيرها ان يعيش في العالم، فإما ان يكون معها وفي اطار استراتيجيتها، او تعمل للقضاء عليه وإسقاطه!

وإلا لماذا هي ضدّ حكومة الأسد التي تقاتل الإرهاب، بينما هي مع حكومة بغداد التي تحارب الإرهاب؟

أليس هذا هو الردّ الذي لمّح إليه سيد المقاومة بسؤال آخر غير هذا الذي سألناه وتمنّى على الشعب العراقي والحكومة العراقية والقوى السياسية العراقية أن يكونوا على مستوى هذا الاستحقاق الكبير؟

يبقى المحتال والمراوغ الأكبر حاكم أنقرة السلطان العثماني الجديد، الذي مع كلّ يوم يمرّ يثبت بأنه جزء من هذه الخطة العالمية للتحشيد الاستراتيجي ضدّ شرفاء العالم، عندما نتذكر ونذكّر الرأي العام بأنه هو من عمل بشكل مخاتل ليمدّ نفوذه في إطار تساكن مؤقت مع روسيا وإيران الى كلّ من قطر والسودان بقاعدتين عسكريتين ستكونان جزءاً من سياسة الناتو، وقاعدة نفوذ سياسية متقدّمة في تونس، لتشكل مثلثاً رجعياً حقيقياً في خدمة سياسة الحرب الأميركية الشريرة التي شرح خطوطها العامة الثنائي تيلرسون – ماتيس لتكون رأس الحربة في المخطط الصهيوني الأميركي ضدّ محور شرفاء العالم الذي انتفض بقوة ضدّ الأحادية الأميركية ويكاد يطردها من منطقتنا العربية والإسلامية ويحاصرها في الأطلسي كقوة بحرية تقليدية مسلوبة الأفضلية العالمية التي لطالما كانت تتغنى بها يوماً!

إنها اشارة قوية على هجوم كتلة الأورو آسيويين على أميركا الشريرة، وعلامة واضحة على انتقال مركز ثقل العالم من الغرب الى الشرق!

ونبقى نحن في محور المقاومة وانتصارنا المدوّي في كلّ من لبنان وسورية والعراق وقريباً في اليمن المنتصر بإذن الله على الرجعية العربية والانتفاضة الجماهيرية في فلسطين التي تلتحم قريباً بانتفاضة مسلحة، نبقى نحن بيضة القبان في هذا العالم المتلاطم الذي يقرع طبول الحرب..

تذكروا جيداً كلّ الكلمات التي يردّدها هذه الأيام كلّ من الامام السيد القائد في إيران وسماحة السيد حسن نصرالله وجنرال النصر قاسم سليماني، وهم يصفون انتصاراتنا الكبرى في سورية والعراق والمنطقة، وكيف يحضّرون ليل نهار للمنازلة الكبرى على أرض الرباط، لأنه سيأتي يوم على أمتنا، وهو ليس ببعيد عندما نشهد فيه كيف أنّ جموعاً من المستوطنين وأرتالاً من جيش الصهاينة تبدّل ثيابها وتستعدّ لركوب الأساطيل الأميركية قبل أن تغادر المتوسط مرة واحدة وإلى الأبد تماماً كما فعلت عصابات داعش وتعمل النصرة الآن!

إنهم يرونه بعيداً، ونراه قريباً.

الحلم بدأ يقترب من التحقق.

وماتيس وتيلرسون ومعهما سيّدهما ترامب ومن وراء وراء ترامب من حكومة العالم الصهيونية الخفية يخرّبون بيوتهم بأيديهم وأيدي المؤمنين!

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

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Israeli Intelligence behind Blast Targeted Hamas Commander in Southern Lebanon: Report

The Israeli intelligence was behind the blast which targeted one of Hamas commanders Mohammad Hamdan in Sidon in southern Lebanon on January 14, according to a report published by al-Akhbar newspaper on Saturday.
The report mentioned that the Lebanese army intelligence and the ISF Information Branch managed to identify the head of the cell which carried out the operation, adding that he is the Lebanese, Ahmad Baytiyah, who descends from Tripoli and lives in Amsterdam.
Baytiyah was recruited by the Israeli intelligence abroad before he arrived in Beirut on January 9 to prepare for the operation, according to the report which added that the security agencies are tracking the rest of the cell members in order to arrest them.

