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[l] at 7/12/24 10:04am
The election campaign between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump is heating up. Polls show that issues like the U.S. economy, immigration, whether Trump will be incarcerated and whether Biden is mentally fit for office are at the forefront of most Americans’ minds. Yet a significant issue that could have far-reaching consequences for the American people and the world is being almost entirely overlooked. Neither candidate has thoroughly addressed the risks of a new conflagration in the Red Sea, one which could rival the disastrous U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the issue of Gaza garnered predictable pledges from both candidates to protect Israel at all costs, little scrutiny has been given to the potential risk of a new U.S.-led war, nor the consequences it could have on American interests and the lives of U.S. service members. Forces opposed to Israeli and U.S. actions in the Middle East are intensifying operations, developing vast arsenals of weapons designed to dull the qualitative edge of Western military might and strengthening ties between Washingtons disparate adversaries, particularly Russia. Lying on the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, perhaps more than any other nation, has openly supported Palestines struggle against Israeli occupation since the devastating war on Gaza began on October 7. Yemeni citizens are so concerned about a possible American intervention in their country, about stopping the genocide in Gaza and about confronting what they see as illegal U.S. and U.K. aggression near their borders that they still gather in the hundreds of thousands every weekend to express their dismay. Yemeni military forces, volunteers, political parties, and tribal organizations are preparing to face what they believe are impending new U.S. and Israeli ventures in their region. They are particularly concerned about the possibility of an Israeli invasion of Lebanon with American participation, which could trigger unprecedented attacks on American interests and bases in the region. Ansar Allah, known in the West as the Houthis, takes Israeli threats against Lebanon seriously and is preparing militarily to participate in its defense. High-ranking Ansar Allah officials told MintPress News that they consider any Israeli or U.S. attack on Hezbollah as an attack on Yemen itself. Ansar Allahs response, according to official sources, will involve targeting U.S. and Israeli assets in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The group also plans to target Washington and Londons interests across the Middle East and, if needed, to deploy battle-hardened ground troops to conflict zones. These fighters, alongside thousands of partisans from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, and some Arab Gulf countries, have pledged to liberate Israeli-occupied areas of northern Palestine. A high-ranking source in Ansar Allah stated that the organization is prepared to send fighters to any country, whether to defeat Israel, liberate Palestinian lands, or defend any Arab country, including Lebanon.   “Most Intense Combat Since WWII” Pledges of mutual defense by Ansar Allah come as Yemen is undergoing a campaign to bolster local industrial capability and self-sufficiency amidst a near-total blockade by the U.S., ongoing American and British airstrikes on Yemen, growing popular discontent with American policies and a rising sense of patriotism and solidarity toward Palestine and other Arab countries. Ansar Allah recently unveiled an advanced unmanned surface vessel (USV), colloquially known as a drone boat, equipped with warheads that they say are capable of sinking merchant and military vessels. Dubbed Tufan al-Modammer (Flood of Destruction), the ship is cost-effective compared to the aerial drones and ballistic missiles that comprise much of Yemen’s arsenal. It carries a 1,000- to 1,500-kilogram warhead, sails at 45 nautical miles per hour (over 83 km/h), and can perform missions in all maritime conditions. It is also equipped with advanced technology, featuring both manual and remote control capabilities, and can evade radar systems. Before this, the Yemeni army officially revealed that they possessed hypersonic missiles and began deploying them after launching production lines for these advanced, difficult-to-intercept weapons. On June 27, Yemen’s Armed Forces announced a hypersonic ballistic missile, identified as Hatem-2, targeting the vessel MSC SARAH V in a video released by the Yemeni army media. The Hatem-2 missile features solid-fuel propulsion and an intelligent control system, with multiple generations offering different ranges. Following the announcement, the head of Ansar Allah, Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, issued a stern warning to U.S. aircraft carriers against approaching Yemeni waters. He stated, “We say from now on that the arrival of any new aircraft carrier in the Red Sea will make it a target for our armed forces, and if the new aircraft carrier wants to venture, get involved, and get into an impasse like the Eisenhower was, it will be exposed to danger and advanced missile capabilities that cannot be avoided.” Violent battles between U.S. aircraft carriers and Yemeni forces in the Red Sea can be likened to “a game of cat and mouse,” with Ansar Allah relentlessly chasing down their locations and targeting them, and the aircraft carrier is constantly moving and changing location to avoid being hit. In a televised speech broadcast live from the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, the leader of Ansar Allah Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said: Battles in the Red Sea have attested to the fact that U.S. aircraft carriers are an obsolete weapons system and are not worth spending money on. He confirmed that Yemeni forces are employing more anti-ship ballistic missiles with pinpoint accuracy. In facing Ansar Allah, the U.S. Navy has admitted facing the most “intense combat” since World War II. On June 30, CBS News reported on the crew of the destroyer the USS Carney, which withdrew from the Red Sea and returned to Florida last May. Commander Jeremy Robertson told CBS then, “We are seeing a target heading towards us at a speed of Mach 5 or 6 (Mach equals 1,235 kilometers). You only have between 15 and 30 seconds to confront them.” He stressed the difficulty of “protecting commercial ships from Houthi attacks,” noting that the battles fought in the Red Sea “have not occurred the likes of them since World War II.” The military spokesman for Ansar Allah released a statement saying it had hit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the aircraft carrier leading America’s response to Yemen’s operations, but that the US is keeping this secret.   Ukraine War Enters the Middle East The preparations and coordination by Yemeni forces come amid ongoing confrontations between the Yemeni Army and American troops in the Red Sea. The situation may worsen for American forces due to strengthening ties between Yemen and Russia. President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow could provide long-range weapons to others to strike Western targets, responding to NATO allies allowing Ukraine to use its arms to attack Russian territory. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and special envoy to the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov, met with the head of the Yemeni negotiating delegation, Muhammad Abdel Salam, to discuss the situation in the Red Sea and Israeli aggression on Gaza. Bogdanov condemned ongoing American and British strikes on Yemen and emphasized the importance of accelerating broad national dialogue among Yemenis under United Nations auspices. Ansar Allah welcomed the announcement. “The Yemeni army has the intention and audacity to target the most important U.S. vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, including aircraft carriers and destroyers, which are viewed in Yemen as military bases to attack the Yemeni mainland. The talk is not only about hitting or damaging them but also about sinking them. This could happen if the Yemeni forces obtain weapons that achieve this goal,” an Ansar Allah military official told MintPress. Recently, the Yemeni military took another step up the ladder by sinking ships instead of merely disabling them. مشاهد استهداف سفينة (TUTOR) بزورقين مسيرين في البحر الأحمر وإغراقها.. والقادم أعظم.. ولدينا مزيد.. pic.twitter.com/sppLQKzQr8 — العميد يحيى سريع (@army21ye) June 19, 2024 The source went on to say, “In terms of interests, this is the best opportunity for Moscow to take revenge on Washington for its support for Ukraine. Given the extent of the suffering that both the Palestinian and Yemeni people are experiencing and the ongoing raids, Yemeni officials will not hesitate to accept any military support from Washington’s enemies. Thanks to American politicians.” The Yemeni military, which has widespread support across the region due to its blockade on Israel, has maintained a low tempo of action but recently increased its attacks. It still has rungs left to ascend on the escalatory ladder, including using advanced weapons that can sink a destroyer or aircraft carrier. Meanwhile, commercial vessels signaling “no contact with Israel” or those owned or flagged countries not actively supporting Israel’s actions in Gaza safely pass through. Dozens of countries have already contacted Sana’a, expressing that they do not support genocide in Gaza or Israel at all. However, the costs imposed on maritime shipping are the fault of nations backing Israel. “If the genocide is halted, the blockade ends. This is not complicated.”   Steps in the Escalatory Ladder Given that the siege and Israeli war on civilians in the Gaza Strip continues, a high-ranking Ansar Allah military source told MintPress that Yemeni forces are about to announce the fifth phase of support operations for Gaza. According to the source, the next phase will differ entirely in its objectives and operations. Washington was not only wrong in assuming that the presence of a U.S.-led naval coalition would frighten Ansar Allah but also wrong in conducting 450 indiscriminate bombings in Yemen. Instead of dissuading the Yemeni military, these actions have infuriated Yemeni civilians. Ansar Allah’s announcement comes at a time when both the Yemeni army and the Iraqi resistance launched joint operations against vital Israeli facilities and Israel-linked ships in the Mediterranean Sea. All technical and logistical preparations have been completed, and a series of field experiments targeting Israeli interests in the occupied territories and the Mediterranean Sea have been conducted. The latest operation was on July 2, when the Yemeni army and the Iraqi resistance targeted a vital site in Haifa with winged missiles. Additionally, the Waller oil ship was targeted in the Mediterranean Sea on June 28. The first joint operation was on June 6, when two ships carrying military equipment for Israel were targeted in Haifa. It is expected that many armed and well-trained groups, particularly those from countries that blame the United States for the ongoing genocide in Gaza, will join in operations against both Washington and Tel Avivs interests. The joint operations room for the Yemeni army and the Iraqi resistance marks a significant shift in deterring Israel and holds strategic value. A military source in Ansar Allah stated, The joint operation aims to reunite the region, rearrange its geography, and unify it after long-standing divisions among Arab countries. Israeli news channel i24NEWS reported that Yemen is expanding its operations into North Africa, including Sudan, Egypt, and Morocco, with the intent to target Israel from these regions. According to the report, Ansar Allah is allegedly attempting to transfer weapons and military forces to these areas. Exclusive to i24NEWS: What the military censorship has allowed to be published is that the Houthis have begun to expand their influence in the North African region with the aim of targeting #Israel. There have recently been indications that the Houthis, who operate from… https://t.co/j7SJMZKAxS — Middle East Observer (@ME_Observer_) June 30, 2024   Saudi Arabia Risks It All Yemenis continue to suffer under intense U.S. pressure aimed at forcing them to abandon their support for Palestinians. This situation is compounded by Saudi Arabia allegedly retreating from its commitments to de-escalate hostilities. The threats to Yemeni banks, the closure of the SWIFT system, and the restriction of imports to the port of Aden have effectively shut down the port of Hodeidah. Additionally, the recent closure of Sanaa airport has stranded Yemeni pilgrims in Mecca. The Yemeni army has given Saudi Arabia a deadline to demonstrate good intentions for peace after evidence emerged of Saudi Arabias active participation in the U.S. campaign against Yemen. The campaign seeks to pressure Ansar Allah to halt its operations in support of Gaza. A military source reported that a U.S. KC-135R refueling aircraft took off from Saudi Prince Sultan Air Base on July 3, heading towards the Red Sea. Ansar Allah has previously warned Saudi Arabia against involving itself in American-led aggression, stressing that such actions would face a severe response. The escalating tensions come at a critical time for the region, as Yemens internal and external conflicts continue to wreak havoc on its civilian population. The situation is further exacerbated by the blockade imposed on Yemen, cutting off essential supplies and humanitarian aid and leading to a worsening humanitarian crisis. Yemens demands that Saudi Arabia honor its peace commitments underscore the fragile nature of the regions geopolitical landscape. With the added pressure from the United States, Yemen remains resolute in its support for Palestinian causes despite the heavy toll it has taken on its own people. The coming days will be crucial in determining whether Saudi Arabia will respond to Yemens ultimatum and take steps toward de-escalation or if the region will see further conflict and instability. Feature photo | Ansar Allah supporters shout slogans during a rally against the U.S.-led strikes against Yemen and in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Sanaa, Yemen, May 10, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sanaa. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media. The post Yemen Warms to Russia Amid Plans for Scorched Earth Policy Against Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, Top Story, Ansar Allah, Biden Trump election, Gaza War, hypersonic missiles, Israel, Israeli aggression, Middle East tensions, naval blockade, Red Sea conflict, regional alliances, Russia support, Saudi Arabia, U.S. foreign policy, U.S. military, Yemen, Yemen defense strategy.]

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[l] at 7/11/24 5:30pm
Conventional wisdom holds that if you want to change a system, you must do so from the inside. It is the most effective and responsible way to implement institutional change. While this is an expansive subject ranging from perceptions of social institutions the established patterns of beliefs, behaviors and relationships that organize social life to governmental organizations that oversee the massive cogs of U.S. foreign policy, an overriding conclusion is that any systemic change takes time. The frustration over the Biden Administration’s patent unwillingness to check Israeli violence in Gaza in any meaningful way has brought the question of institutional change into a sharp focus. On November 13, the Guardian published an article describing a memo wherein 100 U.S. government officials from the State Department and International Development Agency criticized the White House for “disregarding the lives of Palestinians” and showing an “unwillingness to de-escalate” in the Israel-Hamas war. The heedless violence, the disregard for international law, and the rank hypocrisy manifested between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Palestine have undoubtedly complicated the jobs of the U.S. diplomatic corps. According to a Politico article published the week prior, a memo stated that the distance between America’s private and public messaging “contributes to regional public perceptions that the United States is a biased and dishonest actor, which at best does not advance, and at worst harms, U.S. interests worldwide.” State Department officials have resigned and described submitting complaints to the Department of State dissent channel. Likewise, a string of service members in the United States Armed Forces have filed for conscientious objector status. Those who detest war and champion diplomatic solutions applaud these symbolic acts of dissent and resistance. Yet, the question remains: what do they really accomplish in terms of influencing a demonstrably self-destructive foreign policy stance? Upon examining the turnover rate in President Biden’s a-team and cabinet, we see that senior position resignations are no greater than those of prior administrations, even accounting for this turbulent past year, and are significantly below former President Trump’s. Ultimately, it is difficult to gauge the internal political climate within an administration from the outside. Tonight on State of Play, we interview Maryam Hassanein A political appointee at the U.S. Interior Department and the most recent to resign as the Biden Administration continues to fund and enable Israels genocide of Palestinians. Special Assistant and Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, Hassanein said in a statement last week: Marginalized communities in our country have long been denied the justice they deserve. I joined the Biden-Harris administration with the belief that my voice and diverse perspective would lend a hand in the pursuit of that justice.” Join us on MintPress News for a conversation about institutional dissent and internal disillusionment and whether or not this will affect shifting policy in the long term. Greg Stoker is a former US Army Ranger with a background in human intelligence collection and analysis. After serving four combat deployments in Afghanistan, he studied anthropology and International Relations at Columbia University. He is currently a military and geopolitical analyst, and a social media “influencer,” though he hates the term. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, be sure to check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. The post Biden Appointee Maryam Hassanein Reveals Reasons for Resignation Over Gaza Policy appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: National, Top Story, Biden administration Gaza conflict, Biden foreign policy Gaza, Biden Gaza policy criticism, internal dissent Biden administration, Israel-Hamas conflict U.S. response, Maryam Hassanein, Maryam Hassanein interview, State Department resignations Gaza, U.S. government internal backlash, U.S. officials dissent Gaza, U.S. soldiers object Gaza war]

