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3 reasons the United States has lost the Middle East

The United States has become isolated in the Middle East just as new players move in and traditional powers re-align their geo-strategic positions.

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Iraq’s Vice President Nouri al-Maliki recently stated that the Trump administration does not have a clear policy vision, let alone policy plan for the Middle East. Events on the ground bear this out, but the fact is that America’s isolation from the future progress of the Middle East actually began under Barack Obama and to an extent George W. Bush. This trajectory is now largely irreversible.

With America losing its grip on the Middle East, other powers have moved in, particularly Russia, China and Iran.

Here’s why and how.

1. Chinese economic might 

With the world fixated on the military events in Syria and Iraq, China has been quietly but un-ambiguously working with the Syrian government to fix the terms on which Chinese companies will invest in Syria’s economy and help to rebuild Syria’s largely destroyed infrastructure when the conflict ends.

Earlier this month, the Syrian embassy in Beijing held an expo where 1,000 Chinese companies came to discuss what they could offer in terms of investment and redevelopment in post-war Syria.

At the event, Imad Mustafa, the Syrian Ambassador to China confirmed that China will be given priority in the rebuilding of post-conflict Syria. He stated,

“China, Russia, and Iran have provided substantial support to Syria during the military conflict. Therefore, it is these three countries that will play a major role in the reconstruction of Syria”.

It has now been confirmed that China is set to invest $2 billion into rebuilding Syria and this could only be the beginning.

Both Syria and Iran are on the map of China’s New Silk Road (the One Belt–One Road). As such, transit roots from East Asia to the Middle East will positively impact not only Syria and Iraq but also Iran and Turkey.

This comes at a time when the government in Baghdad remains committed to good relations with both Tehran and Damascus. In this sense, America’s illegal regime change in Iraq dating back to 2003 has backfired spectacularly. Iraq which was an enemy of Iran and had more or less frozen relations with Syria is now open to both countries which will make China’s life easier while potentially shutting America out.

Far from seeing One Belt–One Road as an opportunity, the United States has opposed it politically, the US continues to provoke China in the South China Sea and over the Korean Peninsula and furthermore, the US is currently engaged in many conflicts which happen to be along the planned Road.

READ MORE: US troops in Europe and the Middle East are there to provoke China more than Russia or Iran

By failing to cooperate with China on its flagship commerce and infrastructure project, the US is not only on the losing side of history but has been increasingly shut out of economic opportunities in regions where America once had considerable economic influence which it is gradually losing.

2. Russian geo-political, military and energy might 

The last five years alone have seen Russia gain new Middle Eastern and Eurasian allies and strengthen traditional alliances while not alienating a single power in one of the world’s most fraught regions.

Russian involvement in the Syrian war has strengthened an old alliance with Damascus. Just yesterday, Russia’s Federation Council approved a deal between Moscow and Damascus which will allow for the presence of Russian bases in Syria for the next 49 years with an option to extend the agreement by another 25. In this sense Russia and Syria’s alliance will last well into the final decades of the 21st century.

Syria also stated that Russia will be given priority along with China in Iran, in areas of post-war redevelopment, particularly in the energy sector where Russia is a global leader while importantly retaining independence from OPEC.

At the same time, Russia is building a partnership with Iraq. Baghdad just purchased a substantial amount of T-90 tanks from Russia and Iraq’s Russophillic Vice President is currently in Moscow where he is set to deepen cooperation between the two countries.

Russia’s relations with Iran remain at an all time high, with Iran looking to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the near future. Russia along with China founded the SCO in 2001. India and Pakistan both jointed this year.

Egypt under President el-Sisi continues to expand on historically good relations with Russia which date back to the Nasser era. Egypt and Russia have pledged to cooperate against terrorist threats and just today Russia confirmed the creation of a new de-escalation zone in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta. The agreement was signed in Cairo which demonstrates Egypt’s increasingly important role in cooperating with Russian led peace initiatives.

