Category Archives: U.S.
In May of this year, the United States violated an international agreement made with Russia, China, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran when it withdrew from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The thrust of this agreement, which was certified by the United Nations, regulated Iran’s nuclear development program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against that country.
The U.S. had included domestically that the president must certify to Congress every six months that Iran was in compliance, based on the findings of U.N. inspectors. During the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, he advised Congress officially that Iran was in compliance.
During President Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he often maligned the JCPOA, calling it the ‘worst deal ever’ and vowing to withdraw from it. Despite the pleas of the other nations that are a party to the JCPOA, he finally did so, after certifying compliance during the first year of his administration.
It must be noted that Trump didn’t withdraw as a result of any violation of the terms by Iran; U.N. inspectors, and the other nations involved, all agree that Iran is in complete compliance. It is the U.S., not Iran, that has violated the terms of the agreement.
As a result, the U.S. is re-imposing the sanctions that were to have been lifted with the signing of the agreement. On June 6, 2018, a lengthy article by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on National Security, was released, entitled, Protecting America from a Bad Deal: Ending U.S. Participation in the Nuclear Agreement. In it, the writers describe how it was non-binding on the U.S., and ending it was necessary for U.S. national security.
These fictions, put into a slick presentation, do not change the fact that they are fictions. An international agreement entered into by the United States, as represented by the president, is binding. If this was a bad deal, it was only so for Iran, since the U.S. was not bound to remove the sanctions it issued, despite what the deal said. So while the other nations involved were honest and direct, the U.S., as is its custom, was not.
In proposing additional sanctions, this document once again singles out the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO). In establishing this organization, the Ayatollah said this: “I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country; prepare this organization for this purpose.”
Well, is it any wonder that a society that has an ever-increasing poor population would resent another society that seeks to help the poor? By sanctioning the EIKO, the U.S. will only succeed in doing what it does best: hurting innocent people.
The rationale behind this seems to be that if things get bad enough in Iran due to U.S. sanctions, the people of Iran will rise up against their own government. This underestimates the Iranian people; again, such behavior is typical for U.S. government officials. It is, and will continue to be, clear to the people of Iran that it is not their government that is causing them problems; rather, it is the same government that supported the brutal regime of the Shah until a popular movement overthrew him.
One paragraph from the U.S. document mentioned above is instructive:
“Regular briefings by Treasury Department officials to review potential sanctions targets, including companies owned or controlled by the IRGC and Iran’s defense industry (which represent 20 percent of the total market capitalization of the Tehran Stock Exchange) and the supreme leader’s $200-billion business conglomerate, including EIKO and the bonyads (charitable trusts) where the mullahs store their money.”
Apparently, the U.S., which is so concerned about its national security that it spends more on its military than the next eight countries combined, and which is currently bombing seven countries, and attempting to destabilize at least three others, wants to deprive Iran, a country that hasn’t invaded another country since 1798 (yes that is 220 years ago), of its means of defense. The IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, is a highly-respected military organization responsible for, among other things, protecting the nation from outside forces.
Additionally, without any supporting evidence, the article states that Iran’s Supreme Leader has a “$200 billion dollar business conglomerate”, and states that the EIKO is part of it! The EIKO is an independent charitable organization.
Finally, in just this one short paragraph, the writers say that the mullahs store their money in charitable trusts. Would not these writers perhaps want to look a little closer to home, to see the way former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, use their ‘charitable organization’ for their own purposes?
A resent ‘tweet’ by one Mark Dubowitz reads the following:
It’s delusional to believe there’s legitimate business with regime & its instrumentalities including Iranian financial sector, other strategic sectors dominated by the IRGC, EIKO, foundations & other malign actors. CBI governor used his central bank to finance QF!
The effort is to erase the difference between legitimate and corrupt business links, and to make all business with #Iran illegal. Economic warfare, in other words. https://twitter.com/mdubowitz/status/1000058822768189443 …
But where is his evidence? Couldn’t one say, in reference to the U.S., that “it’s delusional to believe” there’s any legitimate reason for bombing seven countries, caging children, prevented Muslims from travelling to the U.S., and a myriad of other activities? Isn’t it ‘delusional’ to spend more on the military than that of the next eight countries combined? Is there a ‘legitimate’ reason to have nearly 1,000 military bases across the globe, including several surrounding Iran?
The U.S. will continue to malign Iran and its democratically-elected government, despite the fact that the U.S. is an oligarchy, so far removed from being a democracy that it’s farcical to refer to it as such. It will attempt to destabilize Iran through interference in its internal workings; fortunately, the IRGC is strong, and will defeat such attempts. The U.S. may even invade Iran at Israel’s insistence, regardless of the disaster that that would be for Israel, the U.S. and much of the world.
But for now, the mighty U.S., a world power with declining international influence, will attempt to strong-arm its allies to mirror its own actions, and violate the JCPOA. Thus far, those allies are not in agreement, and are encouraging continued and expanded trade with Iran. For the good of Iran and the world, it is hoped that they, and not the U.S., prevail.
In the last several days, Israeli barbarity against the Palestinians has been featured in the news like never before. The U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, in violation of international law, assisted in publicizing Israel’s crimes. It’s important to understand why this change in favor of Palestine is so important, not only for Palestinians, but for human rights and international law.
In 1948, the newly-minted United Nations gave over 50% of the nation of Palestine to establish Israel. Over 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no decision in their own displacement, and no recompense. Thousands were killed.
Since that time, Israel has had no regard for Palestine’s borders, constantly stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes, displacing more Palestinians, and building illegal settlements for Israelis. International law clearly states that an occupying power cannot move its citizens permanently onto the occupied territory. Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated clearly that not one of the over 500,000 illegal settlers will ever be removed.