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[l] at 7/11/24 8:15am
A second video of Hezbollah drone reconnaissance was released this Tuesday, detailing 23 Israeli military and intelligence sites in the illegally occupied Golan Heights region. Not only does this demonstrate the Lebanese armed groups Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capabilities, but it also indicates future targets and the depth of knowledge possessed on what they seek to hit. On June 18, Hezbollah’s military media released its first aerial reconnaissance sortie carried out by a Hudhud drone over the Haifa Bay area. The video lasted 10 minutes and was edited to point out critical infrastructure that could be targeted if Israel launches its frequently threatened “all-out war” against Lebanon. Not only did this cause hysteria among Israelis living in Haifa, but it also triggered a series of Israeli media outlets and institutes to conduct analyses of various aspects of what was shown. #بالفيديو | الإعلام الحربي في المقاومة الإسلامية ينشر مشاهد إستطلاع جوي لقواعد استخبارات ومقرات قيادية ومعسكرات في #الجولان العربي السوري المحتل عادت بها طائرات القوة الجوية في المقاومة الإسلامية.#الميادين #الهدهد pic.twitter.com/VImIZ2GYXP — قناة الميادين (@AlMayadeenNews) July 9, 2024 One such analysis was provided by the Alma Research and Education Center, run by Israeli Reserve Army Lieutenant Colonel Sarit Zehavi, which attempted to work out what kind of drone was used by Hezbollah and whether the footage was taken over the past weeks or months, failing to ascertain much at all. The lack of knowledge from Israeli organizations (with ties to its military and who brief U.S. politicians) was telling. What has not been disputed are Hezbollah’s claims that the sites depicted included an industrial site run by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., Iron Dome platforms, missile warehouses, and missile component manufacturing sites. Commenting on the release of the first Hudhud footage, the Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, addressed the Israeli attempt to understand what they had all witnessed and stated that the footage was all taken from a single drone on one journey and that some two hours of total video were collected. The nine-minute Hudhud part two video, despite featuring a region less sensitive to the average Israeli, is even more of a cause for concern to their military. While the illegally occupied Golan Heights represents a skiing holiday destination in the minds of regular Israelis, it is a pivotal region for military operations, intelligence gathering and defending against cross-border operations. In the new video, the drone traveled at least 46 kilometers deep into Israeli-held territory, mapping out “six strategic sites for electronic surveillance, in addition to various military sites that were set up in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas-led assault on southern occupied Palestine. The second episode covers the occupied Golan heights. https://t.co/3GfvcgVa6g pic.twitter.com/L232gRKo34 — Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) July 9, 2024 Hezbollah also revealed that this was not the first time it had conducted reconnaissance over these areas. Corroborating this claim is the fact that some of the sites shown in the video were previously targeted by the Lebanese armed group, including the Mount Hermon military base. In fact, on the same day that it published the new Hudhud drone footage, Hezbollah fired dozens of Katyusha rockets in response to an Israeli airstrike that assassinated a member of the group in Syria the day prior, killing two Israelis in the Golan Heights when their vehicle was struck. During Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah’s latest speech this Wednesday, he stated that “the enemy [Israel] is terrified, not only of the resistance entering the Galilee but of the mere idea of infiltration, prompting them to enhance their human presence to compensate for technological losses.” Mocking the Israeli military and political leadership, Nasrallah said of their demands to move Hezbollah forces back from the border that “the enemy initially talked about pushing Hezbollah 3km away from the borders. We revealed our Kornet weapon with an 8km range, so the enemy wanted to push us 8km away. Then we revealed our al-Mass missile with a 10km range, and now the enemy wants to push us 10km away”. If Israel launches an offensive against Lebanon, it has been demonstrated that Hezbollah possesses not only the fighters and offensive capabilities to respond successfully but also the intelligence capabilities. Operation al-Aqsa Flood, led by Hamas on October 7, demonstrated an intimate knowledge, by the groups armed wing, of sensitive military sites belonging to the Israeli southern command and led to its temporary collapse that day. Hamas has nowhere near the capabilities of Hezbollah, which has demonstrated its ability to operate UAVs for reconnaissance purposes deep into Israeli-held territory without even being engaged by Israel’s air defense systems. Although the element of surprise may not be there in the event of Hezbollah attacks, the wealth of its knowledge and ability to hit targets it has acquired supersedes that of Hamas, which is a clear cause for concern to an Israeli military that has had many of its monitoring positions gutted by over 2,000 attacks by Hezbollah since October 8. Feature photo | A screenshot from video released by Hezbollah and taken by a Hezbollah reconnaissance drone shows sensitive Israeli military sites. Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe.’ Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47 The post What Hezbollah’s New Drone Footage Reveals About Israels Impenetrable Defenses appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, drone warfare in Middle East, Golan Heights surveillance, Hezbollah Hudhud drone, Hezbollah intelligence capabilities, Hezbollah military strategy, Hezbollah reconnaissance footage, Hezbollah UAV, Israel Lebanon tensions, Israeli defense infrastructure., Israeli defense weaknesses, Israeli military sites, Israeli occupied territories, Lebanese armed groups, military drone technology, Robert Inlakesh analysis]

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[l] at 7/11/24 8:14am
As NATO wrapped up its Summit and Biden held a crucial press conference, the media frenzy focused on Biden’s age and cognitive abilities. Is he too old and disoriented to lead the “free world”? Did he get through his press conference without stumbling too many times? Lost in the media coverage about the Summit, however, has been a serious discussion of NATO’s advanced age and its ability to lead the “free world.” At 75, NATO has not aged well. Back in 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron was already sounding the alarm, accusing NATO of being “brain dead.” While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given NATO a new lease on life, NATO’s embrace of Ukraine makes the conflict–and the world–more dangerous. Let’s remember why NATO was founded. As the contours of the Cold War were emerging after the devastation of WWII, 10 European nations, along with the U.S. and Canada, came together in 1949 to create an alliance that would deter Soviet expansion, stop the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encourage European political integration. Or, as the alliance’s first Secretary General Lord Ismay quipped, its purpose was “to keep the Soviets out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” It has been decades since the Soviet Union disintegrated, and European nations have been well integrated. So why is NATO still hanging on? When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, along with its military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, NATO could have–and should have–declared victory and folded. Instead, it expanded from 16 members in 1991 to 32 members today. Its eastward expansion not only violated the promises made by Secretary of State James Baker to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, but it was a grave mistake. U.S. diplomat George Keenan warned in 1997 that “expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold-War era.” Indeed, while NATO expansion does not justify Russia’s 2022 illegal invasion of Ukraine, it did provoke Russia and inflame tensions. NATO members also played a key role in Ukraine’s 2014 coup, the training and arming of Ukrainian forces in preparation for war with Russia, and the quashing of negotiations that could have ended the war in its first two months. After two years of brutal war, the NATO Summit focused on how to shore up Ukraine’s flailing efforts to repel Russia. The insistence on setting up a “Trump-proof” scenario that would guarantee Ukraine billions in military aid for years to come and an “irreversible path” to NATO membership is a guarantee that the war will drag on for years–precisely because NATO membership is Russia’s number one concern. There was no talk at the Summit about ending the war by moving towards a ceasefire and peace talks. Why? Because NATO is a military alliance. The only tool it has is a hammer. We have seen NATO illegally and unsuccessfully wield that hammer in country after country over the past 30 years. From Bosnia and Serbia to Afghanistan and Libya, NATO has justified this violence and instability as defending “the Rules-Based Order” while repeatedly violating the core precepts of the UN Charter. NATO is now a military behemoth with partners far beyond the North Atlantic that encircle the globe from Colombia to Mongolia to Australia. It has proven to be an aggressive alliance that initiates and escalates wars without international consensus, exacerbates global instability, and prioritizes arms deals over humanitarian needs. NATO provides a cover for the U.S. to place nuclear weapons in five European nations, bringing us closer to nuclear war in violation of both the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. NATO is endangering us all in a desperate attempt to reassert U.S. global hegemony in what is now a multipolar world. NATO’s 75th anniversary is an opportune time to assess its outdated worldview and violations of international law. NATO should be laid to rest so we can revitalize and democratize the proper venue for dealing with global conflicts: the United Nations. Feature photo | President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, July 11, 2024. Susan Walsh | AP Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the women-led peace group CODEPINK and co-founder of the human rights group Global Exchange. She is the author of 11 books, including War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, coauthored with Nicolas J.S. Davies. Her most recent book, coauthored with David Swanson, is NATO: What You Need to Know. The post Like Biden, NATO Is Aged and Unfit to Lead appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Top Story, global peace initiatives, Medea Benjamin NATO, multipolar world NATO., NATO and international law, NATO and Russia, NATO and Ukraine, NATO dissolution, NATO expansion, NATO global conflicts, NATO history, NATO humanitarian impact, NATO military alliance, NATO violations, United Nations vs NATO]

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[l] at 7/8/24 7:39pm
The far-right party experienced a significant loss in the French election over the weekend, and officials in both the Israeli and French diplomatic corps are criticizing the conduct of Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli during the French election campaign. Ever since French President Macron called a Snap Election, minister Chikli was publicly and vocally in support of Marie Le Pen and her far-right National Rally Party, saying that Le Pen as president would be “excellent for Israel” and adding that Netanyahu was of the same opinion. However, when it became clear on Sunday that an alliance of left-wing parties had been victorious, Chikli posted on X that the leader of the New Popular Front, Jean-Luc Melenchon, was “the French version of Jeremy Corby, an Israel Hater in heart and soul who refused to condemn the events of October 7 and to call Hamas a terrorist organization.” As one can imagine, this conduct has damaged Franco/Israeli relations, with one Israeli official characterizing the Diaspora Affairs Ministers behavior as a “diplomatic bomb.” They took this misstep seriously enough to prompt a response from Foreign Minister Israel Katz that “Israel does not intervene in elections in France and respects French democracy – just as we expect other countries to respect Israeli democracy.” This drama, far less scandalous than other diplomatic gaffes surrounding the Israel/Gaza war, is significant nevertheless in that the recognition of Palestinian Statehood was a central promise of the New Popular Front during their campaign. That political party will now be a vocal force within the French Parliament if it manages to stay united and will further increase the socio-cultural normalization of the idea of Palestinian Statehood throughout Europe. France is commonly referred to as one of the Big Four of Western Europe, along with Italy, Germany and the UK the major European powers and the only EU countries individually represented as full members of the G7, the G8, and the G20. Therefore, Israel’s anxiety over losing French support is acute and could signal a future cascade failure in unilateral European support for its military action in Gaza and Southern Lebanon. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, NATO countries have presented a generally united front in terms of funding foreign wars and international sanctions. However, the unforeseen and unprecedented global backlash against Israeli military violence in Gaza and the subsequent mass awakening to Israeli interference in Euro-American governments have contributed to a great polarizing event amongst the Western voting public. The future is difficult to predict, but this much is clear the era of compromise politics is over. The collective West will experience increasing internal strife over these conflicts, highlighting our societal failings, our class differentials, the apparent falsehood of representative democracy, and the perpetuation of conflicts that net the average citizen absolutely nothing. Is the Left on the Rise? Will the United States, forever ironclad in its support of Israel, eventually be at loggerheads with European powers? Join us tonight on State of Play at Mint Press News as we examine the accelerating fragmentation of the trans-Atlantic world. Greg Stoker is a former US Army Ranger with a background in human intelligence collection and analysis. After serving four combat deployments in Afghanistan, he studied anthropology and International Relations at Columbia University. He is currently a military and geopolitical analyst, and a social media “influencer,” though he hates the term. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, be sure to check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. The post Frances Left-Wing Victory: A Blow to Israeli Diplomacy appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Amichai Chikli controversy, Franco-Israeli tensions, French election fallout, Greg Stoker analysis, Israel and Marie Le Pen, Jean-Luc Melenchon victory, Macron's Snap Election, MintPress News State of Play, New Popular Front France, Palestinian statehood Europe]

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[l] at 7/8/24 10:41am
Riots erupted across northern Syria and throughout Turkey on Monday, fuelled by Turkish anti-Syrian sentiment. While social media fuelled hysteria and led to the outburst of violence, the underlying issues on both sides that underpinned the chaos may be indicative of an imminent deal to secure a normalization of ties between Ankara and Damascus. Dozens of Syrians and Turkish soldiers were killed and injured in north-west Syria on Monday after Syrians responded with violent protests against the targeting of refugee communities living in Turkey. Fuelled through social-media-driven allegations regarding the reported sexual abuse of a Turkish child by a Syrian refugee, anti-Syrian mobs took to the streets to attack businesses and assault random people identified as being from Syria. Armed demonstrators and Turkish forces engaged in armed clashes in the city of Afrin, it was later reported in al-Monitor, while exchanges of fire also took place in Jarablos. For some time, a major issue in Turkish politics has been the desire to relocate millions of refugees who fled Syria due to the war that began in 2011 back to their country of origin. A large part of the major push to achieve this goal of repatriating the refugee population has been the growing anti-Syrian and broader anti-Arab sentiments in Turkish society. Turkeys President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has long sought to conclude this issue and pledged to send some 1 million refugees back to Syria last year. The outbreak of violence at the beginning of the week represented a long-festering resentment that has been on the rise against Syrians in Turkey, as well as anger from opposition groups based in north-west Syria towards reports that Ankara was moving towards normalizing ties with Damascus. Last week, Turkish President Erdogan said that he doesnt rule out meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss re-opening ties between both nations, sparking outrage from the range of armed groups that control the north-western Idlib province of Syria. It was therefore not surprising that Syrians, carrying the flag of the countrys opposition, decided to confront Turkish soldiers with weapons along the border area between both nations after protesters took to the streets and flocked to points of contact such as the border. According to a Syrian security source, who chose to remain anonymous due to the issues sensitivity, a normalization agreement is currently being worked on behind the scenes and is allegedly 90% finished. MintPress was informed that a deal mediated by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Iran and Iraq is currently working to normalize ties between Ankara and Damascus comprehensively. The source says that the agreement would be aimed at dealing with the Kurdish issue in north-eastern Syria, equivalent to an Adana 2.0, referencing the 1988 agreement, which coordinated upon the expulsion of the Kurdish PKK party from Syrian territory in collaboration with Turkey. A detail noted to have been discussed was allowing a situation in which Turkey will be able to launch operations against the Kurdish SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] with a depth of 30 km into Syria but in a joint capacity with the Syrian army. In addition to this, there are still discussions ongoing to ensure a Turkish withdrawal will start from north Aleppo and end in Idlib, although the timeline for the withdrawal of forces is yet to be settled. If a deal of this nature is being negotiated as the source suggests, it would be a game-changer on the road to concluding the bloody civil war that has plagued Syria since 2011. Under such an agreement, the US militarys occupation of roughly one-third of Syrian territory will be put to the test, especially if Turkey sends its armed forces further into north-west Syria to fight the SDF that maintains control of the area. When Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in 2018 and Operation Peace Spring in 2019, the US withdrew its forces, abandoning its Kurdish allies, to prevent any conflagration between it and its NATO ally. While talk of Syria-Turkey rapprochement has gone on for years, the recent clashes may make the possibility of such a deal more likely. How such an agreement will play out and whether it leads to further escalation remains to be seen. Feature photo | Syrians participated in the funeral of a man killed during clashes with Turkish forces in Afrin, northern Syria, on July 2, 2024. Rami Alsayed | AP Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe.’ Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47 The post Violence Sweeps Northern Syria and Turkey Amid Diplomatic Shifts appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Ankara Damascus agreement, anti-Syrian violence, Erdogan Assad talks, Khan Younis reinvasion, Middle East diplomacy, military clashes Afrin, social media hysteria, Syrian Democratic Forces, Syrian refugee crisis, Turkey Syria relations]

