Douma Looks Increasingly Like a Staged Chemical Attack by the West

A recent leaked email from an OPCW officer is even more damning evidence that its initial report from its own inspectors was doctored to point the finger at Assad. But who cares?

Was it Edmund Burke who said “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”? Sadly, this adage doesn’t apply to western leaders or the journalists in big titles which can’t admit to a ‘mea culpa’ on Douma chemical attacks.

What is harder to swallow? The fact that the chemical weapons arbiter, the OPCW, has habitually lied by doctoring its report on the 2018 Douma chemical weapons attack in Syria, or the fact that western media won’t report on it? Or worse, that it continues to stick to its policy of smearing those who point the finger at the organization and its tainted findings, while remaining loyal to its own echo chamber which promotes the false narrative that Assad was behind it – when the facts fail to support it?

In May of this year a group made up of UK academics faced a baptism of fire aimed at discrediting it as being Assad apologists, when it pointed out clear doctoring of the final drafted report on the Douma attack, which blamed the Syria leader – and corresponded with the policies of western governments like the US and UK to swiftly execute a bombing campaign in Syria.

And yet just recently, in mid-November, a bombshell landed on the desks of most journalists covering Syria, which more or less backed up the academics’ charge, that there was little if any evidence to support the narrative of Assad being behind the chemical attacks.

But this time it was from an OPCW official who was part of the team which initially headed out to the site in April 2018.

A Wikileaks revelation of that same inspector’s email, just shortly after carrying out an inspection of the bomb site and gathering evidence, has shown that the academics who originally blew the whistle, were bang on the money. His email raises a number of concerns about how the initial draft report written by him and his colleagues, succumbed to a stern re-write, which tipped the balance of doubt towards Assad, whereas before it struggled to go either way.

In the days which followed the attack, western media widely attributed it to the Syrian Army, based on reports by rebel forces that were present in Douma at the time, which, in turn, fed into a hasty conclusion by the United States, British and French governments that Assad was their man.

But the conclusion made, by among others, Boris Johnson was way too hasty. Some questioned how could the then foreign secretary of the UK be so certain so quickly, even before OPCW officers had carried out any tests on the ground?

Could it have been that, the rebels themselves, on the orders of US and British handlers had concocted the attack itself? At the time, despite reports a few weeks earlier that some ‘rebels’ were being trained by SAS soldiers to do just that, it seemed hard to believe.

But the academics study of the report being doctored – confirmed by the whistleblower who was part of the OPCW team of officers – seems now more to lean towards that theory being more likely and Assad culpability being less likely.

Barely a week passed before US, the US and France bombed Assad sites in Syria as mark of their farcical human rights stance.

At the time, some cynical analysts and commentators noted that the OPCW appeared to be very slow off the mark to send inspectors to the site. The worry was that the more time that passed, the greater the opportunity for forensic evidence to be compromised or destroyed. It also seemed quite suspicious that rebels in the same region kicked off a new wave of attacks on the ground, which made access for the inspectors impossible for almost two weeks.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when the team (which included the whistleblower) arrived it found most of the physical evidence, including the bodies of the deceased, no longer available. It was alleged that 49 had died and up to 650 had been gravely wounded by a weaponized chemical gas released in rebel-held Douma.

The interviews carried out asserted that rebels claimed the gas came from cylinders dropped from aircraft, implicating Syrian government forces who had complete air superiority. Yet the report didn’t refer to a second OPCW document which concluded that the state of the gas containers didn’t support the idea that they were dropped from a great height.

The redacted report seemed to support these conclusions but the author of the released e-mail outlines some specific aspects of it which he considers: “particularly worrisome.”

Chief among the omissions or ‘corrections’ which troubled the author, was the whole subject of chlorine itself. Inspectors originally noted that although there were traces of the chemical, that there was not enough of it for it to be significant and that what they found could have been even household bleach. “likely one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom. Such chemicals could include… the major ingredient of household chlorine-based bleach. Purposely singling out chlorine gas as one of the possibilities is disingenuous”, wrote the inspector in the email, leaked to Wikileaks.

And there is the BBC footage of a make shift hospital with horrifying scenes of victims, including children, appearing to be in great pain – images which were broadcast by the British broadcaster and used as evidence to support the Assad narrative. However, the original report – before it was redacted – makes a reference to this footage and points out that the symptoms shown by the victims was not consistent with the inspectors’ findings after interviewing witnesses of the bombing on the day. The whistleblower is disturbed that a section which makes reference to this in the original report was completely deleted at a later point.

