Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Russiagate Scandal Descends into Total Absurdity

US government paralysed as frantic searches for evidence to prove scandal true fail one by one
Even as the Trump administration disintegrates – with the President publicly quarreling with his Secretary of State, and his Chief of Staff forced to deny he is about to resign – the scandal which more than anything else has defined this Presidency has disintegrated into total lunacy.
Consider these facts.
(1) The Mueller investigation
Just a few weeks ago the media was full of reports of how Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation was “closing in” on the President and his campaign team. The focus of media interest was on an early morning search in July of the house of Paul Manafort, the campaign professional who at one time acted as the Trump campaign’s chairman, with lurid headlines that he was about to be indicted, though it was never made clear for what.
Since then there has been nothing, a clear sign that the search of Manafort’s house has come up with nothing, and that the pressure to get Manafort to talk by dangling threats of indictment in front of him have resulted in nothing.
In all other respects a curtain of silence has fallen on Mueller’s investigation, a strong sign that after its failure to “break” Manafort it no longer has a clear strategy of what to do.
(2) The Senate Intelligence Committee
This held a portentous press conference recently to announce the findings of its nine month investigation into the Russiagate allegations.  As a result of that press conference we learnt that
…….the committee and its staff have conducted more than 100 interviews, comprising 250 hours of testimony and resulting in 4,000 pages of transcripts, and reviewed more than 100,000 documents relevant to Russiagate. The staff, said Warner, has collectively spent a total of 57 hours per day, seven days a week, since the committee opened its inquiry, going through documents and transcripts, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing both classified and unclassified material.
The result of all this impressive activity?  Precisely nothing.  Here is what Senator Richard Burr, its Republican chairman, had to say
There are concerns that we continue to pursue. Collusion?  The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion. Now, I’m not going to even discuss any initial findings because we haven’t any
(bold added)
The position has been summed up perfectly by President Trump’s spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders
MS. SANDERS: I think more importantly than the President being frustrated, I think the American people are frustrated. The Senate Intel Committee told us yesterday that, after nearly nine months of investigated — that’s included more than 100 interviews, over more than 250 hours, 4,000 pages of transcripts, 100,000 pages of documents, interviewing officials in the intelligence community who wrote the report on Russian election meddling, interviewing relevant Obama administration officials, and talking to every Trump campaign official they’ve requested — it’s literally found zero evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
I think that the American people would like them to focus on some other things. I know that we certainly have said this all along, and we’re glad that as they continue this process they’re coming to the same conclusion.
(bold added)
Notwithstanding this urging “to focus on some other things”, Senator Burr continues to insist that the question of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – the heart of the Russiagate scandal – is “still open”.  One wonders how much more money, time and work it will need before he finally accepts that it should be closed?
(3) Social media
Relentless pressure on the leading social media platforms – Facebook, Google and Twitter – from people like the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Deputy Chair Senator Warner has unearthed a tiny number of advertisements and comments costing in aggregate substantially less than a million dollars which are ‘assessed’ to have ‘some’ unspecified connection to Russia.
Most of these advertisements and comments did not appear during last year’s US Presidential election and were not about it. Some of those which did were pro-Hillary Clinton and anti-Donald Trump. There is however no rhyme or reason to these advertisements and comments, many of which were on non-political subjects, including such momentous matters as puppies.
A reasonable person would conclude that this small number of advertisements and comments could have had no bearing or influence on last year’s US Presidential election, and that they were not intended to have any.
A reasonable person would also conclude that the tiny number of these advertisements and comments – unearthed after frantic and relentless searches by the social media platforms after they were put under intense pressure from the politicians to come up with something – their vague and contradictory material, and their nebulous connection to Russia, in fact proves that there was NO sinister Russian plot to swing last year’s election to Donald Trump by using social media, or even a Russian plot via social media to create doubts about it.
There is however nothing remotely reasonable about the true believers of the Russiagate scandal.  On the contrary they have latched onto this material – whose lack of substance in fact proves the absurdity of their claims – not as disproving their claims but rather as vindication that what they have been saying all along about “Russian meddling in the election” has now been proved to be true.  A whole stream of strange articles (see for example this one in the Financial Times) has appeared in the establishment media which all but say this.
To which one can only say that when evidence of the non-existence of a conspiracy is taken as proof of its existence it becomes clear that all connection to reality and indeed to sanity has been lost.
(4) Attempted Russian hacking of state voting systems
In some ways this was the most bizarre recent claim of all.  It has been thoroughly discussed by Glenn Greenwald and to his commentary I have little to add.
What makes this episode bizarre is that the claim that the Russians hacked or attempted to hack the voting systems of US states is one which has been made repeatedly over the course of the scandal, only to be invariably and repeatedly proved to be false.
The latest iteration of this claim was in an article in USA Today sourced from the Department of Homeland Security which claimed that the Russians had attempted to hack the voting systems of 21 states.
Needless to say the claim was immediately picked up and repeated with enthusiasm by all sorts of people until two of the states involved – Wisconsin and California – categorically denied it, upon which the Department of Homeland Security was forced to issue a retraction.
To which one can only ask: how often does this story have to be refuted before it is accepted as false?
Overall one senses a scandalous story of nefarious collusion and double-dealing between the Trump campaign and Russia which now rests on nothing but hot air as all attempts to prove it true fail one by one.
In the meantime the American public and even parts of the media are losing interest, as shown by the fact that the scandal hardly comes up in White House news conferences any more.
Serious damage however continues to be done.
The scandal has paralysed the foreign policy of the US government as Donald Trump’s signature policy upon which he was elected – rapprochement with Russia – has been blocked because of a concocted scandal with no substance behind it.
The result unsurprisingly is an angry President, resentful at how his signature policy has been blocked, who having no clear idea what to do, is hitting out in all directions, sometimes by behaving spitefully towards his own staff.
Moreover, as the disintegration of the scandal makes it all but impossible for the President to be removed from office through his impeachment (the original intention of those who concocted it), this chaotic and unhappy state of affairs looks likely to continue indefinitely.
Featured image is from the author.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Will the US – Iranian confrontation occur? هل ستقع المواجهة الأميركية الإيرانية؟ انه زمن التسويات