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[l] at 7/8/24 9:11am
It is clear to at least half the world, some four billion people, that the United States is not the power that it once was… Our reputation is in tatters in the world.” That is what retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson told MintCast host Mnar Adley today. “When you talk about history and the history of empire in particular, what you find are examples of precisely what is happening to us today,” Wilkerson added, noting, in particular, the fall of the Western Roman and Persian empires and how, after they began to teeter, their leadership started to reinforce failures in military operations, in diplomacy and foreign policy in general. “Look at Ukraine. We are reinforcing what is clearly a defeat for NATO, Washington and London (Washington’s poodle). And yet, we are reinforcing. We are sending billions more dollars,” he said, noting that U.S. policy in Gaza and Afghanistan were similar stories. Lawrence Wilkerson served in the Army for 31 years before joining the State Department, where he was Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Yet, in recent years, he has become one of the most vocal critics of American foreign policy. Today, he is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. The military is facing a severe recruitment crisis. Public confidence in the armed forces is at a modern low. According to a November poll, one-third of Americans would actively discourage their friends and family from military service. In 2023, the Army, Navy and Air Force all fell well short of the recruitment goals—a common occurrence in recent years. It appears Generation Z simply does not want to fight. Wilkerson says this has led to a serious dilemma for war planners in Washington. “If the United States were to go to war with China or Russia today, we would lose badly,” he told Adley, stressing that America has neither the mobilization capacity nor the defense industrial base to defeat their largest foes, and certainly not both of them together. If this were the case, the U.S. would likely fall back on its gigantic nuclear arsenal to equalize the playing field. Yet one major nuclear engagement would likely be enough to permanently devastate organized human life on this planet, meaning that the consequences of U.S. imperial decline could hardly be more significant. In today’s interview, Adley and Wilkerson touch on many of the key geopolitical hotspots of the day, including the Israeli assault on Gaza. Wilkerson is horrified by what he has seen there and suggests that U.S. support for Israel is costing Washington dearly on the world stage. Part of the reason why it continues to support Israel’s aggressive maneuvers is the power of the domestic Israel lobby and the extent to which the Apartheid state interferes in U.S. politics. “Israel is the greatest and most dangerous foreign agent operating on US soil. There’s no question about that,” Wilkerson said. Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. The post American Military Crisis: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson Speaks Out appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Top Story, American military recruitment crisis, Gaza conflict analysis, geopolitical hotspots, Israel lobby influence, Lawrence Wilkerson interview, MintPress News, NATO defeat in Ukraine, retired U.S. Army Colonel, U.S. foreign policy failures, U.S. imperial decline]

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[l] at 7/8/24 8:40am
Think Tanks have a benign dictionary definition an organization that gathers groups of interdisciplinary scholars to perform research around particular policies, issues or ideas ranging from social policy to culture and technology. However, the great unspoken negative aspect of think tanks is the power they wield. They control information, shape and legitimize government policy, and serve as a waiting room for politicians out of office. Their established business model sells political influence in Washington and manufactures consent amongst the voting public. The Military Industrial Complex, a voraciously for-profit industry, is the primary donor for many leading think tanks, which engenders a bias toward military solutions and the perpetuation of global war. In this episode of State of Play, we examine the hawkish world of prominent think tanks within the context of the defense industry and the war in Ukraine. How do they function, and how have they influenced US policies towards Russia? Russia is a primary geostrategic adversary of Western global hegemony and has been used as a perennial bogeyman both during and after the fall of the USSR to justify exorbitant defense spending by Washington. Think Thanks, therefore, have an overriding profit incentive to push for a belligerent posture towards Russia as they are inextricably joined to an industry where war or the possibility of war is profitable and peace fails to produce attractive quarterly returns. Let us take the RAND Corporation as a case study. According to their About page, “RAND is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.” However, even a cursory examination of their 2023 fiscal year revenue casts serious doubt on their self-proclaimed “objective analysis.” Over $43 million from the US Army, $50 million from the US Air Force and $68.9 million from the US Secretary of Defense and other national security agencies. There is an inescapable nexus between think tanks, governments and the military-industrial complex. The military, intelligence community, and various governmental departments sponsor think tanks, which in turn advise those institutions with confrontational policy stances. The advisory product of these think tanks is then used to legitimize hawkish policy and the government funding defense contracts. Research and development contracts for next-generation weapons and deterrents, which may never even be used beyond existing theoretically, are the most stable and reliable sources of income for the military-industrial complex. The amount of public money flowing into defense R&D dwarfs the amount spent on other prominent innovation policy tools in the United States. Consent for armed belligerence can be easily manufactured as long as a convenient and established boogeyman exists. In 2019, the RAND Corporation released a report titled “Over Extending and Unbalancing Russia,” espousing the US goal of undermining Russia just as it did the USSR during the Cold War. It is easy to condemn Russian military action in Ukraine, but one must also recognize a bellicose Western foreign policy that bulldozed over very public Russian diplomatic and military redlines. You will never hear of these. Consent and legitimacy for the ongoing proxy war in Ukraine are manufactured and legitimized by the Media and think tanks, portraying the West as all good and Russia as all bad. The truth, however, exists in the gray and is inextricably linked to the profit motive. Join us tonight for an in-depth discussion on the world of think tanks. Greg Stoker is a former US Army Ranger with a background in human intelligence collection and analysis. After serving four combat deployments in Afghanistan, he studied anthropology and International Relations at Columbia University. He is currently a military and geopolitical analyst, and a social media “influencer,” though he hates the term. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, be sure to check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. The post Consent for War: Think Tanks and the Russia-Ukraine Conflict appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, National, Top Story, defense industry funding, Greg Stoker, manufactured consent, military-industrial complex, RAND Corporation, Russia-Ukraine conflict, think-tanks, US defense spending, US foreign policy, war profiteering]

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[l] at 7/3/24 10:50am
Without a sympathetic media, Israel’s powerful military would be next to useless in its attempts to ethnically cleanse Gaza. It relies on crucial Western support for its project, and no one is as important in manufacturing consent for Israel as Rupert Murdoch. The Australian-born press baron has close and extensive personal ties to the Israeli political elite and myriad business connections to the country. He has used his media empire to defend Israel and sing its praises, even amidst an attack on Gaza commonly condemned as genocidal. As such, his holdings effectively serve as an unofficial arm of the Israeli propaganda machine. The Murdoch machine comprises well over 100 newspapers – some of them among the world’s most well-known and influential, as well as dozens of TV channels and a formidable publishing empire. This power allows him to set the political agenda across much of the world. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed that Murdoch was an “unofficial member” of his cabinet and that he was one of the four most powerful men in the United Kingdom.   Political Connections President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has described him as the world’s “most dangerous” individual. His influence on American public life – through ventures like The Wall Street Journal and Fox News – is well documented. Less understood, however, are his close ties to Israel, and in particular, to its political leadership. In 2010, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published a leaked list compiled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of whom he considered his best sources of campaign contributions. Murdoch’s name appears on the list alongside the designation of number two, meaning Netanyahu considered him a close ally and one of the most likely sources of funds. An estimated 98% of Netanyahu’s contributions came from abroad. Did Piers Morgans boss at Talk TV, Rupert Murdoch, fund Benjamin Netanyahu in the past? I show a handwritten note by Netanyahu which suggests he did. pic.twitter.com/ZPMmhPoqin — Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) June 15, 2024 At 93, Murdoch has relinquished much of the day-to-day running of his businesses to his son, Lachlan. Earlier this year, Lachlan traveled to Israel to meet Netanyahu and former prime minister Benny Gantz. While the details of the meetings remain murky, it is clear that support for the Israeli offensive in Gaza and beyond was a principal topic. This was not the first time the younger Murdoch had met Netanyahu, In 2016, he flew to Israel for secret meetings with the prime minister, where, according to local newspaper Haaretz, he attempted to convince Murdoch to purchase Yedioth Ahronoth, and to start a Fox News-style TV channel for Israel. Netanyahu, however, is far from the only prime minister with a close relationship with Murdoch. Ariel Sharon, for instance, has enjoyed a decades-long friendship with the Australian mogul. Murdoch stayed with him on his farm and was treated to a helicopter tour of Israel, where the supposed vulnerability of Israel from its hostile neighbors was stressed.   Economic Ties In addition to his political ties, Murdoch has several economic commitments to Israel. In 2010, he and banking billionaire Lord Jacob Rothschild each purchased equity stakes in Genie Energy and joined the company’s board of directors. While he was on the board, Genie was awarded a contract to drill for oil and gas over approximately 400 square kilometers of Golan Heights, Syrian territory that Israel has illegally occupied since 1967. In effect, Genie was attempting to profit from an occupation deemed illegitimate under international law. Murdoch also owned Israeli software company NDS, which was at the center of a hacking scandal that brought down British television company ITV Digital. NDSs activities helped huge numbers of Britons access paid TV for free, causing the corporation to fold under reduced revenues. Another ethically questionable connection is Murdoch’s reliance on lobbying firm LLM Communications. The billionaire hired the group, co-founded by Lord Jonathan Mendelsohn, to help them overturn British government laws that ensured trade unions could ballot for workplace recognition. Lord Mendelsohn was the chairman of the Israel lobbying group Labour Friends of Israel, which was crucial in smearing and defeating the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong peace activist and proponent of Palestinian rights.   Zionist Hardliner “My ventures in media are not as important to me as spreading my personal political beliefs,” Murdoch said, and supporting Israel and its expansionist policies is one of the core values the Australian has tirelessly worked towards. At a 2009 meeting of the American Jewish Committee, he explained that he saw Israel as the linchpin underwriting Western civilization: In the West, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States. I say to you: maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel… In the end, the Israeli people are fighting the same enemy we are: cold-blooded killers who reject peace… who reject freedom… and who rule by the suicide vest, the car bomb and the human shield”. In 2005, he wrote the foreword to the book, “Israel In The World: Changing Lives Through Innovation,” a fawning tome lionizing Israel as an unqualified success that has built a robust democracy and a vibrant economy despite setbacks and threats from its neighbors. He has also put his money where his mouth is: in 2007, his News Corp business donated to the Jerusalem Foundation, a group that builds illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Murdoch has led the fight against the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, claiming that it represents an “ongoing war against the Jews.” “The war has entered a new phase,” he said. “This is the soft war that seeks to isolate Israel by delegitimizing it. The battleground is everywhere – the media, multinational organizations, NGOs. In this war, the aim is to make Israel a pariah.” He made these comments at an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) event, where the organization presented him with its International Leadership Award. That the ADL, which purports to be a group standing against racism, would honor Murdoch with such an award, despite his networks pumping out relentless bigotry, underlines how little emphasis it places on genuine anti-racism and how much it works to simply promote Israeli interests. The ADL is hardly the only Jewish organization that has heaped praise on the media mogul, however. The Simon Wiesenthal Center decorated him with their humanitarian laureate award; other groups, such as the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the American Jewish Committee, have also sung his praises. The United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York declared him their “humanitarian of the year” at a lavish ceremony, where Henry Kissinger presented him with the award.   Rupert’s Empire Murdoch took over his father’s Adelaide newspaper in 1952 and quickly built a giant global enterprise, particularly across the English-speaking world. He used this power to spread his conservative agenda. His British holdings, including The Sun, The Times and Sunday Times, constitute one-quarter of newspaper circulation in the country. His News Corp company also operates Sky television, TalkTV, TalkRadio and TalkSPORT. Murdoch is widely believed to have swung both the 1992 elections for the Conservatives and the 1997 election towards Labour after Tony Blair struck a deal with him. “It’s difficult to think of a prime minister in the last 40 years who has won against the Murdoch instinct,” said former Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger. In the United States, Murdoch owns influential outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and much of the Fox network. This is in addition to owning the influential Harper Collins publishing house. He is known as an unusually hands-on owner, insisting that the tone and political line of all his outlets conform to his thinking. “For better or for worse, The News Corporation is a reflection of my thinking, my character, and my values,” he admitted. This included wholehearted support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “We cant back down now, where you hand over the whole of the Middle East to Saddam… I think Bush is acting very morally, very correctly, and I think he is going to go on with it,” he said. He also made sure that every one of his 175 global newspaper titles expressed similar vociferous support for the invasion. Inside the industry, Fox News is known for its particularly strict, top-down editorial procedure. One former contributor claimed that working under Murdoch was “almost as if we were being monitored by a Stalinist system … it is very much an environment of fear”. A second confided that “if you don’t go along with the mind-set of the hierarchy, if you challenge them on their attitudes about things, you are history”. But it is in his local Australia that his power reaches almost banana republic-like proportions. Murdoch owns 7 of the country’s 12 national or capital daily newspapers. In half of the country’s state or territory capitals, there is no local alternative to the Murdoch publication. Former prime minister, Kevin Rudd labeled his empire a “cancer” on Australian democracy.   Piers Morgan Exposed Until he recently went independent with his talk show, Piers Morgan was one of Murdoch’s most recognizable anchors. Hosting a popular talk show that reached millions, Morgan has played a crucial role in informing the public about Israel and Palestine. Although he has claimed he is entirely neutral on the issue and does not support either side, Morgan has a number of close connections to Israel worth noting. Firstly, he has supported the Norwood Charity on a number of occasions, helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the group. Norwood is headed by the aforementioned Israel lobbyist, Lord Mendelsohn, alongside his wife, Lady Nicola Mendelsohn. Lady Mendelsohn is also head of global business for social media giant Meta (the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram). She has consistently lobbied for Israeli causes and even met former president Shimon Peres. During her time at Meta, the company has begun to employ dozens of former agents of the Israeli spying group, Unit 8200 – all in sensitive positions within the company. Facebook in particular has grown closer to Israel, even appointing former General Director of the Israeli Ministry of Justice Emi Palmor to its oversight board, the group that decides what direction the company goes and what content to allow and disallow on the platform. Norwood’s previous president was Sir Trevor Chinn. Chinn is currently head of United Jewish Israel Appeal, a British-Israeli group whose goal is to increase young British Jews’ sense of connection to Israel. He is also on the executive committee of Britain’s largest Israel lobby group, BICOM, and has funded Labour Friends of Israel. On October 22, at the height of Israel’s attack on Gaza, Morgan met Lady Mendelsohn in New York for dinner. Also present at the meal was Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins, who has raised money for the Jewish National Fund, the largest settler-building body in Palestine. It is unclear what they discussed, but given their careers and interests, it is hard to see how news from the Middle East did not arise. Thus, while Morgan may have invited individuals from all points of the spectrum of debate on Gaza, he does appear to move in circles filled with top Israel lobbyists.   Blatant Propaganda Unsurprisingly, given what we have seen, Murdoch’s top publications have displayed an overwhelming bias in their coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza, constantly defending Israeli actions and demonizing both Palestinians and those who have opposed the violence. On October 19, an Israeli airstrike targeted the Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City, where hundreds of refugees had taken shelter. In describing the attack, the Wall Street Journal ran with the headline “Blast goes off at Orthodox Church Campus in Gaza,” turning what was one of the most notorious incidents in Israel’s months-long assault on Gaza into a regrettable accident. At no point during the article did the Journal suggest that the “blast” might have been an attack or even hint at Israeli involvement. The Journal has also led the attack on Americans protesting the onslaught. “Who’s Behind the Anti-Israel Protests: Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and others are grooming activists in the U.S. and across the West,” ran the headline of one story, clearly intended to vilify people opposing a genocide as agents of a foreign power. Another story, entitled “Welcome to Dearborn, America’s Jihad Capital,” echoed Bush-era levels of Islamophobia in its attempts to equate the heavily Arab-American city with anti-American hatred. Campus demonstrations, meanwhile, were written off as “terrorist-glorifying protestors” who constitute “the left-wing counterparts to the Charlottesville mob that chanted ‘Jews will not replace us.’” The newspaper has also published articles demanding the U.S. go to war with Iran. “The U.S. and Israel Need to Take Iran On Directly. Make the ayatollahs pay for sowing chaos through their Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthi proxies,” wrote former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett. And for Palestine? The Wall Street Journal envisages its future as a giant arms factory making the weapons for Israel’s assault on Iran. In an op-ed entitled “A Plan for Palestinian Prosperity,” columnist Andy Kessler wrote that producing the weapons for the next Israeli attack would bring middle-class jobs to Gaza. “They can even work on Saturdays” and “without handouts from the politicized United Nations,” he claimed, although he cautioned that perhaps the explosives should be added elsewhere by more trustworthy employees. Murdoch’s other publications have followed suit, relentlessly supporting Israel and demonizing its critics. Fox News, for example, spread the now-debunked assertion that Palestinian fighters had beheaded 40 Israeli babies on October 7. In reality, no babies were beheaded, although Israeli bombs or bullets have since decapitated countless Palestinian children. The New York Post, meanwhile, published a remarkable article titled “Just how many of Gaza’s civilians are entirely ‘innocent’?” in which it repeatedly insinuated that essentially every adult in Gaza was a legitimate target, even using the word “civilian” in scare quotes. On Israel/Palestine, journalists in corporate media are under enormous pressure to toe an ownership-imposed line. The New York Times, for example, has told its reporters not to employ words such as  “genocide,” “slaughter,” and “ethnic cleansing” when discussing Israel’s actions. It has even forbidden the use of terms like “refugee camp,” “occupied territory,” or even “Palestine,” making it virtually impossible to report accurately on the situation. Murdoch publications are surely no different. Indeed, this sort of stifling censorship has been in place for decades, if former employees are to be believed. In 2001, Sam Kiley, a former correspondent for The Times of London, revealed that he was instructed never to refer to Israel as “assassinating” or “executing” their opponents. And when he was tasked with interviewing an Israeli Army unit responsible for killing a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, he was asked to file the article without somehow mentioning the dead child at all.   Friends in High Places The nine-month-long Israeli attack on Gaza has inspired outrage across the world. While its standing has dropped even further in the Global South, Israel still maintains a considerable base of support in the West. This is down in no small part thanks to oligarchs such as Rupert Murdoch, who have marshaled their considerable resources to fight a committed media war in support of the Israeli state, attempting to hide its atrocities and shore up support for its expansionist project. For Israel, which could not continue in its current form without outside support (particularly from the United States), the battle for public opinion is every bit as important as the fight on the ground. Fortunately for Netanyahu and his ilk, they can rely on Rupert Murdoch, who has for decades championed Israel’s cause and is now pushing his media empire into overdrive to defend the indefensible. If the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, then Rupert Murdoch is one of Israel’s most powerful weapons. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams. The post Rupert Murdoch: Israel’s Most Powerful Supporter appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Investigations, National, Top Story, FOX News, Israel Advocacy, Israel Lobby, Israel Political Ties, Israel Support, Israeli propaganda, Media Influence, Media Manipulation, Murdoch Israel Connections, Murdoch Media Empire, Netanyahu and Murdoch, rupert murdoch]

