China’s Global Leadership List – Charts and Facts, 2019

World Affairs

A vast majority of Americans have absolutely no clue how advanced China has become. Look at the social media comments, and it’s clear that too many Americans – especially Trump supporters – are filled with misinformation and prejudice. “China is 100 years behind” … “All Chinese products are crap” … “China can’t innovate” … “It’s a communist, poor, polluted country” … and, of course, the most popular theme is “China’s economy is about to collapse.” It’s hard to change these opinions, since those people reinforce their biases by gleefully consuming and sharing only anti-China articles. Anything remotely positive about China is attacked as “Chinese propaganda.”

This potent mix of ignorance and hubris is also precisely why western corporations gladly and voluntarily shared their intellectual property (IP) with their Chinese joint-venture partners. The term “forced technology transfer” was invented retroactively only after Chinese corporations started threatening western profits — for example:…

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As Syria struggles to recover from over a decade of US-imposed conflict, it faces a new deadly threat in the form of sweeping sanctions under the Caesar Act.

From: In Gaza

The Caesar Act: The Latest Western Attack on Syria Didn’t Drop From a Plane

As Syria struggles to recover from over a decade of US-imposed conflict, it faces a new deadly threat in the form of sweeping sanctions under the Caesar Act.

by Eva Bartlett, June 19th, 2020, Mint Press News

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Talib Mu’alla served as a soldier in the Syrian Arab Army before he was wounded in Aleppo in 2014. As he described the multiple shots he took to his body, I thought it remarkable that he survived.

“A shot (bullet) to my chest, a shot to my stomach, three shots in my spine. My chest, stomach, and intestines ruptured, and I lost a kidney. I was also shot in the right side of my face,” he recounted. “I fell into a coma for 25 days, then woke for a few days and fell back into a coma for another 16 or 17 days. It took two years for me to be able to walk again.”

Talib was discharged from the army after his injuries and has since joined an auxiliary of the army. “From  2011 until now, I haven’t taken off my uniform. And I won’t take it off until the war is finished,” he said.

The media’s monsters

As a consequence of the war on Syria, there has been immeasurable loss: the destruction of historic places like Palmyra, Maaloula (the ancient Aramaic village northeast of Damascus), Aleppo’s souqs; and the destruction of city districts in the fight against terrorism. Aleppo’s souqs were being carefully restored when I traveled to Syria in March. Yet, there is still much rebuilding to do and thanks to the Caesar Act, that just got harder.

More appalling than the destruction of Syria’s historic places is the human loss, civilian and military alike. Regarding the latter, little concern is meted out by Western press over the deaths and maiming of members of Syria’s national army. On the contrary, the Syrian Arab Army is portrayed in Western media and by Western politicians as murderers and thugs personally belonging to President Assad and not to Syria.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and indeed countless videos and anecdotes of Syrian soldiers putting their lives on the line in order to protect and save civilians from terrorists are available for any who wish to see them. The army is a conscript army but also includes career soldiers and men and women who voluntarily joined in order to defend their country.

Last August, I interviewed the Syrian Arab Army’s Head of Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan. He noted that the Syrian army “includes in each of its formations, soldiers from all Syrian governorates, with no exception.” This defies Western media’s portrayal of the Syrian army as “Assad’s army” or their claims that those fighting “rebels” (terrorists) are only from the Alawi sect. These types of claims are put forth in an attempt to create the illusion that in Syria, it has been President Assad and “his forces” against disenchanted Sunnis, an utterly false claim.

This sectarianism exists largely in the minds of those backing terrorism in Syria, be they Saudi, Turkish, Qatari, or Western leaders.

When I asked General Hassan to speak more on the army, he replied:

The two greatest armies in modern history have failed to achieve what the Syrian Army has accomplished. In Afghanistan, fewer than 10 percent of the number of terrorists in Syria were able to defeat two armies: the Red Soviet Army and the U.S. Army.

But, the Syrian Army defeated such terrorism. The Syrian Army fought battles that can be classified as new in military science. The Syrian Army fought above ground and underground battles in addition to their battles against the media war, intelligence war, information war, economic war, gang and street-to-street wars. Despite all of that, the Syrian Army achieved victory. Therefore, can we imagine the magnitude of the sacrifices made in this respect by the Syrian Army?”

On various trips to and around Syria over the years I’ve encountered Syrian soldiers in hot zones where terrorists linger nearby and in liberated areas, at checkpoints and in hospitals. Many are young, and others are grey-haired, proud to be serving in the defense of their country and citizens.

Many drive taxis in their off-hours to compensate for the meagr salary they receive, a salary that doesn’t compare to the hefty salaries paid to members of Gulf and Turkish-backed armed militants.

Together, and with the help of Syria’s allies, they staved off some of the most heinous and powerfully-backed terrorists the modern world has known, but at a great price.

The numbers of wounded soldiers, particularly critically-wounded, are not published, so it is hard to gauge just how large their numbers are. However, given that the war on Syria has raged for nearly a decade, with soldiers fighting well-armed terrorists from around the world–terrorists with the backing of the U.S.-led coalition in Syria — the numbers of martyred and maimed can only be tragically-high.

Wounded veterans prepare for life after war

Given that the U.S. government frequently criticizes the government of Syria for not taking care of its citizens, it’s worth reflecting on the shameful manner in which the U.S. neglects its own veterans of war. But in Syria, a myriad of associations work with war-wounded soldiers to provide prosthetic limbs and rehabilitate them after their injuries, giving them life skills to work or start their own businesses.

Jerih al-Watan (The Wounded of the Homeland), is a veteran support program founded in 2014 by the Syrian Presidency with the support of the Syrian Trust For Development and medical experts. The aim of Jerih al-Watan, according to its Facebook page, is “providing adequate care and appropriate rehabilitation to secure a decent life for the wounded,” from the army, popular defense forces, and internal security forces.”

Jerih al-Watan focuses on physical rehabilitation, social and psychological support as well as vocational training for jobs ranging from construction to food production.

The latter is what I saw last week when I traveled to the Qardaha region in northwestern Syria. A region I had not previously visited, Qardaha is a paradise that the average person may not associate with Syria, as many mistakenly imagine the country to be all desert. It is not, of course.

Traveling a familiar route from Damascus to the coast, I passed rows of greenhouses and the citrus and banana trees that are prevalent in the Tartous and Latakia region and finally moved up along a road lined with pine trees and wildflowers, winding up through the mountainous hills of Qardaha. Photos of martyred soldiers appeared when passing through Qardaha itself, as they do all over Syria.

I reached the training point, where, in the evening, a gorgeous pink sunset descended over the layered hills, the sea in the distance.

Soldiers were receiving training in the skills of cheese and yogurt making, staples of the Syrian diet. They were first shown how to make the products, then had a hand at making them themselves. The final results were the delicious spice-colored yogurt balls and black-sesame-laden cheeses that are ubiquitous in Syria’s restaurants.

With these skills, the soldiers are able to start a small enterprise and support their families.

In between training sessions, wounded soldiers sat chatting in the shade. With their permission, I spoke with some of them about their injuries and feelings about having served in the army. With injuries ranging from vision and speech impairments to difficulties walking or loss of hands, I was struck by the graceful confidence of the injured soldiers.

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Instead of wallowing in their injuries, they looked to future prospects, improving their knowledge to improve their lives.

A reservist in the army, Ayet Yusef was wounded in 2013 while serving in Aleppo. “We were attacked at 2 am by armed terrorist gangs. A clash occurred, during which I was wounded by shrapnel in my left eye. I lost sight in that eye. But after treatment, it is now fine.” Yusef, like most wounded soldiers I’ve met, is proud of having served, and even prouder of his injury. “We raise our heads to the sky. We were in the Syrian Arab Army and that is an honor for us. And if they now asked me to serve again, no problem,” he said.

Another soldier, 30-year-old Du’a Ijna, had difficulty speaking as he explained how he was injured in 2011. “We were on patrol in Khan Sheikhoun (Idlib),” he recalled, “A terrorist group attacked and I was wounded by shrapnel to my brain. That affected my hands, legs, and speech. I was paralyzed for a month and a half, but after physiotherapy, it got a little better.”

Jaafar Badran was injured in 2016 while serving in Aleppo. His injury left him without his right hand or left leg. “We resisted the terrorism, and there will be martyrs and wounded among us, and that’s okay. What matters is the country returns to stability.”

Inad Ahmed was injured while serving in Tulul al-Himr, al-Qunaytra. “I was shot in my spinal column, and for three years I couldn’t walk.” Ahmed now walks with a severe limp but speaks with a smile. “I have to be optimistic about what I’m going through and keep looking ahead. What happened happened.”

Just beyond the training location, a beautiful sunset burst out and I thought about the many wounded soldiers, some whose lives were disrupted forever, others who overcame major injuries to the point they could walk, or at least hobble, again. They were all gracious. Some on the shy side, others — including men whose injuries were the worst — gregarious and humorous. Spending time with them was humbling, but also reaffirmed what I already knew about the army: they are some of the most courageous people I’ve met and those who write lies about them should hang their heads in shame for being so far from the truth.

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Initiatives like this, teaching and encouraging economic self-reliance, are more critically-important than ever these days in Syria. After over nine years of war and relentless sanctions on the country, Syria’s economy is as shattered as the cities formerly occupied by terrorist groups. Neither would be devastated had the U.S. and allies not launched its clandestine war against Syria, but they did, and the economic war on Syria will only worsen.

The Syrian Trust, a nonprofit national development organization headed by the first lady of Syria, has been quietly helping soldiers with rehabilitation and prosthetics as well as giving them training, even supplying machinery and other equipment needed for small businesses.

In November 2016, after having visited Aleppo for the fourth time just weeks before the city was finally liberated from the array of terrorist gangs occupying its eastern and southern regions, freeing the people of the hell on earth they’d endured for years — I was back in Damascus and visited the Hamish Hospital in Barzeh, where Jarih al-Watan was manufacturing prosthetic limbs performing physiotherapy for wounded soldiers.

There, I saw many soldiers going through differing degrees of physiotherapy and rehabilitation after having been injured. Many were without one or both legs, others missing hands and arms.

I met Ali, a 30-year-old soldier who lost both his legs in a mine blast a year prior on the Khanasser road to Aleppo. The first time I went to Aleppo in July, the taxi driver told me that Da’esh (ISIS) routinely creeps onto the road at night to lay mines and the SAA in the morning has to clear them so the road is safe for civilians and transport trucks.

Ali was a slight young man, and emblematic of the stoic, strong nature of Syrians fighting this war against terror and for their country. Ten days after losing his lower legs, Ali was walking on artificial ones. When I met him, he was finishing physiotherapy and wants to go back to defending Syria.

I am discharged from the army but I want to go back. We want this war to be over.”

He isn’t the only gravely wounded soldier I’ve met who wanted to return to service. In May 2018, Syrian soldier and incredible photographer Wassim Issa was gravely injured in a terrorist landmine blast that blew off both his lower legs and left him in a coma for two days. When I visited him in the hospital three days after his injury, he was sitting up in bed wearing a huge smile at my visit. Although I already knew him to be a courageous and gentle man, I was surprised at how upbeat he was, having just escaped death and lost his ability to walk.

In subsequent visits over the years, Wassim maintained his positivity that he would walk again. Indeed, by October 2018 Wassim had been fitted with prosthetic limbs and done the needed physio in order to walk again.

On one of my visits, he told me: “I don’t need money, I don’t need a house, I just need peace for my country.”

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I met Captain Ali, a Syrian pilot and soldier who was injured five times (more, actually, but he only counts the major injuries), several times in Latakia in July and August of 2016. He was shot by a sniper, the bullet going through his arm, sniped through his hip, shot in his head (requiring 26 stitches), received shrapnel in his chest, and finally lost his left leg to a Da’esh suicide bomber.

Captain Ali was awarded the Russian Medal of courage for his work in the Latakia countryside. He also had stories of the helicopter he was flying being hit on three different occasions but not being downed.

His personality was a mixture of humility, confidence, humour.

Captain Ali in Latakia hospital, 2016

*Meeting with Captain Ali in a Latakia hospital in 2016. Photo | Eva Bartlett

And in Aleppo this past March, I met Ahmed Abo Alkef, 29, in then recently-liberated al-Zahra’a, Aleppo. Alkef joined the army in June 2010 and was close to fulfilling his conscription service when he was shot in the head by a terrorist sniper, leaving him in a coma for several months.

He is now paralyzed on one side of his body, the bullet still in his skull. Like other soldiers I’ve spoken with, Alkef without hesitation to my question replied he is proud of serving in the army and proud of his injury, life-shattering as it is.

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In the Barzeh Center physiotherapy training hall, Ali walked with a young man who appeared to be around the same age, also missing his lower legs.

At the prosthetics factory, the Director, Dr. Yousef Sarraj, stressed that in his experience 25 percent of those patients they treat request artificial limbs specifically with the intent of returning to the battlefront to defend Syria, including the ten officers who are currently waiting for limbs so they return to the battlefront.

While there, the power briefly went out and roughly 20 seconds later, the generators kicked in. Dr. Sarraj noted: “We can overcome problems of power, but we can’t overcome the problem of getting raw materials for the prosthetics.”

Unsurprisingly, Western sanctions on Syria include prohibiting key materials needed in prosthetic limbs manufacturing, including (among many things) resin, the primary material used in the manufacture. According to Dr. Sarraj, to acquire 100 kg of resin would take around one year.

Meeting the needs of sanctions-ravaged Syrians

In addition to its work with injured soldiers, the Syrian Trust For Development also focuses on providing micro-credit, assisting disabled Syrians, supporting children with cancer, rural development, supporting families of missing persons, supporting victims of sexual violence, culture, and heritage, and children’s and women’s issues.

In October 2016, I visited a community center in Barzeh, Damascus, supported by the Syrian Trust. The community center manager, Ahmad al-Khodr told me the center had opened in 2015 and served a diverse community.

“There is a lot of political and religious diversity here in Barzeh, as many people from all over Syria left their homes, due to the war, and settled here in Barzeh. In this community center, you’ll see a small glimpse of Syrian communities around the country. Every day there are more than 400 beneficiaries here, between children, men, and women.

Barzeh and nearby Aysh al-Warwar had big battles. The FSA (Free Syrian Army) was there for a long time. In 2014, there was reconciliation here between the Syrian army and the FSA. This community center is very near the region under truce. So this place is more diverse than other regions of Damascus (in terms of political leanings).”

He explained the Trust’s approach to assisting those in need:

We study the cases to know what are the needs of the people here. We visit their houses. We don’t implement any plan without knowing what is needed and knowing that the plan will meet their needs.

We have a law department which, among other things, helps people who have lost their identity papers during the war.”

Vocational training is offered at the center, including teaching women to sew and men to paint homes.

Sewing training at Barzeh community centre

We also support them with courses on how they can start their own businesses, how to market their products and business. After the workshop we provide them money to start their own businesses, some are loans and others they don’t need to repay. After the courses, we connect the beneficiaries with factories or places of work. And others start their own small businesses.”

Khodr explained that psychological support is offered to women whose husbands were martyred or kidnapped by the FSA or other terrorist groups and to victims of domestic violence. “We teach them to know their rights,” he said.

Children also received psychological support, and for children who have left school because of the war, the Trust gives them special classes to get caught up enough to return to schools.

“This applies to children up to baccalaureate level. We also have classes for people who never studied, elderly who don’t know how to write or read. They receive a certificate from the Syrian government.”

I asked about the women whose husbands might have been members of the FSA or other terrorist groups. “Aren’t you worried that the women will earn money and give it to their husband, to the fighters?”

Khoder replied, “The people who live here are very poor, very in need. They want to live, eat, sleep in peace, they won’t be giving their money to fighters, they need it simply to live. Here we work with beneficiaries as people, not numbers. Other NGOs (UN etc) you’ll see them working in high-class clothing. Here we work with them as brothers and sisters. We work with them whatever their religious or political view. We work with them as humans. They are our brothers and sisters in Syria.”

