Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Coup in Progress?

A Coup in Progress? Venezuelan Foreign Minister Decries U.S. & Brazil-Backed Effort to Oust Maduro

The United States and allied nations in Latin America are ratcheting up pressure on Venezuela in what appears to be a coordinated effort to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from office. Maduro was sworn in last week to a second 6-year term following his victory in last May’s election, which was boycotted by the opposition. Days before Maduro was sworn in, opposition figure Juan Guaidó became head of the National Assembly, which soon voted to declare Maduro a “usurper” in an effort to remove him from office. The United States, Brazil and other nations have welcomed the effort. As the political crisis intensifies, Maduro has reached out to the United Nations to help establish a peace dialogue in Venezuela. We speak with Jorge Arreaza, Venezuelan foreign minister. He met with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres this week.

Sinopec Ready To Pour $3 Billion In Iran Oil

China’s largest crude oil refiner, Sinopec, has offered US$3 billion to Iran’s state oil company, NIOC, to jointly expand the development of a major field in Iran, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources in the know.
The sources, who wished to remain unnamed, said the Chinese company considered the offer safe from the sanctions the United States reimposed on Iran last November because the initial deal for the development of the Yadavaran field was inked back in 2007.
The offer, according to the Wall Street Journal, was made last month but it is only now coming to light as media and analysts speculate whether Washington will extend the sanction waivers granted to eight Iranian oil importers will be extended beyond the original deadline.
Three of the eight countries, meanwhile, have completely stopped buying Iranian oil: Taiwan, Italy, and Greece. However, these are not the biggest buyers of Iranian crude and some analysts believe the other five—China, India, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey—may be granted waiver extensions that are, however, bound to come at a cost.
Sinopec, along with the other Chinese state oil giant, CNPC, have already invested heavily in Iran’s oil industry as domestic production declines due to field depletion and the country’s growing oil hunger needs to be satisfied with imported crude.
Yadavaran, as well as another field along Iran’s border with Iraq, are among the largest projects. Yadavaran holds an estimated 31 billion barrels of crude, which makes it one of the largest undeveloped fields in the world, and North Azadegan contains estimated reserves of 5.7 billion barrels.
Sinopec has already invested US$2 billion in the development of Yadavaran, with production there standing at 115,000 bpd, while North Azadegan, operated by NIOC and CNPC, started production at a rate of 75,000 bpd two years ago.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

Time to Break the Silence on Palestine

Martin Luther King Jr. courageously spoke out about the Vietnam War. We must do the same when it comes to this grave injustice of our time.
Michelle Alexander
 
