A death sentence for many Ukrainians.
From Fort Russ
Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
21st January, 2016
A death sentence for many Ukrainians.
From Fort Russ
Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
21st January, 2016
The Inquiry into the death of defected FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko concluded with a report, quoting his wife as saying that he either worked for the UK’s intelligence service MI5 or MI6. The report does not document but “implies” the direct involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among other by quoting Putin as having said that those who murdered Litvinenko were not God, and that Litvinenko obviously wasn’t Lazarus.
Alexander Litvinenko defected from Russia to the UK in 2000 after an intermediate release from prison. The former KGB, then FSB officer was arrested on 25 March 1999. He was charged and detained in the FSB Lefortovo prison in Moscow. The charges against Mr Litvinenko were of exceeding his authority by assaulting a suspect.
Litvinenko maintained that charges against him were false or trumped-up. He died in the UK in November 2006 after three weeks of illness. The cause of death was determined to have been polonium poisoning. It is noteworthy that the late Palestinian President Yassir Arafat also succumbed to polonium poisoning.
Litvinenko was one of the former KGB / FSB officers close to the Russian oligarchs who secured the re-election of President Boris Yeltsin and usurped de facto power over many of Russia’s governmental and business affairs.
Litvinenko was particularly close to the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky who also fled Russia after the election of Vladimir Putin to the presidency. Berezovsky made his first money selling cars and accumulated his first considerable “wealth” by defrauding thousands of investors in a Russian car production that never manifested. He was first introduced into the inner circle at the Kremlin during Yeltsin’s presidency, after a failed attempt on his life.
The inquiry report implies that the murder of Litvinenko may be linked to Russian legislation adopted in 2006. The first of the 2006 laws was Federal Law no.35-FZ of 2006 – On Counteraction of Terrorism. It was adopted by the State Duma on 26 February 2006, endorsed by the Federation Council on 1 March 2006 and signed into law by President Putin on 6 March 2006. The Terrorism Law runs to some 17 pages and reads as a code providing for anti-terrorism measures to be taken by Russian forces. The inquiry report states that :
One of the striking features of the Terrorism Law is that it makes provision for Russian forces to take action against terrorism beyond the borders of the Russian Federation. 5.5 The Terrorism Law contemplates anti-terrorism action being taken both by Russia’s armed forces, and also by the “federal security service – i.e. the FSB.”
The report resulting from the inquiry into Litivinenko’s death is widely criticized as being biased against Russia and Vladimir Putin. The Russian legislation is comparable to the US Presidential Order that allows the US President to sign daily “kill lists” and similar legislation in many other countries like for example Israel.
One of the most controversial accusations Litvinenko levied against Vladimir Putin was that Putin and the Russian Security Services were implicated in the bombing of apartment blocks. Bombings which were then blamed on Chechen separatists to justify the war against Chechnya and to secure Putin’s power base by distracting from domestic political issues, said Litvinenko.
The report claims that the poisoning of Litvinenko with polonium “may” indeed have been carried out on Putin’s order. The report highlights a quote according to which Putin has said that “Those who killed Litvinenko were not God, and that Mr. Litvinenko obviously was not Lazarus”.
The inquiry report quotes Litvinenko’s wife Marina Litvinenko as saying that Alexander had been working for one of the UK’s intelligence services. She wasn’t sure whether it was the domestic intelligence service MI5, the foreign intelligence service MI6 or for both. Marina would, however, stress that he was not “an agent” but had been working for them “as a contractor or consultant”.
Chemical, biological and radiological warfare is a longstanding US practice, used in direct and proxy wars, Syrians and Yemenis notably affected.
On January 22, the Donbass International News Agency (DINA) headlined “Deadly virus leaked from US laboratory – DPR Army and Intelligence,” saying:
“More than 20 Ukrainian soldiers have died and over 200 are hospitalized,” affected by a virus “immune to all medicines.”
