All posts filed under: Middle East

Do you want to travel around the Middle East? Think twice!

Text and Photos by Andre Vltchek Do you think it is that simple to travel around the Middle East? Think twice! Ask Palestinians, about trying to get from a point A to a point B in their own nation. Some time ago, sitting in an old Ottoman hotel in Bethlehem, I asked a waiter what it takes to travel from there to Gaza, where he said, several of his relatives were living. He looked at me as if I had fallen from the Moon: “There is no way I could travel there. If my relatives get very sick or die, then, in theory, I could apply for an Israeli travel permit to go there, but there is absolutely no guarantee that they would approve, or that I could get to Gaza on time…” I tried to appear naïve: “And what if someone from an Arab country which does not recognize Israel, wants to come here, to Bethlehem? Like, a Lebanese pilgrim or just a tourist? Could he or she enter from Jordan?” The waiter weighed …

Trumps War by Tirade: Art of the Spiel or, How to Get Stitched?

by Dan Mallon Anyone fortunate enough to have been living under a rock for the past 16 months, would have been astounded by Trump’s Indiana speech/address/rally? Whatever it was. For the rest of us however, this has become what is called ‘business as usual’. What I assume was meant to be a celebration for Mike Braun’s victory in the Indiana Senate race, very quickly ended up being hi-jacked by the Jaffa Cake in Chief. It wasn’t a complete cringe fest however, he did allow Mike ‘interrupt’ his speech, for a second. Right before he snubbed him. Twice. Whether this was intentional or not, it was pretty funny. God forbid anyone rains on Trump’s parade. His hour long streams of consciousness were as usual, quite enlightening. However, seeing the fine people of Indiana whooping and cheering for further militarisation of their police force was truly a sight worth seeing. Who knew turkeys had such fondness for Christmas after all. Aside from Trump’s usual American flag waving – like boasting about being the only nation to have …

Watch: Norman Finkelstein on Israel as a dangerous and suicidal state

Interviewed by the BBC in 2012, Jewish intellectual Norman Finkelstein exposes the media lie about Israel as a victim of aggression by its neighbors, despite the best efforts of the – clearly out of her depth – anchor woman to keep him on message yesterday the BBC wrote: "Iran has repeatedly called for an end to the existence of the Jewish state." Norman Finkelstein explains how this is pure ideology and the exact opposite is actually true: Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran pic.twitter.com/epJMsVXgmB — ☀️👀 (@zei_nabq) May 11, 2018

Israel’s Legislature Votes War Against Syria

Eric Zuesse The key decision now will be made by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. On May 1st, Al Masdar News headlined “Netanyahu is granted the ability to wage war without the Knesset”, and reported that Israel’s Knesset or legislature had voted late on Monday night April 30th, to hand entirely to the far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to his extremely far-right Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman the decision as to whether or when to invade any country — the main actual target is Syria, but Iran and Lebanon are also in Israel’s gunsights. Israel’s newspaper Haaretz reported about this on April 30th, while explaining that this legislation was “transferring responsibility for declaring war from the full cabinet to the smaller security cabinet. The joint committee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee rejected his request but it was later voted for by the Knesset plenum.” The real change that the new law introduces is to transfer Israel’s war-making decisions away from both the Knesset and the …

How the Military Controls America

by Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Unlike corporations that sell to consumers, Lockheed Martin and the other top contractors to the U.S. Government are highly if not totally dependent upon sales to governments, for their profits, especially sales to their own government, which they control — they control their home market, which is the U.S. Government, and they use it to sell to its allied governments, all of which foreign governments constitute the export markets for their products and services. These corporations control the U.S. Government, and they control NATO. And, here is how they do it, which is essential to understand, in order to be able to make reliable sense of America’s foreign policies, such as which nations are ‘allies’ of the U.S. Government (such as Saudi Arabia and Israel), and which nations are its ‘enemies’ (such as Libya and Syria) — and are thus presumably suitable for America to invade, or else to overthrow by means of a coup. First, the nation’s head-of-state becomes demonized; then, the invasion or coup happens. And, …

Why is NATO moving its Airbase from Turkey to Jordan?

