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Iran: a democratic haven compared to Western-backed dictatorships

Democratic institutions’ support for the genocidal Suharto has been wiped from the official record.

Shane Quinn

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It may be no exaggeration to say that, in the post-World War II period, Iran has been persecuted largely without a break. The threats continue to the present day, with the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel pondering how to curtail Iranian influence.

In mainstream dialogue, Iran are routinely portrayed as the bad guy on the world stage, along with Russia and North Korea. This despite the fact, since the 1950s, the US has been the world’s leading purveyor of terror – toppling democratic regimes at will and imposing military dictatorships.

Israel’s murderous policies in the last half century rank them as among the cruellest regimes on earth. Over the past generation, Israel have become increasingly feared and disliked, not just in the Middle East, but even in Europe.

Saudi Arabia themselves constitute the most extreme fundamentalist regime on earth. At home, Saudi governments have indoctrinated their extreme Wahhabi messages in schools and workplaces, while spreading it elsewhere by supporting terrorist groups like ISIS. By comparison, Iran looks like a democratic haven.

Currently the Saudis, bolstered by support from the US, France, Germany and Britain, are implementing a devastating war against neighbouring Yemen. UN humanitarian groups have repeatedly lamented the slow response by “the international community” (meaning the West). Indeed, their long record when it comes to human rights is hardly encouraging.

In the mid-1960s, the US paved the way for General Hajji Suharto to take power in resource-laden Indonesia. Suharto ranks as one of the most notorious mass murderers of the post-World War II period. Up to a million people, mostly displaced Indonesian peasants, were killed by his regime during purges against Communists and Nationalists.

Suharto was praised to the hilt for years by Western leaders, newspapers, liberal commentators, and so on. In 1967, US President Lyndon B. Johnson said he felt the Suharto regime “has great potential”.

Such comments came after the bloodletting of 1965-1966, in which hundreds of thousands of Indonesians were killed by Suharto’s death squads.

President Johnson assured that Suharto’s Indonesia was “one of the few places in the world that has moved in our direction”. The American leader praised Suharto for displaying “resolute leadership”, thanking him for the “solid achievements of your stabilisation efforts in the past year”.

Johnson further guaranteed Suharto the “respect and support of free peoples”, while promising continued American aid to his murderous regime. In response, Suharto was grateful for Johnson’s “effective assistance” in putting “our house in order”.

Johnson’s Vice-President, Hubert Humphrey, visited Indonesia in early November 1967, and was also impressed by Suharto. Humphrey reported to the US National Security Council that Suharto was “an honest, hard-working man who benefited from his training at Fort Leavenworth [in Kansas]”.

The US Vice-President noted that other “Indonesian military leaders are now showing the great benefit of their military training in the United States”.

According to the US State Department, the genocidal dictator “proved to be a leader of sound instincts and one truly dedicated to improving the position of his people”. In 1969, US President Richard Nixon visited Indonesia, leading to further “excellent” relations between the two countries according to Henry Kissinger, National Security Adviser. The purpose of Nixon’s Indonesian trip was “to thank us [the US] for the aid we have provided”.

Kissinger lauded Suharto and his government’s commitment to the “concept of Asian responsibilities under the Nixon doctrine” – of “peace, stability and economic development” in south-east Asia.

Long gone were the pacifist doctrines of Suharto’s predecessor, Ahmed Sukarno, who had sadly been implementing “politics of emotion and policies of adventure”. Instead, Suharto brought “a pragmatic approach to Indonesia’s problems”.

With the American public’s attention almost entirely on Vietnam, the astonishing genocide in Indonesia was overlooked. Instead, fantasies were conjured by mainstream commentators to ensure no protests were forthcoming.

For over two decades, Suharto continually had the description “moderate” pinned beside his name. Oxford English Dictionary describes the word moderate as “(of a political position) not extreme, make or become less extreme or intense” – while Collins English Dictionary outlines moderate as “not extreme or excessive, a person who holds moderate views, esp. in politics”.