الاستخبارات الإسرائيلية نفّذت تفجير صيدا

حسن عليق

في مدة قياسية، تمكّن فرع المعلومات في قوى الأمن الداخلي من كشف كيفية تنفيذ الاستخبارات الإسرائيلية لعملية التفجير في مدينة صيدا، يوم الأحد الفائت (14 كانون الثاني 2018)، التي استهدفت القيادي في حركة المقاومة الإسلامية حماس، محمد حمدان. نجا الأخير من محاولة الاغتيال المحكمة التي نفذها عملاء للعدو، بسبب تغييره، بالصدفة، لطريقة تشغيله لمحرك السيارة.

فبدلاً من الجلوس فيها، وتشغيل المحرّك، قرر حمدان مدّ يده من خارج السيارة، وتحريك مفتاح التشغيل، فيما جسده لا يزال خارجها، ثم التحرك فوراً نحو الصندوق الخلفي للمركبة. وفور ابتعاده عن باب السائق، انفجرت العبوة الناسفة التي كانت ملصقة أسفل السيارة، تحت مقعد السائق، ليُصاب حمدان بجروح في قدميه. سريعاً، بدأت الأجهزة الأمنية التحقيق في الجريمة. وفيما تولى الجيش مسح مسرح الجريمة والمنطقة القريبة منه، بما فيها المبنى الذي يسكنه حمدان والمباني المجاورة، تولّى فرع المعلومات التحقيق في الدائرة الاوسع. وسريعاً، توصل إلى خيوط دفعته أول من أمس إلى تنفيذ مداهمات في منطقة الواجهة البحرية لبيروت، وفي مدينة طرابلس. فبعد سلسلة من التحقيقات التقنية والاستعلامية المعقّدة، تمكّن محققو «المعلومات» من تحديد المشتبه فيه الذي أدار مجموعة من الأفراد لتنفيذ محاولة الاغتيال. وتبيّن أن المشتبه فيه لبناني من طرابلس، يُدعى أحمد بَيْتيّة.

التحقيقات سمحت بالجزم بأن بيتية ومجموعته يعملون لمصلحة الاستخبارات الإسرائيلية

والأخير صاحب «سجلّ أمنيّ نظيف». لم يسبق أن أوقِف في قضايا أمنية، ولا وضعه أحد الأجهزة الأمنية على لوائح المشتبه فيهم. الرجل الذي يبلغ من العمر 38 عاماً، كان يعمل في التجارة، متنقلاً بين لبنان وهولندا. وهو أتى إلى بيروت يوم 9 كانون الثاني، عبر مطار بيروت. وكان قد استأجر شقة لمدة أسبوع في منطقة الواجهة البحرية للعاصمة، عبر موقع على الإنترنت، وزار عائلته في طرابلس يوم وصوله، ثم عاد إلى بيروت. من الأخيرة، انتقل إلى صيدا أكثر من مرة، على رأس مجموعة تنفيذية، تولت مراقبة منزل حمدان. ونفّذت المجموعة يوم 11 كانون الثاني مناورة يمكن الاستنتاج بأنها كانت محاولة للاغتيال جرى وقف تنفيذها من دون معرفة السبب.

وبحسب ما توصّل إليه المحققون، فإن بيتية ومجموعته، انتقلوا إلى صيدا فجر يوم 14 كانون الثاني، وتولى أحدهم زرع العبوة الناسفة أسفل سيارة حمدان، قرابة الثالثة والنصف فجراً. وبحسب ما توصلت إليه التحقيقات، ابتعدت المجموعة عن محيط منزل القيادي في المقاومة، بعد زرع العبوة، ثم عادت قرابة السابعة والنصف، وبقيت في انتظار نزوله من منزله إلى سيارته. وفور تفجير العبوة، غادرت المجموعة المكان، باتجاه بيروت، حيث تفرّقت. وفيما ضاع أثر باقي أفراد الشبكة، تمكّن محققو «المعلومات» من العثور على «آثار تقنية» لرأس الشبكة، في العاصمة، أدّت إلى تحديد هويته، فتبيّن أنه بيتية. الاستمرار في ملاحقة «آثاره» أوصل المحققين إلى مطار الرئيس الشهيد رفيق الحريري، فتبيّن أن بيتية غادر لبنان ليل الأحد ــ الاثنين، متوجهاً إلى أمستردام.