Text and Photos by Andre Vltchek, previous published by New Eastern Outlook People in the Middle East are joking, cynically: “From Incirlik, Turkey to Al-Azraq, Jordan with love.”. That is, if they pay any attention to the movement of NATO troops in this part of the world. They should. At least one substantial part of an incredibly deadly and aggressive force has been gradually relocated, from an ‘uncertain’ and according to the West suddenly ‘unreliable’ country (Turkey), to the impoverished but obedient Kingdom of Jordan. It is now clear that NATO is not sure, metaphorically speaking, which direction is Turkey going to fly in, and where it may eventually land. It is panicking and searching, ‘just in case’, for an exit strategy; almost for an escape plan from the most important regional power. Is the West really losing Turkey? Nobody knows. Most likely, nobody in Ankara is sure, either, including Mr. Erdogan. But what if … What if Erdogan moves closer to Russia, even to China? What if Turkey’s relationship with Iran improves? What if …

Documentary: Life Without Water

by Ruwaida Amer and Sanad Abu Latifa, via Electronic Intifada “We live in an area where there is no water,” says Ibrahim al-Majaida, a resident of al-Mawasi, an agricultural area near Khan Younis in the southern Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip. The average Palestinian family in Gaza receives running water only four to six hours, every three to five days, due to chronic electricity shortages resulting from Israel’s decade-long siege. This forces many to buy water from expensive and unregulated private sources. “We travel two kilometers to bring water to our homes,” al-Majaida says. More than 96 percent of Gaza’s water supply is unsafe for drinking. Desalination plants are functioning at 15 percent of their capacity due to electricity shortages. The diminished capacity of water and wastewater treatment facilities means that 108 million liters of raw sewage are being dumped into the Mediterranean Sea every day. The disrupted operation of treatment facilities has led to sewage spills in various areas of Gaza, such as al-Mawasi. “Even plants and vegetables don’t survive in it because of the contamination,” says Rasha al-Majaida, another resident of al-Mawasi. “Not even …

Trump’s Hate-Iran Campaign

by Eric Zuesse On October 19th, the far-right Foundation for Defense of Democracy (FDD) held a “National Security Summit” which featured as speakers both Donald Trump’s CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, both of them (as will be shown here by extensive excerpts from their speeches) whipping up hatred against Shia Iran and against Shia Muslims generally. They presented Shia Iran — not Sunni Saudi Arabia — as being the most dangerous source of radical Islamic terrorism. Donald Trump during his Presidential campaign had spoken frequently against ‘radical Islamic terrorism’, but everybody thought it pertained to the people who had perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, and those individuals were all fundamentalist Sunnis, not any Shias, and no one from Iran. But now, nine months into his Presidency, it’s clear that he was referring instead to Shia Muslims (and to Iran most of all), which Muslim category the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia hate, and call an “existential threat” to themselves, and so they even bomb Shia parts …

Safe-Zone Judo as Syrian Forces Cross the Euphrates

by Tony Cartalucci, October 2, 2017, via Land Destroyer Report Syrian forces with the support of their Russian and Iranian allies, have crossed the Euphrates River near the city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria. The move is not only a significant step forward in restoring security nationwide and ensuring the nation’s territorial integrity, it is also a significant step toward turning the tables on the very interests who provoked and have perpetuated this conflict since 2011. US policymakers as early as 2012 openly declared their intent to partition Syria through the use of “safe zones” or “buffer zones.” From these zones – established with and protected by direct US military intervention – militant proxies would attempt to expand deeper into Syrian territory until the nation could either be toppled entirely, or sufficiently partitioned, effectively eliminating the Syrian Arab Republic as it was known before the conflict began. Understanding “Safe Zones”  A March 2012 Brookings Institute paper titled, “Middle East Memo #21: Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” (PDF), proposed the concept of “safe zones” …

