Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Power of MetaData

The Power of MetaData: TedX Cambridge Talk

by Deepak Jagdish and Daniel Smilkov


MIT Students Show the Enormously Intrusive Nature of Metadata

Why Not Israel? Reviewing 'Why Israel? The Anatomy of Zionist Apartheid - A South African Perspective'

Reviewing 'Why Israel? The Anatomy of Zionist Apartheid - A South African Perspective'

by Jim Miles

Why Israel? is a large work of enormous value for the study of events within Israel and the Middle east. The title question is answered relatively easy, as it is one of the many counters that Israeli supporters use to try and divert attention away from their transgressions. Yes, there are many other states in the world where racism is evident, where oppression and some form of apartheid is applied.

The reason of why Israel is simply a matter at looking at where one can place their time and resources, for what one believes is more important relative to another situation, and for where that time and effort will produce the most effect. While it is possible to be aware of all the other global situations, there is only so much time within which to focus one’s interest and energy.

Just inside the cover of the book is another powerful message. Three maps are drawn: the first showing Palestine before the nakba, with a few areas of gray showing Zionist settlements; the second map is the ‘green line’ map, the areas conquered by Israel in the 1948 war; the third map shows the current situation. The latter is alarming for anyone who retains the naive belief that a two state solution is in the works.

The third map shows small squiggles of territory that are still supposedly under Palestinian control (albeit under the quisling power of Abbas supporting Israeli suppression of dissent) plus the narrow Gaza strip. It would be impossible from these small areas to create a "contiguous and sovereign" state of Palestine. These non contiguous areas, along with the open air concentration camp known as Gaza, are the separate little bantustans that are being created in the racist apartheid state of Israel.

It is difficult to find a single word to describe this work. As I read it, many descriptors came to mind: concise, precise, comprehensive, unequivocal, intense, relentless, encyclopaedic, powerful, accurate, authoritative (the latter two from the well referenced information and the extensive bibliography). At times the work is clinically analytical and at other times creates a reaction of chilling disgust. It is a work, that along with many recent works, has reached beyond just creating awareness of Israel’s false historical narrative into the realm of analyzing it as a racist and apartheid state.

Being as comprehensive as it is,Why Israel? begins with a short historical section and a short section on current events within Israel - essentially from the 1980s onward. Throughout the rest of the work, historical perspective is presented as required by the focus of a particular occurrence or line of argument.

There are thirteen "parts" to the book, essentially chapters, each containing shorter sections on more narrowly defined aspects of the overall part. In general the authors have worked from the short history, through the current aspects of apartheid and racism within Israel, on to the manner in which it is supported both militarily, psychologically, and politically. Included in this is the media control and political control that Israel is able to exert on other countries mainly in western Europe and North America (Canada and the U.S.).

The BDS movement is highlighted as the being the most effective means of working against the apartheid state. Militant movements have realized that violent actions are counterproductive, and those that are attempting to work through international law and international jurisdiction have been mainly defeated by courts manipulated by governments that have caved in to Israeli threats or inducements.

Apartheid defined

The definition of apartheid is clearly stated and defined. The examples presented are obvious contraventions of this international law. An essential element of this are comparisons between South Africa apartheid and that of Israel. While not identical, the similarities are many, and fit the definition of apartheid: racial profiling, physical segregation, and laws and policies. The main difference noted by the authors is that South Africa wanted a black population it could exploit; the Israelis want to eliminate the Palestinian population and expel them from Eretz Israel.

While discussing the maintenance and reinforcement of apartheid, the first enforcer is aggression, highlighting the nakba, the intifadas, Sabra and Shatila, Jenin, the al-Aqsa mosque, and on to Cast Lead (2008-09) and Returning Echo (2012).

Other means of reinforcing apartheid are assassinations of political leaders, the global security of Mossad, the special relationship with the U.S. (AIPAC) and the U.K., along with its global lobbying reach, from the death squads of South America, to its influence on India/Pakistan/Kashmir.

Most significantly, Israel’s ongoing colonial settlement expansion, its racial separatist policies, as well as its violent militarism would not be possible without the US’ unequivocal military, economic, and diplomatic support….the international impunity Israel enjoys for its consistent violations of international law is mainly due to the protection that its special relationship with the US affords it.  

The counter arguments presented by Israeli supporters and the state of Israel , are "not to fight anti-Semitism, but rather to exploit the historical suffering of Jews, particularly the Holocaust, in order to immunize Israel against criticism, especially in the media."

The media is controlled in Israel through intimidation, embedding and other access control, bureaucratic obstacles, targeted violence, censorship (the "Shin Bet state") through the military, the courts, the Knesset, all intended to intimidate and delegitimize the reality of apartheid.


The final sections of Why Israel? look at the BDS movement and its successes around the world in face of strong Israeli opposition, from which ironically, even more attention is drawn to the topic with more and more people recognizing the true nature of the Israeli state. Complicity with apartheid comes from mainly the corporate and political elites, mainly in the realms of construction (settlements), security and surveillance (the "war on terror"), transportation, and anything military.

The main success of the BDS movement is not so much financial as much as "to expose the nature of Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people as one that combines military occupation, colonisation, ethnic cleansing, and Apartheid. Israel’s carefully-cultivated decades old image as a ‘democratic’, ‘peace-seeking’ state has suffered irreparable damage."

To what end?

The author’s conclude that the two state solution is not possible, that while ‘negotiations’ have been ongoing for several decades, Israel has used that as a cover simply to build more and more settlements. The only choice, other than a strictly militarized apartheid state is a single state solution, with democracy and equal civil rights for all its people.

Palestinian misery is not a coincidence - but a calculated Israeli strategy. The Israeli government hopes that it will force ‘soft transfer’ - mass emigration of Palestinians to wherever in the world they can find jobs...It is abundantly clear that the idea of creating a viable Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders is not possible.

Returning to their South African roots, the authors say,

South Africa’s relatively smooth transition from Apartheid to democracy has often been touted as the ideal model for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The basis of South Africa’s success was its dismantling of its Bantustans…and the formation of one state with equal rights for all its citizens.


There is no way this review can properly define the power and clarity of this work. Along with other recent works I have read (Goliath and Generation Palestine) it solidifies the case against Israeli apartheid. Anyone discussing or presenting information on Israel/Palestine needs to add Why Israel? to their library.

'Why Israel? The Anatomy of Zionist Apartheid - A South African Perspective' Suraya Dadoo and Firoz Osman. Porcupine Press, Melville, South Africa. 2013.

Infamous Anniversary: Gitmo at 12

Guantanamo Anniversary: 12 Years Of A Continuing War Crime


Ratner: 155 Prisoners, Almost All Held Without Charge, Must be Tried or Released - Immediately.

Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated. 

Crises? What Crises! Teevee News Finds Winter

A Television Snow Job

by Walter Brasch - Dissident Voice

With more than a foot of snow, sleet, and ice falling over much of the nation, the television news teams went into overdrive. This may be an accurate description of one of those minute-by-minute broadcasts.

“I’m Harry Hansom. Co-anchor Polly Prattle just called. Her car slid into a ditch about eight miles from the studio. Fortunately, she had her roller-blades, and is skating furiously to get here so she doesn’t lose a day’s pay. We begin our Team Weather Coverage with chief meteorologist Hugh Miditty.”

“Based upon detailed computer analysis and extensive satellite monitoring, available only through our exclusive Poplar Eye-Witless Weather Watch System, we can report that the high temperature this day was set way back in 2008. It was 50 degrees then. Wow! That’s real high. The low was set in 1994 when the temperatures plummeted to a minus 8. But with any luck, we’ll be able to break that low point today or tomorrow. The cause of this record-breaker is an upper level atmospheric low-pressure system that formed just east of Phoenix, traveled north to I-80, then cruised east where it hit dead-center with another low-pressure system coming north from Spring training in Florida. Or, maybe it began in New Jersey, and then ran a doughnut of isobars around Pennsylvania. As you know, a lot of bad things begin in Jersey. It’s also possible it began in Canada, because all bad weather begins in Canada. Anyhow, before the storm leaves our area to drop two feet of hail on Bermuda, we’ll have anywhere from five inches to three feet of snow and sleet. Or, maybe, we’ll just have a foot or so of acid rain that’ll burn the paint off every car in a hundred mile radius.”

