Who owns the President of America?

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Behind the scenes . . .  who?

“I’m against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it’s do-able I’m going to do it.”

Sheldon Adelson, speaking to Forbes magazine in February 2012.

So, who is Sheldon Adelson? According to the people at Forbes, he is the 12th richest human being on the planet, with a net worth of around $38 billion . . . give or take a couple of hundred million dollars – small change when you’re that rich.

His Forbes bio adds that he’s a “self-made” man, who grew up sleeping on the floor of a Boston tenement.

Wikipedia provides a little more info:

  • He’s an “American business magnate, investor and philanthropist.”
  • He owns casinos in Las Vegas, Singapore, Hong Kong, and who knows where else.
  • He was the largest donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign ($25 million).
  • His father’s family was of Ukrainian-Jewish and Lithuanian-Jewish ancestry.
  • His beginnings on the road to self-made mega-wealth were assisted by loans from a rich uncle.
  • In 2015, he paid over $9 million dollars to the Securities and Exchange Corporation to sidestep charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • He owns newspapers in Israel that corner more than 50% of readership exposure.
  • While not actually owning any TV channels, he seems to use lawsuits to get rid of unfriendly journalists and ensure positive personal coverage for himself.
  • He has “waged some bitter anti-union battles in Las Vegas” and is an outspoken opponent of the Democrat Party whom he sees as sympathetic to trade unions.
  • In addition to that $25 million “donation” to Trump’s campaign, he handed over a further $40 million to the Republican Party and another $5 million to help them celebrate their victory in the presidential election.
  • He is on record as suggesting that US negotiations with Iran would be facilitated by dropping a nuclear warhead in the desert as a warning of what might follow.
  • He “hijacked” the Israeli-American Council, turning it into a “political lobbying group on Israel-related issues.”
  • George W Bush took him to Jerusalem in 2008 for Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
  • He is on record as agreeing with Newt Gingrich “that the Palestinians are an invented people.”
banksters

Wake up, America!

Why am I telling you this? According to a report in the New York Times yesterday:

“Ten days before Donald J. Trump took office, Sheldon G. Adelson went to Trump Tower for a private meeting. Afterward, Mr. Adelson, the casino billionaire and Republican donor, called an old friend, Morton A. Klein, to report that Mr. Trump told him that moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a major priority.

“He was very excited, as was I,” said Mr. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, a hard-line pro-Israel group. “This is something that’s in his heart and soul.”

So, my dear liberal friends in America – Stop getting your knickers in a twist about your “democratically elected” President, Mr Trump. Start doing something about your corrupt electoral system that allows amoral, selfish mega-rich tycoons, whatever their religious or ethnic background, to pull the strings of your country’s economy, foreign policy . . . its very existence!

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Who are the Terrorists? The search for justice in Jerusalem

“. . . from a purely mathematical point-of-view, if we consider the 2,464 years up to 1948 anti-israel[when the modern state of Israel was founded] for which there is conclusive evidence, Jewish occupation counts for 651 years (ending 1,813 years previously), Christians maybe 400 years, leaving the remaining, and most recent 1,313 years to the Muslims. And if you wanted to award a prize for the religion that accorded most tolerance to others, Muslims would win it without a contest.”

If you have time, you can check out the piece I wrote back in 2014.

Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

 

I’m passing on in full this piece from Al Jazeera. It seems the United States is hell-bent on starting World War III (or IV, or whatever we’re up to now):

“US President Donald Trump called Jerusalem the capital of Israel on Wednesday and began the process moving his country’s embassy to the city. The move sparked global condemnation from world leaders. 

Israel occupied East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 War with Syria, Egypt and Jordan; the western half of the holy city had been captured in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem effectively put the entire city under de-facto Israeli control. Israeli jurisdiction and ownership of Jerusalem, however, is not recognised by the international community, including the United States.

The status of Jerusalem remains one of the main sticking points in efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

International community position 

shrinking palestineUnder the 1947 UN Partition Plan to divide historical Palestine between Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem was granted special status and was meant to be placed under international sovereignty and control. The special status was based on Jerusalem’s religious importance to the three Abrahamic religions.

In the 1948 war, following the UN’s recommendation to divide Palestine, Zionist forces took control of the western half of the city and declared the territory part of its state.

During the 1967 war, Israel captured the eastern half of Jerusalem, which was under Jordanian control at the time, and proceeded to effectively annex it by extending Israeli law, bringing it directly under its jurisdiction, in breach of international law.