This last point, about how the Trust deals with those it helps, I saw for myself when Trust employees were talking with the injured soldiers receiving vocational training. They indeed took an interest in the soldiers’ lives, engaging with them as fellow Syrians, to the point that when it was learned that it was the one year birthday of a soldier’s daughter, a cake was procured and we visited the family.

Over the tabbouleh and kibbeh the family offered, as the birthday girl wobbled around the room charming all, the grandfather, himself having served many years in the army, spoke with pride about his wounded son’s service. The personal insights gleaned from conversations and from seeing the state of homes helps the Trust to assess their needs, even needs not mentioned by recipients themselves.

More misery from the West: increased sanctions

In 2020, it’s no secret, and no longer debatable, that the misery Syria’s people have faced for almost a decade—the relentless, savage, terrorism of civilians and military alike—is a product of Western, particularly American, covert and overt meddling.

Western countries use forums like the United Nations as well as government-funded media to further their goals and distort the reality about events on the ground in Syria. The West supports terrorist gangs who have slaughtered and pillaged since the war on Syria started in 2011. In fact, the West and its Gulf allies instigated the non-revolution, flooding money and weapons into Syria before the first protests even emerged.

As I wrote in 2015:


In 2002, then-Under Secretary of State John Bolton added Syria (and Libya, Cuba) to the “rogue states” of George W Bush’s “Axis of Evil,”…meaning Syria was on the list of countries to “bring democracy to” (aka destroy) even back then.

Anthony Cartalucci’s “U.S. Planned Syrian Civilian Catastrophe Since 2007” laid out a number of pivotal statements and events regarding not only the war on Syria but also the events which would be falsely-dubbed the “Arab Spring.” Points include:

  • General Wesley Clark’s revelation of U.S. plans to destroy the governments of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.
  • Seymour Hersh’s 2007 “The Redirection” on NATO and allies’ arming and training of sectarian extremists to create sectarian divide in Lebanon, Syria and beyond.

The 2009 Brookings Institution report, “Which Path to Persia?,” on plans to weaken Syria and Lebanon, to later attack Iran.

Further, asreported:

  • U.S. funding to the Syrian opposition began flowing under the Bush administration in 2005.
  • Since its founding in October 2011, the Syrian National Council has received $20.4 million from Libya, $15 million from Qatar, $5 million from the UAE.

Former French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Roland Dumas, in aJune 2013 TV interviewspoke of his meeting (two years prior) with British officials who confessed that:

Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned….”


The Caesar Act

The recent passage of the Caesar Act is the newest level of criminality targeting Syria, even the name of the act is based on a lie. An implementation of yet further brutal sanctions against the people of Syria, it will cause immense suffering, all under the premise of targeting Syria’s leadership and helping Syria’s people. The flawed and hypocritical logic is one which the U.S. has applied to tens of nations who have refused to cower to its hegemony.

Even U.S. envoy for Syria James Jeffrey has acknowledged America’s intentional destruction of Syria’s economy, allegedly stating recently that the sanctions, “contributed to the collapse of the value of the Syrian pound… the Syrian regime is no longer able to manage an effective economic policy… due to the economic crisis that is also affecting Lebanon. ”

In the same statement, Jeffrey claimed the sanctions will “protect” Syrians, a comment far from reality.

Recall that after the sanctions-induced murder of between one million-one and a half million civilians in Iraq, the Western narrative of sanctions as merely targeting leaders of nations has long been exposed for the malevolent lie that it is.

The website Sanctions Kill notes that “Sanctions are imposed by the United States and its junior partners against countries that resist their agendas. They are a weapon of Economic War, resulting in chronic shortages of basic necessities, economic dislocation, chaotic hyperinflation, artificial famines, disease, and poverty. In every country, the poorest and the weakest – infants, children, the chronically ill and the elderly – suffer the worst impact of sanctions.”

In Venezuela, sanctions led to the deaths of 40,000 Venezuelans in 2018 alone.

Heavily-sanctioned for years, Syria faces the same risks.

As Syrian-American activist, Johnny Achi, told me:

The sanctions on Syria have been imposed since I could remember. Firstly in 1979, when the U.S. first designated Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism for its roll in support of the PLO and the Palestinian cause.

‏In 2004, a new set of sanctions was imposed by Bush the son after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and after Syria refusing to kneel to the demands of the new world order.

Since the so-called “uprisings” began in March 2011, the Obama administration intensely pursued calibrated sanctions to deprive the Syrian government of the resources it needs to quell the terror and violence inflicted on the Syrian population by Obama’s supported Nusra and ISIS terror groups, and to pressure the Syrian president to give in and resign, “to allow for a democratic transition as the Syrian people demand.” Which could not be further away from the truth, since President Assad, by most Western reports, continued to enjoy no less than 70% popularity amongst all Syrians.

All these sanctions up to the new Caesar Act were bearable since Syria has always pride itself of being self-sufficient economically and never needed help from the international community, and refused to be in debt to the IMF or the World Bank.

The Caesar Act of 2019 came in direct response to the series of victories by the Syrian Army against terrorists across the whole country, setting the stage to the final battle of Idlib, the terrorists’ final hotbed.”

Under the sanctions levied by the Caesar Act, Syria cannot import vital medications or the materials to produce them, including for cancer, hypertension, and other critical ailments. Sanctioning Syria’s ability to import medicines, medical equipment, and among many other things, materials for rebuilding, is criminal and an act of terrorism.

As I wrote in a December 2019 editorial for RT:


When I was in Syria last October, a man told me his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but because of the sanctions he couldn’t get her the conventional treatments most in the West would avail of.

In 2016, in Aleppo, before it was liberated of al-Qaeda and co, Dr. Nabil Antaki told me how –because of the sanctions– it had taken him well over a year to get a simple part for his gastroenterology practise.

In 2015, visiting Damascus’ University Hospital, where bed after bed was occupied by a child maimed by terrorists’ shelling (from Ghouta), a nurse told me:

“We have so many difficulties to ensure that we have antibiotics, specialized medicines, maintenance of the equipment… Because of the sanctions, many parts are not available, we have difficulties obtaining them.


In 2018, Syria’s Minister of Health told me that Syria had formerly been dubbed by the World Health Organization a “pioneer state” in providing health care.

“Syria had 60 pharmaceutical factories and was exporting medicine to 58 countries. Now, 16 of these factories are out of service. Terrorists partially or fully destroyed 46 hospitals and 620 medical centers,” he told me.

I asked the minister about the complex in Barzeh, targeted with missile strikes by the U.S. and its allies in April 2018. It turns out that it was part of the Ministry of Health and manufactured cancer treatment medications as well as antidotes for snake or scorpion bites and stings, the antidote also serving as a basic material in the manufacture of many other medicines.

Syrian-American doctor Hussam al-Samman told me about his efforts to send chemotherapy medications to Syria for cancer patients in remission. He jumped through the various hoops of America’s unforgiving bureaucracy to no avail. It was never possible in the first place.

We managed to get a meeting in the White House. We met Rob Malley, a top-notch assistant or adviser of Obama at that time. I asked them: ‘How in the world could your heart let you block chemotherapy from going to people with cancer in Syria?’

The U.S. and allied Western countries imposing the sanctions on Syria should be imprisoned for their crimes against humanity and their support of terrorism in Syria. Yet, there is never justice and the criminals run the show.

Fares Shehabi, a Syrian member of Parliament from Aleppo, highlighted the attack on his country’s economy in 2011:

…when EU backed “rebels” began a systematic campaign of burning & looting thousands of factories in Aleppo, including my own!” The EU, he continued, “sanctioned the Syrian economy to make things worse for our people!”

The latest round of sanctions against Syria, which came into effect on June 17, will target not only the people but also Syria’s ability to rebuild the country. This includes rebuilding the city of Raqqa, utterly destroyed by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria, whose presence is in violation of international law and of Syria’s sovereignty.

“Sanctions Kill” also notes, that, “Currencies are devalued and inflated when sanctions are levied. Countries are pressured to stop doing business with targeted countries. The first sectors affected are generally medicines, cost of food, power, water treatment and other essential human needs. Sanctions violate international law, the UN charter, Geneva and Nuremberg conventions because they target civilians by economic strangulation, creating famines, life threatening shortages, and economic chaos.”

According to the World Food Program, “7.9 million Syrians are food insecure – an increase of 22 percent in just one year. Syria is in the grip of a severe economic crisis, and this is driving levels of food insecurity. Rising food and fuel prices and a depreciating informal exchange rate are making it more difficult for families to access the food they need.”

This is precisely what is occurring in Syria, which, with the help of its allies, is attempting to rebuild. US sanctions will hinder the rebuilding process.

The other day I was chatting with a college student, Naji Kaskas, about how this new round of heightened sanctions affects him. He said:

I started working this year, my savings are in Syrian pounds. Now, they’ve lost half their value, or more. This Caesar Act, what it already has done to us is to contribute to the collapse of the Syrian currency.

We’re unable to buy food like chicken and meat, now, they’re way too expensive. Even milk. We’re not living a normal life, we have anxiety because our future is not stable.

Before, 500 Syrian pounds were equal to US$1 (Note: before 2011 it was around 50 Syrian pounds to the dollar). Now, it has reached 3,000 Syrian pounds, so our salaries are much less now.”

Jordanian political figures denounced the heightened sanctions appropriately as “economic terrorism”, calling them “one of the most dangerous types of crimes against humanity.”

Syrian-American activist Johnny Achi has been back to Syria countless times during the war, including since early 2011. He has seen the effects of the war and also the effects of the sanctions. He told me:

These final sanctions have broken the back of Syrians, whom after 10 years of war are exhausted, resources depleted, and simply put, were looking forward to the rebuilding process and the economic recovery. And that is precisely what these sanctions are meant to stop. Any country, or entity that attempts to help Syria gets back on its feet, will too become a target of the brutal US sanctions.

In a nutshell, what they could not take from us by force, they’re trying to take by punishing and starving an entire population.

But we will always remain resisting. After all that we’ve been through, and all the sacrifices we paid, we have no choice but to continue to live free or die free.”

Indeed, the people of Syria are fighting for their country, families and future, at great personal expense. Meanwhile, the US does everything in its power to destroy their future, country and livelihoods.

Who is really the terrorist state here?

Exclusive: OPCW chief made false claims to denigrate Douma whistleblower, documents reveal 

Exclusive: OPCW chief made false claims to denigrate Douma whistleblower, documents reveal 

 

The Grayzone has obtained documents exposing numerous falsehoods and misleading claims by OPCW Director General Fernando Arias to degrade the reputation of Douma whistleblower Ian Henderson.

By Aaron Mate

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has made false and misleading statements about two veteran inspectors who challenged a cover-up of their investigation in Syria, leaked documents show. The inspectors probed an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma in April 2018, and later objected when their evidence was suppressed.

Documents obtained by The Grayzone reveal that OPCW leaders have engaged in a pattern of deception that minimized the inspectors’ senior roles in the Douma mission and diminished the prestige they enjoyed within the world’s top chemical weapons watchdog.

OPCW Director General Fernando Arias has claimed that the first inspector, South African chemical engineering and ballistics expert Ian Henderson, “was not a member” of the Douma investigative team and only played a “minor supporting role.”

However, contemporaneous communications from the OPCW’s Douma Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) directly contradict Arias. They show that Henderson was indeed a Douma team member, and that OPCW leadership directed him to lead its most critical inspections. They also show that Arias, rather than acknowledge that Henderson was an FFM member, offered up a false explanation for why Henderson was in Syria at the time of the probe.

Arias has also disingenuously minimized the role of the second inspector, known only to the public as “Inspector B.” This will be examined in part two of this article.

The OPCW’s investigation was triggered when extremist anti-Syrian government militants and Western states accused the Syrian army of dropping gas cylinders on two buildings in Douma, killing dozens of civilians. The U.S., France, and Britain bombed Syrian government targets days later, asserting their right to enforce the chemical weapons “red line.” After a nearly year-long investigation, the OPCW issued a final report in March 2019 that claimed “reasonable grounds” existed to believe that a chlorine attack occurred.

However, a trove of leaked documents has shown that the OPCW leadership suppressed and manipulated evidence that undermined the allegation against the Syrian military. The first of such leaks was an engineering assessment authored by Henderson that concluded that the gas cylinders in Douma were likely “manually placed.”

That conclusion suggested the incident was staged on the ground by the armed militants who controlled Douma at the time. Additional leaks later revealed that Inspector B protested the censorship of critical evidence and toxicology reports, as well as the manipulation of chemical samples and witness statements. Henderson and B also complained that OPCW leaders excluded all of the Douma investigators except for one paramedic from a so-called “core” team that wrote the organization’s final report.

In response to the scandal, OPCW Director General Arias convened an inquiry into the Henderson leak and unveiled its findings in February 2020. In a bid to strip Henderson and Inspector B of credibility, Arias and the inquiry team painted the two as rogue actors with only peripheral roles.

Evidence obtained by The Grayzone reveals that Arias’ characterization of the two inspectors was inaccurate, and contradicted by facts OPCW officials kept private.

“ODG is happy if the visits to the cylinders and hospital are led by Ian Henderson”

Arias and the inquiry team have asserted that Ian Henderson was not an official participant in the Douma investigation. Henderson, they claimed, “was not a member of the FFM” [Fact-Finding Mission], and instead merely “accompanied the FFM to certain sites of interest” in a “minor supporting role.”

Contemporaneous OPCW documents undermine this characterization, revealing that the OPCW leadership disingenuously minimized Henderson’s involvement by issuing false statements and omitting key facts about his real role.

An April 2018 letter obtained by The Grayzone shows that while it was headed by Arias’ predecessor, the OPCW’s Office of Director General (ODG) specifically requested that Henderson lead inspections at three high-priority locations in Douma. The letter, an operations communication from OPCW headquarters, instructed the Douma team to visit the two locations where the gas cylinders were found; the hospital where a video was filmed of alleged gas attack victims; and a fourth, redacted location.

“…ODG is happy,” the letter instructed, “if the visits to the cylinders and hospital are led by Ian Henderson.”

Extract from an OPCW communiqué on behalf of the Director General’s Office. The full document can be viewed here.

The April 2018 directive by OPCW leadership for Henderson to lead the inspections at three of the investigation’s most critical and sensitive locations was completely at odds with the claims by organization leadership that Henderson merely “accompanied the FFM to certain sites of interest,” and “assisted” in a “minor supporting role.”

The two cylinders were undoubtedly the mission’s most important inspections: it was at these locations that the alleged chemical weapons attack took place, and the cylinders were the alleged means of delivery. The fact that Henderson was tasked with leading the inspection of the alleged crime scene shows that OPCW leaders did not see him as playing a “minor supporting role,” but a major leadership one.

“Ian HENDERSON | FFM”

If Henderson was “not a member” of the Douma Fact Finding Mission, as Arias now claims, why did his predecessor’s office specifically request that Henderson lead three inspections at the mission’s most important locations? The answer is that Arias had made another false statement: a second leaked OPCW document from the Douma mission explicitly listed Henderson as an FFM member.

The document obtained by The Grayzone is a sensitive security-planning memorandum, known as a CONOPS (Concept of Operations). It detailed the operational and security arrangements for one of the FFM’s location visits in Douma. On a page outlining the OPCW’s “Mission Personnel” and their roles, Henderson is listed, next to the title, “FFM.”

Extract from an OPCW CONOPS document listing Ian Henderson as a member of the FFM in Douma. The Grayzone has viewed the document to confirm its authenticity but is only publishing this extract due to the sensitive nature of the document for UN security operations.

“INSPECTOR HENDERSON, IAN WILL BE PART OF THE TEAM”

In trying to justify his current claim that Henderson was not an FFM member, Arias has adduced the fact that Henderson’s “name is not included in the mandates issued for FFM deployments signed by my predecessor.” But Arias’ account distorts the actual timeline of events and omits other OPCW documents.