Will the US – Iranian confrontation occur?

أكتوبر 20, 2017
Written by Nasser Kandil,
The US President Donald Trump ignited the relationship with Iran, putting the world in front of the risk of war. Within a week of anticipation for what he will say on the eve of the date of the  Congress’s ratification of the renewing the work with the agreement provisions, Trump has threatened the world promising of a new strategy that expresses his dissatisfaction towards the nuclear agreement which he described it with the worst agreement. After long anticipation, Trump talked, he used harsh expressions against Iran and has charged it with every accusations, he beheld it the responsibility of all crises, moreover he dealt with the agreement as it is under punishment, when he had to utter the only useful sentence about what he would do with the agreement whether he will abolish it, stop it, or present it to negotiation and modification he stammered and he did not say anything, just that he will not send to the Congress any message that notifies it about the commitment of Iran to the agreement and asks the Congress to renew the US commitments concerning that agreement, so he announced practically the withdrawal from the mission which he was entrusted and has behold it to the Congress.
Trump has done the same thing with the health insurance system which was approved by the former President Barack Obama. America is still without a health system so far, after the decision of Trump caused the staying of millions of the Americans outside any guarantee system. The Congress is still discussing. It was clear for Trump that the Congress is unable to take a decision which the President was unable to take because the factors which prevented the President are preventing the Congress more. Europe is committed to the agreement and it warns from tampering with it. The sanctions which will be undertaken by America if it withdraws from the agreement will be on the companies and the banks which deal with Iran, which most of them are European companies and banks. The decision as the withdrawal from the agreement means that America is bearing the responsibility of the Iranian nuclear behavior which is contrary to the agreement and which America is responsible for its failure. But no one neither America nor in Europe has an alternative to stop the Iranian nuclear activities towards possessing a nuclear bomb but to have a reconciliation with Iran. In case of withdrawal, the alternative represented by the sanctions were not effective throughout two decades, but the increase of the Iranian nuclear capability which reached in the light of the sanctions the degree of having a bomb according to the US reports.
The Congress knows what is known by the President, so it avoids like him going to escalation, because the only remaining choice after the bankruptcy of the sanctions system in case of the fall of the agreement is to go to war. The Congress and the President know that if this was available, it was worthy to go to war under a stronger pretext that gathers the allies around America at their forefronts the Europeans, where America does not appear as a defector force that escapes from its pledges, and it was enough for America to stick to the red line which it put to prevent the Syrian army and its allies, at their forefront Iran and Hezbollah from reaching the Syrian-Iraqi borders and mobilizing the capacities to wage the war there under the slogan of preventing the Iranian expansion and preventing of the threat of Israel’s security. Waging the war on the bordered line will achieve strategic practical goal by separating Syria from Iraq, and separates Iran from Syria, Hezbollah, and Palestine, thus this will achieve the desired goals of America and its allies more than the nuclear. If America is able to win this war then it can bring its allies and the world to modify the agreement under the conditions of the victor.
Scrutinizing the sanctions which Trump said that he asked to be imposed on the Revolutionary Guard have been issued by the US Treasury Department, which means that is an application of previous classifications where there is not any new classification on the terrorism lists. The US Department of State which is responsible for the classification on the terrorism lists has already classified the Corps of Jerusalem in the Revolutionary Guard and some of its institutions on the terrorism list, so the new sanctions are an application of the old classification, but there was no decision to include the Revolutionary Guard to these lists as the US threats said, so this means the avoidance of the confrontation which Iran has promised of in case of such classification.
Trump played around, so he is not on the edge of the abyss, he decided to move around lest he collides with the danger of confrontation, he used the hostile words to avoid making a decisive decision.
Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