In the West Bank, there are roads on which only Israelis can drive. If a newly-build Israeli road crosses one used by Palestinians, the Palestinians are not permitted to even cross it.
Palestinian farmers must obtain permission from Israel to farm their own lands. That permission is often only granted after a long waiting period, after the time for planting or harvesting has passed. When farmers are able to plant on time, their crops often rot in the fields, because Israel refuses permission to harvest them.
In Israel, there is one set of laws governing Israelis, and another governing Arabs. Penalties for crimes committed by Arabs are far more severe than those for the same crimes committed by Israelis. Palestinian children who are accused of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers can spend 15 years in prison. Israeli soldiers, filmed shooting unarmed Palestinian teens in the back, face no consequences whatever.
The West Bank is full of checkpoints, staffed by Israelis and arbitrarily opened and closed. These arbitrary openings and closings turn what should be a short commute to school or work into an hours-long ordeal. Women in labor have been blocked from crossing, resulting in dozens of babies being born at checkpoints, without medical assistance. Many babies requiring medical attention have died because Israeli soldiers refuse to allow their mothers to take them through a checkpoint to a medical facility.
Israel has a powerful military, provided by the United States. Palestine has no army, no navy and no air force. The media is quick to report any ‘rockets’ fired into Israel by Palestine. Dr. Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, describes those rockets as ‘enhanced fireworks’. Calling them rockets, he says, serves a purpose for both Palestine and Israel. For Palestinians, they at least feel that their government is doing something on their behalf (please remember that, according to international law, an occupied people has the right to resist the occupation in any way possible); for Israel, calling them ‘rockets’ conjures up a picture of deadly missiles raining down on defenseless people.
The facts, however, tell their own story. In the last 18 years, 242 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. During that same time, nearly 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. These tolls include 134 Israeli children, and 2,167 Palestinian children.
Much criticism is directed toward Hamas, the democratically-elected government of the Gaza Strip. The United States has decreed this to be a terrorist organization. Yet after Hamas’ election, the government in the Gaza Strip worked to improve conditions there.
Hamas is criticized for not recognizing the existence of Israel. Yet Israel has been slowly destroying Palestine for decades. Hamas does not have the power to destroy Israel, yet by ‘appropriating’ more and more Palestinian land for Israeli-only housing, Israel is slowly destroying Palestine.
Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip since the election of Hamas. Shortly after Hamas’ electoral victory, an Israeli official describe Israel’s response: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” By restricting the amount of food that is able to be imported, and blocking Palestinian efforts to grow their own, Israel further oppresses the people of Palestine.
The Gaza Strip is blocked by air, sea and land, on all sides. Palestinians in Gaza wanting to visit friends or relatives in the West Bank, part of their own country, are not allowed to do so. Leaving the Strip for medical attention which isn’t available in Gaza, mainly due to Israeli restrictions on medical imports, is next to impossible.
These facts have been concealed by the U.S. and Israel for decades, partly due to the power of Israeli lobbies in the U.S. Yet as U.S. citizens learn the truth, sympathy for the Palestinians is growing. This is shown in a variety of ways. International condemnation of Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed Palestinians, even killing members of the press, is increasing. In the U.S. there is a sea change; not a single Democrat attended the recent opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Israel’s existence as a nation is an accepted reality, despite the fact that it is only 70 years old. Palestinians, whose country predates Biblical times, fight for that same recognition. Increasingly, the world is siding with Palestine, justice, international law and human rights.
Originally published by AHTribune.
‘Damascus Time’ is an exceptional story that takes place in current, war-ravaged Syria. A humanitarian flight, taking besieged people from the city of Palmyra to Damascus, piloted by an Iranian father and son, is hijacked by ISIS prisoners on board. What follows is a tragic story, demonstrating the barbaric cruelty of ISIS, and that organization’s equally barbaric perversion of Islam.
Although there are terrifying scenes of the carnage of war sprinkled throughout the movie, they help to set the scene, but the story is far more than a war story; it has many levels that are extremely timely today. The sometimes complicated relationship between fathers and sons, the deeply-felt need to respond to the call of duty, and the concept of sacrificing for the greater good are all interwoven in this story.
The viewer sees the fanaticism of ISIS members, who believe they are sent by God to establish a society molded after their perverse interpretation of Islam. Their irrationality is on full display throughout much of the movie.
The fear that innocent people suffer in any war is realistically portrayed, far beyond the sanitized versions that are so often a product of Hollywood. Blood, violent death and desperation all bring the viewer into the reality of war, to the extent possible for someone not directly involved.
Above all, the heroism that is sometimes demonstrated when ordinary people answer the call to accomplish extraordinary things is a defining feature of this movie.
Evidence today is far more than sufficient to indicate that the United States has supported ISIS in various parts of the world. Its motivation in doing so seems to be ultimately to protect Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, which is currently threatened by Iran’s growing power and influence.
While any individual or small group may take any religion and twist its teaching to serve some perverse goal – witness how the Christian ‘right’ glorifies money and war, and condemns such ‘evils’ as health care – without someone financing them, they will remain a small minority without power or influence. However, backed by the wealth of the U.S., any group can become powerful, as is witnessed by the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria. Yet with the assistance of Iran and Russia, ISIS is losing ground in Syria, even as the U.S. bombs that nation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that was more likely done by U.S. – financed ISIS than the Syrian government.
‘Damascus Time’ shows what it is that the U.S. has wrought. Innocent men, women and children are suffering and dying because of the U.S.’s bizarre geopolitical goals, and there seems to be no end in sight to U.S. financing of such terrorism.
This viewer was quickly drawn in to the movie, caring about the main characters, wanting and hoping for the best for them. The rivalries between different factions of ISIS, and the unspeakable cruelty common to all of them, was brought home for him repeatedly throughout the move.