Thousands of Ukrainian troops are stationed in areas bordering Donbass. Intermittent shelling continues, civilians largely threatened.
The lab in question is located in Shelkostantsiay, about 30 km from Kharkov near Donbass. “US military experts” operate there, said DINA.
Donbass Deputy Defense Minister/spokesman Eduard Basurin informed area residents of a potential epidemic.
“According to the medical personnel of the AFU units (Ukrainian troops), there were recorded mass diseases among the Ukrainian military personnel in the field,” he said.
Physicians recorded the unknown virus as a result of which the infected get (a) high fever which cannot be subdued by any medicines, and in two days there comes the fatal outcome.
Thus far from the virus there have died more than twenty servicemen, what is carefully shielded by the commandment of the AFU from the publicity.
Days earlier, DINA reported Ukrainian forces shelled Kominernovo, Zheleznaya Balka and Spartak.
Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) intelligence said Ukrainian forces and heavy weapons are deployed near the contact line – indicating a “readiness of the Ukrainian power agencies to aggravate the situation in Donbass,” DINA reported.
Kiev continues violating Minsk ceasefire terms – with full support and encouragement from Washington.
According to DPR intelligence, “(i)n eight localities of the ‘buffer zone’ seized by the AFU there were registered cleansings of the local population, defiant” of Minsk.
The cleansings are carried out by the representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) with reinforcement by units of the 36th separate naval infantry brigade, by reason of the huge information leak in these areas.
In particular, about concentration of the AFU’s forbidden arms and personnel in the so-called ‘grey’ zone, and preparation by the Ukrainian power structures of provocations against civilians.
Basurin said ISIS and other terrorist elements from Syria and Iraq now operate in Donbass. In mid-January, DPR’s Defense Ministry revealed foreign mercenaries in the self-declared republic.
They conduct “recurrent attacks on our positions,” it explained. Is Ukraine a new platform for ISIS expansion? Is Washington deploying their elements there?
Addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, John Kerry turned truth on its head, claiming a safer Middle East and world today.
Conditions are graver than ever. Endless US wars of aggression rage. Kiev refused to implement Minsk I and II ceasefire terms.
Washington wants war, not peace. It wants Donbass destabilized, its freedom fighters eliminated, its democratic rights denied.
Kerry telling WEF participants “it is possible in these next months to find those Minsk agreements implemented and to get to a place where sanctions (on Russia) can be appropriately…removed” runs counter to US policy since Obama replaced democrats with fascists in Ukraine, and Russia was falsely accused of invading its territory.
Illegal sanctions were imposed for fabricated reasons, European nations pressured to go along. Conflict resolution in Donbass remains elusive.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
On January 20th a cabal of dependencies of the United States of America, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, France, and Italy, met in Paris to discuss war on Syria. One of a series of such meetings with a changing list of participants, it included the defence ministers of the countries supporting various proxy forces attacking Syria, either posing as “rebels” or allied with the American created and supported force ISIS. It was in fact a meeting of conspirators planning a war of aggression. There is no other way to put it. This was a criminal act under international law and another dramatic repudiation of the United Nations and everything the United Nations Charter stands for.
One nation that was not invited was Canada, a snub that has caused consternation among the war party in Canada, but is likely the result of the new prime minister’s pledge to withdraw Canadian forces from action in Syria and Iraq. The new Canadian government has not in fact withdrawn its small forces as promised but no doubt the Americans are doubtful of the new government’s reliability as a partner in crime and wanted to slap down the new government for daring to make even a mild move towards peace in our time.
The Canadian government’s pledge to withdraw its forces was a result of campaign promises made during the October elections in Canada where these military adventures are unpopular with large sections of the population which sees them as wasting their tax money fighting wars for American interests and domination of the world. The fact that such operations are not only illegal under international law but also under Canadian law as set out in the National Defence Act, and, therefore, should never have been conducted in the first place, is, inexplicably, never mentioned by any Canadian government figure, major political party or any of the tightly controlled and coordinated media, because, of course, law means nothing to criminals.