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[l] at 7/3/24 10:00am
On Monday, the Israeli military announced plans to reinvade Khan Yunis, a densely populated city,  issuing an evacuation order for around 250,000 displaced refugees. This move suggests that Israel has not succeeded in defeating Palestinian armed groups despite claiming near victory in Rafah. Refugees from Khan Yunis have fled to Muwasi, a crowded, unsanitary tent city where Israeli airstrikes have repeatedly hit, most recently killing 12 and injuring dozens. According to the UN, 1.9 million Palestinians are now concentrated in central Gaza. Israel has also claimed that its invasion of Rafah is winding down, expected to conclude within a month. However, Major General Yitzhak Brik has criticized this narrative, stating: “We lost greatly in the Gaza Strip… The army is exhausted, there is no ammunition, the vehicles are tired, and we are losing reserve soldiers who say they will not join the service again. There are false stories about the army killing dozens or hundreds of Hamas fighters in every battle. Every soldier who fought in Gaza knows this.” The Israeli military claims to have killed 900 Palestinian fighters in its Rafah invasion operation. However, a military source close to al-Qassam told MintPress that this figure was “absolutely incorrect” and that “the enemy wants to convince their public that they were successful.” The source did not provide an estimate for the actual number of fighters killed. The reinvasion of Khan Yunis marks a crucial admission that the Israeli army failed to defeat Hamas in the city. Currently, no evidence suggests that any of the 11 Palestinian armed groups operating in the besieged coastal enclave have been defeated. Furthermore, Israel has not provided any numbers for how many fighters from other factions have allegedly been killed. Last week, the Israeli military also re-entered the Shujaiyeh neighborhood near Gaza City in the north of the territory. After enduring tough battles in December, during which Palestinian factions inflicted heavy losses on Israeli soldiers, Israel claimed victory in the area. Despite this, Hamas, which was supposedly defeated there, has since engaged in over 100 clashes with the Israeli military. These ambush operations have caused numerous soldier casualties that Israel has acknowledged. The quality of the videos documenting these attacks appears to have improved rather than degraded. Israel faced a similar shock when re-invading the Jabalia Refugee Camp in northern Gaza in May. Palestinian armed groups changed their strategy and inflicted heavy losses on Israeli forces, contradicting previous claims of operational control and victory over Hamas. The change in tactics, which now involved direct confrontations to prevent civilian kidnappings, resulted in higher fighter casualties but demonstrated that Palestinian factions remain undefeated. After besieging al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, asserting that it was home to a Hamas headquarters, even releasing CGI footage of an alleged multilayered tunnel system underneath the territory’s largest medical complex, the failure to produce any evidence for their claims was followed by an Israeli invasion of Khan Yunis in December. Israeli leaders, past and present, claimed around this time that the “real Hamas headquarters” was in Khan Yunis, a claim which has also never been proven. Despite this, the Israeli army remained in the city for months, focusing on the Nasser Medical Complex, which has now been rendered inoperable after multiple invasions. When Israeli forces finally withdrew from Nasser Hospital, first responders and journalists discovered crudely dug mass graves containing approximately 300 civilian bodies. The predicted repercussions of another invasion of Khan Yunis include further civilian casualties and ongoing battles between the Israeli army and Palestinian armed groups that were purportedly defeated months ago. Feature photo | Palestinians evacuate and flee their homes after the Israeli army issued a new evacuation order ahead of a new military operation east of Khan Yunis, July 02, 2024. Abed Rahim Khatib | AP Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47 The post Israel Is Set To ReInvade Central Gaza’s Khan Yunis, Exposing Military Failures appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Gaza conflict, Gaza Strip battles, Hamas resistance, humanitarian crisis, Israeli airstrikes, israeli military, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Khan Yunis, Khan Yunis invasion, Palestinian armed groups, Refugee Crisis]

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[l] at 7/2/24 7:59am
Hours after Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, as the Israeli government was readying for war, the Israeli tech sector was preparing for a war of its own. Entitled Israel Tech Guard, the coalition of Israeli tech employees has pulled together what it’s termed an “army” of citizen volunteers primarily to defend Israel’s image online. The group has launched or collaborated on several projects aimed at targeting pro-Palestine content while boosting Israeli propaganda. Israel Tech Guard comprises over 250 Israeli tech workers and was founded by entrepreneur Mor Ram-On, who worked for Israeli arms manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems; Ron Balter, a software engineer at Cybereason, a U.S. cybersecurity firm, and who served with the Israeli navy; and Lior Mizrahi, who heads the IT company Maveriks. Given how new the non-profit is, financial statements for Israel Tech Guard have yet to be made available. However, the group was seeking $2 million in funding in November, and the Jerusalem Post reported that it’s backed by Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms manufacturer, which produces weapons for the Israeli military. According to Israel Tech Guards’ LinkedIn profile, “[t]he group works in cooperation with the Israeli security agencies.” An archived version of the site states it also works with the Israeli military. For instance, one such project, “Anchoring the Draw,” was completed in December 2023 with Unit 9900, an Israeli military intelligence corps whose work is classified. Information on the project and its purpose hasn’t been released. Israel Tech Guard has also collaborated with the Israeli National Information Directorate and the Ministry for Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism to launch Words of Iron on the day of Hamas’ October 2023 attack. With Words of Iron, social media users are encouraged to amplify pro-Israel content by commenting with autogenerated text created by the website’s developers, as well as mass-report content deemed “anti-Israel.” “[I]f every individual spends just 10 minutes a day utilizing this tool, sharing messages in unwavering support of Israel, our collective voice will resonate globally,” Israel Tech Guard wrote on LinkedIn announcing the project.   Targeting pro-Palestine activism According to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), the “words of iron” hashtag appeared in X posts more than 40,000 times, was used by more than 5,000 users, and reached more than 1 million users between October 10, 2023, to March 10, 2024. However, Words of Iron’s success was short-lived as its engagement dipped after October 13. “Despite not having a lasting impact, Words of Iron represent an evolution in digital propaganda during wars showing a more advanced operation than previous efforts,” a DFRLab researcher, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, told MintPress News. The tool’s engagement strategy targeted politicians, influencers, activists, and journalists. The top recipients of replies with the “Words of Iron” hashtag were United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, U.S. President Joe Biden, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, United Kingdom Home Secretary James Cleverly, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The kind of content Words of Iron suggests users report ranges. Some posts contain false information or are antisemitic, but many posts are simply critical of Israel, Zionism or expressed solidarity with Palestine. According to an analysis by DFRLAB, Words of Iron flagged posts from activist group Scottish Jews Against Zionism and Australian-Lebanese journalist Daizy Gedeon several times. The Washington Post reported that the tool also encouraged users to flag a Christmas Day post from influencer and lawyer Rosy Pirani stating that Jesus was Palestinian. The post was then reported on Instagram, and now her content is not being recommended to non-followers. She has been banned from the Explore page and Reels tab and can no longer monetize her posts. “It’s sad to see content that’s in no way antisemitic being reported,” Pirani told the Washington Post. Sites like Words of Iron are scaring other content creators from posting about Palestine. They’re chilling free speech, and that’s what they aim to do.” On the other hand, Words of Iron encourages users to boost posts from pro-Israel voices, such as StandWithUs, Stop Anti-Semitism, Yoseph Haddad, a pro-Israel Palestinian activist, controversial news aggregator Visegrad24, and Hillel Neuer, head of UN Watch, an Israel lobby group targeting the United Nations. Many of the posts attacked the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which Israel has been actively campaigning to ban from operating on its territory. Additionally, the DFRLab found many suspicious X accounts linked to Words of Iron. Some accounts using the Words of Iron tool were created immediately after Hamas’ October 7 attack, while other profiles were dormant for years before renewing activity using Words of Iron. “[T]he DFRLab identified at least two hundred accounts created after the October 7 attacks, some created minutes apart from each other, that amplified WOI messaging. More than thirty accounts were created on October 12, while more than twenty were established the following day,” the researchers wrote in their report on Words of Iron. “[M]ore than one hundred accounts did not have an avatar image and used alphanumeric handles at the time of reporting.” DFRLab couldn’t verify whether these accounts were real or operated by governmental or other entities. While Words of Iron is not the first online mechanism promoting Israeli propaganda, DFRLab notes that it is more sophisticated than previous technology. “Words of Iron is more advanced in terms of its design and user interface, incorporating gamification and automation for example, and ability to generate endless content with specific targeting,” the DFRLab researcher said. The researcher also emphasized that “the tool’s focus on boosting supportive messages from politicians and influencers on various social media platforms” is particularly noteworthy.   A web propaganda Other projects partnering with Words of Iron include Veo Israel and OCT7. Veo Israel is a non-profit established to target Spanish-speaking audiences with pro-Israel audiovisual content. While Veo Israel’s current webpage doesn’t mention Words of Iron, an archived version of the site lists Words of Iron and OCT7, another pro-Israel digital warrior campaign. Veo Israel was founded by Rodrigo Gonzalez, a former soldier in the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade. The site purports to have a network of thousands of Spanish-speaking volunteers worldwide to assist with disseminating information. It is advertising on Facebook to fight against the “war in media” and “defend the reputation of Israel.” Some of the ads Veo Israel has run on Facebook include attacking UNRWA, the Gaza solidarity movement on college campuses, and a story about an Argentinian soldier who is fighting with the Israeli army in Gaza. While Veo Israel’s online impact appears small—with only about 700 Facebook likes and Instagram posts rarely reaching 1,000 likes—the group has connected with politicians worldwide, including Santiago Abascal, leader of the Spanish VOX party, Chilean politician Antonio Kast, and Argentine President Javier Milei. It also received funding from Gabriel Colodro, head of the Spanish-speaking section of Israel’s Yesh Atid party. Other apps similar to Words of Iron, like OCT7 and Moovers, are tied to the Israeli government. OCT7’s website lists the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs as a partner, and according to the Washington Post, Leaders, a Tel-Aviv-based marketing firm associated with Moovers, claimed it’s “endorsed by Israel’s Government Advertising Agency.” Moovers grabbed international attention in December when a representative from Leaders contacted content creators offering to pay them to promote Moovers on their social media accounts. The app has also been accused of having pro-Palestine content removed. A lot of people did not turn this offer down like Grace did. They are everywhere and you can tell because they use pre-written content and cant engage beyond that. I continue to encourage you to block immediately. Cant get paid if you dont have access to peoples mentions pic.twitter.com/9Wy95CLCNn — الكسندرا ميراي (@LexiAlex) December 10, 2023 NO wonder Ive had old content removed or flagged without any notification or appeal process and it boots me out of Insta. Israel is creating dozens of sites that encourage ppl to report so called random pro-palestine content on Instagram. https://t.co/3eS7Wz8pqn Crazy all… — AHMED | أحمد (@ASE) January 24, 2024 According to digital rights activists, censorship of pro-Palestine content on social media platforms is intensifying. Palestinian social media activists continue to complain about bias by social media platforms as they face growing restrictions, with many contents being blocked or removed.#Gaza — صدى سوشال Sada Social (@SadaSocialPs) April 28, 2024 Palestinian digital rights group Sada Social found that nearly 40% of Palestinian media outlets and journalists encountered violations on social media between January 1, 2024, and April 30, 2024. The most common violations included post-deletion and reduced engagement. Iron Truth is another Israeli-tech industry-manufactured bot that mobilizes netizens to mass-report content. The platform’s founder, Dani Kaganovitch, claims its connections with tech companies have led to the removal of roughly 1,000 posts across X, YouTube, and TikTok. Kaganovitch’s post on LinkedIn announcing the project states: The fight for public opinion has never been more important. Our enemy’s fake news and incitement machine doesn’t rest for a second. It’s time to win on all fronts, including this one. For that purpose, we created the “Iron Truth” Bot. Now all we need is YOU – stumbled upon fake news? Inciting posts? Support of Hamas’ Terrorism? Report it to the “Iron Truth” Bot, from which the content will be transferred for quick removal. In addition to tech companies, Iron Truth is also linked to the Israeli government. According to The Intercept, Iron Truth managers met with the director of an unnamed Israeli government cyber unit. Inbar Bezek, an ex-Israeli parliament member, is also working with the app. OCT7 also lists Iron Truth as one of its partners. Social Watch is another project by Israel Tech Guard. It uses an AI-powered bot to find social media content deemed “anti-Israeli” or antisemitic and report it to the platform as violating the site’s guidelines. Additionally, the bot notifies the post creator’s employer of the labeled violation. “[W]e have developed a bot that identifies activists promoting propaganda in major global corporations and informs their employers about the violations committed,” the Social Watch webpage says. According to Social Watch, the tool has reported 3,000 posts, of which 500 were then flagged, and 100 reports have been sent out thus far. While the tool only has a roughly 16% success rate in getting content flagged, Social Watch signals the increasingly McCarthyian-like tactics the Israel lobby is employing against pro-Palestine activists. Moreover, whether these apps violate social media guidelines isn’t certain. “It remains unclear if third-party apps like Words of Iron directly violate content moderation policies for social media platforms. Our research notes that some content moderation policies, such as the use of spam, could have been violated by individual users who used the tool,” the DFRLab researcher told MintPress News. TikTok, Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram), and YouTube were contacted for comment on whether these apps violate their content guidelines and if they’ve been responding to posts reported by these apps, but did not respond by the time of publication. X could not be reached. Given a lack of governmental transparency, the level of government involvement in these campaigns is also difficult to determine. However, in November, Israeli media reported that the Diaspora Affairs Ministry would allocate NIS 10 million (over $2.6 million) to civil society organizations advocating for Israel and an undisclosed amount of money to organizations that use volunteers to advocate on behalf of Israel. The ministry’s Director General said the ministry received a $500,000 donation from an unknown recipient for these projects. The ministry will also spend an additional NIS 9 million ($2.4 million) to distribute sponsored content around the world, with the Foreign Affairs Ministry investing NIS 5 million ($1.3 million) in this initiative and the National Information Directorate providing NIS 4 million ($1 million). Despite the massive funds pumped into this pro-Israel troll army, it remains to be seen if they’ll win the so-called information war. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News. The post Free Speech Under Fire: How Israel’s Tech Guard Is Killing Free Speech Online appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, News, Top Story, digital propaganda tools, Hamas attack October 7, Israel propaganda, Israel Tech Guard, Israel tech propaganda, Israeli cybersecurity efforts, Israeli military tech collaboration, Israeli online propaganda, pro-Palestine content targeted, social media censorship, Words of Iron campaign]