Yet it was the main character, the Iranian pilot, that drew him in most of all; a devoted husband and father-to-be, dedicated to his wife but also to assisting the suffering people in Syria, Ali could be the gentleman next door who finds himself in a unique but extremely risky position, unable to turn his back on people who needed him.
It is hoped that in the United States, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will recognize the astounding greatness of this movie, and give it its highest honor, the Academy Award for Best Picture. That, of course, will depend on how the political wind is blowing when the nominees are selected, but this is a movie that will stay with this viewer for a long time. He hopes that it will be widely viewed, especially within the United States.
Originally published by Counterpunch.
While Syria makes progress in freeing areas of the country from foreign-supported terrorist groups, with invaluable assistance from Iran and Russia, the United States is seeking alternate ways to maintain its own presence there. The defeat of ‘rebel’ groups is not good news for the U.S., since it arms and supports them, and has done so for years.
Now it is being reported that an agreement between the U.S. and Turkish governments, that seeks to give some semblance of legitimacy to continued U.S. presence in Syria, has been reached.
Turkey, like the U.S., is seeking to remove Kurds from Syrian areas, such as Afrin, where the Kurds gained control after ISIL was driven out. A Russian news outlet reported that U.S. and Turkish forces would occupy that area of Syria, once the Kurds are removed, and that Turkey will be represented in Afrin by the so-called Free Syrian Army, a western-financed terrorist group that was established with the sole purpose of overthrowing the legitimately-elected government of Bashar al-Assad. If the U.S. and Turkey do take control of Afrin, it will become the center of terrorist activity in Syria.
It is puzzling to consider how two nations can come to any kind of agreement on the partial occupation of another nation. U.S. presence in Syria violates the internationally-recognized sovereignty of the Syrian nation. U.S. support for groups in Syria that seek the overthrow of that government does the same. Yet government officials from Turkey and the U.S. discuss Syria as if it is theirs to divide however they choose.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon, in December, said this: “We are going to maintain our commitment on the ground as long as we need to, to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.” This is typical of the black-is-white and white-is-black rhetoric of U.S. government spokespeople. Which partners are they supporting? They are supporting those, such as Israel, who seek to destabilize the Middle East. And the best thing the U.S. could do to “prevent the return of terrorist groups” is to remove all U.S. support for those groups, remove all U.S. soldiers from Syria, and assure that none ever set foot there again. It can also stop bombing Syria, and cease all efforts to overthrow the government of Syria. U.S. actions in and toward Syria are classic examples of the worst kind of terrorism.
U.S. spokespeople had been saying that the U.S. will maintain a presence in Syria, even after ISIL is defeated, proclaiming that it must do so to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region. Yet the government of Syria has in no way agreed to allow the U.S. to be there today, let alone to remain in Syria at any time in the future. And there is no reason to think that Syria’s government will ever do so, considering the destruction, death and unspeakable suffering that the U.S. has caused, and continues to cause, in Syria.
The U.S. is forever declaiming Iran’s growing influence, as if that is a dangerous and negative thing for the Middle East and the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike the U.S., which has been at war for 225 years of its 242 – year existence, Iran has not invaded another nation since 1798. The U.S. has invaded and/or otherwise destabilized several nations in the Middle East, and is currently at war with Afghanistan, and still has troops in Iraq, which it invaded and occupied early in the current millennium, destroying the infrastructure, ushering that nation to the brink of civil war, and killing at least 2,000,000 people. The U.S. is currently bombing at least seven countries. Nowhere on the planet does any nation want U.S. ‘influence’.
A partial list of independent nations victimized by U.S. violence is the following: Syria, Iran, Guatemala, Tibet, Indonesia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Vietnam, Brazil, Ghana, Chile, Afghanistan, Turkey, Poland, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Angola, Philipp9ines, Iraq, Venezuela, Palestine, Somalia, Libya. Please note that this is not a complete list, only covers U.S. aggression from 1949 to the present, and several of the countries listed have been targeted multiple times by the U.S. since the second half of the twentieth century.
Compare and contrast that record to that of Iran, a nation which has successfully defended itself from its enemies, and which aids its allies, as it is doing in Syria today. Iran does not have military bases around the world; the U.S. has close to 1,000 of them, often in countries where the people do not want them. The U.S. uses its military and intelligence to thwart free elections; foment rebellion; overthrow governments and bring death and suffering wherever it is, including within its own borders. Its contempt for international law is matched by no other nation, with the exception of Israel.
The spokesman referenced above also reiterated, incredibly, that the U.S. is assisting its allies in fighting ISIL.
That the U.S. supports ISIL and other terrorist groups can no longer be denied; the evidence is far too overwhelming. The U.S. arms and trains ISIL, and that organization also gets assistance from Israel. Using fighting ISIL as a reason to remain in Syria, against the wishes of the sovereign Syrian government, is a bold-faced lie.
What the United States government will do next, domestically or on the international stage, is unknown. The erratic and unpredictable Donald Trump seems to have few deeply held convictions, but those he does hold appear to be fraught with danger. He believes in U.S. supremacy in all areas; the need to use violent force to assure that the world is ordered to his liking is another core belief. He seems to think that wealth and power are better ‘virtues’ than fairness and equality, as is demonstrated by his full and uncompromising support of apartheid Israel. The concepts of human rights and international law have no importance to him, because of his belief that the U.S. way is sperior to every alternative.
Domestically, he governs for the rich, white class that supports him from the top, caring noting for civil rights, public education, affordability of higher education, assistance to the poor, universal health care or national infrastructure.