And yet, despite this shocking leaked email, mainstream media are avoiding the leak as it contradicts its own narrative and challenges the echo chamber of fake news from Syria, largely cooked up in Washington, Paris and London and supported by servile media outlets less concerned with facts. A similar case in point is how British or American media omits to report on yellow vest protests in Paris, anything about Julian Assange (even a Pink Floyd concert to raise awareness of his incarceration) or only report favourably on such subjects as Harry and Meghan. When it comes to Syria, the truth seems to be anything but an objective that any western journalists are attempting to seek, as they indulge themselves in lies and half truths. Of course it doesn’t help that Assad’s own loyal devotees who kid themselves they are journalists – like Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek who recently attended an Assad conference in Damascus – continue to report on Syria with such a assiduously biased, pro Assad/Hezbollah agenda, that it makes them a laughing stock of many, both in the region and in the West.

The conference, which invited both these Assadanistas as bona fide journalists, drew the wrath of many, like New York artist Molly Crabapple who equated their journalism to Nazi propaganda.

“This is some Goebbels shit,” Crabapple declared. “Prancing around Syria on a government luxury tour, posting tourist photos near torture centers, and mocking Syrian refugees who can never return to their country without risking being tortured to death.”

The sloppy, inaccurate and bigoted reporting from western media on Syria, in particular the Douma attacks which have, via an OPCW report been dressed up as being by Assad’s forces, is a by product or a reaction of the twisted propaganda practiced by Blumenthal and Khalek, who are both incapable of being objective about the torture prisons in Damascus as just one example.

The lessons which we can learn about the OPCW leaked email is that there is hardly any decent journalism in or out of Syria on Syria. The truth is practically impossible to find from either camp. Objectivity barely exists and so the cover up of the real findings of the initial OPCW report can be easily airbrushed away, without hue and cry.

And Edmund Burke, in fact, didn’t say “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Like most reporting on Syria, the quotation is mythical. Enough people chose to believe that he said it, so it was attributed to him. We will, likewise, chose to believe, what we read on Syria. Or how we ‘report’ on it, whether than be on the ground in rebel held territory with mercenaries on the CIA payroll; or, indeed, standing in front of a group of families in a park in Damascus and delivering a monotone to camera on how Syria under Assad is some sort of misunderstood utopia.

 

Practice (for War with Russia) Makes Deadly: NATO and U.S. Army Conducting Massive Exercises

Again, a provocation where war NATO is involved in. That Russia is the enemy is no doubt about, but to start this big exercise against Russia is a great provocation. One is wondering how the US would react if Russia and China start an exercise against the US on their borders. I am quite sure that would be the start of the third world war.

These exercises, which will closely resemble the weapons, tactics and combat strategies joint forces would be called upon to perform in the event of major enemy attack, will span across air, sea, land, cyber and space domains throughout Europe.

by Kris Osborn

(Washington, D.C.) NATO and U.S. Army Europe forces will conduct “forcible entry” combat exercises in Lithuania, Georgia and Poland to prepare rapid response attack units for the possibility of war on the European continent.

The Army’s 82nd Airborne division will drop into hostile territory to lead air assaults in as many as five attack operations across three allied countries of enormous strategic significance to NATO forces.

“Having our troops and allies involved in what is called a joint forcible entry will enable us to go in and take an area such as an airfield so it can used by friendly forces,” Col. Joe Scrocca, Director of Public Affairs, U.S. Army Europe, told reporters at the Association of the United States Army annual symposium in Oct.

These exercises, which will closely resemble the weapons, tactics and combat strategies joint forces would be called upon to perform in the event of major enemy attack, will span across air, sea, land, cyber and space domains throughout Europe.

It is all part of a massive NATO-Army exercise called DEFENDER, the largest U.S.-based Army exercise of forces to Europe in the last 25 years, intended to mobilize large scale deployments with 20,000 Army soldiers and as many as 17,000 U.S. allied forces.

Unlike many previous exercises at the Brigade Combat Team level, this operation will encompass large portions of the U.S. Army to include National Guard, Reserve and active units, Scrocca explained; the ops will be expansive, reaching numerous seaports, convoys and land-based combat facilities.

“We are going to bring this all together at the same time…multiple countries, multiple ports and multiple bases. Interoperability is about relationships, technology and systems. You have to be interoperable at the tactical and strategic level,” Scrocca said.

DEFENDER is scheduled to take place from April to May 2020, with personnel and equipment movements occurring from February through July 2020, an Army report said.

Overall, Eighteen countries are expected to participate, with exercise activities occurring across 10 countries. Some of the key participants include Germany, the U.K., Norway, Sweden, Canada, Italy, Poland, Lithuania and others. Defender will include intermediate staging bases, river crossings, air and sea movements, rapid deployment ops, equipment transport and use of Army Prepositioned Stocks in Belgium and Germany.

While the exercise is of course intended to function as a massive deterrent against any kind of great power European attack on NATO, such as a Russian invasion, Scrocco emphasized that DEFENDER will operate with a 360-degree focus to include the prospect of enemy attack from any direction.

At the same time, the countries chosen for forcible entry exercises clearly include areas of substantial strategic value when it comes to deterring possible Russian aggression. Furthermore, there has been a long process of escalating tensions with Russia, not only including the invasion of Ukraine several years ago but more recent problems as well. Some of these include the cancellation of the INF Treaty, increased development of low-yield nuclear weapons, new weapons testing, Eastern European force maneuvering and tense global hotspots including the two countries.

Nonetheless, Scrocca stressed that while the exercise may have some parallels to a large-scale training and preparation event during the Cold War called Reforger, DEFENDER will be much different. Unlike a linear, mechanized attack against force concentrations in a fixed area of Europe, DEFENDER will rely heavily upon dispersed combat networking, Air-Ground-Sea coordination, allied interoperability and newer technology.

“With Reforger we brought a lot of forces together into a fixed point in Germany against a known enemy in a known location.. With Defender we will fight an unknown enemy in an unknown location. While there is a lot of attention paid to Russia, we do not know who our next enemy is going to be, so we have to be prepared for anything,” Scrocca said.

Again, a provocation where war NATO is involved in. That Russia is the enemy is no doubt about, but to start this big exercise against Russia is a great provocation. One is wondering how the US would react if Russia and China start an exercise against the US on their borders. I am quite sure that would be the start of the third world war.

Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

 

Germany wants again be a Military Force

CDU Chairwoman and Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer gave a keynote speech on the new security policy orientation of Germany and the associated tasks for the Bundeswehr. Among other things, it is now a question of containing “China’s claim to power” in the “Indo-Pacific region” in order to defend Germany’s global economic interests. Just a few years ago this would have been a taboo break and Kramp-Karrenbauer would have triggered a storm of indignation. But today? Leaden silence. By Jens Berger.

“My assessment, however, is that, overall, we are on the way to understanding in the broadest sense of society that a country of our size with this foreign trade orientation and thus also dependence on foreign trade must also know that in case of doubt, and in an emergency, military action is necessary in order to protect our interests, for example to prevent free trade routes, for example entire regional instabilities, which will certainly have a negative impact on our chances through trade, jobs and income. All this is to be discussed and I believe we are not on such a bad path.”

No, these sentences are not from Kramp-Karrenbauer’s keynote speech, but from an interview given to Deutschlandfunk on 22 May 2010 by the then Federal President Horst Köhler. The criticism that followed these sentences was enormous. The then SPD faction leader Thomas Oppermann announced “We don’t want an economic war”. Green faction leader Jürgen Trittin said, “We need neither a gunboat policy nor a loose rhetorical deck cannon at the head of state” and found that Köhler’s remarks were no longer based on the Basic Law. There was also criticism from the then governing parties CDU and FDP. Köhler’s statement was “not a particularly happy formulation, to say the least” (Ruprecht Polenz, CDU) and “somewhat alienating” (Rainer Stinner, FDP). Even security policy hawks went too far with these statements. Michael Wolffsohn called on Köhler to correct himself publicly. The constitutional lawyer Ulrich Preuß of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin summed up: “This is an extension of the permissible reasons for a Bundeswehr mission to include economic interests, which is hardly covered by the Basic Law. There is an imperial tongue blow recognizable”.

A political debate quickly turned into a social debate and the criticism of Horst Köhler was so present that a few days later he felt compelled to resign and resigned from office. That was a little more than nine years ago. Take another look at Köhler’s remarks and compare them with the remarks in Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s keynote speech …

There is broad agreement that Germany must become more active in view of the strategic challenges. […] A country our size and our economic and technological power, a country our geostrategic position and with our global interests, cannot simply stand on the sidelines and watch. Not simply waiting to see whether others act and then more or less resolutely join in or not. […] Our partners in the Indo-Pacific region – above all Australia, Japan and South Korea, but also India – feel increasingly pressured by China’s claim to power. They want a clear sign of solidarity. […] We are the trading nation that thrives on international reliability.

Besides China, we are leaders in international container shipping – and depend on free and peaceful sea routes. […] Germany, like every other country in the world, naturally has its own strategic interests. For example, as a globally networked trading nation in the heart of Europe.

In August, Albrecht Müller had already taken a stand on the fundamental question of whether it makes sense to secure world trade militarily. What is particularly striking here is that while Köhler’s remarks nine years ago were still perceived as a breach of taboo and were correspondingly controversially discussed, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s keynote speech triggered one thing above all else: Silence.

Apparently it has become part of normal political discourse to formulate global power claims for economic motives and to “defend” these claims militarily, or rather to enforce them. What was perceived as a taboo break nine years ago is now the norm.

It would also be wrong to focus this on the person of Kramp-Karrenbauer. It is hardly conceivable that the CDU Chairwoman and Defence Minister did not agree her statements beforehand with the Chancellor and certainly also with her international partners from NATO and the USA. There one will have heard this thrust surely with joy, demands Kramp Karrenbauer – with support of the Kanzlerin – in its speech nevertheless also other things, which would be only a few years ago still a Tabubruch – e.g. it wants to defend Germany security in the future also in the Sahel zone and demands emphatically a substantial armament in accordance with the 2% goal.

And the reactions? As expected, the Left Party criticises the statements, and discreet criticism can also be heard from the ranks of the Greens. What is astonishing is that Green Party leader Habeck himself recently considered a military protection of the trade routes to be “conceivable”. This is understandable, as there have also been attempts in this direction from their ranks in recent months. The media even proactively defend Kramp-Karrenbauer against the non-existent criticism. The Tagesspiegel thinks it is “on the right track” and the FAZ is secondary, “Yes, we have to get involved”. And the rest is silence. It is hopeless.

An article from: Jens Berger translated by alfonso

Bangladesh

Security forces continued anti-militancy operations while attempt at repatriating Rohingya refugees to Myanmar stalled. Amid regional tensions over Indian govt’s 5 Aug decision to change constitutional status of Kashmir (see Kashmir), Bangladeshi security officials implied events could encourage militancy in Bangladesh; head of paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) 9 Aug warned security forces would take “strict legal actions” against those creating unrest. RAB 7 Aug arrested suspected member of banned Hizb ut-Tahrir in Dhaka and next day, police arrested five suspected members of Wolf Pack, faction of militant Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, in Dhaka alleging they were preparing attack on police officers. UN Committee Against Torture 9 Aug issued its concluding observations on country’s record, expressing concern over allegations of enforced disappearances, custodial deaths and widespread use of torture by security forces; recommended govt to set up independent enquiry into allegations of RAB abuses. As part of repatriation efforts, govt 15 Aug said it was ready to return some 3,450 refugees (approved by Myanmar from list of over 22,000 sent by govt late-July); however no refugees turned up on 22 Aug, day repatriation due to begin, amid Rohingya concerns over security, rights and access to services if they return to Myanmar.

by Alfonso

Afghanistan

U.S.-Taliban talks in Doha (Qatar) continued to progress, entering possible final round ahead of potential framework agreement in coming month, while insurgent attacks struck Kabul. In Doha, U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad 21 Aug met with Taliban representatives in potentially last round of talks ahead of framework agreement; followed 3-12 Aug round, which reportedly concluded with both sides agreeing near-final text; Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called discussions “long and useful” without providing details. U.S. President Trump 29 Aug announced U.S. would reduce troops to 8,600 as first step. Insurgent attacks continued, particularly in Kabul, despite lull around Eid holiday 11-14 Aug: Taliban 2 Aug targeted police checkpoint in Daykundi province, killing at least ten policemen; in west Kabul, Taliban car bomb 7 Aug exploded in majority Shia neighbourhood, killing fourteen. Islamic State-Khorasan Province 16 Aug carried out deadliest bombing in Kabul this year, killing at least 80 at Shia Hazara wedding; President Ghani called bombing “barbaric”, Taliban condemned attack. In Jalalabad city, during celebrations of independence anniversary, ten unclaimed explosions 19 Aug injured dozens; U.S. military 21 Aug reported two soldiers killed in combat in Faryab province, increasing U.S. combat-related deaths in 2019 to fourteen – highest since 2014. In Chahardara area, Herat province, Taliban 27 Aug killed fourteen pro-govt militiamen; in western Baghdis province, militants same day attacked army checkpoint, killing eight soldiers. Govt 30 Aug announced at least 28 Taliban killed in clashes with Afghan forces in north-east Takhar province. Taliban 31 Aug staged offensive on provincial capital Kunduz, reportedly killing twenty soldiers and five civilians before security forces repelled militants. UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan 3 Aug said 1,500 civilian casualties in July, highest monthly number since 2017, with over half caused by bombings. Taliban 6 Aug denounced election planned on 28 Sept as “sham” and pledged to disturb process. NGO Amnesty International 28 Aug reported human rights activists under intensifying attack from both authorities and armed groups since 2014.

by Alfonso

The tension between China and Taiwan

Tensions between Taiwan and China continued as U.S. pushed through arms deal with Taiwan, and President Tsai raised concerns of Chinese activities. U.S. administration 21 Aug formally notified U.S. Congress it was moving ahead with $8bn sale of 66 F-16 fighter aircraft to Taiwan. In response, Chinese foreign ministry same day threatened imposing sanctions on U.S. companies involved in deal, claiming they “constitute severe interference” and “undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests”. Tsai 10 Aug warned of “Chinese infiltration in Taiwan” including fake news, after a Reuters report claimed Chinese authorities paid Taiwanese media groups for positive coverage. Tsai’s cabinet 15 Aug proposed to parliament over 8% increase in annual military spending, largest yearly increase since 2008. U.S. navy 23 Aug sailed amphibious ship through Taiwan Strait in fourth freedom of navigation operation in 2019. Chinese authorities 27-29 Aug prohibited ships from entering water near Taiwan off coast of China’s Zhejiang Province for 48 hours to hold military exercises; Taiwan defence ministry confirmed U.S. military plane 29 Aug flew over “median line” of strait.

by Alfonso

Transparent manoeuvre

The West is cringing about Iran’s action against a British tanker – and is taking far worse for itself.

by Rubicon’s World Editorial Office

The application of double standards has already become so normal that we simply accept this strategy, says Peter König in his contribution to the conflict that is currently escalating in the Middle East. How else could the West simply accept the act of pure piracy in the unlawful boarding of an Iranian tanker while screaming teter and murder in the lawful boarding of a British tanker by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards?The British-flagged tanker “Stena Impero” to Saudi Arabia was upset by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Friday 19 July 2019 in the Strait of Hormus after ignoring the cry for help from an Iranian fishing boat and ramming it.

Open provocation?

The tanker was taken to an Iranian port because it did not “comply with international shipping law,” the Iranian Revolutionary Guards said. More importantly, the ship did not respond to several warnings from helicopters and Iranian boats because it had apparently disabled its transponder. One has to wonder how this could happen under the guidance of professional seamen – unless it was an open provocation.

The safety of shipping in the Strait of Hormus is extremely important – 20 to 30 per cent of the world’s maritime oil is shipped through this bottleneck into international waters before it reaches the Gulf of Oman. The strait is closely monitored by Iran, as it is extremely important to it in terms of safety. Blocking this passage as a result of conflict could bring the world economy to a standstill.

It is about the nuclear agreement

Are those who carry out these provocations – here Great Britain as Washington’s puppet – aware of what is at stake? Do they want to bring the Middle East to the brink of war? A regional war that could easily become a world war? In the long term this may well be intentional. In the short term, on the other hand, it looks as if they want to heat up the escalation to such an extent that the US satellite Europe no longer insists on adhering to its part of the nuclear treaty (JCPOA), and on the other hand put Iran under so much pressure that it finally enters into bilateral negotiations with the US on its nuclear programme. The first objective would be achievable, the second in no way. Iran does not fall for such deception – especially not for a country that unilaterally cancels an agreement that had been negotiated for almost two years (since November 2013) before signing the five plus one, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, Great Britain and the USA with Germany and the EU – plus, of course, Iran on 14 July 2015 in Vienna, Austria.

Not only did President Trump, led by his buddy, Israel’s Netanyahu, unilaterally rip the deal apart – in addition to all the Western lies and slander propaganda, he also relaunched one of the toughest economic sanctions programmes against Iran. It is madness to believe that under these circumstances Iran would sit at a negotiating table with its executioner. That will not happen. However, tensions continue to intensify, in line with the wishes of war criminal John Bolton since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, in the planning of which he was instrumental. This is like the purpose of this sick man’s life: mass murder through war and conflict are in his genes. The world can only hope that Trump or those who are pulling the strings behind him will finally release Bolton.

Iran has already announced that it is launching a comprehensive investigation into the British tanker “Stena Impero” into the course deviation and ramming of a fishing boat – and invited Britain to join the investigation.

An act of piracy Let us come back to 4 July, when the British Marines brought the Iranian tanker “Grace I” into Spanish waters off Gibraltar under the pretext that the supertanker was transporting oil for Syria, which contradicted EU sanctions. Iran’s Foreign Minister Dschwad Sarif denied that the oil was destined for Syria, but did not comment further. Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell announced that Washington had informed Spain of the imminent fixing of the Iranian tanker by Britain in Spanish waters. Spain could have said no, but it did not. Why not? For fear of sanctions? The United Kingdom, against its own interests, made itself the US henchman, as it was – along with Germany and France – one of the three countries that at least appeared to want to honour their part of the nuclear agreement with Iran. Not out of love for Iran, of course, but out of pure business interest. Iran should be aware of this: The EU can fall behind it at any time, through the very countries that are trying – or pretending to try – to circumvent US sanctions.

What happened on 4 July was an act of pure piracy – no less. A crime on the high seas which the West simply tolerates. The ship is still in British hands, the crew has been released in the meantime. Apart from the fact that Iran’s arrest of the British oil tanker may look like a “Like you to me, if I please you”, Iran acted perfectly legitimately as its Revolutionary Guards watched the Strait of Hormus to ensure the safety of other ship passages through the Strait.

Fire and anger – once again In one of his typical crazy outbursts on Friday 19 July, President Trump warned in a televised “Fire and Rage” speech in the White House: “We have the best ships – the deadliest ships and we don’t want to have to use them. We hope for Iran’s sake that it does not do anything unwise. If it does, it will pay a price that no one has ever paid.” Why doesn’t Trump warn the British in the same tone about their piracy of an Iranian ship in Spanish waters? Well, we know that’s the crazy, unsymmetrical, out of kilter world we live in. It is so normal that people in the West see this inequality and injustice, this duplicity and hypocrisy as their gospel.

Another step towards world domination?

But it all points to the fact that the U.S. – while building a war scenario – is seeking justification for what it has already proclaimed: an alliance of the willing that sends warships into the Strait of Hormus to ensure a safe passage for “everyone. Well, Iran will certainly not join in. But it is important to know what is behind this idea. Imagine if the US navy and its allied puppets had the violence of the sea passage that almost a third of the world’s ocean-going oil tankers pass through daily – Washington would then have another sanctioning tool to harass countries that, in Washington’s view, do not bow sufficiently to Washington’s dictates. Their oil supplies would be held back to bring down their economies – this could be the most effective weapon yet. Beware, world! Even those who now enjoy the benevolence of the self-proclaimed hegemon – you never know when the pendulum will swing in the other direction – for no reason: perhaps because the Israel-led U.S. is on a whimsical aggression course against an imaginary enemy or because corporate interests are shifting. Ultimately, no one would be safe. The world economy could collapse like a house of cards. 2008 would be a walk against it!

Translate: by Alfonso

Court of Auditors in Venezuela imposes ban on Guaidó from holding office

Caracas.

In Venezuela, self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó has been banned from holding political office for 15 years. The opposition politician conspired with foreign actors to harm the country, the chairman of the Court of Audit, Elvis Amoroso, was quoted by the Venezuelan media. The head of the office added that there were also doubts as to the legality of his income. Guaidó sharply rejected the decision. He accused the Court of Auditors of being close to President Nicolás Maduro’s government and of abusing the constitution. The Court’s decision will not change the political situation in the short term. President Maduro’s government already does not recognize the opposition-dominated National Assembly. Parliament, on the other hand, meets in parallel with a constituent assembly in which the government camp has a majority.

Support for Guaidó again came from the international level. Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), rejected “any illegal decisions of the repressive authorities of the dictatorship under Nicolás Maduro against the interim president Juan Guaidó”. A spokesman for the US government spoke of a “laughable” manoeuvre. In the daily El Nacional, which is critical of the government, constitutional lawyer Juan Manuel Raffalli questioned the decision of the Court of Audit. It violates Article 65 of the constitution, according to which such a measure could only be taken by criminal courts. However, a final judgement is necessary for this. In addition, the Court of Auditors infringed Guaidó’s parliamentary immunity as acting president of the National Assembly. The Latin American news channel Telesur, which occupies a position close to the government in Venezuela, refers to Article 187 of the Constitution, according to which parliamentarians are obliged “to work exclusively for the benefit of the Venezuelan people and not to receive any additional income or to hold offices other than their parliamentary functions”.

According to the Venezuelan Migration Service, Guaidó has undertaken more than 91 foreign trips since the start of his parliamentary mandate, the cost of which is estimated at 310 million bolivares. He had not declared these funds for tax purposes.

Translated by Alfonso

NLG Statement on the Illegal U.S. Interference in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is the oldest human rights bar association in the United States, with members in every state and a mission to value human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests. For more than a decade, the NLG International Committee has sent numerous delegations to Venezuela to observe nearly a dozen elections and research the electoral system, including meeting with lawyers and judges, community workers, union members, economists, journalists, government officials and opposition leaders.

The statements of Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo openly calling for democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro to be removed by a military and popular revolt harken back to the dark days of direct intervention in Latin America and make it clear that the U.S. is currently orchestrating a coup against the elected government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The shocking aggression and illegal interference against a sovereign nation by the Trump administration is a blatant violation of the charters of the United Nations and Organization of American States, which recognize the principles of national sovereignty, peaceful settlement of disputes, and a prohibition on threatening or using force against the territory of another state.

The contempt that this administration has shown for the norms and core values of international law has been apparent from threatening the use of force against other nations, withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council and attempting to discredit U.N. independent experts. However, directly fomenting a coup in a sovereign nation is not only illegal and outright shunned by the international community, it fundamentally undermines any pretextual concern about interference by other nations in U.S. elections.

Plots to overthrow the elected government in order to dismantle the regional economic, military, political and social alliances that have been established without the participation of the U.S. have been at the core of U.S. policy in Venezuela and the region since the election of former President Hugo Chávez. After unsuccessfully supporting a military coup against Chávez in 2002, U.S. administrations have consistently funded hard right opposition forces in their efforts to oust Chávez and reverse the people-centered Bolivarian Project. As recently as 2014, the U.S. supported violent street actions (guarimbas) planned and executed by the opposition. In 2015, President Obama declared Venezuela to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security and imposed unilateral sanctions. The recent appointment of Elliott Abrams by the Trump administration—a notorious human rights violator and war criminal—to coordinate the Venezuela destabilization operation further strips away any pretextual argument that the U.S. is concerned about democracy and human rights in Venezuela and instead shows how far the U.S. will go to implement its long-standing plans for regime change.

The National Lawyers Guild recognizes the complexities of the situation in Venezuela and joins the concerns of other progressive leaders that there is a critical need for dialogue. We condemn the statement by Secretary of State Pompeo on January 24, 2019, that “the time for debate is over.” Our government has consistently stood in the way of any meaningful dialogue between the Bolivarian government and its opposition and continues to support the forces that promote violence and polarization. The NLG calls on our government to respect international law, to refrain from intervening (militarily, economically or politically) in the sovereign affairs of Venezuela and to allow for peaceful debate among all sectors of Venezuelan society to take place as determined by its people.

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The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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Guaidó returns to Venezuela for next stage of US regime-change operation

 

By Bill Van Auken
5 March 2019

Self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó returned to Venezuela after an 11-day absence Monday, escorted into the country by a phalanx of Western diplomats, including the ambassadors of the US, Germany, France, Canada, Brazil and several other countries.

In advance of his return, Washington issued threats of retaliation against any attempt by Venezuelan authorities to apprehend Guaidó, who violated an order of Venezuela’s supreme court barring him from leaving the country after state prosecutors announced the initiation of a criminal investigation into the right-wing opposition operative’s involvement in the US-orchestrated coup.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton warned that any interference with Washington’s Venezuelan puppet would provoke “a strong and significant response” from the US.

Similarly, US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that any action taken against Guaidó would “not be tolerated & will be met with a swift response.”

After leaving the Simon Bolivar airport, Guaidó was driven to a rally in eastern Caracas, the wealthy district of Venezuela’s capital, where he told a crowd of supporters that the fact that he was not arrested upon arrival was proof that the Venezuelan security forces were not obeying the orders of President Nicolas Maduro’s government. “The chain of command is broken,” he said.

He directed much of his speech to the military, demanding that it not “stand idly by” and ordered them to arrest armed supporters of the Maduro government organized in so-called colectivos based in the poorer neighborhoods of Caracas and other Venezuelan cities.

Guaidó left Venezuela on February 22 to lead the Trojan Horse “humanitarian aid” operation organized by Washington. Both he and his US backers had promoted an attempt the next day to forcibly crash through the Venezuelan border from Colombia with a handful of trucks carrying food and other supplies stockpiled by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as the event that would bring down the Maduro government, forcing the military to turn against it.

Nothing of the kind took place. The “aid” convoys were easily blocked, while clashes between security forces and protesters led to several deaths, concentrated among an indigenous population on Venezuela’s border with Brazil.

The “tidal wave” of aid and millions of supporters that Guaidó had promised failed to materialize. The entire operation was a filthy and cynical propaganda stunt staged by a US government that offered a pittance in terms of food supplies, even as it systematically strangles Venezuela’s economy and impoverishes its population with sweeping sanctions barring the country from the US-dominated financial system and blocking its export of oil.

In his speech in eastern Caracas Monday, Guaidó promised that even more sanctions are to come, but did not provide any details as to their scope.

During his 11 days outside of Venezuela, Guaidó met in Colombia with Pence and the so-called Lima Group, consisting of several Latin American governments along with Canada. He traveled on for meetings with Brazil’s newly installed president, the fascistic former army captain Jair Bolsonaro, as well as the right-wing government of Mauricio Macri in Argentina, and in Paraguay that of Mario Abdo Benítez, a former military officer who has extolled the legacy of the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, whom his father served as private secretary. He also went to Ecuador for a meeting with President Lenin Moreno, who is attempting to curry favor with Washington.

Throughout this tour, Guaidó was accompanied by his US “handler,” the State Department’s assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Kimberly Breier, who is described on the department’s website as a “policy expert and intelligence professional with more than 20 years of experience.”

Guaidó, a member of the right-wing party Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party, which has received substantial financial aid from the National Endowment for Democracy and other US agencies, is a creature of US intelligence, groomed for a regime change operation and unknown to the Venezuelan population before he proclaimed himself “interim president” on January 23.

The appeals made by Guaidó to the Venezuelan military, offering a blanket amnesty to anyone who supports his coup and guarantees of their interests, while threatening prosecution of those who fail to do so, have thus far produced few results. The Colombian government and the Venezuelan right-wing opposition claim that some 700 members of the security forces—out of a force of 235,000—have defected, while the Maduro government puts the number at 116.

Guaidó, both before and after the debacle of the “humanitarian aid” stunt of February 23, has appealed openly for a US military intervention to secure the overthrow of the Maduro government. He argued last month that the Venezuelan National Assembly, where he was installed as president in January, was authorized to approve the intervention of an “international force” to “restore the constitutional order and protect the lives of our citizens.” He also invoked the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine used to justify previous imperialist regime-change operations, such as those in the former Yugoslavia and Libya.

The Lima Group has formally rejected military intervention in Venezuela, opting for “diplomatic and financial pressure” to topple the Maduro government.

In a March 1 interview with Patricia Janiot, the anchor of the US Spanish-language television broadcaster Univision, Elliott Abrams, appointed in January as the Trump administration’s special representative for Venezuela, denied that Washington is preparing to use military force, either to topple Maduro or to force through the “humanitarian aid” supplies it has stockpiled on Venezuela’s borders.

Abrams, it should be noted, is a convicted liar, who gave false testimony to the US Congress on the illegal conspiracy to arm and finance the CIA-organized “contra” terrorists who were unleashed upon Nicaragua in the 1980s. He served as the Reagan administration’s point man in justifying and covering up the atrocities of US-backed dictatorships in El Salvador and Guatemala.

In a Sunday interview with CNN, however, John Bolton gave a full-throated defense of US intervention in Venezuela, declaring, “In this administration we’re not afraid to use the word Monroe Doctrine.”

He was referring to the nearly 200-year-old canon of US foreign policy that supposedly endowed Washington with the right to use force in preventing outside powers from establishing a foothold in the Western Hemisphere.

Initially invoked as a US policy of opposing any attempt by European empires to re-colonize newly independent countries in Latin America, it was turned into a declaration of a US imperialist sphere of influence and became the rationale for some 50 direct US military interventions in the region along with the fomenting of CIA-backed coups that imposed fascist-military dictatorships over much of the region in the second half of the 20th century.

If this doctrine is being resurrected today against Venezuela, it is because of the close economic and political ties established by Caracas with both Beijing and Moscow. The United States, as Bolton previously acknowledged, is determined to bring the country and its oil wealth—the largest proven reserves in the world—back under the domination of US imperialism and the US-based energy conglomerates.

An indication of Washington’s real intentions was provided by a column published in the Spanish daily El Pais by Hector Schamis, who is an instructor on Latin America at the US School of Foreign Service.

He writes that while “the diplomatic solution would be ideal” in Venezuela, “the problem is that, in politics, the ideal rarely takes place in reality.”

He goes on to state that “without American troops [Yugoslavian president Slobodan] Milosevic would not have gone to the diplomatic negotiating table. Much less would he have died as a prisoner in The Hague in 2006.”

Guaidó has called for anti-government protests on Saturday and announced that he is meeting with leaders of public employee unions today. The union leaderships are seeking to channel the widespread anger of workers over the austerity policies and repressive measures of Maduro’s bourgeois government behind the US imperialist regime-change operation.

The success of this operation would impose a brutal dictatorship of US imperialism and Venezuelan capitalist interests over the masses of working people, leading to far more severe austerity measures and police-state repression.

The desperate crisis created by capitalism in Venezuela and the threat of US military intervention can be countered only by means of the political mobilization of the Venezuelan working class, independently of Maduro’s capitalist government and its trade union stooges. The organization of workers’ assemblies to expropriate foreign and domestic capitalist interests and establish workers’ control over the country’s vast oil wealth must be combined with a struggle to unite the Venezuelan working class with workers throughout the hemisphere to put an end to capitalism.

by Alfonso