“Thanks, Hugh, for a report that got real deep. We continue our extended and comprehensive team coverage of the snow emergency with Flake Sepulveda.”

“From high atop our All-News Roof, I can tell you there’s a heap of snow out here. Let me fight the bruising wind and go to the edge of the roof and take a closer look. It appears . . .”

“We’ve lost communication with the roof. Let’s check traffic with Barry Blades in HeliCam 2.”

“It’s real white out here. I can’t see the road, but it looks like I’m a little south of Manitoba, and up to my rear rotor in snow. I’m also running out of fuel. Back to you, Harry.”

“For a ground-level view, we go LIVE to Susie Sweetwater.”

“I’m standing in the middle of a large parking lot. It seems to go on forever. The drivers have kept their motors running, but for some reason they aren’t moving onto the interstates.”

“Susie, I believe you’re standing in the middle of I-80. Have you seen any snow plows yet?”

“No, but that white stuff is all around me. As you can see, only my Gucci snow hat is visible at the moment. If my dumb cameraman hadn’t broken his leg trying to get 100 pounds of equipment out of the all-weather WFAD News VW bug, we’d have even better pictures of nothing.”

“Thanks Susie. Now to Bob Covina, LIVE at the headquarters of that place where all the equipment is. Bob, we understand there are thousands of cars on the interstates, and crews are nowhere to be seen.”

“That’s right, Harry. It’s a matter of safety. It’s dangerous for the workers to be out in this kind of weather, especially when there’s all those cars, buses, and trucks they’d have to dodge on the interstates.”

“Do you have any idea when the workers might begin to clear the roads?”

“It’s past 8 p.m. now, so I guess when Management comes to work around 9 or 10 tomorrow we’ll have a better idea.”

“Thanks, Bob. Now to our social issues reporter, Gopher Galapagos. We understand there are a lot of homeless people affected by this harsh cold, Gus.”

“That’s right. There are homeless people. I think they’re cold.”

“Thanks, Gus, for that important story. We have a special satellite link to the command center of the county’s Emergency Management Agency, deep within the reinforced bunker of Mount Melmac. Ethel, you’ve been EMA director 20 years, what’s your county doing to provide emergency assistance?”

“Nothing yet, Harry. We weren’t told to do anything, so we haven’t done anything. But, we’re all here in the command center just waiting to answer telephones if anyone calls.”

“Thanks, Ethel, keep us posted on the fine work you’ve been doing. In a warm Washington, D.C., office is our senior political correspondent, Stan Sheboygan, with an exclusive interview.”

“Sen. Sludgepump, your reaction to freezing cold and heaps of snow?”

“Well, son, ah guesses this should put to rest all that lib’ral nonsense ‘bout global warming. Ah’d-a-rec’mend that Al Gore get some long underwear, and then return that tin prize he got a few years back for that nonsense he preached.”

“Tin prize? . . . Oh, you must mean the Nobel Prize.”

“Tin. Copper. Whatever. He oughtta return it ’cuz he was wrong! Not just a li’l bitsy wrong, but real lib’ral wrong!”

“That was Sen. Sludgepump with his usual fine political analysis. Back to the studio.”

“We have a breaking news bulletin. That’s right. A breaking news bulletin. It’s exclusive on WFAD. Only on our station can you get this exclusive! I’ve just been handed a message about our breaking news bulletin. All electricity—I repeat ALL electricity—is out in a 50 mile radius of our studio. But, you sit right there, and we at WFAD will continue to bring you the latest news and weather. Now, LIVE on Second Street is Kiki Vertigo who’s been interviewing residents about their response to the snow.”

With me right now, EXCLUSIVELY on Second Street, is resident Homer Bigeloo who has a snow shovel. Homer, what are you doing?”

“I’m shoveling snow.”

“Fave you been shoveling long?”

“I don’t like snow.”

“How long haven’t you liked snow?”

“A long time.”

“Thanks, Homer. I’m Kiki Vertigo, LIVE on Second Street. Back to you, Harry.”

“Another great interview, Kiki. Right after this message from Mendocino Frozen TV Dinners, we’ll be back with an abbreviated ‘World in 60 Seconds’ edition, and special 15-second reports about the nuclear war in the Middle East and the break-through discovery of a cure for cancer.”

Walter Brasch, during a 40-year work career in mass communications, has been a member of several unions, in both the private and public sectors. He is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the author of 16 books, including With Just Cause: Unionization of the American Journalist, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, and his latest Fracking Pennsylvania. He can be contacted at: Read other articles by Walter, or visit Walter's website.

Don't Pass the TPP: Wikileaks Release Secret Text of Controversial "Trade" Deal

Secret TPP Treaty IP Chapter: Advanced Text with Negotiating Positions for All 12 Nations

by Wikileaks

Today, 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP.

The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013.

The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states.

The TPP is the forerunner to the equally secret US-EU pact TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), for which President Obama initiated US-EU negotiations in January 2013. Together, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 per cent of global GDP. Both pacts exclude China.

Since the beginning of the TPP negotiations, the process of drafting and negotiating the treaty’s chapters has been shrouded in an unprecedented level of secrecy. Access to drafts of the TPP chapters is shielded from the general public. Members of the US Congress are only able to view selected portions of treaty-related documents in highly restrictive conditions and under strict supervision. It has been previously revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have access to the full text of the agreement, while 600 ’trade advisers’ – lobbyists guarding the interests of large US corporations such as Chevron, Halliburton, Monsanto and Walmart – are granted privileged access to crucial sections of the treaty text.

The TPP negotiations are currently at a critical stage. The Obama administration is preparing to fast-track the TPP treaty in a manner that will prevent the US Congress from discussing or amending any parts of the treaty. Numerous TPP heads of state and senior government figures, including President Obama, have declared their intention to sign and ratify the TPP before the end of 2013.

WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange stated:
“The US administration is aggressively pushing the TPP through the US legislative process on the sly.” The advanced draft of the Intellectual Property Rights Chapter, published by WikiLeaks on 13 November 2013, provides the public with the fullest opportunity so far to familiarise themselves with the details and implications of the TPP.

The 95-page, 30,000-word IP Chapter lays out provisions for instituting a far-reaching, transnational legal and enforcement regime, modifying or replacing existing laws in TPP member states. The Chapter’s subsections include agreements relating to patents (who may produce goods or drugs), copyright (who may transmit information), trademarks (who may describe information or goods as authentic) and industrial design.

The longest section of the Chapter – ’Enforcement’ – is devoted to detailing new policing measures, with far-reaching implications for individual rights, civil liberties, publishers, internet service providers and internet privacy, as well as for the creative, intellectual, biological and environmental commons.

Particular measures proposed include supranational litigation tribunals to which sovereign national courts are expected to defer, but which have no human rights safeguards. 

The TPP IP Chapter states that these courts can conduct hearings with secret evidence. The IP Chapter also replicates many of the surveillance and enforcement provisions from the shelved SOPA and ACTA treaties.

The consolidated text obtained by WikiLeaks after the 26-30 August 2013 TPP meeting in Brunei – unlike any other TPP-related documents previously released to the public – contains annotations detailing each country’s positions on the issues under negotiation.

Julian Assange emphasises that a “cringingly obsequious” Australia is the nation most likely to support the hardline position of US negotiators against other countries, while states including Vietnam, Chile and Malaysia are more likely to be in opposition. Numerous key Pacific Rim and nearby nations – including Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and, most significantly, Russia and China – have not been involved in the drafting of the treaty.

In the words of WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.

Read the full secret TPP treaty IP chapter here

The Saudi Prince: "Our Man" Bandar

Saudi Arabia: A Retrograde Rentier Dictatorship and Global Terrorism

by James Petras

Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela. The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents.

"Bandar Bush" with long-time confederate, G.H.Bush

Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over.

The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection. The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family. The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.

Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides: overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers. In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.

