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  • January 25, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - The Latin American nation of Venezuela faces dangerous destabilization with the United States and its allies having recognized opposition figure Juan Guaido as "president" and declaring actual Venezuelan president - Nicolas Maduro - no longer recognized.

    In response, President Maduro has demanded US diplomatic personnel to leave the country.

    Protests and counter-protests have reportedly taken to the streets as both sides attempt to seize the psychological and political initiative.

    Why Venezuela?

    According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - the impetus for Washington's sudden interest in Venezuela is the suffering of the Venezuelan people.

    Reuters in their article titled, "Pompeo calls on Venezuela's Maduro to step down, urges support from military," would claim:
    In a statement, Pompeo said Washington would support opposition leader Juan Guaido as he establishes a transitional government and prepares the country for elections.

    "The Venezuelan people have suffered long enough under Nicolas Maduro's disastrous dictatorship," Pompeo said. "We call on Maduro to step aside in favor of a legitimate leader reflecting the will of the Venezuelan people."
    In truth, Washington's motivation is the fact that according to The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves on Earth - more than Saudi Arabia and accounting for nearly a quarter of all OPEC production.

    The US doesn't necessarily need this oil in terms of energy - but in terms of maintaining a US-led unipolar international order - controlling or crippling nations with large amounts of hydrocarbons prevents the emergence of a multipolar world nations across the developing world seek, led by reemerging global power - Russia - and newly emerging global power - China.

    A Venezuela governed by a stable political order able to produce wealth from its massive oil reserves - and dedicated to a multipolar alternative to Washington's current international order is intolerable for Wall Street and Washington and explains the vast amount of time, energy, money, and resources the US has invested in destabilizing and overthrowing first President Hugo Chavez - with a coup attempt in 2002 - and now President Maduro.

    US Meddling in Venezuela

    Even the Western media has admitted that the US has long meddled in Venezuela's internal affairs by funding the opposition.

    The UK Independent in a recent article titled, "Venezuela military chief declares loyalty to Maduro and warns US not to intervene," would admit (emphasis added):
    The US has a long history of interfering with democratically elected governments in Latin America and in Venezuela it has sought to weaken the elected governments of both Mr Maduro and Mr Chavez.

    Some of the effort has been in distributing funds to opposition groups through organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, while some has been in the form of simple propaganda.

    Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, said that for the past 20 years it had been US policy to seek a change of government in Caracas. Mr Trump's recognition of Mr Guaido was the most obvious effort to undermine the government.
    The US National Endowment for Democracy's (NED) own current webpage admits to extensively interfering in every imaginable aspect of Venezuela's internal political affairs with funds directed at:
    • Building Strategic Capacity for Local Democratic Actors
    • Cohesive Strategic Communications
    • Defending Human Rights Victims
    • Developing Tools for Agile Communication
    • Empowering Citizens through Local and National Policy Dialogue
    • Facilitating Humanitarian Aid Relief
    • Formulating a Comprehensive Public Policy Reform Package
    • Fostering Scenario Planning and Strategic Analysis
    • Fostering Small Business Enterprise in Defense of Democracy and Free Markets
    • Improving Democratic Governance in Venezuela
    • Improving Local Democratic Governance
    • Leadership Empowerment and Socio-Political Participation
    • Monitoring Human Rights Conditions
    • Monitoring the Human Rights Situation
    • Promoting Access to Justice and Public Services
    • Promoting Checks and Balances
    • Promoting Citizen Journalism
    • Promoting Citizen Participation and Freedom of Expression
    • Promoting Democratic Governance
    • Promoting Democratic Values
    • Promoting Dialogue and Reconciliation
    • Promoting Freedom of Association
    • Promoting Freedom of Expression and Access to Information
    • Promoting Human Rights
    • Promoting Independent Journalism
    • Promoting Political Engagement and Advocacy
    • Promoting the Rule of Law
    It is clear that the US is funding virtually every aspect of opposition operations - from media and legal affairs, to indoctrination and political planning, to interference in the economy and the leveraging of "human rights" to shield US-funded agitators from any attempt to arrest them.

    At one point during US regime change efforts, NED-funded front, Sumate, would even organize a recall referendum against President Chavez - which he won. The Washington Post in a 2006 article titled, "Chavez Government Probes U.S. Funding," would admit:
    [Sumate] organized a recall referendum in 2004 that Chavez won and also is a vociferous critic of the government and the electoral system.
    The article also admits that:
    USAID which hired the Maryland-based company Development Alternatives Inc. to administer the grants has declined to identify many Venezuelan recipients, saying they could be intimidated or prosecuted.
    While the nature of the US government's extensive meddling in Venezuela remains intentionally covert - admissions surrounding Sumate's activities illustrate how even entire referendums are organized through the use of US money and guided by US directives.

    Image: Maria Corina Machado, founder of Sumate, an alleged Venezuelan election monitoring group, funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), meeting with US President George Bush who presided over the failed 2002 coup attempt seeking to oust President Hugo Chavez.
    NED and other organizations operating in parallel - including convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundations - seek to entirely overwrite Venezuelan institutions, governance, and law, replacing it with an obedient US-sponsored client regime and system of administration.

    US support is not confined to broad efforts to build up the opposition - but also specific efforts to aid senior opposition leaders.

    A leaked 2004 US State Department document titled, "Status of Capriles and Sumate Cases," made it clear that NED funding was ongoing even then, and that the US State Department was required to provide aid to NED-funded front Sumate being prosecuted for the very obvious treason they were engaged in. It also illustrated US State Department support for senior opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski.

    Capriles - along with Leopoldo Lopez - served as mentors to current opposition leader Juan Guaido who is now openly being offered some $20 million by the US State Department in aid.

    US Efforts to Cripple Venezuela's Economy

    Reuters in an article titled, "Pompeo urges regional bloc to support Venezuela's Guaido," would claim:
    [Pompeo] pledged $20 million towards humanitarian aid for Venezuela, where economic collapse, hyperinflation, and food and medicine shortages have sparked an exodus of millions of people.
    The paradoxical nature of this supposed aid is that the United States had deliberately caused this economic collapse, hyperinflation, and food and medicine shortages in the first place - specifically to undermine and destabilize first President Chavez' government and now Maduro's.

    The US Treasury Department aimed sanctions specifically at (PDF) Venezuela's central bank and Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) - Venezuela's state-owned oil and gas company to restrict financing and to block transfers - while the US and allied OPEC members acted in concert to lower global oil prices - not only to cripple Venezuela's oil-based economy - but those of other US adversaries including Iran and Russia.

    While the Western media repeatedly claims US sanctions have been reserved for Venezuelan officials only, the Washington Post itself would admit in an article titled, "Venezuela's oil gives Maduro little leverage against the United States," that (emphasis added):
    "Seventy-five percent of cash-generating oil exports are coming here," said Scott Modell, the managing director of Rapidan Energy and a former CIA officer in Latin America. Though Venezuela exports considerable amounts of crude oil to major diplomatic allies like Russia and China, almost all of the profits are used to service preexisting debts. "They don't get cash for that, and they are desperate for cash," Modell said.
    The article also stated:
    Citgo's ownership has long been a source of tension between the United States and Venezuela. In August 2017, the Trump administration signed an executive order that blocked the repatriation of dividends, and sanctions on Venezuelan officials have placed Citgo in an increasingly fraught position.

    Just under half of PDVSA's shares in the company were used as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan the Venezuelan government took out from Russian energy giant Rosneft in 2016. Foreign creditors have suggested they may try to acquire parts of Citgo to service their debts.

    Modell said that there is debate in the United States about whether the U.S. government could seize the company itself. Some opposed this, arguing that Citgo should be an asset available for a post-Maduro Venezuela that could help provide a "petroeconomic recovery" for the ailing country.

    It is clear that significant efforts have been made to cripple Venezuela's ability to profit from its oil with even the US media and those it interviews admitting the US is unsure of just how far to go - realizing that once the damaging sanctions are reversed, remaining, intact infrastructure will allow Venezuela to "provide a "petroeconomic recover" for the ailing country."

    In other instances of economic warfare, large sums of Venezuelan gold have been withheld in the UK which refuses to return it to the Venezuelan government, The Times reports.

    Efforts within Venezuela through US-funded opposition groups, focus on hording certain essential goods creating artificial shortages while armed gangs hired by wealthy business and land owners ravage state-backed farmers and industries to further exasperate prices, supply, and demand.

    A Washington Post article titled, "Venezuela's paradox: People are hungry, but farmers can't feed them," refers to the armed gangs merely as "criminals" but links to Venezuela Analysis which gives a fuller but contradictory version of events.

    Venezuela Analysis' article, "Venezuelan Farmers on Disputed Land Say They Have No Intention of Vacating," depicts efforts by farmers to use land reclaimed from wealthy owners to produce agricultural goods, but who are targeted by hired mercenaries, attacked and driven off. In other cases, wealthy oligarchs are able to secure concessions from courts to consolidate control over farmlands used to produce food.

    The Venezuelan government has been increasingly resorting to price controls and emergency measures to compensate in the face of overwhelming economic warfare but with varied success.

    Economic destabilization is a key component in US regime change efforts - witnessed in all of Washington's past and current confrontations including against Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Russia for an array of alleged offenses centered around "human rights" and fabricated threats to US national security.

    Conversely - nations like Saudi Arabia whom even former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted is "providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region," and undeniably among the worst human rights abusers on Earth - has escaped not only sanctions, but even the most basic condemnation for its serial violations of international law and rights abuses.

    This stark contrast helps illustrate the true, politically-motivated nature of US sanctions arrayed against targeted nations with but the thinnest rhetorical veneer applied to obtain public support.

    Where even powerful nations like Russia and China must work for years to create alternatives to US-dollar domination across global finances - a nation like Venezuela already destabilized from decades of US-fomented chaos stands to suffer greatly in the face of sanctions and economic warfare - now coupled with another overt US-backed coup attempt.

    Imperialism, Not "Socialism"

    Venezuela sits on an ocean of proven oil reserves. It has been openly slated for regime change by the US and has been for years with documented evidence proving the current opposition vying for power is funded by Washington, for Washington's, not Venezuela's benefit.

    Sanctions and economic warfare have been aimed at Venezuela just as the US has done with the numerous other nations it has overthrown, invaded, and otherwise destroyed - or those that it is trying to overthrow and destroy.

    There is no missing puzzle piece that makes Venezuela an exception to what is another textbook case of US-backed regime change.

    Attempts to claim Venezuela's crisis was precipitated by "socialism" - even if one is able to ignore the voluminous amounts of evidence proving US subversion has instead - still doesn't add up.

    China is also socialist - communist in fact - with a high degree of central planning and nationalized industry. It possesses the largest high-speed rail network on Earth, has a space program with the ability to launch people into orbit, and has the world's second largest economy.

    Conversely, the US hasn't a single mile of high-speed rail, currently pays the Russian Federation to launch its astronauts into orbit, and has thoroughly squandered its place as largest global economy in pursuit of aspirations toward unrealized global domination.

    There is clearly more that contributes to a nation's success or failure than being "socialist" or "capitalist" - whatever either term even really means. For Venezuela, its failures are a direct and clear result of US imperialism. And only through exposing and rolling back US meddling, can Venezuela's fortunes be reversed.
  • January 28, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The only thing more sinister than intentionally creating refugees, is weaponizing them as leverage to further coerce nations and advance hegemonic ambitions.

    The United States and its allies have done both extensively - from exploiting the flow of refugees fleeing US-led wars in Libya and Syria - to the cynical exploitation of high-profile cases like Rahaf al-Qunun of Saudi Arabia and Hakeem al-Araibi of Bahrain - both of whom are fleeing autocratic regimes armed and propped up exclusively by the West.

    In addition to creating the conditions ensuring a steady stream of refugees - the West has assembled an army of faux-rights advocates - most notably Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International to shift blame from those responsible for the creation of refugees to those saddled with growing numbers of people seeking refuge within their borders.

    Weaponizing Refugees in Libya and Syria

    After the US-led NATO destruction of Libya, a predictable tidal wave of refugees flooded out of North Africa into Europe. At the same time, the US-led proxy war in Syria was ramping up likewise causing a steady stream of refugees fleeing the conflict.

    As refugees began arriving in Europe - the result of US wars eagerly aided and abetted by many of Europe's NATO members as well as Canada and Australia - the socioeconomic pressure they created - real or imagined - was immediately leveraged to call for bolder and more direct military intervention against Syria by the West.

    Articles like a 2016 Guardian piece titled, "Refugees are becoming Russia's weapon of choice in Syria," would even attempt to claim Russia's air campaign against Western-sponsored terrorists in Syria was aimed at intentionally creating a flow of refugees into Turkey and Europe to "divide the transatlantic alliance and undermine the European project."

    The article would admit that this flow of refugees served as a pretext for a proposed "no-fly zone" in northern Syria - a stated goal of US policymakers since as early as 2012 published in a Brookings Institution memo titled, "Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change" (PDF) which called for:
    ...the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power.3 This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.
    It is clear now - as the Syrian government regains control of the nation's territory and refugees begin returning home almost exclusively to territory controlled by Damascus - just how cynical the West's refugee pretext actually was.

    Propping Up Dictatorships, Leveraging Their Victims

    In early January, 18 year old Saudi national Rahaf al-Qunun was detained at Bangkok's international airport. She had claimed she was fleeing Saudi Arabia to escape both her abusive family and a despotic government.

    Faux-rights groups including HRW and Amnesty International immediately seized upon the opportunity to accuse the Thai government of wrongfully detaining Qunun and preparing to send her back to Saudi Arabia.

    The West's human rights racket has systematically targeted the current Thai government in an attempt to undermine it ahead of elections the US hopes returns their favored proxies to power.

    In reality, it became clear that Qunun was travelling on an Australian visa which was revoked mid-flight - stranding her in Bangkok, the Guardian would eventually admit.

    Thai officials worked the entire day to ascertain the details of her case and find a favorable outcome for the stranded teen. Despite having the opportunity to place her on an early morning flight to Kuwait where she'd then be sent back to Saudi Arabia - Thai officials instead continued working on her case long before Western interests began exploiting the incident.

    And despite Bangkok arranging a meeting between Qunun and representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) by evening, the Western media, several Western embassies, faux rights groups - particularly HRW - and local fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) funded by the West - had already spent the entire day smearing the Thai government.

    At one point, Canadian ambassador to Thailand, Donica Pottie, attempted to post a "Save Rahaf" hashtag on social media. When it was pointed out that Canada sells billions of dollars in arms to the very Saudi regime Rahaf al-Qunun was fleeing from - she promptly deleted the post.

    Canada would move to offer Qunun asylum - posing as the ultimate hero of the incident. Qunun herself would indeed thank Canada - but also the Thai government - smeared by the West including Canada - for Thailand's role in helping her after being stranded by Australia's visa cancellation.

    Creating the Monster Rahaf al-Qunun Was Fleeing

    The autocratic regime ruling Saudi Arabia receives weapons, political support, and military protection from not only Canada, but also the US. Germany, France, and the United Kingdom also help arm the regime in Riyadh.

    Australia - the nation that cancelled Rahaf al-Qunun's visa, stranding her in Bangkok - also supplies the Saudi regime with weapons. In a Guardian piece titled, "Richard Di Natale labels Australian arms sales to Saudi Arabia 'contemptible'," it was noted that:
    In a Senate estimates hearing last week, the Department of Defence admitted it had made 14 approvals of military gear and services to Saudi Arabia in the past two years. On the same day, defence minister Marise Payne would not rule out an export ban, saying "all options are on the table".
    Rahaf al-Qunun had her future jeopardized by a coalition of Western nations who are responsible for propping up the very regime she was fleeing from.

    At a time when these same Western nations seek to place additional sanctions on Russia and Iran for baseless accusations over various alleged misdeeds - they openly embrace Saudi Arabia as it uses its Western-made weapons to brutalize its own population - as reported by Canada's Globe and Mail, and wage relentless war upon neighboring Yemen.

    Many of the weapons the West has sold to Saudi Arabia have also ended up in the hands of terrorists fighting in Syria, as exposed in investigative pieces like Robert Fisk's, "I traced missile casings in Syria back to their original sellers, so it's time for the west to reveal who they sell arms to," published in the Independent.

    But because the West also has invested heavily in organizations posing as human rights advocates - regardless of the truth behind their central role in creating autocracies and enabling their abuses - the finger can be pointed anywhere, anytime when politically convenient - in this case, the current government of Thailand responsible for ousting a US client regime in 2014.

    Rahaf al-Qunun is not Alone

    Thailand has also been recently blamed for detaining Hakeem al-Araibi of Bahrain who has - since 2017 - been living in Australia. It was Australia who played a central role in issuing an Interpol Red Notice that forced Thailand to initially detain him.

    The Guardian in an article titled, "Hakeem al-Araibi: calls grow for inquiry into police role in refugee footballer's arrest," would note:
    A parliamentary inquiry should examine the actions of the Australian federal police which led to the arrest of Hakeem al-Araibi in Thailand, Australia's peak union body and the Greens have said.

    Al-Araibi, a 25-year-old Bahraini refugee who has permanent residency in Australia, was arrested on arrival in Bangkok for a holiday, on the basis of an Interpol red notice, which was later lifted.
    The article also noted:
    The red notice was erroneously issued by Interpol against its own protocols which ban the granting of red notices for refugees on behalf of the country from which the individual fled.

    "It's deeply disturbing that our own authorities would help a country to extradite an Australian resident when they are accused of torturing that person," said the ACTU president, Michele O'Neil.

    Once again, while such facts are eventually mentioned by the Western media, the vast majority of coverage - including accusations made by faux-rights organizations like HRW and Amnesty - have focused entirely on targeting Thailand.

    While the Western media insists Thailand will inevitably send Hakeem al-Araibi back to Bahrain - the same was said in regards to Rahaf al-Qunun - the latter being revealed as a categorical lie.

    Western embassies, their partners in the media, and faux-rights groups funded by Western governments again seek to pose as the impetus forcing Bangkok to make the "right" decision, and send Hakeem al-Araibi back to Australia - despite his dire circumstances being entirely of their own collective doing in the first place.

    Bahrain - like Saudi Arabia - is a autocratic regime eagerly propped up by Western nations - armed with Western weaponry and even hosting the US 5th fleet headquarters. And like Saudi Arabia - despite being repeat human rights violators - Bahrain faces no sanctions or even condemnation from the Western governments propping up the regime.

    Like in Rahaf al-Qunun's case - Australia again played a central role in Hakeem al-Araibi's initial arrest, before posing as a "hero" rescuing him from the "Thais."

    Fighting Back

    For Thailand - its greatest weakness is a lack of an English-language news service serving the nation's best interests.

    English language newspapers like Bangkok Post and The Nation are merely echo chambers of Western propaganda. Even government-funded Thai PBS is lined with Western-trained "journalists" who prefer repeating Western narratives than any sort of independent coverage. Those few who dare step out of line find themselves with the entirety of the West's Thailand-based correspondents and Western-funded NGOs lobbying against them.

    An RT-style international news platform, truly representing Thai interests and telling Thailand's side of any given story would have greatly benefited the nation during the Rahaf al-Qunun case - allowing the government to immediately and unambiguously state why she was being detained, what the government was attempting to accomplish, the meeting it was arranging between her and the UNHCR, and why it was impossible to "immediately" release her.

    But because Thailand does not have such a media platform - professional propagandists at the BBC, Reuters, AP, AFP, and others were able to fill in the missing blanks themselves depicting Thailand in the worst possible light - with now verified lies.

    At one point, Jonathan Head of the BBC claimed to have personally seen Rahaf al-Qunun's Australian visa and "confirmed" it was still valid.

    Likewise, lacking such a media platform allows the Western media and other opportunists to assign motives and predicted outcomes regarding Hakeem al-Araibi's case - once again undermining the Thai government's credibility even if it plans on making the right decision.

    Lacking such a media platform does not entirely prevent the Thai government from coming out on top.

    A single, concise, and very public statement regarding Hakeem al-Araibi's case - and all future cases like his - including assurances that he will not be sent back to Bahrain if injustice and mistreatment are expected and that his detainment is merely administrative - would shutdown speculation as well as opportunities to attack Thailand. If Hakeem al-Araibi is wanted on solid grounds for crimes he committed in Bahrain - he allegedly vandalized a police station - Thailand could present this information - virtually omitted from all other news stories regarding his case.

    For faux-rights groups like HRW and Amnesty - the fact that they have repeatedly failed to point out the central role the West - their sponsors - has played in creating the very wars and despots these refugees are fleeing from implicates and exposes them, voiding their credibility.

    Only through the repeated exposure of their abuse of human rights advocacy they couch their political agendas behind, can the effectiveness of disinformation and smear campaigns like those surrounding Rahaf al-Qunun and Hakeem al-Araibi's cases be finally put to an end.

    A single refugee case - given the current influence of the West's human rights racket - can be used to strain relations between two states, undermine the credibility of a targeted nation, or entirely undermine the sovereignty of a nation and its ability to control who can and cannot cross its borders.

    By exposing and crippling the West's human rights racket, room can be made for genuine rights advocates who seek to constructively work with governments to expose the true root of refugee crises and improve conditions and outcomes for the refugees themselves.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • January 28, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Just as the US has done across the Arab World and in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia faces political subversion aimed at transforming the region to serve Washington's interests.

    Thailand is a pivotal Southeast Asian state of nearly 70 million people, with the region's second largest economy, a formidable military and able to boast as the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid European colonisation.