As the economies of China, India and other nations grow, and as the military power of Iran, and its influence around the world, continue to increase, the U.S. finds itself in the position of a world power in decline. This is always dangerous, like a wounded animal that knows it is vulnerable, and therefore lashes out at anything nearby. Add to that an unqualified, violent, egotistical president, and the formula for international catastrophe is very great.
With the demonstrations that began on Land Day ongoing, and Israel continuing its brutal, illegal, inhumane repression of the Palestinians, much of the world remains silent. Even other mainly Muslim, Arab countries seem to look the other way, as another Arab country suffers at the hands of its Zionist oppressor.
This tragic and criminal situation was addressed recently by the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. He stated that “One grave danger, which is threatening the world of Islam today, is undermining the important issue of Palestine and consigning it to oblivion”.
Why is this? Why is the brutal, decades-long, criminal occupation of Palestine by the Zionist entity a threat to the world of Islam?
People and nations need to know their enemies, and Zionism has demonstrated itself to be the enemy of Islam. As the Ayatollah said: “An Islamic country has been completely occupied, not a small strip of land, city or village, but an entire country!” Not only is it occupied, but the people of Palestine are oppressed unlike any others, and have been for generations.
Where is the international outrage from these Arab countries, as the Land Day demonstrations have been disrupted by Israel, wherein at least 18 innocent, unarmed Palestinians have been killed? Palestinians are demonstrating on their own land (we will assume, for the sake of discussion, that Israel has some international legitimacy), not in Israel. Yet Zionist-entity terrorists murder them, and drop tear-gas on peaceful protestors, who are simply demanding rights guaranteed to them by international law.
But Arab nations are mostly, although not completely, silent. Most of them, to again quote the Ayatollah, “… behave, speak and act, in ways that culminate with the issue of Palestine being ignored and consigned to oblivion”. If the Zionist entity is allowed to so victimize Palestine, will it stop there? Or will Syria and Iraq be next? Will Turkey be safe?
Saudi Arabia may believe itself to be safe because of its support of the Zionist regime. Its current leader, Mohammed bin Salman, speaks disparagingly of Palestine, Iran and even the Ayatollah, while it praises Israel. Yet Israel, aligned so closely with the United States, cannot be trusted any more than the violent, brutal, terrorist regime of the U.S. can be trusted. Israel has set its sights on dominating the Middle East, and any current rapprochement with Saudi Arabia will only be temporary.
In his recent speech, the Ayatollah also said that “Palestine is the primary issue of the Islamic world”. If Palestine is allowed to be occupied out of existence, the rest of the Islamic world is not safe. Israeli government officials and spokespeople are forever proclaiming that any opposition to Israel or its racist, apartheid policies is a threat to its very existence. Yet, for decades, it has been stealing Palestinian land, bulldozing Palestinian homes to make room for the construction of Israel-only residences, stealing Palestinian natural resources, and killing innocent, unarmed Palestinian men, women and children. It is Palestine’s existence that is under threat, not Israel’s.
The actions of U.S. President Donald Trump should also alarm the leaders of all Arab, mostly Muslim nations. He has attempted to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and that may be the most benign of his hateful and hate-filled actions. In opposition to international law, and the consensus of the international community, he has declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This decision has been condemned around the world, in the seats of nearly all the governments of the world except that of Israel.
The U.S. government gives Israel $4 billion in aid every year, more than it gives to all other nations combined. This, while schools in the U.S. are crumbling, the infrastructure is failing, one major city has been without clean water for at least three years, and at least 20% of its own population lives in poverty. It’s partiality to Israel should alarm other nations in the Middle East.
Additionally, Trump is expected to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international agreement that regulates Iran’s nuclear development (not that such an agreement was ever needed; Iran’s spokespeople have always said that their nuclear development program is for peaceful purposes, unlike the nuclear development programs of the U.S. and Israel). In exchange for signing the agreement, unjust sanctions issued against Iran were lifted. Now, again in defiance of the international community, Trump is threatening to withdraw from this agreement.
Trump’s hostility to Arab nations, and to Islam, is on full display. The U.S. is bombing several, mostly-Islamic nations. Those nations being so victimized are well aware of U.S. violence and evil, as that nation’s bombs kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, mostly ‘non-combatants’. Other nations, not currently feeling the deadly impact of U.S. bombs, must understand the potential peril to themselves, as they witness all that the U.S. currently perpetrates.
The cause of Palestine is the human rights issue of this generation. Around the world, the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement grows in strength, even as the U.S. and other nations attempt to ban it (in the U.S., such a ban violates the U.S. Constitution). It is long past time for other Arab nations to follow the lead of Iran in supporting the struggles of the Palestinian people. They must look to Palestine as an example of their own future. They can control that future by assisting the Palestinian people in shedding the oppressive hand of occupation, and becoming, once again, a free and prosperous nation. If they ignore Palestine, than a future of war, occupation and genocide awaits them, all at the hands of Israel and the U.S. The choice is there; the time to act is now.
The United States’ corporate-owned and thereby government-controlled media does not provide much coverage of the situation in Syria. For the U.S. government, an informed populace is a dangerous populace, so the media tells the people who and what to care about: the Olympics Games, of course, are worthy of countless hours of coverage, as is reporting on the investigation into the possibility that Russia worked with the campaign of Donald Trump to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Russia has been a popular enemy of the U.S. for decades, so this is merely a new chapter in an old but much-liked story. But U.S-caused sufferings in Syria, or Palestine, or Yemen, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, etc., etc., are not for the U.S. citizenry to concern itself with.
For years, the U.S. supported outside agitators to fight the legitimate government of Basher Al-Assad, thereby causing untold suffering for the innocent people of Syria. A year ago, the U.S. intensified its bombing of Syria to punish Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people, a charge that was not proven then, and has been completely debunked since. Even the U.S. Secretary of Defense, the disgraceful Jim Mattis, admitted in January that there was no evidence linking Assad to the use of chemical weapons.