In respect of Egypt’s neighbour Libya, the faction of Libya’s failed state which is the only one that could reasonably form a legitimate government, the secular Tobruk based Libyan House of Representatives, has good relations with both Egypt and Russia. This could become increasingly important as the armed forces of the House of Representatives, the Libyan National Army continues to make gains against jihadists.

In the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia’s attempt to isolate Qatar has backfired spectacularly. Russia is now seen by the Qataris themselves as well as those in the wider region as a legitimate broker of peace. Russia has called for a peaceful and amicable solution to the crisis which has been praised by Doha. At the same time, Russia continues to improve relations with Saudi Arabia.

All of this has happened while Russia remains one of the few powers in the world to have good relations with both Israel and Palestine.

All of this puts Russia in a unique position as a super-power with either close relations or at minimum good working relations with all the major players in the wider Middle East.

3. Turkey’s realignment and Iran’s re-emergence 

Ever since joining NATO in 1952, Turkey has been a close US ally in the Middle East and Eurasia. However, Turkey’s relationship with Washington continues to plunge to new depths.

Under Donald Trump, America’s backing of the Kurds, Turkey’s number one regional enemy, has caused to Ankara distance itself from both NATO and the pro-NATO bloc, the European Union. Turkey’s participation in the Astana Peace Process along with Russia and Iran is symptomatic of Turkey’s increasingly good relationship with Russia and moreover, of Turkish President Erdogan’s good personal relationship with President Putin.

READ MORE: America has pushed Turkey straight into Russia’s arms

Two related events have also brought Turkey closer to Iran. Russia was able to draw two historical adversaries into the Astana Peace Process while Turkey’s strongly pro-Qatari position in the Gulf has put Tehran and Ankara on the same page.

President Erdogan’s interventions into the internal affairs of Arab countries has made Turkey’s relations with the Arab states of Syria, Iraq and Egypt deeply strained. To compensate for this Turkey is looking increasingly outside of both Europe and the Levant for allies and is drawing nearer to Russia, Iran and Qatar.

This has the effect of putting the two large non-Arab powers of the Middle East firmly in a camp which has totally different geo-strategic priorities vis-a-vis the United States President Erdogan’s enthusiastic participation in the One Belt–One Road forum in Beijing is a further sign that Ankara is increasingly looking east after a 20th century where both culturally and geo-strategically, it had tended to look west.

CONCLUSION

All of this leads to America’s increased geo-political and consequently economic isolation in the Middle East. Iran’s increased prestige in Syria and Iraq looks set to define the next generation of Levantine and Mesopotamian relations with Tehran while Iran’s pragmatic relationship with Qatar could hold the key to continued Iranian economic growth.

Turkey’s pivot away from both the Arab world and the west is being largely compensated for with good relations with historic regional rivals turned potential partners, Russia and Iran.

Russia is in a unique position as a respected power broker and security partner throughout virtually all of the Middle East, while China’s One Belt–One Road which runs through much of the region is an economic super-giant in the making. America by contrast has not offered any original thinking in respect of the economic future of the Middle East, this is why many  Middle East governments are increasingly seeing America as yesterday’s lost opportunity rather than tomorrow’s hope.

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journey80
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journey80

Bush, Billary, Obama

nibs
Guest
nibs

1. China, Russia, Iran all are close or have borders in the region.
2. These countries operate foreign policies in their own interest, whereas the USA is massively swayed by what Israel tells them to do, and ends up doing things totally at odds with the US interest.