    It's decisive pivot away from Washington, toward Beijing and other emerging global powers has led to the current government's determination to replace aging US military hardware with Chinese, Russian and European weapons and the signing of multiple infrastructure project deals with China including high-speed rail networks both within Thailand and connecting Thailand to China via Laos.

    As a key hub in Southeast Asia's ASEAN bloc, Thailand's influence either for or against American designs in the region can significantly impact Washington's ambitions.

    For all of these reasons, the United States has slated Thailand for regime change.

    Toward that end, Washington currently maintains a growing army of supposed "nongovernmental organisations" (NGOs) attempting to influence and control everything from the media and law, to education, the environment and even elections.

    These NGOs are also actively leading protests against the current government, protests that have recently grown after the government repealed bans on political gatherings.

    The current Thai government resulted from a 2014 military coup that ousted a US client government headed by Thaksin Shinawatra via his nepotist-appointed nominee (and sister) Yingluck Shinawatra.

    Shinawatra supporters carried out an extensive campaign of armed violence against over half-a-year of sustained anti-Shinawatra protests in the streets of the capital, Bangkok, leaving over 20 dead. Despite the number of protesters on peak days reaching well over a million, US and European media downplayed their significance and even wrote them off as "anti-democratic." At the same time, there are examples of that same Western media justifying armed attacks on protesters as merely expressions of "frustration."

    Selling Violent Subversion as "Pro-Democratic"

    Conversely, in order to sell US-backed subversion as "pro-democratic," including recent US-backed protests now taking to the streets of Thailand, the Western media has begun introducing headlines like the Guardian's recent piece titled, "Thailand: biggest democracy protests in years held as military junta delays elections."

    In it, it claims:
    Tensions continue to mount in Thailand as the ruling military junta has signalled that the long postponed elections will be delayed yet again, the fifth delay in less than five years.

    On Sunday, in one of the biggest pro-democracy protests in Thailand in over four years, hundreds of people took to the streets for the third time in a week to criticise the military government for appearing to renege on assurances the election would finally happen on 24 February.
    Just as US and European media sources did during the Arab Spring, these staged demonstrations are being intentionally hyped, numbers inflated and the interests funding and organising them intentionally concealed from readers.

    The picture featured in the Guardian's article shows protesters clad in red, the color of choice of Thaksin Shinawatra's United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, or UDD, more commonly known as just "red shirts." Yet the only mention of "red shirts" in the Guardian's article appears in the second to last paragraph, attempting to portray them as a separate movement from what are obviously red shirt protests taking place now.

    The red shirts are notorious for their ultra-violent protests. In 2009 they rioted through Bangkok and gunned down two shopkeepers amid looting. In 2010, 300 armed militants were brought in to augment red shirt mobs, leading to weeks of gun battles and grenade attacks in Bangkok, leaving nearly 100 dead and culminating in citywide arson that damaged or consumed several major buildings including the stock exchange, a historical theater and a major downtown shopping centre.

    It was also Thaksin Shinawatra's red shirts who carried out violent attacks on anti-Shinawatra protesters in 2014.

    None of this is mentioned in the Guardian's article and at one point the article even claims the 2010 violence was a result of an "army assault." This is despite the Guardian itself at least partially admitting to red shirt violence in 2010.

    In a 2010 Guardian article titled, "Thailand's red shirt rebels offer ceasefire in return for quick election," it admits:
    Twenty-six people have died in clashes on Bangkok's streets, 25 of those on 10 April when troops opened fire on protestors in pitched battles across the city. One woman died on Thursday night when five grenades, allegedly fired from within the red shirts' barricaded compound, hit the city's financial district, including a railway station where a commuter-packed train stood. Eighty-six people were injured.
    Even in this tacit admission of red shirt violence, the Guardian attempts to spin events as an "army assault" rather than a response to armed terrorism.

    Even Human Rights Watch was forced to admit to the heavily armed nature of the red shirt protests in 2010. In their report, "Descent into Chaos (.pdf)" they admit regarding April 10, 2010 that:

    As the army attempted to move on the camp, they were confronted by well-armed men who fired M16 and AK-47 assault rifles at them, particularly at the Khok Wua intersection on Rajdamnoen Road. They also fired grenades from M79s and threw M67 hand grenades at the soldiers. News footage and videos taken by protesters and tourists show several soldiers lying unconscious and bleeding on the ground, as well as armed men operating with a high degree of coordination and military skills.
    The systematic dishonesty of papers like the Guardian in regards to Thailand's ongoing political crisis should be alarming, especially attempts to cover up or justify armed terrorism. Not least because it fits a similar pattern used to help exasperate violence and eventually regime change... and even Western military intervention in nations like Libya, Syria and Ukraine from 2011 onward.

    Follow the Money, Not the Rhetoric

    With each organised destabilisation, the US and its European partners seek to find emotionally-appealing narratives to hook the public on before facts emerge. The hysteria creates both political and operational momentum on the ground that may tip the balance even if the truth eventually emerges.

    In Thailand's case, a concerted campaign to smear the nation's military and constitutional monarchy has been ongoing for years. Even across the alternative media many have taken the bait rather than critically examining the so-called opposition; who funds them and what truly motivates them.

    The fact that the Guardian published an article with Thaksin Shinawatra's red shirts featured prominently at the top, and still attempted to sell the protest as "pro-democratic" illustrates that not only does the Western media seek to mislead the public regarding the true nature of Thailand's political crisis, but holds in contempt the public's ability to research the crisis on their own.

    Knocking Thailand out of China's orbit, either by successfully replacing the current government with a client regime answering to Washington, or by dividing and destroying the nation to a degree that it is no longer a useful economic, political or economic ally of Beijing, benefits Washington and fits into a wider global pattern of Western political meddling and subversion.

    The only question left is through which political parties and organisations will this agenda be pursued? By following National Endowment for Democracy and Open Society funds to organisations like Prachatai, Fortify Rights, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Thai Netizens, the Cross Cultural Foundation, iLaw and many more, all openly involved in current anti-government protests padded with Thaksin Shianwatra's red shirts, with Shinawatra himself a former Carlyle Group adviser and the recipient of years of US lobbying services, we can easily identify the "who."

    The alternative media will play a pivotal role in either preventing Southeast Asia from falling victim to the next "Arab Spring" or "Euromaiden," or aiding and abetting it through shortsighted, ideologically and emotionally-driven analysis.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 1, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Recent headlines across American and European news agencies have focused on the rise of a so-called Chinese "police state," specifically in regards to security infrastructure put in place in China's western region of Xinjiang.

    Articles like Bloomberg's "Inside the Vast Police State at the Heart of China's Belt and Road" and the Economist's "China has turned Xinjiang into a police state like no other" depict Beijing's efforts as a "Muslim crackdown" and a "massive abuse of human rights."

    While such articles allude to the very real violence that has taken place in Xinjiang and elsewhere targeted by an extremist minority among China's Uighur population, it is portrayed as "resistance" by Western sources rather than terrorism.

    Bloomberg's article would claim:
    ...state-mandated drills are part of China's suppression campaign against Uighurs, predominately Muslim ethnic groups whose members have periodically lashed out with riots, stabbings and other attacks in protest of a government controlled by the Han Chinese majority.
    In reality, Uighur extremists are terrorists pursuing unrealistic separatism encouraged by Washington, and doing so through extreme violence.

    Uighur Separatism is US Sponsored

    The United State government via the National Endowment for Democracy dedicates a page to programmes it is funding in what is listed as "Xinjiang/East Turkistan," East Turkistan being the fictional name of the imaginary state separatists seek to carve out of Chinese territory.

    The inclusion of "East Turkistan" is all but an admission to US support for Uighur separatism.

    The "World Uyghur Congress" (WUC) is among the groups the US NED is funding. It openly promotes separatism.

    WUC is omnipresent in Western news reports, promoting allegations against Beijing regarding Xinjiang, yet WUC is actually based in Munich, Germany and Washington D.C.

    WUC representatives such as Dilxat Raxit and Rebiya Kadeer are cited, making various unsubstantiated claims regarding China's treatment of Uighurs with Western news agencies often failing to mention their WUC affiliation or that the WUC is funded by the US government in articles.

    Stories like, "Chinese Police Order Xinjiang's Muslims to Hand in All Copies of The Quran," published by the US State Department-funded and directed Radio Free Asia network are based entirely on WUC claims.

    Further investigation would reveal the Qurans being collected were published in Saudi Arabia and deliberately rewritten to promote extremism. Newer versions printed elsewhere were not being collected.

    It is just one of many examples of the US intentionally undermining security in China, then intentionally misrepresenting China's attempts to respond to these growing threats.

    Uighur Extremists are Carrying out Deadly Terrorism in China

    What Bloomberg describes as "periodically lashing out" has been more accurately presented even in the Western press, years before this latest disinformation campaign against Beijing began.

    In a 2014 BBC article titled, "Why is there tension between China and the Uighurs?," a long and appalling list of Uighur terrorist attacks are presented:
    In June 2012, six Uighurs reportedly tried to hijack a plane from Hotan to Urumqi before they were overpowered by passengers and crew.

    There was bloodshed in April 2013 and in June that year, 27 people died in Shanshan county after police opened fire on what state media described as a mob armed with knives attacking local government buildings

    At least 31 people were killed and more than 90 suffered injuries in May 2014 when two cars crashed through an Urumqi market and explosives were tossed into the crowd. China called it a "violent terrorist incident".

    It followed a bomb and knife attack at Urumqi's south railway station in April, which killed three and injured 79 others.

    In July, authorities said a knife-wielding gang attacked a police station and government offices in Yarkant, leaving 96 dead. The imam of China's largest mosque, Jume Tahir, was stabbed to death days later.

    In September about 50 died in blasts in Luntai county outside police stations, a market and a shop. Details of both incidents are unclear and activists have contested some accounts of incidents in state media.

    Some violence has also spilled out of Xinjiang. A March stabbing spree in Kunming in Yunnan province that killed 29 people was blamed on Xinjiang separatists, as was an October 2013 incident where a car ploughed into a crowd and burst into flames in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
    It can only be imagined what sort of security measures the United States or United Kingdom would put into place if such large scale and persist terrorism was taking place within their borders. It would also be curious to imagine what either nation would do if the separatism driving the violence was being openly promoted by a foreign state.

    For China, draining the swamps of ideological extremism is their method of choice and is the impetus behind the so-called "reeducation camps" being operated in Xinjiang.

    This systematic and brutal campaign of terrorism now being omitted from Western news sources is deliberate. Omitting this crucial context is meant to portray Beijing's reaction to years of deadly terrorism as irrational, oppressive and totalitarian.

    And even as the US and other Western nations promote this campaign of disinformation, stories are still slipping through, admitting to the serious and growing security challenges Uighur terrorism presents not only China but the rest of the world.

    The US State Department funded and directed Voice of America in an article titled, "Analysts: Uighur Jihadis in Syria Could Pose Threat," would admit:
    Analysts are warning that the jihadi group Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in northwestern Syria could pose a danger to Syria's volatile Idlib province, where efforts continue to keep a fragile Turkey-Russia-brokered cease-fire between Syrian regime forces and the various rebel groups.

    The TIP declared an Islamic emirate in Idlib in late November and has largely remained off the radar of authorities and the media thanks to its low profile. Founded in 2008 in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, the TIP has been one of the major extremist groups in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in the country in 2011.

    The TIP is primarily made up of Uighur Muslims from China, but in recent years it also has included other jihadi fighters within its ranks.
    The article also discusses the threat of these terrorists transferring their experience back to western China.

    The article demonstrates two important facts; that Uighur "separatists" in Xinjiang are actually highly organised and dangerous terrorists, and that they are involved in armed violence not only in China, but around the world.

    "Humanitarian Concern" as Geopolitical Handcuffs

    The schizophrenic nature of US media coverage regarding Uighur extremism, portraying them as innocent victims of Chinese "totalitarianism" on one hand, and as a heavily armed bloc fighting alongside Al Qaeda and the Islamic State terrorists in Syria on the other, betrays the former as a means of geopolitically handcuffing Beijing's ability to decisively respond to the latter.

    By hindering Beijing's ability to react to a terrorist threat the US is actively encouraging, Washington hopes to give Uighur extremism the space it needs to take hold and undermine China's security indefinitely.

    As to why, the Bloomberg article makes it very clear:
    Xinjiang sits at the geographic heart of Xi's signature Belt and Road Initiative. It's a trillion-dollar plan to finance new highways, ports and other modern infrastructure projects in developing countries that will connect them to China's markets—and, skeptics say, put them in China's debt for decades to come.
    The use of terrorism, shielded from security efforts by disingenuous humanitarian concerns to hinder China's One Belt, One Road initiative has become a common theme throughout Washington's strategy to contain China's rise upon the global stage.

    Understanding the truth behind Beijing's security issues in Xinjiang points out that it is the United States, not China, not only to blame for any unnecessary suffering Uighurs now face, but also working to undermine global peace and prosperity, not contribute toward it.

    Even if the wildest accusations made by the US against China in Xinjiang are true, considering what the scourge of foreign-funded terrorism has brought to nations like Syria, Libya and Iraq, would such measures be too extreme?

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 7, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - At face value - the notion that the US occupation of Syria is key to preventing the return of the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) to Syrian territory is unconvincing.

    Regions west of the Euphrates River where ISIS had previously thrived have since been permanently taken back by the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian and Iranian allies - quite obviously without any support from the United States - and in fact - despite Washington's best efforts to hamper Damascus' security operations.

    Damascus and its Russian and Iranian allies have demonstrated that ISIS can be permanently defeated. With ISIS supply lines running out of NATO-territory in Turkey and from across the Jordanian and Iraqi border cut off - Syrian forces have managed to sustainably suppress the terrorist organization's efforts to reestablish itself west of the Euphrates.

    The very fact that ISIS persists in the sole region of the country currently under US occupation raises many questions about not only the sincerity or lack thereof of Washington's efforts to confront and defeat ISIS - but over whether or not Washington is deliberately sustaining the terrorist organization's fighting capacity specifically to serve as a pretext for America's continued - and illegal - occupation of Syrian territory.

    The US Department of Defense Says It Best

    A recent report (entire PDF version here) published by the US Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General himself would claim:

    According to the DoD, while U.S.-backed Syrian forces have continued the fight to retake the remaining ISIS strongholds in Syria, ISIS remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters that "could likely resurge in Syria" absent continued counterterrorism pressure. According to the DoD, ISIS is still able to coordinate offensives and counter-offensives, as well as operate as a decentralized insurgency.
    The report also claims:
    Currently, ISIS is regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria, but absent sustained [counterterrorism] pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to twelve months and regain limited territory in the [Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV)].

    By "continued counterterrorism pressure," the report specifically means continued US occupation of both Syria and Iraq as well as continued military and political support for proxy militants the US is using to augment its occupation in Syria.

    The report itself notes that the last stronghold of ISIS exists specifically in territory under defacto US occupation or protection east of the Euphrates River where Syrian forces have been repeatedly attacked - both by US-backed proxies and by US forces themselves.

    The very fact that the report mentions ISIS is "regenerating key functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria" despite the US planning no withdrawal from Iraq seems to suggest just how either impotent or genuinely uninterested the US is in actually confronting and defeating ISIS. As to why - ISIS serves as the most convincing pretext to justify Washington's otherwise unjustified and continued occupation of both Syria and Iraq.

    US DoD's Own Report Exposes Weakness, Illegitimacy of "Kurdish Independence"

    The report is all but an admission that US-backed militants in Syria lack the capability themselves to overcome the threat of ISIS without constant support from Washington. That the report claims ISIS is all but defeated but could "resurge" within a year without US backing - highlights the weakness and illegitimacy of these forces and their political ambitions of "independence" they pursue in eastern Syria.

    A Kurdish-dominated eastern Syria which lacks the military and economic capabilities to assert control over the region without the perpetual presence of and backing of US troops - only further undermines the credibility of Washington's Kurdish project east of the Euphrates.

    The Syrian government - conversely - has demonstrated the ability to reassert control over territory and prevent the return of extremist groups - including ISIS.

    Were the United States truly dedicated to the destruction of ISIS - it is clear that it would support forces in the region not only capable of achieving this goal - but who have so far been the only forces in the region to do so.

    ISIS as a Pretext for Perpetual US Occupation

    In reality - the US goal in both Syria and Iraq is to undermine the strength and unity of both while incrementally isolating and encircling neighboring Iran. The US itself deliberately created ISIS and the many extremist groups fighting alongside it.

    It was in a leaked 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo that revealed the US and its allies' intent to create what it called at the time a "Salafist principality" in eastern Syria. The memo would explicitly state that (emphasis added):

    If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).
    On clarifying who these supporting powers were, the DIA memo would state:
    The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
    The "Salafist" (Islamic) "principality" (State) would indeed be created precisely in eastern Syria as US policymakers and their allies had set out to do. It would be branded the "Islamic State" and be used first to wage a more muscular proxy war against Damascus - and when that failed - to invite US military forces to intervene in the conflict directly.

    Several years onward, and with the abject failure of the US proxy war in Syria all but complete, the shattered remnants of ISIS are sheltered exclusively in regions now under the defacto protection of US forces and are being used as a pretext to delay or altogether prevent any significant withdrawal of US forces.

    While many see the announcement of a US troop withdrawal from Syria by US President Donald Trump and attempts to backtrack away from the withdrawal as a struggle between the White House and the Pentagon - it is much more likely the result of a collapsing foreign policy vacillating between bad options and worse options.

    The inability - so far - of Israeli airstrikes to even penetrate Syrian air defenses let alone cause any significant damage on the ground in Syria has further highlighted Western impotence and complicated Washington's plans moving onward into the future.

    Turkey's teetering policy regarding Syria and the prospects of it being drawn deeper into Syrian territory to "take over" the US occupation - as described by the DoD Inspector General's report - will only further overextend and mire Turkish forces, creating vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited by everyone sitting at the negotiation tables opposite Ankara.

    It is still uncertain what Ankara will do, but as an initially willing partner in US-engineered proxy war in Syria - it is now left with its own unpalatable options of bad and worse.

    It is interesting that even the DoD Inspector General's report mentions ISIS' continued fighting capacity depends on foreign fighters and "external donations" - yet never explores the obvious state sponsorship required to sustain both. The DoD report and US actions themselves have all but approached openly defending the remnants of ISIS.

    While the prospect of violently overthrowing the Syrian government seems to have all but passed, the US is still trying to justify its presence in Syria at precisely the junctions ISIS and other terrorist organizations are moving fighters and weapons into the country through - in northern Syria, in southeast Syria near the Iraqi border, and at Al Tanf near the Iraqi-Jordanian border.

    Were the US to seek to consolidate its proxies and initiate a "resurge" of ISIS - the very scenario it claims it seeks to prevent - its control of these vital entry points into Syria and Iraq would be paramount. Allowing them to fall into Syrian and Iraqi forces' hands to be secured and cut off would - ironically - spell the end of ISIS in both nations.

    While Washington's words signal a desire to defeat ISIS - its actions are the sole obstruction between ISIS and its absolute defeat.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 15, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - US weapons are once again falling into the hands of militants fighting in one of Washington's many proxy wars - this time in Yemen - the militants being fighters of local Al Qaeda affiliates.

    CNN in its article, "Sold to an ally, lost to an enemy," would admit:
    Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have transferred American-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen, in violation of their agreements with the United States, a CNN investigation has found.
    The article also claims:
    Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, its main partner in the war, have used the US-manufactured weapons as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape, according to local commanders on the ground and analysts who spoke to CNN.
    Weapon transfer included everything from small arms to armored vehicles, CNN would report.

    The article would include a response from Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael, who claimed:

    The United States has not authorized the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates to re-transfer any equipment to parties inside Yemen.

    The US government cannot comment on any pending investigations of claims of end-use violations of defense articles and services transferred to our allies and partners.
    Despite obvious evidence that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are both violating whatever agreements the Pentagon claims to have with both nations, the US continues fighting their joint war in Yemen for them in all but name.

    The US role in Yemen includes not only arming Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but also training their pilots, selecting targets, sharing intelligence, repairing weapon systems, refuelling Saudi warplanes, and even through the deployment of US special forces along The Saudi-Yemeni border.

    Because of this continued and unconditional support - Pentagon complaints over weapon transfers it claims were unauthorized ring particularly hollow. More so when considering in other theaters of war, US weapons also "accidentally" ended up in the hands of extremists that just so happened to be fighting against forces the US opposed.

    (Repeated) Actions Speak Louder than Pentagon Excuses

    An entire army of Al Qaeda-linked forces was raised in Syria against the government in Damascus through the "accidental" transfer of US weapons from alleged moderate militants to designated terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda's Al Nusra affiliate and the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (ISIS).

    And while this was presented to the public as "accidental" - years before the war in Syria even erupted, there were already warning signs that the US planned to deliberately use extremists in a proxy war against both Syria and Iran.

    As early as 2007 - a full 4 years before the 2011 "Arab Spring" would begin - an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh published in the New Yorker titled, ""The Redirection: Is the Administration's new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?" would warn (emphasis added):
    To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
    From 2011 onward, admissions throughout prominent Western newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post would admit to US weapon deliveries to "moderate rebels" in Syria.

    Articles like the New York Times', "Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With C.I.A. Aid," and "Kerry Says U.S. Will Double Aid to Rebels in Syria," the Telegraph's, "US and Europe in 'major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb'," and the Washington Post's article, "U.S. weapons reaching Syrian rebels," would detail hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons, vehicles, equipment, and training funneled into Syria to so-called "moderate rebels."