But a lack of U.S. press coverage should not be confused with inaction in Syria. The fighting continues, with Assad’s forces, assisted by Russia and Iran, taking back more of the country from the foreign-supported ‘rebels’. The situation is complex, and we will attempt to make sense of it.
The major players are Syria, Russia, Iran, Lebanon (specifically Hezbollah) and the apartheid Zionist regime of Israel. The U.S. is still a player, but its influence has been reduced. Anywhere that U.S. political and military influence is reduced in the world can only be a good thing.
There is little that happens in the world that Israel doesn’t consider an ‘existential threat’. This includes everything from a sixteen-year-old girl slapping a heavily armed Israeli soldier/terrorist, to Iran’s support for the government of Syria. So Israel requires a safe buffer zone, either annexing lands of other countries (Israel is expert in land theft), or assuring that nations friendly to it control the areas closest to it. Unfortunately for Israel, the number of its friendly nations is constantly shrinking, so in the context of this discussion, only the U.S. and Saudi Arabia fall into that disreputable category.
With Syria growing stronger, and relying more and more on Iran, Israel is once again raising the specter of an ‘existential threat’. “Israeli officialdom sees great risk with Iran building a seaport, airport, permanent military bases or high-precision missile factories, which would enable precise attacks on key Israeli facilities.”
Does not the Iranian government have a responsibility to protect its own citizens? Iran is surrounded by forty U.S. military bases, yet one doesn’t hear members of the Iranian government screaming about existential threats. It, like every other government in the world, the opinions of Israel and the U.S. notwithstanding, is free to form alliances with other countries, trade with them, and establish military partnerships for mutual defense and protection. That Iran wishes to establish a presence in Syria is only different from the U.S. establishing a military presence in countless countries around the world in that Iran will not exploit the people of the host country in doing so.
As the situation is currently progressing, Iran’s influence will extend from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, to Lebanon. This threatens Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, a condition for which the U.S. has paid dearly in billions upon billions of tax dollars, as well as in destroying its mythical reputation as a beacon of peace, freedom and democracy.
Israel is also very concerned about Lebanon, specifically the powerful Hezbollah. Here the ‘existential threat’ is on its northern border, and any conflict between the two nations will have disastrous consequences for both. Add to the current strength of Hezbollah the power of Iran, and the Israeli government has more than adequate reason to think twice before starting a war with either nation.
Russia remains almost neutral; it has diplomatic relations with both Israel and its archenemy, Iran. Therefore, it is seen by some as being able to serve the function of peace broker, working some inexplicable magic to bring stability to the region, and prevent a wider war which would be disastrous for everyone.
Some recent articles in ‘The Crisis’ include puzzling comments that seem to reflect the U.S. perspective of denying self-determination to the people of Syria.
One article states that Russia should broker an agreement between Israel and Iran that would remain in effect “pending a deal on the country’s (Syria’s) future”.
Who, other than the Syrian people, should be charged with making such a deal? Why would this be the responsibility of any outside entity?
The writer of that article also asks this question: “…will the regime make good on its vow to retake the whole country, including the south west?”. One must ask: why would it not? Foreign-sponsored rebels have caused havoc and suffering throughout Syria for years, taking possession of various part of the country. Syria, with assistance from Russia and Iran, has taken back most of the country. Why would it not “make good on its vow to retake the whole country” from those who have stolen parts of it, killed and terrorized its people, and deprived them of self-government?
Another statement regarding some fantastic deal to be arranged by Russia is equally puzzling: “The best currently anticipated outcome would be a deal whereby Iran and its partners forego building major military infrastructure, including but not only in Syria’s south west, but retain significant influence in the country through other means”. This indicates that Iran will give up something, but get nothing in return; the article doesn’t suggest what apartheid Israel might surrender in exchange for this deal.
On January 9 of this year, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made this most amazing statement: “We support a free and democratic Lebanon, free of the influence of others. And we know that the Lebanese Hezbollah is influenced by Iran. This influence we think is unhelpful for Lebanon’s long-term future”. This is a puzzling statement from a U.S. politician. Between November 29, 2010 and November 28, 2016, pro-Israel lobbies donated at least $14,169,515.00 to U.S. senators. Between November 29, 2014 and November 28, 2016, those same lobbies contributed $5,863,292.00 to U.S. members of the House of Representatives. Tillerson’s hypocrisy is astounding. One might slightly reword his statement to make it accurate: “We support a free and democratic United States, free of the influence of others. And we know that the U.S. government is influenced by Israel. This influence we think is unhelpful for the U.S.’s long-term future”.
Israel, the Middle East’s major troublemaker, continues to deal with its own internal problems, increasing its official racism by deporting African refugees, maintaining its brutal occupation of Palestine, and now awaiting a decision on whether or not its murderous Prime Minister will be indicted for a variety of crimes, as has been recommended by the authorities that have been investigating him. While a new war would distract the racist Israelis from these issues, the downside of such a war would probably be too costly for Israel to bear.
The best case scenario for the Middle East seems to be the one that is currently happening: decreased influence of the U.S; increasing power and influence of Iran; the Syrian government finally overcoming the outside forces that have been terrorizing the country, and Russia supporting both Syria and Iran. It is hoped that the chaos that plagues Israel, all of its own making, will be sufficient to prevent that nation from igniting the tinderbox that is the Middle East, and that with Iran and Russia growing in power and influence, the entire area can achieve a greater level of peace than it has known in decades.
Originally published in the American Herald Tribune.
On December 6, United States President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy, defied international law, and ignored the advice of virtually all its allies by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In 1995, bowing to pressure from pro-Israel lobby groups in the U.S., the U.S. Congress voted to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but included a provision that the president could waive that move every six months. Each president since then has done so; Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama all cited national security interests to waive the provision.
During Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he promised to implement this move, and now he can proclaim that he has kept a campaign promise. He did not say that the national security concerns his predecessors noted have been reduced in any way; he merely recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump has often proclaimed himself the ultimate deal-maker. Since Israel’s leaders have desperately craved this recognition of Jerusalem as its capital for decades, one might think that the ‘ultimate deal-maker’ could have obtained quite a bit in return for this move. Trump could have demanded an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip. He could have said there would be no recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until all the 500,000+ illegal settlers living on Palestinian land vacated it. Trump could have withheld recognition until all the checkpoints in the West Bank were disbanded. He could have demanded that Israel respect the pre-1967, internationally-recognized borders.
But the ‘ultimate deal maker’ did none of these things. David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator, had a different view. He said that, perhaps, “This might be the case where Trump applies a little honey now to show the Israelis he’s the most pro-Israel president ever, and then applies a little vinegar later.” With such beliefs, it is no wonder Miller failed as a negotiator. We will provide him with a brief history lesson.
In 1987, U.S Secretary of State George Shultz presented a three-point plan to resolve the underlying issues. The points were as follows:
1) The convening of an international conference;
2) A six-month negotiating period that would bring about an interim phase for Palestinian self-determination for the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and
3) A date of December, 1988 for the start of talks between Israel and Palestine for the final resolution of the conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir rejected this plan immediately, claiming, most bizarrely, that it did nothing to forward the cause of peace. In response, the U.S. issued a new memorandum, emphasizing economic and security agreements with Israel, and accelerating the delivery of seventy-five F-16 fighter jets. This, ostensibly, was to encourage Israel to accept the peace plan proposals. Yet Israel did not yield. “Instead, as an Israeli journalist commented, the message received was: ‘One may say no to America and still get a bonus.’”
So any thought that Trump was applying ‘honey’ now, and would apply ‘vinegar’ later, would be laughable, were it not so stupid.
This might be compared to Fatah requesting that Hamas surrender its weapons, with the expectation that Israel will ‘do the right thing’. Fatah has no weapons, and Israeli soldiers and settlers brutalize Palestinians with impunity. The entire history of Israel is one of brutality, savagery, injustice, murder and genocide. Its history with the United States is one of constantly taking, and giving nothing in return. That Israel has played Trump as a complete fool cannot be disputed.
What does this action mean in terms of international law? After the 1967 war, Israel annexed the entire city of Jerusalem, an action which the United Nations promptly declared null and void. All of the international community, with the exception of Israel, respected that U.N. declaration, until December 6 of this year, when Trump defied it. Trump has shown his contempt for international law before, most recently when he refused, despite all evidence supporting it, to certify that Iran was in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement sanctioned by the U.N.
Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Russia, the Vatican, Turkey, Germany, France, the U.K, China, Indonesia, Pakistan are just some of the nations whose leaders have condemned Trump’s latest international misstep. The European Union and the United Nations have done the same. With the obvious exception of Israel, no country has spoken in support of it.
Domestically, even Jewish groups oppose Trump’s decision. The head of the largest organization of Reformed Jews in the U.S., Rabbi Rick Jacobs, issued the following statement just prior to Trump’s announcement: “While we share the President’s belief that the US Embassy should… be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process. We urge the President to do everything in his power to move forward with efforts to bring true peace to the region and take no unilateral steps.”
J-Street, another U.S., pro-Israel organization, also opposed the move. J-Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that “the effect of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem prior to a negotiated agreement will be to anger key Arab allies, foment regional instability and undermine nascent U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the larger conflict. The administration should also note that only a small minority of Jewish Americans – just 20 percent – support unilaterally moving the embassy.”
Apparently, none of these considerations were important to Trump. He had promised repeatedly during the campaign to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and he has been unable to deliver on some of his other promises, most notably depriving millions of people of health care, something supported, oddly, by his base. This latest move is intended to keep his base – evangelical Christians and wealthy donors – happy.
Although Trump only became president due to the peculiar U.S. Electoral College, and despite losing the popular vote by 3 million votes, he continues to believe he is qualified to be president, and is highly popular. He has stated repeatedly that he only lost the popular vote because of voter fraud. Yet there is no evidence to support this. He dismisses polls indicating that less than 40% of the populace approves of the job he is doing. He has stated that he has accomplished more in less than a year in office than any other president, with the exception of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who, Trump concedes, had a major depression to deal with. He makes this statement despite the fact that no major or significant legislation has been passed since he became president.
Many of Trump’s decisions have been met with domestic and international opposition: his travel ban on Muslims; withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement; decertifying of the JCPOA. But the opposition to his latest disastrous decision seems stronger and more unified than has previously been seen.
Finally, the U.S. can no longer proclaim that it is an honest broker between the Palestinians and Israelis; all such pretense has now been exposed for the lie that it is. It is long past time for another nation to assume that role, and genuinely work for a peaceful resolution, which can be easily accomplished by forcing Israel to adhere to international law. If that is an outcome of Trump’s decision, than some good will come of it.
 Suleiman, Michael W., ed. U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton. Page 31.
Originally published by The American Herald Tribune.
After years of suffering and violence, Iraq and Syria now seem to be rid of Daesh, sometimes referred to as ISIS or ISIL, thanks mainly to the efforts of Iran. On Tuesday, November 21, Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani sent Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei a congratulatory message on Daesh’s defeat in these countries, and thanked him for his leadership.
Although his own work with the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) was key to this victory, Major General Soleimani also praised the armed forces of Syria and Iraq, their governments and people, in their determination to expel foreign terrorists from their countries.