هل ستقع المواجهة الأميركية الإيرانية؟

أكتوبر 14, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– نفخ الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب في نار العلاقة مع إيران واضعاً العالم أمام خطر اندلاع حرب، وخلال أسبوع من الترقب لما سيقوله عشية موعد تصديق الكونغرس على تجديد العمل بأحكام الاتفاقية، حَبَس ترامب أنفاس العالم متهدّداً متوعّداً باستراتيجية جديدة تعبّر عن عدم رضاه على الاتفاق النووي الذي ما انفكّ يصفه بالأسوأ، وبعد طول انتظار تحدّث ترامب، فقال كلاماً فيه أقسى التعابير بحق إيران ووجّه لها الاتهامات كلّها، ورمى عليها مسؤولية الأزمات كلّها، ووضع الاتفاق في منزلة المكافأة لمن يجب أن ينزل به العقاب، وعندما كان عليه أن ينطق الجملة الوحيدة المفيدة، عمّاذا سيفعل بالاتفاق، سيلغيه أم سيجمّده أم سيطرحه للتفاوض والتعديل، تلعثم ولم يقل شيئاً، سوى أنه لن يرسل للكونغرس الرسالة التي تفيد بالتزام إيران بالاتفاق وتطلب من الكونغرس تجديد الالتزامات الأميركية بهذا الاتفاق، معلناً عملياً الاستقالة من المهمة التي تقع على عاتقه وتجييرها للكونغرس.

– سبق لترامب أن فعل الشيء نفسه مع نظام الضمان الصحيّ الذي أقرّه الرئيس السابق باراك أوباما، ولا زالت أميركا بلا نظام صحيّ حتى الآن، بعدما تسبّب قرار ترامب ببقاء ملايين الأميركيين خارج أيّ نظام ضمان، ولا زال الكونغرس يناقش. وقد كان واضحاً لترامب أنّ الكونغرس عاجز عن اتخاذ قرار عجز الرئيس عن اتخاذه، فالعوامل التي منعت الرئيس من اتخاذ القرار، تمنع الكونغرس بشدّة أكبر، فأوروبا ملتزمة بالاتفاق وتحذّر من التلاعب به، والعقوبات التي ستتخذها أميركا إذا خرجت من الاتفاق ستكون على الشركات التي تتعامل مع إيران والبنوك التي تتعامل مع إيران. وهي في غالبها شركات وبنوك أوروبية، وقرار بحجم الانسحاب من الاتفاق يعني أنّ أميركا تتحمّل مسؤولية السلوك الإيراني النووي المخالف للاتفاق، الذي تكون أميركا مسؤولة عن إسقاطه، وليس بيد أحد لا في أميركا ولا في أوروبا بديل لوقف الأنشطة النووية الإيرانية، عن بلوغ درجة امتلاك قنبلة نووية، سوى التراضي مع إيران، وفي حال الخروج منه، فالبدائل التي تمثلها العقوبات لم تفعل طوال عقدين سوى زيادة القدرة النووية الإيرانية، التي بلغت في ظلّ العقوبات عتبة امتلاك القنبلة، وفقاً للتقارير الأميركية.

– الكونغرس يعلم ما يعلمه الرئيس، ويتجنّب مثله بسبب ما يعلمان، الذهاب للتصعيد، لأنّ الخيار الوحيد المتبقي بعد إفلاس نظام العقوبات، في حال سقوط الاتفاق، هو الذهاب للحرب. وهو ما يعلم الرئيس والكونغرس معاً، أنه إنْ كان متاحاً. فكان الأجدر الذهاب إليها بذريعة أقوى، تجمع الحلفاء حول أميركا وفي مقدّمتهم الأوروبيون، ولا تظهر أميركا فيها كقوة مارقة تتنصّل من تعهّداتها، ويكفي تمسك أميركا بالخط الأحمر الذي وضعته لمنع الجيش السوري وحلفائه، وفي مقدّمتهم إيران وحزب الله، من بلوغ الحدود السورية العراقية، وحشد القدرات لخوض الحرب هناك، تحت شعار منع التمدّد الإيراني ومنع تهديد أمن «إسرائيل»، وخوض الحرب على خط الحدود يحقق شيئاً عملياً استراتيجياً بفصل سورية عن العراق، وبالتالي إيران عن سورية وحزب الله وفلسطين، ويحقق الغايات المرجوّة لأميركا وحلفائها أكثر من ألف شعوذة عنوانها الاتفاق النووي، وإذا كانت أميركا قادرة على هذه الحرب والانتصار فيها، تستطيع أن تجلب حلفاءها والعالم لتعديل الاتفاق بشروط المنتصر.

– التدقيق بالعقوبات التي قال ترامب إنه طلب إنزالها بالحرس الثوري، صدرت عن وزارة الخزانة الأميركية، ما يعني أنّها تطبيق لتصنيفات سابقة، وليس فيها تصنيف جديد على لوائح الإرهاب، وقد سبق لوزارة الخارجية الأميركية التي تتولّى مهمة التصنيف على لوائح الإرهاب أن صنّفت فيلق القدس في الحرس الثوري وبعض مؤسساته على لوائح الإرهاب، والعقوبات الجديدة تطبيق للتصنيف القديم، لكن لم يصدر قرار بإدراج الحرس الثوري على لوائح الإرهاب، كما كانت التهديدات الأميركية تقول، ما يعني تجنّب المواجهة، التي وعدت بها إيران في حال حدث هذا التصنيف.

– لعب ترامب على حدّ السيف، وليس على حافة الهاوية، فهو قرّر السير بين النقاط، كي لا يصطدم بخطر المواجهة، وغطّى بالكلمات العدائية التهرّب من اتخاذ قرار حاسم.

