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CONFIRMED: Iraq signs military cooperation agreement with Iran

America’s plan to divide and conquer Iraq continues to backfire spectacularly as Iraq’s Defence Minister arrives in Tehran to sign a memorandum for future military cooperation.

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Ever since Iraq restored a measure of self-government after the illegal 2003 invasion and occupation of the country which saw US and UK troops overthrow the Ba’ath party of former President Saddam Hussein, one witnessed the seemingly odd spectre of a government that came to power on the shoulders of an American war, adopt openly pro-Iranian positions on matters of intelligence sharing, economic cooperation, cultural cooperation and later, military cooperation.

The United States has not had formal diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980 and almost every US President from Reagan to Trump has made various threats against Iran. For all of the anti-Saddam Hussein fervour in the west dating from 1990 to the posthumous narrative that the west promotes about the former Iraqi President, throughout the 1980s, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a close ally of the west with Iran as a mutual enemy.

The west actively armed Iraq when Saddam Hussein waged war on Iran throughout the 1980s, this included the provision of western made chemical weapons which Iraq used on Iran during the war.

Now though, the situation has turned 180 degrees. Whereas Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a sworn enemy of Iran and had very poor relations with Syria stemming from the Ba’ath Party split of 1966, today Iraq is an ally of both while America loathes Iran and has been trying to overthrow the Syrian government ever since 2011.

The overall effect is that there are now two technical allies of the United States, both with a large number of US bases on their soil that have good relations with America’s number one Middle East foe, Iran. There is Qatar which is developing a pragmatic relationship with Iran while earning the wrath of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in the process and then there is Iraq.

Days ago, Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki said that he does not want US bases in his country and that it was Iraq forces and Shi’a militas who beat ISIS rather than the United States Air Force.

READ MORE: IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT–NO US BASES IN MY COUNTRY!

Today, Iraqi Defence Minister Major General Erfan al-Hiyali meet with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran,  Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan and signed a memorandum of agreement on future military cooperation.

IRNA news agency reports that the content of the memorandum includes,

“The expansion of cooperation and sharing experiences in the fields of fight against terrorism and extremism, border security, training, logistics, technical and military supports were included”.

Iran helped to train Iraqi fighters and volunteers and provide on the ground assistance during much of Iraq’s fight against ISIS and continues to do so. Yet the US Air force also worked with Iraq, even though the leading Iraqi politicians have tended to downplay America’s role in the operation.

Iran due to its spiritual ties to the Shi’a leadership currently in Baghdad and its geographical proximity to Iraq is just about the only major country that could hope to bring stability back to Iraq. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Iraqi government seeks a deep and wide partnership with Tehran for the foreseeable future. Even Iraq’s recent overtures to Russia are symptomatic of Baghdad’s desire to have ever closer relations with Iran. This is the case because Russia-Iran relations are currently at an historical high and unlike America, Russia is a super-power that has no problem with an Iraqi partnership with Iran or with Syria for that matter. In this sense, when it comes to relations with a super-power, Russia is more amenable to Iraq’s current geo-strategic position vis-a-vis the United States.

For Iraq, the message is becoming increasingly clear. The future that the Baghdad government wants is one where America and Turkey vacate the country, where Kurds refrain from declaring independence, where Iran is Iraq’s major regional partner and Syria is a close second and moreover, it is a future where the closest super-power to Iraq is not the US but Russia.

But where does this leave the United States? 

The following map shows current US bases inside Iraq, with many of them very close to the Iranian border.

In a sane world the ties that both Washington and Tehran have with Iraq could be a means of de-escalating tensions between America and Iran, but due to the prevailing political climate in both Washington and Tel Aviv, this rational option is something of an impossibility.

Some political leaders in the United States display something that can be defined as ‘Iraq Fatigue’. Knowing that the 2003 invasion turned out to be disastrous and that subsequent actions against ISIS have been far more taxing than expected, some in the US would rather the ‘Iraq issue’ simply go away. During the campaign Donald Trump seemed to display this ‘Iraq Fatigue’. In many speeches he was deeply critical of the 2003 war in Iraq and the money the US subsequently spent during the occupation.

However, due to the sheer amounts of money spent by the United States on its continued presence in Iraq and due to the fact that detente with Iran is if anything a more distant possibility under Donald Trump than order Barack Obama, there is a grave danger that America will seek to prolong its presence in Iraq, thus provoking Iran and retarding Baghdad’s progress as an independent nation that wants good relations with its neighbour to the east. In this sense Donald Trump’s statements on the region offer more confusion than clarity in this respect.

All of this of course could have been avoided if the United States did not illegally remove the anti-Iranian Saddam Hussein from power, but of course that is no longer an option.

If the US did as most Iraqis want and left the country, it would in many ways be America’s most dramatic exit from a country since the infamous vacating of South Vietnam in 1975.

Thus far, nothing in Iraq has gone according to the official plans of the United States. Even the unofficial, yet prima facie plan of dividing and conquering Iraq has backfired as it has led to the formation of a government which openly cooperates with Iran.

Was this incredibly short-sighted strategy from the United States or was it part of a longer plan to draw Iran into a a conflict in Iraq where US military personnel are sitting around ready for a would be fight with Iran?

This question which continues to haunt many Iraqis will be answered in time. One can only hope that America realises that in Iraq they are unwanted by the pro-Iranian government as much as they were by the anti-Iranian Ba’athist Government in 2003.

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And we haven’t heard from Nutty-Yahoo because he’s too busy frothing and spitting?

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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