Conclusion: lose the Neocons.

stevek9
Guest
stevek9

An important aspect of Russia’s increasing influence in the World is nuclear power. This does not get a lot of discussion. Nuclear power will be the primary energy source for the World in this century. Despite irrational fears, this is the only source of energy outside coal which can power world-wide economic development. Russia is one of, if not the premier technical leaders in nuclear power technology (the BN800 is a case in point). And, they have an aggressive and effective export strategy. They will completely finance the construction of nuclear plants in their ‘build-own-operate’ model (which they implemented in… Read more »

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

Russia is doing wonders with solar energy that it can also help its ME friends set up not only for their own citizens but for sale in order to build their economies.
http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/solar-power-russia-emerges-shade/ri20035

tjoes
Guest
tjoes

Russia insider bans lots of people so their comments will not be seen. Discern anything that comes from RI…the owner is a real sleaze and DOES have hidden agenda .

tjoes
Guest
tjoes

Russia has huge natural gas supplies. They should be buying China turbine generators and lots of wire to supply China electricity.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

“Nuclear power will be the primary energy source for the World in this century.”
Absurd ramble.

Mike John Elissen
Guest
Mike John Elissen

Less than 2 years ago US/EU politicians and political/strategic analysts were dead certain Russia would face `a quagmire` and `a repeat of the Soviet debacle in Afghanistan` in Syria. Anno now, the results of the Russian intervention in Syria are clear, while NATO faces its own `quagmires`… especially in Afghanistan, where a 15-year old war/occupation produces casualties, hatred and none of the fairy-tale promises made. Handing out cheques after butchering innocent people (or even the `cops` that you trained) doesn`t obscure the fact that NATO`s military adventures are failures – by any standard. Anyone with a memory capable of remembering… Read more »

Walter Dublanica
Member
Walter Dublanica

The U.S. could have had Russia as an ally. Instead we listened to our neocon cabal which hates everything Russian. Now Russia looks the other way like who needs the U.S.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The Neocons are the satanist children and grandchildren of the Trotskyite Jews who ran the Holocaust of Russians between 1917 and 1960 or so, and then again under Yeltsin. They are afraid that their evil may catch up to them if they stop murdering people – especially Christians and especially Russians.

Walter Dublanica
Member
Walter Dublanica

You are right in your assessment of the “tribe”. We have to be cleansed of their evil intentions.

Dan Kuhn
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Dan Kuhn

If you want allies you have to offer something other than a demand that they are either with us or against us. What has the US given the Middle East? War and lots of it. When they offer economic help it is only with military hardware. The US has flattened at least three countries in the Middle East just since the turn of the century and is currently assisting Saudi Arabia in the destruction of another. What the US offers is even more misery piled upon the misery they have already inflicted on that part of the world. What is… Read more »

Ray Joseph Cormier
Guest

What an excellent and insightful analysis, so close to Reality vs political propaganda spin and delusions of grandeur. More than any other reader, I read it as a Revelation and confirmation, the details unfolding only NOW Day by Day, are GENERALLY unfolding in the spirit of this letter published by a Major US daily in the ‘Heartland’ of the Nation in the Spirit of ’76. September 13, 1976, the major daily THE KANSAS CITY TIMES published this Vision of the FUTURE: “He came to town for the Republican National Convention and will stay until the election in November TO DO… Read more »

lickeyleaks
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lickeyleaks

Looks like UN wont prosecute US for being there and they wont pay compensation for damage so 1 foot in the grave for them!!
China is gonna help rebuild,Russians will look after defences,Iran will be a good friend,who needs US??

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Or, to quote that superb humanitarian and world class US diplomat, ‘Cookies’ Noodleman: “Fuck the EUSA”!

samo war
Guest
samo war
Debbie Beane
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Debbie Beane

The real losers? comment image

ColinNZ
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ColinNZ

Great article, excellent overview.

Constantine
Guest
Constantine

That was a really good one by Garrie. Backed by facts, no political bias and a clear-headed analysis.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Three reasons the United States has/have lost the Middle East?

1 The
2 United
3 States

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

I want to congratulate The Duran for getting on this site: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/the-duran/Check as ‘unreliable fake news and propaganda’. Who does the site ‘trust highly’?
WAPO, The NYT, the BBC and… the MOSCOW TIMES ! Priceless.

Simon
Guest
Simon

LOL they also had Bellingcat in their ‘least biased’ list. Good grief !

