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CONFIRMED: UN inquiry clears Russia of Aleppo convoy attack

UN Board of Inquiry rejects US assertions of Russian involvement in attack on convoy. Report suggests convoy attacked by Syrian air force in error because as a result of a communications failure Syrian pilots believed it was a legitimate military target.

Alexander Mercouris

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On 19th September 2016 an attack took place on a joint UN-Red Crescent convoy transporting humanitarian supplies near Aleppo in Syria.

The attack provoked a huge media storm, with the US issuing statements attributing the attack to the Russian and Syrian air forces, and with senior US officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, and General Dunford, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, all holding Russia responsible.

Thus Ashton Carter, US Defence Secretary, said the following

The Russians are responsible for this strike whether they conducted it or not.

(bold italics added)

And here is what General Dunford said

I don’t have the facts.  There is no doubt in my mind that the Russians are responsible

(bold italics added)

At the time of the attack I pointed out that this rush to condemn the Russians was made before any investigation of the incident had taken place, before any attempt had been made to secure the place where the attack happened, and in the absence of any inspection of the area.  Here are some of the things I said

Since the attack is being called by some a war crime, it would seem a basic step first to secure and inspect what in that case would be a crime scene before drawing any inferences and making any accusations.  Almost a week after the attack not only has that not been done, but no one seems to be in any hurry to do it.

With the crime scene not secured, the possibility of contamination or outright manipulation of the evidence is very real, especially given the strong incentive to do so of the Jihadi fighters who are in physical control of it.  After all that is what many claim the Jihadi fighters did to the scene of the chemical attack on Ghouta in August 2013.

I was also openly skeptical about the chances of any inquiry into the incident being set up

Sadly I must also say that I do not think that how the convoy came to be attacked or by whom will ever be known.  Quite simply those who are in a position to find out the truth are not interested in doing so.

On the last point it turns out I was wrong, because on 21st October 2016 – more than a month after the attack on the convoy had taken place and with minimal publicity – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did set up a Board of Inquiry.

That Board of Inquiry has now reported, though its report too is being barely reported.  Ban Ki-moon has however provided a summary of its report, and it can be found here.

In brief, the reason the Inquiry and its report are receiving minimal publicity is because its results satisfy do not satisfy certain powerful governments.

It says the convoy was destroyed as the result of an air attack.  It completely exonerates the US and the other Western powers.  It also completely exonerates the Jihadis of staging the incident. However it also indirectly but nonetheless clearly exonerates the Russians.

Whilst it puts the blame for the attack – though only indirectly – on the Syrians, it makes it clear that it believes they attacked the convoy unintentionally and in error.

It also confirms that Western governments pressured the Board of Inquiry to try to get it to implicate the Russians in the attack on the convoy, which however the Inquiry refused to do.

The Board of Inquiry’s findings are open to challenge.  This is because of the delay in setting up the inquiry and the failure to secure the crime scene.  As a result the Board of Inquiry was unable to carry out a physical inspection of the crime scene.  Here is what the report says about this

The Board was not allowed to visit the scene of the incident in Urem al-Kubra, the [Syrian] Government stating that it was unable to ensure the safety of the Board, given the ongoing military operations at that location. In this regard, the Board noted that 11 weeks had already elapsed by then since the date of the incident, by which time damaged vehicles had been removed and some destroyed structures had been repaired or rebuilt. Subsequent actions had therefore adversely affected the integrity of the site of the incident and consequently the availability of physical evidence. A visit to the site might therefore not have yielded commensurate results.  The Board accordingly developed alternative methods of evidence collection.

All this is true but it is also deeply regrettable.  As I said in my article of 26th September 2016 (see above) securing the crime scene immediately following the attack ought to have been the immediate priority.  Realistically that would have required cooperation by all the Great Powers (including the US, Russia, Syria and Turkey) and probably a Resolution of the UN Security Council.  The way the Western powers politicised the incident and sought to make political capital out of it made all that impossible, which is why an inspection of the crime scene has never happened.

Unfortunately without a proper inspection of the crime scene the Inquiry report is incomplete, and its findings open to challenge.

The Board of Inquiry has set out how in the absence of an inspection of the crime scene it undertook its investigation

The Board was not allowed to visit the scene of the incident in Urem al-Kubra, the Government stating that it was unable to ensure the safety of the Board, given the ongoing military operations at that location. In this regard, the Board noted that 11 weeks had already elapsed by then since the date of the incident, by which time damaged vehicles had been removed and some destroyed structures had been repaired or rebuilt. Subsequent actions had therefore adversely affected the integrity of the site of the incident and consequently the availability of physical evidence. A visit to the site might therefore not have yielded commensurate results.  The Board accordingly developed alternative methods of evidence collection.