The mastermind of the Saudi terror network is Bandar bin Sultan, who has longstanding and deep ties to high level US political, military and intelligence officials. Bandar was trained and indoctrinated at Maxwell Air Force Base and Johns Hopkins University and served as Saudi Ambassador to the US for over two decades (1983 – 2005). Between 2005 – 2011 he was Secretary of the National Security Council and in 2012 he was appointed as Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency. 
Early on Bandar became deeply immersed in clandestine terror operations working in liaison with the CIA. Among his numerous “dirty operations” with the CIA during the 1980s, Bandar channeled $32 million dollars to the Nicaragua Contra’s engaged in a terror campaign to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua. During his tenure as ambassador he was actively engaged in protecting Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11/01 bombing of the Triple Towers and the Pentagon. Suspicion that Bandar and his allies in the Royal family had prior knowledge of the bombings by Saudi terrorists (11 of the 19), is suggested by the sudden flight of Saudi Royalty following the terrorist act. US intelligence documents regarding the Saudi-Bandar connection are under Congressional review.

With a wealth of experience and training in running clandestine terrorist operations, derived from his two decades of collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, Bandar was in a position to organize his own global terror network in defense of the isolated retrograde and vulnerable Saudi despotic monarchy.

Bandar’s Terror Network

Bandar bin Sultan has transformed Saudi Arabia from an inward-looking, tribal based regime totally dependent on US military power for its survival, to a major regional center of a vast terror network, an active financial backer of rightwing military dictatorships (Egypt) and client regimes (Yemen) and military intervenor in the Gulf region (Bahrain). Bandar has financed and armed a vast array of clandestine terror operations, utilizing Islamic affiliates of Al Qaeda, the Saudi controlled Wahhabi sect as well as numerous other Sunni armed groups. 
Bandar is a “pragmatic” terrorist operator: repressing Al Qaeda adversaries in Saudi Arabia and financing Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.While Bandar was a long-term asset of the US intelligence services, he has, more recently, taken an ‘independent course’ where the regional interests of the despotic state diverge from those of the US. In the same vein, while Saudi Arabia has a longstanding enmity toward Israel, Bandar has developed a “covert understanding” and working relation with the Netanyahu regime around their common enmity toward Iran and more specifically in opposition to the interim agreement between the Obama-Rohani regime.

Bandar has intervened directly or via proxies in reshaping political alignments, destabilizing adversaries and bolstering and expanding the political reach of the Saudi dictatorship from North Africa to South Asia, from the Russian Caucuses to the Horn of Africa, sometimes in concert with Western imperialism, other times projecting Saudi hegemonic aspirations.

North Africa: Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt

Bandar has poured billions of dollars to bolster the rightwing pro-Islamic regimes in Tunisia and Morocco, ensuring that the mass pro-democracy movements would be repressed, marginalized and demobilized.. Islamic extremists receiving Saudi financial support are encouraged to back the “moderate” Islamists in government by assassinating secular democratic leaders and socialist trade union leaders in opposition. Bandar’s policies largely coincide with those of the US and France in Tunisia and Morocco; but not in Libya and Egypt.

Saudi financial backing for Islamist terrorists and Al Qaeda affiliates against Libyan President Gadhafi were in-line with the NATO air war. However divergences emerged in the aftermath: the NATO backed client regime made up of neo-liberal ex-pat’s faced off against Saudi backed Al Qaeda and Islamist terror gangs and assorted tribal gunmen and marauders. Bandar-funded Islamic extremists in Libya were bankrolled to extend their military operations to Syria, where the Saudi regime was organizing a vast military operation to overthrow the Assad regime. The internecine conflict between NATO and Saudi armed groups in Libya, spilled over and led to the Islamist murder of the US Ambassador and CIA operatives in Benghazi. Having overthrown Gadhafi, Bandar virtually abandoned interest in the ensuing blood bath and chaos provoked by his armed assets. They in turn, became self-financing – robbing banks, pilfering oil and emptying local treasuries – relatively “independent” of Bandar’s control.

In Egypt, Bandar developed, in coordination with Israel (but for different reasons), a strategy of undermining the relatively independent, democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi. Bandar and the Saudi dictatorship financially backed the military coup and dictatorship of General Sisi. The US strategy of a power-sharing agreement between the Moslem Brotherhood and the military regime, combining popular electoral legitimacy and the pro-Israel-pro NATO military was sabotaged. With a $15 billion aid package and promises of more to come, Bandar provided the Egyptian military a financial lifeline and economic immunity from any international financial reprisals. None were taken of any consequences. 
The military crushed the Brotherhood, jailed and threatened to execute its elected leaders. It outlawed sectors of the liberal-left opposition which it had used as cannon fodder to justify its seizure of power. In backing the military coup, Bandar eliminated a rival, democratically elected Islamic regime which stood in contrast to the Saudi despotism. He secured a like-minded dictatorial regime in a key Arab country, even though the military rulers are more secular, pro-Western, pro-Israel and less anti-Assad than the Brotherhood regime. Bandar’s success in greasing the wheels for the Egyptian coup secured a political ally but faces an uncertain future.

The revival of a new anti-dictatorial mass movement would also target the Saudi connection. Moreover Bandar undercut and weakened Gulf State unity: Qatar had financed the Morsi regime and was out $5 billion dollars it had extended to the previous regime.

Bandar’s terror network is most evident in his long-term large scale financing, arming, training and transport of tens of thousands of Islamic terrorist “volunteers” from the US, Europe, the Middle East, the Caucuses, North Africa and elsewhere.. Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia became “martyrs of Islam” in Syria. Dozens of Islamic armed gangs in Syria competed for Saudi arms and funds. Training bases with US and European instructors and Saudi financing were established in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey. Bandar financed the major ‘rebel’ Islamic terrorist armed group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for cross border operations.

With Hezbollah supporting Assad, Bandar directed money and arms to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon to bomb South Beirut, the Iranian embassy and Tripoli. Bandar directed $3 billion to the Lebanese military with the idea of fomenting a new civil war between it and Hezbollah. In co-ordination with France and the US, but with far greater funding and greater latitude to recruit Islamic terrorist, Bandar assumed the leading role and became the principle director of a three front military and diplomatic offensive against Syria, Hezbollah and Iran. For Bandar, an Islamic takeover in Syria would lead to an Islamic Syrian invasion in support of Al Qaeda in Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah in hopes of isolating Iran. Teheran would then become the target of a Saudi-Israeli-US offensive. Bandar’s strategy is more fantasy then reality.

Bandar Diverges from Washington: the Offensive in Iraq and Iran

Saudi Arabia has been an extremely useful but sometimes out of control client of Washington. This is especially the case since Bandar has taken over as Intelligence chief: a long-time asset of the CIA he has also, at times, taken the liberty to extract “favors” for his services, especially when those “favors” enhance his upward advance within the Saudi power structure. Hence, for example, his ability to secure AWACs despite AIPAC opposition earned him merit points. As did Bandar’s ability to secure the departure of several hundred Saudi ‘royalty’ with ties to the 9/11 bombers, despite a high level national security lockdown in the aftermath of the bombing.
While there were episodic transgressions in the past, Bandar moved on to more serious divergences from US policy. He went ahead, building his own terror network, directed toward maximizing Saudi hegemony – even where it conflicted with US proxies, clients and clandestine operatives.
 While the US is committed to backing the rightwing Malicki regime in Iraq, Bandar is providing political, military and financial backing to the Sunni terrorist “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. When the US negotiated the “interim agreement” with Iran Bandar voiced his opposition and “bought” support. Saudi signed off on a billion dollar arms agreement during French President Hollande’s visit, in exchange for greater sanctions on Iran. Bandar also expressed support for Israel’s use of the Zionist power configuration to influence the Congress, to sabotage US negotiations with Iran.

Bandar has moved beyond his original submission to US intelligence handlers. His close ties with past and present US and EU presidents and political influentials have encouraged him to engage in “Big Power adventures”. 
He met with Russian President Putin to convince him to drop his support for Syria, offering a carrot or a stick: a multi-billion dollar arms sale for compliance and a threat to unleash Chechen terrorists to undermine the Sochi Olympics. He has turned Erdogan from a NATO ally supporting ‘moderate’ armed opponents to Bashar Assad, into embracing the Saudi backed ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, a terrorist Al Qaeda affiliate. Bandar has “overlooked” Erdogan’s “opportunist” efforts to sign off oil deals with Iran and Iraq, his continuing military arrangements with NATO and his past backing of the defunct Morsi regime in Egypt, in order to secure Erdogan’s support for the easy transit of large numbers of Saudi trained terrorists to Syria and probably Lebanon.

