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China vs. the US: The Struggle for Central Africa and the Congo

As China strives to build economic and trading links in Central Africa and the Congo, the US launches Hybrid War tactics to disrupt them.

Andrew Korybko

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China just secured one of the most important deals so far this century.  This is the $2.65 billion deal for the Tenke mine in the southeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC – hereafter referred to simply as the Congo).

The Financial Times has an informative write-up on the significance of this breakthrough agreement.  They forecast that it will make China the world leader in electric battery technology due to its control of over 62% of the global cobalt market.  The Financial Times expects demand for cobalt to spike by two-thirds in the next ten years.

Strategically speaking, this puts China at the forefront of the worldwide movement towards electric vehicles giving China, the unofficial leader of the global multipolar movement, an advantage over the US in attaining control over the future of personal, commercial, and military transport systems.

China’s problem is however that it receives 93% (or according to Bloomberg, 99%) of its cobalt from the Congo.  This means that China’s position as prospective global leader in the electric battery industry depends on the fragile stability of the Congo.  This is particularly problematic given that the US immediately began undermining the Congro from the moment it achieved independence in 1960.

The Congo is the setting of “Africa’s World War” of the 1990s. It is the graveyard of an estimated 5 million people who died as a result of that war.  Now once again the Congo is being pushed dangerously close to disaster because of the international intrigues that surround it.

This is not simply speculation.  The US and its affiliated unipolar information outlets have been busy preconditioning the world to expect a disaster in the Congo if its incumbent President, Joseph Kabila, fails to step down at the end of his second and constitutionally last term in office at the end of this year but instead indefinitely delays the upcoming vote and/or seeks to make changes to the constitution to allow him to run once more.

There’s no doubt that the Congo is in the US’s New Cold War crosshairs and that the country must brace for what could turn out to be another prolonged period of catastrophic conflict.  However what is happening in the Congo needs to be placed within its appropriate global context.

I shall therefore seek to explain in this article the central importance of the Congo to China’s grand strategy in Africa.  Once the importance of the country has been explained the reasons why the US might want to throw it into chaos will become clear.

I shall then set out to describe the indirect warfare that has been simmering around the Congo over the past year.

Finally, since these plans have so far completely failed, I shall consider in the last section of this article the various ways in which Washington is trying to strike directly at the Congo by manufacturing several Hybrid War scenarios in what is the geostrategic heartland of Africa.

Beijing’s Big Ambitions In Africa

Congo is back in the global headlines not because of its expected leadership transition (or lack thereof), but because of its significance to China in the context of the New Cold War.

China’s One Belt One Road vision of constructing “New Silk Roads”, or infrastructure corridors, across the world is well known.  However practically no-one has studied how this relates to Africa.  I sought to do this in a previous article for Oriental Review titled “East Africa’s Problems Might Spoil Its Silk Road Dreams”.  In that article I revealed that China is working hard to build two transoceanic trade routes linking Africa’s Indian Ocean and Atlantic Coasts. Though this goal has not been officially declared, it is fairly obvious that this is Beijing’s intention even if the two projects have not yet completed.

Northern Transoceanic African Route (NTAR):

The northern route is expected to be an intermodal route that will incorporate railroad and river infrastructure, linking Kenya’s Indian Ocean port of Mombasa either with the Congo’s Atlantic port of Matadi or the Republic of the Congo’s port of Pointe-Noire.

The Standard Gauge Railroad is currently planned to go from Mombasa to the Ugandan capital of Kampala. However it could thereafter be extended to the northeastern Congo city of Kisangani on the banks of the Congo River. From there, the world’s deepest river is navigable all the way down to the Congo’s capital of Kinshasa and its Republic of the Congo twin capital of Brazzaville.  From Kinshasa, it is just a short rail ride to the underdeveloped Atlantic port of Matadi. The rail trip from Brazzaville to Pointe-Noire is a longer but it ends at a more developed deep-sea port.

Inga 3 Dam:

The northern route has an added significance because of its near proximity to the future Chinese-constructed Inga 3 Dam, which The Guardian estimates will on completion be the largest of its kind in the world. According to The Guardian this mega project will be able to provide 40% of Africa’s electricity needs because of its potential to generate as much power as twenty nuclear reactors.