    Yet even as early as the first year of the conflict, Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra - a US State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization - would dominate the battlefield opposite Syrian forces.

    The US State Department in its own official press statement titled, "Terrorist Designations of the al-Nusrah Front as an Alias for al-Qa'ida in Iraq," explicitly stated that:

    Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks -- ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations -- in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.
    If the US and its allies were admittedly transferring hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons, equipment, and other support to "moderate rebels," who was funding and arming Al Nusra even more, enabling them to displace Western-backed militants from the Syrian battlefield?

    The Western media had proposed several unconvincing excuses including claims that large numbers of defectors to Al Qaeda and its affiliates brought with them their Western-provided arms and equipment.

    The obvious answer - however - is that just as Seymour Hersh warned in 2007 - the US and its allies from the very beginning armed and backed Al Qaeda, intentionally created its ISIS offshoot, and used both in a deadly proxy war they had hoped would quickly conclude before the public realized what had happened.

    It had worked in Libya in 2011, and the quick overthrow of the Syrian government was likewise anticipated. When the war dragged on and the nature of Washington's "moderate rebels" was revealed, implausible excuses as to how Al Qaeda and ISIS became so well armed and funded began appearing across the Western media.

    Accident or Not - US Military Intervention is the Biggest Threat to Global Security

    As the alternative media now attempts to shed light on the ongoing US proxy war in Yemen, a similar attempt to explain how Al Qaeda has once again found itself flooded with US support is being mounted. Just as in Syria - the obvious explanation for Al Qaeda forces in Yemen turning up with US weapons is because the use of Al Qaeda and other extremists was always a part of the US-Saudi-Emarati strategy from the very beginning.

    CNN's revelations were not the first.

    An Associated Press investigation concluded in August 2018 in an article titled, "AP Investigation: US allies, al-Qaida battle rebels in Yemen," that (emphasis added):

    Again and again over the past two years, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States has claimed it won decisive victories that drove al-Qaida militants from their strongholds across Yemen and shattered their ability to attack the West.

    Here's what the victors did not disclose: many of their conquests came without firing a shot.
    That's because the coalition cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself.
    While the US pleads innocent and attempts to blame the arming of Al Qaeda in yet another of Washington's proxy wars on "accidental" or "unauthorized" weapon transfers, it is clear that Al Qaeda has and still does serve as a vital auxiliary force the US uses both as a pretext to invade and occupy other nations - and when it cannot - to fight by proxy where US forces cannot go.

    The US - which claims its involvement in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen is predicated on containing Iran who the US accuses of jeopardizing global security and of sponsoring terrorism - has aligned itself with actual, verified state sponsors of terrorism - Saudi Arabia and the UAE - and is itself knowingly playing a role in the state sponsorship of terrorism including the arming of terrorist groups across the region.

    Iran and the militant groups it has backed - accused of being "terrorists" - are ironically the most effective forces fighting groups like Al Nusra and ISIS across the region - illustrating Washington and its allies of being guilty in reality of what it has accused Syria, Russia, and Iran of in fiction.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 20, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The United States and its NATO partners are attempting to make the case for Washington's decision to abandon the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

    Claims that the Russian Federation has been violating the treaty have yet to be substantiated with anything resembling credible evidence. Also missing is any rational explanation as to why Russia would develop or deploy nuclear weapons capable of launching a nuclear strike on Europe without warning - a scenario the INF Treaty was created to deter.

    Bloomberg in its article, "Nuclear Fears Haunt Leaders With U.S.-Russian Arms Pact's Demise," would claim:
    Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's top civilian, cited recent Russian deployments and evoked a Cold War-style threat of nuclear destruction at a global conference of security and defense officials this weekend in Munich, the baroque German metropolis that's one of Europe's richest cities.

    "These missiles are mobile, easy to hide and nuclear-capable," Stoltenberg said. "They can reach European cities, like Munich, with little warning."
    Stoltenberg, the rest of NATO, Washington, and the many media organizations that work for and answer to both have failed categorically to explain why Russia would ever use nuclear-capable missiles against cities "like Munich, with little warning."

    Would Moscow Nuke Russia's Closest Trade Partners?

    While Russia has invested greatly in recent years to expand its economic trade with Asia, it is still heavily dependent on trade with Europe.

    The Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity reveals not only Europe as the most important region for Russian trade, particularly for Russian exports, but nations like the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy as among Russia's top trade partners.

    Russia is currently working with Germany on its Nord Stream 2 pipeline - a pipeline transporting Russian hydrocarbons to Western Europe without passing through politically unstable nations like Ukraine. The project is a keystone of recent Russian efforts to modernize and adapt its hydrocarbon industry around complications arising from US interference across Europe - particularly in the form of the US-engineered 2014 coup in Ukraine and NATO's constant US-led expansion along Russian borders.

    And Russian companies aren't the only ones benefiting from Nord Stream 2 or other economic ties between Russia and Europe. Russia imports more from Germany than any other European nation, and Germany is only second to China among all nations Russia imports goods from.

    It is highly unlikely Russia is going to launch nuclear missiles at "Munich, with little warning" - because to do so would be entirely without rational justification. Characters like Stoltenberg and the rest of NATO gloss over this obvious gap in their narrative to sell Russia as an unpredictable adversary and an enduring threat to Western Europe, as well as the United States. But by filling in this obvious gap in NATO's logic, we can see who really benefits from turning Europe into a potential nuclear battlefield by stationing short-range nuclear weapons across the region.

    Nuclear Battlefield Europe

    It is Washington, not Germany nor Russia that opposes the Nord Stream 2 project. It is Washington who seeks to drive a wedge between Western European and Russian economic trade. It is Washington who seeks to galvanize - or coerce - Europe into a united front against Russia - even if it means compromising regional stability - both in terms of economics and security.

    Washington - by withdrawing from the INF Treaty - doesn't jeopardize the security of its own territory - but opens up a new dimension to an already ongoing nuclear arms race in the heart of Western Europe. It will be Western Europeans and Russians who face the consequences that emerge from the abandoning of the INF Treaty and any unpredictable - or even accidental - incidents that result from the stationing of short-range nuclear weapons across the region.

    As pointed out many times before - NATO itself more than any external threat - represents the greatest danger to its member states in terms of pilfering national treasuries, miring nations in protracted wars and occupations thousands of miles from their own shores, and exposing member nations to the consequences of these wars including the deluge of refugees fleeing to Europe from them.

    The US - by causing chaos and division both within Europe and between Europe and its trade partners - is able to continue exercising control over the continent - literally an ocean away from Washington DC.

    The withdrawal from the INF Treaty and the dangerous arms race sure to follow is another example of the US playing the roles of arsonist and fire brigade as a means to maintain the relevance of the international order it constructed over the last century - an order the US serves as the self-appointed leader of.

    In terms of simple economics and genuine European security - the United States could not be more irrelevant.

    While Germany maintains the United States as its top export destination - the overall European and Asian regions by far contribute more to the German economy. Any instability or crisis in Europe would have an impact on the German economy its trade with the US would in no way compensate for. In terms of imports, the role of the US is even less.

    While European trade with Russia is relatively small in comparison to inter-European trade, or with partners in Asia or even the US - Russian hydrocarbons serve an important role in European energy security. And while the cutting of ties between Europe and Russia would certainly hurt Russia more - the chaos used to cut those ties may disrupt stability within Europe itself - chaos that would impact inter-European trade - trade that ties with the US or Asia would not compensate for.

    Washington plays a dangerous game, with short-range nuclear missiles being the latest point of leverage it seeks to use in prying Europe away from Russia. It is another illustration of just which nation's government truly poses the greater threat not only to Europe, but to global peace, security and stability in general.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 23, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - With Damascus and its allies firmly in control of Syria and its future -- the war having been decided on the ground rather than "politically" as envisioned by Western politicians, media, and policymakers - the US proxy war against Syria has all but failed.

    Despite the obvious defeat - and as contemporary American history has illustrated - the US will unlikely relent and instead, do all within its power to complicate the war's conclusion and disrupt desperately needed reconstruction efforts.

    Encapsulating current American intentions in Syria is a Foreign Policy article titled, "The New U.N. Envoy to Syria Should Kill the Political Process to Save it."

    The article - written by Julien Barnes-Dacey of the NATO-Soros-funded European Council on Foreign Relations - suggests the otherwise inevitable end of the conflict be delayed and that reconstruction aid be held hostage until political concessions are made with the militarily-defeated foreign-backed militants dislodged from much of Syria's territory by joint Syrian-Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah efforts.

    The article makes an unconvincing argument that maintaining Idlib as a militant bastion, delaying the conflict's conclusion, and withholding reconstruction aid will somehow positively benefit the day-to-day lives of Syrian civilians despite all evidence suggesting otherwise.

    Demands made toward "decentralizing" political power across Syria seems to be a poorly re-imagined and watered down version of America's Balkanization plans rolled out in 2012 when swift regime change was clearly not possible. The article also indicates concern over Europe's potential pivot toward Russia and an abandonment of European complicity with US regime change efforts.

    But what is most striking is the article's - and Washington's insistence that Syria make concessions to a defeated enemy - funded and armed from abroad and with every intention of transforming Syria into what Libya has become in the wake of the US-led NATO intervention there - a fractured failed state overrun by extremists disinterested and incapable of administering a functioning, united nation-state.

    It is striking because it has been the US who has for over half a century predicated its foreign policy on the age-old adage of "might makes right." The US - no longer mightiest - now demands concessions despite no leverage to logically compel anyone to make such concessions.

    At the Wrong End of "Might Makes Right"

    While the US poses as leader of the "free world" and self-appointed caretaker of a "rules based international order," such rhetorical constructs are mere smokescreens obfuscating what is otherwise naked modern-day imperialism.

    By the end of the Cold War, the US saw an opportunity to cement this "might makes right" international order by plundering a collapsed Soviet Union and liquidating old Soviet client states from North Africa, through the Middle East, and all across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    The 2003 invasion of Iraq was perhaps the apex of American "might makes right" in action. It was a war based entirely on intentionally fabricated claims to underwrite what was otherwise a war of conquest. It was the keystone of a much larger project to reorganize Cold War spheres of influence into a single realm under Wall Street and Washington.

    The US possessed not only the military and economic means of forcing nations to concede to its interests, it monopolized global information and public perception to convince the world it was doing so for a nobler cause.

    With the acceleration of technology - in terms of information, industry, and defense - the disparity between the sole global superpower and even developing nations has begun to shrink - saying nothing of the growing parity between Russia and China vis-a-vis the US and Europe.

    The US-led war in Libya was perhaps the last, mostly unopposed "might makes right" war Washington executed with full impunity.

    Its attempts to repeat the Libyan experience in Syria met a political and military brick wall with the 2015 Russian intervention. The US also suffered serious setbacks in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014 when Crimea was reunited with Russia and separatists in eastern Ukraine spoiled a US-backed coup aimed at transforming the entire nation into a proxy not only hostile toward Moscow, but sitting right on Russia's borders.

    In an international order predicated on "might makes right," Washington finds itself no longer the mightiest. Rather than reexamining American priorities and reforming US foreign policy, the US is instead doubling down on its commitment toward regional and global primacy. The corporate-financier interests underwriting this foreign policy do so for a lack of a better alternative.

    The Tropism of Imperialism

    Like an evolutionary tropism - the economic and political forces that have taken hold of America, its people, and its resources could no more redirect the course of American foreign policy than a tree could redirect its growth toward the sun. However, external forces - an emerging multipolar world order - are more than capable of pruning this overgrown empire, and perhaps redirecting its growth into a shape more conducive toward global stability.

    In Syria, a significant branch of American imperialism is being pruned away. US troops lodged in Syria's east represent an expensive and vulnerable occupation. The ability or inability of Syria and its allies to dislodge the US presence there will indicate just how aggressive the rolling back of American imperialism will be - which may be one explanation as to why the US is so stubbornly refusing to withdraw them.

    A US withdrawal from Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan would be perceived as a sign of weakness. But it is weakness already more than apparent to the world - thus stubborn long-term and now multiplying occupations in and of themselves are a sign of growing American impotence. There is no positive outcome regarding current US foreign policy - not for those directing it and for the time being benefiting from it, nor for those subjected to it.

    In Syria and elsewhere the US is engaged, the task at hand is to manage America's decline with patient persistence and avoid deadly, desperate attempts by Washington and Wall Street to reassert American influence through destructive wars and proxy wars.

    Rome was not built in a day, nor was it dismantled in a day. But it was ultimately dismantled. It would be unrealistic to believe otherwise regarding modern American hegemony.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 26, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - As part of a larger, concerted effort to encircle and contain China, an ongoing disinformation campaign has been waged by the Western media against Beijing's massive global infrastructure building spree known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

    A recent and particularly appalling example of this comes from a Business Insider article titled, "This map shows a trillion-dollar reason why China is oppressing more than a million Muslims."

    The article has been widely circulated by the Western-funded fronts cited in the article itself, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) whose executive director - Kenneth Roth - would claim in a social media post:

    China's mass detention of Uighur Muslims is driven [not] only by Islamophobia but also by the centrality of their Xinjiang region to China's Belt and Road Initiative.
    Claims that Chinese policy is "driven by Islamophobia" are particularly absurd. China's closest ally and partner in the region is Pakistan - an undoubtedly Muslim-majority nation. Roth never explains why the BRI's "centrality" would drive "mass detentions" in Xinjiang when Chinese infrastructure projects elsewhere - both within China and abroad - including across Muslim-majority Pakistan - do not feature nor necessitate such "detentions."

    Something is clearly missing from the Business Insider's, Human Rights Watch's, and the rest of the Western media's Xinjiang narrative.

    The Business Insider article claims:
    Beijing has been cracking down on Uighur life in on Xinjiang. Officials say its repression is a necessary counter-terror operation, but experts say it's actually to protect their BRI projects.

    These "experts" never explain why Beijing officials would feel the need to "protect their BRI projects." Nor do they explain from whom they need protection. The obvious explanation is in fact that - as Beijing has stated - Xinjiang faces a significant terrorist threat.

    A minority among Xinjiang's Uyghur population has undoubtedly been radicalized and has carried out scores of high-profile terrorist attacks across not only Xinjiang, but across all of China in recent years.

    A Reuters article published by Business Insider in 2014 titled, "Knife-Wielding Attackers In Chinese Train Station Leave 27 Dead, 109 Injured," details just one of many attacks carried out by Uyghur extremists.

    A 2015 Reuters article also published by Business Insider confirms that the attackers were in fact Uyghur terrorists. The train station located in Kunming is over 2,000 miles from the Xinjiang region - illustrating the reach of the terrorist threat Beijing is dealing with.

    Despite these previous - well-known admissions - published by Business Insider itself - the media platform as well as many others, alongside fronts like HRW unashamedly feign ignorance over China's very real security concerns in Xijiang today.

    Western Propaganda Inverts Reality

    The Business Insider article claims:
    China's government has for years blamed the Uighurs for a terror, and say they saying the group is importing Islamic extremism in Central Asia.

    But there's another reason why Beijing wants to clamp down on Uighurs in Xinjiang: The region is home to some of the most important elements of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China's flagship trade project.
    Here - Business Insider deliberately inverts cause and effect - claiming China is cracking down on Uyghurs simply because vital segments of its BRI project pass through Xinjiang - instead of cracking down because of very real terrorism threatening an obviously essential economic corridor.

    And as Business Insider's own map reveals, China's BRI passes through many other regions inside China and beyond - including regions dominated by Muslim communities absent of similar tensions.

    Uyghur Terrorism is Real

    It is clear that Business Insider, HRW, and others are deliberately mischaracterizing China's policies in Xinjiang and misrepresenting the root cause of Uyghur extremism. But even the article itself admits a very real security threat, stating:
    China has accused militant Uighurs of being terrorists and inciting violence across the country since at least the early 2000s, as many Uighur separatists left China for places like Afghanistan and Syria to become fighters.
    US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America (VOA) in an article titled, "Analysts: Uighur Jihadis in Syria Could Pose Threat," would admit (emphasis added):
    Analysts are warning that the jihadi group Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in northwestern Syria could pose a danger to Syria's volatile Idlib province, where efforts continue to keep a fragile Turkey-Russia-brokered cease-fire between Syrian regime forces and the various rebel groups.

    The TIP declared an Islamic emirate in Idlib in late November and has largely remained off the radar of authorities and the media thanks to its low profile. Founded in 2008 in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, the TIP has been one of the major extremist groups in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in the country in 2011.

    The TIP is primarily made up of Uighur Muslims from China, but in recent years it also has included other jihadi fighters within its ranks.
    The article also admits that up to 3,000 militants may have fought for TIP in Syria and warned of the possibility that these militants might transfer their fighting skills back to China.

    Such admissions - even from official US state media operations - help expose the current disinformation campaign targeting Beijing for supposed "repression," and means that Western special interests - including the US government itself - are at the very least undermining China's legitimate counter-terrorism efforts.

    US is Intentionally Fomenting Violence in Xinjiang to Disrupt the BRI

    But clues even in Business Insider's own article reveal US support for undermining Chinese internal security goes far beyond mere disinformation.

    Among the "experts" Business Insider cites includes Rushan Abbas described by the article as a "Uyghur activist in Virginia."

    What the article intentionally omits is that Abbas is actually a long-time employee and contractor of the US government - admitting in her own biography posted by a Washington DC-based consulting firm she works for, that:

    [Rushan Abbas] has extensive experience working with U.S. government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Justice, and various U.S. intelligence agencies.
    The biography also admits:
    She was also employed at L-3, as a consultant at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom during 2002- 2003 and as a news reporter at Radio Free Asia.

    Ms. Abbas has also worked as a linguist and translator for several federal agencies including work for the US State Department in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and for President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush.
    Her claims that family members were abducted due to her US-based "activism" fit into a pattern of fabricated human rights "outrages" used to paint targets of US coercion and aggression in the worst possible light.

    Abbas is just one of many working out of Washington DC to support what is openly US-backed Uyghur separatism in Xinjiang.

    The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) - a US government-funded organization dedicated to political interference worldwide - has an entire page dedicated to "Xinjiang/East Turkistan" - East Turkistan being the state Uyghur extremists seek to carve out of territory recognized under international law as China.

    Subversive organizations openly promoting separatism such as the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) also maintain offices in Washington DC and receive money and support directly from the US government.

    Also a poorly guarded secret is the extensive amount of US arms, equipment, money, and other material support provided to terrorists waging war against the Syrian government - among which include Uyghur terrorists as admitted by VOA itself.

    From Washington DC, to the battlefields of northern Syria, to Xinjiang itself - the US is openly cultivating a vast terrorist threat to pose as a significant roadblock to China's BRI.

    Is the public really meant to believe a state-sponsored terrorist threat aimed at crippling a multi-trillion dollar economic corridor is not reason enough for Beijing to launch an extensive counter-terrorism campaign? Not only is Washington fomenting terrorism in western China, it is attempting to cripple Beijing's internal security operations in response to it - all by leveraging and abusing human rights advocacy and portraying the victim of US-sponsored terrorism as a culprit.

    That all of this context was intentionally omitted from Business Insider as well as by Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch proves that the West is waging war against China and its economic expansion not only on the ground from Washington to Syria to Xinjiang, but all across information space as well.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".
  • February 28, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - A recent BBC segment titled, "The Syrians returning home after years of fleeing war," contradicted 8 years of the British state media's narratives regarding the war in Syria.

    A synopsis of the short BBC video segment would read:
    After years of people fleeing Syria and its civil war, there are now long queues to enter the country each day. Jordan opened its Jaber border crossing last October after Syrian government troops defeated rebels who had controlled the other side.

    Now several thousand people pass through each day. They include small-scale merchants reviving cross-border trade and returning Syrian refugees who hope to rebuild their lives.
    Huge numbers of Syrians have already returned to Syria - specifically to areas government forces have cleared of Western-armed and backed terrorists. This includes Aleppo, Homs, and Daraa.

    The flood of returning refugees to government-held areas indicates Syrians were fleeing the US-backed proxy war against the Syrian government - not the Syrian government itself.

    What the BBC Has Previously Claimed

    Viewers and readers who invested trust in the BBC's narratives over the past 8 years will be shocked to hear thousands of Syrians crowding the Jordanian-Syrian border daily to return to the war-ravaged nation.

    The BBC has insisted for 8 years, millions of refugees had fled Syria to escape the nation's "brutal dictator" Syrian President Bashar Al Assad - accused of "gassing his own people," raining down "barrel bombs" that were both crude and "indiscriminate" but also paradoxically capable of pinpointing elementary schools and children's hospitals, and whose "Shabiha" death squads lurked around every corner.

    In 2016, a BBC article titled, "Syria conflict: Aleppo bombing shuts largest hospital," uncritically repeated claims made by US-funded fronts operating in Aleppo during security operations to clear it of terrorists.

    The BBC would eagerly report:
    Russian and Syrian air raids on the rebel-held eastern half of the city of Aleppo have forced the closure of the largest hospital in the area and killed two people, a medical charity says.

    The Syrian American Medical Society, which supports the hospital, said it had been struck by barrel bombs.
    The BBC - along with the rest of the Western media - have depicted bombs used by the Syrian military as "barrel bombs," claiming that because of their crude construction, they could not be aimed and therefore were "indiscriminate" in nature.

    A 2013 BBC article titled, "Syria conflict: Barrel bombs show brutality of war," would claim:
    ...barrel bombs reportedly used again in Aleppo by Syrian government forces during recent days - are home-made, relatively crude and totally indiscriminate in their impact.