Bandar has strengthened ties with the armed Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, arming and financing their armed resistance against the US, as well as offering the US a site for a ‘negotiated departure’.

Bandar is probably supporting and arming Uighur Muslim terrorists in western China, and Chechens and Caucasian Islamic terrorists in Russia, even as the Saudi’s expand their oil agreements with China and cooperate with Russia’s Gazprom.

The only region where the Saudi’s have exercised direct military intervention is in the Gulf min-state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops crushed the pro-democracy movement challenging the local despot.

Bandar: Global Terror on Dubious Domestic Foundations

Bandar has embarked on an extraordinary transformation of Saudi foreign policy and enhanced its global influence. All to the worst. Like Israel, when a reactionary ruler comes to power and overturns the democratic order, Saudi arrives on the scene with bags of dollars to buttress the regime. Whenever an Islamic terror network emerges to subvert a nationalist, secular or Shia regime, it can count on Saudi funds and arms. What some Western scribes euphemistically describe as “tenuous effort to liberalize and modernize” the retrograde Saudi regime, is really a military upgrade of its overseas terrorist activity. Bandar uses modern techniques of terror to impose the Saudi model of reactionary rule on neighboring and distant regimes with Muslim populations.

The problem is that Bandar’s “adventurous” large scale overseas operations conflict with some of the ruling Royal family’s “introspective” style of rule. They want to be left alone to accrue hundreds of billions collecting petrol rents, to invest in high-end properties around the world, and to quietly patronize high end call girls in Washington, London and Beirut --while posing as pious guardians of Medina, Mecca and the Holy sites. 
So far Bandar has not been challenged, because he has been careful to pay his respects to the ruling monarch and his inner circle. He has bought and brought Western and Eastern prime ministers, presidents and other respectable notable to Riyadh to sign deals and pay compliments to the delight of the reigning despot. Yet his solicitous behavior to overseas Al Qaeda operations, his encouraging Saudi extremists to go overseas and engage in terrorist wars, disturbs monarchical circles. They worry that Saudis trained, armed and knowledgeable terrorists - dubbed as “holy warriors” - may return from Syria, Russia and Iraq and bomb the Kings palaces. Moreover, oversea regimes targeted by Bandar’s terror network may retaliate: Russia or Iran, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis may just sponsor their own instruments of retaliation. 
Despite the hundreds of billions spent on arms purchases, the Saudi regime is very vulnerable on all levels. Apart from tribal legions, the billionaire elite have little popular support and even less legitimacy. It depends on overseas migrant labor, foreign “experts” and US military forces. The Saudi elite is also despised by the most religious of the Wahhabi clergy for allowing “infidels” on sacred terrain. 
While Bandar extends Saudi power abroad, the domestic foundations of rule are narrowing. While he defies US policymakers in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, the regime depends on the US Air Force and Seventh Fleet to protect it from a growing array of adversarial regimes.

Bandar, with his inflated ego, may believe that he is a “Saladin” building a new Islamic empire, but in reality, by waving one finger his patron monarch can lead to his rapid dismissal. One too many provocative civilian bombings by his Islamic terrorist beneficiaries can lead to an international crises leading to Saudi Arabia becoming the target of world opprobrium.

In reality, Bandar bin Sultan is the protégé and successor of Bin Laden; he has deepened and systematized global terrorism. Bandar’s terror network has murdered far more innocent victims than Bin Laden. That, of course, is to be expected; after all he has billions of dollars from the Saudi treasury, training from the CIA and the handshake of Netanyahu!         

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. Find more of his writings:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Flight of the Chicken Hawks II: Iraq's Neo-Con Conspirators Break Cover for Iran Campaign

Neocons Who Brought You The Iraq War Endorse AIPAC’s Iran Bill

by Jim Lobe - Lobe Log

The neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), the successor organization of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), has just published another open letter (reproduced below) to Congressional leaders that implicitly endorses what I have called the “Kirk-Menendez Wag the Dog Act of 2013,” known officially as the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 (S. 1881).

I say implicitly, because it doesn’t come right out and urge support for the specific bill, which AIPAC and the Israel lobby, for which AIPAC is the vanguard, are flogging as hard as they possibly can. But the intention is pretty clear.

This letter — like PNAC, FPI is essentially a “letterhead organization” that issues manifestos, rather than a real think tank or grassroots membership organization — was signed by 72 “former U.S. government officials and foreign policy experts,” the vast majority of whom are easily identified as neoconservatives, as opposed to “conservatives,” the highly questionable term used by the Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin, who reported on the letter even before it was published on the FPI website to describe the signatories. (One wonders whether Rogin was given the letter on the condition that the authors be described as “conservatives” rather than “neoconservatives,” which really has become something of a dirty word over the past decade due to its association with the Iraq war and their enthusiasm over other ill-advised military adventures.)

Of the 72, I counted at least 25 who signed PNAC letters— most of them dealing with Iraq and the Middle East — dating back to its 1997 founding by Bob Kagan and Bill Kristol to its unceremonious demise in 2005. (Kagan and Kristol also co-founded the FPI with Dan Senor two years later during Bush’s second term when most of the neocons who championed the Iraq War had either left the administration or been successfully marginalized by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pentagon chief Bob Gates.) Among them are stalwarts from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), such as Danielle Pletka, Michael Rubin, Fred Kagan, and Gary Schmitt (and now Joe Lieberman!), which acted as a kind of annex to Doug Feith’s Office of Special Plans (OSP) at the Pentagon in the run-up to and the immediate aftermath of the Iraq invasion.

Other signatories include AEI alumni Joshua Muravchik and Reuel Marc Gerecht, who also championed the Iraq debacle, but who, like Michael Ledeen, has since moved to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)— a seemingly Likudist front that has increasingly partnered events, letters and policy papers with FPI. FDD signatories include Clifford May (who also signed PNAC letters); Mark Dubowitz, the Canadian citizen who has played a key role in crafting U.S. sanctions legislation and waging what he has repeatedly called “economic warfare” against Iran; John Hannah, who served as Dick Cheney’s national security adviser during Bush’s second term after the departure of Scooter Libby; as well as Gerecht. Then there’s a group from the Hudson Institute, which also beat the drums of war in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, including its president, Ken Weinstein, Seth Cropsey, Jack David, Lee Smith, and Doug Feith himself.

As for former Bush officials, there are plenty: Elliott Abrams and his deputy on the NSC, Michael Doran; Feith and his successor as the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Eric Edelman (and an FPI director along with Kagan, Kristol, and Senor); Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) czar Paul Bremer (and his then-spokesman, Senor); Cheney’s deputy, the aforementioned Hannah; former head of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Jeffrey Gedmin; former Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim; former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph and his deputy, Stephen Rademaker (Pletka’s spouse); former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner; former Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky; and then a couple of people who worked in Rumsfeld’s Pentagon or with the CPA, including AEI’s Dan Blumenthal and Rubin, and Michael Makovsky, the current head of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, or JINSA, whose motto is “Securing America, Strengthening Israel”.

What I found particularly curious about the list of signers was the absence of some of the most visible (aside from Kristol) neoconservative champions of the Iraq war; in particular, AEI’s Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, and James Woolsey (as well as John Bolton, who is more of an aggressive nationalist than a neocon, but who also has pooh-poohed any diplomatic process with Iran from the get-go.) I don’t think this is an indication that they disagree with the contents of the letter; rather, I believe they have decided (or been advised by their friends at AIPAC) that their public involvement in the debate could prove counter-productive precisely because they were so outspoken — and so disastrously wrong — about Iraq.

