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What ever happened to the Iraq war protesters?

The anti-war movement has not gone underground, it has gone online.

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Since George W. Bush’s illegal war on Iraq in 2003, the US has invaded further Arab states using a pattern that is eerily similar to that employed by the Bush White House in 2002/2003.

Whether lies about Libyan revolutionary leader “killing is own people” or more oddly yet, giving sexual stimulant drugs to soldiers, to the fallacy of Syrian ‘chemical weapons’–the US often employs the most crude and unsubstantiated mythology to attempt and justify brazen acts of aggression against sovereign states.

Just yesterday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley made some of the most outrageous claims yet, this time against Iran, saying that missiles had been sent by Iran, to Houthi fighters in Yemen, in the aftermath of the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal) coming into effect in the summer of 2015.

While protests continue to fill the streets of the Arab and Muslim worlds, following on from Donald Trump’s Jerusalem/Al-Quds declaration, western streets remain largely free of demonstrations over this issue, Syria, Iran, North Korea and other areas where western countries continue to lead or threaten to lead wars on sovereign states.

As I wrote yesterday,

“Haley’s position is that since the outbreak of the current crisis in Yemen, beginning in March of 2015, Iran has been supplying Yemen’s Ansar Allah Movement, more commonly known as the Houthis, with the missiles they have sporadically used to target Saudi Arabia and allegedly the UAE.

There is a fatal flaw in this line of thinking however. Saudi Arabia has, since the beginning of the conflict, controlled all air and sea traffic coming into Yemen, while monitoring the region with the latest US made technology.

 Yemen has subsequently been surrounded by a Saudi Naval blockade, Saudi borders through which nothing can pass and Omani borders through which there is no evidence of anything passing and which in any case, border areas which do not belong to Houthi fighters, but instead have fluctuated between the Hadi government based in Aden, al-Qaeda terrorists and ISIS terrorists.

Not only has the Saudi blockade caused a man made famine which itself has resulted in a mass outbreak of the disease Cholera, but even the UN has found it difficult to convince the Saudis to allow basic medicine, bottled water and dried foods into the always poor and now starving nation.

But for Nikki Haley, who gave her press conference standing in front of what appeared to be a rusty missile casing–it all makes perfect sense. In Haley’s parallel universe, an aid ship with UN flags cannot bring bottles of water and jars of medical pills to Yemenis, but somehow Iranian ships bearing humongous missiles have easily passed through the Saudi blockade undetected.

 There is simply no logic to the argument, no matter how it is interpreted”.
http://theduran.com/food-medicine-cant-get-passed-saudi-blockade-yemen-nikki-haley-thinks-missiles-can/

While many in the west are experiencing “war fatigue”, it would appear that they are also experiencing “protest fatigue” when it comes to the all important issue of peace.

February the 15th, 2003, is generally considered to be the biggest day of global protests in history. Anti-war marches and rallies took place on every populated continent, as millions came together to oppose George W. Bush’s war on Iraq, which ultimately broke out the following month.

In New York, upwards of 400,000 people gathered to try and stop the war while estimates of upwards of 1 million gathered in London, with two million marching in Madrid.

On that day, the streets of most major capital cities in the world staged events to reject war, with the most substantial demonstrations held in the large cities of Europe, North America, the Middle East and diverse parts of Asia ranging from Malaysia to India.

The protests did not stop the war, but they did help to set the stage for the failure of the war hawks to explain themselves out of the disaster that was and to an extent remains, the illegal 2003 war on Iraq.

Since that time, the US and its allies have successfully destroyed Libya while they continue to meddle in Syria after using proxy forces to instigate the present conflict in Syria starting in 2011.

Now, Iran is subject to much of the same defamatory statements that have been hurled at Iraq, Libya and Syria.

While many people are deeply opposed to the actions the US has taken to destroy sovereign states since 2003, there have been no repeats of the mass protests of that year.

In looking for an answer as to why this might be, there are some negative but also some positive answers.

Social Media 

Social media has come a long way since 2003. In fact, the first major western social media network, Myspace, only launched after the Iraq war. In 2003, the internet was powerful, but nowhere near as powerful as it had become by 2011.

Today, people “protest” and “demonstrate” on a daily basis across a wide variety of platforms including, Facebook, VK, Twitter, Telegram, Instagram, Youtube and many others. Crucially, many popular social media networks are owned by companies based outside of the US, helping to make the corporate governance of major websites and apps far more pluralistic than was the case in 2003.

The power of social media to galvanise public opinion against war should not be underestimated. The fact that so many western corporations and governments try and often succeed in silencing online protest, is clear sign that the powers that be in war hungry western governments, believe that such mechanisms are turning public opinion against mainstream pro-war political groups.

Protest Fatigue 

On the other side of the spectrum, seeing how the anti-Iraq War protests ultimately did not change the policies of the US and its war partners, it would appear that many have decided that the peaceful mobilisation of street protesters is not effective.

Since 2003, organic, big tent anti-war protests have largely been subsumed in the west by a combination of genuine protests over national or local matters and paid “protests” by sectarian foundations. When looking for an example of a genuine local protest, one can point to the frequent anti-economic austerity protests in countries like Greece. Examples of paid “protests” by sectarian foundations are typified by those organised by various bodies funded by and/or coordinated by George Soros. These protests never deal with broad unifying issues such as that of world peace.

Republican versus Democrat

While I believe that there is truth to a great deal of the previous two theories, the idea that anti-war activists are more likely to protest a Republican President in the White House going to war, rather than a Democratic one. seems to be an argument which has passed its use-by-date.

Donald Trump is a Republican US President who won an election based largely on an anti-war platform. The fact that in less than a year, he is creating as much global instability as his two war-mongering predecessors has not resulted in mass protests of the kind seen against Bush and his international partners in 2003.

While members of the political elite will always use party politics as a means of point-scoring against an opponent, the idea of a left-right divide in 21st century anti-war politics, is no longer apt.

Broken Promises 

While it seems to be largely forgotten now, George W. Bush first ran for President on a platform of opposition to “nation building”, as he called it in 1999 and 2000. He even once said that he wanted to avoid being known as the “ugly American” for trying to impose American style governance on sovereign states.

Watching Bush’s campaign clips makes for a surreal experience, as Bush continues to epitomise the arch pro-war neo-con in most people’s eyes. During his campaign though, he expressed a degree of scepticism about Bill Clinton’s illegal war on Yugoslavia which his opponent, then Vice President Al Gore continued to extol as a “success”.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s anti-war message was vocal and visible. The now infamous “change” and “hope” posters were as much about opposition to the Iraq War and the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, as they were about domestic issues.

Long before his campaign, Obama frequently spoke out against Bush’s war, as a rising star in the Democratic party.

Obama ended up going to war with more sovereign states than George W. Bush, while also antagonising Russia and China far more than Bush ever did. Hope soon turned into “nope”.

Donald Trump Tweeted endlessly through Barack Obama’s Presidency about the disastrous Middle Eastern wars pursued by Obama.

These online statements led Trump to eventually run for US President on a similar platform. Once in power, he escalated the war against Syria, threatened to destroy North Korea and is once again making threats against Iran.

In this sense, it seems apparent that people have grown numb from multiple US Presidents campaigning for peace and ruling through war. As such, few protesters seek to mobilise in order to hold lying leaders to account.

The peace is not meant to be won–it is meant to be continuous 

George Orwell once wrote that “the war is not meant to be won–it is meant to be continuous”.

Decades of US wars from the invasion of Philippines in 1899 to the wars of 2017, have proved that for modern America, peace is the exception and war is the rule.

As such, many peace activists and those with a conscience have concluded that a single day of protests is not enough to rally support against a cycle of wars that is a perennial phenomenon.

Because of this, the social media model of constant global, digital mobilisation may well prove to be more effective in the long-term than putting millions of anti-war demonstrators in the streets on a single day. It is also less time consuming and more cost effective.

As it is with all opposition groups, the use of platforms from foreign countries may prove to be invaluable as US owned social media networks continue to crack down on those who oppose war, occupation and inhumane conditions.

There is no guarantee that this will work, but it is certainly the most clear option that those opposed to war in the 21st century must utilise as much as possible.

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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Second Canadian Citizen Disappears In China

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea.

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Via Zerohedge…


For a trade war that was supposed to be between the US and China, Canada has found itself increasingly in the middle of the crossfire. And so after the arrest of a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in retaliation for the detention of the Huawei CFO in Vancouver, Canada said a second person has been questioned by Chinese authorities, further heightening tensions between the two countries.

The second person reached out to the Canadian government after being questioned by Chinese officials, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, at which point Canada lost contact with him. His whereabouts are currently unknown and Global Affairs Canada said they are in contact with his family.

“We haven’t been able to make contact with him since he let us know about this,” Freeland told reporters Wednesday in Ottawa. “We are working very hard to ascertain his whereabouts and we have also raised this case with Chinese authorities.”

According to the he Globe and Mail, the man was identified as Michael Spavor, a Canadian whose company Peaktu Cultural Exchange brings tourists and hockey players into North Korea. He gained fame for helping arrange a visit to Pyongyang by former NBA player Dennis Rodman, and he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on that trip, the newspaper reported. Attempts to reach Spavor on his contact number either in China, or North Korean went straight to voicemail.

Spavor’s personal Facebook page contains several images of him with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un including one of him with both Jong-un and former Dennis Rodman at an undisclosed location.

Michael P. Spavor, right, pictured here with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, second from right, and Dennis Rodman.

Another image shows the two sharing a drink on a boat.

The unexplained disappearance takes place after China’s spy agency detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig in Beijing on Monday, who was on leave from the foreign service. The arrest came nine days after Canada arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. DOJ. While Canada has asked to see the former envoy after it was informed by fax of his arrest, Canada is unaware of Kovrig current whereabouts or the charges he faces.

“Michael did not engage in illegal activities nor did he do anything that endangered Chinese national security,” Rob Malley, chief executive officer of the ICG, said in a written statement. “He was doing what all Crisis Group analysts do: undertaking objective and impartial research.”

One possibility is that Kovrig may have been caught up in recent rule changes in China that affect non-governmental organizations, according to Bloomberg. The ICG wasn’t authorized to do work in China, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing in Beijing Wednesday.

“We welcome foreign travelers. But if they engage in activities that clearly violate Chinese laws and regulations, then it is totally another story,” he said, adding he had no information on Kovrig specifically.

As Bloomberg further notes, foreign non-governmental organizations are now required to register with the Chinese authorities under a 2017 law that subjects them to stringent reporting requirements. Under the law, organizations without a representative office in China must have a government sponsor and a local cooperative partner before conducting activities. ICG said this is the first time they’ve heard such an accusation from the Chinese authorities in a decade of working with the country. The company closed its Beijing operations in December 2016 because of the new Chinese law, according to a statement. Kovrig was working out of the Hong Kong office.

Meanwhile, realizing that it is increasingly bearing the brunt of China’s retaliatory anger, Trudeau’s government distanced itself from Meng’s case, saying it can’t interfere with the courts, but is closely involved in advocating on Kovrig’s behalf.

So far Canada has declined to speculate on whether there was a connection between the Kovrig and Meng cases, with neither Freeland nor Canadian Trade Minister Jim Carr saying Wednesday that there is any indication the cases are related. Then again, it is rather obvious they are. Indeed, Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as ambassador to China from 2012 to 2016 and worked with Kovrig, says the link is clear. “There’s no coincidence with China.”

“In this case, they couldn’t grab a Canadian diplomat because this would have created a major diplomatic incident,” he said. “Going after him I think was their way to send a message to the Canadian government and to put pressure.”

Even though Meng was granted bail late Tuesday, that did not placate China, whose foreign ministry spokesman said that “The Canadian side should correct its mistakes and release Ms. Meng Wanzhou immediately.”

The tension, according to Bloomberg,  may force Canadian companies to reconsider travel to China, and executives traveling to the Asian country will need to exercise extra caution, said Andy Chan, managing partner at Miller Thomson LLP in Vaughan, Ontario.

“Canadian business needs to look at and balance the reasons for the travel’’ between the business case and the “current political environment,’’ Chan said by email. Chinese officials subject business travelers to extra screening and in some case reject them from entering, he said.

Earlier in the day, SCMP reported that Chinese high-tech researchers were told “not to travel to the US unless it’s essential.”

And so, with Meng unlikely to be released from Canada any time soon, expect even more “Chinese (non) coincidences”, until eventually China does detain someone that the US does care about.

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Multipolar World Order in the Making: Qatar Dumps OPEC

Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The decision by Qatar to abandon OPEC threatens to redefine the global energy market, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s growing difficulties and the growing influence of the Russian Federation in the OPEC+ mechanism.

In a surprising statement, Qatari energy minister Saad al-Kaabi warned OPEC on Monday December 3 that his country had sent all the necessary documentation to start the country’s withdrawal from the oil organization in January 2019. Al-Kaabi stressed that the decision had nothing to do with recent conflicts with Riyadh but was rather a strategic choice by Doha to focus on the production of LNG, which Qatar, together with the Russian Federation, is one of the largest global exporters of. Despite an annual oil extraction rate of only 1.8% of the total of OPEC countries (about 600,000 barrels a day), Qatar is one of the founding members of the organization and has always had a strong political influence on the governance of the organization. In a global context where international relations are entering a multipolar phase, things like cooperation and development become fundamental; so it should not surprise that Doha has decide to abandon OPEC. OPEC is one of the few unipolar organizations that no longer has a meaningful purpose in 2018, given the new realities governing international relations and the importance of the Russian Federation in the oil market.

Besides that, Saudi Arabia requires the organization to maintain a high level of oil production due to pressure coming from Washington to achieve a very low cost per barrel of oil. The US energy strategy targets Iranian and Russian revenue from oil exports, but it also aims to give the US a speedy economic boost. Trump often talks about the price of oil falling as his personal victory. The US imports about 10 million barrels of oil a day, which is why Trump wrongly believes that a decrease in the cost per barrel could favor a boost to the US economy. The economic reality shows a strong correlation between the price of oil and the financial growth of a country, with low prices of crude oil often synonymous of a slowing down in the economy.

It must be remembered that to keep oil prices low, OPEC countries are required to maintain a high rate of production, doubling the damage to themselves. Firstly, they take less income than expected and, secondly, they deplete their oil reserves to favor the strategy imposed by Saudi Arabia on OPEC to please the White House. It is clearly a strategy that for a country like Qatar (and perhaps Venezuela and Iran in the near future) makes little sense, given the diplomatic and commercial rupture with Riyadh stemming from tensions between the Gulf countries.

In contrast, the OPEC+ organization, which also includes other countries like the Russian Federation, Mexico and Kazakhstan, seems to now to determine oil and its cost per barrel. At the moment, OPEC and Russia have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day, contradicting Trump’s desire for high oil output.

With this last choice Qatar sends a clear signal to the region and to traditional allies, moving to the side of OPEC+ and bringing its interests closer in line with those of the Russian Federation and its all-encompassing oil and gas strategy, two sectors in which Qatar and Russia dominate market share.

In addition, Russia and Qatar’s global strategy also brings together and includes partners like Turkey (a future energy hub connecting east and west as well as north and south) and Venezuela. In this sense, the meeting between Maduro and Erdogan seems to be a prelude to further reorganization of OPEC and its members.

The declining leadership role of Saudi Arabia in the oil and financial market goes hand in hand with the increase of power that countries like Qatar and Russia in the energy sectors are enjoying. The realignment of energy and finance signals the evident decline of the Israel-US-Saudi Arabia partnership. Not a day goes by without corruption scandals in Israel, accusations against the Saudis over Khashoggi or Yemen, and Trump’s unsuccessful strategies in the commercial, financial or energy arenas. The path this doomed

trio is taking will only procure less influence and power, isolating them more and more from their opponents and even historical allies.

Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi, the Eurasian powerhouses, seem to have every intention, as seen at the trilateral summit in Buenos Aires, of developing the ideal multipolar frameworks to avoid continued US dominance of the oil market through shale revenues or submissive allies as Saudi Arabia, even though the latest spike in production is a clear signal from Riyadh to the USA. In this sense, Qatar’s decision to abandon OPEC and start a complex and historical discussion with Moscow on LNG in the format of an enlarged OPEC marks the definitive decline of Saudi Arabia as a global energy power, to be replaced by Moscow and Doha as the main players in the energy market.

Qatar’s decision is, officially speaking, unconnected to the feud triggered by Saudi Arabia against the small emirate. However, it is evident that a host of factors has led to this historic decision. The unsuccessful military campaign in Yemen has weakened Saudi Arabia on all fronts, especially militarily and economically. The self-inflicted fall in the price of oil is rapidly consuming Saudi currency reserves, now at a new low of less than 500 billion dollars. Events related to Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) have de-legitimized the role of Riyadh in the world as a reliable diplomatic interlocutor. The internal and external repression by the Kingdom has provoked NGOs and governments like Canada’s to issue public rebukes that have done little to help MBS’s precarious position.

In Syria, the victory of Damascus and her allies has consolidated the role of Moscow in the region, increased Iranian influence, and brought Turkey and Qatar to the multipolar side, with Tehran and Moscow now the main players in the Middle East. In terms of military dominance, there has been a clear regional shift from Washington to Moscow; and from an energy perspective, Doha and Moscow are turning out to be the winners, with Riyadh once again on the losing side.

As long as the Saudi royal family continues to please Donald Trump, who is prone to catering to Israeli interests in the region, the situation of the Kingdom will only get worse. The latest agreement on oil production between Moscow and Riyad signals that someone in the Saudi royal family has probably figured this out.

Countries like Turkey, India, China, Russia and Iran understand the advantages of belonging to a multipolar world, thereby providing a collective geopolitical ballast that is mutually beneficial. The energy alignment between Qatar and the Russian Federation seems to support this general direction, a sort of G2 of LNG gas that will only strengthen the position of Moscow on the global chessboard, while guaranteeing a formidable military umbrella for Doha in case of a further worsening of relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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