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israel Supplies Weapons to ISIS-Daesh

According to Syria’s official news agency, Syrian Forces Discover Dozens of Israeli-made Weapons and Equipment in ISIS Dens
Syrian Forces have discovered dozens of Israeli-made arms, ammunition and telecommunication devices, while searching through ISIS dens in the countrysides of Homs and Hama provinces.
Among discovered arms and equipment, there were some artillery pieces, around 800 mortar shells, a machine gun equipped with 10 thousand bullets, in addition to several rounds of bullets made for 17 mm, 14,5 mm and 30 mm machine guns, as well as an RPG, 3 RPG launchers and a whole bunch of telecommunication devices.
A great number of items discovered turned out to be of Israeli origin.
The discoveries were made while the Syrian Army was searching through and combing the areas that were recently liberated from ISIS terrorists, in particularly Jeb Al Jarrah, a village located north of Qaryatayn, and in the southern countryside of the town of Salamiyeh in Hama province.
Meanwhile, Syrian Army assumed control over strategic village of Al Husseiniyeh, located north of of Deir Ez Zour city.
This comes right after the Syrian Army liberated strategic villages of Buqrous Foukani, Buqrous Tahtani and Al Dhiyban earlier in the day.
Featured image is from Fort Russ News.

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The Courage of the Syrian Arab Army and Allies (Russia, Iran & Hezbollah) against US Backed Terrorism

The Courage of the Syrian Arab Army and Allies against US Backed Terrorism
By Dr Bouthaina Shaaban
Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, Political and Media Advisor to Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad.
The announcement by the Russian Ministry of Defence that US support for terrorists is a major obstacle to the elimination of the terrorist organisation in Syria is not a simple or transitory declaration. It is an important and dangerous declaration that must be carefully looked at.
The successes of the Syrian army with the support of the Russian space air force in the rapid liberation of the Euphrates valley seem to contradict the plans of American colleagues,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashinkov said, noting that US forces did not allow the Syrian army to pursue terrorists in the al-Tanf area.
It is understood, of course, that Russia does not want to initiate a conflict with the United States and to start a third world war, but such declarations and statements by the Russian Ministry of Defence, even if they are uttered in such de-escalatory terms such as “American colleagues,” represent a clear and explicit link between ISIS and US plans in both Syria and Iraq. This at the international level undermines the credibility of the United States, and undermines the impact of any American statements bragging about the fight against terrorism. Especially as Russian forces announced that the ISIS offensive relied on aerial reconnaissance that cannot be attained by the group unless provided by American reconnaissance planes.
We support the comprehensive approach to combating terrorism, preventing the spread of terrorist ideology and funding illegal armed groups, and we call for a political renunciation of double standards in addressing the most serious threats of our time,”said Russian President Vladimir Putin in a welcoming message to participants at the International Meeting of Heads of Security Services.
Double standards” have become synonymous with the United States, and the rise of Russia in the international system today is putting the final nail in the coffin of American unilateralism. This is what Russia’s policy depends on in its cumulative strategy, building on the shortcomings of the other, pointing to them and re-mentioning them whenever possible. While at the same time behaving differently from them, adhering to principles, values and norms in international relations.
But the biggest victim of the US sponsoring of ISIS in recent years is Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Therefore, in addition to what the Russians are doing to draw the attention of the world to the sure link between ISIS and the United States, it is necessary to re-read all the unfolding events in Arab countries in the past seven years in light of these facts, which revealed certain close ties between ISIS, the United States, and the objectives that the Americans and Israelis hope to achieve in our countries.
When we were watching dozens of American four-wheel-drive vehicles pass from Iraq to north-east Syria, we were wondering where ISIS got all these US-made cars from, while our countries could not buy medications to save children’s lives because of sanctions and boycotts. When ISIS pays the salaries of thousands of terrorists, one wonders how could it move all of this liquidity in US dollars, while countries cannot pay for the spare parts of their civil aircraft.
The relationship between the Western and Zionist forces targeting of the Arab confrontation countries, and the Muslim Brotherhood gangs and their detachments from al-Nusra, ISIS, the Free Army, and others’ aggression on our countries is an old-new relationship, but for unknown reasons it remains in doubt despite the books written on this subject, by members of the same organisations such as Izzat al-Kharbawi.
The thorough research and investigation into this subject is an urgent need today not only to prove the creation of these movements by the West as instruments to implement its agendas which it failed to implement by other means in our region, but also to liberate the Islamic religion from all these suspicious movements and all manifestations of extremism, and the violence that has afflicted on them. The proximate end of the fighting with an ISIS on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria can be an incentive and an opportunity for political elites and Arab intellectuals to work quietly today, and hope to re-study this phenomenon, its formation, its entry into our territory, the methods it followed, the tactics that it resorted to, and the networks that provided them with support, in order to reach firm conclusions that we can provide future generations with a factual and correct account of our history that they must depend on in forming their national outlook in the future.
What we Arabs lack from our history is a study of the events we go through in a frank and in-depth manner, in order to draw lessons for the future in a timely manner; this is why we find ourselves experiencing the same turmoil more than once, and the tragedy is repeated throughout our lives in different manifestations without us learning one useful lesson that guides us in any similar experience we may encounter after a while.
Thousands of martyrs have sacrificed their lives to reach this honourable stage in this battle, and thousands have been wounded so that the will of the free peoples triumphs. Is this victory a mere news clip in the media, or should we actually make a plan in order for researchers to study all the dimensions of these events and arrive at solid scientific conclusions that we can provide not only for our peoples, but to the international family so that those who promulgate lies in order to destroy countries and peoples become more reluctant in doing so.
After these achievements in the field, we must spread research centres at the national level to honour all the sacrifices made and establish the foundations of a true and factual Arab history fit for the new world, which is rapidly taking shape, and guarantees us an honourable status at the regional and international levels.
Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, Political and Media Advisor to Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad.
This article was originally published by 21CentyryWire

