United States spin-doctors – Have they no shame? More on Jamal Kashoggi

I always hated that English expression “gobsmacked”, meaning “shocked beyond the point of incredulity”.

Nevertheless, I have to accept that the word can serve a purpose – and I was pretty close to smacking my gob as I read this article in Time online about the disappearance of rebel Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi.

Kashoggi’s disappearance is attracting some media attention since he entered the door of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, and hasn’t been seen since. I’ve already posted the Turkish version of the story – but here is, I guess, the beginning of the US spin.

There is a saying in Turkish “Hem suçlu, hem güçlü”– which means something like: “Guilty as hell but toughing it out.” While reading the following, keep in mind that the unelected royal family of Saudi Arabia are close allies of the United States, and currently using weapons supplied by Washington to bomb the bejabers out of poor little Yemen. Don’t lose sight of the fact that: “Since the September 11 attacks, the United States government has carried out drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Libya.

US drone strikes4

This is just Pakistan

Drone strikes are part of a targeted killing campaign against jihadist militants; however, non-combatant civilians have also been killed in drone strikes. Determining precise counts of the total number killed, as well as the number of non-combatant civilians killed, is impossible; and tracking of strikes and estimates of casualties are compiled by a number of organizations.” (Wikipedia)

“As Donald Trump assumes office today, he inherits a targeted killing program that has been the cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism strategy over the past eight years. On January 23, 2009, just three days into his presidency, President Obama authorized his first kinetic military action: two drone strikes, three hours apart, in Waziristan, Pakistan, that killed as many as twenty civilians. Two terms and 540 strikes later, Obama leaves the White House after having vastly expanding and normalizing the use of armed drones for counterterrorism and close air support operations in non-battlefield settings—namely Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.” (The Council on Foreign Relations)

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These are extracts from the Time article:

Jamal Khashoggi’s Disappearance Comes as Autocrats Are Growing Bolder in their Brutality

As of Oct. 10, the assumption is that the Saudi regime took the opportunity to silence one of its more prominent critics.

The mystery is how. Turkish authorities, albeit not the most trusted bunch themselves, believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the building by a team of 15 operatives, his corpse dismembered and transported outside in boxes. The Saudis claim he left alive and have pledged to investigate—though few believe a Saudi regime that has long been unafraid to detain or punish dissidents.

Although the murder of a critic on foreign soil would, if confirmed, be an unprecedented act even for a brutal kingdom,it fits within a larger pattern. Across the world, authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia have developed a rising sense of impunity when it comes to human rights and the rule of international law. Behavior once hidden behind palace doors now happens beyond borders and in the full view of the world.

Take China. Aside from the legion of human-rights abuses committed inside its own borders, including the detention of 1 million Uighurs, Beijing arrested Meng Hongwei, who as head of Interpol was a symbol of the international rule of law. Both have been ensnared by an antigraft campaign that President Xi Jinping and his regime have used to target critics and rivals. Russia too has taken its crackdown on dissenters global, most recently with the brazen poisoning attempt on former double agent Sergei Skripal in the U.K. 

This is happening with the implicit acceptance of the U.S., which under President Donald Trump has rejected its role as a champion of universal values like human rights.

But Trump is only one facet of this diminution of the U.S. as a moral lodestar for the world. . . A century of moral diplomacy begun by Woodrow Wilson is coming to an end under Trump.

The U.S. Congress may yet do so. And if Khashoggi’s murder can be confirmed, then economic sanctions will likely follow. But defending and spreading liberal values requires a more patient approach than crude dollar diplomacy.

Worryingly, this trend toward impunity comes as voters worldwide seem more attracted to strongmen and dictators.

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Pardon my lapse of memory – When exactly was it that “the U.S. [w]as a moral lodestar for the world”?

Oh, sorry, I see . . . apparently “A century of moral diplomacy [was] begun by Woodrow Wilson”, but “under President Donald Trump has rejected its role as a champion of universal values like human rights”.

gobsmacked-810x540

Are you as gobsmacked as me?

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Turkey imprisons journalists? – E U countries murder them!