In 1980, Israel passed the “Jerusalem Law”, stating that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel”, thereby formalising its annexation of East Jerusalem.

In response, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 478 in 1980, declaring the law “null and void”.

The international community, including the US, officially regards East Jerusalem as occupied territory. Additionally, no country in the world recognises any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with the exception of Russia, which announced its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier this year. As of now, all embassies are based in Tel Aviv.

However, on Wednesday, December 6, US President Donald Trump is expected to announce US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and direct the state department to begin the lengthy process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the city, according to senior White House officials. 

The illegal Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem violates several principles under international law, which outlines that an occupying power does not have sovereignty in the territory it occupies.

Palestinians in Jerusalem

west-double-standard-on-mocking-jews-muslimsDespite Israel’s de-facto annexation of East Jerusalem, Palestinians who live there were not granted Israeli citizenship.

Today, some 420,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem have “permanent residency” ID cards. They also carry temporary Jordanian passports without a national identification number. This means that they are not full Jordanian citizens – they need a work permit to work in Jordan and do not have access to governmental services and benefits such as reduced education fees.

Palestinian Jerusalemites are essentially stateless, stuck in legal limbo – they are not citizens of Israel, nor are they citizens of Jordan or Palestine. Israel treats Palestinians in East Jerusalem as foreign immigrants who live there as a favour granted to them by the state and not by right, despite having been born there. They are required to fulfil a certain set of requirements to maintain their residency status and live in constant fear of having their residency revoked. Any Palestinian who has lived outside the boundaries of Jerusalem for a certain period of time, whether in a foreign country or even in the West Bank, is at risk of losing their right to live there.

Those who cannot prove that the “centre of their life” is in Jerusalem and that they have lived there continuously, lose their right to live in their city of birth. They must submit dozens of documents including title deeds, rent contracts and salary slips. Obtaining citizenship from another country also leads to the revocation of their status. In the meantime, any Jew around the world enjoys the right to live in Israel and to obtain Israeli citizenship under Israel’s Law of Return.  Since 1967, Israel has revoked the status of 14,000 Palestinians, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem. 

Settlements

Israel’s settlement project in East Jerusalem, which is aimed at the consolidation of Israel’s control over the city, is also considered illegal under international law. The UN has affirmed in several resolutions that the settlement project is in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying country from transferring its population into the areas it occupies.

 

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Protesters in London

There are several reasons behind this: to ensure that the occupation is temporary and to prevent the occupying state from establishing a long-term presence through military rule; to protect the occupied civilians from the theft of resources; to prevent apartheid and changes in the demographic makeup of the territory. Yet, since 1967, Israel has built more than a dozen housing complexes for Jewish Israelis, known as settlements, some in the midst of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.

About 200,000 Israeli citizens live in East Jerusalem under army and police protection, with the largest single settlement complex housing 44,000 Israelis. Such fortified settlements, often scattered between Palestinians’ homes, infringe on the freedom of movement, privacy and security of Palestinians.  

 

Though Israel claims Jerusalem as its undivided capital, the realities for those who live there cannot be more different. While Palestinians live under apartheid-like conditions, Israelis enjoy a sense of normality, guaranteed for them by their state. 

What Craziness Is Going On in Saudi Arabia?

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Corruption? What are you talking about?

This piece by Eric Margolis: “a columnist, author and a veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East. Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World.”

What’s going on in Saudi Arabia? Over 200 bigwigs detained and billions of ‘illegal profits’ of some $800 billion confiscated.

The kingdom is in an uproar. The Saudi regime of King Salman and his ambitious 32-year old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, claim it was all part of an ‘anti-corruption’ drive that has Washington’s full backing.

Utter nonsense.  I’ve done business in Saudi Arabia since 1976 and can attest that the entire kingdom, with its thousands of pampered princes and princesses, is one vast swamp of corruption. In Saudi, the entire nation and its vast oil revenues are considered property of the extended Saudi royal family and its hangers-on. A giant piggy bank.

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What a trio!!

More mysteries arose this tumultuous week. One of Saudi’s most influential princes, Mansour bin Muqrin, died in a mysterious crash of his helicopter, an ‘accident’ that has the smell of sabotage. Another key prince, Miteb, was ousted. He was commander of the famed ‘White Guard,’ the Saudi Bedouin tribal army designed to protect the monarchy and a former contender for the throne. Meanwhile, three or four other Saudi princes were reportedly kidnapped from Europe and sent home, leading to rumors that Saudi’s new ally, Israel, was involved.