The Paris meeting was a criminal act, a war crime in fact, since the only international body that has the right to determine if, when and how military forces is to be applied in any situation is the United Nations Security Council. Any military action taken outside the mandate of the Security Council is prohibited and the Rome Statute, the statute that governs the International Criminal Court, defines such a meeting as a conspiracy to commit aggression, the worst of all war crimes, because it leads to all other war crimes that necessarily follow an act of aggression.
But the Paris meeting is not the first step in furthering this conspiracy to commit acts of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. The first act was the attack made on Syria by the United States in 2011 after it and its co-conspirators attacked and destroyed Libya using the same proxy forces, the same techniques, and the same propaganda to mislead the public. Many of the same mercenaries, and thugs that they used against Libya were quickly reassigned and sent into Syria through Turkey, and Jordan where they soon linked up with armed groups from Iraq now known as ISIS. The United States, Turkey, Britain, France, and Saudi Arabia, brag about their open support for these groups, and have confessed that they have sent in their own special forces to “train” them. This act of aggression against Syria continues to escalate and came close to succeeding until Russia, at the request of the besieged government of Syria, decided to deploy its air forces in Syria in order to crush these American and allied proxy forces.
The reaction here in the west since September when the Russians began their very effective air operations has been a seething anger from Washington, to London, from Paris to Berlin, from Riyadh to Istanbul. The failure of the American attempt to conquer Syria will mean the failure of the American plan to kick Russia out of the Mediterranean, a failure to control the land routes from there to Iran for an eventual attack on Iran itself, an operation that cannot be mounted from the Persian Gulf, and a failure to place its forces on the southern flank of Russia in preparation for a pincer thrust into Russia from the south and the western plains of Poland and Ukraine. Others cite gas pipelines and war profits as reasons, but these are secondary to the principal strategy of the domination of Eurasia by the United States and those hoping to be thrown some scraps from the spoils, like the jackals they are.
None of these countries have any legal or moral right to attack Syria under the guise of going after ISIS, or Islamic State as they now call it. To obtain that right they would first have to be asked by the Syrian government for their assistance. The Syrian government does not want their “assistance”. They do not want their war. But these criminal nations refuse to talk to the Syrian government and insist on its overthrow and they refuse to take their case before the Security Council because they know they have no case and Russia and China will oppose their criminal plans. So they evade the United Nations and once again, create ad hoc “coalitions” of the criminal minded, who have no respect for international law, their own laws, the sovereign rights of the Syrian nation, or their own platitudes about peace and “human rights.”
The criminal nature and intent of the meeting was openly declared in the press conference after the meeting by the US Defense Secretary Carter who called for more forces to be gathered to “eject jihadist fighters from their headquarters in Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq and to maintain that planned defeat.” The latter phrase must be interpreted as meaning a permanent occupation of the region by American and allied forces. To back this up the America Army’s 101st Airborne Division has been assigned the role of re-entering Iraq. It seems Iraq will have no choice in the matter as the Americans continue their drive to establish a new protectorate out of western Iraq and eastern Syria which they can then use to control the region and attack Iran. Further meetings are to be held in Brussels in a few weeks.
In the meantime Russia continues to try to achieve a negotiated resolution of the war in compliance with international law and a further meeting of the Russian and American foreign ministers will be held in Geneva to discuss it but there is little hope of those talks going anywhere since the two countries approach the problem from completely opposite positions; the Russians on the basis of the national sovereignty of Syria and the recognition of the existing government as the only legitimate government, the Americans on the basis that might makes right and Syria must submit to its will. For them, international law and national sovereignty are phrases empty of all meaning.
And once again, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court remains in her office in The Hague, completely inert as nations that are within her jurisdiction plan these crimes. She has charged several African leaders for much less but then those prosecutions serve the interests of the same powers she should be prosecuting. She doesn’t even hold a press conference condemning these meetings, actions and plans for more war and insisting that these criminals adhere to international law. Nothing is said. Nothing is done. The ICC is shown to be as useless as the Security Council.