While this is a great victory for peace in these war-torn countries, it is not news that is welcomed in every corner of the world. When one looks at Daesh’s founding and financing, one sees why some nations are bitterly disappointed with Major General Soleimani’s news.
A senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry’s National Cyber Security Center, Yasmina Haifi, ‘tweeted’ the following in August, 2014: “ISIS (Daesh) has nothing to do with Islam. It’s part of a plan by Zionists who are deliberately trying to blacken Islam’s name.”
The following month, a research scholar at Harvard University, Garikai Chengu, said that Daesh “is made-in-the-USA, an instrument of terror designed to divide and conquer the oil-rich Middle East and to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region.”
And herein we have the answer to many questions: the U.S. desperately wants to ‘counter Iran’s growing influence in the region’.
For decades, Israel was the Middle East’s strongest nation. Relying on $4 billion annually from the United States, it violated international law and human rights with complete impunity; it oppressed the Palestinians and stole their land, assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists, and practiced its particularly brutal version of apartheid within its ever-expanding, illegal borders.
Yet with hapless U.S. support, it slowly overstepped its bounds. Urging the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the U.S. Congress that ‘enormous benefits’ would accrue if Saddam Hussein were overthrown. In the power vacuum that that immoral and illegal invasion caused, Iran stepped in and built new ties with Iraq, which the U.S. and Israel had not anticipated.
When Israel decided that Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad must go, so that a weaker government that would bow to Israel’s demands could be installed, it didn’t anticipate Iranian and Russian support for Syria. The U.S. accommodated Israel’s demands by calling for ‘regime change’ in Syria, and supported, with arms and training, what it called ‘moderate rebels’, who were, in actuality, brutal foreign forces with no respect for human dignity, or human life. The suffering these U.S.-supported terrorists caused is beyond description.
With Iran’s influence demonstrated in Syria, to the point that U.S.-supported forces were defeated, Israel looked to block Iran’s growing geopolitical strength, by supporting the drive for Kurdish independence in northern Iraq. This, too, failed.
Perhaps the biggest tactical mistake that apartheid Israel and the oligarchy known as the United States made was underestimating the IRGC. U.S. forces quickly vanquished Iraq a decade ago; Syrian forces, on their own, would have been no match for the terrorists being supported by the U.S. Without this powerful assistance, it’s likely that Daesh would have overrun Syria, and it, like Libya and Iraq, would be in ruins, leaving Israel hegemony with little competition in the Middle East. That racist nation would then have been able to annex all of Palestine, completing the genocide it began in 1948, and which has continued to this day.
Alas for Israel, this was not meant to be! Iran, a nation that believes in self-determination and peace (Iran has not invaded another country since 1798), came to the assistance of its ally, Syria. Thus, Daesh, and Israel’s dreams for uncontested power in the Middle East, were destroyed.
Political affiliations can be unusual. It has now been reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia have been in contact to determine how best to confront Iran. Israel and Saudi Arabia have two of the most dismal human rights records in the entire Middle East; Israel is a brutal occupier, and Saudi Arabia is slaughtering Yemenis, including men, women and children, even as this is written. In Saudi Arabia, a decree was issued in September of this year, allowing women to drive; this new law is to be implemented by June 24, 2018. This very basic right is revolutionary in the oppressive nation of Saudi Arabia. In July, when this writer visited Iran, he saw as many women driving as men. Women cannot vote in Saudi Arabia; women in Iran have had that right since 1963.
It is not surprising that two nations with no interest in human rights would become allied to try to hold onto their fading power. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for the Middle East and the rest of the world, there are many factors weighing against them:
- The U.S. government is in complete disarray. While the money flow to Israel continues unabated, the current government seems unable to formulate any cohesive policy on almost anything, foreign or domestic. This is a good thing, since its policies in the past have always supported brutal dictators against the human rights of the majority.
- Israel’s isolation from the world community continues to increase. The Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement continues to negatively impact Israel’s economy, academics, athletics and reputation. The alarm that the BDS movement has caused in Israel and the United States is evidence of its strength.
- Russian power leans toward Iran, and away from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Russian officials are scheduled to meet with officials from Turkey and Iran on November 22, to discuss Syria. The U.S. has not been invited. Russia’s and Iran’s leaders apparently see no reason to involve the U.S.; the situation simply doesn’t concern the U.S. Relations between the U.S. and Russia today are at their worst point since the end of the Cold War.
- The strength of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In numbers, strategic ability and experience, the IRGC has no peer in the Middle East. Israel has nuclear weapons, but it is unlikely that any of its allies, including the United States, would support their use in a war with Iran. And while Israeli society may be slowly imploding under the weight of its own injustices, even Israel’s leaders must recognize that the use of nuclear weapons would cause a murder-suicide of historic proportions: they may destroy their target nation, but there are too many other nations that are nuclear-armed that would retaliate in kind. A nuclear attack on any other nation by Israel would mean the end of Israel. That fact hardly escapes its leaders.
- Saudi Arabia’s leaders will not formally ally with Israel unless there is a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, assuring an independent Palestinian state. Israel has no interest in accomplishing this, which will hamper its ability to work with Saudi Arabia. Even if Saudi Arabia’s leaders drop that requirement, which is not unlikely, the other issues mentioned herein are too big for Israel and Saudi Arabia to overcome.
With decreasing interference from the U.S., Syria and Iraq will rebuild, supported by Iran and Russia. U.S.-supported terrorists have been defeated there; people have begun to return to their homes, and in time, they will return to a degree of normalcy. Israel’s next move to re-establish hegemony on the international stage is anyone’s guess, but much of the world has grown tired of its barbarity and violation of international law. As its power and influence fade, and Iran’s grows, the Middle East can hope for a more peaceful future.
Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.