Middle East, post-Daesh: Some Possible Scenarios

by Denis Churilov ISIS/Daesh is likely to be defeated in Syria and Iraq very soon. But will it bring peace to the region?  No. There are many potential local conflicts that can break out in the nearest future. Some of them are already going on, some of them are in the dormant state, waiting to be triggered.  Other conflicts might be created spontaneously out of thin air. Let’s try to predict the upcoming conflicts in the Middle East.  The following list contains the worst case scenarios that are not mutually exclusive and can, in fact, facilitate one another in a domino effect style: A civil war in Iraq between Kurdish Erbil and Iranian-backed Baghdad government. We have already seen reports on the clashes between Peshmerga forces and the Shia militias in 2016. The recent developments with the referendum may soon exacerbate the situation, especially considering that ISIS has been seriously weakened and now can’t serve as a unifying common threat factor. Kurds in Turkey. The clashes between various Kurdish militants and Erdogan’s government have been …

Signs Indicate Trump Continuing Obama’s Support for Al Qaeda in Syria

by Eric Zuesse, September 22, 2017 According to a report issued on September 22nd by the most accurate reporter on the current status of forces in the war against Syria — the anonymous military and geostrategic blogger who owns, and posts exclusively at, the “Moon of Alabama” blog — the effort by the previous U.S. President Barack Obama in support of Al Qaeda in Syria, is continuing under the current U.S. President Donald Trump. However, that report isn’t the only indication of Trump’s continuing Obama’s war against Syria, and of the U.S. Government’s continuing pro-Al-Qaeda policy in Syria. And, furthermore, the U.S. Government even supports ISIS in Syria when ISIS is being attacked by Syria’s secular and non-sectarian Government, which Government the U.S. Government has been trying to overthrow and replace by Saud-financed fundamentalist-Sunni Islamists, ever since 1949. Back on 14 October 2016, Patrick Cockburn appropriately headlined in Britain’s Independent, “We finally know what Hillary Clinton knew all along – US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding ISIS”, but any reference to the government …

Washington’s Dangerous Middle East Agenda

from New Eastern Outlook It’s clear at this point that the recent visit of US President Trump to Saudi Arabia and Israel was about setting events into motion in order to fundamentally alter the present balance of power in the entire Middle East to the greater advantage of the United States and US energy geopolitics. As with most everything that Washington tries to do to rebuild its rapidly declining global dominance, this latest move by Washington to incite the Saudi Kingdom to ignite regime change in Qatar and escalate a form of oil war disguised as a Sunni-Shi’ite power conflict already looks in serious trouble. I share with you a recent interview with an Arabic-language Middle East magazine in question and answer format. Q: What can you say about the conflict between Qatar Gulf at this moment after the Arabic-Islamic-American summit at Riyadh? WE: In my view this is a deep power struggle between Qatar and Saudi Arabia that has little to do with stated reasons regarding Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. The action to isolate …

Issues at Stake in Syria’s Peace Talks

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Syria’s peace-talks are about settling a horrific six-year-long war, but this is more of an international war that’s being waged on the battlefields of Syria, than it is a civil war within Syria itself. This fact is often ignored by the press, but the peace-talks are really more between the foreign powers than between their proxies who are killing each other (and Syria’s civilians) within Syria. These peace-talks are international because the principals in this war are international. And, because the principals are international, the principles that are being fought over are, too — they are so basic that the end-result from these talks will be not only some sort of new peace, but some sort of new Constitution for Syria: really a new nation of Syria. The main issues which are being negotiated at the Syrian Peace Talks that resumed on February 23rd in Geneva, are constitutional in nature: whether Syria is to be governed under Sharia (or Quran-based) law, or whether instead it is to be a …

So, did Obama & Clinton really “found ISIS”?

by Jim Jatras No one paying attention with even one eye and half an ear can be ignorant of the fact that when it comes to this year’s election the MSM are lying shills for Hillary. But now it seems they’re all suffering from amnesia too. The latest “OMG, Trump said that!” moment is The Donald’s claim that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are, correspondingly, the “founder” and “cofounder” of ISIS. True to form, the media reaction has been to shriek in outrage that he would cast aspersions on such august personages. As of this writing, not one American media source of which this writer is aware has brought up in relation to Trump’s claims the August 2012 report (declassified and released in 2015 under a FOIA request from Judicial Watch) from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) stating that there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime. The “supporting …