It is the Americans and their allies who are responsible for all the dead and dying in Syria, and it is they who “brought forth the monstrous mass of earthly slime, puft up with empty wind and filled with sinful crime” that is ISIS and it is clear that they will continue to use this monster of their creation as a device to escalate the war against Syria and increase their crimes but who, aside from the Syrian people, Russia and Iran can stop them? And so, the war will continue, the misery it brings will continue, and those responsible will continue to meet in beautiful settings, enjoying the fine things their crimes bring, bragging that they are saving the people from the very “terrorists” they created and control.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
Sunday January 24th 2016 marks the anniversary of the death of one of the most lionized leaders in the Western world: Sir Winston Churchill.
The current British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called Churchill “the greatest ever Prime Minister”, and Britons have recently voted him as the greatest Briton to have ever lived.
The story that British schoolbooks tell children about Churchill is of a British Bulldog, with unprecedented moral bravery and patriotism. He, who defeated the Nazis during World War II and spread civilisation to indigenous people from all corners of the globe. Historically, nothing could be further from the truth.
To the vast majority of the world, where the sun once never set on the British empire, Winston Churchill remains a great symbol of racist Western imperialist tyranny, who stood on the wrong side of history.
The myth of Churchill is Britain’s greatest propaganda tool because it rewrites Churchill’s true history in order to whitewash Britain’s past imperialist crimes against humanity. The Churchill myth also perpetuates Britain’s ongoing neo-colonial and neo-liberal policies, that still, to the is day, hurt the very people around the world that Churchill was alleged to have helped civilise.
The same man whose image is polished and placed on British mantelpieces as a symbol of all that is Great about Britain was an unapologetic racist and white supremacist. “I hate Indians, they are a beastly people with a beastly religion”, he once bellowed. As Churchill put it, Palestinians were simply “barbaric hordes who ate little but camel dung.”
In 1937, he told the Palestine Royal Commission:
“I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
It is unsurprising that when Barack Obama became President, he returned to Britain a bust of Churchill which he found on his desk in the Oval office. According to historian Johann Hari, Mr. Obama’s Kenyan grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was imprisoned without trial for two years and was tortured on Churchill’s watch, for daring to resist Churchill’s empire.
Apart from being an unrepentant racist, Churchill was also a staunch proponent of the use of terrorism as a weapon of war.
During the Kurdish rebellion against the British dictatorship in 1920, Churchill remarked that he simply did not understand the “squeamishness” surrounding the use of gas by civilized Great Britain as a weapon of terror. “I am strongly in favour of using gas against uncivilised tribes, it would spread a lively terror,” he remarked.
In the same year, as Secretary of State for War, Churchill sent the infamous Black and Tans to Ireland to fight the IRA. The group became known for vicious terrorist attacks on civilians which Churchill condoned and encouraged.
While today Britons celebrate Churchill’s legacy, much of the world outside the West mourns the legacy of a man who insisted that it was the solemn duty of Great Britain to invade and loot foreign lands because in Churchill’s own words Britain’s “Aryan stock is bound to triumph”.
Churchill’s legacy in the Far East, Middle East, South Asia and Africa is certainly not one of an affable British Lionheart, intent on spreading civilization amongst the natives of the world. To people of these regions the imperialism, racism, and fascism of a man like Winston Churchill can be blamed for much of the world’s ongoing conflicts and instability.
As Churchill himself boasted, he “created Jordan with a stroke of a pen one Sunday afternoon,” thereby placing many Jordanians under the brutal thumb of a throneless Hashemite prince, Abdullah. Historian Michael R. Burch recalls how the huge zigzag in Jordan’s eastern border with Saudi Arabia has been called “Winston’s Hiccup” or “Churchill’s Sneeze” because Churchill carelessly drew the expansive boundary after a generous lunch.