As Henderson has previously noted publicly, he was not included in the initial OPCW “mandate,” because at that point he was on a separate mission in Nepal. Upon his return, Henderson was immediately assigned to the FFM team in Douma. The Syrian government was then notified that Henderson was joining the mission – a communication that Arias has conveniently ignored.

The Grayzone has obtained an “F038” notification document advising the Syrian government that Henderson is joining the Douma mission as a member of the FFM team. “PLEASE NOTE THAT INSPECTOR HENDERSON, IAN WILL BE PART OF THE TEAM CONDUCTING THE TECHNICAL SECRETARIAT VISITS,” the communiqué reads. Henderson is also listed as the newly added member of a 7-person “LIST OF INSPECTORS.”

Extract from an OPCW notification to the Syrian government adding Ian Henderson to the FFM team of inspectors in Douma. The full document can be viewed here.

Why Henderson was in Douma

Rather than acknowledge the documented fact that Henderson was a member of the FFM tasked with leading some of its most high-priority and sensitive operations, the OPCW has offered an unusual explanation for his presence in Douma.

The OPCW leadership has attributed Henderson’s on-the-ground involvement to happenstance, the result of his already being in Syria anyway. “[Henderson] provided support to the FFM team investigating the Douma incident since he was at the command post in Damascus at the relevant time,” the OPCW’s inquiry stated. [emphasis added]  “It is customary for the inspector serving at the command post to provide assistance to the FFM.”

But an OPCW document obtained by The Grayzone shows that Henderson only took over the Damascus command post after the Douma FFM mission had finished its deployment. On May 3rd 2018 – two days after Henderson and the FFM wrapped up 10 days of inspections in Douma – the OPCW’s Damascus mission recorded that Henderson had taken control.

OPCW document acknowledging that Ian Henderson has taken over the OPCW’s Command Post in Damascus on May 3rd – two days after the end of the Douma FFM’s mission.

“Our best ITL… used for the most complex and sensitive missions”

In addition to making false statements about Henderson’s role in the Douma FFM, Arias and the OPCW inquiry have also made several denigrating statements about the inspector’s standing within the organization that omitted important facts.

In a February 2020 letter published by The Grayzone, Henderson confronted Arias for making “underhanded” and “demeaning” comments that falsely minimized his experience and seniority within the OPCW. Henderson served with the organization since its inception, first from June 1997 to December 2005, and then for a second tenure from June 2016 to May 2019.

Arias said that Henderson was “eventually… promoted to Team Leader,” when in fact he was among the first group of Inspection Team Leaders (ITLs) to be appointed at the P-5 level – the OPCW’s most senior designation for an inspector. Arias has also claimed that Henderson “was rehired at a lower level” upon his return in June 2016, when in fact, at that point, the P-5 designation for OPCW ITLs no longer existed due to budgetary decisions.

Annual performance appraisals and letters obtained by The Grayzone also reveal that Henderson was highly regarded within the organization. In 2005, the Director of the OPCW’s Inspectorate Division – which oversees all of the organization’s global inspections – wrote that “in all of Mr. Henderson’s annual appraisal reports” during his OPCW tenure, he had received “the highest rating possible.”

The Director added: “In my opinion, I consider that Mr. Henderson is one of the best of our Inspection Team Leaders… Being one of the best Inspection Team Leaders, Mr. Henderson is aware that he can expect to be selected to lead the most demanding and sensitive assignments.”

In 2018, an OPCW manager described Henderson as having “a wealth of knowledge,” whose “negotiation talent paired with his technical knowledge and skill make him an asset.” The previous year, a manager lauded Henderson for having “contributed to CBCP [Capacity Building and Contingency Planning Cell] cell achievements significantly.” The manager particularly praised Henderson for “leading and participation” in sensitive contingency operations, including the OPCW’s inspection of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) in 2017.

Who went rogue?

In his letter to Arias, Henderson invoked his and Inspector B’s lengthy, celebrated tenures inside the OPCW. “We are long-serving and dedicated OPCW supporters,” Henderson wrote. “We both have reams of documents such as performance appraisals, emails, letters of commendation and others, that reflect a history of service at the highest level in terms of qualifications, skills, expertise, leadership, integrity and professionalism throughout our time at the OPCW.”

“Does this not place the efforts by some to smear our reputations, on questionable ground?” he continued. “As a manager, as the highest official in the Organisation, does this not lead to the question: Why would a pair of the top Inspection Team Leaders, both with impeccable records… suddenly ‘go rogue’?”

The documentary evidence that Henderson played a leading role in the Douma investigation – and that Arias has made false statements to the contrary – adds new salience to those questions. It also raises an inverse question for Arias: why has the OPCW Director General falsified Henderson’s role in the Douma investigation?

Aaron Mate headshot

Aaron Maté is a journalist and producer. He hosts Pushback with Aaron Maté on The Grayzone. He is also is contributor to The Nation magazine and former host/producer for The Real News and Democracy Now!. Aaron has also presented and produced for Vice, AJ+, and Al Jazeera.

Sanctioned Countries Are Now Leading the World in the Fight Against Coronavirus

While countries like Cuba, China and Russia are in the forefront of the fight against Covid 19 sending doctors and supplies around the world and challenging U.S. has led the world in stealing or requisitioning supplies destined for other nations.
Coronavirus Sanctions Feature photo
AGAINST ALL ODDS

Countries currently facing US sanctions, around a quarter of the world’s population, are faring far better than the United States and leading the global fight against COVID-19.

China, for instance, the first epicenter of the outbreak, has managed to slow its new COVID-19 cases to a trickle, reopening for business after losing 4,632 people – a number that, in the context of a stark April reality, appears impressively low. Although much of the discourse in the West condemns the Chinese government’s supposedly incompetent or slow response to COVID-19, the reality is that Beijing alerted the World Health Organization on December 31, when just 27 cases (and no deaths) had been identified, with authorities not yet even aware that the condition was a coronavirus.

The country is at the forefront of the production and distribution of protective and medical equipment throughout the world and, along with Russia (another sanctioned state) is one of the few nations to fly medical personnel around the world to help other countries. Russia even sent a planeload of cargo to the United States, despite the American sanctions hurting its economy. While their actions have been presented in corporate media as cynically trying to “curry favor” abroad, the aid has been much appreciated in countries suffering under the pandemic. In contrast, the U.S. has led the world in stealing or requisitioning supplies destined for other nations.

Cuba is on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus. Cuban doctors are traveling the world and challenging long-held media narratives.

Another sanctioned state exporting doctors across the world during the pandemic is Cuba, the island nation is sending medical staff to neighbors like Haiti, Venezuela, Suriname and Jamaica and also further afield to Italy. “This is a global battle and we have to fight it together,” said nurse Carlos Armando Garcia Hernandez, capturing the medical internationalist spirit of Cuban medicine pioneered by Che Guevara, who quipped that, “The life of a single human being is worth a million times more than all the property of the richest man on earth.” A Cuban antiviral drug, Interferon Alpha 2b, has also proved successful in boosting patients’ immune systems, helping them fight off the coronavirus, and is now being used worldwide.

Venezuela, meanwhile, struggling under crippling U.S. sanctions that have claimed the lives of at least 100,000 people according to an American UN Special Rapporteur, has mobilized to fight the virus head on. The country has conducted twice as many tests as any other South American nation, but only 288 COVID-19 cases have been found, leading to only 10 deaths. Even before any cases were confirmed, President Maduro declared a health emergency, quickly closing public buildings like theaters and restaurants. His administration rapidly organized a huge online database where citizens could inform authorities of their symptoms. Medical professionals visited tens of thousands of people in their own homes, distributing test kits and advice. Maduro decreed the suspension of all rent and utility bills during the crisis, also banning the firing of workers.

A testament to the country’s efforts is that thousands of Venezuelan expats in the U.S., at least 92 percent of whom voted against Maduro in the 2013 elections, came back to the country during the pandemic, suggesting they are far more confident in Venezuela’s handling of the crisis.

Despite struggling under US sanctions, Venezuela is handling the coronavirus crisis by placing value in health over profits.

Meanwhile, Vietnam, a country not currently sanctioned but having faced Washington’s wrath for decades, surely earns the top prize in handling the virus. Despite recording its first positive case just two days after the first American one, authorities have managed to limit the outbreak to just 268 cases and zero deaths. This is not because they are not testing, far from it. In fact, the country has designed, developed and mass produced multiple test kits all costing less than $20 each and giving dependable results in less than 90 minutes.

Those arriving from abroad are quarantined for two weeks while anyone coming to a major city or building has their temperature checked. Whole villages and towns have been fenced off due to one positive test. There is certainly an authoritarian element to their response; those lying about their past whereabouts or found to be spreading false information about the pandemic can face charges. However, the response has hinged upon the strong collective solidarity of the Vietnamese people, many of whom have likened the present events to the Tet Offensive, where millions united in secret to drive the American invaders back in a surprise attack.

In Iran, one of the first global hotspots and a country that planners in the U.S. were gleefully predicting would fall in on itself under the strain, has managed to get to grips with the pandemic. The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 has been falling day-on-day since March 30.

Ironically, Mohammad Morandi, a professor at the University of Tehran, claims the crippling sanctions that blocked Iranian oil exports have inadvertently better prepared them to deal with the total collapse in global oil prices than U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia, the UAE or Qatar.

Seyed Mohammad Marandi@s_m_marandi

Trump blocked Iranian oil exports & inadvertently prepared Iran for the collapse of the oil market.

Are others prepared? Will the Saudi regime survive? UAE? Kuwait? Qatar? US shale? What will happen to the US banking sector & oil industry?

The balance of power is shifting.

While the sanctioned countries vary greatly in their level of human development and the democratic credentials of their governments, they all share one thing in common: they have refused to buy into a U.S.-led neoliberal economic order that appears totally unprepared and unable to come to terms with a globalized pandemic. Countries that have been the most enthusiastic adopters of neoliberalism have, not coincidentally, found their individualistic ideology that promotes greed and discourages collective solutions sorely lacking in tackling a public health crisis that threatens the entire world.

Feature photo | Staff work at a lab in an Iranian medical firm work on coronavirus testing kits just outside Tehran, Iran, April 11, 2020. Ebrahim Noroozi | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

Ambassador says coronavirus imported to China, points to genetic sequence as proof

The US had months to prepare for the Covid pandemic but did nothing and wasted that time –  their inaction and mismanagement was never the fault of the Chinese.

https://tass.com/world/1146127

On Wednesday, Fox News reported, citing its sources, that the virus had allegedly spread from a Wuhan laboratory

MOSCOW, April 17. /TASS/. A gene sequence in the novel coronavirus indicates that the virus was imported to China’s Wuhan, instead of emerging there, China’s Ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui told TASS Friday.

“Five reputable scientific organizations, including the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden and the Central Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have collected data on 93 genome specimens of COVID-19, published in a global database covering 12 countries on four continents,” the diplomat specified. “The research revealed that the earliest ‘ancestor’ of the virus is mv1, which evolved into haplotypes H13 and H38, and they, in turn, led to emergence of the second-generation haplotype — H3, which evolved into H1.”

For clarity, the ambassador used family ties to trace the virus’s development. Thus, the mv1 haplotype is “the grand-grandfather,” while H13 and H38 are “the grandma and grandpa,” H3 — is “the father” and H1 is “the child.”

“The virus that was discovered at Wuhan’s seafood market was of the H1 variety,” he continued. “Only the H3 haplotype was discovered in Wuhan earlier, but it had nothing to do with the seafood market.”

The previous gene sequences, H13 and H38, were never discovered in Wuhan.

“This suggests that the H1 specimen was brought to the seafood market by some infected person, which sparked the epidemic. The gene sequence cannot lie,” Zhang Hanhui asserted.

The ambassador castigated attempts to pin the blame for the pandemic on China as libel, and reiterated that the country had to undertake huge efforts and suffer a lot of casualties in order to beat the disease.

“In doing so, China bought time for other nations — two entire months — in order to allow them to take prevention and control measures,” he concluded.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump doubted that China had divulged all information about the virus’s emergence and spread. On Wednesday, Fox News reported, citing its sources, that the virus had allegedly spread from a Wuhan laboratory. Trump promised to look into this version.

Coronavirus source

The initial source of COVID-19’s spread has not been identified yet, but it could be a number of regions, Zhang Hanhui stated.

“Numerous facts indicate that the source of COVID-19 has not been identified yet and point towards various regions. The virus is the common enemy of all of mankind, and the search for ‘patient zero’ is aimed not to nail them to a ‘pillar of shame’ but to better understand this virus, discover its evolutionary path and then defeat it completely,” the diplomat explained. “By relying on contemporary science and technologies, we can trace the source of the virus and be sure that, sooner or later, the day will come when everything that’s been concealed will be revealed.”

According to the envoy, although the novel coronavirus was first discovered in Wuhan, there are no facts determining that the source had originated from there.

He provided an example of a married couple from Japan, who contracted the disease in Hawaii between January 28 and February 7, “without visiting China or contacting any Chinese.” Notably, the husband had symptoms by February 3.

Zhang Hanhui pointed to media reports that speculate that the virus had appeared in Italy’s Lombardy as early as January 1.

“Besides, according to some media, a renowned Italian medical specialist Giuseppe Remuzzi opined that the epidemic in Italy had begun spreading before it started in China,” he pointed out.

The diplomat also recalled a comment made by Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who speculated that the large number of flu deaths in the US could have in fact been caused by COVID-19, but the US did not test for it at that time.

“Italy hoped to trace the first infection case by conducting an exhumation, but the US vehemently disagreed,” the Chinese envoy emphasized.

US allegations

Beijing furnished the United States with coronavirus data on time, Zhang Hanhui told TASS Friday, commenting on Washington’s allegations that Beijing withheld information about the epidemic.

The diplomat recalled that in late December 2019, the Wuhan Center for Disease Prevention and Control (China CDC) discovered the previously unknown pneumonia cases. According to the ambassador, starting January 3, 2020, China “promptly and timely provided the World Health Organization (WHO), the US and nations’ relevant agencies with information on the epidemic.”

“On January 4, the head of the Chinese CDC contacted the US CDC Director and briefed him on the epidemiologic situation,” the envoy said. “On January 8 and 19, the Chinese and American Centers again directly held contacts on the coronavirus issue.”

The diplomat added that China shared the virus’s entire genome sequence with the WHO and the nations of the world, while the National Health Commission published daily bulletins on the epidemic on its official websites and other media platforms.

Zhang Hanhui underscored that the WHO Director-General Thedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked Beijing for its openness and cooperation.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the fight against the coronavirus in the US was complicated by China’s failure to provide Washington with comprehensive information about the disease.

China’s international help

Up to now, China has assisted 120 nations and four international organizations in battling the coronavirus by shipping medical masks, protective attire and ventilators, Zhang Hanhui told TASS.

According to the ambassador, the People’s Republic has done everything to restore production as soon as the initial coronavirus outbreak was contained, and currently is manufacturing more than a half of world’s stockpile of medical equipment.

“[China] has provided 120 countries and four international organizations with general use medical masks, N95 respirators, protective wear, nucleic acid detection chemicals and ventilators,” the envoy said. “Besides, [Beijing] also contributed $20 million to the World Health Organization to support international cooperation in battling COVID-19. Ignoring China’s contribution and sacrifices goes against moral norms and conscience.”

The envoy also noted that no one is safe in the face of the pandemic, and therefore all nations “must unite, instead of pinning the blame on one another.”

“Racism and a Cold War mindset are not only useless in the fight against the ongoing epidemic, but can even drag our world into the abyss,” he underscored. “[The pandemic] knows no borders. Nations of the world are a community bound by a single destiny.”

What is needed most of all is an effective joint prevention strategy to fight the coronavirus, Zhang Hanhui believes.

“We must also work together to iron out economic relations, unblock trade channels, overcome possible financial crises, and prevent a global economic downturn,” the envoy emphasized. “Only through the unity and joint efforts of all of humanity will we achieve a comprehensive victory in the global fight against the pandemic.”