Although the Dam’s construction has yet to begin, it could begin as early as the end of this year.  It is expected that this colossal feat of engineering could one day allow China and its Congolese partner to wield multipolar influence across most of West and Central Africa.

Given its geostrategic importance it should come as no surprise that this project is coming under heavy Western NGO criticism supposedly because of its environmental impact and the fact that upwards of 35,000 people might have to be relocated because of it.

If the US fails to force Kabila to step down at the end of his term, allowing for his replacement by a more reliable pro-Western leader, then the fallback position is to prepare the ground for an attack on the project by “disgruntled villagers and/or rebels” who would attack it in any of various Hybrid War scenario.

Southern Transoceanic African Route (STAR):

The southern route is already partly covered by the TAZARA railway built by the Chinese in the 1970s, which links the Tanzanian coast near Tanzania’s biggest city Dar es Salaam to the copper-rich regions of central Zambia.

From there other railway infrastructure had been independently built through the mineral-rich southeastern Congolese region of Katanga, which is nowadays administratively subdivided into several smaller administrative regions, but which still retains a strong sense of a distinct unified identity.

The Katangan railroads used to be linked to Angola’s Benguela railway.  However over the decades they have fallen into disrepair and have yet to be put back into service.  As for the Benguela railway, it too was out of commission for decades – in fact since the start of Angola’s bloody civil war in the 1970s – and has only recently been modernised and brought back into service with recent pivotal help from China.

The Katangan railways will not be the only rail connections to Benguela and hence to the Atlantic.  China also plans extending the TAZARA railway from central Zambia to the Angolan-Congolese junction via its North West Railroad project.

No fewer than 7 African countries are connected to these two projects, with 3 others (Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi) being so closely connected that their stability is critical to these projects’ viability.

It is the situation in these 3 states and in the Republic of the Congo (“Congo Brazzaville”) which will be the subject of my discussion in the next section of this article.  In that section I will explain how the US sought to use indirect warfare to block China’s Transoceanic African Routes before resorting to its project of directly destabilising the Congo.

Indirect Warfare

In my study “The Law Of Hybrid War” I explained that “the grand objective behind every Hybrid War is to disrupt multipolar transnational connective projects through externally provoked identity conflicts (ethnic, religious, regional, political, etc.) within a targeted transit state”. However sometimes the US is willing to accept the existence of a particular project if it believes it can in time influence and/or control it.

The Northern and Southern Transoceanic African Routes are Chinese projects which would benefit China.  However they also have the potential to be used by India and other countries to extend their influence in this region as well.  To that end the US sees a benefit in having China foot the bill for these projects, which the US hopes one day to exploit for its own and its allies’ purposes.

Destabilizing With Discretion:

The US is not however blind to the risk that China is constructing trade routes that the US’s allies might eventually become dependent upon. If China retains control of these routes it will give China significant leverage over the US’s allies.

The US accordingly has sought to ‘put the brakes’ on China’s plans – in other words to disrupt these two projects – to the extent that they are only partially completed, so that whilst the US and its allies benefit from the projects, they are not fully realised in a way that will give China predominant influence in Central Africa.

This explains why the US initially focused on destabilising ‘peripheral’ areas situated in the vicinity of these two projects in places such as Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, and the Republic of the Congo (“Congo Brazzaville”) rather than seek to disrupt them directly at their source in Kenya’s and Tanzania’s coastal regions.

A further factor is that Kenya and Tanzania have traditionally close and longstanding ties with US-ally India, which is Kenya’s second-largest import partner and Tanzania’s top import and export one. Destabilising Kenya and Tanzania would also disrupt India’s “Cotton Route” counter to China’s New Silk Road (though recent events in Kenya suggest the US might be willing to risk even that).

Burundi, Rwanda, and Malawi:

A glance at the situation of the four ‘peripheral’ countries – Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and the Republic of the Congo (“Congo Brazzaville”) – appears to confirm a pattern of destabilisation attempts directed at preventing the expansion of the two Transoceanic African Routes.