But behind all this lies the stalemated Saudi war against wretched Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest, most backwards nation. Saudi Arabia has been heavily bombing Yemen for over a year, using U.S.-supplied warplanes, munitions, including cluster bombs and white phosphorus, and U.S. Air Force management.  A Saudi blockade of Yemen, aided by the U.S., has caused mass starvation and epidemics such as cholera.

uk sells bombs to saudsWhen I first explored Yemen, in the mid 1970s, it was just creeping out of the 12th century AD.  Today, it’s been bombed back into the 6th Century.

In spite of spending over $200 million daily (not including payoffs to ‘coalition’ members like Egypt) the Saudis are stuck in a stalemated conflict against Yemen’s Shia Houthi people.  The US and Britain are cheerfully selling bombs and weapons to the Saudis. President Donald Trump has been lauding the destruction of Yemen because he mistakenly believes Iran is the mainstay of the anti-Saudi resistance.

Yemen is a horrible human rights disaster and scene of widespread war crimes.

Read more . . .

“The US and Israel closely embrace Saudi usurper”

What’s going in in Saudi Arabia? I wondered. So I googled it, and I want to share some of my findings:

What’s Really Going On in Saudi Arabia

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Saudi prince with modestly attired Muslim wife

“Trump Says Saudi Elites Caught In Anti-Corruption Probe Were ‘Milking’ Kingdom For Years.”

This is just nonsense from Trump.

Corruption is and has been everywhere in Saudi Arabia. How else could it be with all the countless billions changing hands in a fairly closed society?

So, it is easy for a guy like the new Crown Prince to glance around and conveniently find some corruption among people he wants to discredit anyway.

It may go beyond merely discrediting them to having hundreds of billions seized by the Crown Prince. Not a bad day’s work.

What is going on is a kind of coup against the old order by the new usurper Crown Prince. His recent appointment was by a King well known for his senility, and it suddenly and surprisingly upset the established order of succession and all kinds of extended family compacts.

usa__israel_and_saudi_arabia_by_lemerchant-d9h3xjbWe likely will never know what truly happened in this secretive kingdom. But we do know the abrupt changes created lots of enemies who needed attending to, and that seems to be what is happening.

And the enemies have no friends in Washington to whom they can appeal. The old order in Saudi Arabia suffered terribly in the wake of 9/11, and despite great efforts to pacify the US with new levels of cooperation, it is now being swept out.

Now, whatever is considered good for a hyper-aggressive United States is coincidentally good for its de facto colony in the Middle East.

Read more . . .

The longest occupation – the US wars in the Middle East

I’m reblogging this because you need to read it:

DONALD TRUMP’S SPEECH to the regional potentates and dictators assembled for the occasion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was generally acclaimed as eminently presidential, and rightly so. That is to say, it was firmly in the tradition of U.S. presidential addresses on Middle East policy: utterly cynical, dripping with deceit, and above all, irreversibly tied to the United States’ leading role as the chief arms merchant to some of the world’s most brutal regimes.

Unlike some of his predecessors, of course, Trump paid no lip service to human rights or democracy, both of which he despises — as do his Saudi royal hosts, who understood perfectly that the way to treat him is with limitless pomp and flattery. The audience also included the rulers of Bahrain, perpetrators of brutal violence and repression against human rights and democracy protests, and certainly emboldened by Trump’s proclamation of an “anti-terror” alliance targeting Iran.

Trump isn’t particularly good at dressing up imperial power politics in flights of rhetoric about universal human values and, to his credit he doesn’t make much effort to do so. But underlying the visuals of Trump’s performance in the Holy Lands are underreported and longstanding realities of the region. President Barack Obama understood these dynamics, of which Donald Trump knows next to nothing, yet in the end this makes little difference.

Read the whole article:

More lies about Turkey!

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An evening out in Kadıköy

I had a meal and a drink in Kadıköy with a mate last Friday. Or was it a drink and a meal? Anyway. Kadıköy, once known as Chalcedon, has a long history of Christian settlement, and consequently a flourishing alcohol-fuelled entertainment economy. Despite loudly expressed fears that the AK Party government is dragging the country back to a medieval nightmare of Islamic fundamentalism, the labyrinthine streets of Kadıköy are packed most nights with revellers of all ages, knocking back beer, wine, rakı, or whatever beverage takes their fancy, unmolested by religious police. Even during the holy month of Ramadan.