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 2,000,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 147,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 553,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

THE STAGGERING COST OF ISRAEL TO AMERICANS: THE FACTS

From: Astute News

The Staggering Cost of Israel to Americans: The Facts

Israel has a population of approximately 8.7 million, roughly equal to the state of New Jersey. It is among the world’s most affluent nations, with a per capita income slightly below that of the European Union.[1] Israel’s unemployment rate of 4.3% is better than America’s 4.4%,[2] and Israel’s net trade, earnings, and payments is ranked 22nd in the world while the US sits in last place at a dismal 202nd.[3]

Yet, Israel receives more of America’s foreign aid budget than any other nation. The US has, in fact, given more aid to Israel than it has to all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined—which have a total population of over a billion people.[5]

And foreign aid is just one component of the staggering cost of our alliance with Israel.

Given the tremendous costs, it is critical to examine why we lavish so much aid on Israel, and whether it is worth Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars. But first, let’s take a look at what our alliance with Israel truly costs.

Before the Iraq War in 2003

Direct Foreign Aid

According to the Congressional Research Service, the amount of official US aid to Israel since its founding in 1948 tops $134 billion (adjusting for inflation, roughly $252.7 billion as of March 2018), and in the past few decades it has been on the order of $3.1 billion per year.[6] (In 2014, for example, this amounted to $8.5 million every single day, and today totals over $10.4 million per day)

But this money is only part of the story. For one thing, Israel gets all of its aid money at the start of each year, rather than in quarterly installments like other countries.[7] This is significant: It means that Israel can start earning interest on the money right away – interest paid by the US since Israel deposits these funds into an interest-bearing account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.[7.1] In addition, because the US government operates at a deficit, it must borrow money in order to give it to Israel and then pay interest on it all year. Together these cost US taxpayers more than $100 million every year.

Israel is also the only recipient of US military aid that is allowed to use a significant portion annually to purchase products made by Israeli companies instead of US companies. (The costs to Americans caused by this unique perk are discussed below.)

In addition, the US gives roughly $1.2 billion per year to Egypt and Jordan in aid packages arranged largely in exchange for peace treaties with Israel. The treaties don’t include justice for Palestinians, and are therefore deeply unpopular with the local populations.[8]

On top of this, the US gives around $250 million to the Palestinian Authority each year,[9] much of it used to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by Israel and to bolster an economy stifled by the Israeli occupation.[10] This would be unnecessary if Israel were to end the occupation and allow the Palestinians to build a functioning and self-sustaining economy.

Yet, there’s still much more to the story, because parts of US aid to Israel are buried in the budgets of various US agencies, mostly the Department of Defense. For example, since at least 2006, the American Defense budget has included between $202 and $729 million per year for missile defense programs in Israel.[11]

In all, direct US disbursements to Israel are higher than to any other country, even though Israelis only make up 0.1% of the world’s population. On average, Israelis receive 7,000 times more US foreign aid per capita than other people throughout the world, despite the fact that Israel is one of the world’s more affluent nations.[12] And that number rises significantly when one considers disbursements to Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority and Defense spending on behalf of Israel.

Additional Ad hoc support for Israel

Dr. Thomas Stauffer, a Harvard economist and Middle East studies professor who twice served in the Executive Office of the President, wrote a comprehensive report about all components of the relationship with Israel’s cost to American taxpayers for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in 2003. He wrote:

“Another element is ad hoc support for Israel, which is not part of the formal foreign aid programs. No comprehensive compilation of US support for Israel has been publicly released. Additional known items include loan guarantees… special contracts for Israeli firms, legal and illegal[13] transfers of marketable US military technology, de facto exemption from US trade protection provisions, and discounted sales or free transfers of ‘surplus’ US military equipment. An unquantifiable element is the trade and other aid given to Romania and Russia to facilitate Jewish migration to Israel; this has accumulated to many billions of dollars.”[14]

Israel has often used its privileged access to US military technology against both the US government and US corporate interests. According to the Associated Press in 2002,

“In France, Turkey, The Netherlands and Finland, Israeli companies have edged such U.S. firms as Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics out of arms deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years. The irony, experts say, is that tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars and transfers of American military technology helped create and nurture Israel’s industry, in effect subsidizing a foreign competitor.”

The AP article quoted a vice president at the Aerospace Industries Association of America, who bluntly said, “We give them money to build stuff for themselves and the U.S. taxpayer gets nothing in return.”[15]

Meanwhile, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Israel has also “blocked some major US arms sales, such as F-15 fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia in the mid-1980s. That cost $40 billion over 10 years.”[16]

Even worse, Israeli weapons “buttress the arsenals of nations such as China that the United States considers strategic competitors, alarming US military planners,” the Associated Press article went on to report. “[In 2001] US surveillance planes flying along China’s coast were threatened by Chinese fighter jets armed with Israeli missiles… Had Chinese fighter pilots been given the order to fire, they could have brought down the US planes with Israeli Python III missiles… US defense chiefs say Israel sold China the missiles without informing the United States.”[17]

Lost jobs, trade, and standing

One of the most devastating indirect costs of the US alliance with Israel was the Arab oil boycott of 1973. The Arab states imposed the boycott in protest of U.S. support of Israel during the 1973 war, in which Arab countries attempted to reclaim lands Israel had invaded and occupied in 1967.

“Washington’s intervention triggered the Arab oil embargo which cost the U.S. doubly: first, due to the oil shortfall, the US lost about $300 billion to $600 billion in GDP; and, second, the US was saddled with another $450 billion in higher oil import costs,” wrote Stauffer in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.[18]

Then there’s the cost in lost jobs. “US policy and trade sanctions reduce US exports to the Middle East about $5 billion a year, costing 70,000 or so American jobs,” Stauffer estimates. “Not requiring Israel to use its US aid to buy American goods, as is usual in foreign aid, costs another 125,000 jobs.”[19]

But perhaps the most damaging cost to the US has been its loss of standing in the Arab and Muslim worlds, where US largesse towards Israel as it commits human rights violations[20] provokes deep resentment. “To many of the world’s Muslims, it places the US taxpayer on the Israeli side of its conflicts with Arabs,” observed the Associated Press article.[21]

According to Harvard professor Stephen Walt, “The 9/11 Commission reported that 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s ‘animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with US foreign policy favoring Israel.’ Other anti-American terrorists—such as Ramzi Yousef, who led the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center—have offered similar explanations for their anger toward the United States.”[22]

There are many more potential categories of costs that are even more difficult to quantify. All in all, Stauffer estimates that Israel cost the US about $1.6 trillion between 1973 and 2003 alone—more than twice the cost of the Vietnam war.[23]

Costs since Stauffer’s study in 2003

Israel’s cost to American taxpayers has remained high since Stauffer’s 2003 study. From 2009 to 2016, the US gave Israel an average of nearly $3 billion a year in military aid, under an agreement signed in 2007 by the Bush administration to transfer $30 billion to Israel over ten years.[24] This includes about $800 million for Israel to spend on local security products every year.

Recently, aid has been increased even further. On September 12, 2018, the Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, requiring that a minimum of $3.8 billion of aid be given to Israel annually until 2028. [25] Included in the bill’s provisions are strong measures to prevent aid from being withheld by the U.S., which has historically been attempted by nearly every president since Eisenhower in order to stop Israel from committing human rights violations or illegally confiscating Palestinian land.

Each military aid agreement with signed by Israel with the U.S. since the 1980’s has included an “Off Shore Procurement (OSP)” clause, which permits Israel to exchange 26.4 percent of the aid funds from dollars to shekels, which were then spent on military equipment from Israeli companies rather than purchasing American military goods. Because of this arrangement, the U.S. has subsidized Israel’s military industry by hundreds of millions of dollars yearly for close to thirty years. [26]

Israel has also spent roughly 13% of the yearly aid – $400 million – on different varieties of fuel for the IDF in recent years, in particular jet fuel for aircraft. Israel is unique among all U.S. aid recipients in being allowed to use aid funds in local markets and on fuel.

Combining the Off Shore Procurement (OSP) and fuel purchases, Israel is spending $1.2 billion each year (about 40% of yearly aid) to directly support its domestic budget. All of the other extras and costs remain and in some cases have increased since 2003. For example, “Despite a tough economic climate and expected US budget cuts—including drastic cuts to the US military budget—US lawmakers will provide $236 million in fiscal 2012 for the Israeli development of three missile defense programs,” reported Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.[27]

In addition, the US government “has provided $205 million to support the Iron Dome, manufactured by Israel’s state-owned Raphael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. The system uses small radar-guided missiles to blow up in midair Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of 3 miles to 45 miles, as well as mortar bombs… Legislation moving through the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives would give Israel additional $680 million for the Iron Dome system through 2015.”[28]

And if, as many experts believe, the US would not have invaded Iraq without intense and sustained pressure from Washington insiders who advocate actively on behalf of Israel,[29] this adds yet another dimension of staggering cost to the equation: “hundreds of billions of dollars, 4,000-plus U.S. and allied fatalities, untold tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and many thousands of other US, allied, and Iraqi casualties,” according to retired US foreign service officer Shirl McArthur.[30]

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes put the cost of the Iraq War at over $3 trillion, and incalculably more if you take into account the opportunity costs of the resources spent on this unproductive war. For example, higher oil prices due to the war have had a devastating impact on America’s economy, and so have the surging federal debt and the servicing of that debt. Without the war, the 2008 financial crisis almost certainly would not have been as severe, and the Afghanistan war most likely would have been shorter, cheaper, and more effective.[31]

The Israel lobby and partisans are currently gunning for a war with Iran with the same zeal they showed in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[32] By all estimates, the costs of a war with Iran will be much higher than the Iraq war. In addition to the loss of life, analysts predict, for example, that if Iran’s oil production were taken out of the world market, gas prices would rise 25-70 percent.

If the Straits of Hormuz (straits adjacent to Iran through which 20% of the world’s oil production passes on a daily basis) were attacked or blockaded, the cost of oil would skyrocket to a level never seen before, and the economic recession or depression that followed would be nothing short of “apocalyptic,” according to Matthew Yglesias writing for Slate.[33]

Reasons and Consequences

So now we are back to the question of why America continues to pour money into a state that commits daily human rights violations, defies US strategic interests,[34] provokes rage and resentment among billions of people,[35] competes with and crowds out US interests using technology subsidized by US taxpayers, and sells America’s military secrets to its enemies.[36]

The answer is simple and summed up well by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer in their ground-breaking article in the London Review of Books, “The Israel Lobby,”[37] and their book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy.[38]

“Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?” the article asks. “One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.

“Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby.’ Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country—in this case, Israel—are essentially identical.”[39]

AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is consistently ranked in the top two most powerful lobbies in Washington.[40] And it is only one arm of the much larger, multi-faceted, and well-financed Israel lobby.[41]

According to Congressman Jim Moran, “AIPAC is very well organized. The members are willing to be very generous with their personal wealth. But it’s a two edged sword. If you cross AIPAC, AIPAC is unforgiving and will destroy you politically. Their means of communications, their ties to certain newspapers and magazines, and individuals in the media are substantial and intimidating. Every [Congress] member knows it’s the best-organized national lobbying force.”[42]

Senator Joseph Lieberman proudly stated, “Any attempt to pressure Israel, to force Israel to the negotiating table by denying Israel support, will not pass in Congress… Congress will act against any attempt to do that.”[43]

It’s true: The US Congress, along with the executive branch, overwhelmingly support virtually any action or wish of the Israeli government, no matter how at odds with US national interest or security,[44] primarily because of the power of the Israel lobby.[45]

Even when two AIPAC employees were indicted on espionage charges in 2005, and it was determined that they had obtained classified US government information illegally and passed it to Israeli agents, the charges were quietly dropped on technicalities.[46] AIPAC fired both employees and issued a statement that they were fired because their actions did not comport with AIPAC standards.[47] One of the fired employees, Steven Rosen, filed a lawsuit for defamation, claiming his actions were, in fact, common practice at AIPAC.[48]

When Israel attempted to sink a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Liberty, in 1967, killing 34 Americans and injuring over 170, it still failed to put a dent in aid to Israel.[49] Indeed, aid quadrupled the following year.[50]

Though Congressmen receive payments and support from the lobby in exchange for their loyalty, the American taxpayer is left footing the bill. As detailed above, the total cost has run from a bare minimum of $121 billion since 1948 (the cost of foreign aid alone) to $1.6 trillion or more, factoring in Defense appropriations, oil crises, the destruction to the USS Liberty (causing the $40 million ship to be scrapped), the heightened risk of terrorism, lost trade and co-opted technology, and countless other factors. If the Iraq war and the increased risk of a war with Iran are factored in, the cost skyrockets even higher.

Critics point out how much brighter our future would be if we had invested these billions or trillions in veteran rehabilitation and care, education, job creation, social security, housing, environmental clean-up and prevention, roads, bridges, health care, and scientific and health research. Or if Americans had simply held onto their tax dollars and used them as they saw fit, in our own economy. If some of the higher estimates are closer to the mark, our support for Israel could easily have covered the $700 billion TARP bailout with a great deal left over for massive stimulus spending and/or tax breaks.

If Israel were using these funds for a good purpose, one could debate whether the price was worth it. But Israel uses most of the money to prolong a 47-year military occupation (which regularly involves gross violations of international law),[51] commit egregious human rights violations,[52] and destroy billions of dollars worth of Palestinian homes and infrastructure[53](resulting in still more U.S. tax money being sent to Palestinians to rebuild demolished homes, hospitals, and schools), while building illegal, Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.[54]

It makes the prospect of peace ever more distant, creates dangerous hostility to the US, placing Americans in peril, and puts the US Congress in violation of the Arms Export Control Act,[55] all for the sake of campaign contributions.

There is no good reason to keep throwing good money after bad in a failed, ill-founded policy. It’s long past time for a fundamental rethinking of the American government’s blank check to Israel.

References:

[1] “Country Comparison: GDP Per Capita (PPP),” CIA World Factbook, 2012. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html

[2] “Country comparison: Unemployment rate,” CIA World Factbook, 2012. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2129rank.html

[3] “Country comparison: Current account balance,” CIA World Factbook, 2012. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2187rank.html

[4] US Department of State, “State and USAID – FY 2013 Budget, February 13, 2012. https://2009-2017.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/02/183808.htm

[5] Richard Curtiss, “The Cost of Israel to the American People,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 1998. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/download/cost-new.pdf

[6] Jeremy Sharp, “US foreign aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service, August 7, 2019. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf Ora Coren and Nadan Feldman, “U.S. aid to Israel totals over 233.6b over six decades,” Ha’aretz, March 20, 2013. http://www.haaretz.com/business/u-s-aid-to-israel-totals-233-7b-over-six-decades.premium-1.510592

[7] Clyde R. Mark, “Israel: US Foreign Assistance,” Congressional Research Service, April 26, 2005 http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/IB85066.pdf (Particularly noteworthy is the subsection of this report entitled, “Special Benefits for Israel.)

[7.1] Jeremy M. Sharp, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service, August 7, 2019 https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[8] USAID, “Foreign Aid By Country,” 2016. Egypt: https://explorer.usaid.gov/cd/EGY?implementing_agency_id=1 Jordan: https://explorer.usaid.gov/cd/JOR?implementing_agency_id=1 Retrieved on November 13, 2018.

[9] Jim Zanotti, “US foreign aid to the Palestinians,” Congressional Research Service, November 2, 2018. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS22967.pdf

[10] “Sustaining Achievements in Palestinian Institution-building and Economic Growth,” World Bank, September 18, 2011. http://unispal.un.org/pdfs/WBank09-2011_AHLCReport.pdf Quote from the report: “Ultimately, in order for the Palestinian Authority to sustain the reform momentum and its achievements in institution-building, remaining Israeli restrictions must be lifted.” See also: Dan Murphy, “Amid Palestinian statehood push, a grim World Bank report on the West Bank, Gaza,” Christian Science Monitor, September 14, 2011. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Backchannels/2011/0914/Amid-Palestinian-statehood-push-a-grim-World-Bank-report-on-the-West-Bank-Gaza Quote from the article: “The World Bank says that recent economic growth in Gaza and the West Bank has been almost entirely thanks to foreign aid, that a slowing of foreign aid delivery has presented the PA with a possible fiscal crisis, and that Israeli policies continue to stand in the way of sustainable economic improvement in the territories.”