Bulgarians mourn murdered journalist – raped, beaten and suffocated

Leading EU politicians and media activists urged Bulgaria on Oct. 8 to conduct a fast investigation into the murder of journalist Viktoria Marinova, as mourners planned vigils across the Balkan country.

Bulgarian journalist

Murdered Bulgarian journalist, Viktoria Marinova

Marinova’s body was found in a park near the Danube river in her home town of Ruse on Oct. 6. Prosecutors said she had been raped, then beaten and suffocated.

Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov, who travelled to Ruse to oversee the inquiry on Monday, has said there was no evidence so far to suggest a link to Marinova’s work as a journalist.

But media focused on her recent work. On her last TV show on Sept. 30 Marinova featured two journalists who were investigating an alleged corruption case involving EU funds. She promised that her recently launched current affairs show ‘Detector’ would do more of its own investigations.

“Shocked by the horrendous murder of Victoria Marinova. Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption,”the European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmerman tweeted.

Marinova is the third journalist murdered in the European Union over the past 12 months.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s best-known investigative reporter, was killed when a bomb blew up her car in October last year and Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak was shot dead in February.

Vigils were planned in Sofia, Ruse and the northern cities of Vidin and Pleven.

Bulgaria ranked 111 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index this year, lower than any other EU member and also lower than other countries in the western Balkans, some of which are candidates for EU membership.

In October 2017 hundreds of Bulgarian journalists protested in downtown Sofia downtown against threats from Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov against the country’s biggest broadcasters. He accused the mainstream media of leading a “massive smear campaign” against him.

E.U. Planning a 10,000-Strong Armed Force to Protect Its Borders

The European Union will deploy 10,000 armed border guards to tackle unlawful migration by 2020, the European Commission President Claude Juncker is expected to announce in a speech on Wednesday.

FRONTEX - Greek Turkish land borderThe force will have the power to use armed force on the E.U.’s external borders, according to a draft of the document seen by the Financial Times.

Migration has been a particularly divisive issue within the E.U. since a major influx of refugees in 2015. Voters’ fears and concerns over migration have, in part, led to right wing parties surging in popularity and being elected to government in a number of member states including Italy and Austria. 

The border force proposal marks a significant E.U.-level policy move in a debate that has long been defined by disagreements between individual member states. Most recently, in July, the new anti-immigrant Italian government refused to allow boats carrying hundreds of migrants to dock in its ports, leading to a political deadlock that only defused when Spain agreed to take the migrants in.

The proposal for a heavily beefed-up E.U. border force is also likely to be highly controversial—with rights groups who decry the construction of a “Fortress Europe,” and with political parties who resent centralized European institutions accruing more power.

What will the border force look like?

border guards 3The proposal is actually to significantly strengthen an existing force, rather than to create a totally new one. The body, Frontex, currently employs just 1,500 border guards and works alongside national border control agencies.

According to the Financial Times, under the new proposal the force will not only gain members but also increased powers. The document suggests it will be deployed on the E.U.’s external borders and also have powers to prevent “secondary movements” between E.U. nations, as well as “step up the effective return of irregular migrants” to countries outside of the bloc. These are powers long demanded by anti-migrant voices in the E.U.

It is unclear whether the plans mean borders between member states will also be policed. If they are, it would mark a seismic change to one of the E.U.’s founding principles of free movement.

Under current E.U. law, asylum-seekers must register in the first E.U. country they land in, but the free-movement Schengen area means that traveling between countries is easy and unregulated. This typically allows migrants to move from point-of-entry countries like Greece to countries with higher living standards, like Germany.

However European borders, internal and external, are under much less pressure than they were at the height of the migration crisis. The number of arrivals to the E.U. fell from a height of over 1 million in 2015 to just 186,000 in 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration [Largely because of measures taken by Turkey, which is hosting around 4 million refugees and doing its best to prevent them from entering Europe – but scant thanks they get for it].

The numbers of migrants moving between E.U. member states are also way down from the highs of 2015 and 2016. “It’s true the Schengen area is under pressure,” says Marie De Somer, a senior policy analyst on migration and diversity at the European Policy Centre, a Brussels think tank. “But it’s more political pressure, rather than actual pressure from uncontrolled movements.”

Is a border force likely to be effective?

border guards“Barbed-wire fences and remote camps might make voters feel safe today but they won’t address the actual forces that drive migration or resolve the situation of people on the move, even as they empower forces in Europe who want to take the continent back to the hyper-nationalism of its bloody past,” writes Benjamin Ward, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s European division.

 But, says Matthew Goodwin, the author of National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy, the E.U. is under pressure to reassure its citizens first and foremost. “The big challenge facing the European Union is how to give citizens a stronger feeling of both physical and cultural security,” he tells TIME. “We know from E.U.-wide surveys that public concerns about immigration and terrorism have increased dramatically, and that these worries about identity and security are now also bleeding into how people think about the E.U. more generally. This is the big risk for the E.U.—that by failing to bolster people’s sense of security it will further erode support for the E.U. project more generally.”

Source: Time

Open admission of US guilt!

Do you need further evidence that the “money markets”, transnational bankers and financiers, and the “credit agencies” are in cahoots with the United States Government, and vice versa?

US-Turkey crisis could end “instantly” if pastor freed: Bolton

Turkey could end the crisis with the United States “instantly” by freeing a detained American pastor, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said, adding that a Qatari cash infusion would not help Ankara’s economy.

John Bolton

Do you REALLY want me to say that, Don?

“Look, the Turkish government made a big mistake in not releasing Pastor Brunson,” Bolton told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Israel.

“Every day that goes by that mistake continues, this crisis could be over instantly if they did the right thing as a NATO ally, part of the West, and release pastor Brunson without condition.”

Qatar’s Emir this month approved a package of economic projects, including a $15 billion pledge of support, for Turkey, giving a boost to a lira that has lost some 37 percent of its value this year.

Bolton was skeptical about the intervention by the Gulf state, which has been feuding with U.S. allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

“Well, I think what they pledged is utterly insufficient to have an impact on Turkey’s economy. It’s certainly not helpful but we’ll actually see what develops from their pledge,” he said.

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So, either the US Government ordered the financiers to punish Turkey, or more likely, the financiers ordered the government. And it’s not just Turkey! In the past, however, the US would deny responsibility, and blame the target country’s inefficient management etc – which, of course, they are still trying to do. The importance of Turkey for the world, in terms of democracy and national sovereignty, is that they are forcing out into the open what the United States is doing – and has been doing for decades!

It is also clear that the US Government does not want the Brunson case to come to court in Turkey. Why not? Are they afraid that his connections with the CIA will become public knowledge?

And furthermore, the Trump administration seems to be calling for Turkey’s government to interfere in the judicial process. Isn’t that one of the things that Turkey is being criticised for?

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Bolton remarks proof US targeting Turkey in economic war

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesperson said on Aug. 22 remarks by the U.S. National Security Adviser regarding Turkey’s economic situation were proof that the U.S. administration is targeting a NATO ally as part of an economic war.

İbrahim Kalın

Turkey’s presidential spokesperson, İbrahim Kalın

In a written statement responding to an interview whichJohnBoltongave to Reuters, [the presidential] spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said the U.S. administration’s most recent policies were at odds with the fundamental principles and values of the NATO alliance.

Turkey and the United States are embroiled in a deep dispute focused on a U.S. pastor, Andrew Brunson, being tried on terrorism charges in Turkey. The row has fuelled a slide in the lira, which has lost more than a third of its value against the dollar this year.

“The Trump administration has … established that it intends to use trade, tariffs and sanctions to start a global trade war,” he said, pointing to similar disputes with Mexico, Canada, Europe and China.

“Turkey has no intention of starting an economic war with any party. It cannot, however, be expected to keep silent in the face of attacks against its economy and judiciary,” he said.

Kalın said Turkey would work with the rest of the world against restrictive and punitive measures.

“The U.S. administration’s most recent policies are at odds with the fundamental principles and values of the NATO alliance,” he added.

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This opinion piece by Murat Yetkin makes some important points:

Is it OK for the West if there is a coup in Turkey?

[O]n Aug. 22, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reuters in Jerusalem “the Turkish government made a big mistake in not releasing Brunson” and “this crisis could be over instantly if they did the right thing as a NATO ally, part of the West and release the pastor without condition.”

This is arrogant and vague language, which could be used against an enemy or a rival but not an “ally.” What kind of a deal Bolton is talking about is also unclear. If “the government,” not the court would release Brunson, does Bolton mean all subjects of crisis, from Gülen to the U.S. support of PKK offshoots in Syria, would be over “instantly”?

The U.S. and NATO have turned a blind eye on the coups inTurkeyin 1960, 1971 and 1980; [or] have supported and shed crocodile tears as long asTurkey served Western military interests. That was the Cold War. It is no excuse, but the U.S. priority then was to be against the Soviet Union, which has now been succeeded by the Russian Federation.

Is this hypocrisy still valid? Is it OK for the West if there is a coup in Turkey, as long as it serves their military interests?

The Final Demise of Dollar Hegemony? — Covert Geopolitics

Sanctions left and sanctions right. Financial mostly, taxes, tariffs, visas, travel bans – confiscation of foreign assets, import and export prohibitions and limitations; and also punishing those who do not respect sanctions dished out by Trump, alias the US of A, against friends of their enemies. The absurdity seems endless and escalating – exponentially, as […]

via The Final Demise of Dollar Hegemony? — Covert Geopolitics

Who is Andrew Brunson?

The guy claims he’s innocent – Trump is demanding his unconditional release . . . But check this out:

U.S. missionary thrust to the center of Turkey-U.S. crisis

By Ezgi Erkoyun and Humeyra Pamuk

IZMIR, Turkey (Reuters) – When Andrew Brunson saw a police summons on his door in late summer 2016, the U.S. evangelical pastor thought it was a routine appointment to sort out his residency papers in Turkey*, his home for nearly a quarter of a century.

Turkey-Lira-crisis-Paster-Andrew-Brunson-trump-news-1003731

Let him go or we’ll destroy your economy!

He went to the police station on Oct. 7, 2016, was detained and later charged with involvement in a coup attempt. He is still in detention and is now at the center of a diplomatic row that has fueled Turkey’s most serious currency crisis for almost two decades.

In July, after nearly two years in prison, Brunson was moved to house arrest. A court on Friday rejected an appeal to release him, saying evidence was still being collected and he posed a flight risk, according to a copy of the ruling seen by Reuters.

U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded Brunson’s unconditional release, describing him as a “great patriot hostage”, and has slapped sanctions and tariffs on Turkey which have helped push the lira currency to record lows.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has linked Brunson’s release to the fate of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim cleric living in the United States whom he blames for the July 2016 coup attempt. Erdogan has raised tariffs on U.S. cars, alcohol and tobacco in a tit-for-tat response.

“You have one pastor as well. Give him (Gulen) to us… Then we will try him (Brunson) and give him to you,” Erdogan said in a speech last September to police officers Halavurt, Brunson’s lawyer, said the North Carolina pastor was not unduly alarmed when he first went to the police station. He expected at worst to be given a two-week deadline to leave the country – standard practice with residency violations – and to return to Turkey when his papers were sorted out*.

Instead, he was held in a detention center for two months before being formally arrested on Dec. 9, 2016.

He was charged with crimes committed on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state, and on behalf of Gulen’s network, according to the indictment seen by Reuters. Both are designated terrorist groups by Ankara.

He was also charged with disclosing state information “for political or military espionage”.

Brunson has denied all the charges against him.

Prosecutors questioned why he traveled hundreds of miles from his church on Turkey’s western coast to the mainly Kurdish southeast interior, where the PKK is active.**

Messages on his phones, travel details, testimony from his congregation and what the indictment refers to as three secret witnesses, codenamed “Prayer”, “Fire” and “Meteor”, were cited in evidence against him.

The indictment cites GPS data showing trips to Suruc, near the Syrian border, and the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, as well as a meeting in 2010 with a man described by one of the secret witnesses as a U.S. special forces soldier.