Churchill also invented Iraq. After giving Jordan to Prince Abdullah, Churchill, the great believer in democracy that he was, gave Prince Abdullah’s brother Faisal an arbitrary patch of desert that became Iraq. Faisal and Abdullah were war buddies of Churchill’s friend T. E. Lawrence, the famous “Lawrence of Arabia”.
Much like the clumsy actions in Iraq of today’s great Empire, Churchill’s imperial foreign policy caused decades of instability in Iraq by arbitrarily locking together three warring ethnic groups that have been bleeding heavily ever since. In Iraq, Churchill bundled together the three Ottoman vilayets of Basra that was predominantly Shiite, Baghdad that was Sunni, and Mosul that was mainly Kurd.
Ask almost anyone outside of Iraq who is responsible for the unstable mess that Iraq is in today and they are likely to say one word, either “Bush” or “America”. However, if you asked anyone within Iraq who is mainly responsible for Iraq’s problems over the last half century and they are likely to simply say “Churchill”.
Winston Churchill convened the 1912 Conference in Cairo to determine the boundaries of the British Middle Eastern mandate and T.E. Lawrence was the most influential delegate. Churchill did not invite a single Arab to the conference, which is shocking but hardly surprising since in his memoirs Churchill said that he never consulted the Arabs about his plans for them.
The arbitrary lines drawn in Middle Eastern sand by Churchillian imperialism were never going to withstand the test of time. To this day, Churchill’s actions have denied Jordanians, Iraqis, Kurds and Palestinians anything resembling true democracy and national stability.
The intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict can also be traced directly back to Churchill’s door at number 10 Downing Street and his decision to hand over the “Promised Land” to both Arabs and Jews. Churchill gave practical effect to the Balfour declaration of 1917, which expressed Britain’s support for the creation of a Jewish homeland, resulting in the biggest single error of British foreign policy in the Middle East.
Churchill’s legacy in Sub-Saharan Africa and Kenya in particular is also one of deep physical and physiological scars that endure to this day.
Of greater consequence to truth and history should be a man’s actions, not merely his words. Whilst Churchill has become one of the most extensively quoted men in the English speaking world, particularly on issues of democracy and freedom, true history speaks of a man whose actions revolved around, in Churchill’s own words, “a lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples”.
One such war was when Kikuyu Kenyans rebelled for their freedom only to have Churchill call them “brutish savage children” and force 150,000 of them into “Britain’s Gulag”.
Pulitzer-prize winning historian, Professor Caroline Elkins, highlights Churchill’s many crimes in Kenya in her book Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya. Professor Elkins explains how Churchill’s soldiers “whipped, shot, burned, and mutilated Mau Mau suspects”, all in the name of British “civilization”. It is said that President Obama’s grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama never truly recovered from the torture he endured from Churchill’s men.
The Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has proved how in Bengal in 1943 Churchill engineered one of the worst famines in human history for profit.
Over three million civilians starved to death whilst Churchill refused to send food aid to India. Instead, Churchill trumpeted that “the famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.” Churchill intentionally hoarded grain to sell for profit on the open market after the Second World War instead of diverting it to starving inhabitants of a nation controlled by Britain. Churchill’s actions in India unquestionably constituted a crime against humanity.
Churchill was also one of the greatest advocates of Britain’s disastrous divide-and-rule foreign policy.
Churchill’s administration deliberately created and exacerbated sectarian fissures within India’s independence movement, between Indian Hindus and Muslims that have had devastating effects on the region ever since.
Prior to India’s independence from Britain, Churchill was eager to see bloodshed erupt in India, so as to prove that Britain was the benevolent “glue holding the nation together”. For Churchill, bloodshed also had the added strategic advantage that it would also lead to the partition of India and Pakistan. Churchill’s hope was this partition would result in Pakistan remaining within Britain’s sphere of influence. This, in turn, would enable the Great Game against the Soviet empire to continue, no matter the cost to innocent Indian and Pakistanis. The partition of India with Pakistan caused the death of about 2.5 million people and displaced some 12.5 million others.