But, of course, anyone even remotely acquainted with the run-up to the Iraq war knows the roles played by PNAC, AEI, FDD, the Hudson Institute, as well as by many of the individuals — as noted above, almost all of whom are neoconservatives — who have signed the letter. Which is why I think it actually proves counter-productive to their purposes, even without the endorsement of Wolfowitz, Perle, and Woolsey. And while there are a few token Democratic signatories, such as former Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (for years, the biggest beneficiary of “pro-Israel PAC” money in the House behind Sen. Mark Kirk himself, according to the Center for Responsive Politics) and Lieberman (if he can be considered a Democrat), the overwhelming majority are identified with the Republican Party and/or the Bush administration. We’ll soon see if this letter backfires by further portraying the Iran sanctions bill as a GOP/conservative-backed issue.

Indeed, while AIPAC has just about doubled the number of co-sponsors for the “Wag the Dog” Act since it was first introduced by Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez on Dec. 19 from 26 senators — equally divided between Republicans and Democrats — to 53 today, all but two of the new co-sponsors are Republicans. In other words, with each day, the bill is looking increasingly partisan in nature — a very worrisome trend for AIPAC and the lobby, which have long considered bipartisanship as key to their success, especially in Congress.

The more Republican the bill appears to be, the less inclined Democrats will be to desert their president. The fact that a strong majority of Senate Democrats is still resisting pressure from AIPAC and its donors to co-sponsors is highly significant, as, I think, is the statement issued today by the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) that “We encourage Congress to support the President’s foreign policy initiative by making stronger measures available should they be required.” (Emphasis added.) A cleverly worded non-endorsement of the bill from an organization that routinely toes the AIPAC line.

Here’s the full text of the FPI/PNAC letter:

January 9, 2014

Dear Speaker Boehner, Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, and Representative Pelosi:

We write in support of efforts to enforce Iranian compliance with the Joint Plan of Action that Iran agreed to on November 24, 2013, and in support of the ultimate goal of denying Iran nuclear weapons-making capability. Congress has a chance to play an important role in making clear the consequences of Iranian violations of the interim nuclear deal, in clarifying expectations with respect to future nuclear talks with Tehran, and in creating incentives for Iran to conclude a comprehensive nuclear agreement that protects the national security interests of the United States and its allies.

We support the use of diplomacy and non-military pressure, backed up by the military option, to persuade Iran to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council Resolutions and verifiably abandon its efforts to attain nuclear weapons-making capability. Congressional leadership has been indispensable in creating the framework of U.S.-led international sanctions that brought Iran back to the negotiating table. However, given Tehran’s long history of violating its international nuclear obligations—and the lack of any explicit enforcement mechanisms in the Joint Plan of Action’s text—congressional leadership is once again required to set clear standards for enforcing Iranian compliance with the interim nuclear deal.

As talks go forward, it is critical that Iran not use diplomatic talks as subterfuge for continued development of various aspects of its nuclear program. It is worth recalling Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s claim that, when he served as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator a decade ago, he used diplomatic talks to buy time for Iran to advance its nuclear program. Congressional leadership can help prevent Iran from using future negotiations as cover to further the growth of its nuclear weapons-making capability.

Congress should also use this opportunity to describe its expectations for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. Such an agreement would irreversibly close off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon through uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing, bring Iran into compliance with its international obligations for full transparency and cooperation regarding its nuclear program, and permit extraordinary inspection measures to safeguard against any undeclared Iranian nuclear activities.

Commenting on the likelihood of getting Iran to agree to a comprehensive nuclear agreement, President Obama recently commented, “I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50/50.” We can do better than a coin-toss. Congress now has the opportunity to make clear the consequences for Iran if it violates the interim nuclear deal or fails to conclude a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Congressional action can thus substantially improve the prospect that Iran’s growing nuclear threat will be verifiably and irreversibly halted without the use of force. We urge Congress to seize this opportunity.


Elliott Abrams
James Kirchick
Dr. Fouad Ajami
Irina Krasovskaya
Dr. Michael Auslin
Dr. William Kristol
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley
Dr. Robert J. Lieber
Josh Block
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman
Dan Blumenthal
Tod Lindberg
Max Boot
Mary Beth Long
Ellen Bork
Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken
Ambassador L. Paul Bremer
Dr. Michael Makovsky
Dr. Eliot A. Cohen
Ann Marlowe
Senator Norm Coleman
Clifford D. May
Ambassador William Courtney
Robert C. McFarlane
Seth Cropsey
David A. Merkel
Jack David
Thomas C. Moore
James S. Denton
Dr. Joshua Muravchik
Dr. Paula J. Dobriansky
Governor Tim Pawlenty
Dr. Michael Doran
Dr. Martin Peretz
Mark Dubowitz
Danielle Pletka
Dr. Colin Dueck
John Podhoretz
Dr. Nicholas N. Eberstadt
Arch Puddington
Ambassador Eric S. Edelman
Stephen G. Rademaker
Douglas J. Feith
Dr. Michael Rubin
Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin
Randy Scheunemann
Reuel Marc Gerecht
Dr. Gary J. Schmitt
Abe Greenwald
Dan Senor

Christopher J. Griffin
Lee Smith
John P. Hannah
Henry D. Sokolski
Peter R. Huessy
Dr. Ray Takeyh
Dr. William C. Inboden
William H. Tobey
Bruce Pitcairn Jackson
Dr. Daniel Twining
Ash Jain
Peter Wehner
Dr. Kenneth D. M. Jensen
Dr. Kenneth R. Weinstein
Ambassador Robert G. Joseph
Leon Wieseltier
Dr. Frederick W. Kagan
Dr. Dov S. Zakheim
Dr. Robert Kagan
Roger Zakheim
Lawrence F. Kaplan
Robert Zarate

Jim Lobe is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy, particularly the neoconservative influence in the Bush administration. The Washington Bureau Chief of the international news agency Inter Press Service (IPS), Lobe has written for various outlets and was featured in BBC and ABC television documentaries about motivations for the US invasion of Iraq. Read his complete biography.

The Dictators Strike Back: Political Reversals Leading Egypt Towards Renewed Revolution

Mass Protests Grow as Military Drags Egypt Back to Dictatorship

by Roger Annis - Truthout

The military-dominated regime that seized power in Egypt in July 2013 has escalated its attacks on freedom and democracy in the country. A series of pronouncements were issued in late December, including the banning of the country's largest political movement - the Muslim Brotherhood. By all evidence, Egypt's economic and military elite are taking the country back to the darkest days of the rule of former dictator Hosni Mubarak or even farther into the abyss.

The regime's new measures have been accompanied by regressive court decisions and assaults on protesting citizens by police and soldiers backed by plainclothes thugs. A harrowing prospect threatens the country - that of a violent war by the regime and its backers against the population, similar to the bloody war that was waged by Algeria's government and military against the people of that country during the 1990s and 2000s.

Courageous protests by growing sections of Egyptian society are blocking the road of civil war that the regime seems hell-bent on taking. Civilian protest and organizing offer hope that the country can return to a path of democracy and social justice that opened with the overthrow of Mubarak in February 2011.

Banning of the Muslim Brotherhood

In its most draconian political measure yet, on December 25, the regime announced a banning of the Muslim Brotherhood. The ban will be applied against the Brotherhood-led political party, the Freedom and Justice Party. The two are being proscribed as "terrorist" organizations.

Membership in the organizations is grounds for harsh punishment. Members are banned from travel abroad. "Terrorism" charges will apply to anyone who finances or promotes the two organizations "verbally and in writing."

Hundreds of Brotherhood and FJP members have been arrested. The personal assets of many leaders have been seized by authorities, including those of the imprisoned Mohamed Morsi. He won the presidential election in Egypt in June 2012 on behalf of the Freedom and Justice Party. He was overthrown by the military on July 3, 2013. The coup unleashed a terrible wave of violence by the military regime that took power.

Publication of the Muslim Brotherhood's newspaper, Freedom and Justice, has been outlawed. Egypt's Interior Ministry has opened three telephone lines for citizens to snitch on their fellow citizens.

The government is preparing to seize schools operated by the movement and it says it will take over operations of Brotherhood-run hospitals and health centers. The regime also says it will take over all mosques belonging to banned organizations and replace their imams.

Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif told state television that henceforth anyone taking part in protests organized by the two mass organizations will be jailed for lengthy terms, up to life imprisonment. And "the sentence could be death" for those who lead the Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi has been imprisoned since July 3 and faces serious criminal charges. His show trial had a brief, opening session November 4 and is due to resume this month.