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[l] at 7/1/24 5:00pm
The Israeli propaganda apparatus is priming the public to accept a declaration of victory over Hamas and assorted resistance groups in Rafah as the military begins to shift the bulk of its operational and combat capacity to the northern front against Hezbollah. However, withdrawing from Gaza entirely in light of the IDF’s failure to achieve any of its mission objectives is not politically tenable for myriad reasons foremost of which is that Hamas would still exist as both a military and political entity with a swelling level of popularity among Palestinians, according to a recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. How are Israeli and U.S. Departments of State and their associated advisory think tanks proposing to solve this dilemma? How does one continue the fighting in Gaza indefinitely, work towards a viable ceasefire, and create the framework and conditions for a future Palestinian state when visible, high-profile Israeli ministers are calling not just for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza but also for the annexation and settlement of the West Bank? Tonight on “State of Play,” we examine a number of these plans—all hopelessly unworkable to varying degrees—from creating humanitarian “pockets” within military cordons to bringing to Gaza an Arab Coalition from as yet unspecified states for the purposes of security and governance. One of the most significant brakes in all of these proposals is the inescapable fact that Hamas will still exist, and armed resistance will not stop and will not accept a foreign administrator. The far-right think tank Misgav, therefore, calls for a long-term military occupation of Gaza, at least until roughly three-quarters of Hamas and PIJ are destroyed. Only then can a civil authority be put in place. However, even if they are degraded by 75%, resistance forces will simply transition to lower-intensity operations involving traps, improvised explosive devices (which we are already seeing), and the potential targeted assassinations of collaborators from whatever vague civil authorities these proposals envision. In a surprising and rare comment last week, Netanyahu said the government would soon begin a plan to create a civil administration in the north of Gaza, run by local Palestinians, preferably with security assistance from Arab states. Again, there are no details or verifiable structure to this plan, which is in keeping with the Prime Minister’s talent for prevarication, but officials close to the matter said Netanyahu was likely referring to the “bubbles plan,” according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The Israeli establishment does not like to vary its methods. Thus, the creation of isolated enclaves where registered Palestinians who have denounced Hamas is appealing. Like in the West Bank, freedom of movement between these geographic islands will be difficult, if not impossible. All the while, Israel will continue to be isolated in the global community by what will inevitably be roundly condemned as another escalation of apartheid practices. Join us on State of Play at MintPress News for an in-depth examination of this topic—on Monday, July 1st, at 7 pm EST. Greg Stoker is a former US Army Ranger with a background in human intelligence collection and analysis. After serving four combat deployments in Afghanistan, he studied anthropology and International Relations at Columbia University. He is currently a military and geopolitical analyst and a social media “influencer,” though he hates the term. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. The post The Ghettoization of Gaza: Civilian ‘Bubbles’ and Plans for Post War Administration appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Gaza conflict, Gaza humanitarian crisis, Greg Stroker, Hamas resistance, Hezbollah threat, Israel propaganda, Israeli Military Strategy, Israeli political dilemmas, Middle East conflict analysis, Misgav think tank, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Post war Gaza]

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[l] at 7/1/24 7:09am
The Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF), known as Ansar Allah in the West and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, initiated joint military operations against Israel early last month. This marks a significant strategic shift, highlighting the support for Palestinian armed groups in Gaza from regional forces. Despite the significance of these operations, their nature has remained largely unclear. However, MintPress has obtained exclusive details shedding light on these developments. These joint operations represent a new phase in the regional dynamics of the conflict, emphasizing the evolving alliances and military strategies against Israel. The exclusive details provided by MintPress reveal the intricacies and coordination involved in these operations, illustrating the complex nature of regional military engagements. On June 6, a significant development unfolded as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq issued a communique and Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesperson for the Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF), announced a joint Yemeni-Iraqi military operation against Israeli targets. This coordinated effort was executed in two stages. The first stage involved a series of drone attacks on two ships reportedly carrying weapons to the Israeli-controlled port of Haifa. The second stage targeted a ship that violated the Ansar Allah-imposed blockade in the Red Sea, which restricts shipments to Haifa. As this initial joint operation spanned the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, the announcement was interpreted as Iraqi and Yemeni forces coordinating the timing of actions they had previously conducted separately. However, subsequent military operations began to paint a different picture. Communiques detailing operations that exclusively targeted sites in Haifa raised key questions about the nature of the collaboration between both parties, suggesting a more integrated and strategic partnership than previously understood. While there have been no reports indicating that Ansar Allah’s missiles have traveled from Yemen to hit targets in northern occupied Palestine, it has become clear that the collaborative effort between the Islamic Resistance in Iraq and Yemen is taking place at a higher level than previously anticipated. This suggests a more sophisticated and coordinated approach between the two forces, indicating a strategic alliance that goes beyond mere timing coordination of separate actions. According to three high-ranking Ansar Allah officials who chose to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the story, MintPress has learned that coordination between Yemeni and Iraqi forces takes place in a specially designed joint operations room. This room has an exchange of roles to ensure the implementation of successful deterrent attacks against vital facilities in Haifa. This setup indicates a higher level of strategic collaboration and planning between the forces to maximize the effectiveness of their military operations. The three Ansar Allah officials, who are high-ranking in military, political, and logistics fields, revealed that Yemen’s role in the operations targeting Haifa extends beyond implementation to include logistical, practical, manufacturing, and intelligence aspects. MintPress was informed that these operations aim to reunite and rearrange the regions geography and inspire Arab unification after a long period of division. A separate source within the Palestinian resistance, who maintains close ties with Ansar Allah, informed MintPress that discussions had occurred regarding the possibility of introducing Yemeni ground forces to an Arab nation that would permit them to open a direct front against Israel. Ansar Allah officials stated that Yemen is ready to send fighters to any Arab country to defeat Israel, liberate Palestinian lands, or defend that nation, but did not confirm any specific discussions had taken place. In the last week of June, four attacks were carried out from Iraq that Ansar Allah claimed involvement in, including strikes on Haifa, the Dead Sea, and Eilat using loitering munitions, also known as suicide drones. In response to recent Israeli threats of an all-out war against Lebanon, Abu Alaa al-Wala’i, Secretary-General of Iraq’s Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades, warned Tel Aviv that Iraqi forces would fight Israel from zero distance on the ground. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed concerns that militias in Iraq and Syria might open ground fronts and target Jordan, raising questions about possible direct fighting and the involvement of Yemeni forces. In March, Yemens armed forces conducted a series of drills under the banner “Our Path Leads to al-Quds,” where fighters simulated storming the Naqab (Negev) desert, taking control of settlements around Dimona, and seizing Israeli military sites. Similar videos have been released by Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU) aligned groups in Iraq, showcasing ground operation simulations. While these drills might seem performative, the fact that these forces routinely conduct missile and drone attacks against Israeli targets suggests that these simulations could be genuine preparations for ground assaults. Feature photo | A member of the Iraqis Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashed al-Shaabi) stands guard during the funeral of the 16 members killed in US airstrikes, February 2024. Ameer Al-Mohammedawi | AP Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe.’ Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47 The post Exclusive: Yemen and Iraq Unite Against Israel in Coordinated Attacks appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Ansar Allah, Arab unification, Drone Strikes, Gaza support, Haifa attacks, Islamic Resistance in Iraq, Israel conflict, joint military operations, Middle East conflict, Middle East news, Military strategy, MintPress exclusive, Netanyahu, Palestinian support, regional alliance, regional dynamics, strategic military coordination, Yemeni Armed Forces, Yemeni-Iraqi collaboration, Yemeni-Iraqi Joint Operations Against Israel]

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[l] at 6/28/24 5:34pm
The unprecedented live-streamed violence in Gaza has forced a crisis of conscience for many government employees. From the State Department to the military, individuals have taken rebellious action to remove themselves from participating in a blazingly obvious campaign of controlled famine and collective punishment. Tonight on State of Play, we interview two conscientious objectors from the United States Air Force and reflect on military retention rates, the recruiting crisis, and the lessening of military capacity due to increasingly unpopular foreign policy actions. Will the younger generation’s lack of jingoistic zeal be a potential brake for US belligerence? Americas all-volunteer force (AVF) has recently been called into question, with the worst recruitment numbers in years, in conjunction with escalating geostrategic tensions in Ukraine and East Asia. A central question is, therefore, can the Department of Defense fix this national security problem? Since the inception of the AVF, there has been a perennial concern that economic growth hampers recruitment. Thus, the recruitment crisis is attributed mainly to a tight labor market. In layperson’s terms, when job openings are plentiful and available workers are scarce, military service becomes less attractive as a source of financial stability. Domestic economic forces, in conjunction with a lack of physically, educationally, and legally viable recruits and overridingly derisive views of what many perceive to be “woke” culture in the military, are generally cited as the main sources of this recruiting crisis. However, this perception of “woke culture” typically misses the mark when conservative pundits lament the lack of military zeal in the younger generations. Inclusivity and trans-rights are not the primary reasons why buccaneering young men and women refuse to enlist in combat arms and the services in general. According to a 2022 ABC article, the primary reasons cited for not wanting to join are “the possibility of injury or death, and fear of developing PTSD or other psychological problems.” Why would Gen Z, after watching Gen X and the Millennials fight in two illegal wars before having their benefits slashed and commit suicide at alarming levels, want to be a part of that cycle of violence and isolation? The horror unfolding in Gaza has only exacerbated these sentiments. Our last occupational war ended in 2021, and we speedily transitioned to the era of tax-funded proxy wars. U.S. soft power – the ability to co-opt through aspirational values rather than coerce through military force or economic sanctions – has declined speedily over the post-9/11 years. Belligerent and ineffective foreign policy has boomeranged back on the military. Fewer teenagers aspire to be a party to the war machine. The genocide in Palestine has served as a catalyst of mass awakening that will undermine U.S. military capabilities and capacity. If recruiting shrinks by another 40,000 troops, we will reach a breaking point for low personnel numbers. Current members would have to pick up the slack, fill extra positions, and deploy for longer. We are looking at a cascade failure. History has shown that dissent within the ranks, combined with a broader anti-war movement, has been decisive in ending conflicts. Today is no different. Greg Stoker is a former US Army Ranger with a background in human intelligence collection and analysis. After serving four combat deployments in Afghanistan, he studied anthropology and International Relations at Columbia University. He is currently a military and geopolitical analyst, and a social media “influencer,” though he hates the term. Join us for a discussion with conscientious objectors from the U.S. Air Force. Greg Stoker is a former US Army Ranger with a background in human intelligence collection and analysis. After serving four combat deployments in Afghanistan, he studied anthropology and International Relations at Columbia University. He is currently a military and geopolitical analyst and social media “influencer,” though he hates the term. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. The post Gaza Blowback: How a Crisis of Conscience in the Military Can Impact Foreign Policy appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Top Story, conscientious objectors, Gaza conflict, Gen Z military enlistment, Greg Stoker, Israel-Palestine conflict, military enlistment decline, military retention rates, recruiting crisis, U.S. Air Force dissent, U.S. foreign policy, U.S. military recruitment]