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The US dilemma in the Iranian nuclear file المأزق الأميركي في الملف النووي الإيراني

The US dilemma in the Iranian nuclear file

أكتوبر 20, 2017
Written by Nasser Kandil,
The US President Donald Trump has chosen his weakest points and the strongest points of the Iranian force in order to fight with Iran; he made the Iranian nuclear file an issue that is full of the files of disagreements with Iran regarding its missile program, the security of Israel, and the regional role of Iran, towards the future of Hezbollah and its resistance, he was about to show the US weakness in the international arena. The agreement on the Iranian nuclear file is an international convention that does not accommodate the US approach of the disputing bilateral files with Iran. the officials of Trump’s administration declared about their sticking to the agreement and the seeking to modify it as they said, they are aware that the modification according to their terms is impossible, because their demands collide with a dispute on the description with at least two main partners namely Russia and China, and Iran for sure whether concerning the missile program of Iran, the regional role of Iran, or the role of Hezbollah. If this modification is impossible then the fate of the US movement will be the failure.
The second problem of America is European regarding the bad choice. Europe which participated Washington in its reservations on the missile program of Iran and its concern for Israel’s security, and its anticipation for disciplining Hezbollah, but it does not want to affect the nuclear agreement, because this agreement is its way for the positive partnership with Iran economically and politically in achieving the stability in Syria and Iraq in particular, in order to prevent the growth of terrorism and its rootedness on one hand. It became stable that there will be no security in Europe without extinguishing the wars in Syria and Iraq, furthermore no extinguishing of these wars without Iran and even without Hezbollah. On the other hand, it resorts to Iran to maintain stability and to return the lifecycle as the prevention of the flow of the immigrants and the displaced people to Europe. The Demographic stability of Europe has become the way to preserve the unity of its entities, after the destabilization resulted from the displacement has led to the exit of Britain from the European Union. The displacement leads to dual opposing growth of the racism of the Nazi –right and the incubating environment of extremism among the displaced and immigrants, without stopping the displacement, the communities of Europe will be threatened of disintegration and the unity of its entities will be threatened, just for that it puts aside its reservations and tries to protect the agreement with Iran, it sees it as a way for getting out of recession, after Washington has monopolized the Gulf’s money to resolve its crises, so what are left are Iran , Syria, and Iraq.
The third problem of America regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran is Asian in terms of the future of the engagement with North Korea from two opposite perspectives, if the content of the message headed to Iran was that there is no usefulness in the positioning under the ceiling of the international law which the major countries that claim to guard it, refuse to apply it on themselves and thus do not commit to, and that the path of North Korea is beneficial through rebellion and threat. Although Iran which possesses in geography, capabilities, and population what is not possessed by North Korea and thus it can rebel and threaten, it accepted to stick to the peaceful nuclear file and to present the necessary guarantees for that. But the superpowers of the world showed it that the conventions are valueless, and sticking to the law does not benefit, while the military nuclear deterrence of North Korea protects it. In contrast, America tells North Korea that the example of the Iranian commitment calls to avoid falling into the trap of accepting understandings that lead to non- possession of nuclear weapons, because the commitment does not ensure the dealing according to law and conventions, since the force is the only way understood by Washington, therefore the result of the US movement is encouraging those who advocate possessing the nuclear weapons among the Iranians and weakening those who advocate going to understandings, as well as complicating the dialogue and negotiation with North Korea, This makes Japan and North Korea avoid including their votes to the advocates of the US position, and makes Seoul and Tokyo aware that the nuclear agreement with Iran is the only example to persuade Pyongyang to abandon the nuclear weapons, provided to be an attractive and  encouraging example.
Trump has not succeeded in attracting advocates but Israel and Saudi Arabia, if the US-Saudi- Israeli alliance was enough to form a balance of power against Iran, despite the big differences between the nuclear agreement and others, it would be enough to resolve the situation of Syria, and it would be another agreement than the one we know.
Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

المأزق الأميركي في الملف النووي الإيراني

أكتوبر 16, 2017
ناصر قنديل

-اختار الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب أضعف حلقات قوته وأقوى حلقات القوة الإيرانية ساحة للنزال بينه وبين إيران، فجعل الملف النووي الإيراني وعاء يتسع لملفات الخلاف مع إيران حول برنامجها الصاروخي وأمن «إسرائيل» ودور إيران الإقليمي، وصولاً لمستقبل حزب الله ومقاومته. كان الدعسة الناقصة التي ستتكفّل بتظهير الضعف الأميركي على الساحة الدولية. فالاتفاق على الملف النووي الإيراني معاهدة دولية لا تتسع لاستيعاب المقاربة الأميركية للملفات الخلافية الثنائية مع إيران، وبعدما صرّح مسؤولو إدارة ترامب بالتمسك بالاتفاق والسعي لتعديله كما قالوا، يدركون أن التعديل بشروطهم مستحيل، لأن مطالبهم تصطدم بخلاف على التوصيف مع شريكين أساسيين على الأقل، هما روسيا والصين وإيران حكماً، سواء حول البرنامج الصاروخي لإيران أو حول دور إيران الإقليمي أو حول دور حزب الله، وإذا كان هذا التعديل مستحيلاً، ولا تعديل سواه، فيصير مصير الحركة الأميركية هو الفشل.