[11] Jeremy Sharp, “US foreign aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service, August 7, 2019. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[12] US Department of State, “State and USAID – FY 2013 Budget, February 13, 2012. https://2009-2017.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/02/183808.htm

[13] ‘Illegal transfers’ refers to several instances in which Israel has been accused of violating the Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the use of US military assistance for purposes other than legitimate self-defense. For example, during Israel’s invasions of Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, the Israeli air force dumped tens of thousands of cluster bomblets over wide civilian areas, resulting in horrific and long-lasting civilian casualties with dubious military utility. That’s not even to begin to touch on daily Israeli violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories. Despite overwhelming evidence of Israeli violations of international law using US-supplied weapons, the US Congress has done little to comply with its own laws against funding such violations.

[14] Thomas Stauffer, “The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003. http://ifamericansknew.org/stat/stauffer.html

[15] Jim Krane, “U.S. Aid to Israel Subsidizes a Potent Weapons Exporter,” Associated Press, June 20, 2002. http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/p-krane.html

[16] David Francis, “Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US,” Christian Science Monitor , December 9, 2002. http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1209/p16s01-wmgn.html

[17] Jim Krane, “U.S. Aid to Israel Subsidizes a Potent Weapons Exporter,” Associated Press, June 20, 2002. http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/p-krane.html

[18] Thomas Stauffer, “The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003. http://ifamericansknew.org/stat/stauffer.html

[19] David Francis, “Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US,” Christian Science Monitor , December 9, 2002. http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1209/p16s01-wmgn.html

[20] For a small sampling of Israeli human rights violations, see Amnesty International’s “Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2013” http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/annual-report-israel-and-the-occupied-palestinian-territories-2013, Human Rights Watch’s most recent reports https://www.hrw.org/publications?country%5B0%5D=9638, and the publications of B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) http://www.btselem.org/publications

[21] Jim Krane, “U.S. Aid to Israel Subsidizes a Potent Weapons Exporter,” Associated Press, June 20, 2002. http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/p-krane.html

[22] Stephen Walt, “Whiff of Desperation,” Foreign Policy, April 25, 2011. https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/04/25/whiff-of-desperation/

[23] David Francis, “Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US,” Christian Science Monitor, December 9, 2002. http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1209/p16s01-wmgn.html

[24] Shirl McArthur, “A conservative estimate of total direct US aid to Israel: more than $130 billion,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2008. http://ifamericansknew.org/stat/130bill.html

[25] Feied, Nicole, “Israel would get far more than $38 billion under the new deal,” Israel-Palestine News, September 18, 2018. https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-gets-far-more-than-38-billion-under-the-new-deal/

[26] Barak Ravid, “U.S. Seeks to Increase Aid to Israel – With More of It to Be Spent on American Equipment,” Ha’aretz, July 2, 2016. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-u-s-seeks-to-increase-aid-to-israel-with-less-local-spending-1.5404367

[27] Natasha Mozgovaya, “Obama signs bill that includes added U.S. military assistance to Israel,” Haaretz, December 24, 2011. http://www.Haaretz.com/blogs/focus-u-s-a/obama-signs-bill-that-includes-added-u-s-military-assistance-to-israel-1.403268

[28] “U.S. eyes funding boost for Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ shield,” Reuters, May 17, 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/18/us-usa-israel-irondome-idUSBRE84G10P20120518

[29] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books , March 23, 2006. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby See also: Stephen J. Sniegoski, “The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel,” Ihs Press, September 1, 2008.

[30] Shirl McArthur, “A conservative estimate of total direct US aid to Israel: more than $130 billion,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2008. http://ifamericansknew.org/stat/130bill.html

[31] Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, “The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond,” Washington Post , September 5, 2010. http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2010/09/stiglitz-and-bilmes-the-true-cost-of-the-iraq-war.html (Update: the original article has been removed from the Washington Post website, as well as the cache.)

[32] See articles at http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/new/?page_id=134

[33] Matthew Yglesias, “War for No Oil,” Slate, March 7, 2012. http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2012/03/oil_speculators_are_right_a_war_with_iran_would_devastate_the_economy_.html

[34] See, for example: Mark Landler, “Obama Presses Netanyahu to Resist Strikes on Iran,” New York Times, March 5, 2012. www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/world/middleeast/obama-cites-window-for-diplomacy-on-iran-bomb.html And: “Biden condemns new Israeli settlement plan,” USA Today, March 9, 2010. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-03-09-Israel_N.htm

[35] Andrew Sullivan, “Why Continue to Build the Settlements?” Originally published on The Daily Beast, March 30, 2012. http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2012/03/30/why-beinart-matters/ Excerpt: “The deliberate population of occupied lands violates the Geneva Conventions. The occupation itself enrages the Arab and Muslim world and creates a huge drag on the US’s strategic need to build up allies among emerging Arab democracies, and defuse Jihadism across the globe.” See also: Philip Weiss, “Former State Department official says Obama calls for human rights and democracy are ‘undercut’ by position on Palestinians,” Mondoweiss , April 2, 2012. http://mondoweiss.net/2012/04/former-state-dept-official-says-obama-calls-for-human-rights-and-democracy-are-undercut-by-position-on-palestinians.html

[36] Jim Krane, “U.S. Aid to Israel Subsidizes a Potent Weapons Exporter,” Associated Press, June 20, 2002. http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/p-krane.html

[37] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books , March 23, 2006. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby

[38] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2007.

[39] John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books , March 23, 2006. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby An earlier book by former Congressman Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, first exposed this in 1985. Findley and others founded the Council for the National Interest to try to counter this.

[40] Jeffrey Birnbaum, “Washington’s Power 25: which pressure groups are best at manipulating the laws we live by?” CNN Money , December 8, 1997. http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1997/12/08/234927/index.htm Other top contenders include the American Association of Retired Persons, with over 40 million members, and the National Rifle Association.

[41] “Introduction to the Israel lobby,” Council for the National Interest , August 19, 2011. http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/new/?page_id=33

[42] Michael Lerner, “The Israel Lobby,” Tikkun Magazine , September/October 2007. http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/Lerner-the-israel-lobby

[43] Jeremy Sharp, “US foreign aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service, August 7, 2019. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[44] Max Fisher, “Should U.S. Veto UN Measure Condemning Israeli Settlements?” The Atlantic Wire, January 20, 2011. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2011/01/should-u-s-veto-un-measure-condemning-israeli-settlements/21438

[45] “Even if Democrats and Republicans bicker on every other issue, AIPAC leaders seemed constantly eager to stress that one thing on which the parties can come together is unswerving devotion to Israel.” Gregory Levey, “Inside America’s powerful Israel lobby,” Salon , March 16, 2007. http://www.salon.com/2007/03/16/aipac Just recently has there been some high-level pushback against AIPAC’s hegemonic power in Washington. See, for example: Robert Dreyfuss, “AIPAC: Still the chosen one?” Mother Jones , September/October 2009. http://motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/aipac-still-chosen-one And: Alex Kane, “Sunlight on the lobby: AIPAC’s push for war exposed in ‘Atlantic’ magazine blog,” Mondoweiss , February 24, 2012. http://mondoweiss.net/2012/02/sunlight-on-the-lobby-aipacs-push-for-war-exposed-in-atlantic-magazine-blog.html

[46] Wikipedia, “Steven J. Rosen.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_J._Rosen#Indictment

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_J._Rosen#Indictment

[47] Nathan Guttman, “AIPAC Gets Down and Dirty in Pushback vs. Defamation Suit,” The Forward, November 16, 2010. http://forward.com/articles/133172/aipac-gets-down-and-dirty-in-pushback-vs-defamatio

[48] Jeff Stein, “Ex-AIPAC official got at least $670,000 from donors,” Washington Post, November 19, 2012. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/11/ex-aipac_official_got_670000_from_private_donors.html

[49] The findings of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty , the Recall of Military Rescue Support Aircraft while the Ship was Under Attack, and the Subsequent Cover-up by the United States Government can be read at http://ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/ul-commfindings.html

[50] Jeremy Sharp, “US foreign aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service, August 7, 2019. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[51] Jeremy R. Hammond, “Rogue State: Israeli Violations of U.N. Security Council Resolutions,” Foreign Policy Journal, January 27, 2010. http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/01/27/rogue-state-israeli-violations-of-u-n-security-council-resolutions

[52] For a small sampling of Israeli human rights violations, see Amnesty International’s “Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2013” http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/annual-report-israel-and-the-occupied-palestinian-territories-2013, Human Rights Watch’s most recent reports https://www.hrw.org/publications?country%5B0%5D=9638, and the publications of B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) http://www.btselem.org/publications

[53] See Rory McCarthy, “Hamas offers $52m handouts to help hardest-hit Gazans,” The Guardian, January 25, 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/26/hamas-payout-gaza-infrastructure And :The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. http://www.icahd.org/

[54] “Israeli Settlements on Palestinian Land,” If Americans Knew, May 2002. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stat/settlements.html

[55] The Arms Export Control Act prohibits the use of US military assistance for purposes other than legitimate self-defense. Despite overwhelming evidence of Israeli violations of international law using US-supplied weapons (a few of them outlined in citations above), the US Congress has done little to comply with its own laws against funding these violations.


Source: If Americans Knew

WHY DO YOU SUPPORT SYRIA?

From: In Gaza

https://ingaza.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/why-do-you-support-syria/

I get asked that a lot by Syrians who are genuinely curious or surprised by support of Syria by a non-Syrian.

And it’s sometimes hard to give a good reply, or at least a concise one, because the reasons are manifold.

Yesterday, I posed the question to followers on Facebook. The replies were fantastic:

Kamel El-Cheikh well I can tell you my personal experience with Syria. I was born in Lebanon of Shia Muslim decent, immigrated to Canada at 7 years old, became a proud Canadian Lebanese. The reason why we immigrated is that Lebanon was attacked by Israel and was already in a civil war because of Israel. We went to Syria to seek refuge many times and my experiences there were very pleasant.

Now, the tables have turned as Israel wants a puppet government in Syria so the Syrians fled to Lebanon for the same reasons. Both the Syrians and Lebanese helped each other in these imperialistic cases of the zionist agenda. So what you say from someone who hasn’t visited in over 30 years is not only your well learned opinion but is a fact for all the middle east. Your words as the proxy went on from 2011 until now echo the experience of my mom and dad telling me to look the other way at 5 years old because a few of our neighbours were killed by war planes as we either flee to Beirut or Syria and eventually Canada. This is why I have become a humanitarian supporting the oppressed or speaking for the voiceless or making good friends who are real journalist like you Eva.

Hendrick Smit Because the country is populated by kind people who do not deserve the atrocities of a proxy war?

Chris Edwards Could start from just being against Israel/US wars and then you get attached to the country and its people.
Cause they are brave and baring the brunt of the enemy and its proxies.

Valentina Capurri Because Western countries had no right to invade it and destroy it as they did. As someone living in one of these countries, it is my responsibility to make clear I do not support the crimes committed by my own government.

Eros Zagaglia I’d support any country enduring what Syria is enduring, terrorism, US empire plans. Plus, I discovered very friendly people and a great tradition. A gem in the Arab world

Donal Taaffe Because it has been unfairly and illegally attacked by international criminals like the US, UK, Israel etc. who then lied about a non existent civil war

Patrick Corbett For all the good reasons above (or below). And because Syria for me is a beacon on a dark night showing the way to the victory of a people’s fight for sovereignity, peace and solidarity in the face of brutal imperialism. They fight for us as well; we need to acknowledge their sacrifice for all.

Esteban El Suizo Because beautiful Syria with its intelligent and kind-hearted people is a main cradle of human civilization, some of the most valuable monuments in the world, including six Unesco World Heritage Sites, are located in Syria. True culture and civilization is found all over in Syria, not in junk countries without past & future like Saudi-Arabia. I LOVE this.
Because Syria is an undefeated stronghold against Zionist & colonial NWO-arrogancy. I LOVE this, too.

Cecilia Nunez Because as MLK rightly said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”


Branka Furi Trogrlic Syrian people have the right for self determination. Any foreign country which object that, forcing them to change, can not call themselves democratic countries. Those are imperialists.

Chris Vlaar I support it like I support Libya and Iraq, countries that have been obliterated, raped and murdered because of money (resources) and power. And not many seem to care.

Kari Angelique Jaquesson Westphalian sovereignty

It is a matter of principle for me.
Syria is a sovereign country with inviolable borders, and every Syrian has the unquestionable right to self-determination over their country and leadership without foreign intervention or meddling.

Then, also, I have fallen very fond of Syria and Syrians and I regard president Assad as a very competent and loyal leader, however affection, admiration or like/approval/ or not of leadership is not relevant when it comes to principle.

Either one believes in sovereignty or not, simple as that. I do.
Rima Najm Because I’m a human being with a functioning brain.

Rima Bidan Its the best country in the world enjoying a sublime cuture and a decent past
Its origin is respected, its climate is amazing…moderate and of four seasons… which means healthy food and nice weather, the land is generous, the people are good “if left alone” in the past religion was not a problem ,now if you are not aware and highly educated and open minded you would fall in the conflict… I believe and love the mentality of the leader and his wife but I hate the corruption and favouratism all around🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼So sad I left it in 2017 but promise to be back and enjoy my life there🇸🇾🇸🇾🇸🇾🇸🇾All can be fixed and done better in the coming years due to people like you Eva… inside and out💔💔💔💔💔

Bjarni Thomas I support Syria because it is the right thing to do.
Because if my country was being attacked from all sides, I would want the international community to support my country too.

O’Leathlobhair Keith I will never stand by silently and watch the bully of the playground terrorize an innocent kid.

Jean Sievers I support Syria because they are a sovereign country in their own right. All countries supposedly under International Law have the right to be autonomous. This isn’t how it works, in reality, the US Empire has a long history of invading countries that say no to their Imperial demands.

Ketil Øynes I hate imperialism and especially the role the US has taken upon themselves as the world police, when anyone with 2 braincells can see, that they are warmongers with no care for peoples life or international law.

Suzanne Sanders Because Syria isn’t trying to invade and colonize where I live. I don’t respect bullies! yes, I don’t respect my govt!

Michael Darr Because it’s where my grandparents were born and my ancestors are buried and it is me and I am it.
Carrie Lavender Because you, Eva, taught me the truth about Syria ever since I found you & Vanessa Beeley in 2016 h/t Caity Johnstone. Ever since then, I became fascinated with Syria and fell in love with it b/c of the kind-heartedness, steadfastness and unbending will of its ppl to defeat evil and stand in truth against all odds—against the Satanic empire of the military industrial complex with its lies, arming of terrorists & draconian sanctions.

George Makhlouf Makhlouf As first hand eye witness who went to Syria with a group of fact finders, I found that the propaganda machine in the US and the whole West beside the collaborator reactionary regimes in the gulf and the blood suckers ottomans all are behind the global conspiracy against Syria. Syria is the victim number one of dirty Zionists.

Judith Tanner Because some of the people I most highly regard in the world live there showing the rest of us what resilience and courage and kindness and inclusion looks like, even in the midst of war.

Zach Fresa Because I am a human being

Tiger Osullivan Eva I have followed your work in here since you have started it, me and lots of fellow Syrians see in you a very dedicated journalist with a big portion of dignity, integrity, honesty, morality wrapped with warm emotions and compassion…. you knew since the beginning what was going on in our beloved Syria, and you stood by us even when 99% of the world media was spreading fake news to deteriorate the image of our country and it’s regime….