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[l] at 6/28/24 6:20am
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on June 18 that there would be no civil war in Israel. However, his assertion might not hold true. Netanyahu’s statement comes amidst growing popular protests in Israel, especially after the resignations of several Israeli War Cabinet Ministers, including Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, both former chiefs of staff in the Israeli army. These resignations didnt necessarily isolate Netanyahu, whose support mainly comes from the right and far-right factions. Nonetheless, this move highlights the deepening rifts in Israeli society, which could escalate from political turmoil to a potential civil war. Divisions in Israel cannot be viewed the same way as other political polarizations currently rife among Western democracies. This assertion is not necessarily linked to the legitimate view that, at its core, Israel is not an actual democracy but, rather, because Israel’s political formation is unique. The story began long before the current Gaza war. In February 2019, the leaders of three Israeli parties formed a coalition, Kahol Lavan, or ‘Blue and White.’ Two of Kahol Lavan’s founders, Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon, were also military men widely respected among the country’s powerful military establishment and society. Despite their relative electoral successes, they still failed to dislodge Netanyahu from office. So, they went to the streets. Taking the conflict to the streets of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities was a decision not made lightly. It followed the collapse of a strange government coalition cobbled up by all of Netanyahu’s enemies. It unified around the single objective of ending the right and far-right reign over the country. The failure of Naftali Bennet, the coalitions leader, was simply the last straw. The terms ‘right’ and ‘far-right’ may give the impression that the political conflict in Israel is essentially ideological. Though ideology does play a role in Israeli politics, anger at Netanyahu and his allies is largely motivated by the feeling that the new right in Israel is attempting to reconfigure the countrys very political nature. So, starting in January 2023, hundreds of thousands of Israelis launched unprecedented mass protests that lasted until the start of the Israeli war on Gaza. The initial collective demand of the protesters, supported by Gantz and the who’s who of the Israeli military and liberal elites, was to prevent Netanyahu from altering the political balances of power that have governed Israeli society for the last 75 years. However, with time, the demands became the collective chant of regime change. Though the issue was largely discussed in the media as a political rift resulting from Netanyahu’s wishes to marginalize Israels judicial institution for personal reasons, the roots of the event, which threatened a civil war, were quite different. The story of the potential Israeli civil war is as old as the Israeli state itself, and recent comments by Netanyahu suggesting otherwise are yet another false claim by the prime minister. Indeed, on June 16, Netanyahu lashed out at rebellious military generals, stating, “We have a country with an army and not an army with a country.” In truth, Israel was founded through war and was sustained also through war. This meant that the Israeli military had, from the very start, a special status in Israeli society, an unwritten contract that allowed army generals a special and often a central seat in Israel’s political decision-making. The likes of Ariel Sharon, Itzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak and others, including the very founder of Israel, David Ben Gurion, have all reached the helm of Israeli politics, namely because of their military affiliations. But Netanyahu changed all of this when he began to actively restructure Israel’s political institutions to keep the military marginal and politically disempowered. In doing so, he has violated the main pillar of Israel’s political balance, starting in 1948. Even before Israel finished the task of ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people during the Nakba, the nascent country almost immediately entered into a civil war. As Ben Gurion issued an order regarding the formation of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on May 26, 1948, some Zionist militias, including the Irgun and Lehi the Stern Gang fought to preserve a degree of political independence. That was the start of the so-called Altalena Affair, when the Haganah-dominated IDF tried to block a sea shipment of weapons on its way to the Irgun, then under the leadership of Menachem Begin, who, in 1967, became Israel’s prime minister. The confrontation was deadly. It resulted in the killing of many members of the Irgun, mass arrests and the shelling of the ship itself. The reference to the Altalena Affair is heard quite frequently in Israeli media debates these days, as the Israeli war on Gaza is splintering an already divided society. This division is compelling the military to abandon the historical balance that was achieved following that mini-civil war, which could have ended Israel’s future as a state only days after its formation. The internal Israeli conflict over Gaza is, indeed, not just about Gaza, Hamas or Hezbollah, but the future of Israel itself. If the Israeli army finds itself scapegoated for October 7 and the assured failed military campaigns that followed, it will have to make a choice between accepting its indefinite marginalization or clashing with the political institution. A civil war might become a real possibility for the latter to take place. Feature photo | People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 27, 2024. Leo Correa | AP Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net The post Is Israel Headed Toward Civil War? appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Opinion & Analysis, Benny Gantz resignation, Gadi Eisenkot resignation, Gaza war impact, Israel Civil War, Israel Protests, Israeli far-right influence, Israeli political crisis, Israeli society divisions, Israeli War Cabinet resignations, Netanyahu civil war, Netanyahu government]

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[l] at 6/27/24 7:17am
At least 23 Kenyan protesters were killed on Tuesday after hundreds stormed the nations parliament in response to a proposed tax-hike bill, which threatens to deepen the country’s cost of living crisis. The IMFs pressure on Nairobi to balance its budget is central to the issue. Videos of bodies strewn across the concrete and protesters storming the parliament went viral on social media. This follows protests the previous week that brought the nation to a standstill. President William Ruto, elected to address the cost of living crisis, is now seen attempting to combat dissent with force, having failed to improve conditions. Kenyan people burned the parliament house during protest of IMF Budget. #RejectFinanceBill2024 #Kenya#قومی_مطالبہ_خان_کی_رہائی#SupremeCourt #Pakistan #QaziFaezIsa #ImranKhan #SeatsBelongToPTIpic.twitter.com/KA20PCmY9h — Saim Baloch (@spotimon) June 25, 2024 The Kenyan Human Rights Commission reported that the Police Reforms Working Group (PRWG) recorded 23 deaths from police shootings, along with at least 50 arrests, 22 abductions, and over 300 injuries among protesters. The controversial bill in Kenya seeks to impose new levies on monetized digital content creation, a 5% tax increase on digital payments, a 16% VAT on bread, and a 25% excise duty on domestically produced vegetable cooking oil. Despite President Ruto publicly backing down from signing the bill, tensions remain high. Western media focus on the protests and police response, but little attention is given to the IMFs role in pressuring President Ruto to implement these tax policies to repay loan debt. Since his election in 2022, Ruto has pushed through numerous tax-hike bills, pleasing the IMF and international investors but angering his people. Protesters have prominently displayed signs opposing the IMF, urging the government not to let the country become a lab rat. The bill aims to raise an additional $2.3 billion in taxes to reduce the national debt, which is 68% of GDP, far above the recommended 55% by the World Bank and IMF. About 37% of Kenya’s annual payments go towards interest loans that are nearly impossible to repay. In 2021, Kenyans protested and petitioned the IMF to cancel a three-year financing package worth $2.34 billion, citing concerns over the authorities mismanagement. The loans were intended to help Kenya’s COVID-19 response and reduce debt vulnerabilities. However, the nation has sunk further into an unbearable cost-of-living crisis. While the U.S. State Department has publicly condemned the violence against protesters, it has grown closer to the Kenyan government over the past few years. One day before the shooting of protesters, the U.S. government issued a ‘Memorandum on the Designation of Kenya as a Major Non-NATO Ally.’ This move aims to pull Kenya into the U.S. sphere of influence to counter Chinas and Russias growing presence in Africa, using weapons deals, foreign aid, and loans. Kenyan Police arrived in Haiti for a US-funded intervention on the same day that they killed at least 13 protesters in during protests in Kenya. President Ruto applies the IMF’s neoliberal recipes at home while serving US interests abroad. pic.twitter.com/K6pY4Pr7ps — red. (@redstreamnet) June 26, 2024 Kenya is now leading a U.S.-backed multinational policing mission in Haiti to combat local gangs at the Haitian governments request. Some gangs, however, have gained local support for maintaining order, causing the mission to be seen as foreign intervention, potentially sparking further violence. Kenyas economic struggles date back to the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, which led to the creation of institutions like the World Bank and IMF. In the 1980s, African nations began seeking loans from these institutions, which often proved impossible to repay. This placed many nations, including Kenya, at the mercy of the IMF, allowing it to push its political, economic, and social agendas. The Global Financial Summit of 2023 continues this trend, aiming to impose new economic realities on Africa and the Global South. Feature photo | Protestors chant slogans against the IMF while carrying placards during a demonstration in Nakuru Central Business. James Wakibia | AP Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe.’ Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47 The post IMF-Driven Policies Spark Deadly Protests in Kenya appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, IMF influence in Kenya, IMF tax policy protests, Kenya police violence, Kenya protests, Kenyan cost of living crisis, Kenyan human shields, Kenyan parliament stormed, Kenyan tax hikes 2023, Nairobi economic crisis, William Ruto protests]

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[l] at 6/26/24 7:30am
On June 22, a viral video showed a Palestinian man strapped to an Israeli military vehicle, passing by ambulances. Francesca Albanese, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), called it “human shielding in action.” The man, Mujahed Azmi from Jenin, had reportedly been shot and beaten before being tied to the jeep during a raid on Jenin’s Jabriyat neighborhood. The U.S. State Department labeled the action “absolutely unacceptable.” One of the primary justifications used by the Israeli military for civilian casualties in Gaza is the alleged use of human shields by Hamas. Historically, Israel incorporated this practice into its military doctrine before it was officially ruled illegal, though it reportedly continues. Despite the condemnation, the U.S. only urged Israel to investigate internally and took no further action. The Israeli military acknowledged that the actions in the video “violated military protocol” and promised to hold those responsible accountable. #HumanShielding in action. It is flabbergasting how a state born 76 years ago has managed to turn international law literally on its head. This risks being the end of multilateralism, which for some influential member states no longer serves any relevant purpose.… https://t.co/swwjiuJYmG — Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur oPt (@FranceskAlbs) June 22, 2024 However, Israel has repeatedly made such claims regarding accountability but has not held a single soldier accountable for using Palestinians as human shields since 2010, related to a crime committed during the 2008-2009 Gaza war. Israel’s leading human rights group, B’Tselem, reported that: The two soldiers in question had ordered a nine-year-old boy, at gunpoint, to open a bag they suspected was booby-trapped. Despite the gravity of their conduct—putting a young child at risk—the two were given a three-month conditional sentence and demoted from staff sergeant to private, some two years after the incident took place. None of their commanding officers were tried.” Of all the crimes committed during the 2008-2009 Gaza war, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,400 Palestinians, the harshest punishment given to an Israeli soldier was a 7.5-month jail sentence for stealing a credit card. During this war, Israels primary justification for the high civilian death toll in Gaza was that Hamas was using human shields. However, Israeli forces were subsequently accused of using Palestinians as human shields, and Amnesty International’s investigative work exonerated Hamas of similar accusations. Using human shields is illegal under international law and is considered a war crime under the Rome Statute governing the International Criminal Court (ICC). While Hamas has never been found to use civilians as human shields, despite a constant barrage of accusations by both the U.S. and Israeli governments, there are numerous documented cases of the Israeli military doing so. Watch how Israeli soldiers used a Palestinian detainee as a Human Shield in Al Fawar Refugee camp in Hebron . pic.twitter.com/pV9HcPXZi4 — Issa Amro عيسى عمرو (@Issaamro) November 10, 2023 Up until 2005, it was standard Israeli military practice to use Palestinian civilians as human shields under what was called the “neighbor procedure.” The practice was banned by Israel’s supreme court, but top military officials appealed the ban. The case against using human shields was first launched in May 2002, arguing that it violated the Geneva Conventions. This was followed by international uproar over the death of a 19-year-old Palestinian, Nidal Abu Mukhsan, who was killed while being used as a human shield by Israeli forces. Despite the ban, Israeli forces have repeatedly been found using Palestinians as human shields throughout the years, with cases spiking since October 2023. For instance, in March, the independent rights group Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor reported evidence indicating that Israeli soldiers had been using Palestinians as human shields at the al-Shifa Hospital medical complex. In 2022, Ahed Mohammad Rida Mereb, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, was used as a human shield by Israeli forces during a raid on Jenin, leaving her traumatized. She described being called a “terrorist” by soldiers who held her at gunpoint, stating, I was trembling and crying and shouting to the soldiers to remove me because the bullets were passing over my head. Only a week later, another report emerged from Jenin of a man being used as a human shield. There was no accountability for the soldiers involved in either case, and the Israeli military did not proceed with an investigation. Feature photo | Image: Twitter | Editing: MintPress News Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe.’ Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47 The post Jenin Video Rekindles Human Shields Allegations Against Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: News, B'Tselem Israel human shields, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Francesca Albanese human shields, Israel Gaza war crimes, Israel military accountability, Israeli military human shields, Jenin video human shields, Palestinian civilian protection, Palestinian human shields, UN condemns Israel]