Anyway. Gunther and I don’t see each other that often these days. We used to work together at one of Istanbul’s plethora of private universities (forty-one is the most recent figure I could find – FORTY-ONE!!). Our meetings inevitably descend into political argument, although I do try to steer towards other topics. My mate is an outspoken critic of Turkey’s AK Party government. Well, I can handle that. I’ve heard a thousand times all the arguments churned out ad nauseam proving that RTE* is the worst thing that’s happened to Turkey since Thanksgiving (sorry, that was a stupid joke – I could have said Winston Churchill).

hitler_bushIt also happens that Gunther, as you might guess, comes from German stock – and is intensely proud of the fact. To hear him tell it, Germany is indisputably the greatest country in the world, its economy driven by superior German brains and hard work, its industries second-to-none. Well, leaving aside the question of why he has chosen to make his home in Turkey rather than the Teutonic paradise of his birth, I found myself gagging over some of the outrageous claims he made to substantiate his thesis. Admittedly I have no formal background in the study of German history – which Gunther claims to have. Nevertheless I read, and take an interest, as one does. After our latest heated debate, I came home and checked the facts that I thought I knew, and which Gunther had vehemently contradicted:

  • Germany’s economy was in tatters after the First World War as a result of the huge punitive reparations demanded by the victorious allies, France and Britain.
  • The Weimar government was saved from imminent disaster by funding from the United States, enabling them to meet their obligations to those creditors.
  • When Wall Street crashed in 1929, the USA called in its foreign loans, throwing the German economy again into severe recession.
  • Adolf Hitler’s rise to power was funded by German and American bankers and industrialists to keep out the Communists who had become enormously popular with the working classes as a result of the Weimar government’s misguided austerity measures.
  • The Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements was founded in Basel in 1930, and, among other dodgy activities, laundered ill-gotten Nazi money during the Second World War.
  • In 1953 a conference in London agreed to cancel most of Germany’s debt and “reschedule” the rest. The United States, under the Marshall Plan, gave $1.3 billion in aid to assist in the rebuilding of Germany after the destruction of WW2.

Why am I telling you this? This is a blog about Turkey, isn’t it? The thing is, some people vociferously assert misinformation and even outright lies from behind a façade of superior authority (academic or otherwise), relying on the ignorance of their listeners or their own loud voices to carry their arguments.

I was reminded of this when reading an article about Turkey the other day. The piece, Why Turkey Chose Qatar, appeared on a website, The National Interest. For a start, the byline attributed it to two people with Turkish names, Aykan Erdemir and Merve Tahiroglu , which you might immediately think gave them credibility. Moreover, Mr Erdemir was a member of Turkey’s National Assembly from 2011-2015, is a respected academic, and is now on the staff of the US-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). End of argument, you might think. Clearly this guy must know what he’s talking about. And in case he needed to check his facts, he had a helpful research assistant, Ms Tahiroğlu, backed by the no doubt exhaustive resources of the FDD.

Nothing daunted, I read the article, made a few notes, did a little research of my own, and here’s what I found.

First up, Aykan Erdemir was a representative of the CHP (Republican People’s Party), sworn enemies of Mr Erdoğan’s AK Party government, and frustrated losers of so many elections everyone’s lost count. Why did he leave political life after four short years in parliament? Who knows? Maybe he thought he could achieve his purpose better with American backing from abroad.

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What have the Yemenis done to Saudi Arabia or the USA?

Anyway. What were these two authoritative Turks writing about? Of course you are aware that the freedom-loving, democratic governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have imposed an embargo on Qatar on the grounds that their wealthy oil-rich neighbour is supporting terrorism. The “terrorists” in question are the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Iran – and the concerted Arab action was announced immediately after their governments had been visited by US President, Donald Trump. The Big DT didn’t actually mention that he had suggested the embargo, but he was proud to announce he had sign a deal with the Saudi royals for the supply of $110 billion worth of US military equipment, most of which is being used to terrorise the impoverished, starving people of Yemen.

Now some might argue, and indeed do, that the Muslim Brotherhood has been doing its best to work peacefully through the democratic process to bring change in Middle East countries. They actually won Egypt’s first truly democratic election in 2012, before being ousted by a military coup a year later. Turkey’s Prime Minister at the time, Mr Erdoğan, made no secret of his objections – which no doubt upset powerful interests in the USA and Israel. Some might also argue that someone needs to represent the interests of Palestinians suffering under the expansionist aggression of the Zionist Israeli government – and Hamas tries to do this. They might go further and suggest that US hawkishness towards Iran is driven by oil needs and their support for Israel, right or wrong.