America’s Recent Achievements in the Middle East

by Eric Zuesse Here are before-and-after pictures of what the U.S. government has achieved, in the Middle East: What’s especially interesting there, is that in all of these missions, except for Iraq, the U.S. was doing it with the key participation of the Saud family, the royals who own Saudi Arabia, and who are the world’s largest buyers of American weaponry. Since Barack Obama came into the White House, the operations — Libya, Yemen, and Syria — have been, to a large extent, joint operations with the Sauds. ‘We’ are now working more closely with ‘our’ ‘friends’, even than ‘we’ were under George W. Bush. As President Obama instructed his military, on 28 May 2014: When issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States, when such issues are at stake — when crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction but do not directly threaten us — then the threshold for military action must be higher. In such circumstances, we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. …

Assad the tyrant?

by Philip Roddis, May 23, 2016 I know men and women of intelligence, courage, independence and good intent who are sure that Bashar al-Assad – the mild mannered bloke who looks like a French gendarme and, given his druthers, would be the eye surgeon he wanted and trained to be had history not harboured other plans for him – is a monster. Some say he’s every bit as bad as the head choppers bent on turning a diverse and once prosperous nation into a one dimensional horror show; the fanatics’ idea of Allah’s Will on Earth. Me, I’m inclined to cut the guy some slack, and on these three grounds: ONE, info on Assad Jnr’s alleged tyranny and universal unpopularity, and on the Daara incidents widely touted in corporate and social media as having sparked a Syrian “revolution”, is of murky origin. Sources include briefings by Washington, Whitehall, and NATO politicians whose track record on the region would in any sane and halfway alert world be met with disdain. They also include Al-Jazeera – owned by the …

Lebanon Being Forced to Collapse

by Andre Vltchek Lebanon cannot stand on its feet anymore.  It is overwhelmed, frightened and broke. It stands on the frontline, facing ISIS in the east and north, a hostile Israel in the south and the deep blue sea to the west.  One and a half (1.5) million (mostly Syrian) refugees are dispersed all over its tiny territory.  Its economy is collapsing and infrastructure crumbling.   ISIS is right at the border with Syria, literally next door, or even with one foot inside Lebanon, periodically invading, and setting up countless “dormant cells” in all Lebanese cities and all over its countryside.  Hezbollah is fighting ISIS, but the West and Saudi Arabia apparently consider Hezbollah, not  ISIS, to be the major menace to their geopolitical interests.  The Lebanese army is relatively well-trained but badly armed, and like the entire country, it is notoriously cash-strapped. These days, on the streets of Beirut, one can often hear: “Just a little bit more; one more push, and the entire country will collapse, go up in smoke.” Beirut now Is this …

Saudi Arabia’s Dictator Demands Regime-Change in Syria — Otherwise WW III

by Eric Zuesse As has been recently reported, many experts on international relations are saying that the danger of a nuclear war between NATO and Russia is greater now than it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 — in other words: greater than ever before in history. But it has just ratcheted a bit higher still: The owner of Saudi Arabia, King Salman al-Saud, speaking through his spokesperson and chosen Foreign Minister, in an interview that was published on February 19th in Germany’s magazine Spiegel, says that he demands the resignation or else the overthrow of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who is allied with both Iran and Russia. Polls of the Syrian public, by Western polling firms, consistently show Assad to be overwhelmingly approved by the Syrian people to be the leader of Syria, and show that Syrians blame the United States for causing ISIS, which is disapproved by 76% of Syrians. The other named jihadist groups, such as al-Nusra which is Al Qaeda in Syria, received similarly low approval-ratings from the Syrian public. In stark contrast, a …

The Caesar Photos and Impunity in Syria

by Steven Chovanec Western media are reporting headline claims that “new evidence supports claims about Syrian state detention deaths”, saying that “a leading rights group has released new evidence that up to 7,000 Syrians who died in state detention centres were tortured, mistreated, or executed”, noting that this information is a moral wakeup call and demanding that officials being held to account should be “central to peace efforts.” However, as is usually so, not everything is quite as it seems.  So let’s take a look at the facts. First the timing. As has been commonplace the timing of the reports like these have almost always coincided with important diplomatic meetings or just after important UN resolutions are passed. For example, beginning in mid-March claims began to pour in that Assad had been using chlorine bombs against his opponents.  Media reports would cite the fact that only 2 months later the government had already been accused of using chlorine 35 times.  What they failed to mention however was that no claims were made for an entire …