André De Koning
Guest
André De Koning

“America by contrast has not offered any original thinking in respect of the economic future of the Middle East…” So true as they never contribute in any way and only rob and destroy. Very good summary and overview. Also good news to hear RUssia is there to stay in Syria. This time I did believe the US administration would leave Syria and that all loss of lives and destruction has been for nothing. Get them out and rebuild!

seby
Guest
seby

Hallelujah!

The “end of the new American century” pronounced by the pentagon.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/07/23/the-end-new-american-century-pronounced-pentagon.html

samo war
Guest
samo war

barrrrbarian invasion ?

tjoes
Guest
tjoes

“Russia remains one of the few powers in the world to have good relations with both Israel and Palestine”

Apparently Russia has not figured out that Israel said their Kol Nidre prayers and will stab Russia in the back….covertly of course.

Putin's baby
Guest
Putin's baby

I love it! Hopefully these filthy yanks will be kicked out of ME soon as possible… then they will have to frack their country to pieces to have their energy… no water tho, just gas.. ho ho ho

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May survives ‘no confidence’ vote as UK moves towards March 29 deadline or Article 50 extension (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 168.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the ‘no confidence’ vote that UK Prime Minister May won with the a slim margin…meaning that though few MPs have confidence in her ‘Brexit withdrawal’ negotiating skills, they appear to have no problem allowing May to lead the country towards its Brexit deadline in March, which coincidently may be delayed and eventually scrapped altogether.

Meanwhile Tony Blair is cozying up to Brussels’ oligarchs, working his evil magic to derail the will of the British people, and keep the integrationist ambitions for the UK and Europe on track.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via RT


The UK government led by Theresa May, has survived to fight another day, after winning a no-confidence vote, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, following parliament rejecting the PM’s Brexit deal, earlier on Tuesday evening.

The no-confidence vote was defeated by 19 votes – the government winning by 325 to 306. It’s a rare positive note for May’s Tory cabinet after the humiliating Brexit defeat.

Speaking immediately after the vote, a victorious May said she was “pleased” that the House expressed its confidence in her government. May said she will “continue to work” to deliver on the result of the Brexit referendum and leave the EU.

May invited the leaders of parliamentary parties to meet with her individually, beginning on Wednesday evening.

“I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit,” she said.

Responding to the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the House had “emphatically” rejected May’s deal on Tuesday. The government, he said, must now remove “clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would result from that.”

Labour will now have to consider what move to make next. Their official Brexit policy, decided by members at conference in September, states that if a general election cannot be forced, then all options should be left on the table, including calling for a second referendum.

Liberal Democrats MP Ed Davey also called on May to rule out a no deal Brexit.

The way forward for Brexit is not yet clear and May’s options are now limited, given that the Brexit deal she was offering was voted down so dramatically on Tuesday.

Gavin Barrett, a professor at the UCD Sutherland School of Law in Dublin, told RT that May will now have to decide if her second preference is a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum. Her preference will likely be a no-deal Brexit, Barrett said, adding that “since no other option commands a majority in the House” a no-deal exit is now “the default option.”

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Final Steps in Syria’s Successful Struggle for Peace and Sovereignty

The war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The situation in Syria evolves daily and sees two situations very closely linked to each other, with the US withdrawal from Syria and the consequent expansionist ambitions of Erdogan in Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) takeover in Idlib that frees the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian aviation to liberate the de-escalation zone.

Trump has promised to destroy Turkey economically if he attacks the Kurds, reinforcing his claim that Erdogan will not target the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) once the US withdraws from the area. One of the strongest accusations made against Trump’s withdrawal by his opponents is that no Middle Eastern force will ever trust the US again if they abandon the SDF to its fate, that is, to its annihilation at the hands of the Turkish army and its FSA proxies. This, however, is not possible; not so much because of Trump’s economic threats, but because of Damascus and Moscow being strongly opposed to any Turkish military action in the northeast of Syria.