I can talk for hours about how we appreciate your efforts standing by the oppressed side, but I will summon all that with one phrase: “Syria loves you EVA.” 💝

ماهر أبوعسله الأسد You are Syrian my dear Eva more than a lot of Syrians

Babsi Schie I supported Syria as I started to see the play in place here in my home, Egypt.I realized they were victims of endless propaganda and that the reality presented in media doesn’t reflect the reality in the ground. Having gone through “Arab Spring” and the following counter revolution to dispose of the MB ruling in 2013, which I fully supported after Morsi called for a no-fly zone over Syria in April 2013, totally was w Syria and followed closely (daily) since 2012. Eid Wahda!

Ingunn No Gun Walsøe Because e I want the people to be able to chose how they want to live. I do not support the western founded religious extremists who want to implement sharia laws in Syria

Caro Ball Support for the Palestinians, and standing up against the Zio and Western Imperialist agendas, not to mention the unity of the Syrian people and love and respect for their President and army, just a few of the reasons why I love Syria.

Ramon Carrera Because no sovereign nation should be used as fodder for other more powerful nations to extract their sovereign wealth. Also to used to extend its geo political policies.

Richard Langlois Because I consider all the evidence with an open mind and its clear to me that the Western narrative is a lie.
I have no reason to distrust the Syrians but every reason to distrust the West.

Bridget Thomas Whitehead Because I have never believed the media and political lies by Western governments.

Kirill Kalinin Because unlike other countries its legitimate government has a chance to restore constitutional order and become a success story against colour revolutions

Birgit Lenderink I support any sovereign nation to choose its’ own leadership. Syria is a sovereign nation. The people of Syria have chosen their leadership. Period.

Bambang Ardayanto Because of this: ” We are born to love , love is our mother ” ~ ( Rumi said). But the Deep State and Devil Alliances of warmonger and the greedy of arm industry and bloody oil want to occupy Syria and destroy it like they do in Iraq & Libya also Yemen through other hands . Then if success , they will do the same with Iran.

Todd Deatherage Because they are good and kind people, accepting of others, fantastic musicians and artists, who are under a good administration that doesn’t discriminate against anyone or any group, as long as they respect others.

Genaro Efrain Martinez Oropeza Because of the love of her people , their self determination and their strength for not kneeling to Evil Empire’s interest , I’m Venezuelan I feel first hand what they are fighting for, Natura Guide and Protect Syria

Riahi Youssef We support Syria because both the government and the people are fighting a just cause

David Webster Syrians have just as much right to life, liberty and the pursuit of tail as anybody else.

Arthur Illner To defend Syria’s national independence is to defend the national independence of all countries

Michael Keefer Because I value justice and the search for truth, and I know that Syria has been the victim of a filthy proxy war–engineered by Western powers and their Middle Eastern satrapies, and carried out by those powers and the merciless fanatics who have been their tools.

It has been a war as well of smears, slander, deliberate inversions of actuality, and vicious lies–and the corporatist media and Western opposition parties, as well as many supposedly oppositional intellectuals, have been fully complicit in disseminating that propaganda.

I honour the courage of the Syrian people in resisting multiple attacks upon their country, and I honour the integrity of those journalists, academics, activists and whistleblowers who have laboured to expose falsehoods and tell the truth.

Riaz Malik Because the alternate is disastrous.

Earl Cheffield I support the truth because there is no democracy without truth and the war on Syria like the war on Libya and the war on Iraq and the war on Aghanistan before it, is a war based on lies, therefor it is a war on truth itself and a war on democracy.

Colin Brace Because Syria is a key link in the Axis of Resistance. ✊✊✊

Miguel Reis Cause i love the history of Civilization, i believe in secularism, in int.law, in solidarity and above all Righteousness.

Ahmad Hayek Syria is your second home you just have to visit to see that

Emmanuel R. Sabater Supporting Syria is supporting the truth.

Ostarra Langridge Because Syria was wickedly and insidiously attacked by the very evil and insidious Empire

Guy Crittenden Syria today is what Spain was in the 1930s — a rallying point for progressives opposed to the spread of fascism. So far, Syria has held the line, which is impressive since it the leading industrialized nations have tried to destroy it for eight years. Understanding what was attempted on Syria reveals the true nature of the American empire and its vassal states.

Don Harder I support Syria for the exact opposite reason I don’t support the country of my birth. Syria is a non aggressor state. It and its people are victims just like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Serbia and sadly, many dozens of others. They deserve their right to exist peacefully as all humans do.

Stella Emm Because it is the first time my eyes were open to the blatant corruption and lies of war, ‘organisations’ and government corruption.
Because I’ve never seen more dignified people dealing with criminality that ‘my government’ imposed on them.

Because I never knew how everyday people can close their eyes to their own crimes against Syria.
Because they taught me what ‘proxy war’ looks like.
Because I never knew the true meaning of ‘hero’ and ‘martyr’ until I met Syria.
Because Syria inspires me to be a better ‘me’.
Because Syrians inspire strength as well as faith.
Because Syria showed me its far better to stand and speak than sit and cover my ears.
Because Syria is a rare jewel of the world and worth fighting for.
Because I respect their President, their people and their sovereignty
Because Syria fights for me, so I will fight for Syria ❤️ 🇸🇾🙏🏼

Sam Novid Before the war, I visited Syria. People were extremely kind and helpful to me. As soon as they found I was “ajnabi” (meaning foreginer), they paid for my taxi fare or gave me extra help (I.e. going out of their way to make sure i found my destenation, even holding my arms which is a sign of friendship, etc.)…I was so impressed that I made a promise to myself to help Syrians if I see them in Iran. For years I was looking out to help a Syrian until the war broke out, and after learning what’s really going on (thanks to Eva’s eye opening talk at UN), I became an advocate for Syria thinking that’s the way I can finally repay their hospitability and kindness.
__________
Funny story regarding the word “ajnabi”:
We also use the Arabic word “ajnabi” in Iran too, but unlike the original Arabic meaning, this word has a very negative connotation and a very specific usage in Persian. It is exlcusvily used in political context of Western imperialism (mostly British or American governments or their agents, like CIA or MI6.)
The first time a security guard (casually) asked me if I was an “ajnabi”, I almost screamed saying “NO, NO, NO, I am Iranian, I am not an ajnabi”, thinking he might arrest me as a spy or something, which is doubly funny since back then I was barely an adult, and looked much younger (I think Iooked 15)….The guard must have thought I was crazy. lol….when I was called ajnabi again, I realized it just means foreigner, and not an imperialist agent .

Peggy Howells Initially Syria was just a name to me. I knew very little about the country, although, I knew enough about our wars to be skeptical of mainstream reports. A link to the preview of Tim Anderson’s ‘Dirty War on Syria’ was shared on a WikiLeaks thread. From there I because interested to learn more of the country and its people, and began to make Syrian friends. The more I learned, the more I came to love the country and its brave and clever people. And its champions in the West, such as yourself Eva. I will visit one day and I expect it will be like going home. In fact, my own country is becoming less and less recognizable. Syria to me represents hope. Its struggle is a struggle of light against darkness. I look forward to day when every inch has been liberated. We need our victories. There have been too many countries destroyed.

Pye Ian Aside from core sovereignty issues, it’s a bulwark of defense against “Syrian War Lies and the Greater Israel Project”

Linda S. Heard Syria has been unfairly treated by the West ever since Assad blasted Blair over the Iraq War. Since reporting on Syria has been not only angled but peppered with outright lies. Assad did not open the door to foreign terrorists, the US despatched most of them and the U.K. ramped up the anti-government propaganda with its funding of the White Helmets and Syrian Observatory. The idea that Syria would deploy chemical weapons on the very day UN inspectors came to Damascus was absolutely bonkers. This entire tragic episode was triggered by the usual Arab Spring crowd but was hijacked by big powers out for regime change on behalf of Israel. Thanks to Putin they have failed but still will not give up trying.

Malu Ribeiro After the history of NATO and US interference, yes, with Israel in the background, maybe as the boss (this part I admit, of IS in LA, I’ve only been learning in recent years), people have to be wilfully blind not to see how the Empire works! over 59 interventions in LA, I don’t even know how many in the ME, always fomenting fake Cold War and destabilisation of Europe, … we’ve to see who’s the problem!!
Plus, 😀 … hhhh … I lived my childhood in BR and Syrians brought delicious food to Sao Paulo and are very productive members of the community … I’ve never met a dumb or lazy syrian, as stereotypes go … if anyone thinks a little, we’re all a little syrian .. 🙂

Brian Gray As an anti-imperialist and in understanding myself as a neo-Platonic Humanist, importantly because of my affiliation with the LaRouche political movement, actively involved as a fulltime activist from 1976 to 1981 and continueing as an advocate of LaRouche policies… I support and have supported the sovereign nation of Syria going back to Hafez al Assad’s administration with the understanding that the attacks on the Assad leadership is typical of the dying desperate British/US/NATO axis’ strategy against any all sovereign nations that don’t abide by the dictates of the so-called “rules-based” western neo-liberal “democracies” and importantly are sanely aligning with the opportunities for global peace thru global development and reconstruction offered by China’s BRI and Russia’s EAEU. When Vladimir Putin finally had had enough of the British/US/NATO deployment and protection of their terrroist proxies so-called “civil war” which was gaining momentum in threatening the Assad government and deployed Russian military into Syria on September 30th 2015… the world profoundly changed.

William Nolan Syria is a beautiful country with ancient roots. Its people are warm and generous. Various Christian and Muslim sects live side by side in harmony. The majority love their elected president.
The U.S. and its allies tried to do to Syria what they did to Libya so they could install a puppet government.
The Syrian people united against the Salafist terrorists who attacked them and, with the help of allies, beat back the barbarian hoards.
My heart and soul are with the Syrian people. May they once again live in peace, harmony and prosperity.

Carlos Tierra Because Syria deserves the right to self-determine – without the genocidal U.S and Zionist Israel interfering with that.

Peter Karig It was around 2015 or 2016 I think when I became informed about Syria and the false flag gas attacks. It was you, Vanessa, and Catlin Johnstone who really got my attention first, and then for some reason I became obsessed. Syria is obviously nothing like what western media says it is, and Assad, his wife, the Syrian army, they are in reality greatly loved. Syria is also a beautiful country that doesn’t need to be destroyed and turned into a terrorist jihadist hell hole.

Michael Robertson No written statement from me can describe fully or adequately express the monumental RESPECT I hold for both the Syrian and Palestinian people..Their unbelievable sacrifice and bravery astounds and humbles me every day compounding the absolute shame I feel as a UK citizen for the evil actions of my own country

Ahmed Amado Asgher Because Syrians are generally good people and educated. They respect their women and they have an ancient history. They are also made up of various ethnic groups with diverse religeous beliefs, who have lived together in peace for many generations. Sadly Saudis with tacist American and Israeli approval wrecked Syria by causing chaos in that land. It is a known fact that most of these thugs were Al-Qaeda recruits paid for by the Saudis. They had no regard for life nor for the ancient historical sites in Syria. I am 72 years, travelled the world and read/write 3 languages fluently, including Arabic.

Roula Alhassan *Because Syria is a country in itself, with its strength and steadfastness in the face of all challenges, even if these challenges were against any other country, it would have completely collapsed….
*Because its leadership, its people and its army are the same in opinion and wisdom.
*Because its people grew up loving the homeland and other people.
* Because it is my home.

Kef Elmassih For the same reason I support Palestine…“…Because it is a just cause, a noble ideal, a moral quest for equality and human rights.” – Edward Said

Peter Bagwasi Any normal person would stand with the innocent against the devil.

Stewart Ollett The list of countries that oppose apartheid Israel is getting shorter. Russia and Iran (in this instance) take a bow….. Shame on the West…

Hector Williams A secular Christian, I support the govt which protects them. As someone who loathes neocons, globalists, wahhabis, banderites and Zionist s, I also support the people who fight against them!!!

Rina Paki because it is the true and correct thing to do!

Huss Sureh Because Syria is with the truth and the truth is with Syria!!!

John Thatcher Because they are fighting against US/Israeli tyranny.Plus disgraceful regimes like S Arabia.

Greg Schnürle Because I am fed up with the Anglo-American lies since they created and supported the `Mudshahedin´ in Afgahnistan to kill Soviets and gave money, weappons and training to the modern islamistic Terrorists the whole world is now suffering from.

*And from here:

Antony Moore How Syria has survived the onslaught of Western backed terrorists is staggering and only by the grace of god with a little help from Russia, Iran etc. I’m disgusted at UK government involvement and will wholeheartedly support the Syrian people in their fight even if I can only supply morale support, plus a few letters to my local MP.

John Eichman After researching the conflict in Syria via numerous independent sources and mainstream media it is clear that Syria is the latest victim/target in western imperialism and as such deserves my support.

Dmitry Drozdov Because they’re being bullied

Nigel Hanrahan 1. The whole structure of international relations, even with the presence of the US Empire, rests upon the sovereignty of states, etc.. If one state can be attacked, then any state can be attacked. This isn’t even particularly radical. It’s simply advocacy for law-governed international relations instead of the current fake law-governed international relations.

2. anti-imperialist solidarity, natch. And if you don’t know what imperialism is, or don’t think it’s a problem, then you are part of the problem.

3. Because Syria has a great an ancient culture that I don’t want to see harmed. “In their rich variety and diversity, and in the reciprocal influences they exert on one another, all cultures form part of the common heritage of humanity”. [UNESCO]

Poppy Sage You and Vanessa Beeley doing great job being there while other so called journalists are just following the regime plan change by the Pentagon. Gen Wesley Clark made it clear it was a long time plan to get Assad out along with other Mideast leaders. White Helmets also obvious, real criminals.

Kevin Tang I call out what’s wrong is wrong. What’s being done to Syria since 2011 is simply wrong.

Thomas P. Ross On June 22, 2006 my wife’s granddaughter (my step granddaughter) was killed by a single act of violence by a baby sitter in Virginia Beach. She was 15 months old. That death left a permanent void in our lives.

In 2012 Syrian Girl, (Mimi al Laham) began posting news articles including videos published by al Qaeda of Iraq and Jabhat al Nusra, (al Qaeda of Syria). The videos would be uploaded to You Tube and would remain there for about 7 or 8 hours and then be taken down by You Tube as they violated their content policy. I noticed that these videos were of ordinary citizens or police officers or Al Assad’s forces (SAA) being put to death in the most inhumane ways imaginable and I started to understand that it made no sense that our media was claiming Assad was killing his own people, when the video’s shown on You Tube were of his own army members being killed by what appeared to be religious zealots. I didn’t know anything about Wahhabism at the time, but Mimi al Laham provided an education of what was really going on in Syria and it all began to make sense. I followed the battles from any alternative media I could find. I grew a greater distrust for our media. I knew what was being reported by our media was a vast lie promulgated by all the major networks.

Having experienced the great loss we suffered losing our Kristen, I recognized that my country was causing that same loss for untold numbers of people living in Syria and in Libya. Except the loss might even be considered as being greater because the loss was just not a mother or father but in many cases, the bread winner and/or the nurturer. I wondered how many children were orphaned and were required forage on their own.

I could not comprehend that my government could be responsible for any of this but I knew it was true. And by my government’s actions, that made EVERYONE in my country complicit in these crimes. I spoke out every chance I had to anyone and everyone who would listen. I posted every article I could find relating to the crimes that were being committed in Syria and our country’s involvement. I convinced some. I irritated many. And I caused many to think I was a little crazy retelling what I believed to be true when it was in absolute conflict with what our media was reporting.

But I believed it was more important to convince people as to the truth even if it meant people lost respect for me. Knowing the loss we suffered losing our grandchild to a single act of violence, I knew the grief was felt no less to those experiencing death in Syria. That is the problem with many people throughout the world including many people in the United States. Many of us have a tendency to believe that some lives matter more than others. The adoption by many idiots in my country that we should make America great again plays into this illusion that we are or should be superior to the other people of this world. I am ashamed of my country. It is not the country I grew up knowing and loving as a child.

But the job of bringing attention to the plight of the Syrian people is not over. They are still under U.S. sanctions and those sanctions should be removed. And our forces are still in Syria. We are stealing the oil of the Syrian people and we are still supporting terrorists. I can not ever, in any capacity, undo the harm my country has caused the Syrian people. But I can still bring attention to their plight in my country and offer my own apology, insignificant as it is.