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[l] at 6/25/24 10:45am
With upcoming elections scheduled for July 28, the United States is working overtime to dislodge the socialist government of Nicolás Maduro. Ten individuals are vying for the position, including nine in opposition to Maduro, who heads a coalition of 13 leftist groups. Washington, though, has made clear that its preferred candidate is 74-year-old retired diplomat Edmundo González, and is spending big, bankrolling a myriad of opposition organizations, from political parties to NGOs and media outlets, all with the same goal in mind: ousting Maduro and returning Venezuela into the U.S. sphere of influence. The U.S. is also continuing its campaign of economic warfare against the country, with crushing sanctions designed to make the economy scream and foster domestic resentment towards the Maduro administration. Its reason for doing so is that, since 1998, Venezuela has offered a different political and development model and has been a leading anti-imperialist force, opposing U.S. actions and serving as one of the loudest critics of Israel, who Maduro recently accused of carrying out one of the worst genocides since the Second World War.   Running Interference in Venezuela The primary vehicle through which the U.S. supports overseas groups is the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Since President Hugo Chavezs election in 1998, the United States has spent tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars on “democracy promotion” in the country. For example, the NED’s latest published country report notes that it spent over $100,000 sponsoring a program called “Food Security and the Transition to Democracy,” which consisted of “foster[ing] a network of activists, intellectuals and citizens” who could act as leaders for a “democratic transition.” Since the United States is one of only a handful of countries that fails to recognize the legitimacy of the government of Venezuela, it is clear that this would involve regime change. A second grant, this time for over $180,000, is designed to “enhance the leadership, organizational, and networking capacity of youth to engage in the recovery of democracy; and to foster international solidarity by raising the profiles and voices of youth leaders” – in other words, to train a generation of pro-U.S. political leaders to challenge and overthrow the government. Much of the local Venezuelan media is also financed by Washington, and the NED report details numerous projects promoting pro-U.S. anti-government messaging. From schemes “disseminating independent information to citizens and activists” to “strengthen[ing] independent media and overcom[ing] government censorship” and “expanding independent news coverage,” Washington’s money has bolstered and promoted oppositional groups for more than twenty years. The NED, however, refuses to divulge any of the names of the Venezuelan groups it funds. Founded in 1983 after a series of public scandals that seriously undermined the image of the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy was explicitly designed as a cutout organization that could do much of the agency’s most controversial work. This includes overthrowing foreign governments. “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA,” NED President Carl Gershman explained. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” NED co-founder Allen Weinstein added. Recently, NED projects have included channeling money to the leaders of the Hong Kong Protest movement, fomenting a nationwide protest campaign against the Cuban government, and attempting to overthrow the Lukashenko administration in Belarus.   Our Man in Caracas Although nine opposition political figures are standing for president, González has been anointed by the primary right-wing coalition and the U.S. government. In many ways, he is a surprising choice; a long-retired diplomat, he was almost entirely unknown inside Venezuela before his nomination. His most recent post was as ambassador to Argentina, which he was forced to leave in 2002 after he publicly supported a U.S.-backed far-right coup against Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez. In addition to Washington’s support, González also has the full backing of Western corporate media. CNN, for example, describes him as a wildly popular “quiet, bird-loving grandfather,” full of “poise and calm,” which supporters see as “a grandfather-of-the-nation type figure who could usher in a new era after the political violence of the last decade.” It does not mention why González has not held a diplomatic post since 2002, but it does suggest that if the “authoritarian” Maduro loses the popular vote, he will refuse to leave office. In reality, Maduro has repeatedly stated that he will respect the electorate’s choice, no matter what. “I believe in the electoral system, I believe in Venezuelan democracy, I believe in the people, in deep and true democracy. I’m ready,” he said. González, in contrast, has refused to do the same. The government has immediately accepted its electoral defeats, such as the 2007 Constitutional Referendum or the 2015 Parliamentary Elections. The opposition, however, has, time and again, refused to accept any election loss, often using the moment to launch coup attempts or waves of violence across the country. Vice-President of Maduro’s United Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, recently asserted that González had, since the 1980s, been an asset of the Central Intelligence Agency, although he provided little hard evidence. While González’s name is on the ballot, it is widely understood that he is a frontman for Maria Corina Machado, a U.S.-backed politician who was banned from holding political office after a series of corruption scandals and for her support for U.S. intervention. Machado has been campaigning energetically across the country for González, often carrying a large picture of his face. Yet she has also stated that she would pull the strings if he were elected. “Edmundo González looks way too old and frail to be a serious candidate. Perversely, it seems to be why Maria Corina Machado chose him as her stand-in. She has been on the campaign trail for him, not bothering to hide that she would be the real winner if González prevails,” Joe Emersberger, co-author of “Extraordinary Threat: The U.S. Empire, the Media, and Twenty Years of Coup Attempts in Venezuela,” told MintPress. Mariana Corina Machado holds a microphone for Edmundo González Urrutia, during a campaign rally in Guatire, Venezuela, May 31, 2024. Ariana Cubillos | AP Born into one of Venezuela’s most elite and well-connected families, Machado attended the prestigious Yale University, as did President George W. Bush, who welcomed her to the Oval Office in 2005 for an official visit. Unlike others in the Venezuelan opposition, Machado has openly received money from the National Endowment for Democracy. Her election monitoring organization, Súmate, was, for many years, bankrolled by the CIA front group. WikiLeaks cables reveal that the U.S. Ambassador in Caracas considered this a serious drawback to its credibility. In addition to an American-funded attempt to remove President Chavez (1998-2013) from office with a recall referendum, Machado led a 2014 campaign of guarimbas – violent street protests that targeted infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, universities and the subway. Forty-three people were killed, including two publicly beheaded by protestors. Like González, she also signed a decree endorsing the 2002 coup. “Maria Corina Machado represents not so much the right but the far right. She advocates for mass privatization and a laissez-faire state, as well as a crusade against the left, just like [Argentinian President Javier] Milei and other far right leaders,” Steve Ellner, Professor Emeritus of Economic History and Political Science at the University of Oriente, Venezuela, told MintPress. In Western media, she is portrayed as a persecuted saint or an “enormously popular” “rock star” of a politician. Yet, inside Venezuela, she remains a deeply controversial figure. This is true, even among the opposition coalition. Manuel Rosales, governor of Zulia state and 2006 opposition presidential candidate, for instance, not so cryptically shared his criticisms of the Machado strain in the opposition, stating: There are leaders who do not believe in the electoral route, who believe in magic, that one day the Marines are going to come to save Venezuela, who believe that by not voting we will be able to oust the government, or that by the way of violence we will overthrow them, which has always failed.”   The Israeli Connection Machado has consistently endorsed foreign intervention in Venezuela, not only from the United States but from any nation with a conservative agenda. In 2018, for instance, she sent a letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking for an Israeli military intervention, writing: Our population is suffering from the widespread and systematic attack of the current regime. Its criminal nature, closely linked to drug trafficking and terrorism, represents a real threat to other countries, including and especially to Israel. The current regimeclosely collaborates with Iran and extremist groups, which, as we all know, threaten Israel in an existential way.” “A Venezuela renewed in its prosperity and democratic tradition will cultivate a close relationship with Israel,” she promised. If Maduro is unseated in July, some of the loudest applause will come from Tel Aviv. The bus driver turned politician has proven to be one of the staunchest international critics of Israel and supporters of Palestine. “Israel is committing massacres in the Gaza Strip in front of the world’s eyes without anyone deterring it,” he said, claiming that Israel’s actions constitute some of the worst barbarity seen since the days of Adolf Hitler. Maduro went on to condemn the European Union as “accomplices” in genocide. Despite its own problematic economic situation, Venezuela has sent tons of aid to Gaza, including food, oil, drinking water, medical supplies, water pumps and mattresses. Venezuela has long had a fraught relationship with Israel. In 2006, President Chavez expelled the Israeli ambassador over its attack on Lebanon. Three years later, amid a fresh Israeli attack on its neighbor, Venezuela cut all diplomatic ties and recognized the State of Palestine. “Damn you, State of Israel!” he bellowed in a now-famous speech where he denounced it as a terrorist state entity. Both Chavez and Maduro also deepened Venezuela’s economic, political and cultural ties with Iran. Venezuelans burn effigies of María Corina Machado, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu during the traditional burning Judas event in Caracas, March 31, 2024. Ariana Cubillos | AP Israel, meanwhile, has shot back. It was one of the first nations to recognize self-proclaimed U.S.-backed politician Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president. “Israel joins our many allies in the hemisphere in welcoming Venezuela back to the bloc of Western democratic nations that oppose despots and oppression. The people of Venezuela look forward to the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Israel,” Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote on Twitter, just days after Guaidó announced himself to the world. Thank you,Prime Minister @netanyahu. Israel joins our many allies in the hemisphere in welcoming Venezuela back to the bloc of Western democratic nations that oppose despots and oppression.The people of Vzla look forward to the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Israel. https://t.co/bbNVPbwiUN — María Corina Machado (@MariaCorinaYA) January 27, 2019 This endorsement galvanized much of the Venezuelan opposition. Many look to Israel as a guiding light and see parallels between their political projects. “Venezuela’s struggle is Israel’s struggle,” Machado said, explaining that they both stand for “Western values” in the face of opponents who seek to “sow terror, devastation and violence.” Machado has consistently supported Israeli actions since October 7. Less known, however, is that in 2020, Machado signed a cooperation agreement with the Likud Party. The deal sees Machado’s Vente Venezuela Party working with Netanyahu on a wide range of “political, ideological and social issues, as well as making progress on issues related to strategy, geopolitics and security.”   Campaigns of Terror The United States has consistently preferred the more radical, far-right factions over more conciliationist groups within the opposition. Only last year did it drop its support for Guaidó, long after other nations began distancing themselves from the “interim president.” A previously obscure figure, Guaidó shocked the world in January 2019 when he declared himself the rightful ruler of Venezuela despite never standing for president. The U.S. and Israel quickly recognized him. It is now known that the stunt was planned in the U.S. Guaidó had previously met with Vice President Mike Pence and assured him that he had the support of over half of the Venezuelan military. Yet when the U.S. repeated Guaidó’s calls for the army to rebel and for the people to flood the streets, the response was disbelief and amusement. Guaidó, who had received NED training since 2007, tried three coups in 2019, each less convincing than the last. Despite its failures, the following year, the United States attempted something even more desperate: an amphibious invasion of Venezuela led by ex-Green Berets. The plan was for ex-Special Forces members to lead an army of some 300 pro-Guaidó troops and shoot their way into the Miraflores Presidential Palace. At this point, the Venezuelan Army would desert or surrender, the government would fall, and Guaidó would be proclaimed dictator. The scheme, however, fell apart at the first sign of resistance, as the American mission’s leaders were overpowered by members of a local fishing collective armed with nothing more than antiquated revolvers and fishing knives. The Venezuelan Navy intercepted others. Defense Secretary Mark Esper later revealed that the Trump administration was intimately involved in the planning of the operation, dubbed by many as Trump’s “Bay of Piglets.” Guaidó now resides in Miami. Esper’s memoir, “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times,” claimed that Trump was “fixated” on the idea of an Iraq-style invasion of Venezuela. “What if the U.S. military went down there and got rid of Maduro?” the 45th president asked Guaidó. Esper’s account aligns with that of Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, who claimed that Trump told him that it would be really “cool” to take Venezuela because it is “really part of the United States.” Esper, however, felt an invasion would backfire and instead proposed raising a mercenary army to carry out an insurgent war against the country along the lines of what the U.S. did in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Others advocated for carrying out waves of terror attacks on Venezuelan civilian infrastructure – something that sheds new light on several suspicious explosions, fires, blackouts and other mishaps inside Venezuela that Maduro had long blamed on the United States. Just weeks after the Trump/Esper meeting, a former CIA operative was arrested outside Venezuela’s largest oil refinery. The items on his person at the time included a submachine gun, a grenade launcher, four blocks of C4 explosives, a satellite phone, and stacks of U.S. dollars. Authorities claimed they had foiled another U.S. terror attack. The total lack of corporate media interest in the story of an American standing trial for terrorism in Venezuela only confirmed many people’s suspicions. Maduro was also the victim of a (failed) assassination attempt in 2018, as drones filled with explosives attacked the president at a public event. He later directly accused Bolton of masterminding the attack. While many in the United States considered the accusation outlandish, Washington did not help itself when, two years later, it placed a gigantic cash bounty on Maduro’s head. The State Department and the Drugs Enforcement Administration offered $15 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Maduro, whom they claimed had turned Venezuela into a “narco-state.” Yet DEA reports on Latin American drug trafficking barely even mention Venezuela as a problem. At the same time, the U.S. Coast Guard’s studies show that the overwhelming majority of illicit Latin American drugs ending up in the U.S. come from Colombia or Ecuador. Despite this, the DEA spent years sending undercover operatives into Venezuela in an attempt to build a case against Maduro – a plan U.S. officials acknowledged from the start was brazenly illegal.   Coups, Coups and More Coups U.S. attempts to overthrow the Venezuelan government began far earlier than the Trump administration, however. Indeed, almost from the moment Chavez was elected in 1998, Washington started to plan for his removal. Through the NED, the U.S. began funding and training groups that would lead the April 2002 coup against Chavez, flying its leaders back and forth from Washington D.C. in the weeks leading up to the event. The U.S. telegraphed so clearly what would happen that Senators such as William Delahunt (D—MA) publicly sought reassurances that the U.S. would not support extralegal methods in removing Chavez. On the day of the coup, the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela was present at the coup headquarters in Caracas, while U.S. Army and Navy units were also involved in the actions. The coup eventually failed thanks to an enormous counter-protest surrounding the presidential palace and spurred loyal military units into retaking the building. After the coup’s failure, NED funding for the groups involved more than quadrupled, and the U.S. government opened up an “Office of Transitions” in Caracas to help plan future actions. An anti-government protester throws a molotov cocktail at police during clashes in Caracas 2014. Ramon Espinosa | AP The U.S. has attempted multiple failed efforts to dislodge the government, but none so spectacular as the 2014 guarimbas. The U.S. was the only country in the world not to recognize Maduro’s 2013 electoral victory, instead allying itself with far-right factions (including Machado’s) that implored people to take to the streets to “vent their anger.” The resulting carnage terrorized the nation and led to an estimated $15 billion worth of damage. WikiLeaks cables show that the U.S. was bankrolling many of the movement’s leaders and that funding for such projects increased by 80% between 2012 and 2014. They planned to “divide” and “penetrate” the government’s supporter base by financing projects to undermine public confidence and promoting opposition parties. The cables also show that Washington knew the caliber of people they were employing. They note, for example, that Nixon Moreno had led a crowd to lynch the governor of Merida state during the 2002 coup and was accused of murder and the rape of a police officer. Ultimately, the 2014 guarimbas petered out under the weight of their own popularity, but not before claiming dozens of lives.   A War Without Bombs Unable to defeat socialism through electoral means or to engineer a successful coup d’etat, the United States moved to economic warfare to dislodge the government. The sanctions regime began in earnest under President Obama, who, in 2015, declared a state of emergency because of “the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” To justify the unilateral coercive measures, successive presidents have maintained the state of emergency. The sanctions have effectively cut Venezuela off from international trade and credit, with the U.S. threatening any entity that does business with Venezuelan firms with secondary sanctions or lengthy prison sentences. The goal of foreign sanctions, Washington has freely admitted, is to “decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and [the] overthrow of [the] government.” The U.S. certainly achieved the former. Venezuela’s oil industry effectively collapsed, as did its ability to purchase food, medicines and other vital goods. The country’s income decreased by 99%, food became scarce, and inflation was rampant. An (American) United Nations Special Rapporteur who visited the country likened the situation to a Medieval siege, accusing the United States of crimes against humanity, and estimated that around 100,000 people had been killed. The economic war led to an unprecedented exodus from the country, especially among those with in-demand transferable skills. Some seven million Venezuelans – nearly one-quarter of the pre-sanctions population – left the country. “Biden has just reimposed a sanctions regime on Venezuela that is much harsher than what Trump imposed in 2017. These are blatant acts of war that the U.S. would never tolerate on itself,” Emersberger told MintPress. Emersberger also compared the Venezuelan situation with that of Nicaragua, where, after more than a decade of economic warfare against the anti-imperialist Sandinista government, Nicaraguans gave in. They voted for the U.S.-backed candidate, Violetta Chamorro: The obvious U.S. strategy is to achieve the kind of fraudulent electoral victory it achieved in Nicaragua in 1990. Ongoing U.S. impunity means it can just stick with its criminal strategy indefinitely. The hope is that an exhausted populace eventually turns away from the targeted government in the hope of getting relief from Washington’s economic strangulation.” The U.S. and its allies have also frozen Venezuelan assets abroad, including some $2 billion worth of gold held in the Bank of England and the U.S.-based petroleum company CITGO. The U.S. even went so far as to kidnap Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab as he was traveling back from a meeting in Iran, discussing how the two countries could aid each other in skirting the sanctions. Saab was held in the United States for more than three years. His rendition and imprisonment sparked little interest in the West. Despite the years of hardship, there are signs that the worst might be over for Venezuela. “We have been steadily and slowly showing good economic indicators. We are about to reach 12 quarters of consecutive GDP growth. We went out of the hyperinflation in January 2022, and last week our Central Bank reported a May inflation of 1.5% for that month (the lowest in 20 years),” Jesus Rodriguez-Espinoza, editor of The Orinoco Tribune and a former diplomat, told MintPress. Nevertheless, he cautioned that the economy is still nowhere near its pre-sanctions level of 2013. Despite U.S. economic measures, the government has maintained a support base by housing and feeding the people. Since 2013, it has built 5 million public housing units for a country of only 28 million people and now produces 97% of all food consumed in the country.   Media Attack Western corporate media, which strongly supported U.S. coup attempts against Venezuela, have been hyping González’s chances. Citing data from notoriously unreliable polling firms, Bloomberg told readers González was by far Venezuelans’ top choice. Nevertheless, they have hedged their bets, preparing readers for a shock by informing them that if Maduro wins, it will be because of election cheating. The Associated Press claimed, People loyal to the ruling party control all branches of Venezuela’s government, and public employees are constantly pressured to participate in demonstrations.” CNN said that Maduro would rig the elections. The New York Times insisted that the local media (much of which is sponsored by the U.S. government) was in Maduros pocket. It added that if Maduro does win, it will only “intensify poverty” in the country – a statement that could be read as a threat. Professor Ellner was far from impressed with the U.S. press coverage. “True to form, the corporate media has completely left key issues out of their reporting on Venezuelas upcoming elections,” he told MintPress, adding, “The biggest violator of the very essence of democracy is not Maduro, but the U.S. Washington will penalize Venezuelans if they dont elect the candidate it openly supports.”   A New Wave Venezuela is at the forefront of Latin American support for Palestine. A new wave of progressive governments have taken a stand and defied orders from Washington, distancing themselves from the Israeli attack. Thanks to these governments, Maduro and Venezuela find themselves significantly less isolated than even a few years ago. The return of President Lula da Silva and the Workers’ Party in Brazil has meant Caracas has regained a critical regional ally. The populist government in Mexico has continued to support Venezuela. And perhaps most importantly, Gustavo Petro’s 2022 electoral victory has turned Colombia from an overtly hostile neighbor and a staging post for coups into a soft ally.If Maduro and his socialist coalition can win next month, it will solidify a leftward trend in Latin American politics, something the U.S. is desperate to quash. Washington has long regarded Venezuela as a cornerstone of the anti-imperialist movement in Latin America, understanding that if it is allowed to flourish, the virus of independence might spread to the rest of the continent and beyond. It is for that reason that the U.S. government has invested so much into training a domestic opposition, funding political parties, attempting coups and carrying out economic warfare against Venezuela. Yet it has, so far, been unsuccessful. In the face of all the U.S. meddling, a win for Maduro next month would be another serious black eye for Uncle Sam. Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams. The post Maduro vs. US Election Interference: A Battle for Venezuelas Future appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Investigations, Top Story, anti-imperialist Venezuela, Edmundo González opposition candidate, María Corina Machado U.S. support, NED Venezuela funding, Nicolás Maduro Venezuela elections, U.S. interference in Venezuela elections, U.S. sanctions Venezuela, Venezuelan democracy under threat, Venezuelan media manipulation, Washington regime change]