    The barrel bomb is essentially a large, home-made incendiary device. An oil barrel or similar cylindrical container filled with petrol, nails or other crude shrapnel, along with explosives. With an appropriate fuse, they are simply rolled out of a helicopter.
    The article would also claim such "barrel bombs" were, "in no sense accurate," except of course - when they needed to be accurate for the sake of war propaganda - such as allegedly pinpointing US-funded "hospitals" in terrorist-held Aleppo.

    A 2017 BBC article titled, "Syria chemical 'attack': What we know," would claim:
    More than 80 people were killed in a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in north-western Syria on 4 April.

    Hundreds suffered symptoms consistent with reaction to a nerve agent after what the opposition and Western powers said was a Syrian government air strike on the area.
    The report - of course - was based entirely on "witness" accounts, with OPCW inspectors unable to investigate the site due to the fact Khan Sheikhoun was - and still is - under Al Qaeda occupation. The BBC article intentionally omits that "samples" the OPCW examined lacked any verifiable chain of custody. In other words - the samples could have come from anywhere, including labs where they were likely fabricated.

    The BBC has faithfully repeated every claim made by militants regarding chemical weapons throughout the war. The BBC has gone as far as claiming "Assad's" repeated use of chemical weapons was a key factor in his victory - though failed categorically to explain how.

    Why would people - enjoying refugee status in neighboring countries and even in Europe, risk returning to Syria where "brutal dictator" Bashar Al Assad not only still remains in power - but has decisively defeated his opponents through the use of "barrel bombs," "chemical weapons," and other forms of indescribable brutality?

    The answer is simple - refugees were fleeing the US-backed war and the terrorists it had armed to divide and destroy the country - not the Syrian government. The vast majority of Syria's displaced remained inside Syria - and simply moved into areas under government protection. Now with many other areas of the country having security restored by government forces with Russian and Iranian backing - hundreds of thousands more are returning from abroad, including from Europe - according to the BBC itself.

    Great effort had been put into misrepresenting the refugee crisis the Syrian conflict triggered - specifically because the specifics of the crisis clearly revealed who Syrians were really fleeing and why. Analysis of Syria's internally displaced refugees was intentionally and systematically omitted by the BBC and other Western media organizations in their reports over the years to obfuscate the fact refugees were fleeing militants, and voluntarily returning once militants were pushed out of various regions across Syria.

    Explaining The BBC's Reversal

    London-based security expert Charles Shoebridge in a short but insightful social media post would note:
    When the preferred narrative becomes unsustainable, media manage this by switching to reporting as if for years they hadn't suggested opposite. Also, UK govt (and BBC) know that UK will again have relations with Assad, which continuing to demonise him may make difficult to sell.

    And of course - the BBC knows that any viewer or reader still investing trust in its daily and extensive propaganda efforts - will unlikely notice the sudden, dramatic shift in narrative regarding Syria.

    BBC correspondents will claim that their past articles intentionally framing Syrian President Assad as a "madman" "gassing his own people" and raining "barrel bombs" on their heads were "balanced" because in the last paragraph, brief and marginalized statements from the Syrian or Russian governments refuting such accusations were also included.

    A similar defense has been mounted since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq failed to turn up weapons of mass destruction after media organizations like the BBC assured the public of the necessity of that war.

    The BBC has all but admitted to its 8 years of war propaganda aimed at the destruction of Syria. The very refugees it now reports are returning to Syria suffered the fate they have specifically because of the inability of media organizations like the BBC to honestly inform the public. The cost of the Syrian war helps remind the public why during the Nuremberg trials following World War 2, war propagandists were sent to the gallows alongside the trigger-pullers their lies helped enable.

    While the BBC still enjoys vast amounts of impunity with no likelihood in the foreseeable future of ever being held accountable for its actions - it should be remembered at all times that the BBC is in the business of propaganda - and especially war propaganda - not "news." This fact should be kept in mind whether its correspondents are covering the Middle East, South America, or Southeast Asia.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 4, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) has presented its final report regarding an alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria on April 7, 2018. Despite attempts by the Western media to hail it as "proof" that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in Douma - the report says nothing of the sort.

    In fact, the report fails to link any of the alleged 43 deaths to apparent chlorine found at the scene of the alleged attack.

    Claims of the attack were made by US-backed militants on the eve of their defeat - with the Syrian military retaking Douma the following day. Initial reports claimed sarin or chlorine chemical weapons were deployed through the use of two yellow gas canisters modified as bombs.

    No sarin of any kind was found by OPCW inspectors.

    While the report suggests two modified yellow gas canisters were used in the attack and that they appeared to have been dropped onto two buildings (locations 2 and 4), the report also mentions that OPCW inspectors found a nearly identical canister in a workshop used by militants to construct weapons.

    The alleged "chemical weapons" attack prompted the United States, UK, and France to launch missiles strikes against Syrian military targets on April 14, 2018, long before the first OPCW inspectors even arrived at the sites of the alleged attack on April 21.

    No Link Between Chlorine and Casualties

    The OPCW report would note video and photographic evidence of alleged victims of chemical exposure could not be linked to any specific chemical including traces of chlorine OPCW inspectors found. The report would specifically claim (emphasis added):
    Many of the signs and symptoms reported by the medical personnel, witnesses and casualties (as well as those seen in multiple videos provided by witnesses), their rapid onset, and the large number of those reportedly affected, indicate exposure to an inhalational irritant or toxic substance. However, based on the information reviewed and with the absence of biomedical samples from the dead bodies or any autopsy records, it is not currently possible to precisely link the cause of the signs and symptoms to a specific chemical.
    In other instances, the OPCW report would cite witnesses - including medical staff who allegedly treated victims of the supposed attack - who expressed doubts of the presence of any chemicals at all.

    The report would state (emphasis added):
    A number of the interviewed medical staff who were purportedly present in the emergency department on 7 April emphasised that the presentation of the casualties was not consistent with that expected from a chemical attack. They also reported not having experience in the treatment of casualties of chemical weapons. Some interviewees stated that no odour emanated from the patients, while other witnesses declared that they perceived a smell of smoke on the patients' clothes.
    Other accounts reviewed by the OPCW suggest a large number of casualties were owed to smoke and dust inhalation from conventional bombardment.

    The report would specifically state (emphasis added):
    Some witnesses stated that many people died in the hospital on 7 April as result of the heavy shelling and/or suffocation due to inhalation of smoke and dust. As many as 50 bodies were lying on the floor of the emergency department awaiting burial. Others stated that there were no fatalities in Douma Hospital on 7 April and that no bodies were brought to the hospital that day.
    The conflicting witness reports, the lack of any evidence linking chlorine to even a single death on April 7, and other inconsistencies and contradictions make it impossible to use the report's conclusions as "proof" that the Syrian government carried out a deadly chemical attack on the eve of its victory in Douma.

    Similar Canisters Found in Militant Workshop

    While the Western media has focused on the report's conclusion that chlorine was present and possibly emanated from the two canisters that appear to have been dropped onto two buildings in the area, another crucial finding has been predictably glossed over.

    A militant-run weapons workshop investigated by OPCW inspectors revealed a large number of resources for working with chemicals to make explosives. Among an array of chemicals and equipment associated with making explosives, a yellow gas canister was found.

    The report would admit:
    Although the team confirmed the presence of a yellow cylinder in the warehouse, reported in Note Verbale of the Syrian Arab Republic (Annex 10, point 2) as a chlorine cylinder, due to safety reasons (risk involved in manipulating the valve of the cylinder, see Figure A.8.2) it was not feasible to verify or sample the contents. There were differences in this cylinder compared to those witnessed at Locations 2 and 4. It should be noted that the cylinder was present in its original state and had not been altered.
    The lack of interest by the OPCW in the canister despite the obvious implications of its presence in a weapons workshop controlled by militants calls into question the inspectors' diligence and agenda.

    The canister's "differences" are owed to the fact that those at locations 2 and 4 were modified to appear as bombs, while - admittedly - the canister in the militant workshop remained unaltered.

    The obvious implications of a nearly identical canister turning up in a militant workshop making weapons is that the militants may likely have also made the two converted canisters found at locations 2 and 4. OPCW inspectors found other improvised ordnance in the workshop including, "a number of 20-litre metallic drums, some fitted with crude cord-type fuses, which appeared to have been filled with plastic explosives to serve as improvised explosive devices."

    Western media organizations have tried to dismiss the presence of the canister at the workshop by suggesting it was a "setup" orchestrated by the Syrian Arab Army. Huffington Post UK senior editor Chris York would go as far as referring to the workshop as:
    ...the rebel explosives lab that had been captured by the SAA days before and which they were desperately trying to make look like a chemical weapons lab.
    In reality, the OPCW itself would suggest nothing of the sort, and noted that all of the equipment present was consistent with a weapons workshop. Nowhere does the OPCW suggest anything was altered - including the canister - which the OPCW specifically noted "had not been altered."

    The presence of a canister nearly identical to those found at locations 2 and 4 in a militant weapons workshop provides at least as much evidence that militants staged the supposed chemical attack as the Western media claims the canisters at locations 2 and 4 suggest it was the Syrian government.

    In the absence of definitive evidence regarding who created and deployed the canisters found at locations 2 and 4, or how they truly ended up there, a better question to ask is "why" they would have ended up there.

    Chemical Weapon Attack in Douma... Cui Bono?

    Why would the Syrian government - in the middle of a major military offensive it was on the literal eve of concluding in complete victory, drop only 2 canisters filled with a limited amount chemicals to kill - at most - 43 people? A simple artillery barrage could kill just as many people - or very likely - many more.

    The use of chemical weapons even on a large scale have historically proven less effective than conventional military weapons - and the use of chlorine on such a small scale as claimed in Douma serves no conceivable purpose at all - at least not for the Syrian military.

    Despite claims otherwise, the Syrian government has derived no benefit whatsoever had it been behind any of the chemical attacks it has been accused of by militants and their Western sponsors over the course of the Syrian conflict.

    The Douma attack - were it the Syrian military - would have served no tactical, strategic, or political purpose.

    Conversely, it would serve as one of the very few actions the Syrian government could take to jeopardize its victory by justifying a large scale Western-led military attack on Syrian forces.

    In fact, just one week after the alleged attack, the US, UK, and France would indeed launch as many as 100 missiles into Syria in retaliation, the Guardian would report.

    On the other hand, militants who had been occupying Douma had every reason to stage the attack.

    By staging the attack on the eve of their defeat and producing graphic scenes of human suffering - particularly among children - the militants would have a propaganda tool readily able to invoke global public concern, sympathy, and outcry in defense of their cause - a propaganda tool their Western sponsors eagerly amplified through their global-spanning media platforms.

    With the United States having previously launched entire wars based on false accusations of merely possessing chemical weapons, the militants correctly assumed the US would use the staged attack as a pretext for further direct military aggression against the Syrian state - possibly saving them.

    The US still to this day cites "chemical weapons" and the Douma incident on April 7, 2018 specifically - as part of its pretext to maintain its illegal occupation of Syrian territory and its continued support of militants attempting to overthrow the Syrian government.

    The alleged us of "chemical weapons" by the Syrian government also regularly serves as a primary talking point used by the Western media when attacking anti-war politicians, pundits, and commentators.

    The OPCW report's conclusions are too ambiguous to draw a conclusion one way or the other. The presence of a nearly identical canister in a militant workshop raises serious questions and associated implications suggesting the attack was staged - questions that must be adequately investigated and answered.

    That the Syrian government gained nothing from the attack and was only further jeopardized politically and strategically by it - raises questions about motivations that likewise need to be answered before drawing conclusions.

    But as the Western media has proven many times before - it is fully capable of producing entirely irrational lies based on tenuous evidence or no evidence at all - and even repeating those lies after being blatantly caught telling them previously.

    That the Western media is still attempting to sell WMD lies regarding Syria after being caught fabricating them to justify war in neighboring Iraq should be at the forefront of the global public's mind when considering their "interpretations" of this latest OPCW report regarding Douma, Syria.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 9, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Heavily biased headlines emanating from US and European media should already make it abundantly clear which side of upcoming Thai elections in March Western special interests are on.

    The current Thai government is led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a general of the Royal Thai Army and the leading figure of a 2014 coup that ousted the regime of now ex-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of also-ousted ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Both Shinawatras are now convicted criminals and live abroad as fugitives evading jail.

    Despite these apparent complexities, the story is very simple.

    The Shinawatras lead neo-liberal forces the US has been cultivating inside Thailand (as well as other nations around the globe through organisations like the National Endowment for Democracy) to eventually transform the nation into a client state.

    Thailand's military, a powerful and independent institution, along with the nation's constitutional monarchy, have opposed these forces, or more accurately, have attempted to accommodate them without ceding too much of Thailand's national sovereignty in the process.

    Current Government's Pivot Toward China

    The current government has decisively pivoted toward Beijing and other emerging global powers. It has begun replacing aging Vietnam War-era US military hardware with modern Chinese, Russian and European defence systems. In addition to the Cold War-era "Cobra Gold" military exercises held annually with the US, Thailand is now taking part in joint exercises with China.

    Thailand is also in the middle of negotiating large infrastructure deals with China regarding mass transit systems including a high speed rail network that will connect Thailand to China via neighbouring Laos. Thailand represents one of several key pillars to China's global One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.

    It is clear then why the US seeks to not only remove the current government from power in upcoming elections, but also why it seeks to permanently reduce the Thai military's role in politics to prevent such a dramatic pivot from ever taking place again.

    The US goal in Thailand, as it is in every nation along China's peripheries, is the creation of an obedient client state that serves US interests both economically and geopolitically. Failing that, the US would settle, as it has in Iraq, Syria, Libya or even neighbouring Myanmar, for a divided and weak nation that offers no benefit toward China's regional and global rise.

    The US Backs Shinawatra

    Thaksin Shinawatra currently runs multiple nominee parties competing in upcoming elections. He has spread out his political machine to guard against the obvious possibility of any one of these parties being disbanded on grounds they are openly run by a convicted criminal and fugitive.

    These parties include Pheu Thai, Thai Raksa Chart, Pheu Chart, Pheu Thaam and Future Forward. Members of these parties are in regular contact with Shinawatra or his senior executives and in several cases, candidates have legally changed their first names to "Thaksin" and "Yingluck" to eliminate any doubt as to whom they serve.

    Despite a fugitive openly running for office in Thailand, Western media organisations like the BBC, CNN, AP, AFP, Reuters and more consistently omit this fact, portraying efforts by the current Thai government to stop Shinawatra's multiple parties as simply "oppressive."

    The policies of these parties are also just as predictably transparent. In addition to rudimentary vote-buying schemes, they seek to reverse all ties with China, including scrapping rail projects and cancelling arms deals as well as reducing the Thai military's budget in an effort to reduce the military's ability to intervene against them in future political crises.

    Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, head of Future Forward, has openly expressed his desire to cancel Thai-Chinese infrastructure projects.

    A Bloomberg article titled, "
    Thailand needs hyperloop, not China-built high-speed rail: Thanathorn," would claim:
    A tycoon turned politician who opposes Thailand's military government has criticised its US$5.6 billion high-speed rail project with China because hyperloop technology offers a more modern alternative.

    An option such as Richard Branson's Virgin Hyperloop One -- which is working on building networks of pods traveling at airplane-like speeds -- is better for Thailand as it would help the nation to be a technological leader, according to Future Forward Party head Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
    Of course, the "Hyperloop" is still an untested technology and will remain so for many years, with not even a single kilometer constructed for public use, while China's high speed rail system is the most extensive network of its kind on earth. Shinawatra's proxies prove how eager, if irrational, they are to serve US interests in crippling Thai-Chinese relations even at the expense of national development.

    Shinawatra's multitude of parties have also come out against Thai-Chinese arms deals and have jointly targeted the Thai military's budget.

    A Bangkok Post article titled, "Apirat attacks Pheu Thai's call to cut defence budget," would claim:
    On Monday, Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, a Pheu Thai candidate for prime minister who posted the Facebook statement that triggered Gen Apirat, said Pheu Thai has only proposed a 10% cut in the budget set aside for weapons purchases.

    "We do not deem it necessary to buy weapons in such large amounts amid our economic woes," she said.
    Of course, intentionally missing from both domestic and foreign analysis of the military budget debate is any mention of the fact that the military remains the only institution strong enough to prevent Thaksin Shinawatra's return to power, a return to power Pheu Thai's Sudarat Keyuraphan is campaigning for, and thus the central motivation for Pheu Thai's budget cuts.

    Image: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (left), despite holding no public office, has been provided a large amount of publicity from the Western media and afforded access to leaders like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) to boost his credibility and public image.

    Reducing arms deals will also prevent Thailand from updating its aging arsenal and set back planned deals with China, Russia and other defence partners it seeks to grow ties with. With the military's power reduced, the US and its political proxies hope to implement policies with little contest.

    The National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

    In addition to policies obviously in line with Washington's desire to disrupt or reverse Thai-Chinese relations, the US is also directly funding and supporting protests against the current government.

    Image: Anon Nampa (center) of the US NED-funded Thai Lawyers for Human Rights regularly leads protests attended by Thaksin Shinawatra's red shirts and co-led by Future Forward member Rangsiman Rome.

    Street protests depicted by the Western media as being "pro-democracy" are admittedly led by figures such as Anon Nampa of the US NED-funded front, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) and Nuttaa Mahattana who was recently revealed to be literally in bed with an executive of Thaksin Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party.

    These protests are "filled up" with Thaksin Shinawatra's "red shirt" street front, an ultra-violent bloc that has been repeatedly used by Shinawatra to coerce his opponents through the use of violence including armed militancy, bombings and arson. In 2009 Shinawatra's "red shirts" rioted across Bangkok, looting and burning sections of the city. In 2010, riots were augmented by between 300-500 heavily armed militants in a miniature version of the violence the US backed in nations like Libya and Syria a year later.

    Media fronts funded by the US NED including Prachatai, iLaw, Isaan Record and Benar News all openly promote anti-government protests and supposed "activists" challenging the current Thai government as well as attacking the Thai military. Their collective criticism of the 2014 coup omit any mention of the violence and corruption carried out by the Shinawatras precipitating the coup in the first place.

    While those defending anti-government protesters and their US funding have claimed the NED is a benign organisation simply promoting "democracy" in Thailand, a look at NED's board of directors, sponsors and past activities tells an entirely different, and alarming story.

    NED board members including pro-war Neo-Conservatives like Francis Fukuyama, Vin Weber, Will Marshall and Zalmay Khalilzad all openly promoted the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Victoria Nuland openly played a role in the overthrow of the elected Ukrainian government in 2014 by opposition groups led by militant Neo-Nazis. Elliot Abrams is currently "on leave" from the NED after being appointed by US President Donald Trump to lead the overthrow of the Venezuelan government, Politico would report.

    It is clear that, just as the US "Operation Iraqi Freedom" promoted by NED directors had nothing to do with bringing freedom to Iraq, the National Endowment for Democracy has nothing to do with promoting actual democracy. It is also clear that those among the NED openly involved in the violent overthrow of other nations around the globe, are cultivating and promoting similar division and violence ahead of Thailand's elections in March.

    Noting which groups in Thailand are eagerly taking US cash via the NED and its many subsidiaries (and who have been taking this money for many years) further illustrates both the scale of US interference in Thailand's internal political affairs and which side US interference benefits.

    As the US and China appear to be working toward an agreement regarding an ongoing trade war, it should be noted that US interference both in China and all along its peripheries has been ongoing and relentless for years. Thailand's current political crisis stretches back to 2001 and similar NED-funded destabilisation efforts have been underway in neighbouring Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia for nearly as long or longer.

    While Thailand and even the rest of Southeast Asia may be an obscure topic for many readers, researchers and analysts, US success in regime change there will have large implications for China and regarding the general balance of global power between Washington's unipolar international order and competing multipolarism.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 9, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - The central role right-wing extremists and literal Neo-Nazis played in Ukraine's "Euromaidan" protests was obvious from the beginning. The square in Kiev the protests unfolded in were filled with the flags of ultra-right party, Svoboda as well as the red and black banners of the Neo-Nazi Right Sector movement.

    The Western media never scrutinized who these political parties and militias were leading the protests and often times the violence that eventually overthrew the elected Ukrainian government in 2014. This was a deliberate attempt to portray the protests as spontaneous and popular rather than the efforts of fringe extremists merely portrayed as spontaneous and popular.

    Since the NATO-organized coup in 2014, right-wing extremists and Neo-Nazis have played a growing role in the Ukrainian government. From holding public positions to filling up the rank and file of regular and irregular military units with their members, so bad has it gotten that many involved in initially covering up their role in the 2014 Euromaidan protests are now speaking up.

    Ian Bond of the Centre for European Reform (CER), a think-tank funded by some of the largest Transatlantic corporate interests, would recently post on social media that:
    Ukraine needs to get these people out of Interior Ministry, police & other official structures. They will do more to help Russia, by reinforcing its propaganda about Nazi influence in Kyiv, than Ukraine - regardless of any good that Azov did on frontlines.

    Even as part of Bond's admission, he still attempts to salvage "Azov" (Azov Battalion), a heavily armed Neo-Nazi militia now formally incorporated into Ukraine's National Guard.

    While attempting to deny the presence of Neo-Nazis throughout the present day Ukrainian government and military, even official US policy regarding Ukraine reflects their presence and the obvious dangers (or at least, political inconvenience) they pose.

    Articles like, "National Guard Decides Not To Give U.S. Arms To Azov Regiment On Request Of United States," clearly illustrate awareness in Washington of the dangers/political inconvenience of yet another one of its client regimes around the globe being cobbled together with some of the most unsavory elements in that nation's society.

    As Ian Bond of the CER noted, the Azov Battalion has performed well on "frontlines." Just as designated terrorist organizations in Syria, including Al Nusra and the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (IS) proved the most capable forces in the US proxy war against Damascus, Neo-Nazis are proving themselves the most loyal and dedicated proxies in Washington's continued confrontation with Russia.

    It is clear that despite "official" US policy being not to arm or train Neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine, the fact that the Ukrainian government whom the US does arm and train, in turn arms and trains militias like the Azov Battalion, makes such US policy mere window dressing than anything else.

    Again, the US arming and supporting the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who in turn admittedly are arming and funding US designated terrorist organizations, is in actuality Washington's enthusiastic support for such militant groups simply "laundered" through its Gulf ally intermediaries.

    The Real Problem

    The real problem isn't that Ukraine's Neo-Nazi political and armed organizations are growing in power, it is the political nightmare of Washington being seen as openly associating with and even supporting them.

    Just as the US has played a sort of geopolitical dance in Syria, circling around IS and Al Nusra, while at other times outright shielding them from destruction, attempting to pose as fighting them while clearly preserving their fighting capacity, the US is preparing to perform a similar dance in Ukraine.

    Comments like Ian Bond's of the CER and other NATO-initiated propaganda campaigns aimed at noting and condemning the Neo-Nazi scourge growing inside Ukraine will lead to no discernible change in actual US or NATO policy. Behind the scenes however, attempts will be made to further obfuscate Washington-fed pipelines funneling groups like the Azov Battalion and Right Sector weapons, training and funds.

    The real problem is that Washington lacks any credible partners in its "Ukraine project." Those like Azov and its backers in Kiev were always going to inevitably rise to the top in an atmosphere corruption, foreign-backed subversion and counterproductive policies determined in Washington and aimed at hurting Russia regardless of the cost accrued by Ukraine itself.

    Hiding the growing power of these extremists, including outright Neo-Nazis is Washington's (and its European partners') real problem, not actually dealing with the growing threat of Nazism in Ukraine in any meaningful manner.

    Just as Washington's policy of supporting terrorists in Syria while posing as fighting against them was entirely unsustainable, so too is its current policies regarding Ukraine. Unlike the threat of terrorism through organizations like Al Qaeda and its many affiliates, Nazism is a more universally reviled and well-recognized scourge that will further taint whatever remains of America's reputation within the international community, a community it poses as the unilateral leader of, yet demonstrates none of the qualities associated with actual global leadership.

    Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 9, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - For the first time since war broke out in Syria in 2011, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has travelled to Iran to meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

    President Assad had only travelled outside of Syria on two other occasions during the war - both times to Russia.

    The significance of the trip cannot be understated - it was a message sent to those who orchestrated the proxy war against Syria that Damascus has prevailed and instead of driving a wedge between it and its allies in Moscow and Tehran - it has only drawn these regional powers closer together.

    The symbol of solidarity between Syria and Iran comes at a time when Washington finds itself vacillating between a full withdrawal from Syria, a redeployment to Iraq, or an attempt to drag out the conclusion of the Syrian conflict for as long as possible by keeping US forces there indefinitely.

    The Washington Post in its article, "Syria's Assad visits Iran in rare trip abroad," would admit:
    U.S. officials said Trump's decision authorizing a small number of U.S. troops to stay is a key step in creating a larger multinational observer force that would monitor a so-called safe zone along Syria's border with Turkey. The buffer zone is meant to prevent clashes between Turkey and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. It is also aimed at preventing Assad's forces and Iran-backed fighters from seizing more territory.
    The US will also seek to preserve militants - many of which are openly aligned with designated terrorist organizations - still occupying the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib.

    While the US has certainly failed in its goal of regime change in Syria and even as it appears weak and confused regarding its policy in Syria and the Middle East in general - its potential to prolong the Syrian conflict and leave the nation more or less permanently divided persists.

    Iran is in Syria for Good

    President Assad's visit to Iran was not only a symbolic gesture of gratitude for Iran's role in helping Syria prevail over US aggression - it is also a clear sign that Iranian influence has only grown in Syria. Iranian-backed militias have spread across both Syria and Iraq to confront US and Persian Gulf-backed terrorists including various factions of Al Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) itself.

    Washington's gamble banked on what it had hoped would be a relatively quick regime change operation following along the same lines as the US-backed proxy war in Libya. The Syrian government was meant to fold quickly - the US appears not to have anticipated its resilience nor the eventual Russian military intervention in 2015. Washington may also not have anticipated the scale and efficacy of the commitment made by Tehran.

    Instead of liquidating one of Iran's allies thus further isolating Tehran ahead of US-backed regime change efforts aimed directly at Iran - the terrorist proxies the US and its regional partners sponsored in Syria served as impetus for Tehran to broaden and deepen the presence of its forces - including militias sponsored by Iran - across the region, and specifically in Syria and Iraq.

    US policy papers predating the 2011 proxy war against Syria - including the RAND Corporation's 2009 publication titled, "Dangerous But Not Omnipotent : Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East," noted that much of Iran's domestic and regional policies revolved around self-defense.

    The RAND paper itself would note:
    Iran's strategy is largely defensive, but with some offensive elements. Iran's strategy of protecting the regime against internal threats, deterring aggression, safeguarding the homeland if aggression occurs, and extending influence is in large part a defensive one that also serves some aggressive tendencies when coupled with expressions of Iranian regional aspirations. It is in part a response to U.S. policy pronouncements and posture in the region, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Iranian leadership takes very seriously the threat of invasion given the open discussion in the United States of regime change, speeches defining Iran as part of the "axis of evil," and efforts by U.S. forces to secure base access in states surrounding Iran.
    RAND also noted Iran's preference for asymmetrical warfare over conventional military forces and the use of resistance militias across the region. The report would note:
    Some of Iran's asymmetric capabilities are threatening. Because of its inferior conventional military forces, Iran's defense doctrine, particularly its ability to deter aggressors, relies heavily on asymmetric warfare. Iranian strategists favor guerilla efforts that offer superior mobility, fighting morale, and popular support (e.g., the Hezbollah model in Lebanon) to counter a technologically superior conventional power— namely, the United States.
    These militias would end up playing a significant role in neutralizing both asymmetrical forces sponsored by the US and its regional partners, as well as conventional military forces deployed by the US and Europe in both Syria and Iraq. It is clear that US policymakers were aware of Iran's capabilities - and either ignored them or believed their own plans had sufficiently accounted for them.

    Iran's significant and long-term investments in sponsoring resistance forces including Hezbollah and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) across the Middle East coupled with Russia's significant conventional military capabilities left little chance for success for US-sponsored militants - with Russia's role in Syria preventing a more muscular conventional military response from the US when its proxy forces began to crumble.

    The US and its regional partners - particularly Israel - have expressed a determination to dislodge the growing Iranian presence their own proxy war on Syria necessitated. However, despite repeated Israeli airstrikes on Syrian territory - it is clear that such airstrikes alone will accomplish very little and in the long-term even signals weakness that will only further rally Iran's allies, justify their continued expansion across the region, and further broaden and deepen their positions well beyond Iran's own borders - making a US-led regime change war against Iran itself a more remote possibility than ever.

    America's Flagging Unipolar Order

    The US faces an ignominious retreat from the Middle East - as well as from other areas around the globe. Its refusal to shift from its 20th century unipolar hegemonic ambitions to a constructive 21st century multipolar player may be closing permanently windows of opportunity that will cost it significantly as others displace its influence and reach in regions like the Middle East.

    Russia and Iran are clearly benefactors of Washington's stubbornness. But as Russia and Iran have both repeatedly expressed a desire for more constructive relations with the United States - perhaps policymakers in Washington believe they can risk pursuing destructive hegemonic ambitions to carve out or coerce from the region the best position possible in the Middle East before coming to the table to negotiate.

    More likely though - the world is witnessing a 21st century rendition of the British Empire's withdrawal from around the globe, stubbornly being thrown out of one corner of its realm after the other until relegated as Washington's subordinate. For Washington, there is no other Western power for it to hand the torch of Western imperialism over to. Once it is evicted from around the globe, it will struggle to find a relevant or more constructive role to play in these regions ever again.

    By virtue of Washington's shortsightedness and its inability to adapt to the world as it really is versus how Washington desires it to be - Washington has proven itself unfit to lead the "international order" it presumes dominion over.

    In a global order predicated on "might makes right," Washington is now faced with the reality of no longer being mightiest, and thus no longer "right."

    Iran's patient and measured resistance has proven capable of challenging and rolling back American hegemony in the Middle East and serving the ultimate goal of Tehran's asymmetrical strategy - the defense of Iran itself.

    While the prospect of US war with Iran can never be fully ruled out, it is a possibility that appears to be fading into the distance as US power wanes regionally and globally. But a flagging empire is a desperate empire. While the days of US regime change wars burning a path of destruction across the Middle East appear to be over, continued patience and persistence must be maintained by Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies to ensure the victories they are celebrating today endure and are expanded upon well into the future.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 3, 2019 (LD) - Via 21st Century Wire - Patrick Henningsen (21WIRE) and Mike Robinson (UK Column) do a quick overview of the final OPCW report on the April 7, 2018 alleged "chemical attack" in Douma, Syria, just a day before Syrian government forces finally retook the area from US-sponsored terrorists.

    Other points to consider include a similar yellow canister turning up at a nearby militant-run bomb factory as well as similar craters on nearby buildings as those the two yellow canisters involved in the supposed attack allegedly passed through - suggesting the canisters might have been placed near pre-existing damage.

    Both points - regarding a similar canister found in a militant bomb factory and similar craters in nearby buildings - were specifically noted in the OPCW report itself.
  • March 17, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - US Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse Jr. wasted no time at his new diplomatic post to begin strong-arming Canberra into adopting Washington's confrontational policy vis-à-vis Beijing.

    A Reuters article published by the South China Morning Post titled, "China using 'payday loan diplomacy' in the Pacific, claims new US ambassador to Australia," would claim:
    China is using "payday loan diplomacy" to exert influence in the Pacific, the new US ambassador to Australia said on Wednesday, in comments that threaten to inflame regional tensions.

    The United States and its regional allies have been battling China for greater influence in the Pacific -- a region that has votes at international forums like the United Nations and controls vast swathes of a resource-rich ocean.

    The geopolitical competition has seen both sides increase foreign aid to the region in recent months, which the West says is needed to prevent the Pacific falling into financial distress and becoming susceptible to diplomatic pressure from Beijing.
    The Reuters article would continue by claiming:
    The arrival of Culvahouse, the first US ambassador to Australia in more than two years, comes at time of bilateral tensions between Canberra and Beijing.

    In 2017, then Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull accused China of meddling in domestic affairs. In 2018, Canberra banned companies linked to foreign governments from investing in its nascent 5G network, effectively blocking China's Huawei.
    The article also mentions counter-pressure applied on Australia regarding coal China imports, but describes it instead as, "how Beijing is using trade to punish Canberra for its criticism," despite already admitting it is in direct retaliation for Australia's use of trade to punish China first.

    The American people for whom Ambassador Culvahouse is a representative, must be perplexed over this diplomat's obsession with China rather than fulfilling his duties of representing the United States in Australia itself.

    As the United States does with many other allies, it is attempting to turn Australia into a partner-proxy in Washington's own confrontation with China.

    In the process of this otherwise unsustainable confrontation, Washington risks dragging Australia down with it, when Australia could instead be bilaterally resolving issues with China and building constructive relations throughout Asia-Pacific, all while redefining for itself a more positive role in the region, breaking free from its historical role as an extension of Anglo-American hegemony.

    Geography 101: China is Located in Asia, the United States is Not

    Interestingly enough, Reuters failed to notice that China is actually located in Asia-Pacific, while the United States is not.

    Just as the US is expected to exert a certain amount of influence in North America where it is actually located, it is not unreasonable to expect China to do likewise in Asia. That US foreign policy seems formed around the notion that the US, not China, should hold primacy in Asia is both counterintuitive and fundamentally flawed.

    Such a policy reflects a basic but intentional lapse in geographical awareness widespread across Western media and political circles representing the remnants of European-American imperialism of the 19th-20th centuries. It suggests that Asians lack agency to decide for themselves how "votes at international forums like the United Nations" and "vast swathes of a resource-rich ocean" should be used and that the United States should decide for them instead.

    The US currently does this by attempting to surround China with client states and infecting nations across Asia with US government-funded nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). These NGOs impose upon the region US-style institutions that reflect US interests through a process the US itself calls "soft power."

    Examples of this can be seen in Myanmar where US-funded NGOs have managed to bring existing ethnic tensions toward the brink of war, in Thailand where US-backed political forces are attempting to displace the military and constitutional monarchy and roll back recent progress made between Bangkok and Beijing and in Cambodia where the entire opposition is virtually run out of Washington D.C.

    The more obvious results of this US "soft power" in action are ongoing "colour revolutions," but a more subtle attempt to overwrite Asian culture and institutions with US ideas and institutions is also constantly attempting to take root. It is the latest evolutionary step taken by centuries of European and now American imperialism and it is the tool of choice used by the special interests of today benefiting from this imperialism.

    Ambassador Culvahouse's rhetoric and the accompanying talking points touched on by Reuters brings all of this into focus, with the US openly accusing China of usurping American primacy in Asia, and admitting it is investing across the region to regain it.

    Who is Ambassador Culvahouse?

    Ambassador Culvahouse had previously served President Ronald Reagan's administration between 1987 and 1989. He has also been involved in multiple committees within the Republican Party, Australia's ABC would report.

    Ambassador Culvahouse is also listed as a Brookings Institution trustee, which may help explain why in his capacity as US Ambassador to Australia he is openly pursuing policy that serves neither the American nor Australian people but rather the corporate sponsors who control both Brookings' activities and those of Washington.

    He is also a former chairman of O'Melveny & Myers (OMM), a massive international law firm whose clients include equally massive corporations seeking to protect their existing monopolies and to find footing in emerging markets, including in China. Former OMM chairman and now Ambassador Culvahouse stepping into the middle of Australia's bout with China over 5G and Huawei and OMM's own role in cases specifically involving Huawei (e.g.), in turn represents equally massive conflicts of interest.

    Ambassador Culvahouse is another stark example of "revolving door" politics in which representatives of special interests move in and out of government positions appointed to regulate and hold accountable these very interests.

    The entire process that Ambassador Culvahouse represents is the modern manifestation of European-American imperialism, representing the modern equivalence of an elite minority, their greed and the mechanisms instituted to satisfy it, merely dressed up as representative governance serving the majority.

    But just like every other empire in history, American hegemony rose on a global scale before beginning to fade. The vector sum of Chinese-Australian economic ties, despite recent setbacks (some might call sabotage), is positive, as noted by the Parliament of Australia itself. As China continues to grow economically, politically and even militarily within the region and upon the global stage, the US will have no choice but to concede its longstanding primacy in Asia-Pacific, a process already well underway.

    Without an entirely new, innovative and constructive American foreign policy in Asia-Pacific, Ambassador Culvahouse and his rhetoric serve only to delay the continued, inevitable decline of American power and in the process, increase resentment not only from Beijing, but resentment from all the partner-proxies including Australia the US is using in the process.

    Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 21, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Western regime change efforts have intensified ahead of upcoming elections in Thailand. Opposition groups attempting to take power and remove Thailand's powerful, independent military from Thai politics have received extensive, well-documented funding and political support from Washington, London, Brussels, and Western corporate foundations, including the most notorious of all - George Soros' Open Society Foundation (OSF).

    One such front - Human Rights Watch (HRW) - has recently released a report condemning upcoming elections as undermining the "right to vote."

    To understand Soros-funded propaganda published by HRW, one must first understand why Thailand has been targeted for regime change in the first place.

    Why Thailand?

    The Southeast Asian Kingdom of Thailand serves as a pivotal regional hub economically and geopolitically. It has the second largest economy in ASEAN and remains the only Southeast Asian state to have avoided Western colonization.

    While some analysts still cling to Cold War-era stereotypes regarding Thailand's role in the US-led war against Vietnam, the country has since dramatically pivoted away from Washington.

    Thailand's military in particular has begun replacing its aging American weapons with Chinese, Russian, and European weapons. This includes everything from small arms to Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters, European warplanes, Chinese main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs), and even Chinese-built ships and submarines.

    Thailand has also become a key partner in China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. High-speed rail lines are already under construction with proposals for the construction of more lines entering final negotiations.

    While Thailand - by necessity - still maintains ties with the West, and Western allies like Japan - it is clear that it has balanced out these ties - with the momentum of Thai foreign policy tilting decisively in favor of Eurasia at Washington's expense.

    For all of these reasons and more, the US has been involved in long-term regime change efforts in Thailand, starting at least as early as 2001 with billionaire and former Carlyle Group adviser Thaksin Shinawatra's ascent into political power.

    By 2001 it was already clear that China's rise regionally and globally was imminent and that the process of encircling and containing Beijing had become a priority for US foreign policy. Placing proxies like Thaksin Shinawatra into power in Thailand was aimed at creating a unified front of US client states along China's peripheries.

    Soros in Thailand

    Geopolitical analyst Jean Perier's article, "After Bleeding Thailand Dry, Soros is Going in for the Kill," provides a detailed history of the 1997 Southeast Asian financial crisis and the role Soros' financial speculation played in - first precipitating it - then exploiting it. The crisis also created a vector for Western political subversion.

    Shinawatra's rise to power in the wake of the financial disaster was meant to rebuild Thailand according to Washington's designs. Shinawatra quickly consolidated political power, attempting to built a one-party state under his and his Western sponsors' control.

    He also took multiple steps toward transforming Thailand into a US client state - including committing Thai troops to the illegal US invasion of Iraq in 2003, inviting the US CIA to use Thai territory as part of its global "rendition program," the privatization of Thailand's national oil and gas conglomerate PTT, and an attempt to pass an unpopular US-Thai free trade agreement without parliamentary approval.

    He also indulged deeply in a myriad of human rights abuses and abuses of power, which eventually provided Thailand's institutions with a pretext to finally remove him from power through a military coup in 2006.

    While Shinawatra's supporters - including the Western media - claim charges of corruption against him were politically motivated, Wikileaks in a published US diplomatic cable would reveal the US Embassy itself as impressed at the scale of Shinawatra's corruption - especially in regards to his changing of foreign ownership laws on the same day of his tax-free selling of stocks in his company to Singaporean investors.

    Despite the embassy's admissions of Shinawatra's corruption, they still supported him and even noted that the move would make it more likely foreign ownership laws could be further liberalized, claiming:
    The fact that the deal was structured to get around Thailand's restrictions on foreign investment nevertheless raises serious questions about the investment climate in Thailand, and shows the limits of liberalization to date. The outcome to hope for going forward is that any domestic political debate about policy issues such as foreign ownership of telecom assets may put to rest some of the Thais fears of market liberalization, and by extension a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

    Since then, Shinawatra has been tried and convicted of corruption and sentenced to 2 years in prison - a sentence he has since evaded as a fugitive hiding abroad.

    Shinawatra has tried to return to power through various proxy regimes run openly by family members including his brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat who briefly served as prime minister in 2008 before being removed by Thailand's courts, and Shinawatra's sister - Yingluck Shinawatra - who served as prime minister from 2011-2014 until a second military coup removed her from power.

    Soros and Company Seek Thaksin Shinawatra's Return

    Considering Shinawatra's utility as a US proxy and his enthusiastic attempt from 2001-2006 to transform Thailand into a fully integrated US client state - it is obvious why the US and its European and corporate partners seek to return him and his associates to power.

    It has, however, become an increasingly uphill battle. While still able to swindle elections through overt vote-buying upcountry and his regular use of organized terrorism, Shinawatra himself through his serial political failures and upon asset seizures by Thai courts - has gone from the 4th richest in Thailand to 19th. Impressive popular anti-Shinawatra protests in 2014 marked unprecedented, nationwide opposition to his return to power - a sentiment that will only likely to have grown since.

    Image: Thaksin Shinawatra deployed hardcore terrorists (between 400-500) in Bangkok in 2010 to initiate now familiar "color revolution" violence aimed at regime change in Thailand. Fears persist that he and his Western sponsors will once again resort to terrorism if they fail to take power in upcoming elections, or are removed from office soon after.

    But even if he is unable to take power - his ability to still divide and set Thailand back - including through additional violence - likewise serves Washington and Wall Street's purpose of denying nations like China a viable partner.

    Since Shinawatra's ousting in 2006 - he and an army of political opposition parties, supposed "rights" groups, student "activists," and media fronts have been openly backed by Washington, London, and Brussels through direct political support and lobbying, and through US-UK-European-funded NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) - with virtually all of them at least partially funded by George Soros' Open Society Foundation.

    Fronts regularly cited by the Western media ahead of Thai elections funded by either Soros' Open Society or the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) or both include media fronts Prachatai, Isaan Record, and BenarNews.

    Dubious "human rights" fronts include Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) which both openly defends agitators protesting Thailand's current government, as well as leads protests.

    Other "human rights" fronts include Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International's Thai branches, as well as the Thai Netizen Network, iLaw, and Fortify Rights (2017 annual report, PDF).

    Future Forward: Shinawatra and Soros

    There are also entire political parties operating on behalf of Thaksin Shinawatra such as Future Forward which include US and Soros-funded "activists" as "co-founders."

    Future Forward's founder, nepotist billionaire Thanathorn Jungrungreangkit, admitted to having supported Thaksin Shinawatra's political party in the past, as well as attending his ultra-violent "red shirt" street mobs.