Here is the story of my granddaughter. Her death was worthy enough to report. But to be honest, in a perfect world, every person who lost their lives to our proxy terrorists in Syria deserve to have their names immortalized forever, here in the United States, on a vast memorial, names etched in granite near the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington D.C. so that we all understand our crime and deter us from ever repeating it.
Donna Nassor I support Syria because it is the right thing to do. My country and its collaborators are responsible for so much suffering there. It is my duty to speak out, share the truth and work toward an end to the proxy war. During my visits to Syria I am uplifted and welcomed by Syrians. I am grateful they understand the difference between my government and individuals who support Syria. I will not stop my advocacy until Syrians achieve 100% victory and all of interlopers are gone.

Dimitri Kiriakidis I have that strange feeling that Syria is my country…. I see myself in the face of every Syrian soldier or citizen

Porgi Amor many reasons…
1) your previous speaking engagements with Canadian Peace Congress, which of course debunked what Canadians were being fed (by the biased CBC news coverage)
2) your in depth account of the fake white helmets
3) your description of humanitarian corridors, allowing the Syrian people to escape from terrorism & also allowing the terrorists to walk away
4) your unwavering consistency in reporting
5) your believability
6) your humanity in acknowledging others, like Mark Taliano, Vanessa Beeley, Cory Morningstar, etc.
7) Donald Lafleur’s brief trip to Syria
8) your previous coverage of Palestine

Areti Spiropoulos Because it has stood the test of time. Because it is a beautiful and ancient culture. Because it has been done wrong too many times by the imperialists west. Because Assad.

Verena Eiwen At some point what we are spoonfed through the MSM did not make sense anymore – so I researched, found your and Vanessas writing, found Janices writing, as well as the writing of a German law student with Syrian roots. The Syrian people must be exceptional in every way- and what the US led coalition is doing to them is abhorrent. They deserve any help they can get. I have deepest respect for all these men and women and children for fighting a truly unfair and „for all the wrong reasons“ war. Thank you for going there and writing about the truth.

Bonnie Hamilton Syria is a sovereign country with a democratically elected president voted for by I believe 80% of voters.
Regime change and pinning fake false flag attacks on Assad in order to carry out this agenda is evil and nothing more than resource and land grabbing by those who feel they have the power to do this to any country that has something they want or stands in their way.
Let’s ask the Syrians what THEY want.
Get all troops out including white helmets.
I don’t buy for one minute that Assad ever carried out attacks on his people. On insurgents fighting against his army, probably. Against his own people? I will never believe that. There’s zero proof.

Kev Har Because the Syrians and their leader have been brutally and visciously attacked by a cowardly playground bully.

Briannette Zatapatique Because over the years Assad’s narrative and the Syrian narrative – provided by you and others has remained a constant time line, logical and never changing or reverse engineered. The Western narrative is constantly changing – as soon as lies are told, more lies are needed to cover them up. As simple as that.

*I applaud and agree with these comments, and after coming here 14 times now, many of those for months-long visits (2016), I would also add: because of the people of Syria.
Here are some additional reasons [more on my Syria playlist]:

WORTHLESS ‘SHIT’ COUNTRIES & REGIMES OF US/UK/EU CONTINUE TO DEFY INTERN’AL LAW & WHO. IT IS THE EQUIVALENT OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.

Amid War Threats, Washington Blocks UN Resolution Demanding End to Sanctions

By Bill Van Auken
Source: World Socialist Web Site

AMID WAR THREATS, WASHINGTON BLOCKS UN RESOLUTION DEMANDING END TO SANCTIONS

Washington and its allies Thursday killed a United Nations resolution calling for the lifting of unilateral sanctions that are severely impeding efforts to combat the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution was drafted by Russia and co-sponsored by 28 other member states. In addition to backing the call by the World Health Organization for an internationally coordinated campaign against the deadly virus, it appealed for all countries to “refrain from raising trade barriers, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing protectionist and discriminatory measures inconsistent with the WTO [World Trade Organization] rules as well as not to apply any unilateral coercive measures undertaken without the mandate of the Security Council.”

Under rules adopted by the UN with the General Assembly not in session, approval of resolutions requires unanimous consent. Joining the US in blocking the resolution were the European Union and the United Kingdom, along with the right-wing anti-Russian governments of Ukraine and Georgia.

Following the vote late Thursday, the Russian mission to the UN issued a statement declaring, “We regret that a small group of states championing sanctions-based policy appeared unready to respond to the call of the UN Secretary-General and refused to cast aside politicized approaches and interests.”

UN Secretary General António Guterres on Wednesday issued a report on the COVID-19 pandemic which, in part, stated that “Sanctions imposed on countries should be waived to ensure access to food, essential supplies and access to COVID-19 tests and medical support. This is the time for solidarity not exclusion.”

In place of the Russian-drafted resolution, the General Assembly approved a version vetted by Washington which issued a toothless call for “solidarity,” while ignoring the issues of sanctions against oppressed countries and the trade war and protectionist measures that effectively preclude any genuine international approach to the pandemic.

The US delegation failed, however, in its attempt to get the UN to label the pandemic as the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus, a theme pushed by the Trump administration to exploit the crisis to further US imperialism’s geo-strategic confrontation with Beijing and to divert attention from the abject failure of the US government to either prepare for or mount an adequate response to the increasingly uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus throughout the US population.

Despite worldwide calls for sanctions relief, Washington has only escalated the unilateral and illegal sanctions that it has imposed upon Iran and Venezuela, so-called “maximum pressure” regimes that are tantamount to a state of war. The US imposed new sanctions against both countries last month.

Iran, with an officially reported 53,183 COVID-19 cases and 3,294 deaths—both believed to be major underestimates of the real ravages of the disease—is suffering one of the highest fatality rates in the world. “Based on our information, every 10 minutes one person dies from the coronavirus and some 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran,” Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on Thursday.

Even before the pandemic, the country’s health care system was groaning under the impact of sweeping sanctions that have prevented the country from buying essential medicines and medical supplies on the world market, leading to the deaths of many suffering from cancer and other diseases. The Trump administration has repeatedly made the cynical claim that humanitarian supplies are exempted under its “maximum pressure” campaign, but the reality is that access has been effectively blocked with the blacklisting Iran’s central bank and the threat of third-party sanctions against anyone conducting financial transactions with the country.

Iran’s Academy of Medical Sciences released a blistering statement directed to the UN Secretary General on Thursday declaring that the UN and the WHO, “which claim to defend the rights of humanity, have taken no effective measures to lift the cruel sanctions against our dear children, women, men and patients.”

Denouncing the US for its escalating sanctions, the statement continued: “It is certain that history will judge the ineffectiveness and silence of international organizations claiming protection of international law and human rights against such crimes. These institutions have become toothless, if not complicit, and we will undoubtedly see the unraveling of our world order because of this refusal to take action against crass violations of international and humanitarian law by the U.S. regime.”

On Wednesday, Trump issued an explicit threat of military aggression against Iran, claiming, without providing a shred of evidence, that Iran “or its proxies” in Iraq were plotting a “sneak attack” on “US troops and/or assets in Iraq,” and threatening that Iran would “pay a very heavy price.”

The Pentagon has deployed Patriot missile batteries to Iraq, over the protests of the Iraqi government, whose parliament voted in January, in the wake of the US drone assassination of Gen. Qassem Suleimani, one of Iran’s most senior leaders, at Baghdad international airport, for a resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of US troops occupying the country. Baghdad has opposed the missile deployments, seeing them as potential preparation for an all-out war that could turn war-battered Iraq itself into a battlefield yet again.

Threats against Venezuela, the target of equally punishing sanctions have been even more explicit, with Trump announcing Wednesday that US Navy warships and other assets are being deployed to the Venezuelan coast on the pretext of combatting drug trafficking. The announcement followed a US Justice Department indictment of the Venezuelan president and other top officials on trumped-up drug-related charges, replete with the issuing of “Wanted” posters placing a $15 million bounty on Maduro’s head.

The threat of military violence follows the imposition of yet another round of sanctions against Venezuela last month.

Thus far, Venezuela has reported only 146 confirmed cases and five deaths, but the crisis of the country’s health care system under the impact of US sanctions threatens to turn the pandemic into a death sentence against countless numbers of workers and poor.

The flailing militarist threats of the White House, a desperate bid to divert growing anger over the catastrophic failure of the US government to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus, have provoked signs of dissension within the Pentagon as the military brass faces the threat of the pandemic sweeping through military units operating in close quarters, including on ships and overseas deployments.

The magazine Foreign Policy posted an article on its website Friday reporting that “The U.S. Defense Department has pushed back sharply against President Donald Trump’s decision to send a phalanx of naval assets to interdict drug shipments in the Caribbean Sea.” It cited officials as saying that the deployment was “all politics” and came at a time in which the Pentagon was “pausing some deployments due to the impacts of COVID-19.”

It also follows the firestorm over the outbreak of coronavirus on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the sacking of its commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, for demanding that the Navy address the crisis by providing quarantine facilities for the more than 4,000 sailors aboard the ship who had been exposed to the deadly virus.

Crozier was sacked after his appeal to the Navy, which insisted, “Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset—our sailors,” was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Justifying his decision to relieve Crozier of his command, acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly— installed after the former secretary, Richard Spencer, was fired in connection with Trump’s pardoning of the convicted war criminal Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher—said that his plea “created the perception that the Navy is not on the job, the government is not on the job and it’s just not true.”

The captain’s plea, issued in the face of the refusal of the Navy or the Trump administration to take any action, was indeed true in relation not only to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, but to the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as a whole.

The response of his own crew was made clear by videos posted on Facebook early Friday showing several hundred sailors massing in an airplane hangar and chanting his name as he walked down a gangplank from the vessel.

An online petition posted on change.org demanding Crozier’s reinstatement gathered 150,000 signatures within barely 24 hours. Among those signing were members of his crew, Navy veterans and relatives of active-duty sailors.

One sailor wrote, “He’s my CO and I want him to know he did right by us, even if it won’t bring him back.”

Another signer stated, “The Captain’s primary job is to protect the health and well-being of his crew. Captain Crozier did this. And he was punished. In contrast, soldiers convicted of war crimes are pardoned by Trump. That is appalling and wrong. The world is upside down.”

And a third wrote, “Just because his chain of command was prepared to let the ship become a floating morgue he was not.”

US backed the wrong guy -Juan Guaidó implicated in terrorist plot & aid funding theft.

Mike Pompeo’s ‘democratic plan’ for Venezuela and Juan Guaidó’s alleged involvement in terrorist regime change operations

After bizarrely placing Nicolás Maduro top of a wanted list on charges of drug trafficking, the Trump administration then unveiled a so-called ‘democratic transition plan’ that calls for the ouster of the Venezuelan President in exchange for a five-person “Council of State”.

Irrespective of the hardships already suffered by the people of Venezuela under the current sanctions programme, and heedless to a worsening situation due to the coronavirus pandemic, the US is threatening “increased” sanctions if Venezuela does not comply.

Yesterday, Aaron Maté from The Grayzone spoke to Latin America policy analyst and campaigner with CodepinkLeonardo Flores, about the latest US effort to starve Venezuelans into submission in order to force a regime change.

Towards the end of the interview, Leonardo Flores describes the extraordinary revelations of Cliver Alcalá, who is one of those indicted by the US Department of Justice on accusations of narco-trafficking. Shortly after the DOJ press conference ended, Alcalá actually confessed on Twitter that he was involved in plots including terrorist attacks to overthrow Maduro.

Additionally, he said weapons confiscated by Colombian police were paid for with money provided by Juan Guaidó. However, Alcalá was not only implicating Washington’s choice for Venezuelan President, Juan Guaidó, scandalously seen photographed with members of the infamous Los Rastrojos drug cartel, but also an unspecified number of US advisors, who he claims met with him on no less than seven different occasions. Alcalá has now been turned over to US authorities.

The transcript of the interview below is mine [interview begins at 1:50 mins].

Aaron Maté: What is your reaction to this so-called ‘democratic transition plan’ from Pompeo?

Leonardo Flores: My reaction really is bewilderment. Because a few days ago, as you just said, the Department of Justice unveiled indictments against Maduro and 13 other former and current government officials and members of the military; immediately ramping up the pressure. And then this transition proposal seems to be kind of a step back.

First of all it’s a total non-starter. It’s not going to go anywhere. It wasn’t negotiated with anyone in Venezuela on the side of the government. It’s a plan that supposedly came from Juan Guaidó in part, but really it’s been designed in the State Department itself.

AM: The thinking here in the White House, what do you think it is? They’ve been trying now for more than a year to overthrow Maduro. They’ve tried to spark some military uprisings. It hasn’t worked. Now they’ve shifted to this bounty last week on Maduro’s head. Wat do you think is the strategy going on inside Washington? What are they hoping to achieve with these narco charges against Maduro, and now this new so-called plan?

LF: Well, in a sense they’re just trying to throw everything at the wall to just see what sticks. But, particularly with this plan, I think it’s to alleviate the pressure that’s coming on them due to the sanctions.

We’ve seen everyone from the UN to the EU to other multilateral organisations and NGOs call for a lifting of the sanctions. We’re seeing a letter being sent around the Senate that has at least 11 people who’ve signed on led by Senator Chris Murphy calling for humanitarian relief for Venezuela and Iran: lifting the sanctions during this pandemic. And so I think that’s maybe getting to the Trump administration and this is their way of sending some kind of olive branch to these more moderate factions in Washington. But, you know, it’s not a serious proposal.

Side note: “It hurts our nation’s security and our moral standing in the world when our sanctions policy results in innocent people dying. I am particularly concerned about the impact of sanctions on the COVID-19 response in Iran and Venezuela”

— Sen. Chris Murphy

AM: What I think has been overlooked in the discussion of all this is that in trying to install Guaidó, the Trump administration has portrayed this picture where it has been basically Maduro versus Guaidó, and there’s no-one in between. But meanwhile, there have been negotiations between Maduro and elements of the Venezuelan opposition, just not the one that includes Guaidó’s faction. Can you talk about this and how it’s been ignored.

LF: Sure. So, the last time Guaidó participated in negotiations seriously – his faction I mean – was in August 2019. And those talks were undermined when the Trump administration imposed what the Wall Street Journal called an economic embargo; they really ramped up the sanctions on August 5th.

After that, about a month later, Nicolás Maduro and the Venezuelan government began negotiating with more moderate sectors of the political opposition – sectors of that really want to engage in democracy and engage in politics and aren’t looking for regime change. And coincidentally, those months of 2019, I’m talking about September, October and November; they were the most stable months in a really crazy year for Venezuela, that started off with this attempted coup by the Trump administration and Juan Guaidó.

Now, those negotiations are still ongoing. There’s ongoing dialogue. They resulted with – in early January – with a new election for the President of the National Assembly. This new President of the National Assembly was from the same party as Juan Guaidó. I think he was expelled from that party – but I’d have to check up on that to be honest. And what we’re seeing is that Juan Guaidó got kind of pushed out and these extremist opposition sectors got pushed out a bit from these attempted negotiations. So this is their way back in, so to speak.

AM: So, if you could address someone who might look at this plan now from Pompeo and – the way Pompeo’s framing it is that, you know, the US has no preference for who leads Venezuela aside from Maduro. We want him gone. In fact, Pompeo said as much today. Let me play you a clip…

Mike Pompeo: We’ve made clear all along that Nicolás Maduro will never again govern Venezuela, and that hasn’t changed.

AM: That’s Mike Pompeo. Well first of all, let me just ask you to respond to Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State of the United States, declaring that the leader of another country will never govern there again.

LF: I mean it’s completely ridiculous. Maduro has been governing since 2013 and he has been governing throughout this whole time when the State Department has been trying to portray Venezuelan government as nonexistent and they’re trying to force Juan Guaidó as the so-called “interim president”.