I have previously discussed the Western-concocted unrest in Burundi in an earlier article I wrote for Oriental Review entitled “EU To Burundi: Regime Change Trumps Anti-Terror Help”.  In that article I explained that behind the unrest was – at least in part – a scheme to spark a regional conflagration that would inevitably have sucked in Rwanda and which would have led to the use of “Weapons Of Mass Migration” spilling across the region into Uganda and Tanzania.  Such a conflagration would also undoubtedly have had – and was intended to have – a profoundly aggravating effect on the already existing low-intensity conflicts in the Congo’s two provinces of Ituri and North & South Kivu.

The effect of such a region wide destabilisation of the territories around East Africa’s Great Lakes would have been to disrupt the development of China’s Transoceanic African Routes in the area of the East African Community and to prevent their linkage to the Atlantic.

Malawi was the target of a planned destabilisation attempt of a different sort, being the target of a planned coup organised by the US and Germany.  This was only averted at the last moment as a result of a series of high-profile arrests which predictably were Western-condemned. The plan was to use the coup appointed government to foment regional tension,  triggering a civil war between the northern and southern parts of the country.  That would in turn have unleashed “Weapons of Mass Migration” into Tanzania. 

Conceivably this scheme was conceived in combination with the unrest in Burundi with the objective of making the extension of TAZARA railway unviable.

The Republic of the Congo (“Congo Brazzaville”):

The US has been seeking to disrupt development of the second access/terminal point of the Northern Transoceanic African Route by disabling the Congo-Ocean Railway between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

Analyst Gearoid O’Colmain has done an excellent job raising awareness about the incipient Color Revolution that the US tried unsuccessfully to foster in the Republic of Congo in pursuit of this objective.  Details of the plot can be found in his writing.  Briefly, the US and France (the latter the Republic of Congo’s former colonial master) sought to foment unrest in the Republic of Congo in order to trigger a return to the country’s 1990s-era civil war.

This scheme was eventually thwarted by the Republic of Congo government.  However whilst it was underway the Western aligned media spent months presenting the Republic of the Congo as Africa’s latest conflict hotspot. 

The strategic objective was not just to replace President Nguesso with a pliant Western puppet.  It was to drive Chinese influence out of the country and to render it impossible for China to use the Republic of Congo’s territory as a complementary alternative to the Kinshasa-Matadi railway for the Northern Transoceanic African Route.

If the plot had succeeded the whole Northern Transoceanic African Route would have become completely dependent on the maintenance of stability in Kinshasa.  Given the long history of instability in the Congo and in Kinshasa and the strong potential for a Western inspired Colour Revolution there, that would have reduced the prospects of the whole project dramatically.

Assessing The Plots:

An objective assessment of the various plots discussed in the previous section would conclude (1) that they were an attempt by the US to sabotage the two Transoceanic African Routes through conflict instigation in Burundi, Malawi, and the Republic of the Congo and (2) that the attempt failed.

The residents of Bujumbura – Burundi’s capital – proved resistant to the temptations to return their country to a state of genocidal civil war. The vigilance of the authorities in Malawi meant that the planned coup there was stopped in its tracks.  Finally, the government of the Republic of the Congo managed to crush the planned Colour Revolution there, forestalling the return of Hybrid War to their country.

The result of the failure of all these plots is that the Northern Transoceanic African Route’s second terminus/access point in the Republic of the Congo (“Congo Brazzaville”) remains open.

This gives China a much-needed alternative to Matadi in case a crisis in Kinshasa ever arises.

The Third Congo Crisis

US failures in the peripheral states of Burundi. Malawi and the Republic of the Congo (“Congo Brazzaville”) have focused attention on the Congo itself.  In order to contain the development of China’s Transoceanic African Routes, it seems as though Washington is now intent on destabilising the Congo – Africa’s geopolitical heartland.

Successfully doing so would for Washington serve various objectives.  First it would sabotage China’s two great transcontinental route projects.  Secondly, the renewal of conflict in the Congo would jeopardise China’s cobalt trade, defeating Beijing’s plan to make China the world’s leader in electric battery technology.

The trigger for renewed conflict in the Congo is President Kabila’s presumed desire to continue ruling the country after his mandate expires at the end of the year.

This is very similar to what was attempted in Burundi where the trigger for last year’s protests was President Pierre Nkurunzina’s intention to stand for a further term.  This makes it possible that last year’s crisis in Burundi was a test run for what is being planned for the Congo.