Saudi Arabia and Israel: Strange Bedfellows
In the swirling, ever-changing but always-corrupt world of global political maneuverings, the jockeying for position in the Middle East is currently an area of international focus. This is caused mainly because Iran’s power and influence in that area of the world has been on the increase, much to the dismay of its bitter enemies, Saudi Arabia and Israel. And whatever displeases Israel, displeases the government of the United States, thanks to the influential Israeli lobbies operating in the U.S.
We will first look at the key players in this ongoing drama: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.S.
- Iran has not invaded another nation since 1798. It has successfully defended itself against attacks, and has assisted its allies, most recently helping the democratically-elected government of Syria against foreign forces, supported by the U.S. and Israel, attempting to overthrow the government. Iran’s human rights record could be improved, but that statement is true about most of the countries on the planet.
- Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is currently assisting the U.S. in the barbaric destruction of Yemen. Only in the last day or so has it allowed humanitarian aid to enter that country, where millions of children face death by starvation. A law was recently passed in the Saudi kingdom that will allow women to drive; this must be fully implemented by 2019. Women in Iran, on the other hand, have been driving since 1963. In July of this year, this writer visited Iran, and was greatly impressed by the freedom and independence of the women he observed there. This level of freedom, as manifested not only by driving, but by educational and employment opportunities, is not present in Saudi Arabia.
- Israel, established in 1947 – 1948 on the brutal ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Palestinians, and the savage murders of at least 10,000, including men, women and children, the elderly and infants not being spared, has one of the most dismal human rights records on earth. It is an apartheid regime, with separate laws, roads and neighborhoods for Palestinians. The roads and neighborhoods are far inferior to those for Israelis, and to say that the laws that are applied only to Palestinians are Draconian is a classic understatement. Unarmed Palestinian men, women and children are routinely murdered by Israeli soldiers and settlers living illegally in occupied territories, with nearly complete impunity. At least 500,000 Israeli settlers live on Palestinian land, in violation of international law.
- The atrocities committed by Israel and Saudi Arabia are either supported and/or financed by the United States. It violates its own laws by granting aid to Israel, amounting to more than it gives all other nations combined; U.S. law states that aid cannot be given to nations that don’t meet a certain standard of human rights, a standard Israel falls far below, and aid cannot be given to undeclared nuclear nations. Domestically, the income gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is the largest of any nation in the world. Unarmed blacks are routinely shot and killed by white police officers, and any indictment for these murders is rare, with convictions even rarer. The current president was inaugurated despite losing the popular vote by more than 3,000,000 votes, mocking the very concept of democracy. Government officials appointed by the president are among the richest citizens in the country, and their policies are designed to further enrich them and their already-wealthy associates. The U.S. has been at war for over 210 years of its bloody 240-year history. Just since World War II, it is estimated that the U.S. has killed over 20,000,000 people. So while it supports the cruel, brutal regimes of foreign governments, it has not been idle in committing its own, heinous crimes.
Against this ugly background, Saudi Arabia and Israel have been holding ‘unofficial’ meetings, to determine how they can best work together to counter Iran’s growing power. The government of Saudi Arabia has long refused to recognize Israel, making such recognition contingent upon Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 borders (those established by the United Nations in 1947; the criminality and immorality of that decision is a topic for a different day), and the establishment of an independent Palestinian nation with East Jerusalem as its capital. This would require, among other things, the removal of the half-million settlers living illegally on Palestinian land, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sworn never to do; he has proclaimed that not even one will be removed, as he continues stealing Palestinian land and building more illegal settlements.
Could this be a positive development for Palestine? Does Israel want so desperately to receive diplomatic recognition from Saudi Arabia that it will agree to the terms and conditions established by international law? It seems unlikely. Saudi Arabia is just as desperate to ally with Israel against Iran, and will probably accept any Palestinian – Israeli ‘peace agreement’, despite how much it favors Israel and penalizes Palestine. Within Saudi Arabia, a clear alliance by the government with Israel, without a resolution of the Palestinian issue, would be seen as a major betrayal. And as little as the leaders of the Saudi kingdom care about their own people, they are not willing, at this point, at least, to risk a major uprising, the brutal and bloody defeat of which would be broadcast, if not through the news media, at least through social media, around the world. Those leaders could hardly then convince anyone that they need to ally with Israel to protect their people.
The U.S. has never been an honest broker between Palestine and Israel; it has always overwhelmingly favored the Zionist entity. President Donald Trump has promised to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move almost universally opposed by the international community. Thus far, he has refrained from doing so.
But he recently signed the largest weapons deal in history with Saudi Arabia; he refused to acknowledge that Iran is in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which all other signatories have done. He and his spokespeople have endorsed ‘regime change’ in Iran, while the U.S. has full diplomatic relations with the barbaric regimes of Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Peace could be achieved in the Middle East by adherence to international law; that’s all it takes. But with the involvement of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, who believe that such law does not apply to them, and the United States, which has always believed that it could create its own rules, and force others to comply while the U.S. itself ignores them at will, seeking resolution by a voluntary adherence to international law is naïve. However, with Iran increasing in power and influence across the Middle East, Israel becoming more globally ostracized, and the U.S. government in near-total disarray under the haphazard and confused leadership of Trump, there are some hopeful signs. Saudi Arabia’s potential betrayal of Palestine, and Palestine’s own weak, corrupt government, are impediments to peace and justice, but they are insufficient to prevent it. How and if Saudi Arabia and Israel align in an attempt to thwart Iran remains to be seen. But Iran does not operate in a vacuum; it, too, has powerful allies, not the least of which is Russia. In a contest of either diplomacy or war, between an allied Saudi Arabia and Israel on one side, and an allied Iran and Russia on the other, the smart betting would be on the latter.
Originally published by the American Herald Tribune.