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.”

Iran | Congo–Rwanda–Uganda | Egypt | Venezuela | Germany

Julian Borger, Saeed Kamali Dehghan: Iran seals nuclear deal with west in return for sanctions relief (Guardian)

The difficulties facing the negotiators in the coming months were highlighted by the different interpretations Kerry and Zarif took on the fiercely disputed issue of whether the deal represented a recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium in principle. Zarif was insistent that it did because it was based on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which guarantees the right to a peaceful nuclear programme. Kerry said that neither the NPT nor Sunday’s deal specifies a right to enrichment.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Wikisource)

Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination …

Harriet Sherwood: Israel condemns Iran nuclear deal as ‘historic mistake’ (Guardian)

Ismael Hossein-Zadeh: Why the Iran Nuclear Talks Failed (CounterPunch)

The three day nuclear negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of world powers that started on November 7th came to an unsuccessful end when, apparently, France balked at the proposed interim deal as not sufficiently controlling Iran’s nuclear technology. Whether the French objected independently or as part of a good cop bad cop game to sabotage the proposed deal is of secondary importance. The more important point is that Western nuclear powers backed-off from their own demands and proposals despite the fact that they represented a number of significant one-sided concessions by the Iranian negotiators.

Ann Garrison, Jean-Mobert N’Senga: Why is DRC “Negotiating” With M23, Not Rwanda and Uganda? (CounterPunch)

Anyone who’s paid any serious attention to the conflict between the Congolese army and the M23 militia in eastern Congo, knows that the M23 were never “Congolese rebels,” as AP, Reuters, and the rest of the corporate press have agreed to identify them. M23 has been fighting under Rwandan command, in consultation with top Ugandan officials, with support, recruits, and conscripts from Rwanda and Uganda, for the territorial claims of the Rwandan and Ugandan regimes, as were M23′s previous incarnations, the RCD and the CNDP. …
So why isn’t Congo at the table with Uganda and Rwanda, aside from the fact that Rwanda and Uganda have no legitimate territorial claims within the borders of the DRC? And/or the fact that Uganda and Rwanda are both longstanding “military partners” of the U.S., which makes the truth both inconvenient and embarrassing in Washington D.C.?

Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Nermeen Sheikh, Amy Goodman: As New Protest Law Looms, Egypt Faces Harsher Authoritarian Order Than the Revolution Overthrew (Democracy Now)

[T]he military and the Muslim Brotherhood have acted as two juggernauts in the Egyptian body politic. They’re both characterized by patriarchy and secrecy and mendacity, and they’ve both, you know, ripped apart Egypt’s social fabric as they struggle for power. And I think a lot of groups felt pushed out of this discourse when these two big juggernauts came to a clash, to a head. Morsi and the Brotherhood governed in a very majoritarian style. They alienated people across the political spectrum. They encouraged and wanted a brutal security sector. They encouraged the killing of protesters. And so, when the parts of the deep state, the police and the army, that they tried to placate—they really did try to bring them on their side and be a part of a new elite and harness the state instead of reform it—when those elements turned on them, there was no one standing by them. And so, people have been watching this killing. Of course, they condemn this level of violence, but it’s a very complicated and difficult situation right now in Egypt.

Chris Gilbert: Refrigerator Wars in Venezuela (CounterPunch)

Importers in Venezuela bring in goods with cheap dollars that they obtain through the state – dollars that come from the petroleum rent. They then mark up the goods 200% to 1000%. The government’s idea is to limit the markup to 30%.

Noam Chomsky, Chris Steele: There’s Always a Class War Going On (CounterPunch)

Well, there’s always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious—they’re constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized.

Joachim Jachnow: What’s Become of the German Greens? (New Left Review)

Once pillars of the peace movement, Die Grünen are now cheerleaders for Western military intervention. Joachim Jachnow’s cursus vitae of the movement—diverse origins, ideological rifts, shifting social bases—explains the transformation.

Trademark Bully Jenzabar Ordered To Pay $500,000 In Attorney Fees Over Its Unrelenting Attack On Documentary Filmmakers (techdirt)

The central element of abuse of process is the use of litigation for an ulterior purpose — that is, a purpose other than to achieve relief for the wrong alleged. The overall record of this case leaves no doubt that that is exactly what Jenzabar did; it subjected Long Bow to protracted and costly litigation not to protect the good will of its trademark from misappropriation, but to suppress criticism of Jenzabar’s principals and its corporate practices. …
Jenzabar’s multiple and shifting legal and factual theories, asserted at the various stages of the case, support the same conclusion, as does its objection to pro hac vice admission of the lawyer who assumed Long Bow’s defense after it had exhausted its resources. In this regard, the differences in economic power between the parties is one of many circumstances that tends to confirm the conclusion that Jenzabar engaged in extortionate conduct, making this case exceptional.

Syria | Mali | Nigeria | Uganda | Britain | Palestine | Israel-Iran

As‘ad Abukhalil: Opposition to the Syrian Opposition: Against the Syrian National Council (Jadaliyya)

The Syrian people have every right to protest, peacefully and violently, against the brutal regime. But let us be clear; the Syrian regime has no right to stay in power, and this was true even before it began using violence to quell the uprising. And let us be clear; the Syrian regime is incapable of reforming itself.
It is rather foolish to wait for a group to ascend to power before criticizing it. There was no mystery as to the intentions and agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafis or even the Khomeini movement, before their taking the reigns of power. Similarly, the adversaries of the Ba’ath Party began opposing it long before the former began conspiring to seize power by force. Today, it is imperative that an opposition to the Syrian National Council (SNC) begins (and to the power behind it and underneath it) before they get a chance to rule Syria. This North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-supported movement does not really differ from the NATO-supported movement that served as a tool of NATO in Libya.

Vijay Prashad: Counterterrorism’s blindness: Mali and the US (Pambazuka)
Teju Cole: The White Savior Industrial Complex (Atlantic)
Max Fisher: The Soft Bigotry of Kony 2012 (Atlantic)

Tariq Ali: Born Again! George Galloway Stuns Labor, Shakes Up Britain (CounterPunch)

Akiva Eldar: Israel Defense Ministry plan earmarks 10 percent of West Bank for settlement expansion / מאות אלפי דונמים בשטחי הגדה המערבית מופו להרחבת התנחלויות (Haaretz)
Christoph Sydow: Israel will Siedlungsbau massiv ausweiten (Spiegel)
Ben White: Plan for Negev mass expulsions moves forward (Electronic Intifada)
Uri Avnery: The New Mandela (CounterPunch)
Mark Perry: Israel’s Secret Staging Ground (Foreign Policy)

U.S. officials believe that the Israelis have gained access to airbases in Azerbaijan. Does this bring them one step closer to a war with Iran?

Israel sucht Kampfbasis in Aserbaidschan (Spiegel)

Alexander Cockburn: You Really Think the Killers of Trayvon Martin and Those 16 Afghan Villagers Will Ever Do Time? (CounterPunch)