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The strange story of India’s mysterious “Surgical Strike” against Pakistan

India’s government embarrassed after claiming to have carried out a “Surgical Strike” against terrorist bases in Pakistan, which much of the world doubts ever happened.

Shihan Sazid

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Back in May 2014, on the eve of the inauguration of right wing Modi government, former Director General of Pakistan’s ISI ( Inter Service Intelligence-Pakistan Military) General Hamid Gul said that, “Narendra Modi is a blessing for Pakistan”.

After more than two years this comment of the late General Gul is becoming true.

For more than 3 decades of conflict the Indian controlled part of Kashmir is one of the most heavily militarised areas in the world.  The current ratio of military to civilians there is 7 is to 1. That is one Indian soldier for every seven Kashmiris. And these soldiers have the full authority to control public life in Kashmir without meaningful accountability.

The current unrest in the Indian side of Kashmir started because of the death of a young Kashmiri called Burhan Wani.  The Indian government claims Burhan is a terrorist; Pakistan and others call him a freedom fighter.

The result of the unrest is 53 consecutive days of curfew, paralysing public life, a civilian death toll of 85, and thousands of people injured.

India is having a hard time justifying its policy.  Its fallback position is to blame Pakistan.  However this approach is proving ineffective.  Indian regional allies are remaining silent, in contrast to China which has made clear its support for Pakistan over Kashmir. 

Turkey has offered to send a team of observers to monitor human rights violations in Kashmir.  However India’s has responded with silence to the Turkish offer.  By contrast India’s friends in the West, first and foremost the United States, are saying little.

Tension hit a new level after the Uri attack of 18 September 2016, which killed 18 Indian soldiers in Indian controlled Kashmir.   As usual India blamed Pakistan for actions committed by just four militants.  In response Pakistan denied all responsibility.

It was the perfect opportunity for the ultra-right wing pundits in India to demand revenge.  Modi for his part boxed himself by saying that the deaths of the 18 Indian soldiers would not go unpunished.

In reality any retaliation risks igniting a full scale war.  Not surprisingly, after the strong initial reaction India started to show indecision.  High level meetings and hours of discussion in the “ War Situation Room allowed the media to beat the drums of war.  But lack of good intelligence in the end prevented the Indian army from responding to the Uri attack.

At this point India began to show signs of backing away, hiding behind the standard words “we will respond at a time and place of our choice”.

The next provocation however came from Pakistan, with Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf giving interviews to several Indian media saying that Pakistan would also respond to any retaliation from India “at a time and place of its choice”.

Pakistan for its part reported the crisis as a preparation for an upcoming aggression by India like the 1965 war.  The Pakistan military was accordingly placed on high alert and several airports were closed to commercial traffic to facilitate the take-off of Pakistani air force F-16s.

At the diplomatic level India asked its old ally Russia to postpone its first ever military exercise with Pakistan.  Rejection of this demand by the Russian side caused frustration and put a question mark over India’s ongoing effort to isolate Pakistan diplomatically.

In the midst of all this Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval – known to some as the  “James Bond” of India – came up with a master plan to save Narendra Modi’s face.

On the morning of 29th September 2016 India’s Director General of Military Operations (“DGMO” ) telephoned to his Pakistani counterpart to inform him that the Indian military had carried out during the night a “Surgical Strike“ inside the Pakistani controlled Kashmir, destroying several terrorist bases.

Later during a press conference the Indian military publicly announced the news of the “Surgical Strike”.  However details were scant and the military avoided taking questions from journalists.

From the Pakistani side the Pakistan military denied that any sort of “Surgical strike” had taken place.  It claimed that the whole incident amount to no more than a case of cross border shelling which had led to two Pakistani soldiers being killed.  Later Pakistan retaliated by launching its own cross border shelling across the Line of Control into Indian controlled Kashmir.

Pakistan then added insult to injury by announcing that it had captured a 22 years old Indian soldier named Chandu Babulal Chavan during the exchange of fire between the two sides on 29 September 2016.  Currently Indian government is negotiating with Pakistan to obtain his return.

The argument over the “Surgical Strike” soon degenerated into a war of words between the medias of India and Pakistan.  However Pakistan gained the advantage when Pakistani General Asim Bajwa, Director General of ISPR  ( inter service public relation- Pakistan Army ) held a press conference in the area of the Indian claimed “ Surgical Strike” in the presence of local and international media.  He showed journalists the non-existence of any evidence for the “Surgical strike”.

The result is that neither the international media nor any Foreign Ministry is as yet able to confirm whether the Indian claimed “Surgical Strike” has actually taken place.

To add to India’s embarrassment, the Pakistani military is now releasing what it says is video footage of Pakistani artillery firing across the Line of control, and the casualties it says this is causing to Indian soldiers.  Not surprisingly these video releases are leading to demand within India of tangible proof from the Indian government that there really was a “Surgical Strike”.

The result is that instead of news of the “Surgical Strike” causing Indian society to rally behind the Modi government, it is leading to heated exchanges in social media between supporters and opponents of the government about whether it even took place.  

 Regardless of the truth of this bizarre affair, any diplomatic initiative between India and Pakistan is unthinkable for the moment.  Tension between India and Pakistan are instead at fever pitch.

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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen exposes Washington’s latest twist in anti-Russia strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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