This is a red line drawn by Putin and Assad, and the Turkish president likely understands the consequences of any wrong moves. It is no coincidence that he stated several times that he had no problems with the “Syrians or Syrian-Kurdish brothers”, and repeated that if the area under the SDF were to come under the control of Damascus, Turkey would have no need to intervene in Syria. Trump’s request that Ankara have a buffer zone of 20 kilometers separating the Kurdish and Turkish forces seems to complement the desire of Damascus and Moscow to avoid a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the SDF.

The only party that seems to be secretly encouraging a clash between the SDF and Turkish forces is Israel, criticizing Ankara and singing the praises of the SDF, in order to try and accentuate the tensions between the two sides, though naturally without success. Israel’s continued raids in Syria, though almost constantly failing due to Syrian air defense, and the divide-and-rule policy used against Turkey and the SDF, show that Tel Aviv is now weakened and mostly irrelevant in the Syrian conflict.

In Idlib, the situation seems to be becoming less complicated and difficult to decipher. Russia, Iran and Syria had asked Erdogan to take control of the province through its “moderate jihadists”, sit down at the negotiating table, and resolve the matter through a diplomatic solution. Exactly the opposite happened. The HTS (formerly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria) has in recent weeks conquered practically the whole province of Idlib, with numerous forces linked to Turkey (Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki) dissolving and merging into HTS. This development puts even more pressure on Erdogan, who is likely to see his influence in Idlib fade away permanently. Moreover, this evolution represents a unique opportunity for Damascus and Moscow to start operations in Idlib with the genuine justification of combating terrorism. It is a repeat of what happened in other de-escalation areas. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly requested the moderates be separated from the terrorists, so as to approach the situation with a diplomatic negotiation.

In the absence of an effective division of combatants, all are considered terrorists, with the military option replacing the diplomatic. This remains the only feasible option to free the area from terrorists who are not willing to give back territory to the legitimate government in Damascus and are keeping civilians hostages. The Idlib province seems to have experienced the same playbook applied in other de-escalation zones, this time with a clear contrast between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that shows how the struggle between the two countries is much deeper than it appears. The reasons behind the Khashoggi case and the diplomatic confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia were laid bare in the actions of the HTS in Idlib, which has taken control of all the areas previously held by Ankara’s proxies.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow and Damascus would like to encourage Erdogan to recover Idlib through its proxies, trying to encourage jihadists to fight each other as much as possible in order to lighten the task of the SAA, or whether they would prefer to press the advantage themselves and attack while the terrorist front is experiencing internal confusion.

In terms of occupied territory and accounts to be settled, two areas of great importance for the future of Syria remain unresolved, namely al-Tanf, occupied by US forces on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and the area in the north of Syria occupied by Turkish forces and their FSA proxies. It is too early to approach a solution militarily, it being easier for Damascus and Moscow to complete the work to free Syria from the remaining terrorists. Once this has been done, the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria, whether directly or indirectly, would become all the more difficult to justify. Driving away the US and, above all, Turkey from Syrian territory will be the natural next step in the Syrian conflict.

This is an unequivocal sign that the war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus. Several countries — including Italy in the near future — will reopen their embassies in Syria to demonstrate that the war, even if not completely over, is effectively won by Damascus and her allies.

For this reason, several countries that were previously opposed to Damascus, like the United Arab Emirates, are understood to have some kind of contact with the government of Damascus. If they intend to become involved in the reconstruction process and any future investment, they will quite naturally need to re-establish diplomatic relations with Damascus. The Arab League is also looking to welcome Syria back into the fold.

Such are signs that Syria is returning to normality, without forgetting which and how many countries have conspired and acted directly against the Syrians for over seven years. An invitation to the Arab League or some embassy being reopened will not be enough to compensate for the damage done over years, but Assad does not preclude any option, and is in the meantime demonstrating to the Israelis, Saudis and the US Deep State that their war has failed and that even their most loyal allies are resuming diplomatic relations with Damascus, a double whammy against the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists.

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Google Manipulated YouTube Search Results for Abortion, Maxine Waters, David Hogg

The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News.

The Duran

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Via Breitbart


In sworn testimony, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Congress last month that his company does not “manually intervene” on any particular search result. Yet an internal discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News reveals Google regularly intervenes in search results on its YouTube video platform – including a recent intervention that pushed pro-life videos out of the top ten search results for “abortion.”

The term “abortion” was added to a “blacklist” file for “controversial YouTube queries,” which contains a list of search terms that the company considers sensitive. According to the leak, these include some of these search terms related to: abortion, abortions, the Irish abortion referendum, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and anti-gun activist David Hogg.

The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News by a source inside the company who wishes to remain anonymous. A partial list of blacklisted terms was also leaked to Breitbart by another Google source.

In the leaked discussion thread, a Google site reliability engineer hinted at the existence of more search blacklists, according to the source.

“We have tons of white- and blacklists that humans manually curate,” said the employee. “Hopefully this isn’t surprising or particularly controversial.”

Others were more concerned about the presence of the blacklist. According to the source, the software engineer who started the discussion called the manipulation of search results related to abortion a “smoking gun.”

The software engineer noted that the change had occurred following an inquiry from a left-wing Slate journalist about the prominence of pro-life videos on YouTube, and that pro-life videos were replaced with pro-abortion videos in the top ten results for the search terms following Google’s manual intervention.

“The Slate writer said she had complained last Friday and then saw different search results before YouTube responded to her on Monday,” wrote the employee. “And lo and behold, the [changelog] was submitted on Friday, December 14 at 3:17 PM.”

The manually downranked items included several videos from Dr. Antony Levatino, a former abortion doctor who is now a pro-life activist. Another video in the top ten featured a woman’s personal story of being pressured to have an abortion, while another featured pro-life conservative Ben Shapiro. The Slate journalist who complained to Google reported that these videos previously featured in the top ten, describing them in her story as “dangerous misinformation.”

Since the Slate journalist’s inquiry and Google’s subsequent intervention, the top search results now feature pro-abortion content from left-wing sources like BuzzFeed, Vice, CNN, and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. In her report, the Slate journalist acknowledged that the search results changed shortly after she contacted Google.

The manual adjustment of search results by a Google-owned platform contradicts a key claim made under oath by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in his congressional testimony earlier this month: that his company does not “manually intervene on any search result.”

A Google employee in the discussion thread drew attention to Pichai’s claim, noting that it “seems like we are pretty eager to cater our search results to the social and political agenda of left-wing journalists.”

One of the posts in the discussion also noted that the blacklist had previously been edited to include the search term “Maxine Waters” after a single Google employee complained the top YouTube search result for Maxine Waters was “very low quality.”

Google’s alleged intervention on behalf of a Democratic congresswoman would be further evidence of the tech giant using its resources to prop up the left. Breitbart News previously reported on leaked emails revealing the company targeted pro-Democrat demographics in its get-out-the-vote efforts in 2016.

According to the source, a software engineer in the thread also noted that “a bunch of terms related to the abortion referendum in Ireland” had been added to the blacklist – another change with potentially dramatic consequences on the national policies of a western democracy.

youtube_controversial_query_blacklist

At least one post in the discussion thread revealed the existence of a file called “youtube_controversial_query_blacklist,” which contains a list of YouTube search terms that Google manually curates. In addition to the terms “abortion,” “abortions,” “Maxine Waters,” and search terms related to the Irish abortion referendum, a Google software engineer noted that the blacklist includes search terms related to terrorist attacks. (the posts specifically mentions that the “Strasbourg terrorist attack” as being on the list).

“If you look at the other entries recently added to the youtube_controversial_query_blacklist(e.g., entries related to the Strasbourg terrorist attack), the addition of abortion seems…out-of-place,” wrote the software engineer, according to the source.

After learning of the existence of the blacklist, Breitbart News obtained a partial screenshot of the full blacklist file from a source within Google. It reveals that the blacklist includes search terms related to both mass shootings and the progressive anti-second amendment activist David Hogg.

This suggests Google has followed the lead of Democrat politicians, who have repeatedly pushed tech companies to censor content related to the Parkland school shooting and the Parkland anti-gun activists. It’s part of a popular new line of thought in the political-media establishment, which views the public as too stupid to question conspiracy theories for themselves.

Here is the partial blacklist leaked to Breitbart:

2117 plane crash Russian

2118 plane crash

2119 an-148

2120 florida shooting conspiracy

2121 florida shooting crisis actors

2122 florida conspiracy

2123 florida false flag shooting

2124 florida false flag

2125 fake florida school shooting

2126 david hogg hoax

2127 david hogg fake

2128 david hogg crisis actor

2129 david hogg forgets lines

2130 david hogg forgets his lines

2131 david hogg cant remember his lines

2132 david hogg actor

2133 david hogg cant remember

2134 david hogg conspiracy

2135 david hogg exposed

2136 david hogg lines

2137 david hogg rehearsing

2120 florida shooting conspiracy

The full internal filepath of the blacklist, according to another source, is:

//depot/google3/googledata/superroot/youtube/youtube_controversial_query_blacklist

Contradictions

Responding to a request for comment, a YouTube spokeswoman said the company wants to promote “authoritative” sources in its search results, but maintained that YouTube is a “platform for free speech” that “allow[s]” both pro-life and pro-abortion content.

YouTube’s full comment:

YouTube is a platform for free speech where anyone can choose to post videos, as long as they follow our Community Guidelines, which prohibit things like inciting violence and pornography. We apply these policies impartially and we allow both pro-life and pro-choice opinions. Over the last year we’ve described how we are working to better surface news sources across our site for news-related searches and topical information. We’ve improved our search and discovery algorithms, built new features that clearly label and prominently surface news sources on our homepage and search pages, and introduced information panels to help give users more authoritative sources where they can fact check information for themselves.

In the case of the “abortion” search results, YouTube’s intervention to insert “authoritative” content resulted in the downranking of pro-life videos and the elevation of pro-abortion ones.

A Google spokesperson took a tougher line than its YouTube subsidiary, stating that “Google has never manipulated or modified the search results or content in any of its products to promote a particular political ideology.”

However, in the leaked discussion thread, a member of Google’s “trust & safety” team, Daniel Aaronson, admitted that the company maintains “huge teams” that work to adjust search results for subjects that are “prone to hyperbolic content, misleading information, and offensive content” – all subjective terms that are frequently used to suppress right-leaning sources.

He also admitted that the interventions weren’t confined to YouTube – they included search results delivered via Google Assistant, Google Home, and in rare cases Google ’s organic search results.

In the thread, Aaronson attempted to explain how search blacklisting worked. He claimed that highly specific searches would generate non-blacklisted results, even controversial ones. But the inclusion of highly specific terms in the YouTube blacklist, like “David Hogg cant remember his lines” – the name of an actual viral video – seems to contradict this.

Aaronson’s full post is copied below:

I work in Trust and Safety and while I have no particular input as to exactly what’s happening for YT I can try to explain why you’d have this kind of list and why people are finding lists like these on Code Search.

When dealing with abuse/controversial content on various mediums you have several levers to deal with problems. Two prominent levers are “Proactive” and “Reactive”:

  • Proactive: Usually refers to some type of algorithm/scalable solution to a general problem
    • E.g.: We don’t allow straight up porn on YouTube so we create a classifier that detects porn and automatically remove or flag for review the videos the porn classifier is most certain of
  • Reactive: Usually refers to a manual fix to something that has been brought to our attention that our proactive solutions don’t/didn’t work on and something that is clearly in the realm of bad enough to warrant a quick targeted solution (determined by pages and pages of policies worked on over many years and many teams to be fair and cover necessary scope)
    • E,g.: A website that used to be a good blog had it’s domain expire and was purchased/repurposed to spam Search results with autogenerated pages full of gibberish text, scraped images, and links to boost traffic to other spammy sites. It is manually actioned for violating policy

These Organic Search policies and the consequences to violating them are public

Manually reacting to things is not very scalable, and is not an ideal solution to most problems, so the proactive lever is really the one we all like to lean on. Ideally, our classifiers/algorithm are good at providing useful and rich results to our users while ignoring things at are not useful or not relevant. But we all know, this isn’t exactly the case all the time (especially on YouTube).