According to writer, Ishaan Tharoor, Churchill’s own Secretary of State for India, Leopold Amery, compared his boss’s understanding of India’s problems to King George III’s apathy for the Americas. In his private diaries Amery vented that “on the subject of India, Churchill is not quite sane” and that he didn’t “see much difference between Churchill’s outlook and Hitler’s.”
Churchill shared far more ideologically in common with Hitler than most British historians care to admit. For instance, Churchill was a keen supporter of eugenics, something he shared in common with Germany’s Nazi leadership, who were estimated estimated to have killed 200,000 disabled people and forcibly sterilised twice that number. Churchill drafted a highly controversial piece of legislation, which mandated that the mentally ill be forcibly sterilized. In a memo to the Prime Minister in 1910, Winston Churchill cautioned, “the multiplication of the feeble-minded is a very terrible danger to the race”. He also helped organise the International Eugenics Conference of 1912, which was the largest meeting of proponents of eugenics in history.
Churchill had a long standing belief in racial hierarchies and eugenics. In Churchill’s view, white protestant Christians were at the very top of the pyramid, above white Catholics, while Jews and Indians were only slightly higher than Africans.
Historian, Mr. Hari, rightfully points out, “the fact that we now live in a world where a free and independent India is a superpower eclipsing Britain, and a grandson of the Kikuyu ‘savages’ is the most powerful man in the world, is a repudiation of Churchill at his ugliest – and a sweet, ironic victory for Churchill at his best.”
Amid today’s Churchillian parades and celebratory speeches, British media and schoolbooks may choose to only remember Churchill’s opposition to dictatorship in Europe, but the rest of the world cannot choose to forget Churchill’s imposition of dictatorship on darker skinned people outside of Europe. Far from being the Lionheart of Britain, who stood on the ramparts of civilisation, Winston Churchill, all too often, simply stood on the wrong side of history.
Churchill is indeed the Greatest Briton to have ever lived, because for decades, the myth of Churchill has served as Britain’s greatest propaganda tool to bolster national white pride and glorify British imperial culture.
Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org
Amidst an almost total western media blackout, Turkey and the US have initiated a military invasion in Syrian territory. On Wednesday evening, the Turkish army reportedly entered Syrian territory near Jarablus. US troops took control of Rmeilan airfield in Syria’s northern province of Hasakah. It’s unclear what are the real objectives for western military operations on Syrian soil According to the latest news, a major Turkish intervention is expected.
‘US troops have taken control of Rmeilan airfield in Syria’s northern province of Hasakah to support Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)”, a spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told Al Jazeera on Tuesday. The airfield is close to Syria’s borders with Iraq and Turkey.
Syrian Local Coordination Committees say that the US has been preparing and expanding Rmeilan airport for a while now. When asked by Al Jazeera, a US CENTCOM media operations officer did not confirm or deny the reports.
According to information received by Sputnik on Wednesday, Turkey has been amassing military units along the Syrian border. The number of troops is estimated to be around 1,000. The troops have reportedly crossed into Aleppo province, according to Hawar News, along with military vehicles, heavy equipment, and mine detection gear. Turkey has denied reports of an invasion, but reports from the ground confirm the military incursion.
Russia Insider writes, that Turkey has seized the ISIS-controlled town of Jarabulus, but faced no resistance, according to reports:
“Eyewitnesses to the incursion reported that the Turkish forces have not encountered any resistance from ISIS fighters in the area. These reports once again raise the question of possible collaboration between Turkey and ISIS aimed at halting the advance of the Kurdish militias in north Syria.”
The Turkish operation is “officially” aimed at combating Daesh (ISIS) militants, who have fortified Jarablus. But sources tell Sputnik that Ankara may be more interested in preventing the YPG from gaining a foothold in a region of strategic importance. Various reports indicate that Ankara could soon (if it has not already) launch a ground operation in neighboring Syria, confirms Sputnik on Thursday.