    His co-founder, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, previously served as a lobbyist for Thaksin Shinawatra, holding "red shirt" rallies at Thammasat University with Shinawatra's paid lobbyist Robert Amsterdam attending several events.

    Future Forward's other co-founders include Nalutporn Krairiksh - concurrently working for US NED and Soros-funded media front Prachatai. Chamnan Chanruang - also a Future Forward co-founder - was previously "chairperson" of Soros-funded Amnesty International, according to his own biography on Future Forward's website.

    Rangsiman Rome has also joined the ranks of Future Forward. Rome was co-founder of the "Democracy Restoration Group" and regularly organized protests with US NED and Soros-funded TLHR member Anon Nampa, as well as Nuttaa 'Bow' Mahattana who was literally caught in bed with a senior member of Thaksin Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party.

    Future Forward also includes former Shinawatra loyalists including ex-army general Pongskorn Rodchompoo - who was promoted during the Yingluck Shinawatra administration in a bid to gain leverage within the military.

    The Bangkok Post in a 2015 article titled, "NSC deputy chief shunted to PM's Office," would report:
    Lt Gen Pongsakorn was appointed to the NSC by then-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, moving from the Supreme Command, two years ago.
    He followed the same route as Paradorn Pattanatabut, who was earlier removed from the NSC secretary general's job by Gen Prayut to a similar position as adviser to the prime minister.
    Pongsakorn Rodchompoo - a former Thai general - entering the ranks of Future Forward as "deputy leader" is particularly ironic considering Future Forward's supposed opposition to military influence in Thai politics.

    Future Forward's Pannika Wanich previously worked for Voice TV - a media channel "owned" by Thaksin Shinawatra's son, Panthongtae Shinawatra.

    And Future Forward itself is ceaselessly promoted by the myriad of US NED and Soros-funded fronts operating in Thailand and abroad as well as by the Western media. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) - a conglomeration of the largest Western media organizations operating in Thailand - organized an event featuring various candidates including Future Forward's leader, Thanathorn J.

    While other candidates were invited, Thanathorn J. was singled out and promoted, particularly by the BBC's Jonathan Head who fielded softball questions that even when fumbled by Thanathorn J., were in no way challenged or followed up. It is a pattern that is reflected throughout the entirety of not only the BBC's coverage of Thailand's upcoming elections, but across the entirety of the Western media.

    Regime Change

    Future Forward is only one of several proxy parties being promoted by the West as vectors of returning Thaksin Shinawatra - and the interests he represents - back into power.

    But Future Forward's internal and external factors fully illustrate how the US government through the National Endowment for Democracy and private financiers like George Soros and his Open Society Foundation are not only interfering in Thailand's internal political affairs and upcoming elections - they are collectively creating and attempting to install into power an entire political party.

    Understanding the full geopolitical context Thailand's elections are unfolding within, it is possible to return to Human Rights Watch's recent report on Thailand's elections titled, "Thailand: Structural Flaws Subvert Election."

    In it, only a single mention is made of Thaksin Shinawatra. His current role in running multiple parties to return himself to power is entirely omitted. The fact that HRW and the Thai opposition it is supporting are both funded by Soros via Open Society is also conveniently omitted.

    HRW's accusations of Thailand's military "subverting elections" is akin to accusing police arresting a convicted murderer of "kidnapping" by never mentioning the "kidnapped" is a convicted murderer.

    In the same sense, HRW is citing allegedly repressive measures amid Thai elections without mentioning those targeted by such measures are working for Thaksin Shinawatra - a convicted criminal and fugitive - and his foreign sponsors. His participation in elections is both illegal and undemocratic, a fact unmentioned by HRW and the army of foreign-funded agitators it serves in the ranks of.

    It is only through dishonest but deliberate omissions of these facts that the West is able to meddle in yet another election abroad and attempt to once again topple a government impeding its own self-serving agenda in a nation thousands of miles for its own shores.

    Whether Western-backed regime change is successful or not - Thailand's political crisis will likely continue - including another round of protests and counter-protests, deadly "color revolution-style" violence, and possibly another intervention by Thailand's courts or military. Either way, it will at the very least impede Thailand's continued pivot from West to East and divert resources away from the nation's future development.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 23, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The International Criminal Court (ICC) is not international nor a legitimate court, but is most certainly criminal.

    It is an institutionalized tool - one of many - used by Western corporate-financier interests to coerce and control nations across the developing world.

    In a recent charade aimed to boost its otherwise nonexistent credibility, the ICC has claimed it seeks to investigate the United States for war crimes regarding Afghanistan. It also claims it is investigating the United Kingdom regarding Iraq.

    However, the ICC has - since its first case in 2003 - been used primarily against targets of Western interests - with a particular emphasis on Africa and Eastern Europe. Not a single Western government or individual has been prosecuted by the ICC despite having committed the worst war crimes of the 21st century.

    Looked Good on Paper...

    On paper, the International Criminal Court seems like a good idea. This is probably why many nations signed and ratified the statute giving it its supposed mandate. However, as with many good ideas in theory, in practice the ICC falls tragically short.

    Unsurprisingly, the ICC's shortcomings stem from its little-discussed but very lopsided funding and the obvious resulting conflicts of interest.

    An African Business article titled, "Who Pays For the ICC?" would explain it best, noting (emphasis added):
    The maximum amount a single country can pay in any year is limited to 22% of the Court's budget. The ICC spent €80.5m in 2007. The Assembly of States Parties approved a budget of €90.38m for 2008 and €101.23m for 2009. By April 2009, the ICC employed 743 people.

    There are two points of immediate concern regarding the ICC budget. The first that while the Court theoretically sets a cap on funding at 22% of its budget from any one country, considerably more than 50% of its 2009 budget funding came from EU member countries. Thus, the contributions to the ICC's 2009 budget clearly illustrated the continuing European hold on the Court's funding.
    The article would also explain (emphasis added):
    The EU, through its member states, paid 60% of the 2009 budget of €94.17m. If one includes -- as the EU does in its statements regarding the ICC -- those other European states which it says are candidate or potential candidate members of the EU and those other European nations that associate themselves with the EU position, the European contribution comes to a cool 63%. The EU, therefore, clearly, and probably unconstitutionally, financially dominates the ICC.
    A look at the ICC's finances in the form of a chart further highlights the disparity in funding and reveals the ICC not as an "international" court, but a political tool of Western Europe and in particular - the European Union. When three of the "Five Eyes" nations are included and considering Japan's geopolitical subordination to Washington - the disparity is even more obvious.

    If these nations collectively wage war and commit war crimes together, why would they not also abuse the ICC's mandate to redirect the court's efforts away from them, and toward yet other targets of their own self-serving interests?

    The disparity, conflicts of interest, and demonstrable impropriety resulting from this lopsided funding has prompted nations to leave the ICC - with many more remaining, but demanding reform.

    In a BBC article titled, "African Union backs mass withdrawal from ICC," it was reported that:
    The African Union has called for the mass withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
    The article would also explain:
    South Africa and Burundi have already decided to withdraw, accusing the ICC of undermining their sovereignty and unfairly targeting Africans.

    The ICC denies the allegation, insisting it is pursuing justice for victims of war crimes in Africa.
    Since the BBC's article was written, the Filipino government has also decided to withdraw from the ICC.

    Nations have left and rejoined it - not because of a perceived rectification of injustice - but because Western-backed political circles took power and predictably rejoined.

    Is it really fair to characterize the ICC as "international" when entire continents seek to withdraw from it and some of the largest, most populous nations on Earth (India and China) never joined in the first place? Is it fair to characterize the ICC as a "court" when it depends on funding from nations involved in the very war crimes it is supposedly tasked with investigating and prosecuting?

    Even with a perceived split between the US and EU - and the EU-dominated ICC seeking to investigate the US - it must be remembered that the EU itself aided and abetted not only the US' war in Afghanistan the ICC seeks to "investigate," it also participated in US war crimes in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and beyond.

    While it is tempting to believe the ICC now seeks to hold the US accountable - it is much more likely the US and the EU are attempting to rehabilitate the ICC's credibility in order to further exploit it against developing nations - and to do so together.

    US-funded NGOs and the ICC

    While the US claims it opposes the ICC, having never ratified the statute putting the court into effect - it uses the ICC nonetheless. It does so in concert with the EU and through fronts - specifically through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) funded by the US government via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and partner corporate foundations like George Soros' Open Society Foundation (OSF).

    A perfect example of this is unfolding in the Southeast Asian state of Myanmar where US and European interests seek to reassert themselves over the former British colony and displace growing Chinese influence there.

    To accomplish this, the US and Europe have been fomenting ethnic violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state where an essential leg of China's One Belt, One Road initiative (OBOR) passes through.

    US-funded NGOs have inserted themselves on both sides of the conflict and are attempting to overwrite Myanmar's sovereignty and the government's ability to deal with the growing crisis itself.

    One such NGO - US-based Fortify Rights - co-founded by Americans and funded by both the US NED and Soros' OSF (PDF) - has regularly worked with the ICC and UN to place pressure on Myanmar's government.

    In a Twitter post, Fortify Rights co-founder Matthew Smith would claim:
    In its latest efforts to evade international justice, the Myanmar military today created a 3-person "investigation court" to "scrutinize and approve incidents related to terror attacks of extremist Bengali terrorists..."
    By "international justice," Smith is referring to US and European intervention and specifically through fronts like the ICC of which Myanmar is not even a signatory.

    A similar pattern is seen in Syria amid what is essentially a US-led proxy war. Despite the US' supposed aversion to the ICC - the ICC is used to undermine, threaten, and coerce the Syrian government - directly aiding and abetting the US war effort.

    As in Myanmar, the ICC's intervention in Syria is fed directly by NGOs - many of which are enthusiastically funded and supported by the US government - including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

    A Modern Day "White Man's Burden"

    The poem, "The White Man's Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands" written in 1899 by Rudyard Kipling, cited Western racial and cultural superiority to make a case for the US colonization of the Philippines.

    It proposed that Western hegemony was necessary to lift inferior races and civilizations from "savagery." Graphic and racist illustrations of the poem - while certain to shock most - might still resonant with modern-day Western NGO workers who honestly believe they are spreading superior aspects of "civilization" through their work and lifting up the "backward" and "uncivilized."

    The ICC and the NGOs that feed into it - including those funded and directed by the US - pose as modern-day, barely sanitized manifestations of "The White Man's Burden." Western NGOs assume Western values and institutions are superior and that it is their obligation to impose both upon the rest of the world.

    Through institutions like the ICC which are Western-directed and only "international" in the sense of the reach of their ambitions, nations targeted by the West are pressured from above, while Western-funded NGOs undermine targeted nations from below.

    In truth - the divide between West and East during Kipling's time was socioeconomic and technological, not racial. That divide has since been bridged and the notion of "racial superiority" fully extinguished by nations like China escaping out from under the West's shadow, and eclipsing the West.

    Fronts like the ICC are now endangered and struggle for legitimacy - charades like the recent US-ICC row will remain unconvincing as long as the fundamental flaws of the ICC itself remain unaddressed - and this includes its thinly disguised role in abetting Western - and more specifically - American hegemony.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 30, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - That the "final stronghold" of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) resides in US occupied territory in Syria says it all.

    From US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memos dating back to 2012 noting efforts to create a "Salafist" [Islamic] "principality" [State] in eastern Syria precisely where ISIS rose and now clings to its "final stronghold," to the obvious fact that ISIS' fighting capacity was only possible through extensive state sponsorship - it was already clear that the US and its partners in regime change against Syria had been using terrorists including ISIS as proxy ground forces.

    Now the US claims it has cornered and is on the verge of defeating ISIS - despite the terrorist group having been cleared out of virtually every other corner of the nation by Syrian, Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces long ago.

    In reality, the US is merely liquidating assets it had harbored, protected, armed, and funded throughout the 8 year proxy war until no longer politically feasible.

    CNN in its article, "Thousands of ISIS troops surrender amid attack on final stronghold in Syria," uncritically claims:
    At its height, ISIS controlled huge swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq. The US-led coalition has been working for years to oust the group from cities and towns.
    CNN omits entirely any mention of the source of ISIS' fighting capacity and the fact that its supply lines led directly out of NATO-member Turkey and was overseen by US special forces and intelligence agencies.

    CNN also omits that it wasn't until the 2015 Russian military intervention when Russian air power attacked and cut ISIS supply lines that ISIS began suffering defeat across Syrian territory - first and foremost in territory being retaken by Syrian forces and its allies.

    In territory illegally-occupied by the US, it appears that ISIS militants and other extremists were simply being shuffled around. In other cases, US forces attacked the Syrian military and their allies when attempting to cross into US-occupied territory in pursuit of ISIS forces. This game has carried on to the point of absurdity with the largest and most powerful military in the world only now creeping in last across the finish line of its own supposed battle against ISIS.

    What Becomes of Surrendering and Fleeing ISIS Militants?

    CNN also claims:
    More than 3,000 ISIS fighters have surrendered amid a pitched battle by US-backed forces to retake the last ISIS stronghold in Syria.
    The article also notes that many more may attempt to flee. The US has not made it clear what will happen with these fighters, or others "fleeing" from the supposed US-backed offensive. In certain cases, it seems Washington has singled interest in sending foreign fighters back to their countries of origin - which means many will simply be reintegrated into society where local intelligence agencies will keep tabs on them, use them for domestic distractions, or redeploy them to Washington's next proxy war when required.

    A recent Iraqi military deployment near the Syrian-Iraqi border consisting of Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) amid the ongoing US offensive in Syria indicates that at least Baghdad believes Washington's "defeat" of ISIS is more likely another attempt to shuffle valuable proxy fighters around on the battlefield - and this time - back into Iraq and in particular, into Al Anbar governorate where the US still maintains a military presence and where they will continue receiving defacto US protection.

    Al-Masdar News in an article titled, "Iraqi reinforcements deploy to Syrian border as ISIS terrorists attempt to escape Syria," would note:
    The Iraqi Armed Forces deployed a large number of military personnel to the Syrian border this week to block any Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) from fleeing into Iraq.

    According to a new report, the Iraqi Army and Hashd Al-Sha'abi deployed these reinforcements to the Anbar-Deir Ezzor border after some Islamic State terrorists were suspected of sneaking into Iraq from eastern Syria.
    It was the rise of ISIS inside Iraq and its crossing over into Syrian territory that set the pretext for the now ongoing US occupation of Syrian territory. The threat of ISIS "resurging" in Iraq also serves as an ongoing pretext for US forces still based there.

    The rise of Iranian-backed militias throughout Iraq has become a potent counterweight to US-backed proxies attempting to take root there once again, and will make it infinitely more difficult for the US to repeat the scale and duration of the ISIS scourge the US visited upon the region.

    The term "liquidate" in this context doesn't necessarily mean destroying ISIS formations entirely - but instead simply moving them where they can be protected in Al Anbar and reconstituted to either continue serving as a pretext for US troops to remain in the region, or to fight in future proxies wars the US is planning in the wake of its current defeat in Syria.

    While the Western media is attempting to hail this "final battle" as a victory for US forces - it is in actuality an indictment of America's complicity in ISIS' creation, proliferation across the region, and its longevity on the battlefield - suspiciously where US forces are operating.

    The real story isn't that the US is finally moving in on ISIS' "last stronghold," it's that the US presided over the "last stronghold" for so long.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • March 31, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - In the dead of Christmas night last year, to evade possibly being shot down, US President Donald Trump made a surprise, whirlwind visit to US troops in Iraq.

    He visited Al Asad Air Base about 100 miles west of Baghdad in Al Anbar province, or about halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border where US forces are also operating. Between Al Asad and Baghdad are the notorious cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, hotbeds of resistance after the 2003 US invasion, and since then, hotbeds of extremism fueling the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

    The base is home to about 5,000 US service members.

    As in Syria, America's presence in Iraq seems to be clinging to areas where extremism and separatism are greatest. In many instances, it is the US openly and deliberately encouraging both, especially in Kurdish territory stretching over both nations, but also in areas dominated by Sunni Muslims where extremist fronts like Al Qaeda and IS believe they can find support.

    The fact that President Trump visited American forces in the dead of night, meeting no one from the actual Iraqi military or government, helps illustrate the increasingly isolated position the US holds in Iraq.

    While the US claims it is fighting extremists from Syria to Iraq and beyond, with Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Iraqi forces clearing these extremists out of virtually all corners of Syria and Iraq except where US forces occupy, it seems the US isn't fighting extremism, it is cultivating it.

    Enter Iran

    Several months later, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made his first official visit to Iraq. His trip brought him to the center of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. There he met with top representatives of the Iraqi government including Iraqi President Barham Salih. He also travelled through the city to visit Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, a particularly important pilgrimage site for Shia'a Muslims.

    President Rouhani had previously commented on Trump's swooping in at night and his failure to meet with any actual Iraqis in an open and official capacity. The Washington Post would quote President Rouhani as also stating:
    "You have to walk in the streets of Baghdad ... to find out how people will welcome you."
    In addition to meeting Iraqi representatives and leaders, and travelling through Baghdad, President Rouhani also signed agreements involving "oil and gas, land transport, railways, agriculture, industry, health and regarding the central bank," the Washington Post would report.

    French news portal France24 would note in their article, "Iraq attempts balancing act as Iran's Rouhani arrives for first official visit," that:
    Last year, Iran's exports to Iraq amounted to nearly $9 billion. Tehran hopes to increase the roughly $13 billion volume in trade between the two neighbouring countries to $20 billion. Also, some 5 million religious tourists bring in nearly $5 billion a year as Iraqis and Iranians visit Shiite holy sites in the two countries.
    The article would note the growing ties between the two nations and the growing influence Iran has over Iraq in contrast to America's ebbing presence there.

    Iraq-Iran Ties are Built on Mutual Interests - US Ties are Built on Fabricated Threats

    The Trump-Rouhani visits and the stark contrast between the two illustrates another very important point.

    President Trump would openly admit the US was in Iraq to "to watch Iran," the New York Times would report.

    The New York Times would also report:
    Mr. Trump's comments come as the United States has quietly been negotiating with Iraq for weeks to allow perhaps hundreds of American commandos and support troops now operating in Syria to shift to bases in Iraq and strike the Islamic State from there. Military leaders are seeking to maintain pressure on the militant group as the president fundamentally reorders policy toward Syria and toward Afghanistan, where peace talks with the Taliban are underway.
    Yet there are serious problems with this claim. President Rouhani's visit highlights Iran as a key ally for Iraq.

    In terms of security, Iranian-backed militias helped rid Iraq as well as neighboring Syria of Al Qaeda, its affiliates and IS.

    And as just pointed out, Iran is also a key economic partner for Iraq.

    The US on the other hand has little to offer in terms of security or economics. Its presence in Iraq to allegedly fight extremists it and its regional allies themselves helped fund and arm in the first place, only adds to Iraq's many security challenges.

    In terms of economics, while the US provides Iraq a large export market, it is a market still dwarfed by China and India. It is also smaller than the combined export market of Iraq's major European trade partners. The geographical proximity of Iraq and Iran to one another means deeper and more practical economic ties can be developed than anything on offer by the US, if economic partnership was actually one of Washington's goals.

    By President Trump's own admission, the US is in Iraq not to assist it in any way, but to use it for Washington's own self-serving agenda regarding neighboring Iran. Since the United States and its Persian Gulf allies have nothing of significant value to offer Iraq in terms of real security or economics, it is instead playing a diplomatic balancing act where it associates with and radicalizes Sunni communities, then poses as combating the terrorism that predictably results.

    It is a balancing act that is hardly sustainable, especially opposite the significant security and economic benefits Iran can counter-offer Baghdad.

    It is not hard to see why Iran's influence in the Middle East continues to flow, despite being targeted by the US through an array of subversive measures, while US influence in the region ebbs despite having a clear advantage in terms of resources and military might.

    It is also not hard to see the significance of remaining US bases in Iraq being in Kurdish areas or regions where extremism still persists. The US presence in Al Anbar, as pointed out as far back as 2017, along with supposed reconstruction aid offered by Washington's Persian Gulf allies, all seems to point toward a strategy of growing an extremist threat to serve as a counterweight or spoiler against Iran's constructive contributions to Iraq's security situation and economic growth.

    It is a strategy that will only further exhaust US credibility and resources, as well as those of its regional partners, all while forcing it opponents to expand further and dig in deeper, as Iran has been doing.

    Despite claims that the biggest threats to US interests and national security are extremists in the Middle East, or even revisionist states like Russia and China, in truth, the United States' biggest enemy is its own unsustainable foreign policy and the exhausting aggression that underpins it. Its ebbing influence in Iraq despite the trillions in dollars and many years invested there, serves as "exhibit A."

    Gunnar UIson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • April 7, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson - NEO) - Human Rights Watch (HRW) executive director Kenneth Roth recently decried legal proceedings against the alleged "leading human rights defender in Chechnya," Oyub Titiyev.

    But as with much of what HRW decries, Titiyev has less to do with actually defending human rights, and more to do with ongoing US-subversion in Russia's southern Chechen Republic.

    Roth, in a social media post, would claim:
    The Russian government's "case" against the leading human rights defender in Chechnya, Oyub Titiyev, is farcical--as many holes as Swiss cheese--but authorities have still locked him up for 14 months and are threatening a four-year sentence.
    The article Roth's post would include, leads to an opinion piece in The Moscow Times (written by fellow HRW regional director, Rachel Denber) who insists Titiyev is innocent of drug charges based entirely on Titiyev and his lawyer's own claims.