مشكلة أميركا الثانية في الاختيار السيئ، أوروبية. فأوروبا التي قد تشارك واشنطن بتحفظاتها على البرنامج الصاروخي لإيران وقلقها على أمن «إسرائيل»، وتطلعها لتقليم أظافر حزب الله، لا تريد المساس بالاتفاق النووي ولا تعريضه للاهتزاز، لأنه طريقها للتشارك الإيجابي مع إيران اقتصادياً وسياسياً في تحقيق الاستقرار في سورية والعراق خصوصاً، منعاً لنمو الإرهاب وتجذره من جهة. وقد صار ثابتاً أنه لا أمن لأوروبا من دون إطفاء الحروب في سورية والعراق، ولا إطفاء لهذه الحروب من دون إيران، بل ومن دون حزب الله. ومن جهة ثانية الاستعانة بإيران لحفظ الاستقرار وإعادة دورة الحياة كطريق لمنع تدفق المهاجرين والنازحين نحو أوروبا. وقد صار استقرار أوروبا الديمغرافي طريق الحفاظ على وحدة كياناتها، بعدما تكفل الاهتزاز الناجم عن النزوح بخروج بريطانيا من الاتحاد الأوروبي، ويتكفّل مسلسل النزوح بنمو متقابل مزدوج، لعنصرية اليمين النازي، والبيئة الحاضنة للتطرف بين النازحين والمهاجرين، ومن دون وقف النزوح تجد أوروبا التهديد لتفتت مجتمعاتها، وتهديد وحدة كياناتها. ولهذا تضع جانباً تحفظاتها، وتتجه لحماية الاتفاق مع إيران، لا بل تراه طريقاً للخروج من الكساد، وقد احتكرت واشنطن مال الخليج لحل أزماتها، وما بقي لأوروبا إلا إيران وسورية والعراق.

-مشكلة أميركا الثالثة في فتح ملف الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، آسيوية، لجهة مستقبل التجاذب مع كوريا الشمالية، من زاويتين متقابلتين. فإذا كانت الرسالة الموجهة لإيران مضمونها أن لا جدوى من التموضع تحت سقف القانون الدولي، الذي لا تلتزمه الدول العظمى أصلاً التي تدّعي حراسته وترفض تطبيقه على أنفسها. والرسالة لإيران هنا هي أن طريق كوريا الشمالية هو المجدي بالتمرّد والتهديد، وإيران إن تمردت وهددت تملك في الجغرافيا والمقدرات والسكان ما لا تملكه كوريا الشمالية، ورغم ذلك ارتضت طريق التمسك بملف نووي سلمي وقدّم ما يلزم من ضمانات لذلك، وتأتي الدولة العظمى الأولى في العالم وتقول لها المعاهدات لا قيمة لها، والالتزام بالقانون لا يقدّم ولا يؤخّر، بينما الردع النووي العسكري لكوريا الشمالية يحميها، وبالمقابل تقول اللغة الأميركية لكوريا الشمالية أن مثال الالتزام الإيراني يدعو لتجنب الوقوع في فخ القبول بالتفاهمات المؤدية لعدم امتلاك السلاح النووي، لأن الالتزام لا يضمن تعاملاً بمقاييس القانون، والمعاهدات. فالقوة وحدها هي التي تفهمها واشنطن، وبالتالي، نتيجة الحركة الأميركية تشجيع دعاة امتلاك السلاح النووي بين الإيرانيين، وإضعاف دعاة الذهاب للتفاهمات، وكذلك تعقيد الحوار والتفاوض مع كوريا الشمالية. وهذا ما جعل اليابان وكوريا الجنوبية تتجنّبان ضم صوتيهما لمؤيدي الموقف الأميركي، وسيول وطوكيو تدركان أن الاتفاق النووي مع إيران هو النموذج الوحيد الذي يمكن عبره إقناع بيونغ يانغ بالتخلّي عن السلاح النووي، شرط أن يكون مثالاً مغرياً ومشجّعاً.

-لم ينجح ترامب بجذب مؤيدين إلا «إسرائيل» والسعودية. ولو كان التحالف الأميركي السعودي «الإسرائيلي» كافياً لتشكيل ميزان قوة بوجه إيران، لكان، رغم الفوارق الكبيرة بين حال الاتفاق النووي وسواه، كافياً لحسم سورية، وعندها لكان اتفاق غير الاتفاق الذي نعرفه.