STRATFOR: “WARZONE IS RAPIDLY BECOMING CROWDED”
“Turkey has already begun to ramp up its artillery strikes along its border with Syria to help its rebel allies and to destroy Islamic State targets. This could indicate an effort to soften enemy defenses ahead of a Turkish ground incursion once minesweeping operations have been completed,” Stratfor explained.
“Ankara’s ground operation – if launched – could deal a blow to Daesh. But many experts and politicians have pointed out that Turkey views dealing with the Kurds, not the terrorist group, as its key priority. The offensive than “would also strengthen the [Turkey-backed] rebels in northern Syria, in turn preventing the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from expanding their reach westward,” Stratfor noted.
Turkey’s ground offensive will likely add additional stress to the already strained relations between Ankara and Moscow. According to Stratfor:
“Still, that does not mean that Ankara, with Washington’s help, is not trying to reach an understanding with Moscow, at least in terms of setting up deconfliction procedures to avoid clashing with each other in the Syrian Warzone, which is rapidly becoming crowded.”
HOW WILL RUSSIA RESPOND?
RT reports that ISIS terrorists have increased their activities ahead of next week’s inter-Syrian talks, with insurgents in the Syrian province of Aleppo receiving reinforcements from Turkey, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. The much-anticipated talks between the Syrian government and different opposition groups are scheduled to take place in Geneva on January 25.
“Unfortunately, in recent days, it’s especially noticeable that ahead of the planned start of the inter-Syrian negotiations in Geneva the activities of terrorist groups have intensified. Obviously, they’re trying to turn the tide in their favor on the battlefield,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a briefing in Moscow.
Zakharova said that Russia is concerned over Ankara’s increased military incursions into Syria, adding that
“it cannot be ruled out that… fortifications [built by Turkey] along the Syrian-Turkish border may be used by militant groups as strongholds.”
“While all parties involved pin their hopes on the start of a meaningful and… inclusive dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition, external forces continue to help militants in Syria, including terrorist groups, providing them with arms and ammunition,” she stressed.
The original source of this article is dninews
by Justin Raimondo,
January 22, 2016
The British government’s report on the death of Alexander Litvinenko reads like a bad thriller
To those of us who grew up during the cold war years, it’s just like old times again: Russian plots to subvert the West and poison our precious bodily fluids are apparently everywhere. Speaking of poisoning plots: the latest Russkie conspiracy – and the most imaginative by far – was the alleged assassination by poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko , a former agent of the Russian intelligence services who fled to the West to become a professional anti-Russian propagandist and conspiracy theorist with a talent for the improbable. According to his fantastic worldview, the many terrorist attacks that have occurred in Russia have all been committed by … Vladimir Putin. Aside from championing the Chechen Islamo-terrorists who actually committed these crimes, Litvinenko’s stock-in-trade was an elaborate conspiracy theory in which he regularly accused Putin of blowing up Russian apartment buildings and murdering schoolchildren and then diverting attention from his own nefarious plots by blaming those lovable Chechens. Not very believable – unless one is predisposed to believe anything, so long as it casts discredit on those satanic Russians.
The conspiracy theory promulgated by the British government – and now memorialized in this official report – surpasses anything the deceased fantasist might have come up with. According to the Brits, Litvinenko was poisoned on British soil whilst imbibing a cup of tea spiked with a massive dose of radioactive polonium-210 – and, since Russia is a prime source of this rare substance, and since the Russians were supposedly out to get Litvinenko, the FSB – successor to the KGB – is named as the “probable” culprit.
Looking at the report, one has to conclude that they don’t make propaganda the way they used to: the certitude of, say, a J. Edgar Hoover or a Robert Welch has given way to the tepid ambiguity of Lord Robert Owen, the author of this report, whose verdict of “probably” merely underscores the paucity of what passes for evidence in this case.