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[l] at 6/25/24 9:12am
On Sunday, The Telegraph published an article alleging that whistleblowers had informed them that Hezbollah was storing a range of missiles and explosives at the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon. The report attempted to link this claim to the catastrophic Beirut Port explosion in 2020. However, the British media outlet has since retracted the original article and replaced it with another piece that covers Lebanese refutations of the allegations. An article published by The Telegraph, claiming it had acquired knowledge from unnamed sources about the presence of Iranian-made weapons being stored at Beirut’s International Airport, has triggered a lawsuit from Lebanon against the British media outlet. Immediately after the report was issued, the Lebanese Air Transport Union released a statement labeling the allegations as mere illusions and lies aimed at endangering Beirut Airport and its civilian workers, as well as travelers to and from it, all of whom are civilians. Although The Telegraph has not retracted its report, the backlash has forced the media outlet to remove the original article and publish an updated piece. The original article’s headline read, “Hezbollah stores missiles and explosives at Lebanon’s main airport, whistleblowers claim.” The new headline and story, published under the same link, now reads, “Beirut airport bosses deny it is being used to store Hezbollah weapons.” The original piece quotes unnamed sources, allegedly workers at the Beirut airport, who claimed to have witnessed “unusually big boxes” and an increased presence of high-ranking Hezbollah officials. The Telegraph further claimed that “Iranian-made Falaq unguided artillery rockets, Fateh-110 short-range missiles, road-mobile ballistic missiles, and M-600 missiles” were being stored at the airport. This was in addition to “AT-14 Kornet, laser-guided anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), huge quantities of Burkan short-range ballistic missiles, and explosive RDX, a toxic white powder also known as cyclonite or hexagon.” While the actual quotes from the unnamed whistleblowers only mention witnessing boxes, this raises questions about the source for the claim that “Hezbollah is storing huge quantities of Iranian weapons, missiles, and explosives.” The only named individual in the article is virulently anti-Hezbollah Lebanese MP Ghassan Hasbani, who belongs to the far-right Lebanese Forces Party. Additionally, the article quotes the Israeli military, stating that “Hezbollah’s strategy to hide weapons and operate from civilian neighborhoods stems from its intentions to draw the IDF to target these civilian areas in times of escalation.” If the missiles and explosives mentioned in the article were indeed being stored in large quantities at the airport, there would surely be trace evidence, and only an insider would know the specific types of weapons. In response to these claims, Lebanon provided an open tour for foreign diplomats and international media to visit Beirut airport, aiming to dispel the allegations. This is not the first time such allegations have been leveled against Hezbollah regarding the storage of weapons in and around the airport. In 2018, then-Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil organized a televised briefing for 73 foreign envoys and led an open tour for them to inspect the airport sites that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had claimed were being used by Hezbollah to store weapons. In 2020, Israel again claimed that weapons were being stored near Beirut International Airport, prompting yet another media tour to refute the claims. At that time, the Israeli military released specific details indicating where the alleged weapons facility was located, but when the media tour visited the area, they found nothing to corroborate these claims. When it comes to Gaza, similar claims are frequently made regarding Palestinian armed groups and their use of civilian sites to store weapons and operate military bases. For instance, in July 2022, the Israeli military released images mapping out alleged Hamas military sites surrounding civilian areas. Reputable outlets like Reuters reported these claims. In response to such accusations, Palestinian groups and their supporters often refute the allegations, arguing that these claims are part of a broader strategy to justify military actions and garner international support. The ongoing conflict continues to be marked by a war of narratives, with each side presenting its version of events to the global audience. Israel has frequently targeted Palestinian civilian sites, justifying these actions by claiming Hamas operates there. A notable example is the Israeli invasion of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the territory’s largest medical complex. Israel released CGI images depicting a multi-layered tunnel system under the hospital, alleging it housed Hamas Headquarters. This justification received backing from the U.S. government and support from Western corporate media. However, it was later proven that no such “Hamas HQ” existed. Subsequently, Israel shifted its military focus to Khan Younis, claiming it to be the “real Hamas headquarters,” which was also later disproven. On October 16, before Israel’s large-scale decimation of schools and hospitals in Gaza, the BBC published an article titled “Does Hamas build tunnels under hospitals and schools?”, which helped bolster the Israeli military’s claims. Similar serious allegations about Lebanon could have equally catastrophic repercussions if Western media justifies bombing civilian areas. The Gaza Strip serves as a grim precedent, where around 50,000 Palestinians have been killed or are missing and presumed dead following such justifications. Feature photo | A Lebanese customs officer stands guard during a tour for journalists and diplomats at the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, June 24, 2024. Bilal Hussein | AP Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show ‘Palestine Files’. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47  The post Media Claims of Hezbollah Weapons at Beirut Airport Echo Gaza Reports appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Foreign Affairs, Beirut Airport allegations, Beirut Airport tour, Gaza media parallels, Hezbollah missile allegations, Hezbollah weapons storage, Israeli military reports, Lebanon civilian risk, media manipulation Beirut, Rafik Hariri International Airport, The Telegraph Hezbollah claims, Western media Lebanon]

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[l] at 6/25/24 6:26am
The State of Israel finds itself in an impossible military and political predicament. For decades, a cornerstone of Israeli defense has been the universal belief in its deterrence capacity—rooted in the strength and potency of its unconquerable military and the omniscience of its intelligence agencies. The escalation of hostilities on October 7, marked by the largest intelligence failure in recent history, combined with a politically damaging campaign of violence in Gaza, has shattered this myth. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have failed to achieve any of their stated operational goals, leaving Israel vulnerable in the eyes of its politicians and people. To reestablish the regional status quo and realize a messianic vision of a greater Israel, powerful far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Ben-Gvir are staunchly opposed to a ceasefire in Gaza. Such a ceasefire would provide the military with a much-needed reprieve and pause hostilities with Hezbollah on the northern border. Prime Minister Netanyahu, reliant on these ministers for his power base, now vehemently agrees with them after initially floating the idea of a ceasefire proposal through an anonymous aide earlier this month. Yoav Gallant, the Minister of Defense, who previously briefed the prime minister in the press, is now toeing the party line. He is currently in Washington, engaged in talks with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin regarding the impending invasion of southern Lebanon. The situation is primed for escalation, and there appears to be no off-ramp for any of the parties involved. In our first episode of “State of Play,” host Greg Stoker examines the historical precedents of Israeli military action in Southern Lebanon, particularly the 34-day war in 2006. He compares these precedents to current IDF operational procedures in Gaza to predict the conduct of an impending large-scale military operation on the northern front. Greg Stoker is a former United States Army Ranger who conducted four combat deployments to Afghanistan under the aegis of Joint Special Operations Command from 2009 to 2013. He has practical experience in human intelligence collection and analysis and has recently turned to anti-war activism and geopolitical analysis. While the possibility of a regional war continues to mount, some indicators suggest brakes still exist in the form of ordnance and manpower shortages. It is no secret that the IDF is experiencing a munitions shortage—from JDAM bombs to 155mm howitzer shells—due to its excesses in Gaza. Additionally, the Prime Minister has promised a drawdown in operational tempo in Gaza to refocus on the north. All indicators point to a military stretched beyond its capacity and a governing body at the limit of its political capital. However, the question remains: will they or won’t they? Join us on “State of Play” for an in-depth look at the potential for and folly of engaging in a full-scale war that cannot be won—a war that will have far-reaching and unforeseeable consequences for both the region and the world at large. MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud. Also, be sure to check out rapper Lowkey’s video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog. Greg Stoker is a former US Army Ranger with a background in human intelligence collection and analysis. After serving four combat deployments in Afghanistan, he studied anthropology and International Relations at Columbia University. He is currently a military and geopolitical analyst and a social media “influencer,” though he hates the term. The post Israeli Military on the Brink: Intelligence Failures and Political Chaos appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, Foreign Affairs, Top Story, Bezalel Smotrich Ben-Gvir ceasefire, Gaza conflict escalation, Greg Stoker military analysis, IDF operational failures, Israel Hezbollah conflict, Israeli defense strategy, Israeli intelligence failure 2023, Israeli munitions shortage, Netanyahu Gaza policy, Yoav Gallant US talks]

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[l] at 6/24/24 8:16am
“America should WANT a Cold War with China”. “Time to Increase Defense Spending”. “How America Can Prepare For War in The Middle East, Russia and China.” What do all these stories have in common? They are all written by prominent members of arms industry-sponsored think tanks (although these affiliations are rarely mentioned in corporate media). Think tanks are organizations of “experts” that work to influence public opinion and government policy on all manner of issues. They produce reports, talk to the media, write articles, and lobby politicians. They are usually funded by the rich and powerful, and this has become a crucial way in which the 1% launder their ideas and outlooks into public consciousness. Big corporations pay these groups to advocate for positions that will increase their influence and power. And when it comes to foreign policy, it is no different. It is in weapons companies’ direct interest that we go to war. When we do, they make billions in profit. So it is a no-brainer for these groups to spend a few million dollars every year funding think tanks that will push a pro-war message in Washington and into our media. And they are having a profound effect. A recent study of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal found that, on stories related to the Ukraine conflict, 85% of the think tank citations they made went to those bankrolled by the weapons industry. Since the conflict started, the stocks of corporations like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman have spiked as the West has spent more on arms. In this video, MintPress’ Alan MacLeod explains what think tanks are, explores how they influence public policy, and details how we can protect ourselves from the pro-war propaganda they pump out. Be sure not to miss out. Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.org, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams. The post Revealed: How Arms-Industry Think Tanks Push America to War appeared first on MintPress News.

[Category: Behind The Headlines, National, arms industry sponsorship, corporate media and think tanks, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, pro-war propaganda, Raytheon, Raytheon Lockheed Martin Northrop Grumman stocks, think tanks and public policy, think tanks influence media, Ukraine conflict think tanks, Washington policy and think tanks, weapons companies profits]

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