Brunson said his trips to Kurdish areas were to help refugees who had escaped war in neighboring Syria.**

“I do not accept that I acted in accordance with PKK targets … We wanted to convert Syrian refugees coming to Izmir. I do not differentiate between their ethnic identities,” he said.**

“Prayer”, the secret witness, was quoted in the indictment as saying Brunson was linked to prominent suspected members of Gulen’s network.

Halavurt said the witness had failed to offer concrete evidence of any such connections.

The prosecution said in its indictment that Brunson’s phone records and witness testimony did establish the connections.

Brunson was not in the country at the time of the coup attempt but returned soon afterwards, according to his lawyer. In a text message cited in the indictment, he said the coup attempt “was a shock”.

“We were waiting for some events that would shake the Turks – preparing the conditions for Jesus’ return … I think the situation is going to get worse. We’ll win in the end,” said the message, which was dated July 21, 2016 and addressed to a fellow pastor, according to the indictment.***

Brunson did not deny sending the message but said it had been misunderstood, the indictment said.***

Reuters

POINTS TO PONDER

* It is very easy for foreign residents to extend their residence permit in Turkey for two years. What was Brunson’s problem? Clearly he knew he was in violation of Turkey’s laws before the police came knocking on his door.

**Convert Syrian refugees coming into Turkey? Yeah sure! I suspect they’ve got more pressing worries on their mind.

***How can you “misunderstand” a message like that? Christian “missionaries” have a long history of stirring up trouble in Turkey, and before that, in the Ottoman Empire. These biblical fundamentalist, evangelist, Zionist, anti-Muslim extremists are either ignorant unwitting tools of imperialist governments, or else they are knowingly working for them. Either way, they are going to upset locals. The only reason they can operate in Turkey is that it is the only majority Muslim country that will tolerate their incendiary activities.

 

How the U.S. Helped Prevent North Korea and South Korea From Reaching Real Peace in the 1950s

Extracts from an article in Time14 August 2018. Even the people at Time Magazine are starting to realise where the Evil Empire really is!

trump koreaIn the long history of Korea, nothing compares to the 20th century division of the peninsula or the war that followed. That war has not finished, and a peace treaty remains elusive. China, North Korea and South Korea all seek a peace treaty, but 11 U.S. presidents since 1953 have been unwilling to agree. . . the U.S. has played a key role in keeping the conflict going as long as it has.

In 1945, the Soviet army joined the Pacific war, and marched into Manchuria at the invitation of the United States. In the wake of that move, President Truman and Stalin agreed to divide Korea militarily, along a line of demarcation selected on Aug. 10, 1945, by two colonels in the Pentagon. The Korean people were not consulted. What started as a military partition in 1945 became a political division in 1948 when separate states were created in the north and the south — an invitation to conflict that made a war for the reunification of the peninsula inevitable.

In July of 1951, armistice negotiations commenced. They continued for more than two years and consisted of 575 meetings. When the military commanders signed an armistice agreement on July 27, 1953, a ceasefire occurred.

Negotiations took place in Geneva in 1954 but no progress was made and no peace treaty eventuated. The U.S. Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, would not negotiateand was not prepared to shake the hand of Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai. Zhou described Dulles’ attitude as obstructionist. Other representatives, including those from Britain and Belgium, were privately critical of the approach of the United Statesat the conference. 

us bombs

That was THEN – this is NOW! And who exactly are they targeting? At least they recognise that Turkey is “Europe”. By the way, these bombs are estimated to cost around $20 million EACH!

A few years later, the prospect of a peace treaty was further diminished. In 1956, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs announced that the Pentagon intended to introduce nuclear weapons into South Korea in contravention of clause 13 (d) of the armistice.

That clause prevented all parties from introducing new weapons or further troops onto the peninsula, other than as a like-for-like replacement. In 1957, despite the concerns of allies and the advice of the State Department, the United States announced its unilateral abrogation of clause 13(d) of the armistice. It said that North Korea had already breached the armistice, though no specific allegations were identified. From January 1958 on, the U.S. military brought “Honest John” nuclear missiles and atomic canons onto South Korean soil. The effect was to undermine the armistice. And the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, whose purpose was to ensure compliance with the armistice, largely lost its function. North Korea’s pretensions to develop its own nuclear arsenal date from this period.