On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stepped up to the lectern at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. The United States had been in active combat in Vietnam for two years and tens of thousands of people had been killed, including some 10,000 American troops. The political establishment — from left to right — backed the war, and more than 400,000 American service members were in Vietnam, their lives on the line.
Many of King’s strongest allies urged him to remain silent about the war or at least to soft-pedal any criticism. They knew that if he told the whole truth about the unjust and disastrous war he would be falsely labeled a Communist, suffer retaliation and severe backlash, alienate supporters and threaten the fragile progress of the civil rights movement.
King rejected all the well-meaning advice and said, “I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.” Quoting a statement by the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, he said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal” and added, “that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.”
It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.
I have not been alone. Until very recently, the entire Congress has remained mostly silent on the human rights nightmare that has unfolded in the occupied territories. Our elected representatives, who operate in a political environment where Israel's political lobby holds well-documented power, have consistently minimized and deflected criticism of the State of Israel, even as it has grown more emboldened in its occupation of Palestinian territory and adopted some practices reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States.
Many civil rights activists and organizations have remained silent as well, not because they lack concern or sympathy for the Palestinian people, but because they fear loss of funding from foundations, and false charges of anti-Semitism. They worry, as I once did, that their important social justice work will be compromised or discredited by smear campaigns.
Similarly, many students are fearful of expressing support for Palestinian rights because of the McCarthyite tactics of secret organizations like Canary Mission, which blacklists those who publicly dare to support boycotts against Israel, jeopardizing their employment prospects and future careers.
Reading King’s speech at Riverside more than 50 years later, I am left with little doubt that his teachings and message require us to speak out passionately against the human rights crisis in Israel-Palestine, despite the risks and despite the complexity of the issues. King argued, when speaking of Vietnam, that even “when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict,” we must not be mesmerized by uncertainty. “We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”
And so, if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions: unrelenting violations of international law, continued occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations. We must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the routine searches of their homes and restrictions on their movements, and the severely limited access to decent housing, schools, food, hospitals and water that many of them face.
We must not tolerate Israel’s refusal even to discuss the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as prescribed by United Nations resolutions, and we ought to question the U.S. government funds that have supported multiple hostilities and thousands of civilian casualties in Gaza, as well as the $38 billion the U.S. government has pledged in military support to Israel.
And finally, we must, with as much courage and conviction as we can muster, speak out against the system of legal discrimination that exists inside Israel, a system complete with, according to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, more than 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians — such as the new nation-state law that says explicitly that only Jewish Israelis have the right of self-determination in Israel, ignoring the rights of the Arab minority that makes up 21 percent of the population.
Of course, there will be those who say that we can’t know for sure what King would do or think regarding Israel-Palestine today. That is true. The evidence regarding King’s views on Israel is complicated and contradictory.
Although the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee denounced Israel’s actions against Palestinians, King found himself conflicted. Like many black leaders of the time, he recognized European Jewry as a persecuted, oppressed and homeless people striving to build a nation of their own, and he wanted to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which had been a critically important ally in the civil rights movement.
Ultimately, King canceled a pilgrimage to Israel in 1967 after Israel captured the West Bank. During a phone call about the visit with his advisers, he said, “I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt.”
He continued to support Israel’s right to exist but also said on national television that it would be necessary for Israel to return parts of its conquered territory to achieve true peace and security and to avoid exacerbating the conflict. There was no way King could publicly reconcile his commitment to nonviolence and justice for all people, everywhere, with what had transpired after the 1967 war.
Today, we can only speculate about where King would stand. Yet I find myself in agreement with the historian Robin D.G. Kelley, who concluded that, if King had the opportunity to study the current situation in the same way he had studied Vietnam, “his unequivocal opposition to violence, colonialism, racism and militarism would have made him an incisive critic of Israel’s current policies.”
Indeed, King’s views may have evolved alongside many other spiritually grounded thinkers, like Rabbi Brian Walt, who has spoken publicly about the reasons that he abandoned his faith in what he viewed as political Zionism. To him, he recently explained to me, liberal Zionism meant that he believed in the creation of a Jewish state that would be a desperately needed safe haven and cultural center for Jewish people around the world, "a state that would reflect as well as honor the highest ideals of the Jewish tradition.” He said he grew up in South Africa in a family that shared those views and identified as a liberal Zionist, until his experiences in the occupied territories forever changed him.
During more than 20 visits to the West Bank and Gaza, he saw horrific human rights abuses, including Palestinian homes being bulldozed while people cried — children's toys strewn over one demolished site — and saw Palestinian lands being confiscated to make way for new illegal settlements subsidized by the Israeli government. He was forced to reckon with the reality that these demolitions, settlements and acts of violent dispossession were not rogue moves, but fully supported and enabled by the Israeli military. For him, the turning point was witnessing legalized discrimination against Palestinians — including streets for Jews only — which, he said, was worse in some ways than what he had witnessed as a boy in South Africa.
Not so long ago, it was fairly rare to hear this perspective. That is no longer the case.
Jewish Voice for Peace, for example, aims to educate the American public about “the forced displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians that began with Israel’s establishment and that continues to this day.” Growing numbers of people of all faiths and backgrounds have spoken out with more boldness and courage. American organizations such as If Not Now support young American Jews as they struggle to break the deadly silence that still exists among too many people regarding the occupation, and hundreds of secular and faith-based groups have joined the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
In view of these developments, it seems the days when critiques of Zionism and the actions of the State of Israel can be written off as anti-Semitism are coming to an end. There seems to be increased understanding that criticism of the policies and practices of the Israeli government is not, in itself, anti-Semitic.
This is not to say that anti-Semitism is not real. Neo-Nazism is resurging in Germany within a growing anti-immigrant movement. Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose 57 percent in 2017, and many of us are still mourning what is believed to be the deadliest attack on Jewish people in American history. We must be mindful in this climate that, while criticism of Israel is not inherently anti-Semitic, it can slide there.
Fortunately, people like the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II are leading by example, pledging allegiance to the fight against anti-Semitism while also demonstrating unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people struggling to survive under Israeli occupation.
He declared in a riveting speech last year that we cannot talk about justice without addressing the displacement of native peoples, the systemic racism of colonialism and the injustice of government repression. In the same breath he said: “I want to say, as clearly as I know how, that the humanity and the dignity of any person or people cannot in any way diminish the humanity and dignity of another person or another people. To hold fast to the image of God in every person is to insist that the Palestinian child is as precious as the Jewish child.”

Friday, January 18, 2019

ROHINGYA CRISIS: Issues and challenges that have emerg

Mohammad ZamanInline imageTo date, much has been written and said about the Rohingya crisis. The regime in Naypyidaw has literally flouted all international laws and evaded pressures from the international community. Myanmar is now accusing Bangladesh for the delay in repatriation and at the same time plotting more atrocities against Rohingyas in Rakhine state. Last week, the Rakhine state government issued notice further blocking the United Nations and other aid agencies from travelling to five townships affected by the conflict. Sadly, many believed that the agreement for repatriation signed back in November 2017 will take care of this human tragedy.
We must not forget that the Rohingya crisis is trapped into many strands of regional and international politics. The new foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, in his debut statement on the Rohingya crisis, said that the “much-talked-about Rohingya issue will not be solved easily.” The foreign minister referred to this international tangle, and remarked that “interest of everybody including India and China will be hampered,” if the Rohingya crisis continues. The foreign minister further urged the international community “to step forward for a logical solution to this crisis.” The foreign minister also directed to conduct a study to understand the impacts of Rohingyas on Bangladesh economy, society and security systems.
The Rohingya crisis as it is unfolding gradually has many faces that should be of concern to the Bangladeshi people and the government. In July 2017, prior to influx of the Rohingya refugees, the combined estimated population of Teknaf and Ukhiya was slightly over four lakh. The sudden gush of an additional eight lakh Myanmar refugees by December 2017 was overwhelming. The numbers keep rising even today. The presence of this massive number of refugees has impacted on everyday carrying capacity of the region; today, this is felt on all aspects of life and cultures—both for the hosts and refugees themselves.
An immediate impact was on land and local resources—for instance, the massive loss of forests and changes in land use from forest/agriculture to housing and camp sites for resettlement of the refugees. In addition, many reported on the growing social, economic, environmental and health impacts of Rohingya refugee resettlement. The unplanned and makeshift settlements at the early stage of the surge on hill slopes and forestlands led to vulnerabilities for landslides and other forms of risks and disasters for all.
By July 2018, when I made a short visit to the camp sites, a more orderly system of settlement and camp administration was already established jointly by the Bangladesh government and United Nations High Commission for Refugees through registration, re-grouping and relocation in formally constituted 34 camps, with internal roads, markets, mosques, relief distribution centres, and clinics. Close to 100 national and international NGOs—for instance, Medecins San Frontieres, World Vision, BRAC, Gono Shahthaya Kendro, and others—work as service providers in various fields. In addition, there are literally thousands of aid workers assisting the operations.
The Rohingya crisis, without any doubt, has put a huge pressure on Bangladesh's economy and society. Thanks to the government and international aid agencies supporting the operations, the initial stage of crisis management—for instance, provision for shelter, food, medicine, etc.—helped to cope with the immediate needs. During a meeting in Cox's Bazar, an international refugee resettlement expert—who previously worked in South Sudan, Syria and Jordan—told me that unlike other refugee camps in countries with unstable or weak governments, the Cox's Bazar refugee camps provide “good practice” examples for refugee support and administration” due to a stable system of government and administration in Bangladesh.
Having said this, the flip side of the Rohingya refugee issue is that the repatriation remains elusive at this point, because the environment is not right for repatriation. The Rakhine State has been rocked by successive rounds of violence and extensive military crackdown, following the attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the group demanding greater autonomy for Rakhine State. Instead of implementing the repatriation agreement and addressing the root causes of the crisis (e.g., citizenship, freedom of movement, livelihoods), the Myanmar Army has once more escalated their genocidal activities in recent months. On top of this, the Myanmar army now claims presence of ARSA training base inside Bangladesh, which was strongly refuted by the Bangladesh government. The activities of the Myanmar Army, including mobilisation of troops to Rakhine border with Bangladesh, raises a host of security issues and concerns. It appears from reports in Myanmar that the regime will force out the last Rohingya in their fight against terrorism.

Thus, the Rohingya issue has raised many external stakes. The Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) reportedly deployed additional force to patrol the country's 54 km border with Myanmar fearing intrusion through the Naf River and other border areas. The situation seems tense. Amid this, there are also internal security issues such as recent passport forgery cases by some Rohingyas, who were deported by Saudi Arabia. In Cox's Bazar, it is almost common knowledge that many Rohingyas left for Malaysia in the 1990s with Bangladesh passports availed to them through the network of local dalals or agents in collusion with passport officials. Finally, there are also reported cases of Myanmar agents in Cox's Bazar camps and in the country for collecting intelligence data.

Aside from the security issues, there are social dimensions of the emerging issues—for instance, tension between the host communities and the refugee population regarding benefits and livelihood issues due to loss of land and access to forests. The government has taken some measures to quell this, but those may not be enough, because the Rohingya refugees are going to stay longer than initially anticipated. Given zero progress with repatriation and the current attitude of the Myanmar government, Bangladesh should work with the international community to find viable and just solutions to this crisis.

Since an acceptable solution may take many more years, the government in the meantime should undertake a long-term plan for support and sustenance of the refugees and host communities through economic and social development programmes using the resources received from the various development partners and agencies such as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and other bilateral organisations. The impact study commissioned by the foreign minister should look into all of the socio-economic and security aspects holistically and help make a long-term plan for refugee resettlement and repatriation options as well.

Mohammad Zaman is an international development consultant and advisory professor, National Research Centre for Resettlement, Hohai University, Nanjing, China. Email: mqzaman.bc@gmail.com


War Whores


From the beginning of recorded history through the end of WWII the term “war” was understood as armed conflict between states or governments.  This definition obtained through the Korean and Vietnam wars, gradually losing precision by adoption of such terms as “conflict” and “insurgency”, presumably so as not to dignify grossly unbalanced contests with the glorious name bestowed on mutual slaughter by giant, equal adversaries.
Since Vietnam–with the shameful, degrading brutality involved in the Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti and other “police actions”–and signally since the Iraq/Kuwait Turkey Shoot, the old, abused term has lost any solid relation to its original meaning and is pathetically applied to any violent rape by the American War Machine of any putative “enemy”, regardless of the incommensurate forces involved, often when the victim–not even a legitimate adversary–has no capacity at all to strike back or defend itself.
This suits the psychopaths who govern us perfectly, which is no surprise considering what they are.  The system of War Capitalism that owns their contemptible, diseased souls can only burgeon and grow fatter by extortion of literally uncountable sums of our money, every dollar diverted from any beneficent use in our society or the least social profit for our people.
Schumpeter said it best and it can’t be too often repeated: “Created by the wars that required it, The Machine now creates the wars it requires.”
The tragedy–no surprise, either–is that the American people are so deeply steeped in the pretty poison of Exceptionalism that they are, if not overtly, then tacitly, fully behind the mindless military vandalizing and brutalization of people just like them in all essentials: powerless, no better and no worse.
So far gone are we as a culture in the adulation, if not worship, of our own state primacy and the infliction of horror and death on which it is based, that even women, creators and nurturers of life, including many prominent ones, betray their higher selves by supporting our indefensible state murder of hundreds of thousands of their distant sisters and helpless children.
Four CEOs of the five giant industrial purveyors of death and destruction–Northrup Grumann, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin–are now women.  That Glass Ceiling was apparently shot out, not broken.
In our faineant Congress women as different as Nancy Pelosi and Lisa Murkowski, Diane Feinstein and Liz Cheney, Elizabeth Warren and Claire McCaskill, all supported the rabid War Machine, and even Tulsi Gabbard only objects to where our murder is done, not to the fact it is done at all.  Nikki Haley is in a category of sick mendacity, gross deceit, and nightmare rabidity all her own.  One wishes women would recoil in shame from our national omnicide; nothing can be hoped for of men in their pathetic frailty, desperate to cover their tiny nuts with a flimsy shield of false bravado.
Behind and beneath all the shaming failure at the individual level in taking on our war addiction–the cowardice of even the best allowed into the clown car of public celebrity, such as Bernie Sanders–is the schmutzig juggernaut of The Party.  I use the singular since there is but one party in all essentials apart from sandbox spats over toys and fetishes.  On no policy are the two factions in surer sync than on unshakeable devotion to the War Machine.
The “War, Hell Yes!” faction has strung itself out on the tenuous wire of Mr. Mueller’s Hobby, and its geriatric leaders–the Crone & Geezer politburo– shocked to find that many of its faithful want radical new blood, are now furiously scheming to drain off the very little of it that was elected.
The “Values, Shmalues, I’m Getting Mine” faction, scrambling to stay on their own Brahma Trump to the buzzer, has no purpose or agenda at all but survival and padding resumes that will get them on boards of the corporate thieves they’ve pimped for, before all that helicopter tax money gets stolen.
Into the political hog’s nest of our polity, churning and ripening, one minor act and reaction to it perfectly illustrate the extent of American perversity.
Trump moves to marginally trim our floundering, anodyne “ground forces” in Syria, who never go near an enemy without total air dominance, and the Deep State deities who’ve given us l7 years of Full Spectrum Failure roar and gnash teeth that it could just mean that we might not get 17 more.
It would all be funny, as the dirtiest of jokes can be funny, if our lives didn’t depend on the outcome.  They do.  The Empire is a monster that will take us all down in its inevitable fall.  Empires can be broken from within but only by a citizenry prepared to risk everything.  The easy alternative is to accept your sad serfdom and allow your humanity to be erased and obliterated.

The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba


The game is afoot. Israel, believe it or not, is demanding that seven Arab countries and Iran pay $250 billion as compensation for what it claims was the forceful exodus of Jews from Arab countries during the late 1940s.
The events that Israel is citing allegedly occurred at a time when Zionist Jewish militias were actively uprooting nearly one million Palestinian Arabs and systematically destroying their homes, villages and towns throughout Palestine.
The Israeli announcement, which reportedly followed “18 months of secret research” conducted by the Israeli government’s Ministry of Social Equality, should not be filed under the ever-expanding folder of shameless Israeli misrepresentations of history.
It is part of a calculated effort by the Israeli government, and namely by Minister Gila Gamliel, to create a counter-narrative to the rightful demand for the ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed by Jewish militias between 1947-1948.
But there is a reason behind the Israeli urgency to reveal such questionable research: the relentless US-Israeli attempt in the last two years to dismiss the rights of Palestinian refugee rights, to question their numbers and to marginalize their grievances. It is all part and parcel of the ongoing plot disguised as the ‘Deal of the Century’, with the clear aim of removing from the table all major issues that are central to the Palestinian struggle for freedom.
“The time has come to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms (against Jews) in seven Arab countries and Iran, and to restore, to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property, what is rightfully theirs,” said Gamliel.
The language – “.. to correct the historic injustice” – is no different from language used by Palestinians who have for 70 years and counting been demanding the restoration of their rights per United Nations Resolution 194.
The deliberate conflating between the Palestinian narrative and the Zionist narrative is aimed at creating parallels, with the hope that a future political agreement would resolve to having both grievances cancel each other out.
Contrary to what Israeli historians want us to believe, there was no mass exodus of Jews from Arab countries and Iran, but rather a massive campaign orchestrated by Zionist leaders at the time to replace the Palestine Arab population with Jewish immigrants from all over the world. The ways through which such a mission was achieved often involved violent Zionist plots – especially in Iraq.
In fact, the call on Jews to gather in Israel from all corners of the world remains the rally cry for Israeli leaders and their Christian Evangelical supporters – the former wants to ensure a Jewish majority in the state, while the latter is seeking to fulfill a biblical condition for their long-awaited Armageddon.
To hold Arabs and Iran responsible for this bizarre and irresponsible behavior is a transgression on the true history in which neither Gamliel nor her ministry are interested.
On the other hand, and unlike what Israeli military historians often claim, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947- 48 (and the subsequent purges of the native population that followed in 1967) was a premeditated act of ethnic cleansing and genocide. It has been part of a long-drawn and carefully calculated campaign that, from the very start, served as the main strategy at the heart of the Zionist movement’s ‘vision’ for the Palestinian people.
“We must expel the Arabs and take their place,” wrote Israel’s founder, military leader and first prime minister, David Ben Gurion in a letter to his son, Amos in October 5, 1937. That was over a decade before Plan D – which saw the destruction of the Palestinian homeland at the hands of Ben Gurion’s militias – went into effect.
Palestine “contains vast colonization potential,” he also wrote, “which the Arabs neither need nor are qualified to exploit.”
This clear declaration of a colonial project in Palestine, communicated with the same kind of unmistakable racist insinuations and language that accompanied all western colonial experiences throughout the centuries was not unique to Ben Gurion. He was merely paraphrasing what was, by then, understood to be the crux of the Zionist enterprise in Palestine at the time.
As Palestinian professor Nur Masalha concluded in his book, the ‘Expulsion of the Palestinians’, the idea of the ‘transfer’ – the Zionist term for “ethnic cleansing’ of the Palestinian people – was, and remains, fundamental in the realization of Zionist ambitions in Palestine.
Palestinian Arab “villages inside the Jewish state that resist ‘should be destroyed .. and their inhabitants expelled beyond the borders of the Jewish state,” Masalha wrote quoting the ‘History of the Haganah’ by Yehuda Slutsky. .
What this meant in practice, as delineated by Palestinian historian, Walid Khalidi was the joint targeting by various Jewish militias to systematically attack all population centers in Palestine, without exception.
“By the end of April (1948), the combined Haganah-Irgun offensive had completely encircled (the Palestinian city of) Jaffa, forcing most of the remaining civilians to flee by sea to Gaza or Egypt; many drowned in the process, ” Khalidi wrote in ‘Before Their Diaspora’.
This tragedy has eventually grown to affect all Palestinians, everywhere within the borders of their historic homeland. Tens of thousands of refugees joined up with hundreds of thousands more at various dusty trails throughout the country, growing in numbers as they walked further, to finally pitch their tents in areas that, then were meant to be ‘temporary’ refugee encampments. Alas, these became the Palestinian refugee camps of today, starting some 70 years ago.
None of this was accidental. The determination of the early Zionists to establish a ‘national home’ for Jews at the expense of the country’s Palestinian Arab nation was communicated, openly, clearly and repeatedly throughout the formation of early Zionist thoughts, and the translation of those well-articulated ideas into physical reality.
70 years have passed since the Nakba’ – the ‘Catastrophe’ of 1948 – and neither Israel took responsibility for its action, nor Palestinian refugees received any measure of justice, however small or symbolic.
For Israel to be seeking compensation from Arab countries and Iran is a moral travesty, especially as Palestinians refugees continue to languish in refugee camps across Palestine and the Middle East.
Yes, indeed “the time has come to correct the historic injustice,” not of Israel’s alleged ‘pogroms’ carried out by Arabs and Iranians, but the real and most tragic destruction of Palestine and its people.

Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran


The United States’ international windbag, Secretary of Defense (read: War) Mike Pompeo has been acting the imperial blowhard throughout the Middle East. With his boss busy denying that he’s a Russian agent, watching advisors and cabinet members come and go with dizzying alacrity, and dodging porn-star accusations, Pompeo is trotting through the Middle East, sounding war drums.
It seems that Iran, which has long been in the crosshairs of U.S. gunboat ‘diplomacy’, remains firmly targeted. In Cairo, Pompeo promised a “…campaign to stop Iran’s malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world”.
It is with a firm shake of the head that this writer reads such statements, wondering how anyone with even a modicum of intelligence can take such pronouncements seriously. If one is to discuss ‘malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world’, shouldn’t one look, first and foremost, at the United States?
The U.S. currently gives unqualified support to Saudi Arabia, which is decimating the nation of Yemen. Currently, at least 10,000,000 Yemenis, most of them children, are at risk of death by starvation due to the U.S.-supported Saudi onslaught. Several weeks ago, the Saudis dropped a U.S.-made bomb on what they must have thought was a horrifying terrorist group: a school bus full of 10-year-old children. U.S. spokespeople had hardly a word to say about this. Not surprising: if 10,000,000 people at risk of starvation brings no halt to U.S. support of Saudi Arabia, what is one school bus full of little boys? Does none of this qualify as ‘malevolent influence and actions’?
When discussing the U.S.’s ‘malevolent influence and actions’, it is impossible not to mention  its support of apartheid Israel’s brutal, inhumane and totally illegal (under international law: remember that old thing?) treatment of the Palestinians. Home demolitions to make room for Israeli-only housing; road construction on which only Israelis can drive (and if such a road intersects an existing Palestinian road, Palestinians cannot cross the intersection); the murders of innocent men, women and children by IDF soldiers and illegal settlers; the complete occupation of the Gaza Strip, with Israel forbidding the import of many basic needs, and the export of almost anything, crippling the economy; the periodic carpet-bombing of the Gaza Strip, with homes, mosques, United Nations refugee centers, hospitals and schools all targeted, all in violation of international law; the brutal harassment of Palestinians who only want to worship at Al Aqsa mosque, to name just a few of Israel’s constant atrocities. The U.S. responds to all this by giving Israel $4 billion in aid every year, more than all other nations receive from the U.S. combined. Is there nothing here that can be considered ‘malevolent influence and actions’?
For years, the United States supported rebel groups that fought for the overthrow of the Syrian government. It provided training and weapons to known terrorist groups, resulting in the death of at least half a million Syrians. With assistance from its allies Russia and Iran, Syria has been able to rid itself of most of these terrorists. Is U.S. financing and training of terrorist organizations not ‘malevolent influence and actions’?
For eighteen years, up to and including today, the U.S. has decimated and occupied Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Afghanis, and the destruction of the country. There is no end of this carnage in site. The reason for the invasion, ostensibly, was to capture Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Yet bin Laden has been dead for years, but the war rages on. The U.S. is determined to install a puppet government there, but the Taliban only came to power with U.S. support, when Russia was at war with Afghanistan. So the U.S. created the monster it is now fighting. Additionally, the Taliban was willing to surrender bin Laden to any nation other than the United States; he would easily and quickly have been extradited from that nation to the U.S. for trial. But an endless war seemed more appealing to the U.S. government. This all certainly sounds like ‘malevolent influence and actions’ to this writer.
The United States overthrew the functioning government of Libya, leaving that nation as a ‘failed state’. Today, there is no peace in Libya, poverty is rampant, and the country is divided by differing factions that are at constant war with each other. ‘Malevolent influence and actions’, anyone?
And despite all this, pompous Pompeo parades through the Middle East, condemning a nation that hasn’t invaded another country in over 200 years. Compare this to the more than 30 nations the United States has invaded and/or destabilized in just the last 50 years. Those imperial U.S. intrusions have killed an estimated 20,000,000 people, and the slaughter continues today, with no end in sight.
This is not a phenomena of the current incompetent, bombastic buffoon residing in the White House, or the result of the (until recently) Republican-controlled Congress. For generations, there have been few elected U.S. officials who ever met a war they didn’t love; rarely has there been a covert operation to overthrow a democratically-elected government that both Republicans and Democrats didn’t fully support. No, all this is business as usual for the globe’s most dangerous thug, which, were it an individual, would have long ago been found guilty of mass murder.
What is to be done? What can or will a mainly-ignorant public do, when most of its members prefer to wave a flag than look at reality? Like other imperial nations throughout history, the U.S. will eventually implode under the weight of its own ‘malevolent influence and actions’. It is hard to imagine any other nation emerging as the world’s superpower that will cause as much death, destruction and suffering as the U.S. has during its long and bloody history. The end of its reign of terror cannot come soon enough.
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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).