For someone with so much blood on his hands, it was clear denial of genocide and a grotesque mutation of a word. The Washington-based media company, US News & World Report, hailed Suharto’s vicious takeover with the headline, “Hope Where There Once Was None”.

Philip Shenon of the New York Times absolved Suharto of any blame for the massacres, outlining that he “came to power in the midst of the bloodshed in the 1960s”. A clear reversal of the reality.

In the Wall Street Journal, Barry Wain described how Suharto “moved boldly… in consolidating his power”, while using “strength and finesse… by most standards, he has done well”. A Wall Street Journal headline ensured its unsuspecting readers that Suharto was, “A Figure of Stability”.

The well-regarded Economist magazine, headquartered in London, explained that Suharto was “at heart benign”, at least to multinational exploitation. The famous New York-based weekly, Time, assured its millions of readers the dictator’s arrival was “the West’s best news in Asia”. The disgrace of the Free Press could hardly be more dramatic.

In an era before alternative news, and with few dissenting voices, such scandalous falsehoods were allowed to continue largely unchallenged.

The Indonesian genocide continues to be glossed over, even decades later. Upon Suharto’s death in January 2008, the Netherlands’ then foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said: “Under Suharto’s rule, Indonesia experienced a period of relative stability. The economy grew strongly, notably in the 1980s. After he stepped down, Indonesia democratically chose a new leader. That confirms that Indonesia is a democratic country where the people have the last word”.

The Dutch were colonial masters of Indonesia from 1800 up to the end of World War II. The same 2008 report by Reuters Staff commended Suharto for “allowing rapid development and holding together the diverse nation”. Australia’s then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the deceased autocrat was “an influential figure in Australia’s region and beyond”.

Reacting to Suharto’s death, Marilyn Berger of the New York Times wrote under the sub-heading ‘Enigmatic and Magical’, that the mass murderer “spoke in gentle tones, smiled sweetly to friend and foe”.

While acknowledging some of the atrocities, Berger added that “his rule was not without accomplishment. He led Indonesia to stability and economic growth… President Suharto restored order to the country”.

Suharto never stood trial for his vast crimes, nor was he even charged, dying of natural causes aged 86. After leaving power in 1998, he resided lavishly in a mansion in the capital Jakarta, protected by soldiers and politicians. His personal fortune was estimated to be at least $15 billion, much of it through embezzlement as he enriched his family and close allies.

There were no calls from democratic leaders to bring Suharto to justice. Saddam Hussein’s crimes cannot even begin to compare with his Indonesian counterpart. The Iraqi despot was “a moderating force” as long as he was a useful ally to the West.

When Hussein became an unwanted nuisance, the “brutal dictator” tag was quietly applied to him. He was unceremoniously removed, caught, and hanged. A similar story with Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi – once a trusted ally of the West, but ousted and killed when he was no longer needed. Gaddafi’s crimes are a mere footnote in comparison to Suharto.

A few days ago the former Bosnian Serb leader, Ratko Mladic, was found guilty by “an international tribunal” and sentenced to life in prison. Mladic himself was never recorded relaying a direct order for genocide.

Unlike the powerful Kissinger, for example. In 1969, Kissinger declared an open call for genocide in Cambodia: “Anything that flies on anything that moves”. He was relaying President Nixon’s call for a “massive” bombing campaign against Cambodia, which killed up to a million people.

Had Mladic been heard declaring something similar, the trial would have been over in no time. Yet in Kissinger’s case, there was hardly a murmur. Indeed, his advice has been sought by successive US presidents. In 2016, the Obama administration awarded Kissinger the “Distinguished Public Service Award”. Kissinger even received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, four years after his genocidal order on Cambodia, a defenceless country.

In the mainstream, Kissinger is called a “realist” foreign policy thinker to present times. Three years ago Time magazine ran a story headed, “Henry Kissinger Reminds Us Why Realism Matters”. It seems crimes are crimes when designated only to official enemies.

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

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The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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