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Friday, 20 October 2017

Now the consequences of BREXIT are clearer we should be allowed a second referendum

Reverse Brexit with second referendum to save your economy OECD tells UK

‘The positive impact on growth would be significant,’ influential thinktank says of reversing Brexit – as it forecasts £40bn cost of ploughing on
Economic experts have made an explosive suggestion of a further referendum to reverse Brexit, to avoid the crippling of the British economy.
The influential Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said the deadlock in the exit talks now threatened a “disorderly Brexit”, with severe consequences.
Its report controversially puts the case for a dramatic rethink on the agenda – suggesting halting EU withdrawal is a route to avoiding that fate

May must stand up to Johnson to unlock Brexit talks, says

“In case Brexit gets reversed by political decision (change of majority, new referendum, etc), the positive impact on growth would be significant,” the report said.

The suggestion is certain to infuriate Brexiteers, but will bolster campaigners calling for the British public to be given a second vote, when the “facts of Brexit” are known.
The report was immediately seized on by one pro-EU group as the “final nail in the coffin for the already long-buried notion that Brexit will benefit our economy”.
The OECD analysis suggests a “no-deal” Brexit would wipe up to a staggering £40bn off UK economic growth by 2019.
The UK economy will grow 1.5 per cent slower in 2019 if the country crashes out of the EU without a trade deal or a transition deal with the bloc in March 2019, it said.
Crucially, it makes the assumption that trade talks will break down – triggering a hard Brexit and slapping tariffs on imports and exports between the EU and UK.
Wes Streeting, a Labour MP and supporter of the Open Britain group, said: “Today’s OECD analysis should be the final nail in the coffin for the already long-buried notion that Brexit will benefit our economy.
“A hard Brexit or walking away without a deal would wreak even more punishment on the UK economy.
“The Government can avoid this if they drop their ideological and self-imposed red lines and start negotiating for continued membership of both the single market and the customs union.”
The OECD admitted that Brexit negotiations were difficult to forecast, and could “prove more favourable” than assumed in its report – boosting trade, investment and growth.
But it warned the very real threat of no deal would spark a sharp reaction by financial markets, sending the exchange rate to new lows and leading to a downgrade in the UK’s sovereign rating.
“Business investment would seize up, and heightened price pressures would choke off private consumption,” the report said.
“The current account deficit could be harder to finance, although its size would likely be reduced.

There are also risks that Scotland and Northern Ireland could vote to stay in the EU, in a second referendum, which would have a “major” impact on the national economy

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Dealing with “The Lobby” British Style

An undercover reporter secretly records how the Israeli Embassy directs local groups
October 17, 2017