Congo has already been the epicentre of two other globally reported crises.  The first was the First Congo Crisis from 1960-1965.  The second was the Second Congo Crisis from 1996-2003.  With Congo on the verge of yet another crisis, which has the potential to descend into renewed civil war, a Third Congo Crisis may be pending.  The origins of this crisis are the US’s attempts to “contain” China in Africa.

Colour Revolution In Kinshasa:

Assuming the US plans a Hybrid War scenario for the Congo if Kabila tries to hang on, either by delaying upcoming elections or amending the constitution, the Third Congo Crisis could ‘naturally’ begin with a Colour Revolution in Kinshasa.  There has already been a pattern of  provocations recently that might be preparing the ground for such a scenario in Kinshasa and Goma.  The objective is to install a pro-Western or Western-friendly leader who would give the US indirect control over China’s cobalt trade and influence over China’s planned Transoceanic African Route projects.

The individual envisioned for this role is former Katanga governor and millionaire businessman Moise Katumbi.

The Congolese authorities last month charged Katumbi with hiring mercenaries (including ‘former’ US soldiers).  Katumbi subsequently fled to South Africa and thence to London for “medical treatment”.  It is likely that whilst in London he will lobby hard for Western backing, presenting himself as a “democratic leader” who is being “politically harassed” by a “dictatorship”. 

Whilst abroad Katumbi will undoubtedly forge closer contacts with Western intelligence agencies, as well as the secret services of allied African “partners”, in order to prepare the planned Colour Revolution aimed at bringing down President Joseph Kabila’s government.

Cutting Katanga Out Of The Congo:

Should the plan for a Colour Revolution in the Congo fail, there is also a possible “Plan B”.  This is to revive Katanga’s historic claim to secession from the Congo.  Katumbi could return to lead an insurgency in Katanga backed by an army of foreign mercenaries.

This would be a repeat of the mechanism used by the US and Belgium during the First Congo Crisis in the weeks immediately following the country’s 1960 independence to destabilise the leftist Congolese government of Patrice Lumumba.  On that occasion that was done by engineering a secessionist rebellion in Katanga under the leadership of Moise Tshombe.  The key difference on this occasion is that a major non-Western country – China – now has very important mining investments in the four southeastern provinces that used to comprise this formerly unified area of Katanga.

An independent Katanga might not impede China’s cobalt trade or its two Southern Transoceanic African Routes.  The decision whether or not to cooperate with China would rest with whatever independent Katanga government was formed.  On the assumption that it would be led by Katumbi the decision would be his.

However an attempt by Katanga to secede would certainly provoke another war.  That in itself would cause massive disruption, disrupting China’s cobalt trade and obstructing work on its Transoceanic African Route projects. The situation might be similar to what happened in Libya in 2011 when the outbreak of war caused the mass evacuation of Chinese citizens and China’s abandonment of its capital projects.

Of course in such a scenario there is also the possibility that – unlike in Libya – China might act to defend its interests.  Whilst this would be a major break with China’s normally passive policy, China’s newly promulgated African policy might encourage China to a policy of “Leading From Behind” – assisting the Congolese Armed Forces, and possibly their regional allies as well by providing material, intelligence, and advisory support.

China must certainly be aware that if a Katumbi-led  secessionist movement were to succeed in establishing a pro-Western “independent” Katanga, then there would be a serious risk that Chinese companies would eventually be expelled from the country on any of various pretexts – such as that China supported Katumbi’s – and therefore Katanga’s – “enemies” in Kinshasa.

One way or the other, a revival of the Katanga separatist campaign has the potential to be as destabilising to this part of Africa as the rise of Daesh has been in the Middle East.

Great Lakes, Greater Conflicts:

Another potential fault line is the eastern Congo. This has historically been the most unstable part of the country.  It was here that the Second Congo Crisis (essentially a series of back-to-back civil and international wars) had it roots.

There are unresolved situations in Ituri and North & South Kivu Provinces.  All these territories have the potential to burst again into civil war.  A major destabilising factor in this area is the presence of dozens of Rwandan and Ugandan militias, some pro- and some anti- government, including Islamist militias and what are called “Allied Democratic Forces”.