Pretext Holds No Water

A long list of pretexts was read out by regime Prime Minister Hazem El Beblawi on Dec. 25 to justify the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood. These included an accusation that the group was behind the assassination of then-Prime Minister Mahmoud Nuqrashi more than 60 years ago.

The key accusation was responsibility for the bombing of a police station in the city of Mansoura on Dec 24. The bomb killed 16 and wounded more than 100. Mansoura is a city of half a million people 110 kilometers north of Cairo in the Nile River delta.

The police station also served as a jail. At the time of the bombing, it held dozens of prisoners detained for protesting the coup regime. Some of the prisoners were women.

Egyptian officials have provided no evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood was linked to the bombing. The organization condemned the bombing and has called for its perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Human Rights Watch has condemned the banning of the Brotherhood and the pretext for doing so. It said the banning was politically driven. A statement said, "The government blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the [Dec. 24] blast without investigating or providing any evidence."

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, said in the statement, "The government's decision on the Muslim Brotherhood follows over five months of government efforts to vilify the group. By rushing to point the finger at the Brotherhood without investigations or evidence, the government seems motivated solely by its desire to crush a major opposition movement."

Seven people were arrested Jan. 2 for the bombing. The regime has provided no evidence that any are members of the Brotherhood or were acting under its direction.

The Human Rights Watch statement also reports that on Dec. 23, Egypt's Central Bank froze the bank accounts of more than 1,000 NGOs reportedly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Many of these organizations are essential providers of health care and education services.

Five days earlier, police stormed the office of the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights and assaulted and arrested six people - a staff researcher, staff lawyer and four volunteers. Equipment was broken, and computers were stolen. A statement of protest against the raid was issued the following day by 25 Egyptian organizations (here).

One of the complicating factors for the regime is the fact that it has no legal definition of "terrorism" with which it can charge or convict its opponents.

Attacks on Protests

The proscriptions by the coup regime follow months of low-intensity war in the streets of the country against opponents of the July coup. Half a year on, the generals have failed to establish the "order" and "normalcy" they promised. The price of protesting is high, and many have been killed or injured, but the protests continue.

Street protests, general strikes in neighborhoods and cities, massive student actions, some strikes by workers and many other forms of struggle have weakened the regime.

The regime has struck out fiercely. While there has been no repeat of the terrible massacres that marked July and August 2013, including the very worst at the Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Mosque on August 14, killings by regime thugs as well as arrests and beatings have continued. The scale of the repression has far outstripped the rights violations committed during the declining years of the Mubarak regime.

A new regime weapon is a special law against the right to protest adopted in November. A first, major test of that law concluded December 22 with the conviction of three activists of the April 6 Youth Movement - Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel. They are well-known symbols of the democracy movement. It arose in 2010 and played a key role in the overthrow of the Mubarak dictatorship.

The three were convicted and sentenced to prison labor and fines. (A detailed examination by Human Rights Watch of the new law banning protests is here.)

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance have issued a statement condemning the conviction of the three young activists. The alliance is the broad coalition that has spearheaded the ongoing protest movement against the military regime.

A broad coalition of human rights groups in Egypt issued a statement in November condemning the anti-protest law.

Ahmed Maher, a founder of the April 6 movement, lashed out at Egypt's National Council of Human Rights in a note smuggled out of prison Dec. 18. His note harshly criticized members of the Council.

Maher charged that some members of the council were "agents for the state who used to report about activists to security before the revolution." He wrote further, "There is no difference between this council and Mubarak's mock councils."

The Middle East Monitor has broadcast and transcribed into English an interview with Maher in which the activist reflects very critically on the Tamarod movement, in which the April 6 Movement participated. He says it was a mistake to take part in the mass demonstration June 30, 2013, that called for the removal of Morsi. That action was understood by his movement to be a call for "correction" of the course of the Morsi government, not its overthrow by the military. "We do not deny that Morsi did wrong. ... But what is happening now is seriously a return to the old regime. ... "

"Everything we rose against in the January 25 revolution is back and is even worse than before." The interview is undated.

The MENA Solidarity Network is reporting that six activists in Alexandria, including two members of the Revolutionary Socialists, have just been sentenced to two years of hard labor and fines for contesting the same law.

Three other activists are facing convictions for political accusations dating back to 2012 in a case being followed closely by Amnesty International. One of them, Ahmed Abdallah, was also a prominent member of the April 6 Youth Movement.

Students Particularly Targeted

Students have waged especially courageous and sustained protests against the coup regime. Breaking with past precedent, the regime repeatedly has invaded campuses with its repressive forces. But students are continuing their resistance.

Campuses across the country once again were rocked by protest Dec. 27, this time against the decision to ban the Muslim Brotherhood. Students joined a national day of protest that day called by the Anti-Coup Alliance.

The regime lashed out, killing some 19 people that day, including three students. Women students at Al-Azhar University in Cairo came under attack by pro-regime thugs (see a short video here). Some university buildings in Cairo were torched.

In response to the attack at Al-Azhar, the group Students Against the Coup organized a march to the campus the following day. Madr Masa reports that they protested at entrances to the university against the holding of exams in the violent climate created by the regime. Once again, police and thugs attacked. Some 60 students were arrested.

Youssof Salhen, 21, spokesperson for Students Against the Coup, told the UK Observer that 14 of those arrested on Saturday were women. He said, "We are not going to stop [protesting] until we achieve justice for those who have died and those who have been jailed.

"The security forces and the coup forces will continue to try to frighten students for trying to exercise their rights to peaceful protest, but we will continue."

Crackdown on Journalists

Press freedom is under heavy attack. Journalists at the banned newspaper of the Freedom and Justice Party have taken their campaign to reopen the newspaper to the Press Syndicate, the union of journalists in Egypt. The Syndicate has opposed the banning, saying that the FJP is a legitimate political party that cannot be banned on a whim.

Back in September, the Syndicate voiced solidarity with journalists following a police raid on the newspaper offices. (See an essay on the history of Egypt's Press Syndicate here.)

Also condemning the newspaper banning is the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression. It says the measure is a "blatant assault on freedom of expression."

Four journalists of Al Jazeera’s English broadcast were arrested at the news agency’s office in a hotel in Cairo on the night of Dec. 29. One was later released. Three are charged with belonging to a terrorist organization, including bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and veteran correspondent Peter Greste. Fahmy is a Canadian citizen, and his detention was reported in the Toronto Star on January 7 by the Cairo-based journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous. Greste is Australian.

The Arab Network For Human Rights Information (ANHRI), a Cairo-based human rights watchdog, has condemned the Egyptian regime for the Al Jazeera arrests and for "ongoing use of gag policy." Press freedom organizations internationally also have called for the release of the three.

Two other Al Jazeera journalists, Abdulla al-Shami and Mohamed Badr, have been held without charge for more than five months.

Constitutional Referendum

The regime is revising Egypt's post-Mubarak constitution that was approved in a referendum in December 2012. They will put the revised document to a referendum January 14-15. Among many regressive measures in it, the revised document will remove civilian oversight of the military, require that the defense minister be a military officer, and fully restore trials of civilians by military courts.

The Freedom and Justice Party and the Anti-Coup Alliance have announced they will boycott the constitution referendum. So, too, will the April 6 Youth Movement and other political parties and social movements. (For a detailed look at the proposed constitution, see this analysis by FIDH.)

Human rights organizations and a broad cross-section of Egyptian society have long demanded an end to military trials of civilians.

Peaceful but Uncompromising Resistance

The Anti-Coup Alliance has, from the outset, affirmed that it will wage peaceful but unrelenting opposition to the regime. It rejects armed resistance. Anti-coup resistance is growing as social and economic conditions deteriorate and the regime demonstrates that it is utterly bereft of plans to move the country forward. It has only violence and dictatorship to offer.

The sustained civil protests have encouraged growing sections of the population to see through the phony claim by Egypt's elite and sections of the country's middle class that the coup represented some kind of "salvation" for the nation from Islam-inspired political movements.