From a user perspective, there are subjects that are prone to hyperbolic content, misleading information, and offensive content. Now, these words are highly subjective and no one denies that. But we can all agree generally, lines exist in many cultures about what is clearly okay vs. what is not okay. E.g. a video of a puppy playing with a toy is probably okay in almost every culture or context, even if it’s not relevant to the query. But a video of someone committing suicide and begging others to follow in his/her footsteps is probably on the other side of the line for many folks.

While my second example is technically relevant to the generic query of “suicide”, that doesn’t mean that this is a very useful or good video to promote on the top of results for that query. So imagine a classifier that says, for any queries on a particular text file, let’s pull videos using signals that we historically understand to be strong indicators of quality (I won’t go into specifics here, but those signals do exist). We’re not manually curating these results, we’re just saying “hey, be extra careful with results for this query because many times really bad stuff can appear and lead to a bad experience for most users”. Ideally the proactive lever did this for us, but in extreme cases where we need to act quickly on something that is so obviously not okay, the reactive/manual approach is sometimes necessary. And also keep in mind, that this is different for every product. The bar for changing classifiers or manual actions on span in organic search is extremely high. However, the bar for things we let our Google Assistant say out loud might be a lot lower. If I search for “Jews run the banks” – I’ll likely find anti-semitic stuff in organic search. As a Jew, I might find some of these results offensive, but they are there for people to research and view, and I understand that this is not a reflection of Google feels about this issue. But if I ask Google assistant “Why do Jews run the banks” we wouldn’t be similarly accepting if it repeated and promoted conspiracy theories that likely pop up in organic search in her smoothing voice.

Whether we agree or not, user perception of our responses, results, and answers of different products and mediums can change. And I think many people are used to the fact that organic search is a place where content should be accessible no matter how offensive it might be, however, the expectation is very different on a Google Home, a Knowledge Panel, or even YouTube.

These lines are very difficult and can be very blurry, we are all well aware of this. So we’ve got huge teams that stay cognizant of these facts when we’re crafting policies considering classifier changes, or reacting with manual actions – these decisions are not made in a vacuum, but admittedly are also not made in a highly public forum like TGIF or IndustryInfo (as you can imagine, decisions/agreement would be hard to get in such a wide list – image if all your CL’s were reviewed by every engineer across Google all the time). I hope that answers some questions and gives a better layer of transparency without going into details about our “Pepsi formula”.

Best,

Daniel

The fact that Google manually curates politically contentious search results fits in with a wider pattern of political activity on the part of the tech giant.

In 2018, Breitbart News exclusively published a leaked video from the company that showed senior management in dismay at Trump’s election victory, and pledging to use the company’s power to make his populist movement a “hiccup” in history.

Breitbart also leaked “The Good Censor,” an internal research document from Google that admits the tech giant is engaged in the censorship of its own products, partly in response to political events.

Another leak revealed that employees within the company, including Google’s current director of Trust and Safety, tried to kick Breitbart News off Google’s market-dominating online ad platforms.

Yet another showed Google engaged in targeted turnout operations aimed to boost voter participation in pro-Democrat demographics in “key states” ahead of the 2016 election. The effort was dubbed a “silent donation” by a top Google employee.

Evidence for Google’s partisan activities is now overwhelming. President Trump has previously warned Google, as well as other Silicon Valley giants, not to engage in censorship or partisan activities. Google continues to defy him.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to [email protected].

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