The $24 trillion of untapped minerals in this region – sometimes called the eastern Great Lakes Region – have been taken hostage by these militias and by corrupt elements within the government.

This is the area that produces many of what are subsequently branded “conflict minerals” – a fact that limits their sale by making them ethically undesirable despite their irreplaceable role in modern-day cell phone technology

The tremendous mineral wealth of the eastern Congo makes it one of the most geostrategically important regions of the world.  Instability there directly impacts on global mineral and technology markets.

Nowadays a sort of cold peace is in place there with foreign customers buying access to the region’s resources either from the Ugandan and Rwandan state sponsors of some of the local militias, or from the Congolese government, or informally work through rebel intermediaries and corrupt officials.

However, should the region slide back into violence – which is very possible – this would not only disrupt trade flows.  It could also potentially create a situation where one actor might gain control of all the region’s colossal mineral wealth.  This would give that actor a massively preponderant position in the globally vital cell phone technology market.

For the time being the existing de-facto division of the region between Ugandan, Rwandan, and Congolese government-affiliated militias and ‘rogue’ non-state actors has created a sort of uneasy balance of economic-military forces.  This has prevented any one actor from gaining dominance.  However should Kinshasa ever regain full control over the Congo’s eastern territories, then – provided Kinshasa properly leveraged the advantages accruing from this mineral wealth and managed that wealth properly – the Congo could quickly rise to become Africa’s dominant continental power.

Due to the magnitude of what is at stake in geostrategic and economic terms, a renewal of conflict in the African Great Lakes Region easily has the potential to become a global crisis.   This would be particularly the case if such a conflict were sparked by the unfolding of a regime change scenario in the Congo.

The US has a range of reasons for wanting this to happen.  These include (1) disrupting the existing mineral flow out of the Congo, thereby weakening China’s industrial capacity and (2) gaining control of this mineral rich area in a way that consolidates its hegemonic control in Central Africa and its dominant position in the high technology and cell phone communications industries.

The US would of course experience considerable ‘collateral damage’ in the event of the Congo’s third possible collapse since independence.  It might however calculate – however cynically – that it has more to gain than it has to lose, especially if it views such a conflict purely in the context of its global duel with China.

Concluding Thoughts

China is pulling off big moves in the Congo: the Northern Transoceanic African Route megaprojects, the Inga 3 Dam and the purchase of the Tenke cobalt mine.

These initiatives complement each other.  They make the Congo potentially one of China’s top international partners. 

These three projects in what is Africa’s continental heartland provide China with a strong foundation for projecting multipolar influence throughout the rest of Africa.  Potentially this could allow China to reshape this area of Africa, transforming the Congo – historically one of the weakest states in Africa – within a generation into a stable beacon of prosperity.

However the Congo still has a long way to go before this comes anywhere close to happening.  It is precisely during this developmental period that the Congo is most vulnerable to US Hybrid War schemes.

The leadership transition planned for the end of this year might be indefinitely delayed or avoided if President Kabila succeeds in amending the constitution to run for a third term. The US is however already exploiting this situation to prepare for a Colour Revolution in the Congo.  Should that fail the US could look to other options even though their potential for disruption is vast.  One would be to use former Katanga governor Moise Katumbi to reignite Katanga’s historic separatist campaign in a repeat of what happened in the First Congo Crisis of the 1960s. Another, occurring either in parallel or independently of any crisis in Katanga, would be to reignite conflict in the Congo’s eastern provinces of Ituri and North & South Kivu in a way that would resemble what happened at the start of the Second Congo Crisis of the 1990s.

The worst-case scenario would be for both conflicts to merge into a single all-encompassing conflict involving the whole Congo. The resulting chaos of what would then be the Third Congo Crisis would dwarf that of its two predecessors.

Needless to say such a disaster would risk internationalising the conflict, ushering in what would in effect be Africa’s “Second World War”.  That would totally upend China’s continental strategy. China’s Northern and Southern Transoceanic African Routes would be dead in their tracks, and Kinshasa would have a lot more urgent things to worry about than construction of the Inga 3 Dam.  As for Katanga, whether mired in war or reunited as a nominally independent pro-Western state, it would cease to be a reliable cobalt supplier to China.  