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Mohammed Morsi – first democratically elected president of Egypt

But Aykan and Merve are not among those people. The main thrust of their argument is that Mr Erdoğan and the government of Turkey are acting purely from venal financial motives, largely aimed at increasing the personal fortunes of the Erdoğan family. I’m not going to dignify the argument by repeating it here. You can read the article for yourself if you’re interested.

More pertinent, I believe, is the way the writers seek to portray the Saudi coalition as the “good guys” in the current stand-off, and Turkey, Iran and Qatar as “cast[ing] their lot with Islamists”. Mr Aydemir’s paymasters, whoever is funding the FDD Defenders of Democracy, seem to have decided that the slave-based economies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the oppressive military dictatorship of Egypt, are worthy of defending. The government of Israel is staying on the sideline, but if I were a betting man I’d put safe money on their being involved in the whole shady business.

Turkey is depicted as being in “a downward spiral of isolation due to its reckless foreign policy”, “estrang[ing itself] from the region’s Sunni camp, led by Saudi Arabia”. Well, Turkey’s people may be mostly Sunni Muslims, but their moderate brand of Islam bears no resemblance to the extremist Wahhabi hypocritical Shariah violence of the Sauds. Erdoğan is accused of nurturing some kind of “game plan” for Washington, trying to curry favour with President Trump after “ruining his relationship with Barack Obama”. Well he certainly seemed to hold his own in the macho hand-shaking competition, which you can still view on Youtube despite the fact that their administrators keep removing the clips.

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Well worth a look

Incidentally, I checked out “The National Interest” website. As you might expect, with a name like that, they unabashedly admit that their business “is not . . . about world affairs. It is about American interests . . . guided by the belief that nothing will enhance those interests as effectively as the approach to foreign affairs commonly known as realism—a school of thought traditionally associated with such thinkers and statesmen as Disraeli, Bismarck, and Henry Kissinger.” THINKERS! Not war-mongers, you’ll notice. And according to the FDD website, their “distinguished advisors include Sen. Joe Lieberman, former National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane, former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, former State Department Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky, Gen. P.X. Kelley (ret.), Francis “Bing” West, Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol, former CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Richard W. Carlson,  and Forbes CEO Steve Forbes.” Interesting company for our two Turkish academics to be keeping.

tellalieonceBut I’m saving the best till last. That article about Turkey and Qatar was chock full of links to other sites, suggesting that the material had been exhaustively researched, and was therefore beyond reproach. Just on a hunch, I decided to check one out at random. The final paragraph sums up the writer’s case and includes this statement: “For all these reasons, Turkey chose Qatar in the recent Gulf crisis. Indeed, it would have had little choice to discard such a lucrative partnership at a time of brewing economic crisis at home.” That link will take you an archived OECD report written in 2001, a year or so before the AK Party came to power, when Turkey had been plagued for decades with incompetent coalition governments, embedded hyper-inflation and regular military coups. The leaders it refers to are the Prime Minister and President at the time, Bülent Ecevit and Ahmet Necdet Sezer. OUT-RAGE-OUS! Check the other links if you have time. They are probably equally dishonest. Disinterested academics? Phooey!

I read a sad article in our local Hürriyet Daily News the other day, informing me that Over 8.5 million Turks received psychological treatment in 2016”. Statistics released by the health Ministry also showed that the use of antidepressants increased by 25.6 percent between 2011 and 2016” and “one out of every eight people . . . has applied to a hospital for mental and neurological disorders”. 

9aa63d24f038b03f13bdffdc7582c30dFor some reason, the newspaper chose to seek comment from Independent Member of Parliament, Aylin Nazlıaka, who expressed the opinion that “The solution is to remove the common perception and belief that the justice system is not objective and fair. The solution is getting rid of the pressure on people who have opposing views and thoughts. The solution is creating a Turkey whose people are hopeful about today and tomorrow, that produces [opportunity] and that has equality of opportunity. The solution is the normalization of Turkey by removing problems such as terror and unemployment.”

Well, Ms Nazlıaka could be right – and it may help if the CHP leader, Mr Kılıçdaroğlu finds the “justice” he is seeking on his current protest march from Ankara to Istanbul. On the other hand, some of those depressed citizens might try looking around to see the good things happening in their beautiful country instead of paying heed to the self-seeking and biased criticisms of foreign leaders and dishonest “academics”.

 

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  • Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan