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Events in Armenia: not a ‘colour revolution’

The political crisis in Armenia had clear internal causes and is unlikely in the long term to effect Armenia’s close relationship with Russia

Alexander Mercouris

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One of the great problems caused by the US’s ‘colour revolution/regime change’ policy is that it is sometimes difficult to separate a genuine political crisis and real protests from US confected ones.

Recent events in Armenia provide a good example.

Over the last week Armenia’s has been hit by a massive wave of protests following the ruling party’s attempt to appoint Armenia’s longstanding leader and former President Serzh Sargsyan to the post of executive Prime Minister.

The protests, which took place in several cities including the capital Yerevan and in which by some accounts some members of the military joined in, eventually led to the forced resignation of Prime Minister Sargsyan and of his government.

Talks are now underway on setting up a new government.

Comparisons with the events in Ukraine in 2013-2014 are irresistible, and many see in the events in Armenia a repeat of those events, with a ‘pro-Russian’ leader – Sargsyan – ousted by pro-Western protesters in what is essentially a ‘colour revolution’ coup orchestrated by the US.

In my opinion this comparison is misleading and is almost certainly wrong.

First of all, it should be said that Sargsyan can indeed be described as ‘pro-Russian’ if by that is meant someone with strong personal ties to the Russian leadership who has led Armenia on a course of integration into the Russian led Eurasian institutions.

That the Russian leadership sees in Sargsyan a friend is shown by the extraordinarily warm letter of congratulation Russian President Putin sent to him on his appointment as Prime Minister.  According to the Kremlin’s website parts of it read as follows

Your appointment to this responsible post reaffirms your high political authority and broad support for the reforms aimed at solving the socioeconomic challenges facing Armenia.

I am certain that your activities as head of government will facilitate the further consolidation of friendly, allied relations between our countries and the continuation of mutually beneficial integration processes in Eurasia.

I would like to reaffirm our interest in close cooperation on pressing international and regional issues

By comparison Viktor Yanukovich – the Ukrainian President who was ousted by the Maidan coup – was in no sense ‘pro-Russian’.  His relations with the Russian leadership and with President Putin personally were bad and far from integrating Ukraine into the Russian led Eurasian institutions he resisted doing so.  On the contrary it was his government which negotiated Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU.

However the key difference is in the attitudes of the protesters.  In Ukraine the Maidan protesters were outspokenly and vehemently hostile to Russia.  Indeed it was hostility to Russia and the issue of Ukraine’s relationship with Russia which was the driving force behind the protests.

By contrast there is no evidence of hostility to Russia playing any role in the anti-Sargsyan protests at all.  Nor does the question of Armenia’s relationship with Russia appear to have played any role in the protests.

The simple fact is that though Sargsyan has been Armenia’s leader for a long time, many Armenians have become increasingly unhappy with him, and disaffection towards him has been growing for some time.

This was explained at length two years ago during an earlier much more violent protest outbreak in Armenia by Rafael Babikian writing for The Duran

The Armenian public and diaspora were left with mixed feelings about the violent methods adopted by the gunmen. People defined the group by a wide range of terms, calling them anything from ultranationalists to “Armenia’s last hope”. But what’s interesting is that most of those who did not condone the methods, did agree with the gunmen’s demands. The popularity of President Sargsyan has been hanging by a thread for years now. The lack of popularity stems mostly from uneasy economic situation in Armenia. Many Armenians feel that the government has not done enough to promote economic growth, fight corruption and take on oligarchic monopolies, many of whom are members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia itself……

What’s happening in Armenia is not another Ukrainian Euromaidan as some pundits would like to call it. The protesters have not come out with any chants against any country, and the issue is far from being related to Armenia’s deep ties with Russia, which has been getting deeper every year.

The event which precipitated the latest wave of protests was Sargsyan’s decision to break a promise he made during the constitutional referendum of 2015 not to stand for election as Armenia’s Prime Minister at the end of his second Presidential term if the outcome of the constitutional referendum was to convert Armenia from a Presidential into a parliamentary republic.

Though it is always difficult to assess the precise reasons why people vote the way they do, the fact remains that Armenian voters voted in the constitutional referendum to convert Armenia into a parliamentary republic, and voted in the Armenian parliamentary elections of 2017 for Sargsyan’s Republican party, after Sargsyan gave that promise .  It is at least possible and even likely that some Armenian voters who voted the way they did in the referendum and in the parliamentary elections did so because they placed reliance on Sargsyan’s promise.

It was Sargsyan’s decision to break his promise – confirming suspicions voiced by many of his opponents at the time of the constitutional referendum that the constitutional change being proposed by him was simply a manoeuvre intended to perpetuate indefinitely his hold on power – which provoked the protests.

Given the dissatisfaction with Sargsyan which has been building up in Armenia for some time, and the bad effect on the Armenian public of his broken promise, that is in no way surprising.

At this point I should say that contrary to what some Western commentators are saying, there is an essential difference between President Putin’s appointment to the post of Prime Minister of Russia in May 2008 on the conclusion of his second term as President, and what Sargsyan has just tried and failed to do.

Not only was Putin at that time immensely popular in Russia in a way that Sargsyan has never been in Armenia, but no change to the Russian constitution was made, and no promise that Putin would not be appointed Prime Minister or would not stand in future again as President was ever given.

Where does Armenia go from here?

The nominal leader of the protests is Nikol Pashinyan, an individual with a shady past who is a protege of Armenia’s former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan.  He is now calling for fresh elections and he may get his wish.  Whether he or his pro-Western party does well in those elections – in the 2017 parliamentary elections it only won 8% of the vote – remains to be seen.

Ultimately however Armenia’s position makes a fundamental geopolitical realignment unlikely.

Armenia is hard-pressed by strong and potentially hostile neighbours – Turkey and Azerbaijan – who are effectively in alliance with each other against it.  Moreover it is in a state of undeclared war with Azerbaijan over the disputed Armenian populated territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Though Russia has been working hard and with some success in recent years to improve its own relations with both Turkey and Azerbaijan, ultimately Armenia depends on Russia to guarantee its security.

Armenians – politically speaking a sophisticated people who have traditionally looked to Russia as their friend and protector – understand all this very well.

That makes it unlikely that political leaders and parties such as Pashinyan’s which want to distance Armenia from Russia will gain much traction in Armenia over the long term.

Certainly the Russians appear to be very relaxed about what has happened.  Their position throughout the protests has been determinedly non-interventionist.  Dmitry Peskov – President Putin’s spokesman – put it this way.

This is absolutely Armenia’s domestic affair, this is all I can say. Why should Moscow interfere?

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s Prime Minister, has for his part in a telephone conversation today with Armenia’s acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan sounded similarly confident.  Here is how the Russian government’s website reports the call

During their conversation the officials discussed current issues of Russian-Armenian relations and developments in Armenia. Dmitry Medvedev expressed support for the friendly Armenian people and stressed the importance of keeping the situation within legal and constitutional boundaries.

They also addressed the topic of integration within the Eurasian Economic Union.

(bold italics added)

The implication is that so long as the political situation in Armenia continues to develop within “legal and constitutional boundaries”-  ie. so long as there is no unconstitutional seizure of power by Pashinyan and his like – the Russians are relaxed about it.

Interestingly, from the other side of the fence, the US magazine Foreign Affairs – the  voice of the US foreign policy establishment – is of the same view

……we should not expect this to have geopolitical repercussions beyond Armenia’s borders, nor should we see it as a signal of Russian decline or as a prompt for potential Russian intervention. Sargsyan’s downfall is not about geopolitics. At most, it is a sign that post-Soviet regimes are not as secure as they look from a distance and that the region’s old regimes are perfectly capable of crumbling peacefully without any push from the outside……

We shouldn’t look at the events in Armenia, then, through a geopolitical prism. They are decidedly not a rejection of Russia. Armenia looks out at two closed borders, with Azerbaijan and Turkey — a result of an ongoing 30-year-old conflict over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The country’s military alliance with Russia stems from that and is deemed essential to national security. (The new opposition wants to lessen Russia’s economic hold over the economy, but that is a different matter.) Nor does Pashinian, the de facto opposition leader, dissent from the consensus line of the political establishment, which is opposed to making concessions over Karabakh, which Armenians fought over with Azerbaijan and have held since 1994.

Much will now depend on how the situation evolves over the course of the next few days.

Though the protests have been large there has been little in the way of violence and with Sargsyan gone the issue which united the protesters and which brought them out onto the streets has been removed.

Unlike Ukraine Armenia is a small but politically sophisticated country of 3 million people with a high degree of social and political cohesion.

That makes it possible and even likely that the crisis will now subside and that a road out of it which preserves Armenia’s vital relationship with Russia will be found.

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BBC producer admits Douma attack was false flag that nearly sparked Russia – U.S. hot war (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 176.

Alex Christoforou

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BBC producer Riam Dalati believes that the scenes caught on video from a hospital in Douma, Syria were staged, all in an effort driven by jihadist terrorists and White Helmet “activists” to draw the U.S. and its allies into full on confrontation with Syria, and by extension Russia.

The viral images caused a media firestorm in 2018, showing children allegedly suffering from chemicals, as main stream media channels, like the BBC itself, called for war with Assad.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the BBC producer’s stunning admission, after a 6 month investigation, that reveals the “‘chemical attack” hospital scenes in Douma were completely staged.

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Via RT


Emotive scenes of Syrian civilians, among them crying, choking, half-naked children, dominated the airwaves in April last year after rebel-affiliated mouthpieces reported yet another “chemical attack by the Assad regime” in the town of Douma. Disturbing reports, including some from the controversial White Helmets, claimed scores of people had been killed and injured.

Mainstream media quickly picked up the horrific (but unverified) videos from a Douma hospital, where victims were treated after this “poison attack.” That hospital scene was enough to assemble a UN emergency session and prompt the US-led ‘coalition of the willing’ to rain down dozens of missiles on Damascus and other locations.

But Riam Dalati, a reputable BBC producer who has long reported from the Middle East, took the liberty of trying to sift through the fog of the Syrian war.

He believes Assad forces did attack the town, but that the much-publicized hospital scenes were staged.

After almost 6 months of investigations, I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged. No fatalities occurred in the hospital.

Anticipating further queries, he said no one from the White Helmets or opposition sources were present in Douma by the time the alleged attack had happened except for one person who was in Damascus.

Dalati also says that an attack “did happen” but that sarin, a weapons-grade nerve agent, was not used. He said, “we’ll have to wait for OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] to prove chlorine or otherwise.”

However, everything else around the attack was manufactured for maximum effect.

The journalist said Jaysh al-Islam, an Islamist faction that fought the Syrian army there, “ruled Douma with an iron fist. They co-opted activists, doctors and humanitarians with fear and intimidation.”

Dalati’s revelations could have become a bombshell news report, but instead it was met with a deafening media silence. His employer preferred to distance itself from his findings. The BBC told Sputnik in a statement that Dalati was expressing “his personal opinions about some of the video footage that emerged after the attack but has not claimed that the attack did not happen.” 

After a while, Dalati restricted access to his Twitter account which is now open only to confirmed followers.

Interestingly, his previous inputs did not sit well with the official narrative either. “Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption. Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative,” he said in a tweet which he later deleted over “the breach of editorial policy.”

In all, Dalati is not a lone voice in the wilderness. The Intercept has recently run a story that also cast doubt on the mainstream coverage of Douma, although it doesn’t doubt that the attack itself happened. While a veteran British reporter Robert Fisk suggested there was no gas attack at all, saying people there were suffering from oxygen starvation. Witnesses of the “chemical attack,” for their part, told international investigators the story was a set-up.

Moscow, which supports Damascus in its fight against terrorists, has long stated the Douma incident was staged, calling for an international OPCW inquiry. Last year, the Defense Ministry presented what it said was proof the “provocation” was to trigger Western airstrikes against Syrian government forces.

This time, the military recalled a similar 2017 incident in Khan Sheikhoun, where an alleged chemical attack took place. The ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday that a closer inspection of footage from that location clearly shows this was a set-up as well.

Now the Foreign Ministry has suggested Dalati is being silenced for voicing inconvenient views, with spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asking on Facebook: “A telling story. How about Western advocates of rights and freedoms? Had they accused BBC of censorship and pressuring the journalist?”

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President Trump schools liberals with National Emergency declaration

President Trump skillfully defeats Democrat naysayers, by increasing support for the border wall prior to declaring a National Emergency.

Seraphim Hanisch

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President Trump signed a continuing resolution to keep the US government fully running through the rest of the 2019 fiscal year. The CR contained a $1.374 bn allocation for US border security, and that money includes and pays for the completion of some fifty-five miles of border fence (or wall, or barrier, or “not-a-wall” depending on one’s preferential phrasing.) He also declared a National Emergency, theoretically freeing at least another $8 bn for the continued construction of the border wall.

Yes, it is a wall. And, yes, it is being built right now. And yes, it will be completed. The President of the United States has made this abundantly clear.

Some news reporters talk about this matter still as though there is in fact no wall now, and that there is no construction in progress on any wall. To that we can say, please watch this:

This section of the wall is going up near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. It augments a very well-designed 18 foot wall stretching from west of Santa Teresa, NM to Tornillo, Texas. If someone wants to cross the border without having to negotiate this barrier they have to go very far off the beaten path to do it. President Trump wants to make it even more difficult; in fact, he wants to have the barrier run the entire length of the US-Mexico border.

This second video says a bit more about the situation:

His campaign to get this has been brilliant in terms of getting the American people informed that there is a problem. How did he do this with a press that hates him?

Easy. He made an issue out of it, knowing that the news media has no choice but to cover the President’s every antic, and in so doing, while seeking fodder for criticism, they actually ended up reporting on the actual problem.

This has been an interesting flow of events:

  • Mainstream news slamming the President’s every statement about the need for a wall
  • The fury of Democrat leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles “Chuck” Schumer in their 100% opposition – their own temper tantrum whilst blaming that tantrum on Trump, who actually acted more like a strict parent than a bratty teenager
  • The very public presentations of Border Patrol experts that Trump arranged, the purpose being to listen to their own expert assessment of the actual needs at the border

This last issue marks a need for even the conservative press to have a wake-up call. Daniel Horowitz wrote a piece in The Conservative Review excoriating President Trump’s signing of this present deal as a “sell out”, noting that:

Trump originally demanded $25 billion for the wall. Then he negotiated himself down to $5.6 billion. Democrats balked and only agreed to $1.6 billion. This bill calls it a day at $1.375 billion, enough to construct 55 miles. But it’s worse than that. This bill limits the president’s ability to construct “barriers” to just the Rio Grande Valley sector and only bollard fencing, not concrete walls of any kind.

Daniel’s point is great for rhetoric because, of course, the President originally did promise a big beautiful concrete wall running the entire length of the border.

However, he missed the point about using bollard-style walls that can be seen through – the Border Patrol agents themselves said this kind of wall is to their advantage. A solid wall prevents natural visibility and the agents were getting rocks thrown at them from people they could not see on the other side. A see-through capability means that people approaching the wall on the other side can be seen and tracked.

This marks an example of conservative ideology being too strongly fixed, just as the liberals’ ideology is fixed at the level of a four-year old child refusing to let someone else play with his toys.

They both do not understand that President Trump is not concerned with ideology. He is concerned with useful results, which he got in this deal.

Now about that National Emergency. Is this really the constitutional crisis Trump’s detractors say it is?

Probably not.

It has been widely reported that the US is currently running under some 31 other national emergencies, and that the one President Trump declared makes it number 32. The rhetoric from the news media and Democrats is centered around the idea that no President has ever used this power to get money that only the Congress can allot.

We also probably already know that this is an irrelevant point – the President is in charge of the national security of the nation, and he can and must do what he can to ensure it. The huge numbers of illegal crossings, nearly half a million in 2018 were largely apprehended and released into the United States, rather than deported. Half a million is far less than the 1.6 million that came through in 2000, but it is also not zero. Half a million is the size of the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

The distractors in the Democrat party and media do not want anyone comprehending this fact, so they try to divert and dissuade. But President Trump has not let any of this get past him. In a media event, the President had parents and relatives of people who were murdered by illegal aliens in a direct face-off with none other than CNN’s provocateur-in-chief Jim Acosta, and the reporter was forced to listen to what these family members had to say about their convictions that the president was correct in his:

Trump pointed to angel moms in attendance, asking them for their thoughts.

“You think I’m creating something? Ask these incredible women who lost their daughters and their sons,” Trump said. “OK, Because your question is a very political question because you have an agenda. You’re CNN. You’re fake news.”

Trump told Acosta the statistics he provided were “wrong” and told him to take a look at the federal prison population for proof.

“See how many of them,percentage-wise, are illegal aliens,” Trump said. “Just see, go ahead and see. It’s a fake question.”

Acosta was subsequently confronted by the angel moms in attendance, after the press conference. As angel moms confronted the CNN reporter, he invited them to appear on the network in the background of a live shot.

“There is no attempt whatsoever to diminish what they’ve gone through, or take away what they’ve gone through, but as you heard in that question that I had with the president … it was really about the facts and the data,” Acosta said on CNN following his exchange with Trump. “Some of these folks came up to me right after this press conference … they’re holding up these pictures of loved ones who lost their lives.”

An angel mom then discussed that a previously deported illegal alien murdered her son.

“President Trump is completely correct on this issue, we need to protect this country,” the angel mom told Acosta.

Acosta actually was a victim of his own passions when he went to the border to a place where the bollard wall presently stands and reported that nothing was happening there. It seemed that he was expecting that there were supposed to be angry mobs on the other side trying to get through. However, no one was there, because it is rather pointless to try to get over this wall at this place. Even liberals were forced to acknowledge Mr. Acosta’s strategic miscalculation.

The new national emergency is about getting results. If we were concerned only with smooth and impressive politics, we could only remark on the President’s success in maneuvering the Democrats (not all of them were slavishly going with the Pelosi-Schumer stance) and his ability to do what he does best – getting his message to the American people, and giving them information with which to decide what they want.

This campaign is not over, but this particular battle appears to have been won with a lot of hard work.

Slowly, oh, so slowly, it would seem that the forces of common sense are making some headway in America.

 

 

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“This is America” reveals a shocking vision of the United States

The Grammy Award winning Song and Record of the Year feature the very darkest vision of what America has become.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Grammy Awards are the second of the three most significant musical achievement awards in the United States. Two of the anticipated awards that many fans of this event look forward to learning are the Song of the Year and the Record of the Year.

The Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters of a given song, where the Record of the Year goes to the artists, producers and engineers involved in crafting the recording (the “record”) of a song. Both categories are huge and both usually go to an artist or organization responsible for a pop song.

It also happens to be that usually the song that is picked is beautiful and in most cases, reflects the character of beauty (whether in music or lyrics or both) for that year.

This year was quite different. Both awards went to Donald Glover, a.k.a. “Childish Gambino” for his song This is America.

This song features a radically different tone than previous winners going back for many years. Though rap remixes are usually less musical, the Grammy winners among these mixes have nevertheless retained some relatively positive, or at least attractive, aspect.

This is America is very different, especially when watched with its video.

Musically, it is genius, though the genius appears to have gone mad. Glover paints a picture of some very positive segments in American life, but then destroys it with his audible form and message that says absolutely nothing positive, but even more so – it doesn’t make sense unless one knows the context.

That context is revealed in the video with frightening images: someone getting their brains blown out (we see the blood fly), a gospel choir shot up with an automatic rifle while they were singing, and cannabis, front and center, being smoked by the artist himself.

This is America?

For Glover, this song and others on his album do seem to reflect that point of view.  Feels like Summer, one of Glover’s other recent songs, also reflects this sense of hopelessness, though it is far more musically consistent. The video gives the most clear contextual information that one could ask for, and while the video is not violent, it features degradation in society, even though the people depicted appear to be trying to make the best of their life situations.

The image Mr. Glover paints of America is a far cry from that which was known to most Americans only twenty years ago, and in fact, in many parts of the country where cannabis is still illegal there is a corresponding sense of positivity in life that is absent in Childish Gambino’s California-esque view of life.

There is a massive change that is taking place in American society. Our music and art reflects this change, and it sometimes even helps drive that change.

The United States of today is at a crossroads.

How many times have we read or heard THAT statement before?  But does it not seem so now? The attempt of identity politics to separate our nation into groups that must somehow fight for their own relevance against other groups is not the vision of the United States only twenty years ago.

Further, the normalization of themes such as drug-use and racism, the perpetuation of one in reality and the other as a mythological representation of how life “really is” in the US is radically bizarre.

In discussions with people who do not live in the United States, we found that sometimes they believed that white-on-black racism really was happening in America, because the media in the US pumps this information out in a constant stream, often with people like Donald Trump as the scapegoat.

But it is not true. Anyone in America’s new “accused class” of white, Christian, European-descent males (and some women who are not feminists), will note that they are not racist, and in fact, they feel persecuted for their existence under the new mantra of “white privilege.”

But it does not matter what they say. The media pumps the message it wants to, and with such coverage it is easy to get to halfway believing it: I know I am not this way, but I guess things are getting pretty bad elsewhere because all of those people seem to be getting this way…

This is the narrative the press promulgates, but upon conversations with people in “those places” we find that it is not true for them, either, and that they may in fact be thinking this is true about us.

Made in America is a visionary song and video. However, the vision is not a dream; it is nothing that anyone in the country would sincerely hope for. Even in Donald Glover’s case – as one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, and as a big success in music, he is far from being one of the “boys in the ‘hood.” In fact, Time Magazine in 2017 named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Certainly his musical work creates a powerful influence, but it also must raise questions, with the main ones being:

  • Are we really like this?
  • Is this what we really want to be as a country?
  • Is this the kind of image we want our children in the US to adopt?

In fact, if Mr. Glover’s work was viewed with care (rather than just as something that is “cool” because the media says it is), it might help us steer away from the cliff that many Americans are in fact heading towards.

We have elected not to link to the video because it is too disturbing for children. It is even too disturbing for many adults. For that reason we are not making it one-click-easy to get to.

Parents reading this opinion piece would do well to screen the video by themselves without the kids around first, before deciding what they want to do. Even though the video is probably something that they have already seen, the parents still stand as the guides and guardians for their children through all the perils of growing up.

These times call for great guardians indeed.

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