To begin with, if the Russians wanted to off Litvinenko, why would they poison him with a substance that left a radioactive trail traceable from Germany to Heathrow airport – and, in the process, contaminating scores of hotel rooms, offices, planes, restaurants, and homes? Why not just put a bullet through his head? It makes no sense.
But then conspiracy theories don’t have to make sense: they just have to take certain assumptions all the way to their implausible conclusions. If one starts with the premise that Putin and the Russians are a Satanic force capable of anything, and incompetent to boot, then it’s all perfectly “logical” – in the Bizarro World, at any rate.
The idea that Litvinenko was a dangerous opponent of the Russian government who had to be killed because he posed a credible threat to the existence of the regime is laughable: practically no one inside Russia knew anything about him, and as for his crackpot “truther” theories about how Putin was behind every terrorist attack ever carried out within Russia’s borders – to assert that they had any credence outside of the Western media echo chamber is a joke. So there was no real motive for the FSB to assassinate him, just as there is none for the FBI to go after David Ray Griffin.
The British report doesn’t bother presenting any real evidence: instead, we are given a detailed account of the lives of the alleged killers – Dmitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoy – that reads like a Daily Mail article. Included in this compendium of character assassination and gossip is the testimony of one of Kovtun’s ex-wives that he “wanted to be a porno star.” That this factoid would find its way into an official report of the United Kingdom is extraordinary – but not, I fear, unexpected. Salaciousness has its place in contemporary fiction, particularly the pulp-thriller genre, of which this report is a prime (if pedestrian) example.
The rest of the report is a complicated account of every move Kovtun, Lugovoy, and Litvinenko made in the days leading up to Litvinenko’s poisoning. It neither compromises nor exonerates the accused: presumably it was included to give the report the appearance of substance. The meat of the matter – the real “evidence” – is hidden behind a veil of secrecy. Lord Owen’s inquiry was for the most part conducted in secret closed hearings, with testimony given by anonymous witnesses, and this is central to the “evidence” that is supposed to convict Kovtun, Lugovoy, and the Russian government. Lord Owen, explains it this way:
“Put very shortly, the closed evidence consists of evidence that is relevant to the Inquiry, but which has been assessed as being too sensitive to put into the public domain. The assessment that the material is sufficiently sensitive to warrant being treated as closed evidence in these proceedings has been made not by me, but by the Home Secretary. She has given effect to this decision by issuing a number of Restriction Notices, which is a procedure specified in section 19 of the Inquiries Act 2005. The Restriction Notices themselves, although not, of course, the sensitive documents appended to them, are public documents. They have been published on the Inquiry website and are also to be found at Appendix 7 to this Report.”
In other words, the “evidence” is not for us ordinary mortals to see. We just have to take His Lordship’s word for it that the Russian government embarked on an improbable assassination mission against a marginal figure that reads like something Ian Fleming might have written under a pseudonym.
Yes, you might say, but Litvinenko was poisoned. So who killed him?
As I pointed out here:
“Litvinenko was an employee of exiled Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky – whose ill-gotten empire included a Russian syndicate of car-dealerships that had more than a nodding acquaintance with the Chechen Mafia – but was being slowly cut out of the money pipeline. Big-hearted Boris, who had initially put him on the payroll as anti-Putin propagandist, was evidently getting sick of him, and the out-of-work “dissident” was reportedly desperate for money. Litvinenko had several “ business meetings ” with Lugovoi in the months prior to his death, and, according to this report , he hatched a blackmail scheme targeting several well-known Russian tycoons and government officials.”
Indeed, Litvinenko, in the months before his death, had targeted several well-known members of the Russian Mafia with his blackmail scheme. That they would take umbrage at this is hardly shocking.
Furthermore, there are indications that Litvinenko was engaged in the smuggling of nuclear materials. That he wound up being contaminated by the goods he was peddling on the black market seems far more credible than the cock-and-bull story about a vast Russian plot originating in the Kremlin,. Apparently Lord Owen has never heard of Occam’s Razor.
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