Egyptians hope and quite reasonably expect that world opinion will support their struggle for democracy. But the big powers of the world are playing coy, quietly backing the regime while at the same time keeping some distance to avoid being tainted with the worst of its abuses.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced December 24 that he was "seriously concerned" about the deteriorating human rights situation. He has made no announcement about the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood and related measures.

The US State Department stated a "concerned" posture at a news briefing Dec. 30. Canada has said nothing.

Back in August in an online story in the Ottawa Citizen that has since been removed from the newspaper site, minister of foreign affairs John Baird spoke about the July coup to reporters while visiting a Coptic church in Ottawa. He said, "The former president became autocratic and did not want to build a peaceful, inclusive society."

He went on, "We're certainly not calling for them to be restored to power." (See a report on Baird's statement by the present author included here in an August 2013 news posting.)

Canada's statements on Egypt have been limited to cautionary calls upon unnamed agencies in Egypt to cease "violence." At the time of the July coup against the elected president and government, Baird smoothly stated, "Canada urges all parties in Egypt to remain calm, avoid violence and engage in meaningful political dialogue."

Leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood are seeking to convince the International Criminal Court in The Hague to prefer charges of crimes against humanity against the coup regime.

The big powers' aloofness to the ongoing assaults on people and democracy is a sharp contrast to the hailing of the "Tamarod" movement in the spring and summer of 2013. The quite legitimate grievances of many participants in that movement against the government of President Morsi were cynically manipulated to help set the stage for the coup.

Sara Khorshid, an Egyptian journalist, recently penned a commentary in The New York Times about Egypt's counter-revolution. She writes about the illusions of her fellow citizens in believing that the July 2013 coup and army rule could bring improvement to the country. Her views are also a useful reminder to those actors outside Egypt whose dislike of a Muslim Brotherhood-led government clouded their political judgment and their defense of democratic rights for all.

Khorshid concludes her commentary, "Ultimately, those who saw the military as a better alternative to the Brotherhood will realize the magnitude of injustice that the military's wide-ranging authorities could bring to all aspects of Egyptian life."

The MENA Solidarity Network is urging concerned people to sign a petition it has initiated against the anti-protest law in Egypt. The petition is here. You can also download a print version to circulate. The names of signatories will be delivered to the Egyptian Embassy in the UK on January 25, 2014.

The Egyptian-Canadian Coalition for Democracy is holding activities across Canada to build solidarity with the Egyptian people, including a public forum in Vancouver on January 25. Read about its work on its web site, The coalition is a co-founder of the recently launched Egyptians Worldwide for Democracy and Justice. Read its founding statement here.

Roger Annis  is a writer and activist in Vancouver, British Columbia. He publishes the website A Socialist in Canada. He can be reached at

 Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Who Are You Going to Trust: Truth, War Propaganda, CIA and Media Manipulation

Truth, War Propaganda, CIA and Media Manipulation

by Global Research

Never before has it been so important to have independent, honest voices and sources of information. We are – as a society – inundated and overwhelmed with a flood of information from a wide array of sources, but these sources of information, by and large, serve the powerful interests and individuals that own them. The main sources of information, for both public and official consumption, include the mainstream media, alternative media, academia and think tanks.

The mainstream media is the most obvious in its inherent bias and manipulation. The mainstream media is owned directly by large multinational corporations, and through their boards of directors are connected with a plethora of other major global corporations and elite interests. An example of these connections can be seen through the board of Time Warner.

Time Warner owns Time Magazine, HBO, Warner Bros., and CNN, among many others. The board of directors includes individuals past or presently affiliated with: the Council on Foreign Relations, the IMF, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Warburg Pincus, Phillip Morris, and AMR Corporation, among many others.

Two of the most “esteemed” sources of news in the U.S. are the New York Times (referred to as “the paper of record”) and the Washington Post. The New York Times has on its board people who are past or presently affiliated with: Schering-Plough International (pharmaceuticals), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chevron Corporation, Wesco Financial Corporation, Kohlberg & Company, The Charles Schwab Corporation, eBay Inc., Xerox, IBM, Ford Motor Company, Eli Lilly & Company, among others. Hardly a bastion of impartiality.

And the same could be said for the Washington Post, which has on its board: Lee Bollinger, the President of Columbia University and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Warren Buffett, billionaire financial investor, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway; and individuals associated with (past or presently): the Coca-Cola Company, New York University, Conservation International, the Council on Foreign Relations, Xerox, Catalyst, Johnson & Johnson, Target Corporation, RAND Corporation, General Motors, and the Business Council, among others.

It is also important to address how the mainstream media is intertwined, often covertly and secretly, with the government.

Carl Bernstein, one of the two Washington Post reporters who covered the Watergate scandal, revealed that there were over 400 American journalists who had “secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.” Interestingly, “the use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence-gathering employed by the CIA.” 

Among organizations which cooperated with the CIA were the “American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald-Tribune.”

By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc. The CIA even ran a training program “to teach its agents to be journalists,” who were “then placed in major news organizations with help from management.”

These types of relationships have continued in the decades since, although perhaps more covertly and quietly than before. For example, it was revealed in 2000 that during the NATO bombing of Kosovo, “several officers from the US Army’s 4th Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) Group at Ft. Bragg worked in the news division at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters.”

This same Army Psyop outfit had “planted stories in the U.S. media supporting the Reagan Administration’s Central America policies,” which was described by the Miami Herald as a “vast psychological warfare operation of the kind the military conducts to influence a population in enemy territory.”

These Army PSYOP officers also worked at National Public Radio (NPR) at the same time. The US military has, in fact, had a strong relationship with CNN.

In 2008, it was reported that the Pentagon ran a major propaganda campaign by using retired Generals and former Pentagon officials to present a good picture of the administration’s war-time policies. The program started in the lead-up to the Iraq War in 2003 and continued into 2009. These officials, presented as “military analysts”, regurgitate government talking points and often sit on the boards of military contractors, thus having a vested interest in the subjects they are brought on to “analyze.”

In 2013, Public Accountability reported:

During the public debate around the question of whether to attack Syria, Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush, made a series of high-profile media appearances. Hadley argued strenuously for military intervention in appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV, and authored a Washington Post op-ed headlined “To stop Iran, Obama must enforce red lines with Assad.”

In each case, Hadley’s audience was not informed that he serves as a director of Raytheon, the weapons manufacturer that makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles that were widely cited as a weapon of choice in a potential strike against Syria. Hadley earns $128,500 in annual cash compensation from the company and chairs its public affairs committee. He also owns 11,477 shares of Raytheon stock, which traded at all-time highs during the Syria debate ($77.65 on August 23, making Hadley’s share’s worth $891,189). Despite this financial stake, Hadley was presented to his audience as an experienced, independent national security expert.

The major philanthropic foundations in the United States have often used their enormous wealth to co-opt voices of dissent and movements of resistance into channels that are safe for the powers that be. As McGeorge Bundy, former President of the Ford Foundation once said, “Everything the Foundation does is to make the world safe for Capitalism.”

Examples of this include philanthropies like the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation providing immense financial and organizational support to Non-Governmental Organizations. Furthermore, the alternative media are often funded by these same foundations, which has the effect of influencing the direction of coverage as well as the stifling of critical analysis.

This now brings us to the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Global Research.

As an institution which acts as a research centre as well as a source of alternative news through the website, the CRG has become a much needed voice of independence seeking to break through all the propaganda and misinformation.

To maintain our independence, Global Research does not accept assistance from public and private foundations. Nor do we seek support from universities and/or government.

While the objective is to expand and help spread important and much-needed information to more people than ever before, Global Research needs to rely upon its readers to support the organization.
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Copyright © 2014 Global Research

Proxy War II for Lebanon? Hezbollah/Palestinian Rifts

Pressures Mounting… A Palestinian-Hezbollah War in Lebanon?

by Franklin Lamb - Ain el Helweh camp, Lebanon

It’s not just the leadership of the Zionist regime still occupying Palestine, six decades after the 1948 Nakba, that appears to be salivating at the current stoking of current tensions between the Palestinian Resistance and in some respects, its historic off-spring Hezbollah.

From Tel Aviv, to Amman, Riyadh, the Gulf Kingdoms to Washington DC and beyond, the forces allied against the Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah-Palestinian Resistance are working on yet another project to weaken and hopefully destroy all four.

It won’t be easy, but it is reportedly a key element among the anti-Resistance forces still seeking regime change in Syria. Even while some of these governments have been playing down their central goal of regime change in public. The same governments appear to be fantasizing that by building up the Lebanese army with a pledged $ three billion from Riyadh, its troops will somehow confront Hezbollah and its allies as part of a long-term “beat em or bleed em” project.

Patrick Cockburn writing recently in the UK Independent and Counterpunch accurately summarized situation of “Anti-Shia hate propaganda spread by Sunni religious figures sponsored by, or based in, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, is creating the ingredients for a sectarian civil war engulfing the entire Muslim world.”

The egging on the Palestinian and Hezbollah to confront each other has increased over the past three months in Lebanon’s camps and particularly from some of the local Sunni and Christian power centers. This in addition to continuing support for various ‘militia of the month’ groups terrorizing the population of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as essentially imprisoning without food and medical care the remaining 17,000 out of a March 2011 population of 250,000 Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp in Damascus.

This is not to say that there are no continuing, and sometimes long held tensions among a small percentage of the Palestinians in Lebanon and some among Hezbollah and its allies, the Amal Movement and Michele Aoun’s, Free Patriotic Movement (FPM). It is the latter who is among the most anti-Palestinian of the Christian warlords and who some in Hezbollah and Palestinian factions cite for blocking Hezbollah from pushing for the right to work and to own a home for Palestinians in Lebanon. As for Amal, this Hezbollah’s Shia ally, is widely believed to have killed more Palestinians in Lebanon during the 1985-88 camp massacres ( it’s a misnomer to call them “wars” as the camps were basically defenseless) than Zionists have in the past 60 years. To this day, many Palestinians take deep umbrage with the long-time Amal leader posters placed outside Shatila and other camps since he is fairly universally despised by Palestinians in Lebanon for giving the orders for slaughtering so many of them. Attempts to remove his posters-portraits from Palestinian camps which are considered a provocation by many, risk facing his armed militia that occupies part of Shatila. The Sunni and Shia populations in the camps largely co-exist in a tense but generally peaceful juxtaposition with refugees from Syria. But it’s not the quality of relations that obtained before the Syria crisis and Hezbollah’s involvement there.

Hezbollah also has several reasons to question Palestinian support of the “National Lebanon Resistance” which the Party of God leads. There has been some evidence of individual Palestinians supporting anti-Hezbollah militia forces and political parties in Lebanon, and, according to camp officials they admit that some individual Palestinians go and return to Syria to fight against the Assad regime. Some who are close to Hezbollah claim that many Palestinians don’t appreciate that the organization is the main supporter of their cause to return to Palestine and are ingrates for all that Hezbollah does for them. Rebuttals include that regrettably Hezbollah has done little for Palestinians living in Lebanon’s camps and that Hezbollah has to date refused to use its political power to force Lebanon to comply with international law and grant elementary civil rights to them, including the rights to work and to own a home.

Against this backdrop, Al-Nusra Front leader Abou Mohammed al-Jawlani said that the Al-Qaeda-linked organization is active on Lebanese soil in order to help the Sunnis including Palestinians face the “injustice” of Shiite Hezbollah. “Lebanon’s Sunni are requesting that the mujahideen intervene to lift up the injustice they are suffering from at the hands of Hezbollah and similar militias,” Jawlani said in an interview on Al-Jazeera recently.

Shiite-populated areas across Lebanon have been the target of terror attacks since Hezbollah declared it was fighting on the side of the Syrian regime in May. Three car bomb attacks have targeted southern Beirut in recent months while a number of IED attacks have occurred in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley.

The head of the Islamic Jihadist Movement in Ain al-Helweh camps, Sheikh Jamal Khattab, voiced fears on 1/8/14 of a possible armed sectarian confrontation between Hezbollah and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon if the party did not revise its policies at home and in Syria. Sheikh Khattab told the Beirut Daily Star that “any fighting between Palestinians and Hezbollah could be worse than the three year violence between the Amal militia and Palestinians in the 1980’s, known as the “war of the camps.” (read: massacres) That conflict in which largely Shia forces attacked Sunni was not considered particularly sectarian and Hezbollah helped end it and protect the overwhelmingly Sunni Palestinians civilian population. Today it would be a Sunni vs. Shia war with regional and international consequences given the poisonous sea-change in sectarian relations since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In Ain al-Helweh and other camps, posters of local men killed while fighting alongside Syrian rebels or against U.S. troops in Iraq are tacked up throughout the camp. Lebanese security sources claim that Palestinian Islamist groups in Ain al-Hilweh, particularly Usbat al-Ansar, Jund al-Sham, Fatah al-Islam, other Salafist groups and supporters of controversial fugitive Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir have all finalized preparations to defend Sidon against any attack by Hezbollah’s organized and trained “Resistance Brigades”. Rumors abound that these groups are being financed for this purpose by certain of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries and some Lebanese pro-Western March 14 parties. These groups and some of their sponsors consider conditions ripe in Lebanon for an expanded war against “Shia infidels” and have plans to bring it here. Several groups now fighting in Syria claim to seek a wider war “against Shia infidels “and pledge to bring the Sunni-Shia war here.

The Palestinian Follow-Up Committee, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Fatah and the Palestinian National Security Forces have all strongly condemned as haphazard any irresponsible accusations against Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp after the assassination of ex-Finance Minister and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s adviser, Mohammed Shatah, Also recent harassment of passersby near Ain el Helweh camp remind some of the tight grip the army continues on Nahr al Bared, near Tripoli in the north of Lebanon. Based on interviews by this observer with residents of Ain el-Helweh, there clearly are supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades among others. But one can find the same across Lebanon especially in Sunni areas. The officials claim that while they cannot prevent anyone from joining the fighting in Syria, all Palestinian groups in Lebanon and Syria and elsewhere have consistently maintained their policy of non-involvement in the Syrian crisis. Yet some Palestinian Islamist factions and camp residents criticize Hezbollah’s armed support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

For their part, some pro-Hezbollah groups and many Lebanese citizens are suspicious of possible Palestinian involvement in recent terror attacks in Dahiyeh and the recent bombing of the Iranian Embassy. In point of fact, one of the two suicide bombers who attacked the Iranian Embassy on 11/17/13 was a Palestinian named Mouin Abu Dahr. His mother is a Shiite and his father a Sunni. Ain al-Hilweh is also in the spotlight currently due to the arrest of Majid al-Majid, the leader of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Majid is believed to have lived in Ain al-Hilweh since 2012.

Israel and its new and longtime allies seek Sunni-Shia war and the sooner the better. They also favor the continuation of the Syria crisis for the reason they consider Hezbollah is squandering some of their best fighters and commanders and well as their weapons stores. Western Diplomats have spoken about US-Israeli hopes that Syria will be Hezbollah’s Achilles heel and Iran’s Vietnam. Meanwhile Israeli media has commented on the views of some officials who are claiming that Hezbollah has shifted its attention to Syria and away from the southern front with occupied Palestine.

Time will tell.

But for its part Hezbollah maintains that by defending Lebanon and fighting ” takferi terrorists” it is using only five percent of its capacity to confront Israel. One source close to the Resistance reported that “Hezbollah has self-sufficiency when it comes to the missiles, strategic and non-strategic weapons. All these weapons are quite abundant. Any additional equipment will constitute a negative factor because there is no need for them. All the weapons that are manufactured by Iran or owned by Syria are also available for Hezbollah. The land forces and the Special Forces fighting in Syria have acquired a lot of practical and intelligence related experience and a force of maneuvering on the land. This experience will be used when the war with Israel begins again.”

The Sunni and the Shia just as with the Palestinians and Hezbollah need each other for many reasons including to confront growing Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate propaganda and the deepening and broadening Apartheid occupation of Palestine.

All must work to tamp down their differences publicly and privately while working to neutralize both Sunni and Shia sectarian provocateurs, domestic, regional and international that today are seeking internecine and sectarian violence in order to weaken both.

Franklin Lamb is a former Democratic National Committee Member representing Oregon. He volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (