Gaza | Iraq | Venezuela

Jeremy Scahill: Blacklisted Academic Norman Finkelstein on Gaza, “the World’s Largest Concentration Camp” (Intercept)

Israel has once again conducted a premeditated, full-scale massacre in broad daylight, in front of the cameras of the world. Once again, it took place in Gaza.
On May 14, Israeli snipers and other forces gunned down more than 60 Palestinians, and wounded thousands of others, including civilians, journalists, and paramedics. “You try nonlethal means and they don’t work,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “So you’re left with bad choices. It’s a bad deal. You know, you try and you go for below the knee, and sometimes it doesn’t work, and unfortunately these things are avoidable.”
It appears that the only way not to be killed, according to Netanyahu, is to meekly accept imprisonment inside the prison of Gaza. Among those killed by Israeli forces was an 8-month-old infant. Her name was Laila al-Ghandour. They also killed at least seven other children and a man in a wheelchair, and that man had lost his legs after they had to be amputated following an earlier Israeli attack.

Robert Fisk: How long after this week’s Gaza massacre are we going to continue pretending that the Palestinians are non-people? (Independent)

Remember how they were to blame for their own exodus seven decades ago, because they followed the instructions of radio stations to leave their homes until the Jews of Israel were ‘driven into the sea’. Only, of course, the radio broadcasts never existed.

Chemi Shalev: Carnage in Gaza Threatens to Revive Analogies Between Israel and Apartheid South Africa (Haaretz via Google)

American Evangelicals who now support Israel’s right-wing policies were once staunch defenders of Pretoria’s white supremacist regime. … Just as Evangelicals depict Israel today as the forward outpost of Western civilization against Islamic hordes, prominent Evangelical leaders such as Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart and Pat Robertson described apartheid South Africa as a vital Christian bastion against godless Communism. They preferred to camouflage their long-held support for segregation, which was probably one of their primemotivations to support South Africa’s white rulers in the first place. Their support for Israel may have more to do with biblical prophecies of End Times and their virulent opposition to Islam, but Israel has done much in recent years to portray itself as racist.

Roger Harris: Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly (CounterPunch)

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is the frontrunner in the presidential elections scheduled for May 20. If past pronouncements and practice by the US empire are any indication, every effort will be made to oust an avowed socialist from what is considered the US’ “backyard.” …
In addition to summoning Venezuela’s sycophantic domestic opposition, who support sanctions against their own people, the US has gone on the offensive using the regional Lima Group to destabilize Venezuela. The group was established last August in Lima, the capital of Peru, as a block to oppose Venezuela…
Across the Atlantic on May 3, the European Parliament demanded Venezuela suspend presidential elections. Four days later, US Vice President Pence called on the OAS to expel Venezuela. Adding injury to insult, the US announced yet another round of sanctions. Then the next day, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley joined the chorus calling on President Maduro to cancel the presidential election and resign.

Alex MacDonald, Mustafa Abu Sneineh: First female Communist elected in Iraq’s holiest city calls for ‘social justice’ (Middle East Eye)

Iraqis appear to have broken with the political establishment in response to what they see as rampant corruption and incompetence.
The biggest winner in Saturday’s elections was the boycott movement, which was evident after it emerged that only 44.5 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.
But those who did vote overwhelmingly cast their ballot for the Sairoun Alliance, a coalition of supporters of the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), as well as the smaller Iraqi Republican Party.

Korea | Iraq | USA

Kim Jong-un has committed to denuclearisation, says South Korea (Guardian)

South Korea’s foreign minister has said that North Korea’s leader has “given his word” that he is committed to denuclearization, a prime condition for a potential summit with President Donald Trump in May…
South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha said Seoul has asked the North “to indicate in clear terms the commitment to denuclearization” and she says Kim’s “conveyed that commitment.”

Medea Benjamin, Nicolas J. S. Davies: The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion (CounterPunch)

March 19 marks 15 years since the U.S.-U.K invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the American people have no idea of the enormity of the calamity the invasion unleashed. The US military has refused to keep a tally of Iraqi deaths. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the initial invasion, bluntly told reporters, “We don’t do body counts.” One survey found that most Americans thought Iraqi deaths were in the tens of thousands. But our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion.

Masha Gessen: The Fundamental Uncertainty of Mueller’s Russia Indictments (New Yorker)

On Friday, the special counsel Robert Mueller filed an indictment of thirteen Russians, for meddling with the 2016 election. Over the long weekend, four ways of interpreting the document solidified. The White House focussed on a statement by the deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, who said the indictment contains no allegation that any American knowingly colluded with the Russian effort. President Trump tweeted, “They are laughing their asses off in Moscow.” Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice-president for ads, took to Twitter to assert that the primary purpose of Russian meddling was to “divide America,” not to influence the election. Meanwhile, most of the legacy media interpreted the indictment as a major blow to Trump, who, they write, can no longer dismiss the allegations of Russian meddling as a hoax. Here is the bad news: all of this is true at the same time.
It is true that the indictment tells us nothing about connections between the Russian efforts and the Trump campaign, and the Trump victory. It is also true that Moscow is laughing, at least in part because the Kremlin had no grand plan to elect Trump.

Saudi Arabia | Zimbabwe | Iraq

Federico Pieraccini: Saudi-Israeli Friendship Is Driving the Rest of the Middle East Together (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Through its top official, Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia continues a wave of internal arrests, having seized nearly $800 billion in assets and bank accounts. A few days later, MBS attempted to demonstrate his authority by summoning Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Saudi Arabia, where he was forced to resign on Saudi state TV. Trump tweeted support for Bin Salman’s accusations against Iran and Hezbollah, and the future Saudi king even obtained Israel’s secret support. Iran, meanwhile, denies any involvement in Lebanon’s domestic affairs or involvement with the ballistic missile launched by Houthi rebels towards Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport a few days ago. Meanwhile, Trump, Putin and Xi met recently and seem to have decided the fate of the region in an exercise of realism and pragmatism.

Gregory Elich: What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe? (CounterPunch)

Long-roiling factional conflict within Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF political party exploded last week in a military coup that quickly seized control of the government and state media. The coup was led by Commander of Zimbabwe Defense Forces Constantino Chiwenga, who is closely aligned with former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Emboldened by President Robert Mugabe’s declining mental sharpness and physical health in recent years, Mnangagwa actively maneuvered to ensure that he would succeed the president. Mnangagwa served as one of Zimbabwe’s two vice presidents. From that position, he and his supporters, known as Team Lacoste, became embroiled in a bitter struggle with younger party members who coalesced around Secretary of Women’s Affairs Grace Mugabe, wife of the president, and whose group was known as Generation 40, or G40…
Western officials are keen to see the transitional government adopt economic policies to their liking. “It’s a transition to a new era for Zimbabwe; that’s really what we’re hoping for,” acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto said. [xxxiv] A European Union spokesperson announced that the EU is “committed to support Zimbabwe in the preparation of credible elections and the delivery of political and economic reforms.” … It can be expected that it will not be long before Western economic advisors are paying visits to the transitional government, urging it to enact reforms to liberalize the economy to suit Western investors.

Patrick Bond: Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms (CounterPunch)

Mnangagwa is widely mistrusted due to his responsibility for (and refusal to acknowledge) 1982-85 “Gukhurahundi” massacres of more than 20,000 people in the country’s western provinces (mostly members of the minority Ndebele ethnic group, whose handful of armed dissidents he termed “cockroaches” needing a dose of military “DDT”); his subversion of the 2008 presidential election which Mugabe initially lost; his subsequent heading of the Joint Operations Committee secretly running the country, sabotaging democratic initiatives; as well as for his close proximity – as then Defence Minister – to widespread diamond looting from 2008-16…
Mnangagwa is not only being toasted in Beijing, but also by Tory geopolitical opportunists in London. Although many Britons object, their ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing has for three years attempted to “rebuild bridges and ensure that re-engagement succeeds to facilitate Mnangagwa’s rise to power” with a reported “$2 billion economic bail-out.”

Julia Lynne Walker: Military is complicit in Mugabe misrule (Pambazuka/AFP)

The Global Pan African Movement condemns the military intervention in Zimbabwe in no uncertain terms. The generals of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have been part of the repressive government. The huge problems of Zimbabwe cannot be resolved by the same soldiers who have been partners with Mugabe in the past 37 years.

Andre Damon: US brands RT a “foreign agent:” A chilling move against free speech (WSWS)

On Thursday, RT America, the US-based subsidiary of RT (formerly known as Russia Today), announced that it would, under pressure from the United States government, register as a “foreign agent” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The Justice Department’s demand that RT register as a “foreign agent” is aimed at delegitimizing RT as a news source, intimidating its journalists and guests, and setting the precedent for taking similar actions against other news outlets.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad: After the liberation of Mosul, an orgy of killing (Guardian)

In the dying days of the battle of Mosul, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad followed Iraqi soldiers during the last push against Isis. But following their victory, a new wave of savagery was unleashed…
One of the factors that had aided Isis’s takeover of Mosul was the conduct of the Iraqi army and security forces stationed in the city, who behaved like sectarian occupation forces, mistreating and detaining the population at will…
On 9 July, … the defeat of Isis was declared in Mosul …
Pockets of Isis fighters continued to resist for another week, but gradually the fighting died down, and a day came in Mosul when, for the first time in many years, machine-guns, car bombs and jet fighters went silent. Then the orgy of killing started.
Night after night, in ruined houses, makeshift cells and the dark streets of Mosul, those identified as members of Isis were tortured and executed. Jubilant Iraqi soldiers filmed themselves beating and shooting prisoners.

Myanmar | Syria | Israel/Palestine | China

Jacob Judah: Myanmar: Rohingya insurgents declare month-long ceasefire (Guardian)

Rohingya insurgents declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire last night, saying it would allow aid to reach north-western Myanmar.
The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) had launched attacks on police posts and an army base last month, prompting retaliation by Myanmar’s military. The violence led to more than 270,000 refugees from the persecuted Rohingya Muslim community fleeing to Bangladesh over the last two weeks, according to the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR).

Matt Young: Myanmar: Whole villages destroyed as satellite spots devastation from above (Guardian)
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The Rohingya Of Myanmar – Pawns In An Anglo-Chinese Proxy War Fought By Saudi Jihadists (Moon of Alabama)

While the ethnic conflict in Rankine state is very old, it has over the last years morphed into an Jihadist guerilla war financed and led from Saudi Arabia.

Mike Whitney: What the Media isn’t Telling You About North Korea’s Missile Tests (CounterPunch)

Last Monday, the DPRK fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan’s Hokkaido Island. The missile landed in the waters beyond the island harming neither people nor property.
The media immediately condemned the test as a “bold and provocative act” that showed the North’s defiance of UN resolutions and “contempt for its neighbors.” …
What the media failed to mention was that, for the last three weeks, Japan, South Korea and the US have been engaged in large-scale joint-military drills on Hokkaido Island and in South Korea. These needlessly provocative war games are designed to simulate an invasion of North Korea and a “decapitation” operation to remove (Re: Kill) the regime. North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un has asked the US repeatedly to end these military exercises, but the US has stubbornly refused. The US reserves the right to threaten anyone, anytime and anywhere even right on their doorstep…
Imagine if Russia engaged in a similar operation over the border in Mexico while the Russian fleet conducted “live fire” drills three miles outside of San Francisco Bay.

Reuters: Israel strikes Syria’s Hama from Lebanese airspace (Daily Star)

Syria’s army said Israel targeted one of its positions in Hama province from Lebanese airspace early Thursday, which a war monitor said was a branch of the government agency accused by the U.S. of producing chemical weapons.

Amos Yadlin: How to Understand Israel’s Strike on Syria (New York Times)

Revital Hovel: Justice Minister Slams Israel’s Top Court, Says It Disregards Zionism and Upholding Jewish Majority (Haaretz)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked criticized the Supreme Court on Tuesday, claiming that the justice system gives insufficient consideration to Zionism and the country’s Jewish majority…
“Zionism should not continue, and I say here, it will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way that divorces them from the history of the Knesset and the history of legislation that we all know,” Shaked told her audience, which included Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and Military Advocate General Sharon Afek.
Shaked’s speech was momentarily interrupted when some of the lawyers in the audience yelled that Israeli was an apartheid state.

The Justice Minister Versus Democracy (Haaretz)

Alarm bells ring when the minister appointed to defend Israel’s courts announces that Zionism will ‘no longer bow its head to a system of individual rights’

Gideon Levy: Israel’s Minister of Truth (Haaretz)

Israel Justice Minister Shaked said the truth loud and clear: Zionism contradicts human rights, and thus is indeed an ultranationalist, colonialist and perhaps racist movement…
What are today’s Zionist challenges? To “Judaize” the Negev and Galilee, remove the “infiltrators,” cultivate Israel’s Jewish character and preserve its Jewish majority. The occupation, the settlements, the cult of security, the army — which is primarily an occupation army — that is Zionism circa 2017. All its components are contrary to justice. After we were told that Zionism and justice were identical twins, that no national movement is more just than Zionism, Shaked came to say: just the opposite. Zionism is not just, it contradicts justice, but we shall cleave to it and prefer it to justice, because it’s our identity, our history and our national mission. No activist for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement would say it more sharply.

Gideon Levy: The Zionist Tango (Haaretz via Google News)

Why the racist honesty of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is preferable to the fake views of the Israeli left

Rogel Alpher: Israeli Minister Shaked Takes After Mussolini (Haaretz via Google News)

Don’t call the justice minister a fascist metaphorically, as hyperbole or a provocation – call her that because it’s literally what she is.

Israeli Minister: Independent Kurdistan Would Benefit Israel and the West (Haaretz)

Ayelet Shaked’s comments come exactly two weeks before Kurdistan’s planned independence referendum, which the U.S. and Russia fear will lead to regional destabilization.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told an international counter-terrorism conference on Monday that Israel supports Kurdish independence, “at least in the Iraqi part.”

AFP: China to ban production of petrol and diesel cars ‘in the near future’ (Guardian)

China, the world’s biggest vehicle market, is considering a ban on the production and sale of fossil fuel cars in a major boost to the production of electric vehicles as Beijing seeks to ease pollution.
The move would follow similar plans announced by France and Britain to outlaw the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 in order to clamp down on harmful emissions.

Britain | Refugees | Iraq | Israel/Palestine | USA

Jonathan Cook: The Facts Proving Corbyn’s Election Triumph (Defend Democracy Press)

Corbyn received 41 per cent of the vote, against May’s 44 per cent. Given the UK’s inherently flawed, first-past-the-post electoral system, he won some 50 fewer seats than the Conservatives, but that was still a big improvement on Labour’s share of seats in the last election, under Ed Miliband. There is now a hung parliament, and to survive May will need to depend on the votes of a small group of Northern Irish Ulster unionists, creating a deeply unstable government.
But how did Corbyn do in terms of the Labour vote compared to his recent predecessors? He won many more votes than Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown and Neil Kinnock, who were among those that, sometimes noisily, opposed his leadership of the party.
They lost their elections. But what about Corbyn’s share of the vote compared to Tony Blair, his most high-profile critic, whose many allies in the parliamentary Labour party sought relentlessly to subvert Corbyn’s leadership over the past two years and tried to bring him down, including by staging a leadership challenge last year.
Here are the figures for Blair’s three wins. He got a 36 per cent share of the vote in 2005 – much less than Corbyn. He received a 41 per cent of the vote – about the same as Corbyn – in 2001. And Blair’s landslide victory in 1997 was secured on 43 per cent of the vote, just two percentage points ahead of Corbyn last night.
In short, Corbyn has proved himself the most popular Labour leader with the electorate in more than 40 years, apart from Blair’s landslide victory in 1997. But let’s recall the price Blair paid for that very small margin of improvement over Corbyn’s vote. Behind the scenes, he sold Labour’s soul to the City, the corporations and their lobbyists. That Faustian pact secured Blair the backing of most of the British media, including Rupert Murdoch’s stable of papers and TV channel. The corporations mobilised their entire propaganda machine to get Blair into power. And yet he managed it with only 2 percentage points more than Corbyn, who had that same propaganda machine railing against him.
Also, unlike Corbyn, Blair did not have to endure a large section of his own party trying to destroy him from within.

Robert Mackey: After Election Setback, Theresa May Clings to Power in U.K. Thanks to Ulster Extremists (Intercept)

At the end of an election campaign that was nasty, brutish and short, British voters punished Prime Minister Theresa May at the polls on Thursday, depriving her Conservative Party of its governing majority in Parliament, and forcing her to rely on the support of a small party of extremists from Northern Ireland to stay in office.

Anna Momigliano: Italian forces ignored a sinking ship full of Syrian refugees and let more than 250 drown, says leaked audio (Washington Post)

Almost four years ago, 268 Syrian refugees — including 60 children — lost their lives in a shipwreck about 60 miles south of Lampedusa, a small Italian island that sits between Sicily and Tunisia. It was considered one of the worst tragedies of the European refugee crisis, but a leaked audiotape published Monday by the magazine L’Espresso suggested that Italian authorities let the Syrians drown despite being alerted several hours earlier that the refugees’ ship was in danger.

Mitch Potter, Michelle Shephard, Bruce Campion-Smith: Bound. Tortured. Killed. (Toronto Star)

Iraqi photojournalist Ali Arkady was embedded with who he thought were the good guys — an elite unit of Iraqi soldiers battling Daesh in the name of a united Iraq, strong and free once and for all. But as the battle for Mosul intensified, the Iraqis lost the plot, descending into torture and murder of civilians.

Mehdi Hasan: A 50-Year Occupation: Israel’s Six-Day War Started With a Lie / 50 anos de ocupação: A Guerra dos Seis Dias de Israel foi baseada em uma mentira (Intercept)

Fifty years ago, between June 5 and June 10, 1967, Israel invaded and occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. The Six-Day War, as it would later be dubbed, saw the Jewish David inflict a humiliating defeat on the Arab Goliath, personified perhaps by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt.
“The existence of the Israeli state hung by a thread,” the country’s prime minister, Levi Eshkol, claimed two days after the war was over, “but the hopes of the Arab leaders to annihilate Israel were dashed.” Genocide, went the argument, had been prevented; another Holocaust of the Jews averted.
There is, however, a problem with this argument: It is complete fiction, a self-serving fantasy constructed after the event to justify a war of aggression and conquest…
Above all else, the war … forced another 300,000 Palestinians from their homes and ushered in a brutal military occupation for the million-odd Palestinians left behind.
The conflict itself may have lasted only six days, but the occupation that followed is now entering its sixth decade — the longest military occupation in the world.

Gideon Levy: Fifty Years, Fifty Lies (Haaretz via Google News)

It began with the question of what to call the West Bank and Gaza. On Israel Radio it was decided to use the term ‘temporarily-held territories.’ This was lie No. 1

Gideon Levy, Alex Levac: What I’ve Seen in 30 Years of Reporting on the Israeli Occupation (Haaretz via Google News)

The occupation has its own language: An Arab is a ‘terrorist,’ detention without trial is ‘administrative,’ the occupying power is forever the victim and writing about its crimes is treason

Michael Sfard: Israel Is Not a Democracy (Haaretz via Google News)

A regime that allows only some of its subjects to take part in politics is not a democracy. True, Israel has an elected legislative branch, separation of powers and freedom of the press (all three of which, it should be said, are currently in danger). But for the past five decades, Israel has ruled millions of people who do not have the right to vote or to be elected to the systems that govern them. Israel not only denies them their civil rights, it plunders their land and resources, and transfers them to the most privileged of its citizens, and deprives them brutally and cruelly of independence and of a say in deciding their future.

Matthew Shaer: The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning (New York Times Magazine)

Her disclosure of classified documents in 2010 ushered in the age of leaks. Now, freed from prison, she talks about why she did it — and the isolation that followed.

Syria | Iraq | Rwanda

Matthew Allen: US Proxies Set Stage for Syria Balkanization (Russia Insider)

A leading Kurdish politician has confirmed that “the northern Syrian city of Raqqa is expected to join a decentralized system of government being set up by Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies once it is freed from Islamic State,” according to Reuters.
Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, made his comments on the same day that a U.S.-led operation near Raqqa blocked “any advance by Syrian government forces from the west”. In other words, the U.S. has reserved Raqqa for its proxies.

Simon Tisdall: The west condemned Russia’s bombs – now coalition attacks are killing civilians in Mosul (Guardian)

The leaders who denounced Putin for deadly airstrikes in Syria are not speaking out over the siege of the Iraqi city.
America and the UK condemned Russian airstrikes that killed or injured hundreds of civilians during last autumn’s siege of Aleppo, accusing Vladimir Putin of war crimes. The question now is whether the US, backed by British air power, is committing similar atrocities against civilians in Mosul.
[In Mosul,] misdirected US airstrikes caused a massive explosion that reportedly killed at least 150 civilians sheltering in a basement. The Americans say they were targeting Islamic State fighters. The Russians said much the same about Aleppo – that they were attacking jihadi terrorists. Many people, not least the relatives of the Mosul dead, will struggle to see the difference…
[T]he high death toll places the Mosul carnage, if confirmed, among the worst such incidents since the US invasion in 2003. It also serves to highlight a new pattern of behaviour by US forces since Donald Trump took office in January. Since then, the monthly total of recorded civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria has more than doubled, according to independent monitors.

Margaret Kimberley: Is Trump the DNC Hacker? (Black Agenda Report)

The Democratic Party is going all out with its charge of Russian involvement in the 2016 election. In doing so they achieve two very important goals. First, they distract their voters from asking why Hillary Clinton lost and why they are perennial losers at every level of government across the country. Secondly, they can wage war by other means as they attempt to exact regime change in Russia. That is the desired endgame as they attempt to crush the sovereignty and independence of that resource-rich nation which spans Eurasia.

Ann Garrison: Israel’s African Darling: Paul Kagame: An Interview with Robin Philpot (Black Agenda Report)

Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame, who recently addressed AIPAC, in Washington DC, is Israel’s favorite African, a man the Zionists permit to use the term “genocide.” Both nations claim their wounds give them a special status in the world. “Rwanda and Uganda could be called mad dog states – they’re highly militarized, and they serve as sheriffs for the U.S. at the same time as they pursue their own interests.”

USA | Refugees | Iraq | Syria | Japan | Israel

T. J. Coles: “Confronting China”: John Pilger Talks about His New Film, America’s ‘Pivot to Asia’, and the Role of Japan and Australia (Plymouth Institute for Peace Research)

The Coming War on China is my 60th film and perhaps one of the most urgent. It continues the theme of illuminating the imposition of great power behind a facade of propaganda as news. In 2011, President Obama announced a ‘pivot to Asia’ of US forces: almost two-thirds of American naval power would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020.
The undeclared rationale for this was the ‘threat’ from China, by some measure now the greatest economic power. The Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, says US policy is to confront those ‘who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us’…
China is encircled by a ‘noose’ of some 400 US bases, yet the news has ignored this while concentrating on the ‘threat’ of China building airstrips on disputed islets in the South China Sea, clearly as a defence to a US Navy blockade.

Alan Travis: Calais’s refugee children are sleeping rough because of Tory policy (Guardian)

As 100 children spend the night outside following the camp clearance, observers count the cost of Theresa May’s tough stance

Amelia Gentleman: More than 1,000 children left in Calais camp, say charities (Guardian)

Charities in Calais have said that more than 1,000 children remain in shipping containers in the demolished camp, with inadequate food and water supplies and no information provided about their future.

Dakota Acces Pipeline (Democracy Now)

Democracy Now! coverage of resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. If completed, the $3.8 billion pipeline would carry about 500,000 barrels of crude per day from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield to Illinois. The project has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and members of nearly 100 more tribes from across the U.S. and Canada.

Sam Levin: Over 120 arrested at North Dakota pipeline protests, including journalists (Guardian)

North Dakota police arrested more than 120 people over the weekend at Native American oil pipeline protests, including film-makers and journalists, prompting accusations that law enforcement officials are stifling free speech and using excessive force against peaceful protesters.
There were increasingly tense clashes between police and demonstrators against the Dakota access pipeline, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe says is a threat to its water supply and cultural heritage.

Sam Levin: North Dakota arrest warrant for Amy Goodman raises fears for press freedom (Guardian)
Sam Levin: Judge rejects riot charges for journalist Amy Goodman after oil pipeline protest (Guardian)

Authorities had issued a warrant for her arrest after Democracy Now! host filmed guards for the Dakota access pipeline using dogs and pepper spray on protesters

Larry Buhl: Destruction of Sacred Burial Grounds Prompts Federal Judge to Protect Some Tribal Sites from Dakota Access Pipeline (Desmog)
Sam Levin: Guards for North Dakota pipeline could be charged for using dogs on activists (Guardian)
Steve Horn: Security Firm Running Dakota Access Pipeline Intelligence Has Ties to U.S. Military (CounterPunch)
David Marchese: Amy Goodman on Why the North Dakota Pipeline Standoff Is Only Getting Worse (New York)

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Luciana Bohne: Crossing the Acheron: Back to Vietnam (CounterPunch)

In classical mythology, the Acheron [Ἀχέρων / Ἀχερούσιος] is one of the rivers of the Underworld. It marks the boundary between the living and the dead. The ferryman Charon ferries the dead across the Acheron to a place where they lose memory. Nothing of what made them human remains—happiness, suffering, love, hatred, guilt, regret, redemption, betrayal, forgiveness…
“In May 2012, President Barack Obama and the Pentagon announced a Commemoration of the Vietnam War to continue through 2025, the fiftieth anniversary of the conflict’s end. Among the Commemoration’s objectives, three stand out: ‘to thank and honor’ veterans and their families . . . ‘to highlight the advances in technology, science, and medicine related to military research conducted during’ the war; and to ‘recognize the contributions and sacrifices made by the allies’.”

John Pilger: Inside the Invisible Government: War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump (CounterPunch)

Imagine two cities.
Both are under siege by the forces of the government of that country. Both cities are occupied by fanatics, who commit terrible atrocities, such as beheading people.
But there is a vital difference. In one siege, the government soldiers are described as liberators by Western reporters embedded with them, who enthusiastically report their battles and air strikes. There are front page pictures of these heroic soldiers giving a V-sign for victory. There is scant mention of civilian casualties.
In the second city – in another country nearby – almost exactly the same is happening. Government forces are laying siege to a city controlled by the same breed of fanatics.
The difference is that these fanatics are supported, supplied and armed by “us” – by the United States and Britain. They even have a media centre that is funded by Britain and America.
Another difference is that the government soldiers laying siege to this city are the bad guys, condemned for assaulting and bombing the city – which is exactly what the good soldiers do in the first city.
Confusing? Not really. Such is the basic double standard that is the essence of propaganda. I am referring, of course, to the current siege of the city of Mosul by the government forces of Iraq, who are backed by the United States and Britain and to the siege of Aleppo by the government forces of Syria, backed by Russia. One is good; the other is bad.
What is seldom reported is that both cities would not be occupied by fanatics and ravaged by war if Britain and the United States had not invaded Iraq in 2003.

Martin Fackler: Sinking a bold foray into watchdog journalism in Japan (Columbia Journalism Review)

“In Japanese journalism, scoops usually just mean learning from the ministry officials today what they intend to do tomorrow,” said Makoto Watanabe, a former reporter in the section who quit the Asahi in March because he felt blocked from doing investigative reporting. “We came up with different scoops that were unwelcome in the Prime Minister’s Office.”
Abe and his supporters on the nationalistic right seized on missteps by the Asahi in its coverage of Fukushima and sensitive issues of World War II-era history to launch a withering barrage of criticism that the paper seemed unable to withstand. The taming of the Asahi set off a domino-like series of moves by major newspapers and television networks to remove outspoken commentators and newscasters.
Political interference in the media was one reason cited by Reporters Without Borders in lowering Japan from 11th in 2010 to 72nd out of 180 nations in this year’s annual ranking of global press freedoms, released on April 20, 2016.

John Pilger: Provoking Nuclear War by Media (CounterPunch)

The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.

Jonathan Lis: Coalition Chairman Threatens to Strip Citizenship of Israeli Activist Who Criticized Occupation at UN (Haaretz)

In a further escalation of the backlash against the anti-occupation nonprofit B’Tselem after it addressed the UN Security Council, the chairman of the coalition said Friday that he will seek to have the citizenship of the group’s CEO revoked.
Likud lawmaker David Bitan told Channel 2 that B’Tselem head Hagai El-Ad’s remarks were an “explicit breach of trust by an Israeli citizen against the state, and as such he should find himself another citizenship.”

Thailand | Brexit | Ethiopia | Israel/Palestine

Giles Ji Ungpakorn (ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์ [tɕaj ʔɯ́ŋpʰaːkɔːn]): King Pumipon (Bhumibol) of Thailand (Uglytruth Thailand)

King Pumipon (p̣hūmiphala ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช [pʰuːmípʰon]) of Thailand was a weak and characterless monarch who spent his useless and privileged life in a bubble, surrounded by fawning, grovelling, toadies who claimed that he was a “god”… His life’s work was in self-enrichment, support for military regimes and the defence of inequality. He played a significant role in preventing democratic rights, the development of social justice and the fair and unbiased use of the law. He did this by legitimising all the worst government policies and atrocities committed by Thai rulers. In recent years he remained silent while more and more dissidents were jailed, under the draconian lèse majesté law, for merely speaking out against the destruction of democracy.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn: Wachiralongkorn should not be the future king. Thailand should be a republic (Uglytruth Thailand)
Thailand’s heir apparent Maha Vajiralongkorn raises fears – and eyebrows (Guardian)

Thailand’s Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (มหาวชิราลงกรณ [máhǎː wáʨʰíraːloŋkɔːn]), a three-times divorced playboy who made his pet poodle an air chief marshal in the Thai military, poses perhaps the biggest challenge for both the country’s monarchists and its ruling junta in coming weeks, following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

AFP: Who is Thailand’s 96-year-old regent? (Asia Times)

Former general and prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda (เปรม ติณสูลานนท์ [preːm tinnásǔːlaːnon]) … stormed up the army ranks during the Cold War and was promoted above his seniors to army chief in 1978.
Two years later, he assumed power in what was widely viewed as a silent coup endorsed by the king and queen…
Prem later led the Privy Council of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej — who died last Thursday after a 70-year reign — making him the monarch’s closest adviser and gatekeeper…
Both as prime minister in the 1980s and later as head of the Privy Council, Prem cemented the military’s self-designated role as protector of the monarchy through his remarkable relationship with Bhumibol.
“He was able to make the military into a mechanism for the monarchy but keep the military as a powerful institution in Thai politics,” Paul Chambers, an expert on Thailand’s military, told AFP…
Since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand has seen 12 successful military coups.
Prem has instigated or had a hand in five of them, said Chambers.
The most recent came in 2014, toppling the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of telecoms billionaire and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was himself ousted in a 2006 coup.

Alison Smale, Thomas Fuller: Thailand Looks to Likely Future King With Apprehension (New York Times)
Reuters: Thai royal defamation cases jump since king’s death (Asia Times)

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has moved quickly to quash any uncertainty around the royal succession, saying Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn would ascend the throne after a period of mourning that he had requested.
Insulting the monarch, the regent or the heir, known by the French-language term “lèse-majesté”, is a crime in Thailand that carries a jail sentence of up to 15 years for each case.
Police spokesman Kitsana Pattanacharoen said there had been 12 lèse-majesté cases since last Thursday, with arrest warrants issued for eight suspects and four already in police custody.
“Their crime was posting messages or pictures which insulted the monarchy on social media,” he told Reuters.
There were 70 cases in the two-and-a-half years from a May 2014 coup up to last Thursday, said Weerawat Somnuek, a researcher at Thai legal monitoring group iLaw.

Colombia referendum: Voters reject Farc peace deal (BBC)

Voters in Colombia have rejected a landmark peace deal with Farc rebels in a shock referendum result, with 50.2% voting against it.
The deal was signed last week by President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez after nearly four years of negotiations.

Mona Mahmood and Emma Graham-Harrison: Mosul civilians brace for assault as Iraq forces bid to retake Isis stronghold (Guardian)

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are bracing themselves for the start of an Iraqi army campaign to retake Mosul from Isis, which they fear will bring “the whole world” to fight over their city.
Militants have banned civilians from leaving the city, and have set up checkpoints on roads out and blown up the homes of those who do flee as punishment and to deter others.

Patrick Cockburn: This Battle for Mosul Will Not Be the Last (CounterPunch)

The Iraqi government and its allies may eventually capture Mosul from Isis, but this could be just a new chapter in the war.
It will only win because of the devastating firepower of the US-led air forces and sheer weight of numbers. But the fight for the city is militarily and politically complex. The Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia Hashd al-Shaabi and Sunni fighters from Mosul and Nineveh province, which make up the anti-Isis forces, suspect and fear each other almost as much as they hate Isis.

Tallha Abdulrazaq: Mosul will fall again, but at great cost (AlJazeera)

The battle for Mosul will be long and the city’s remaining 1.5 million civilians will bear the brunt.

Robert Fisk: After Mosul Falls, ISIS will Flee to Syria. Then What? (CounterPunch)

Syria’s army and Hezbollah and Iranian allies are preparing for a massive invasion by thousands of Isis fighters who will be driven out of Iraq when Mosul falls. The real purpose behind the much-trumpeted US-planned “liberation” of the Iraqi city, the Syrian military suspect, is to swamp Syria with the hordes of Isis fighters who will flee their Iraqi capital in favour of their “mini-capital” of Raqqa inside Syria itself.

Gary Leupp: An Urgently Necessary Briefing on Syria (CounterPunch)

Thomas Mountain: Revolutionary Islam and Regime Change in Ethiopia (CounterPunch)

With ethnic uprisings spreading across an Ethiopia now ruled by martial law there is only one nationally based organization in place to lead the eventual regime change in the country and that is the revolutionary Islamic movement.
Presently all the liberation resistance movements in Ethiopia are ethnically based with their senior leadership in exile, mainly in neighboring Eritrea. The only organization with a national presence is the revolutionary Islamic religious community, whose recently freed leaders have sworn to liberate Ethiopia from the western backed Tigrayan ethnic minority regime presently ruling the country.

Samir Amin: Brexit and the EU Implosion: National Sovereignty—For What Purpose? (Monthly Review)

The defense of national sovereignty, like its critique, leads to serious misunderstandings once one detaches it from the social class content of the strategy in which it is embedded. The leading social bloc in capitalist societies always conceives sovereignty as a necessary instrument for the promotion of its own interests based on both capitalist exploitation of labor and the consolidation of its international positions.

Chris Welzenbach: The Dreadful Chronology of Gaddafi’s Murder (CounterPunch)

Gideon Levy: Peace Is Justice, and Justice Doesn’t Need a Partner (Haaretz, behind pay wall; also via Google News) / אין פרטנר (Haaretz; also via Google News)

Israel is not in a position to demand a partner in order to end the occupation. It must end the occupation. It has no right to make demands before doing so.

Greece | Palestine/Israel | South Africa | Russia | Iraq

Stathis Kouvelakis: The Reality of Retreat (Jacobin)

Syriza’s deal with Greece’s creditors hasn’t bought more time or avoided austerity. It’s demobilized Greek workers.

Illusions about a two-state solution in the “Holy Land” shattered once again:
AP: Israel’s new deputy foreign minister: ‘This land is ours. All of it is ours’ (Guardian)
Patrick Strickland: “This land is ours,” says Israel’s top diplomat, citing religious texts (Electronic Intifada)

Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s new deputy foreign minister, vowed to continue building Jewish-only settlements across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in a recent speech to ministry employees…
Hotovely’s statements are nothing new, and she has in the past been outspoken about her expansionist designs. In 2013, while serving as deputy transportation minister, she accused her colleagues in the Likud party of exhibiting what she called “schizophrenia.”
Denouncing negotiations towards a two-state solution between Israel and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, she reasserted her support for annexation. “Members of our movement [Likud] never agreed to found a Palestinian state.”
“The existence of Jordan is a historic compromise,” she added, recycling a frequent Zionist talking point that Jordan should serve as a national homeland for Palestinians. “Whoever believes in the Greater Land of Israel has never been prepared to give parts of our homeland away for any purpose, not even for peace.” …
Objecting to Hotovely’s plan to annex the whole West Bank and to force Palestinians to accept Israeli citizenship, her fellow Likud member Eli Hazan said: “I’m a Jewish racist, and I’m not embarrassed to say I want a Jewish state with a Jewish majority.”
Hazan’s comments reflect a common argument among many liberal and, to a lesser extent, right-wing Zionists who cite Palestinian birthrates as a “ticking time bomb” or “demographic threat” that could undo Israel’s Jewish majority.

Hotovely: Land of Israel belongs to the Jews (Yedioth Ahronoth)

New Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Thursday told ministry employees that all of the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, and that Israel had no need to apologize for that.
“Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasizing the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically,” she said in a speech broadcast to Israel’s 106 representations abroad. “But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right.”…
The deputy minister ended her comments by quoting from Rashi, the famed medieval Talmud commentator, on the first line of the Torah:
“Rashi says the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world so that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of world and when he wanted to, he took from them and gave to us,” she quoted from the commentary.

Lahav Harkov: Hotovely laments Likud ‘schizophrenia’ on two states (Jerusalem Post)
World may find Israel’s new deputy foreign minister hard to swallow (Haaretz)
Herb Keinon: Hotovely as deputy FM won’t make Israel’s position in the world any easier (Jerusalem Post)

This is an account of the 2012 strike at the Marikana Lonmin platinum mine in South Africa, and the massacre that ended it, with some details on the transformation of the African National Congress and its allies from a liberation movement to a ruling party, the big unions, and on the role of leaders like Cyril Ramaphosa and Julius Malema.
Nick Davies: Marikana massacre: the untold story of the strike leader who died for workers’ rights (Guardian)

On 16 August 2012, South African police opened fire on a large crowd of men who had walked out on strike from a platinum mine at Marikana, about 80 miles north of Johannesburg. They shot down 112 of them, killing 34. In any country, this would have been a traumatic moment. For South Africa, it was a special kind of nightmare, since it revived images of massacres by the state in the old apartheid era, with one brutal difference – this time it was predominantly black policemen, with black senior officers working for black politicians, who were doing the shooting.
In response, President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry, chaired by a retired judge, Ian Farlam, which eventually sat in public for a total of 293 days, hearing evidence from miners, their bosses and the police, and reviewing video, audio and paper records of the shooting and of the seven-day strike that preceded it. At the end of March this year, the commission delivered its report to Zuma, who so far has failed to publish its conclusions. Those who may find themselves accused of colluding in the police action include not only senior figures from the ruling African National Congress but also Lonmin, the British company that owns the Marikana mine.

David Smith: ANC absent from Marikana massacre memorial ceremony (Guardian)
David Smith: Simmering frustration at justice denied a year after Marikana (Guardian)
Greg Nicolson: Two years after Marikana massacre, families still wait for justice (Guardian)

Yet Another Huge Diplomatic Victory for Russia (Information Clearing House)

Unless you read Russian or monitor the free blogosphere, you might not have noticed this, but something big just happened in Russia: Kerry, Nuland and a large State Department delegation have traveled to Sochi were they met with Foreign Minister Lavrov and then with President Putin. With the latter they spent over 4 hours. Not only that, but Kerry made a few rather interesting remarks, saying that the Minsk-2 Agreement (M2A) was the only way forward and that he would strongly caution Poroshenko against the idea of renewing military operations.

F. William Engdahl: What if Putin is Telling the Truth? (New Eastern Outlook)

Matt Taibbi: Forget What We Know Now: We Knew Then the Iraq War Was a Joke (Rolling Stone)

So presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is taking a pounding for face-planting a question about his brother’s invasion of Iraq. Apparently, our national media priests want accountability from leaders on this issue…
But the substance of most of the media mockery in the last week was to whale on Jeb for not admitting quickly enough that the war, in hindsight, given “what we know now,” was a huge mistake.
We can call this the “None of us pundits would have been wrong about Iraq if it wasn’t for Judith Miller” line of questioning. This rhetoric goes something like this: since we invaded, the war has gone epically FUBAR, so it’s obvious now that it was a mistake, and so we can mock you for not admitting as much.
But because of Judith Miller, it wasn’t obvious even to all of us geniuses back then, which is why virtually every media outlet to the right of Democracy Now! (MSNBC included, as old friend Alex Pareene wittily pointed out) got it wrong for years on end, back when this issue actually mattered.
Go back up a few paragraphs and look at that list of media outlets. All of them – the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times obviously, the Chicago Tribune – they were all card-carrying Iraq war cheerleaders…
Now a lot of these same people are green-lighting stories about how wrong Jeb Bush is for not admitting to what is at last obvious, “knowing what we know now.” But forget what we know now. We knew then, but we’re just not admitting it.

Amy Goodman, Nermeen ShaykhMatt Taibbi on the Journalist & Politician Cheerleaders for Iraq War, Then & Now (Democracy Now)
Greg Sargent: Stop sanitizing the history of the run-up to Iraq War (Washington Post)

[T]his whole line of questioning for Jeb [Bush], while creating untold problems for him, is also having the unintended effect of airbrushing out of the picture some really crucial historical facts about the run-up to the Iraq War. And those historical facts indict the woeful performance of Democrats such as Hillary Clinton as well as Republicans, which means that both parties have a strong incentive not to revive them.

Paul Krugman: Lies, Not Mistakes, Led to Invasion of Iraq (TruthOut)

Jeb Bush definitely did us a favor: In attempting not to talk about the past, he ended up bringing back the discussion of the Iraq war, which many political and media figures have been trying to avoid. And of course they’re still trying to avoid it – they want to make sure this just about the horse race, or about the hypothetical question of “if you knew what we know now.”
But that formulation is itself an evasion, as Josh Marshall, Greg Sargent and Duncan Black have pointed out – each making a slightly different but crucial point.
First, as Mr. Marshall, the editor of Talking Points Memo, recently wrote, the Iraq invasion was not a good faith mistake. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney didn’t sit down with the intelligence community, ask for its best assessment of the situation and then reluctantly conclude that war was the only option. They decided right at the beginning – even before the dust of 9/11 had settled – to use a terrorist attack by religious extremists as an excuse to go after a secular regime that, evil as it was, had nothing to do with that attack.

Dartagnan: George W. Bush Did Something Much Worse Than Lie Us Into War (Daily Kos)

We’ve been lied into wars before, with similar disastrous results. But George W. Bush did something far worse than lie us into a war: he did it in a breathtakingly cynical and malevolent way–in effect, by holding a gun to every Americans’ head and threatening to pull the trigger. He did it by holding us—all of us—hostage to a twisted ideology that demanded the war, waving the gun at calculated intervals in our face, the way any terrorist would. And he told us flat out, over and over again, that if we didn’t do what he said, we’d all be killed.

Eduardo Porter: A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development (New York Times)

The average citizen of Nepal consumes about 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity in a year. Cambodians make do with 160. Bangladeshis are better off, consuming, on average, 260.
Then there is the fridge in your kitchen. A typical 20-cubic-foot refrigerator — Energy Star-certified, to fit our environmentally conscious times — runs through 300 to 600 kilowatt-hours a year.
American diplomats are upset that dozens of countries — including Nepal, Cambodia and Bangladesh — have flocked to join China’s new infrastructure investment bank, a potential rival to the World Bank and other financial institutions backed by the United States.
The reason for the defiance is not hard to find: The West’s environmental priorities are blocking their access to energy.

History and food for thought:
Harvey Klehr: America’s top communists of all time (Washington Post)

Earl Browder, Woody Guthrie, W.E.B. DuBois, William Foster and Jay Lovestone, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers, Paul Robeson, Elizabeth Bentley, John Reed, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Howard Fast, Eugene Dennis and Gus Hall

Dylan Matthews: The Washington Post picked its top American Communists. Wonkblog begs to differ (Washington Post)

James P. Cannon, Max Shachtman, James Burnham, Max Eastman, Bayard Rustin, Hilary Putnam, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, Pete Seeger, Harry Haywood, Harry Dexter White and [last but not least] Angela Davis

Islamic State | New Cold War | War Propaganda | Palestine | Cuba | Bahrain

Patrick Cockburn: Isis consolidates (London Review of Books)

As the attention of the world focused on Ukraine and Gaza, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) captured a third of Syria in addition to the quarter of Iraq it had seized in June. The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland. In a few weeks of fighting in Syria Isis has established itself as the dominant force in the Syrian opposition, routing the official al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor and executing its local commander as he tried to flee. In northern Syria some five thousand Isis fighters are using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army in Mosul to besiege half a million Kurds in their enclave at Kobani on the Turkish border. In central Syria, near Palmyra, Isis fought the Syrian army as it overran the al-Shaer gasfield, one of the largest in the country, in a surprise assault that left an estimated three hundred soldiers and civilians dead. Repeated government counter-attacks finally retook the gasfield but Isis still controls most of Syria’s oil and gas production. The Caliphate may be poor and isolated but its oil wells and control of crucial roads provide a steady income in addition to the plunder of war.

Tariq Ali, Patrick Cockburn: The Rise of ISIS and the Origins of the New Middle East War (CounterPunch)

The unity between the Sunni and Shia resistance to the Americans was always tentative, although taken very seriously by the Americans. I mean, the memoirs of American generals at the time said they were really worried that these two groups would unite in resisting the occupation. And it’s perhaps one of the many disasters to have happened to Iraq that they didn’t unite, that they remained sectarian, in fact remained more sectarian, on the Sunni side.

Peter Harling: IS back in business (Monde diplomatique)

The so-called Islamic State (IS) — the jihadist movement also known as ISIL or ISIS and by the derogatory acronym Da’ish in Arabic — now controls much of northeast Syria and northwest Iraq (1). In a region beset with so much confusion, it appears uniquely determined and self-assured. Despite its name, it is in no sense a new state, since it rejects the concept of borders and largely does without institutions. Yet IS tells us much about the Middle East — and especially about its genuine states — as well as about western foreign policy.

Robert Fisk: Bingo! Here’s another force of evil to be ‘vanquished’ (Independent)

Resurrection, reinvention and linguistics. Barack Obama did the lot. And now he’s taking America to war in Syria as well as Iraq. Oh yes, and he’s going to defeat Isis, its “barbarism”, “genocide”, its “warped ideology” – until the bad guys are “vanquished from the earth”. What happened to George W Bush?

Robert Fisk: Assad lures President Obama into his web (Independent)
Robert Fisk: Isis isn’t the first group to use the butcher’s knife as an instrument of policy. Nor will it be the last (Independent)

Serge Halimi: The new cold war / Nouvelle guerre froide (Monde diplmatique)

In 1980 Ronald Reagan expressed his idea of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union in one short sentence: “We win, they lose.” Twelve years later, his immediate successor at the White House, George H W Bush, was satisfied that the task had been accomplished: “A world once divided into two armed camps now recognises one, sole and pre-eminent power, the United States of America.” The cold war was officially at an end.
That period too is now over. Its death knell sounded on the day Russia had had enough of “losing” and realised that its ritual humiliation would never come to an end, with one neighbouring country after another being persuaded — or bribed — into joining an economic and military alliance against it.

Tom Parfitt, Gleb Pavlovsky: Putin’s World Outlook (New Left Review)

[This] interview…, conducted in January 2012 by Tom Parfitt, then working for the Guardian in Moscow, has never before been published. It is a remarkable document—arguably the most revealing single account of Putin’s vision of rule, and its roots, to have emerged so far. From late 1999 to 2011, Pavlovsky was a key adviser to Putin in the management of Russian opinion—one of the regime’s two leading ‘political technologists’, along with Vladislav Surkov.

Lee Fang: Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits? (Nation)

If you read enough news and watch enough cable television about the threat of the Islamic State, the radical Sunni Muslim militia group better known simply as IS, you will inevitably encounter a parade of retired generals demanding an increased US military presence in the region. They will say that our government should deploy, as retired General Anthony Zinni demanded, up to 10,000 American boots on the ground to battle IS. Or as in retired General Jack Keane’s case, they will make more vague demands, such as for “offensive” air strikes and the deployment of more military advisers to the region.
But what you won’t learn from media coverage of IS is that many of these former Pentagon officials have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world. Ramping up America’s military presence in Iraq and directly entering the war in Syria, along with greater military spending more broadly, is a debatable solution to a complex political and sectarian conflict. But those goals do unquestionably benefit one player in this saga: America’s defense industry.

Nermeen Shaikh, Amy Goodman, Lee Fang: Conflicts of Interest Exposed for TV Guests Backing Military Action (Democracy Now)
AP: Anti-Islamic ads to appear on NYC transit (Haaretz)

Anti-Islamic ads will begin appearing on 100 New York City buses and two subway entrances next week, but transit officials have rejected an ad from the same group that includes the phrase “Killing Jews.” …
The agency says it rejected an ad with the quote “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah” because it could incite violence.

Robert Fisk: Israel’s ‘land for lives’ is theft. Pure and simple (Independent)

So a bit more of Palestine has slidden down the plughole. A thousand more acres of Palestinian land stolen by the Israeli government – for “appropriation” is theft, is it not? – and the world has made the usual excuses. The Americans found it “counter-productive” to peace, which is probably a bit less forceful than its reaction would be if Mexico were to bite off a 1,000-acre chunk of Texas and decided to build homes there for its illegal immigrants in the US. But this is “Palestine” (inverted commas more necessary than ever) and Israel has been getting away with theft, albeit not on quite this scale – it is the biggest land heist in 30 years – ever since it signed up to the Oslo agreement in 1993.

Gideon Levy: War? What war? Gaza gets forgotten in a hurry (Haaretz)

Even if we put aside the moral blindness in Israel, which wasn’t shocked by a single event during the fighting, it’s impossible to comprehend the complacency afterwards…
Gaza hasn’t forgotten. There’s a whole list of people who can never forget: the 1,500 orphaned children; the 3,000 wounded children; the 1,000 crippled children; the 110,000 residents still crowded in UNRWA shelters in inhumane conditions; the tenants of the 18,000 buildings destroyed or badly damaged, leaving 2.5 million tons of debris nobody knows what to do with; the 450,000 people without water and the 360,000 who, according to the World Health Organization, are suffering from PTSD after our bombardments. None of these people can be expected to forgive, and this isn’t the first time this has happened.

Michel Réal: The forgotten alliance (Monde diplomatique)

The USSR was central to the adoption of the UN plan to partition Palestine on 29 November 1947. Besides its own vote, it also delivered those of its satellites, with the (still unexplained) exception of Yugoslavia. It also provided Israel with the resources it needed most — people and arms…
Moscow also supported Israel in another aspect of its demographic battle: the homogenisation of its population, which led to the departure — mainly through expulsion — of over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs. The USSR absolved Israel of responsibility and blamed the British. In 1948 the Soviet Union voted against UN resolution 194 on the possible return of Palestinian refugees…
In this first phase, from 1941 to 1951, Israel received support from the USSR that went beyond its expectations — without having to sacrifice the backing of western nations, especially the US.
However, subsequent episodes caused discord and led to Russo-Israeli diplomatic relations being severed in February 1953…
Stalin’s death on 5 March 1953 ended the tensions between the countries and halted the campaign against Soviet Jews. Diplomatic relations were restored in July, but there was no return to the golden age of 1947-49, and the war of June 1967, in which Russia supported Egypt and its Arab allies, led to a second break in diplomatic relations. They were only restored in 1991, just a few months before the demise of the USSR.

Igor Delanoë: Unexpected allies (Monde diplomatique)

About 15% of Israel’s population have direct Russian roots, and the pragmatic alliance between the countries in trade and diplomacy is changing the balance of power in the region.

Zeev Sternhell: It’s the colonialism they hate, not Jews (Haaretz)

Most Europeans do not doubt the Jews’ right to an independent state, but they vehemently object to a reality in which we are keeping masses of people under occupation and consciously trampling their basic rights.

Emily Morris: Unexpected Cuba (New Left Review)

What is the verdict on Cuba’s economy, nearly a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet bloc? The story generally told is a simple one, with a clear message. It describes a cyclical alternation of government policy between moments of pragmatic capitulation to market forces, which account for any progress, and periods of ideological rigidity and re-assertion of state control, which account for all economic difficulties.

Robert Fisk: Briton at the heart of Bahrain’s brutality rule (Independent)

IAN Stewart MacWalter Henderson has torturers on his staff. In the embattled state of Bahrain, he is the most feared of all secret policemen, the General Director of Security and head of the State Investigation Department, a 67-year-old ex-British police superintendent whose officers routinely beat prisoners, both in the basements of the SIS offices and in the al- Qalaa jail. Leaders of the Bahraini opposition believe he is the power behind the throne of Sheikh Issa bin Salman al-Khalifa, and they may well be right.

Rob Crawford: The CIA, the President, and the Senate’s Torture Report (CounterPunch)