One month ago, I initiated here at a discussion of the role of American Jews in the crafting of United States foreign policy. I observed that a politically powerful and well-funded cabal consisting of both Jewish individuals and organizations has been effective at engaging the U.S. in a series of wars in the Middle East and North Africa that benefit only Israel and are, in fact, damaging to actual American interests.
This misdirection of policy has not taken place because of some misguided belief that Israeli and U.S. national security interests are identical, which is a canard that is frequently floated in the mainstream media. It is instead a deliberate program that studiously misrepresents facts-on-the ground relating to Israel and its neighbors and creates casus belli involving the United States even when no threat to American vital interests exists. It punishes critics by damaging both their careers and reputations while its cynical manipulation of the media and gross corruption of the national political process has already produced the disastrous war against Iraq, the destruction of Libya and the ongoing chaos in Syria. It now threatens to initiate a catastrophic war with Iran.
To be sure, my observations are neither new nor unique. Former Congressmen Paul Findley indicted the careful crafting of a pro-Israel narrative by American Jews in his seminal book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, written in 1989. Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy said much the same thing nine years ago and discussions of Jewish power do emerge occasionally, even in the mainstream media. In the Jewish media Jewish power is openly discussed and is generally applauded as a well-deserved reward bestowed both by God and by mankind due to the significant accomplishments attributed to Jews throughout history.
There is undeniably a complicated web of relationships and networks that define Israel’s friends. The expression “Israel Lobby” itself has considerable currency, so much so that the expression “The Lobby” is widely used and understood to represent the most powerful foreign policy advocacy group in Washington without needing to include the “Israel” part. That the monstrous Benjamin Netanyahu receives 26 standing ovations from Congress and a wealthy Israel has a guaranteed income from the U.S. Treasury derives directly from the power and money of an easily identifiable cluster of groups and oligarchs – Paul Singer, Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, Haim Saban – who in turn fund a plethora of foundations and institutes whose principal function is to keep the cash and political support flowing in Israel’s direction. No American national interest, apart from the completely phony contention that Israel is some kind of valuable ally, would justify the taxpayers’ largesse. In reality, Israel is a liability to the United States and always has been.
And I do understand at the same time that a clear majority of American Jews, leaning strongly towards the liberal side of the political spectrum, are supportive of the nuclear agreement with Iran and do not favor a new Middle Eastern war involving that country. I also believe that many American Jews are likely appalled by Israeli behavior, but, unfortunately, there is a tendency on their part to look the other way and neither protest such actions nor support groups like Jewish Voice for Peace that are themselves openly critical of Israel. This de facto gives Israel a free pass and validates its assertion that it represents all Jews since no one important in the diaspora community apart from minority groups which can safely be ignored is pushing back against that claim.
That many groups and well-positioned individuals work hand-in-hand with the Israeli government to advance Israeli interests should not be in dispute after all these years of watching it in action. Several high level Jewish officials, including Richard Perle, associated with the George W. Bush Pentagon, had questionable relationships with Israeli Embassy officials and were only able to receive security clearances after political pressure was applied to “godfather” approvals for them. Former Congressman Tom Lantos and Senator Frank Lautenberg were, respectively, referred to as Israel’s Congressman and Senator, while current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has described himself as Israel’s “shomer” or guardian in the U.S. Senate.
A recent regulatory decision from the United Kingdom relates to a bit of investigative journalism that sought to reveal precisely how the promotion of Israel by some local diaspora Jews operates, to include how critics are targeted and criticized as well as what is done to destroy their careers and reputations.
Last year, al-Jazeera Media Network used an undercover reporter to infiltrate some U.K. pro-Israel groups that were working closely with the Israeli Embassy to counter criticisms coming from British citizens regarding the treatment of the Palestinians. In particular, the Embassy and its friends were seeking to counter the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has become increasingly effective in Europe. The four-part documentary released late in 2016 that al-Jazeera produced is well worth watching as it consists mostly of secretly filmed meetings and discussions.
The documentary reveals that local Jewish groups, particularly at universities and within the political parties, do indeed work closely with the Israeli Embassy to promote policies supported by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It also confirms that tagging someone as an anti-Semite has become the principal offensive weapon used to stifle any discussion, particularly in a country like Britain which embraces concepts like the criminalization of “hate speech.” At one point, two British Jews discussed whether “being made to feel uncomfortable” by people asking what Israel intends to do with the Palestinians is anti-Semitic. They agreed that it might be.
The documentary also describes how the Embassy and local groups working together targeted government officials who were not considered to be friendly to Israel to “be taken down,” removed from office or otherwise discredited. One government official in particular who was to be attacked was Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan.
Britain, unlike the U.S., has a powerful regulatory agency that oversees communications, to include the media. It is referred to as Ofcom. When the al-Jazeera documentary was broadcast, Israeli Embassy political officer Shai Masot, who reportedly was a Ministry of Strategic Affairs official working under cover, was forced to resign and the Israeli Ambassador offered an apology. Masot was filmed discussing British politicians who might be “taken down” before speaking with a government official who plotted a “a little scandal” to bring about the downfall of Duncan. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is the first head of a political party in Britain to express pro-Palestinian views, had called for an investigation of Masot after the recording of the “take down” demand relating to Duncan was revealed. Several Jewish groups (the Jewish Labour Movement, the Union of Jewish Students and We Believe in Israel) then counterattacked with a complaint that the documentary had violated British broadcast regulations, including the specific charge that the undercover investigation was anti-Semitic in nature.
On October 9th, Ofcom ruled in favor of al-Jazeera, stating that its investigation had done nothing improper, but it should be noted that the media outlet had to jump through numerous hoops to arrive at the successful conclusion. It had to turn over all its raw footage and communications to the investigators, undergoing what one source described as an “editorial colonoscopy,” to prove that its documentary was “factually accurate” and that it had not “unfairly edited” or “with bias” prepared its story. One of plaintiffs, who had called for critics of Israel to “die in a hole” and had personally offered to “take down” a Labour Party official, responded bitterly. She said that the Ofcom judgment would serve as a “precedent for the infringement of privacy of any Jewish person involved in public life.”
The United States does not yet have a government agency to regulate news stories, though that may be coming, but the British tale has an interesting post script. Al-Jazeera also had a second undercover reporter inserted in the Israel Lobby in the United States, apparently a British intern named James Anthony Kleinfeld, who had volunteered his services to The Israel Project, which is involved in promoting Israel’s global image. He also had contact with at least ten other Jewish organizations and with officials at the Israeli Embassy,
Now that the British account of “The Lobby” has cleared a regulatory hurdle the American version will reportedly soon be released. Al-Jazeera’s head of investigative reporting Clayton Swisher commented “With this U.K. verdict and vindication past us, we can soon reveal how the Israel lobby in America works through the eyes of an undercover reporter. I hear the U.S. is having problems with foreign interference these days, so I see no reason why the U.S. establishment won’t take our findings in America as seriously as the British did, unless of course Israel is somehow off limits from that debate.”
Americans who follow such matters already know that groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) swarm over Capitol Hill and have accomplices in nearly every media outlet. Back in 2005-6 AIPAC Officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman were actually tried under the Espionage Act of 1918 in a case involving obtaining classified intelligence from government official Lawrence Franklin to pass on to the Israeli Embassy. Rosen had once boasted that, representing AIPAC and Israel, he could get the signatures of 70 senators on a napkin agreeing to anything if he sought to do so. The charges against the two men were, unfortunately, eventually dropped “because court rulings had made the case unwinnable and the trial would disclose classified information.”
And Israeli interference in U.S. government and elections is also a given. Endorsement of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election by the Netanyahu government was more-or-less carried out in the open. And ask Congressmen like Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, William Fulbright, Charles Percy and, most recently, Cynthia McKinney, what happens to your career when you appear to be critical of Israel. And the point is that while Israel calls the shots in terms of what it wants, it is a cabal of diaspora American Jews who actually pull the trigger. With that in mind, it will be very interesting to watch the al-Jazeera documentary on The Lobby in America.

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