    Whether Titiyev is guilty or not is for Russia's courts to decide. However, the entire process of mobilizing supposed human rights advocacy organizations like HRW to rush to Titiyev's aid illustrates how "rights advocacy" is transparently used to advance politically-motivated agendas, not to actually advance human rights.

    No matter what the evidence against Titiyev, HRW and others would claim the charges against him were politically motivated. It is an example of foreign-funded organizations attempting to assert themselves over a nation's sovereign right to manage its own internal affairs, including by overriding local law enforcement and judicial processes.

    But there is much more to consider regarding Titiyev's case than this.

    Terrorism as Washington's Sword, "Rights Advocacy" as its Shield

    Russia's Chechen Republic had previously seen two wars as armed separatists attempted to carve out an independent region from Russian territory. From 1994-1996 and again from 1999-2009 militants waged both open war and an armed insurgency against Russian forces until eventually Moscow prevailed.

    Today, attempts to rekindle divisions, upheaval and even violence have been the primary goal of both US-funded and directed "rights advocates" like HRW and US-backed militants, though admittedly Russia now has the upper hand.

    As the United States has been revealed to have done elsewhere, the Russian government has accused it of lending direct aid to Chechen militants.

    A 2015 BBC article titled, "Russia's Putin: US agents gave direct help to Chechens," would note:
    Vladimir Putin has accused US agents of directly aiding rebel fighters in the second Chechen war.
    In order for fighters to have contested Russian control over Chechnya, they would require equal or greater financial and military support than that committed by Moscow. State sponsorship would be the only way of achieving this and the list of potential states both capable and motivated to back Chechen militants is exceedingly short.

    That the US and its partners now currently offer many of these same Chechen militants who have shifted their fighting over to Syria both weapons and financial backing is further evidence of Washington's deep commitment to menacing Russia and its interests both domestically and abroad with Chechen militancy.

    US state sponsorship of Chechen militancy serves as the sword of Washington's policy, aimed at the Chechen Republic and anywhere else it feels it can wield it effectively (such as Syria).

    And if the Chechen militancy is Washington's sword, US-backed "rights advocacy" is its shield.

    So-called "human rights defenders" like Oyub Titiyev and the US-funded organizations he is a member of work to frustrate Russian efforts to root out extremism in the Chechen Republic.

    Titiyev and others attempt to claim obvious counter-terror operations somehow violate human rights. His organization's work along with many others funded out of Washington D.C. is then used to place official pressure on Moscow to complicate counter-terror operations and undermine Russia's ability to maintain peace and stability in Chechnya.

    Such organizations are used as a "shield" to protect militants from the full force of efforts undertaken to uproot them.

    Oyub Titiyev is Funded by the US Government

    The Moscow Times' article cited by HRW's Kenneth Roth would make mention of at least one of the organizations Oyub Titiyev worked for, stating:
    Titiyev has headed the office of the Russian human rights group Memorial in Grozny for nine years, collecting harrowing evidence of abuses and injustices committed by Chechen authorities.

    Memorial, funded by the US government, is registered in Russia as a, "non-profit organization acting as a foreign agent." On Memorial's own website in a barely noticeable footnote at the very bottom of its website, it admits to its status as a foreign agent, but insists it is "self-governing," a claim made by many supposed nongovernmental organizations whose US government funding has been exposed.

    Memorial no longer transparently discloses its funding, nor does the US National Endowment for Democracy which in 2011 had openly listed Memorial as one of their many grantees in Russia. Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth and Rachel Denber in her op-ed in The Moscow Times also omitted Memorial's US government-funding.

    But under Memorial's own post on Titiyev's arrest, it would admit (emphasis added):
    Titiev has worked at Memorial and its sister organization, Civic Assistance Committee, since 2000, documenting human rights violations and carrying out a range of humanitarian projects, including support to schools in Chechnya's mountain areas.
    The "Civic Assistance Committee" is also registered in Russia as a "non-profit organization acting as a foreign agent," and does list its foreign sponsors, which include the European Commission and George Soros' Open Society-funded Amnesty International.

    Had Human Rights Watch mentioned Titiyev's role as a foreign agent amid Russia's internal political affairs, or the fact that the people whose "rights" he was "defending" were terror suspects, their message would have failed to invoke sufficient public sympathy for Titiyev or public anger against the Russian government.

    Sword and Shield Used Worldwide

    Washington's use of Chechen terrorists to menace Russia along with dubious "rights advocates" like Titiyev and the US-funded fronts he works for protecting these terrorists from counter-terror operations represents a "sword and shield" method used extensively by Washington worldwide.

    We can see examples of this in Syria where supposed US-backed "human rights activists" and "rescue workers" like the White Helmets embed with Al Qaeda and its many affiliates, working exclusively in territory occupied by terrorist organizations even listed by the US State Department itself as such.

    US-armed terrorists used to overthrow the Libyan government in 2011 were likewise protected by extensive "human rights" networks set up by the US and Europe to portray militants as "pro-democracy activists." The efforts of these "human rights" networks were used by the US and its allies to justify airstrikes under the pretext of the "responsibility to protect" doctrine, also known as "R2P."

    Just as a knight brings his sword and shield to whatever battlefield he fights upon, the United States brings its sword of state-sponsored terrorism and shield of "human rights advocacy" to every region and nation it seeks to undermine and eventually overthrow.

    Oyub Titiyev's role in abusing human rights advocacy to frustrate state security services attempting to maintain peace and stability in Russia's Chechen Republic is just one of many hundreds of examples the US and its allies are using worldwide. By following characters like Kenneth Roth of HRW on social media, we can see several examples aired out per day, in numerous countries.

    By understanding this tactic and exposing it, the blade of Washington's sword will grow dull, and cracks will begin to appear in its shield.

    Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

  • April 8, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Western political meddling abroad faced another serious setback - this time in the Southeast Asian country of Thailand.

    With a population of 70 million people, the 2nd largest economy in Southeast Asia, and transforming into a key regional partner for Beijing and its One Belt, One Road initiative, the US and its partners sought to propel opposition parties into power during recent elections held in March.

    However, the military-linked Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) won the popular vote, delivering US-backed opposition parties their first serious defeat at the polls since rising to power in 2001.

    The US-backed Thai opposition is led by fugitive billionaire, ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He was ousted from power in 2006 after a series of corruption scandals, human rights abuses, and attempts to illegally consolidate power.

    Shinawatra has since attempted to return to power through a series of nepotist proxies including his sister Yingluck Shinawatra who served as prime minister from 2011-2014 until likewise being ousted by judicial and military intervention.

    In addition to Thaksin Shinawatra's Pheu Thai political party, he also maintains a violent street front known as the "red shirts," and is bolstered by US-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), "student activist" groups, and extensive support throughout the Western corporate media.

    In the most recent election, Shinawatra divided his political forces into multiple parties in a hedging strategy meant to preserve at least one party against disbanding for serving illegally as the fugitive's proxies.

    In addition to Pheu Thai, Shinawatra also fielded Thai Raksa Chart, Pheu Tham, Pheu Chart, and Future Forward.

    US Finds "New" Proxy in "Future Forward"

    While Pheu Thai and other parties are openly run by Shinawatra as proxies, the latter - Future Forward - has attempted to claim it is not a nominee party.

    However, nothing could be further from the truth.

    The party - headed by billionaire Thanathorn Jungrungreangkit (normally referred to as Thanathorn) - not only promotes an identical agenda of removing Thailand's military from politics - thus paving Shinawatra's return to power - it literally established its party headquarters next door to Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party. It includes various pro-Shinawatra politicians in its party, and was promoted by Shinawatra's Thai Raska Chart (TRC) party as a nominee after TRC's disbanding ahead of elections.

    Thanathorn himself is co-heir of the Jungrungreangkit fortune accumulated by his late father, and since taken over by his mother. The Jungrungreangkit family has long allied itself with Shinawatra.

    Media interests the family controls have served as stalwart supporters of Shinawatra and his political agenda for years. This support extends itself to promoting the same Western interests and agendas that in turn are sponsoring and benefiting from Shinawatra's bid to return to power.

    Thanathorn himself - ahead of elections - went out of his way to court foreign interests and support - including visits with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and speaking at venues like the Concordia Summit - chaired by inveterate regime change promoters and pro-war advocates including John Negroponte and David Petraeus, as well as representatives of verified dictatorships like Prince Abdulaziz bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.

    Thanathorn has repeatedly declared his intentions to roll back joint Thai-Chinese infrastructure projects and slash the Thai military's budget, undermining its ability to fend of foreign interference - both foreign policy dreams long sought after by Washington.

    It should come as no surprise then to see concerted support across the Western corporate media for Thanathorn and his Future Forward Party - as an alternative to supporting Shinawatra whose credibility and popularity are flagging despite years of extensive Western lobbying.

    Thanathorn's Future Forward Party came in 3rd behind the military-linked PPRP and Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party. Despite this - it has been inexplicably endowed by the Western media with a disproportionate and imaginary mandate.

    Images: Representatives from Western embassies including the US, UK, and Canada accompany Thanathorn as he faces multiple legal charges, including charges of sedition.

    Thanathorn has found himself in legal trouble in the wake of the election, facing at least 3 charges including sedition. When summoned by Thai police, he was accompanied by foreign embassy staff including representatives from the United States, UK, and Canada.

    While this is being portrayed by the Western media as "international support" for a "pro-democracy" candidate - even a cursory look at US-UK-Canadian foreign policy reveals self-serving interests - not "democracy" - serve as the common denominator underpinning such "support."

    Readers should recall the US-UK-Canada's role in multiple illegal wars stretching from Libya in North Africa, to Iraq and Syria in the Middle East, to Afghanistan in Central Asia - and their collective, ongoing support for genuine dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Neo-Nazi-aligned regime presiding over Kiev, Ukraine.

    The West's support for Thanathorn and Future Forward - then - is nothing more than direct meddling in Thailand's internal political affairs, merely hidden behind democracy, rather than in its defense.

    The West - through proxies like Shinawatra and Thanathorn - seek to weaken or entirely remove Thailand's independent institutions including its courts, military, and constitutional monarchy - thus paving the way for unopposed economic "liberalization" and the co-opting of Thailand's foreign policy to rollback ties with Beijing, transforming the Southeast Asian state into a bulwark against China at its own expense.

    Washington's Losing Bet

    At the height of Thaksin Shinawatra's power, he was the 4th richest man in Thailand. His political and financial power was such it required nearly 2 decades of intensive efforts - including 2 coups - to sufficiently diminish. This only recently culminated in Shinawatra's Pheu Thai political party losing the popular vote in recent elections.

    Between 2010 and now - Shinawatra has gone from 4th richest to 19th. His credibility and influence has waned to the extent his own proxies - including Thanathorn - must deny any ties to him.

    Thanathorn - the West's "new" proxy - is nonetheless a stand-in for Shinawatra. However, he comes from a family ranked 28th in terms of wealth - and his own personal political and financial background is already tainted with corruption and scandal.

    The West finds itself resorting to proxies many times weaker financially, and politically more compromised than Shinawatra in 2001 - going up against Thai institutions that are more organized and prepared to defend Thai sovereignty than ever.

    The Western media's attempts to "will" the Thai political crisis into a shape that serves its interests didn't work for Thaksin Shinawatra at the height of his power, did not work ahead of recent elections, and will not work for Shinawatra's stand-in who is many times weaker post-election than Shinawatra in 2001.

    The West's setbacks in Thailand are just one part of a much wider pattern of US-European foreign policy failures stretching around the globe from clumsy regime change efforts in Venezuela to a humiliating defeat in Syria and a stagnant, two decade-long war in Afghanistan. Regionally, setbacks in Thailand are part of a wider trend seeing US primacy in Asia being displaced by both China and the rise of other regional powers.

    The notion that characters like Thanathorn and parties like Future Forward represent "democracy," while their agenda is dictated from overseas by fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra and his Western sponsors, and defended in Thailand by representatives from Western embassies in Bangkok - is an unsustainable paradox. Democracy by definition is a process of self-determination - not one in which a nation's fate is dictated from abroad. It is only a matter of time before the reality of this paradox catches up with the hypocritical rhetoric used to perpetuate it.

    Those betting on Shinawatra, his nominee Thanathorn, his party Future Forward, or even American primacy in Asia must ask themselves whether or not they believe by this time next year - or even next decade - this unsustainable agenda will finally gain traction, or find itself more deeply mired by multiplying failures.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • April 10, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - Libya is back in the news, as fighting escalates around the capital, Tripoli.

    Forces under the control of Khalifa Haftar - a former Libyan general under the government of Muammar Qaddafi - turned opposition during the 2011 US-led NATO intervention - turned "opposition" again against the UN-backed "Government of National Accord" (GNA) seated in Tripoli - have most recently reached Tripoli's airport.

    The confusing chaos that has continually engulfed Libya since 2011 should come as no surprise. It is the predictable outcome that follows any US-led political or military intervention. Other examples showcasing US-led regime change "success" include Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine.

    And just like in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine - the Western corporate media has regularly omitted mention of Libya from headlines specifically to mask the very predictable consequences of US-led regime change as additional interventions against nations like Venezuela, Syria, and Iran are engineered and pursued.

    Battlefield Libya

    In 2011, the North African nation of Libya was transformed from a prosperous, developing nation, into a divided, perpetual battlefield where local warlords backed by a milieu of opposing foreign sponsors and interests have vied for power since.

    Libya's current status as a failed, warring state is owed entirely to the US-led NATO intervention in 2011.

    Predicated on lies promoted by Western-funded "human rights" organizations and fought under the pretext of R2P (responsibility to protect) - the US and its NATO allies dismembered Libya leading to predictable and perpetual chaos that has affected not only Libya itself, but North Africa, Southern Europe, and even the Middle East.

    The war immediately triggered not only a wave of refugees fleeing the war itself, but the redirection of refugees from across Africa seeking shelter and work in Libya, across the Mediterranean and into Europe instead.

    Militants fighting as proxies for the US-led war in 2011 would be armed and redeployed to Turkey where they entered Syria and played a key role in taking the cities of Idlib and Aleppo during the early stages of that US-led proxy war.

    Currently, Libya is divided between the UN-backed government based in Tripoli, eastern-based forces loyal to Haftar, and a mix of other forces operating across the country, holding various degrees of control over Libya's other major cities, and equally varying degrees of loyalty to the UN-backed government, Haftar's forces, or other factions.

    Fighting around Tripoli has even allegedly prompted US military forces stationed in Libya to temporarily evacuate. CNBC in its article, "US pulls forces from Libya as fighting approaches capital," would report:
    The United States has temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to "security conditions on the ground," a top military official said Sunday as a Libyan commander's forces advanced toward the capital of Tripoli and clashed with rival militias.

    A small contingent of American troops has been in Libya in recent years, helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities.
    The presence of US forces in Libya might be news to some - and was certainly only a dream within the Pentagon until after the 2011 US-led NATO intervention finally toppled the Libyan government.

    America's foreign policy of arsonist-fireman has endowed it with a large and still growing military footprint in Africa - one it uses to project power and affect geopolitics well beyond the continent.

    America's Growing Footprint in Africa

    The ongoing Libyan conflict - flush with weapons pouring in from foreign sponsors - has also fuelled regional terrorism impacting neighboring Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, and Chad, as far west as Mali and Nigeria, and southeast as far as Kenya. The war has been a boon for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) which has used the resulting chaos as a pretext to expand Washington's military footprint on the continent.

    In a 2018 Intercept article titled, "U.S. Military Says it has a "Light Footprint" in Africa. These Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases," it was reported that:
    According to a 2018 briefing by AFRICOM science adviser Peter E. Teil, the military's constellation of bases includes 34 sites scattered across the continent, with high concentrations in the north and west as well as the Horn of Africa. These regions, not surprisingly, have also seen numerous U.S. drone attacks and low-profile commando raids in recent years.
    The article notes that much of AFRICOM's expansion in Africa has occurred over the past decade.

    While the pretext for US military expansion in Africa has been "counter-terrorism," it is clear US military forces are there to protect US interests and project US power with "terrorism" a manufactured pretext to justify Washington's militarization of the continent.

    Much of the terrorism the US claims it is fighting was only possible in the first place through the flood of weapons, equipment, and support provided to militants by the US and its partners amid regime change operations targeting nations like Libya.

    The US-led NATO war in Libya is a perfect example of the US deliberately arming terrorist organizations - including those listed as foreign terrorist organizations by the US State Department itself - overthrowing a nation, predictably destabilizing the entire region, and using the resulting instability as a pretext to massively expand America's military footprint there.

    The wider agenda at play is Washington's desire to displace current Russian and Chinese interests on the continent, granting the US free reign.

    Fruits of US-NATO Regime Change

    As NATO celebrates its 70th anniversary, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would claim:
    Over seven decades, NATO has stepped up time and again to keep our people safe, and we will continue to stand together to prevent conflict and preserve peace.
    This "peace" includes 8 years of heavy fighting in Libya following NATO's intervention there.

    NATO's Secretary General proclaims NATO's mission as one to "prevent conflict and preserve peace," yet it paradoxically and very intentionally engineered the war in Libya, overthrew the government in Tripoli, and triggered regional chaos that not only plagues North Africa to this day - but also inundated Europe with refugees fleeing the conflict.

    Europe is one of the few places NATO could conceivably claim any mandate to protect or operate in - yet its own wars of aggression abroad directly compromised European safety and security.

    The media blackout that has shrouded the true impact of NATO's intervention in Libya for the past 8 years helps enable the US and its NATO partners to perpetrate additional proxy wars and political interventions elsewhere.

    As the US openly pursues aggressive regime change in Venezuela and meddles in the internal politics of nations across Southeast Asia, the "fruits" of US intervention in places like Libya should always be kept in mind.

    What is most alarming of all is considering that the US-led intervention in Libya may not necessarily be a failure. It is only a failure if one believed the US truly sought a better future for the nation. However, if the fruits of perpetual chaos and an equally perpetual pretext for the US militarization of Africa were intentionally set out for from the beginning - then in many ways - Libya was a resounding success.

    Depending on how the current fighting around Tripoli unfolds, whether or not a unified Libya emerges, and whose foreign military presence and economic interests are allowed to persist on Libyan soil thereafter - will help determine just how successful Washington's true agenda in Libya - and in Africa - has been.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
  • West Finds New Anti-China Puppet in Wake of Thai Elections (Original English)

    การแทรกแทรงทางการเมืองของโลกตะวันตกเผชิญกับความพ่ายแพ้อีกครั้ง คราวนี้ในแ--บเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้ที่ประเทศไทย

    ด้วยประชากรณ์กว่า 70 ล้านคน และเป็นเขตเศรษฐกิจที่มีขนาดใหญ่เป็นอันดับ 2 ของภูมิภาคเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้ และกำลังก้าวสู่การเป็นพันธมิตรระดับภูมิภาคที่สำคัญในนโยบาย One Belt, One Road ของจีน ทำให้สหรัฐและพันธมิตรต้องการจะหนุนฝ่ายที่เป็นปฏิปักษ์ต่อจีนขึ้นสู่อำนาจในการเลือตั้งของไทยเมื่อเดือนมีนาคมที่ผ่านมา
    อย่างไรก็ตาม พรรคพลังประชารัฐซึ่งมีความเกี่ยวโยงกับกองทัพได้คะแนนความนิยมที่สูงกว่า ทำให้ฝ่ายปฏิปักษ์ที่มีสหรัฐหนุนหลังพบกับความพ่ายแพ้ร้ายแรงในการเลือกตั้งเป็นครั้งแรก นับตั้งแต่ขึ้นสู่อำนาจเป็นครั้งแรกในปี 2544

    ฝ่ายปฏิปักษ์ที่มีสหรัฐหนุนมีผู้นำคืออดีตนายกรัฐมนตรี ทักษิณ ชินวัตร มหาเศรษฐี นักโทษหนีคดีผู้ลี้ภัยทางการเมือง เขา--ูกโค่นล้มจากอำนาจในปี 2549 ภายหลังมีข้อครหาการคอรัปชัน การละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชน และการพยายามจะกุมอำนาจรัฐทั้งหมดไว้ทกับตัวโดยมิชอบด้วยกฎหมาย

    จากนั้นมาทักษิณได้พยายามจะหวนคืนสู่อำนาจผ่านทางการใช้ตัวแทนหลายคน ซึ่งหนึ่ในนั้นมีน้องสาวของตน ยิ่งลักษณ์ ชินวัตร ผู้ซึ่งได้เป็นนายกรัฐมนตรีตั้งปี 2554 --ึง 2557 และเฉกเช่นเดียวกับพี่ชาย ได้--ูกโค่นล้มจากอำนาจโดยการแทรกแทรงของศาลและกองทัพ

    นอกจากพรรคเพื่อไทยแล้ว ทักษิณ ชินวัตร ยังคุมกลุ่มผู้ชุมนุมบนท้อง--นนที่นิยมความรุนแรงที่รู้จักกันในนาม "เสื้อแดง" ในขณะเดียวกัน ทักษิณ ชินวัตร ก็ได้รับการสนับสนุนจากเหล่าเอ็นจีโอที่ได้รับเงินทุนจากสหรัฐ , กลุ่ม"นกเคลื่อนไหวนักศึกษา" และได้รับการสนับสนุนอย่างล้นหลามจากสื่อตะวันตก

    ในการเลือกตั้งครั้งล่าสุด ทักษิณ ได้แบ่งกำลังทางการเมืองออกเป็นหลายพรรค เพื่อการกระจายความเสี่ยงในการ--ูกยุบพรรค เพื่อที่จะสามาร--ใช้พรรคเหล่านั้นเป็นตัวแทนอย่างผิดกฎหมายให้ตนต่อไป

    นอกจากพรรคเพื่อไทยแล้ว ทักษิณ ยังได้ส่งพรรคไทยรักษาชาติ พรรคเพื่อธรรม พรรคเพื่อชาติ และพรรคอนาคตใหม่


    ในขณะที่เพื่อไทยและพรรคอื่นๆที่กล่าวมามีทักษิณเป็นผู้สั่งการอย่างเปิดเผย แต่พรรคอนาคตใหม่ได้พยายามที่จะปฏิเสธการเป็นพรรคนอมินี


    พรรคอนาคตใหม่ที่นำโดยมหาเศรษฐีนามว่า ธนาธร จึงรุ่งเรืองกิจ อกจากมีนโยบายที่เหมือนกับพรรคเพื่อไทยในการเอาทหารออกจากอำนาจ (ซึ่งจะเปิดทางให้ทักษิณคืนสู่อำนาจ) แต่หนำซ้ำ พรรคอนาคตใหม่ได้ตั้งสำนักงานพรรคติดอยู่กับที่ทำการพรรคเพื่อไทย ในพรรคอนาคตใหม่เองก็ยังมีนักการเมืองฝ่ายทักษิณ และพรรคไทยรักษาชาติของทักษิณยังส่งเสริมให้คนเลือกอนาคตใหม่ หลังจากพรรคไทยรักษาชาติ--ูกยุบไปก่อนหน้าการเลือกตั้ง

    ตัวของธนาธรเองเป็นทายาทร่วมของทรัพตระกูลจึงเรืองกิจซึ่งได้มาจากบิดาผู้ล่วงลับ และตั้งแต่มารดาได้รับช่วงต่อ ตระกูลจึงรุ่งเรืองกิจได้กลายเป็นพันธมิตรกับทักษิณ

    การนำเสนอของสื่อที่ตระกูลนี้ควบคุมได้สนับสนุนตัวทักษิณเองและวาระทางการเมืองของทักษิณ และยังรวมไป--ึงการเอื้อกับผลประโยชน์และวาระทางการเมืองของโลกตะวันตก ซึ่งโลกตะวันตกเองก็ยังให้การสนับสนุนทักษิณและย่อมจะได้รับผลประโยชน์กลับหากทักษิณกลับมามีอำนาจ

    ตัวธนาธรเอง ก่อนหน้าการเลือกตั้ ได้ไปขอความช่วยเหลือจากต่างประเทศ ด้วยการเข้าพบกับนายกรัฐมนตรีของแคนาดา คุณจัสติน ทรูโด และไปกล่าวสุนทรพจน์ในงานเช่น Concordia Summit ที่มีประธานเป็นผู้สนับสนุนการเปลี่ยนแปลงการปกครองและหนุนสงครามมาอย่างยาวนานอย่าง John Negroponte และ David petraeus รวม--ึงตัวแทนของเผด็จการที่ได้รับการยอมรับอย่างเจ้าชาย Abdulaziz bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Suad แห่งซาอุดิอาระเบีย

    ธนาธรเอ่ยครั้งแล้วครั้งเล่า--ึงความตั้งใจที่จะยกเลิกโครงการร่วมไทย-จีนในการก่อสร้างโครงสร้างพื้นฐานและตัดงบกลาโหม ซึ่งจะทำให้ไทยสูญเสียความสามาร--ในการป้องกันการแทรกแทรงจากต่างประเทศ ทั้งสองสิ่งนี้นอกจากธนาธรแล้วก็ยังมีสหรัฐที่หมายปองอยากให้ไทยทำ

    ดังนั้นจึงไม่น่าแปลกใจเลยที่สื่อตะวันตกจะร่วมกันสนับสนุนธนาธรและพรรคอนาคตใหม่ในฐานะอีกทางเลือกหนึ่งจากทักษิณ โดยที่ความน่าเชื่อ--ือและความนิยมของทักษิณเองได้ลดลงแม้ว่าจะมีการวิ่งเต้นช่วยเหลือจากทางตะวันตกอย่างกว้างขวาง

    พรรคอนาคตใหม่ของธนาธรได้อันดับ 3 จากการเลือกตั้ง รองลงมาจากพรรคพลังประชารัฐที่เกี่ยวโยงกับกองทัพ และพรรคเพื่อไทยของทักษิณ แต่กระนั้นแล้วก็เป็นเรื่องน่าแปลกใจที่นักข่าวของตะวันตกกลับยกยอเขาให้ความสำคัญกว่าสิ่งที่เขาเป็น ธนาธรได้พบกับปัญหาทางกฎหมายในช่วงเลือกตั้งโดย--ูกตั้งข้อกล่าวหา 3 คดี หนึ่งในนั้นเป็นคดีความมั่นคง เมื่อไปพบตำรวจตามหมายเรียก มีตัวแทนฑูตทั้งหมด 12 คนติดตามการแจ้งข้อกล่าวหาด้วย และในนั้นมีตัวแทนฑูตจากสหรัฐ อังกฤษ และแคนาดา

    สื่อตะวันตกต่างพรรณา--ึงเหตุการณ์ครั้งนี้ว่าเป็นการ "สนับสนุนจากต่างประเทศ" แก่ผู้สมัครรับเลือกตั้งฝ่าย"ประชาธิปไตย" แต่กระนั้นแล้ว แม้เพียงมองนโยบายต่างประเทศของสหรัฐ อังกฤษ แคนาดาอย่างคร่าวๆแล้ว ะเห็นได้ว่าเป็นเพื่อประโยชน์ของตัวเองโดยที่ไม่ใช่เพื่อ "ประชาธิปไตย" การมีผลประโยชน์ร่วมกันจึงเป็นเหตุผลที่ประเทศเหล่านี้ให้การ "สนับสนุน"

    ผู้อ่านควรนึก--ึงการมีส่วนร่วมของสหรัฐ อังกฤษ แคนาดาในการก่อสงครามที่มิชอบด้วยกฎหมายซึ่งครอบคลุมพื้นที่ตั้งแต่ลิเบียในแอฟริกาเหนือ ซีเรียในตะวันออกกลาง ไปจน--ึงอัฟกานิส--านในเอเชียกลาง รวมไปจน--ึงการร่วมกันให้ความสนับสนุนเผด็จการอย่างแท้จริงเช่น ซาอุดิอาระเบีย กาตาร์ และยูเครนที่มีแนวคิดแบบนีโอนาซี
    ดังน้ั้นการสนับสนุนนายธนาธรจากโลกตะวันตกจึงไม่ใช่สิ่งอื่นใดนอกไปจากการแทรกแทรงการเมืองของไทยโดยตรง โดยใช้คำว่าประชาธิปไตยเป็นโล่กำบังแทนที่จะปกป้องมัน

    ไม่ว่าจะผ่านทางธนาธร หรือทักษิ โลกตะวันตกต้องการจะทำให้ไทยอ่อนแอและต้องการทำลายส--าบันที่เป็นอิสระของไทย เช่น ศาล กองทัพ ละพระมหากษัตริย์ ซึ่งจะเป็นการปูทางนำไปสู่การ"เปิดเสรี"ทางการค้าโดยไร้การต้านทาน และการเปลี่ยนนโยบายต่างประเทศของไทยให้หยุดความสัมพันธ์กับจีน จะทำให้ไทยกลายเป็นกำแพงต้านจีนโดยที่ไทยเสียผลประโยชน์


    ในยุคที่ทักษิณมีอำนาจสูงสุด ทักษิณมั่งคั่งเป็นอันดับ 4 ของไท อำนาจทางการเมืองและทางการเงินของทักษิณต้องใช้การลงแรงอย่างสาหัสเป็นเวลาเกือบ 2 ทศวรรษในการโค่นล้มจนเพียงพอจนในการเลือกตั้งไม่นานมานี้เองที่พรรคเพื่อไทยของทักษิณได้แพ้คะแนนนิยม

    ตั้งแต่ปี 2553 จน--ึงบัดนี้ ความมั่งคั่งของทักษิณได้ร่วงลงจากอันดับ 4 ไปที่อันดับ 19 ความน่าเชื่อ--ือและอิทธิพลของทักษิณก็ได้อ่อนลง รวมไป--ึงตัวแทนของเขาด้วย ธนาธรจึงต้องปฏิเสธความสัมพันธ์กับทักษิณ แม้ว่าเขาเองก็เป็นตัวแทนของทักษิณ

    ธนาธร หรือตัวแทน"คนใหม่"ของโลกตะวันตก จึงเป็นแค่ตัวสำรองของทักษิณ แต่อย่างไรก็ตามเขามาจากตระกูลที่ร่ำรวยเป็นอันดับ 28 ของไทย และประวัติด้านการเมืองและการเงินของธนาธรก็ได้ด่างพล้อยไปด้วยเรื่องคอรัปชันและเรื่องอื้อฉาวไปเสียแล้ว

    โลกตะวันตกในตอนนี้กำลังใช้ตัวแทนที่กำลังทรัพย์อ่อนแอกว่าและมีประวัติทางการเมืองที่เป็นมลทินกว่าอย่างหลายเท่าตัวเมื่อเทียบกับทักษิณในปี 2544 ในการต่อสู้กับส--าบันของไทยซึ่งมีความพร้อมเพรียงและเตรียมพร้อมที่จะปกป้องอธิปไตยของไทยมากกว่าเท่าที่เคยเป็นมา

    ความพยายามของสื่อตะวันตกที่จะ"ดลบันดาล"วิกฤติทางการเมืองของไทยให้เข้าสู่รูปร่างที่จะเป็นประโยชน์แก่ตัวเองนั้นไม่เป็นผลสำหรับทักษิณครั้งมีอำนาจสูงสุด ไม่เป็นผลก่อนการเลือกตั้งครั้งล่าสุด และจะไม่เป็นผลสำหรับตัวสำรองของทักษิณที่อ่อนแอกว่าหลังการเลือกตั้งอยู่หลายเท่า เมื่อเทียบกับทักษิณในปี 2544
    ความพ่ายแพ้ของโลกตะวันตกในครั้งนี้เป็นเพียงแค่ส่วนหนึ่งลักษณะที่กว้างกว่ามากในความล้มเหลวของนโยบายต่างประเทศของสหรัฐและยุโรป ซึ่งครอบคลุมพื้นที่ทั่วโลกตั้งแต่ความพยายามอย่างงุ่มง่ามในการเปลี่ยนแปลงการปกครองของเวเนซูเอลา ไปจน--ึงความพ่ายแพ้ที่น่าอับอายในซีเรีย และสงครามในอัฟกานิส--านที่ค้างคาอยู่กว่าสองทศวรรษ ในส่วนของภูมิภาคนี้ ความล้มเหลวในประเทศไทยเป็นส่วนหนึ่งของแนวโน้มที่สหรัฐจะ--ูกชิงความเป็นใหญ่โดยจีนและอำนาจอื่นในภูมิภาคที่แข็งแกร่งขึ้น

    แนวความคิดที่ว่าคนอย่างเช่น ธนาธร และพรรคอย่างเช่นอนาคตใหม่ เป็นตัวแทนของ"ประชาธิปไตย"ในขณะที่วาระทางการเมือง--ูกกำหนดโดยนักโทษผู้ลี้ภัยอยู่ในต่างประเทศอย่างทักษิณ และผู้สนับสนุนจากโลกตะวันตก และได้รับความคุ้มครองในประเทศไทยจากตัวแทนจากกงศุลตะวันตกในกรุงเทพ นวคิดนี้เป็นแนวคิดที่ขัดแย้งในตัวเองและอย่างไรก็ไปไม่รอด ประชาธิปไตยมีนิยามคือ กระบวนการที่ตัดสินใจโดยคนในชาติเอง ไม่ใช่มีเพียงคนเพียงคนเดียวที่สามาร--ตัดสินชะตากรรมของชาติได้จากต่างประเทศ มันเป็นเพียงแค่เรื่องของเวลาที่วาทกรรมปากว่าตาขยิบ ที่--ูกใช้ในการเผยแพร่แนวคิดที่ขัดแย้งนี้จะต้องเผชิญกับความจริงของมัน

    คนที่วางเดิมพันไว้กับทักษิณ,ตัวแทนอย่างธนาธรและพรรคอนาคตใหม่ของเขา หรือแม้แต่ความเป็นใหญ่ของสหรัฐในเอเชียคงต้อง--ามตนเองว่าจะเชื่อในสิ่งนี้ต่อไปอีกหรือไม่ในปีหน้า หรือในอีกทศวรรษข้างหน้า ผู้คนจะรู้ซึ้ง--ึงวาระที่ไม่มีทางไปรอดนี้ หรือมันจะติดหล่มอยู่กับความล้มเหลวที่ยิ่งทวีคูณ

    เขียนโดย/Writer: Tony Cartalucci
    แปลโดย/Translator: Nutt Tananimit
  • April 21, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - The US-engineered proxy war against Syria, beginning in 2011 and the crescendo of the so-called "Arab Spring," has ended in all but absolute defeat for Washington.

    Its primary goal of overthrowing the Syrian government and/or rendering the nation divided and destroyed as it has done to Libya has not only failed - but triggered a robust Russian and Iranian response giving both nations an unprecedented foothold in Syria and unprecedented influence throughout the rest of the region.

    Lamenting America's defeat in Syria in the pages of Foreign Affairs is Brett McGurk - a career legal and diplomatic official in Washington whose most recent title was, "Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant." He resigned in protest over alleged plans for a US withdrawal from its illegal occupation of eastern Syria.

    McGurk's lengthy complaints are full of paragraph-to-paragraph contradictions - illustrating the lack of legitimate unified purpose underpinning US policy in Syria.

    In his article titled, "Hard Truths in Syria: America Can't Do More With Less, and It Shouldn't Try," McGurk would claim (emphasis added):
    Over the last four years, I helped lead the global response to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS)—an effort that succeeded in destroying an ISIS "caliphate" in the heart of the Middle East that had served as a magnet for foreign jihadists and a base for launching terrorist attacks around the world.
    McGurk would also claim (emphasis added):
    Following a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump gave a surprise order to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, apparently without considering the consequences. Trump has since modified that order—his plan, as of the writing of this essay, is for approximately 200 U.S. troops to stay in northeastern Syria and for another 200 to remain at al-Tanf, an isolated base in the country's southeast. (The administration also hopes, likely in vain, that other members of the coalition will replace the withdrawn U.S. forces with forces of their own.)
    Yet if anything McGurk says is true, then ISIS is undoubtedly a threat not only to the United States, but to all of its coalition partners - mainly Western European nations. Why wouldn't they eagerly commit troops to the coalition if ISIS truly represented a threat to their security back home? And why would the US withdraw any troops in the first place if this were true?

    The answer is very simple - ISIS was a creation of the West - a tool explicitly designed to help "isolate" the Syrian government and carry out military and terrorist operations the US and its partners were unable to do openly.

    It was in a leaked 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo (PDF) that revealed the US and its allies' intent to create what it called a "Salafist principality" in eastern Syria. The memo would explicitly state that (emphasis added):
    If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).

    On clarifying who these supporting powers were, the DIA memo would clarify:
    The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
    This "Salafist"[Islamic] "principality" [State] would show up on cue, placing additional pressure on an already besieged government in Damascus and eventually creating a pretext for direct Western military intervention in Syria.

    Only through Russia's own intervention in 2015 were US plans overturned and its overt war against Syria frozen in limbo.

    McGurk and others throughout the Western establishment have attempted to compartmentalize what is essentially their own collective failures by linking them exclusively to both former-US President Barack Obama and current US President Donald Trump.

    Whether President Trump maintains troops in eastern Syria or not, nothing will change or reverse the significant strategic and geopolitical defeat Washington has suffered.

    Instead, troops levels and deployments in not only Syria, but also neighboring Iraq, serve to contribute to the next phase of US interference in the Middle East - spoiling reconciliation and reconstruction.

    Washington's War of Terror

    This most recent episode of US military intervention in the Middle East - fighting terrorists it itself created and deliberately deployed specifically to serve as a pretext - is an example of US "slash and burn" foreign policy.

    Just as farmers burn to the ground forest that serves them no purpose so that they can plant what they desire in its place - the US deliberately overturned an emerging political and economic order in the Middle East that served them no purpose in a bid to replace it with one that did.

    McGurk all but admits this in his article, claiming - as he gave his version of ISIS' defeat - that (emphasis added):
    Over the next four years, ISIS lost nearly all the territory it once controlled. Most of its leaders were killed. In Iraq, four million civilians have returned to areas once held by ISIS, a rate of return unmatched after any other recent violent conflict. Last year, Iraq held national elections and inaugurated a new government led by capable, pro-Western leaders focused on further uniting the country. In Syria, the SDF fully cleared ISIS out of its territorial havens in the country's northeast, and U.S.-led stabilization programs helped Syrians return to their homes.
    He also claimed:
    Iraqis and Syrians, not Americans, are doing most of the fighting. The coalition, not just Washington, is footing the bill. And unlike the United States' 2003 invasion of Iraq, this campaign enjoys widespread domestic and international support.
    In other words, it was a redesigned regime-change campaign spanning both Syria and Iraq, designed to attract domestic and international support by using an appalling - but artificially engineered - enemy to destroy both nations and allow the US and its "coalition partners" to rebuild the region as it desired.

    And while McGurk enumerates the accomplishments of his US-led coalition - what he omits is the existence of a vastly more effective and powerful coalition in the region led by Russia and Iran.

    While McGurk boasts of taking back empty desert in eastern Syria, it was the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah allies who took back Syria's most important, pivotal, and most populated cities.

    In Iraq - Iranian sponsored Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) carried out a large percentage of the fighting against ISIS there - and in the process have created a permanent nationwide network of militias that will better underwrite Iraqi security than compromising US defense partnerships and expensive US arms contracts, and the hordes of terrorists sponsored by the US itself to justify both.

    McGurk eventually admits further into his article that the US presence in Syria has little to do with ISIS - and more to do with "great power diplomacy."

    He talks about the "US zone of influence" in Syria and brags about America's ability to "enforce" it by killing Iranians and Russians who entered it in pursuit of terrorists the US was all but openly harboring.

    McGurk also repeatedly decries "Iranian military entrenchment" in Syria, a geopolitical development made possible only by America's many categorical failures amid its proxy war in Syria.

    ISIS was eradicated first and foremost in areas under the control of the sovereign governments of Syria and Iraq in cooperation with Russia and Iran.

    ISIS remnants have clung - without coincidence - to territory within the "US zone of influence."

    The US continues citing "ISIS" as its pretext to remain in Syria - while simultaneously admitting its presence in the region aims at reasserting Western domination over it and containing Russian and Iranian influence - Russia which was invited by Damascus to assist in counter-terrorism operations - and Iran - a nation that actually resides within the Middle East.

    This incoherent, conflicting narrative contrasts with Russia and Iran's clear-cut agenda of eliminating terrorists and preserving the territorial integrity of Syria, and their decisive, clear-cut actions to implement this agenda. Russia and Iran are also offering all shareholders in the region amble incentives to get behind this agenda - including the economic and political benefits that normally accompany national and regional peace and stability.

    Washington's War on Peace

    Washington's illogical and contradicting narratives undermine any notion of unified purpose in the Middle East. Even if its goal is regional hegemony, its multitude of failures and lack of incentives for allies undermine any chance of success.

    In the absence of a sensible, unified purpose, attractive incentives, or a coherent strategic plan, the US has instead turned to spoiling reconciliation and reconstruction through attempts to divide the region along ethnic lines, preserve what few terrorists remain by shuffling them between Iraq and Syria through territory US forces occupy, and by targeting nations and their allies with sanctions to hinder reconstruction efforts.

    Sanctions on Iran directly impact Tehran's efforts to assist Syria and Iraq in reconstruction and the rehabilitation of their respective economies. So do US sanctions on Moscow.

    The US is also targeting fuel shipments attempting to reach Syria - with Syria's own oil production hamstrung by the ongoing illegal US occupation of Syria's east where much of its oil resides.

    AP in an article titled, "Syria fuel shortages, worsened by US sanctions, spark anger," would report that:
    Syrians in government-controlled areas who have survived eight years of war now face a new scourge: widespread fuel shortages that have brought life to a halt in major cities.
    The article also reported that:
    The shortages are largely the result of Western sanctions on Syria and renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran, a key ally. But they have sparked rare and widespread public criticism of President Bashar Assad's government just as he has largely succeeded in quashing the eight-year rebellion against his rule.
    The combination of sanctions and deliberate attempts to prolong the proxy war in Syria illustrate Washington's true attitude toward any notion of "responsibility to protect."

    Fuel will still reach Syria's government and military where it is needed most - but will cause extraordinary suffering among Syria's civilian population - as Washington explicitly intends.

    Washington is not attempting to remove the government in Damascus to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people - it is causing immense suffering among the Syrian people to remove the government in Damascus.

    While Washington has lost its war against Syria, it continues its war on peace. It will spoil attempts by Syria to move forward - and by doing so - and more than anything else - illustrating to the world that its own malign interests and agenda wrecked the region - not "ISIS" and not "Iranians" or "Russians."

    The US campaign of spite will continue onward both in Syria and across the rest of the region until an alternative regional and global order can be established that allows nations to sufficiently defend against US aggression and interference and enables the world to move on without those special interests on Wall Street and in Washington driving America's current battle for hegemony.

    Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".
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