But what’s really curious to me is that there’s contradictions within the White House. So that’s a very interesting Pompeo quote, but earlier today, Elliot Abrams, who’s the Special Representative for Venezuela for the Trump administration; he told Reuters that “while Maduro would have to step aside” – and this is a direct quote [the plan did not call for him to be forced into exile ] – “the plan did not call for him to be forced into exile and he even suggested that he ‘could theoretically’ run in the election.

So Abrams is saying ‘hey maybe Maduro can run’, Pompeo’s saying ‘Maduro is never again going to be able to govern’. There’s clear disconnect. It’s kind of indicative of what we’ve seen in the White House since Trump to office, with lack of communication between different sectors of the executive branch.

AM: Let’s say that Abrams, what he suggests, is the proposal that the US is putting forward, then somebody might look at that and say, hey you know listen the US shouldn’t be involved in Venezuela, but it is, and the fact is that right now they’re putting forward this plan where they’re offering to relieve these crippling, murderous sanctions if Venezuela just agrees to this new transition and hold new elections. Why not just abide by that to help ease the suffering of Venezuela?

LF: Well, Venezuela has a constitution. I mean that’s the biggest thing we have to talk about. It is a sovereign country that has a constitution, and is guided by that constitution. And so the Trump administration used that constitution, and made these kind of quasi-legal arguments, to say that Juan Guaidó was actually the real President because Maduro was ‘not officially in power’. And now they’re turning around and saying well you know what, forget that constitution and let’s talk about this whole ‘democratic framework transition’ that has no constitutional basis in Venezuela at all.

But what I think we really need to emphasis is that if the Venezuelan government decided to hold new elections – new presidential elections – after coming to an agreement with the opposition, they’re well within their rights. But this plan is being imposed from abroad, it lacks any sort of popular support within Venezuela, and in that regard it’s a non-starter.

AM: Just to stress this point, I do think holding new elections – that has been under discussion in Maduro’s negotiations with the opposition, right?

LF: Yeah, that’s correct. I mean first of all there have to be new elections – I mean parliamentary elections because those are due this year. And after those parliamentary elections there is the possibility that you might have new presidential elections in Venezuela.

But there’s no way that those presidential elections can be carried out while Venezuela is under sanctions from the US and the EU; particularly by the US sanctions. This is reminiscent of Nicaragua in the ’90s when the Nicaraguan people had an election and the US government said that if the FSLN [Sandinista National Liberation Front] then wins, then the sanctions will continue, but if the opposition wins then the sanctions will be lifted.

AM: Let me play for you a clip on that front. This is John Stockwell, he is a former CIA officer, and he was describing this tactic the US uses of basically making countries like Nicaragua submit to US demands or starve.

John Stockwell [speaking on December 27th 1989]: The point is to put pressure on the targeted government by ripping apart the social and economic fabric of the country. Now that’s words, you know, social and economic fabric: that means making the people suffer as much as you can until the country plunges into chaos, until at some point you can step in and impose your choice of governments on that country.

AM: So that’s a former CIA officer describing the US approach to countries like Nicaragua and Venezuela. Leo, what’s your sense of where the Venezuelan people are at? They’ve been suffering for a long time now under these sanctions. There was just a poll that was shared by the opposition economist Francisco Rodríguez pointing out that two-thirds of Venezuelans say that US sanctions are causing huge misery inside their country.

Francisco Rodríguez@frrodriguezc

Solo el 22.6% de los venezolanos piensa que las sanciones no son una causa de la crisis. Dos terceras partes piensan que sí han contribuido se alguna forma a la crisis. Lo mismo muestran estudios académicos que evidencian un efecto negativo y significativo sobre nuestra economía.

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What is your sense of where the electorate is at inside Venezuela? The people: are they at the point where they’re willing to give up [and] to submit to US demands, whatever they are, in return for some relief from this blockade?

LF: No, I wouldn’t say they are. I mean we have to be clear though, Venezuela is a very polarised country. So we have this sector that votes for the opposition – that a good percentage of it would likely welcome Pompeo’s plan. But then you have the Chavistas, which represent at least 40% of the electorate, and of all eligible voters, and they would absolutely reject this plan.

It’s absolutely true though that sanctions have completely destroyed the economic fabric of Venezuela. But one of the reasons that Venezuela has been able to overcome the pressure from the United States is due to the social fabric, and due to the organising at the community level, and due to the organising that the government enables from above.

AM: Okay, so you mentioned the Venezuelan electorate. Let me ask you quickly about this, because a huge talking point that the US administration uses and its parroted across the political establishment – even Democrats who oppose the sanctions parrot this talking point –which is that Maduro is not a legitimately elected leader, and they point to alleged fraud in the 2019 Venezuelan elections.

I know it’s complicated but can you give us the simplest case for why this talking point is false.

LF: Right. So, there’s actually no evidence that there was fraud, and really the argument that there was fraud only comes from the United States.

What happened in the 2018 elections is that sectors of the opposition just decided to boycott the election. And they boycotted at the direction, or under the instructions of the State Department.

In early 2018 there was dialogue between the government and the opposition. The two sides were very close to signing an agreement – they actually had an agreement written down. They were negotiating in the Dominican Republic, they went back to Venezuela for one week to consult with various parties involved; during that interim week, then-Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, threatened an oil embargo, and he also suggested that if the military were to overthrow Maduro, that this move would be welcomed by the United States.

Also during that week, the State Department said that they would not recognise any elections in 2018: that Maduro had to go first before there were elections. That’s what leads to these kind of claims of fraud because of this opposition boycott. But really there was no fraud: the parties that did participate, participated fully; there were international observers; there was a vote that was audited; and Maduro won in a landslide election.

AM: Maduro received over six millions votes, and, if I have the history correct, the main opposition candidate, Henri Falcón, who ran, he was even threatened with US sanctions if he kept participating in the elections.

LF: That’s right. And not only was Henri Falcón threatened with sanctions, but so was Allup who was leader of Acción Democrática – Democratic Action Party – this is one of the bigger opposition parties. It’s slightly more moderate than Juan Guaidó’s party. But he said, I think it was in March of 2019, excuse me 2018, he pondered ‘why would I run, if the US isn’t going to recognise my victory?’

And so the US made it clear that even if an opposition leader had won, that they were not going to recognise it because it wasn’t going to be the opposition leader that they wanted.

AM: So let me ask you about these narco-trafficking charges that have been unveiled against Maduro and other top officials. The allegation – and maybe you can explain it for us – because it’s pretty bewildering: is that Maduro and the other top Venezuelan officials have been engaged in a criminal conspiracy to flood the US with drugs, going back many years.

LF: Yeah, that’s correct. And so the DOJ talks about a plan to plot to flood the US with cocaine since 1999. Maduro wasn’t even in power in 1999. In 1999, he was a member of the National Constituent Assembly and he was helping to draft Venezuela’s constitution.

So one of the interpretations of these accusations in Venezuela is that these aren’t accusations against individuals, it’s really an accusation against the entire Bolivarian revolution. And going a little bit deeper, this plot claim by the DOJ is patently ridiculous, I mean, the US government’s own statistics show that over 90% of the cocaine in the United States is either from Colombia, or has travelled through Colombia. Those same statistics show that less than 7% of the cocaine that the United States has transited through Venezuela at some point.

Venezuela doesn’t produce coca – the coca leaf – it doesn’t produce cocaine, whereas Colombia is the biggest producer of both coca and cocaine in the entire world. It’s clear that these accusations – these charges – are completely politically motivated and they’re not based on any sort of reality.

If they were, then really the conspiracy to flood the United States with cocaine – you have to look at the President of Colombia and the prior President Álvaro Uribe and really the kind of entire Colombian social structure, which enables narco-paramilitaries to control their society and to support cocaine.

AM: And you’ve written about, for The Grayzonea piece that explains that one consequence of this indictment, is that it’s triggered a confession – a very serious confession – by one of the people charged of a violent US-based plot against Maduro. Can you explain what happened there?

LF: Right. So one of the people indicted, his name is Cliver Alcalá, he was a former member of the military. He used to be very close to Chavismo. He flipped to the opposition in 2016 and since 2017, give or take, he’s been involved in various plots and coup attempts [including] attempted terror plots in Venezuela. He’s been linked to them.

And so immediately after the DOJ press conference last week that indicted Mr Alcalá, he posted some videos on Twitter and other social media confessing to a terror plot in Venezuela from about a week and a half ago —

So a bit of back story: the Colombian police seized 26 high-powered rifles and several other weapons of war and military equipment. Alcalá claimed that the weapons were his – that they were bought using money from Juan Guaidó. That he and Juan Guaidó had entered into a contract for the weapons. That the weapons were going to be used to help overthrow the Venezuelan government by causing a terror plot and by targeted assassination of Chavista leaders.

Alcalá now has been turned over to US authorities. It’s unclear what’s going to happen with him, but what is clear is that he implicated not just Juan Guaidó in this terror plot, but US advisors – he claims that he met with US advisors on at least seven different occasions.

AM: And just to put a final point on this, he says that Guaidó paid him money for this plot. And so those weapons that were seized in Colombia were paid for by Guaidó, and then presumably the US which backs up Guaidó, and is actually using money initially intended for Central American aid to pay for Guaidó and his fellow coup-plotters.

LF: Yeah, that’s right. The money wasn’t necessarily going to Alcalá directly, it was going to the weapons that Alcalá purchased. And Juan Guaidó’s only source of financing is the US government, which basically is us US taxpayers.

AM: So finally, as part of its coup effort in Venezuela, the US has been putting heavy pressure on anybody engaged in business with Venezuela, and that’s included sanctioning Russia’s state oil company, Rosnef.

Rosnef was recently forced to basically divest its holdings in Venezuela and then transfer it to another Russian government – in fact, the wholly Russian government owned company. Will this be enough to keep Venezuela afloat, or do you think that the power of the US is just too strong here?

LF: I think it would be enough under slightly different circumstances, but the fact is that oil is plummeting right now and so it’s unclear what’s happening with Venezuelan government’s finances.

I don’t think the Venezuelan government is going to fall due to financing. I think in that sense, you know, China and Russia have a lot invested in Venezuela, and Venezuela has other means of securing financing, whether it’s through gold or rare earth minerals. But it does make the situation much more difficult and it has led to gasoline shortages recently in Venezuela.

AM: And finally, in terms of what can be done here in the US, you mentioned that there’s now increased talk from Congress – increased pushback from Congress – asking them not to suspend the sanctions entirely, but to simply pause them during the coronavirus pandemic, which I suppose is better than nothing.

But as we are dealing now with economic troubles of our own here at home, what do you think can be done right now to push back on the Trump administration’s coup effort, and to try to stop the regime change plot on Venezuela – and to drop the sanctions?

LF: Well, I think for starters the issue of Venezuela has become incredibly toxic in mainstream politics. So if you take any sort of position that is deemed friendly to the Venezuelan government, even if it’s actually not necessarily friendly to the government, like say humanitarian relief and [lifting] sanctions, you’re immediately going to be seen with mistrust by a certain element of the political establishment.

And so I think that really what’s most important is that to highlight what the Trump administration has been doing to sabotage dialogue in Venezuela. If it were not for Trump, I think we would already have a political agreement in Venezuela and the country would be much more stable. But he’s in thrall to his financers in Florida, the Cuban-American lobby in Florida and rich Venezuelans in Florida; it all boils down to Florida unfortunately.

I think really that the best hope that the Venezuelan government has is to hold out until after the November elections. Even if Trump is re-elected I think it opens up a possibility of negotiations between the Trump administration and the Maduro government.

AM: Yeah, on that front it doesn’t inspire confidence that Joe Biden has fully embraced Trump’s coup attempt, and has recognised Juan Guaidó as the President, but certainly, no matter what happens, November will be a key date in all this and other issues of course.

Leo Flores, Latin American policy expert and campaigner with Codepink, thanks very much.

LF: Thank you Aaron.

Mossad In Charge of Taking Masks, Ventilators, Test Kits From Whomever For Zionist State

via Mossad In Charge of Taking Masks, Ventilators, Test Kits From Whomever For Zionist State

Spy agencies around the world, which normally deal with national security, terrorism and international crime, have shifted during the coronavirus pandemic to using their expertise to lay their hands on medical equipment that has become invaluable, a senior Mossad officer has said.

In an exposé broadcast Tuesday by Channel 12’s “Uvda” investigative news program, the head of the technology department in Israel’s Mossad intelligence service said countries have been locked in a fierce, covert battle to take control of a limited supply of ventilators at all costs.

Mossad, which has been tasked with securing medical equipment from abroad from unspecified countries amid worldwide shortages, has helped obtain 25,000 N95 respiratory masks, 20,000 virus test kits, 10 million surgical masks, and 700 overalls for ambulance workers who usually carry out the initial testing for the virus.

Israeli security services and government ministries had also acquired 27 ventilators and at least another 160 ventilators would be brought to Israel by Wednesday, the Mossad has said, without giving details on where the equipment was coming from.

It was the third such shipment by the Mossad over the past few weeks aimed at addressing shortages in Israel.

“I have overseen many operations in my life, and I’ve never dealt with such a complex operation,” said the Mossad officer, identified only by the Hebrew initial “Het.”

He said that the government has tasked the Mossad with obtaining more than 130,000 objects needed to fight the outbreak of the respiratory virus, including gas masks, virus test kits, medicine, protective gear and, most importantly, ventilators, which have become one of the most sought-after commodities in the world.

“The world is selling [ventilators] through cracks. We need to find the cracks,” said Het. “We are world champions in operations, and we know how to manage complex operations.

“We are utilizing our special connections to win the race and perhaps do what the whole world is doing — lay our hands on stocks ordered by others,” he said.

Het said his office was receiving over 2,000 leads every day, some false and some real, and some where other countries beat Israel to the punch.

“We had a country in Europe where our trucks arrived at the factory’s doors but another European country was ahead of us and loaded it up,” he described. “We also had a situation where we had equipment we purchased on a plane but it had to be unloaded because the plane didn’t get permission [to take off] due to the embargo.

“The whole world is looking after itself. Prices have risen four- and five-fold and the world has closed down.”

However, Het said he was confident his organization would meet the set goal of acquiring 7,000 ventilators.

“Uvda” cited senior officials as saying that by the coming weekend, Israel would manage to acquire another 1.5 million N95 protective masks necessary for medical staff, 700,000 surgical masks, 2 million protective overalls and protective glasses, 50,000 coronavirus medicines and, most importantly, 180 ventilators.

The report also said Israel had recently obtained essential information needed for local manufacturing of ventilators, via a complex operation.

Het said Israel’s goal was not to be dependent on anyone else, and Yaniv Rotem, head of the research and development department in the Defense Ministry, said the goal was to produce hundreds of ventilators a week.

“The first dozens of ventilators will be manufactured this week, and it will increase over time,” said Het. “That won’t be the bottleneck.”

He said that unlike three or four days ago, he was now confident that Israel would weather the crisis much better than Italy, Spain and the United States, and that there will be no shortage of equipment.

As of Wednesday morning there were 5,591 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Israel. Twenty-one people have died of the disease and 97 are in serious condition, including 76 who are hooked up to ventilators, according to Health Ministry figures.

According to a report prepared last week for the Knesset’s Special Committee on Dealing With the Coronavirus, there were at most 1,437 ventilators in the country still available to treat patients. The Health Ministry disputed that figure, saying there were 2,864 available ventilators.

Last week the Mossad brought 400,000 coronavirus test kits to Israel from an undisclosed foreign location, the Prime Minister’s Office said at the time. The shipment came a week after the agency had obtained 100,000 testing kits.

The PMO, which is responsible for the Mossad, said the intelligence service had imported the chemical reagents needed to perform approximately 400,000 tests. The swabs needed to carry out the task are being sourced both internally and from a number of foreign countries.

The PMO refused to comment further on the matter, specifically on the country or countries that sold it the testing components, leading many to assume that it was a country that does not have strong or formal ties with Israel.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.