An untold amount of human suffering and misery would accompany any large-scale outbreak of violence in the Congo.  However from a US grand strategic perspective, it might all be worth if it succeeds in “containing” China. 

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BuzzFeed pushes fake Michael Cohen news, as real news breaks on HUGE conspiracy against Trump at FBI and DOJ (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 169.

Alex Christoforou

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According to Zerohedge, in an almost unprecedented event – having rarely commented on stories related to the special counsel’s investigation – Robert S. Mueller III’s office put out a statement firmly disputing the reporting of the news site BuzzFeed reported that the president instructed his personal attorney to lie to Congress about his push for a Moscow real estate project

BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” the special counsel’s office said.

As The Hill reports, BuzzFeed had released a statement earlier Friday defending the reporters behind the story and saying that it “stands by this story 100%,” and for his part, Cohen adviser Lanny Davis refused to confirm or deny the report during an interview with MSNBC on Friday afternoon.

President Trump retweeted a few social media reactions…

And then made his own views clear:

Meanwhile the real election collusion bombshell had nothing to do with Russia, Moscow hotels, or Michael Cohen, and everything to do with bullet proof evidence that DOJ official, Bruce Ohr, warned all the higher-ups at the FBI and DOJ (Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe, etc…) that the Steele dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton, and was extremely biased against Donald Trump.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how BuzzFeed pushed out a clear, fake propaganda story on Trump, Cohen, and more stupidity about Moscow hotel deals, as real reporter, John Solomon broke a massive story, with solid evidence and facts, that show the FBI and DOJ knew that the Steele dossier was a complete work of fiction, and knowingly hide that fact from FISA courts.

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

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Authored by John Solomon, via The Hill

When the annals of mistakes and abuses in the FBI’s Russia investigation are finally written, Bruce Ohr almost certainly will be the No. 1 witness, according to my sources.

The then-senior Department of Justice (DOJ) official briefed both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased.

Ohr’s briefings, in July and August 2016, included the deputy director of the FBI, a top lawyer for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and a Justice official who later would become the top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller.

At the time, Ohr was the associate deputy attorney general. Yet his warnings about political bias were pointedly omitted weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that the FBI obtainedfrom a federal court, granting it permission to spy on whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the 2016 presidential election.

Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day.

They also contradict a key argument that House Democrats have made in their formal intelligence conclusions about the Russia case.

Since it was disclosed last year that Steele’s dossier formed a central piece of evidence supporting the FISA warrant, Justice and FBI officials have been vague about exactly when they learned that Steele’s work was paid for by the law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

A redacted version of the FISA application released last year shows the FBI did not mention any connection to the DNC or Clinton. Rather, it referred to Steele as a reliable source in past criminal investigations who was hired by a person working for a U.S. law firm to conduct research on Trump and Russia.

The FBI claimed it was “unaware of any derogatory information” about Steele, that Steele was “never advised … as to the motivation behind the research” but that the FBI  “speculates” that those who hired Steele were “likely looking for information to discredit” Trump’s campaign.

Yet, in testimony last summer to congressional investigators, Ohr revealed the FBI and Justice lawyers had no need to speculate: He explicitly warned them in a series of contacts, beginning July 31, 2016, that Steele expressed biased against Trump and was working on a project connected to the Clinton campaign.

Ohr had firsthand knowledge about the motive and the client: He had just met with Steele on July 30, 2016, and Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the same firm employing Steele.

“I certainly told the FBI that Fusion GPS was working with, doing opposition research on Donald Trump,” Ohr told congressional investigators, adding that he warned the FBI that Steele expressed bias during their conversations.

“I provided information to the FBI when I thought Christopher Steele was, as I said, desperate that Trump not be elected,” he added. “So, yes, of course I provided that to the FBI.”

When pressed why he would offer that information to the FBI, Ohr answered: “In case there might be any kind of bias or anything like that.” He added later, “So when I provided it to the FBI, I tried to be clear that this is source information, I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware.”

Ohr went further, saying he disclosed to FBI agents that his wife and Steele were working for the same firm and that it was conducting the Trump-Russia research project at the behest of Trump’s Democratic rival, the Clinton campaign.

“These guys were hired by somebody relating to, who’s related to the Clinton campaign and be aware,” Ohr told Congress, explaining what he warned the bureau.

Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented both the DNC and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election, belatedly admitted it paid Fusion GPS for Steele’s work on behalf of the candidate and party and disguised the payments as legal bills when, in fact, it was opposition research.

When asked if he knew of any connection between the Steele dossier and the DNC, Ohr responded that he believed the project was really connected to the Clinton campaign.

“I didn’t know they were employed by the DNC but I certainly said yes that they were working for, you know, they were somehow working, associated with the Clinton campaign,” he answered.

“I also told the FBI that my wife worked for Fusion GPS or was a contractor for GPS, Fusion GPS.”

Ohr divulged his first contact with the FBI was on July 31, 2016, when he reached out to then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI attorney Lisa Page. He then was referred to the agents working Russia counterintelligence, including Peter Strzok, the now-fired agent who played a central role in starting the Trump collusion probe.

But Ohr’s contacts about the Steele dossier weren’t limited to the FBI. He said in August 2016 — nearly two months before the FISA warrant was issued — that he was asked to conduct a briefing for senior Justice officials.

Those he briefed included Andrew Weissmann, then the head of DOJ’s fraud section; Bruce Swartz, longtime head of DOJ’s international operations, and Zainab Ahmad, an accomplished terrorism prosecutor who, at the time, was assigned to work with Lynch as a senior counselor.

Ahmad and Weissmann would go on to work for Mueller, the special prosecutor overseeing the Russia probe.

Ohr’s extensive testimony also undercuts one argument that House Democrats sought to make last year.

When Republicans, in early 2018, first questioned Ohr’s connections to Steele, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sought to minimize the connection, insisting he only worked as an informer for the FBI after Steele was fired by the FBI in November 2016.

The memo from Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) team claimed that Ohr’s contacts with the FBI only began “weeks after the election and more than a month after the Court approved the initial FISA application.”

But Ohr’s testimony now debunks that claim, making clear he started talking to FBI and DOJ officials well before the FISA warrant or election had occurred.

And his detailed answers provide a damning rebuttal to the FBI’s portrayal of the Steele material.

In fact, the FBI did have derogatory information on Steele: Ohr explicitly told the FBI that Steele was desperate to defeat the man he was investigating and was biased.

And the FBI knew the motive of the client and did not have to speculate: Ohr told agents the Democratic nominee’s campaign was connected to the research designed to harm Trump’s election chances.

Such omissions are, by definition, an abuse of the FISA system.

Don’t take my word for it. Fired FBI Director James Comey acknowledged it himself when he testified last month that the FISA court relies on an honor system, in which the FBI is expected to divulge exculpatory evidence to the judges.

“We certainly consider it our obligation, because of our trust relationship with federal judges, to present evidence that would paint a materially different picture of what we’re presenting,” Comey testified on Dec. 7, 2018. “You want to present to the judge reviewing your application a complete picture of the evidence, both its flaws and its strengths.”

Comey claims he didn’t know about Ohr’s contacts with Steele, even though his top deputy, McCabe, got the first contact.

But none of that absolves his FBI, or the DOJ for that matter, from failing to divulge essential and exculpatory information from Ohr to the FISA court.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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The ISIS attack in Syria appears to have failed in its real mission

ISIS probably tried to get Mr. Trump to keep troops in Syria, but in reality this attack shows no compelling reason to remain there.

Seraphim Hanisch

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ISIS is one of the bloodiest, most brutal organizations to ever exist in modern history. During its meteoric rise, the “Caliphate” struck with death and fear across the deserts of Iraq and the wastes of Syria, seducing a seemingly increasing number of recruits from the West, developing its own currency and financing abilities, all the while remaining a death cult, in the conviction that their eventual destruction would trigger a far greater Islamic uprising.

But something changed for them starting in about 2013. While ISIS got quietly aided and abetted by President Obama’s (perhaps not unwitting) support through neglect and then even quieter collaboration (Obama thought ISIS could be “managed” in the effort to oust Bashar Al-Assad from Syria), its power and reach extended through much of Syria.

But then came Russia. Russia didn’t think ISIS should be managed. Russia determined that ISIS should be destroyed. And in 2015, invited by Syria, the Russians came and went to work. They did most of the heavy lifting in terms of driving ISIS back, while (inconveniently for the US and West) also carefully taking back Syrian territory from antigovernment groups that were supported by the US and its coalition of forces operating in the country, including Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and all the names it took on afterwards. This was quietly carried out because the Americans also had face to save, owing to Obama’s clumsy decision to send American forces into the country, which gradually grew and metastasized into a significantly sized fighting force.

With an extremely complicated group of alliances and enemies, the American forces were forced to quietly abandon their mission of removing Bashar al-Assad from power and to pivot to actually destroying ISIS. President Trump does deserve some credit for his part in helping this to happen. He also deserves a lot of credit for his recent decision to pull American troops out of Syria.

This move was severely condemned by the US hawks, resulting in the resignation / firing / retirement of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and, in an amusing show of hypocrisy, the pundits from the Anti-Trump crowd at CNN and other news outlets characterized this decision as the US President proving once and for all that he is a Putin operative, a real-life Manchurian President.

ISIS evidently wanted the US not to leave either, so it conducted an attack on Wednesday, January 16th, tragically killing 19 people, with four Americans among the dead. The New York Times was lightning-fast to jump into the fray to carry out what was probably ISIS’ real mission with this attack: to sow seeds of doubt among the US authorities, and to keep American forces in the region (emphasis added).

Four Americans were among 19 people killed in Syria on Wednesday in a suicide bombing that was claimed by the Islamic State, just weeks after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of United States forces and declared that the extremist group had been defeated.

The attack targeted an American military convoy in the northern city of Manbij while troops were inside the Palace of the Princes, a restaurant where they often stopped to eat during patrols, residents said. While the Americans were inside, a nearby suicide attacker wearing an explosive vest blew himself up.

The bombing raised new questions about Mr. Trump’s surprise decision last month to end the American ground war in Syria. Critics of the president’s plans, including members of his own party, said Mr. Trump’s claim of victory over the Islamic State may have emboldened its fighters and encouraged Wednesday’s strike… Mr. Trump’s withdrawal announcement, made over the objections of his top national security officials, “set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a prominent Trump ally who has nonetheless criticized the military drawdown.

“I saw this in Iraq. And I’m now seeing it in Syria,” Mr. Graham said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

The rest of the article, of course, had the Trump Administration defending itself, with Vice President Mike Pence as the spokesman of that defense.

However, already only two days later, the noise about this seems to have faded. There is no ongoing media fury about the President’s decision to remove troops. In fact, aside from the ongoing investigation to confirm that ISIS indeed did carry out this attack, there is no indication of a change in the troop withdrawal process.

If this situation remains as it is, it is a very good sign for these reasons:

  1. President Trump is showing his resolve and confidence in a decision he knows to be right (to withdraw) and not to accede to the War Party wishes.
  2. ISIS is losing its reputation as a significant fighting force as far as the US population is concerned, as it probably should. With the US gone, Russia can prosecute this war full force without risk of creating more serious incidents with the Americans.
  3. The possibility exists that this attack, already heinous in what we know, could have been a false flag, designed specifically to provoke the US troop withdrawal to stop and be reversed.

This last scenario has oddly not been visibly mentioned, but it should be, because it probably happened in April 2018 and earlier. The Duran covered this quite extensively, and while the “official” (Western) investigation has come up curiously silent on the alleged chemical weapons attack last April in Ghouta, the overwhelming body of reports from the region suggested that the “gas” attack was nothing at all but drama to keep the US ensnared in the region. Remember, President Trump at that time also expressed the intention of withdrawing US troops from the area, and this event caused a reversal for a time.

ISIS tried to become a nation. It operates on terror and theater, but it considers itself free to kill people along the way as it creates its pageantry. For the souls of all those innocent people who perished in this attack, we must pray and not forget.

But ISIS is substantially done, and what is left will be dealt with by Russian and Syrian forces.

For once, the definition of “American courage” might be not to fight. President Trump’s decision to remove the troops remains one of the most significant achievements of his presidency, and one of the most important in terms of restoring balance to the United States that it deserves to have.

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