وتستمر تحقيقات «المعلومات» واستخبارات الجيش، لتحديد باقي أفراد الشبكة، علماً بأن مصادر تحدّثت عن وجود موقوف لدى الاستخبارات، يتحفّظ المسؤولون الأمنيون عن كشف مدى صلته بالشبكة. وقد دهم محققو «المعلومات» منزل بيتية في طرابلس، واستجوبوا عدداً من أفراد عائلته، وضبطوا وثائق ومعدات يجري تحليلها لمعرفة ما إذا كانت ستفضي إلى أدلة تساهم في كشف معلومات إضافية عن المشتبه فيه.

وعلمت «الأخبار» أن التحقيقات التي أُجريت طوال الأيام الستة الماضية سمحت بالجزم بأن بيتية ومجموعته يعملون لمصلحة الاستخبارات الإسرائيلية، وأن رأس الشبكة جنّدته هذه الاستخبارات خارج الأراضي اللبنانية. ويجري التدقيق في ما إذا كانت لديه صلات بعمليات أمنية نفّذها العدو في لبنان سابقاً.

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Palestinians Deserve - And Will Get - A More Effective Leadership

January 19, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –  BEIRUT — The crushing irony for Palestinians today is that their cause remains widely supported by over 120 governments and billions of ordinary men and women around the world, yet the Palestinian leadership is a case study in hapless incompetence that verges on national shame. This was confirmed again this week as the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) issued a policy statement after days of deliberations that is a sad example of meaningless clichés uttered by aging men whose track record of political achievement is empty — and astoundingly so, in view of the massive and sustained support around the world for Palestinian national rights.
The Central Council is supposed to fill the gap between the National Council (parliament-in-exile) that represents all Palestinians around the world, and the Executive Committee that represents the major Palestinian political factions and functions like a government cabinet, headed by the president. In fact, these three organs of government and the presidency are all moribund institutions that have neither impact nor legitimacy, for the leadership has lost touch with the ordinary Palestinians whom it is supposed to represent and serve.
So it is no surprise that after another fiery but hollow speech by President Mahmoud Abbas, the Central Council has decided to “suspend” its recognition of Israel, end security cooperation with Israel, effectively nullify the 2003 Oslo accords, and call on the world to work for the creation of a Palestinian state and end Israel’s colonization policies. These meaningless words by a powerless leadership will have no impact on anything.
It is hard to know what else to say or do in the face of such a failed leadership of a noble Palestinian people that continues to struggle, mostly nonviolently, for their peaceful statehood and end to refugeehood and exile, alongside an Israeli state that would acknowledge those rights for Palestinians. But we must do something, because simply continuing with the same inept leadership that has excluded the vast majority of Palestinians from participating in their national decision-making only guarantees that daily life conditions and future prospects for those millions of Palestinians will only worsen with every passing month — and for those in refugee camps or under Israeli siege in Gaza, it is hard to imagine how life could get any more difficult.
The Palestinians cannot force major changes in the policies of the Israeli government that continues with the same colonial, Apartheid-like policies that have defined Zionism since the 1947-48 creation of Israel and the dismemberment, disenfranchisement, and dispersal of the Palestinians. But 1.5 million Palestinians of 1948 have become nine million or so today, and they do have the power to do one thing, whether they live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, as Israeli citizens inside Israel, or throughout the diaspora around the region and the world.
They can and must re-legitimize their national leadership into a single movement that listens to all their views, represents them legitimately, reaches policy decisions on the basis of serious consultations and consensus that allows Palestinians to speak in a single voice, and engages diplomatically around the world with the full support of all Palestinians.
None of these dynamics exists today, which is why the current leadership of the PLO under Mahmoud Abbas is not taken seriously in the region or internationally — least of all by the majority of Palestinians themselves, who have looked elsewhere for leadership in the years since the Oslo process proved to be a failure and Yasser Arafat started to lose his credibility. The leaderless condition of the Palestinian people today is reflected in how the three most dramatic examples of pubic political action in recent years have occurred without any meaningful input from the PLO, or from the Palestinian Authority (PA) which administers limited services and regions in the West Bank and Gaza where Israel gives it permission to do so.
Those three examples are: the current campaign around the world to support Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old girl from a West Bank village who is detained in an Israeli jail pending a possible military court trial, because she resisted Israeli occupation and slapped an Israeli soldier; the weeks of spontaneous popular protest last summer in Arab East Jerusalem, when tens of thousands of Palestinians there defended their holy sites at the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount, for Israelis); and, the ongoing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement by civil society to pressure Israel to stop its mistreatment and human rights denials of Palestinians in the three arenas of occupied Palestine, the state of Israel, and the disapora.
Hamas’ challenge to the PLO leadership in Gaza is another sign of the PLO’s delinquency in protecting, representing, or leading the Palestinians. It is difficult now to create a whole new national leadership, given the fragmented nature of the Palestinian community. Yet the cohesion that all Palestinians feel, wherever they live, also makes it feasible to at least start consultations amongst themselves to find a way out of the current nightmare by giving fresh blood and new life and legitimacy to existing PLO organs.
There is no reason why we should suffer this ghastly fate of being plagued by a colonial Zionist Israeli state that steadily eats up our land, ignored by a mostly caring world that is otherwise preoccupied by more pressing issues, and abandoned by a Palestinian leadership that has become powerless, dependent on donors, docile, a purveyor of empty clichés, and largely incoherent. Such situations might lull some observers to see the end of the Palestine issue, while a more likely conclusion would be that this low point will mark the start of a process of re-birth for the nine million Palestinians who have never stopped struggling and working for their national rights since the 1930s. They are certainly not going to stop now, regardless of the poor quality of their current leaders.
Rami G. Khouri is senior public policy fellow and professor of journalism at the American University of Beirut, and a non-resident senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Middle East Initiative. He can be followed on Twitter @ramikhouri
Copyright ©2018 Rami G. Khouri — Distributed by Agence Global
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Sayyed Nasrallah Rejects US Presence in Iraq: We Stand by LA in Face of ’Israel’, No for Normalization

Sayyed Nasrallah Rejects US Presence in Iraq: We Stand by LA in Face of ’Israel’, No for Normalization
19-01-2018 | 19:50
Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Friday a speech in which he tackled various internal, regional topics.
Sayyed Nasrallah’s speech came during a memorial ceremony held to commemorate the martyrdom of the Resistance men in Syrian Quneitra in 2015, as well as the 40th anniversary of late Haj Fayez Mughniyeh, the father of Martyr Leader Haj Imad Mughniyeh as well, two other Resistance men as well as the grandfather of the martyr Jihad Imad Mughniyeh.
Hailing the Resistance efforts, His Eminence viewed that it should be widely known that one can’t talk about Lebanese security away from Hezbollah martyrs.
“When we talk about the reasons behind Daesh’s [Arabic Acronym for the terrorist “ISIS”/”ISIL” group] defeat, the credit goes to our martyrs, their resilient families, the wounded who are now suffering and the fighters in several arenas,” he added.
In parallel, His Eminence stressed that “the talk of the huge defeat of the American scheme in the region as well as the victories of the governments and the people of the region is due to those sacrifices of martyrs.”
Mentioning some of late Haj Fayez Mughniyeh’s traits, Sayyed Nasrallah said: “Haj Abu Imad is a modest, pure and patient believer, who spent his life supporting the Resistance’s path. He was always present among the martyrs’ families.”
“Abu Imad’s generation was divided into two, some encouraged their sons to join the Resistance, while others didn’t prevent them from doing so,” he stated, pointing out that “offering a martyr leader like Haj Imad is a blessing for the whole family. However, Haj Fayez also offered one of his grandsons.”
The Resistance Leader went on to say: “From the blessings of Haj Abu Imad’s family is to offer a man and an exceptional Resistance leader to in Lebanon and Palestine, the Marty Leader Haj Imad Mughniyeh.”
In addition, His Eminence highlighted that “Haj Abu Imad asked in his will to be buried in his hometown, Tayrdebah . He wanted his family to continue to visit their village.”
Urging the people to follow Haj Fayez’ path, Sayyed Nasrallah urged the families in Beirut to return to their ancestral towns so that they continue to remember their families and return to their homes in their original hometowns.
He also added that their existed plans by the government and the civil society to lift the burden off the capital, in terms of trash, traffic and drugs.
“We in Hezbollah are thinking about this. We want most of those who work in the south, to live in the south and those in the Bekaa to live there,” His Eminence asserted., noting that “once the issue of transportation is resolved in Lebanon, things would be easier.”
On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah rejected US fabrications of the so-called Hezbollah narco-terror network.
In this context, he rejected the baseless claims mentioned [in Politico] and the fact that the
US Justice Department formed a committee to investigate how Hezbollah is related to drugs, and how [former US President Barack] Obama opened the door for Hezbollah.

Clarifying that
“drugs are against Hezbollah values,” he confirmed that “according to Islamic doctrine, selling drugs to enemy societies such as the “Israeli” society is impermissible.”
“This is our absolute commitment,” he reiterated, noting that
“Hezbollah proved that it was successful to fight terrorism. Thus, the US seeks to paint it as a criminal organization: trafficking drugs, auto theft. This is part of the war on us.”
Meanwhile, His Eminence explained that
“Hezbollah isn’t even involved in permissible trade or investments. Hezbollah has not authorized anyone to run investment projects under its name. We don’t have any money for investment. We need money for our arms. However, there are some rich people, but this is an individual thing. Hezbollah didn’t allow anyone to speak in its name.”
He then advised US statesmen to launch a full-scale investigation into the drug-related activities of their own intelligence bodies.
Commenting on the “Israeli” announcement that the entity intends to build a wall on the border with Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that
“there are 13 disputed areas between Lebanon and “Israel”. To us, we don’t recognize “Israel”. Thus, the disputed areas are to Lebanon or Occupied Palestine.”
“The Lebanese government refused any “Israeli” move in the disputed areas,” he said, announcing that “the Resistance supports the Lebanese government Army in their position.”
To “Israel”, His Eminence sent a sounding message:
“I tell “Israel” to take the Lebanese warning’s serious. We will uphold our responsibilities in this aspect.”
On the soft normalization taking place with “Israel”, Sayyed Nasrallah said Lebanon is committed not to normalize ties.
“There are many in Lebanon who won’t allow any means of normalizing ties with “Israel”. No one is telling you we are against cinema and arts, but doing so under this pretext shows that the state isn’t committed to this principle,” he said.
In this context, His Eminence mentioned Director Stephen Spielberg’s new film “The Post”.
“The issue is not with the movie but with the director – he is on the Lebanese blacklist because he had previously announced his support for 2006 “Israeli” brutal aggression against Lebanon. He even funded this war from his money. He paid $1 million to “Israel”. And now the Lebanese are going to pay to this director and this money might go to “Israel”. He paid $1 million to Israel [after the 2006 war].”

Regarding the recent bomb that targeted Hamas official in the Southern city, Sidon, Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that “all signs indicate that “Israel” was behind the assassination attempt.”
When the Lebanese security agencies conclude their investigations and find out that “Israel” is behind the attack, we hope that it is dealt with as a violation of the Lebanese sovereignty,” His Eminence added.
According to His Eminence,
“This is a dangerous beginning. I want to warn that the attack against the Hamas official represents the beginning of a dangerous security phase in Lebanon.”
He said that the resistance will take its responsibilities in this sense.
On the coming Lebanese parliamentary elections, Sayyed Nasrallah said:
“We support the state and we are not at the point where we have entered the elections phase and hence I will leave this discussion for the next few days in another televised speech.”
“I just want to say that there is an atmosphere of accusations in the country, just to be fair I don’t think that there is anyone in Lebanon who wants to delay or annul the elections,” he stated.
However, he commented on the recent political disputes by saying: “There is no need to cause tension and say that the elections will be postponed. This country can’t be governed by isolating anyone. We had previous experiences in this context.”
“This country can only continue through dialogue, integration and coexistence, not through elimination and marginalization,” His Eminence underlined.
Back to the regional front, Sayyed Nasrallah warned that
“the Americans want to return to Iraq and Syria under the pretext of Daesh. This is while the entire world knows it was the US administration that created the Takfiri group.”
“One of the major challenges Iraqi forces are to face is to reject the presence of US forces,” he viewed.
To the Americans, His Eminence said:
“If you want not to return to our region, ask your allies in the region and the world not to support Daesh.”
He further slammed US President Donald Trump’s use of “Islamic terrorism,” noting that such a terminology clearly proves his animosity towards Islam and Muslims.
“There exists a continuous discrimination from Trump’s administration, He uses the term “Muslim terrorism” on purpose. He has now come to discriminate against the African countries and Haiti.”
In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah cautioned that
“Trump will continue to pressure Arab countries. There also appears to be Arab pressure on Palestine for a deal that has been offered to them [by the US] as long as the Palestinians refuse the deal. There are Arab regimes that continue to pressure the Palestinians to accept the little presented to them.”
Affirming the Resistance’s rejection to the American arrogance and the Zionist scheme, Sayyed Nasrallah concluded: “We have created victories and we will protect our country and side.”
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