 The Board was only able to travel to the Syrian Arab Republic from 5 to 9 December 2016, as the issuance of visas by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic was only confirmed on 28 November 2016.  The Board travelled to Damascus, where the Board met with the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, including the High Relief Committee, SARC Damascus and the United Nations Country Team.  At the Russian Embassy in Damascus, the Board also met military officers from the Russian Military airbase in Hmeimim.  In West Aleppo City, the Board met the Governor of Aleppo, members of the local relief committee and the Commanding General of the Russian Reconciliation Centre, Hmeimem. The Board also interviewed primary witnesses in West Aleppo.

The Board also met with the members of the High Negotiations Committee for the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (HNC) and the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (SOC). Furthermore, the Board met with representatives of armed opposition groups. It interviewed primary witnesses (eye witnesses) in Gaziantep and Reyhanli.

The Board also collaborated with UNITAR-UNOSAT, which provided technical capabilities to analyse satellite imagery and ground photography.

The Board used the following materials and methods to arrive at its findings: (i) satellite images; (ii) over 370 photographs and videos; (iii) interviews conducted by the Board of a total of 16 persons who were either eye witnesses to the incident or who were in the vicinity of Urem al-Kubra on the evening of 19 September 2016; (iv) interviews conducted by the Board of a total of 19 secondary witnesses, including United Nations personnel and  representatives of armed opposition groups; (v) information from Member States, including information on their air assets; (vi) air tracks shared with it by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic; (vii) an oral briefing by the Syrian Government regarding their national investigation into the incident, which was still on-going, together with copies of autopsy reports;  (viii) information from the SARC.; (ix) documents from the United Nations Country Team for Syria; and (x) open-source information.

The Board declined to accept physical evidence, such as munitions remnants that were alleged to be from the site of the incident, as the chain of custody for these items could not be established.

This speaks of a proper and thorough investigation, with the opinions of all parties carefully sought and all the right questions asked.  However it cannot fully make up for the failure to examine the crime scene.

What however are the Inquiry’s conclusions, and on what are they based?

Firstly, they are wholly based on the Inquiry’s finding that the convoy was destroyed as the result of an air attack rather than a ground attack.  Here is what the report says about this

The Board found that, between 19:15 and 19:45 hours local time on 19 September 2016, the SARC compound was subject to an attack from the air, using multiple types of munitions deployed from more than one aircraft and aircraft type. The munitions used included non-precision unitary bombs and/or smaller blast-incendiary air-to-ground weapons, which could have been missiles, rockets or sub-munition bomblets.

In reaching this conclusion, the Board considered and rejected the possibilities that the incident was caused by direct fire or ground assault, whether by Syrian Government forces or by armed opposition groups, or by ground-delivered improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or by indirect fire, whether by Syrian Government forces or by armed opposition groups.  It also considered and rejected the possibility that it was a staged or hoax event.

A total of eight possible major impact points within and near the compound were identified by the Board, with further multiple smaller impacts to the northwest.  The southwestern, southern and eastern walls of the compound were damaged and buildings collapsed.  Extensive damage was also done to a wall on the opposite side of Highway 60.

Since the Board of Inquiry was unable to inspect the crime scene, it arrived at this conclusion that the convoy was attacked from the air by relying on the following evidence

The primary evidence for this conclusion came from an analysis of satellite and ground imagery, videos and eyewitness statements. Corroboration came from information provided by Member States and other witness interviews, as well as open-source research conducted by the Board.

(bold italics added)

When reviewing investigations of this sort I long ago realised that eyewitness evidence is unsafe.  Probably the Inquiry relied mostly on the “satellite and ground imagery” and the “corroboration provided by Member States”.

Unfortunately this immediately begs the questions: whose “satellite and ground imagery”, and which Member States?

On the question of the analysis of the “satellite and ground imagery”, we know this was provided by UNITAR-UNOSAT because the Board of Inquiry report tells us so (see above), but as to who provided the “satellite and ground imagery”, that is an entirely different matter, and that is something which the report is careful not to tell us.

As for which Member States provided the “corroboration”which supported the air attack conclusion, the Member States listed in the report are

 France, Iran (Islamic Republic of), the Russian Federation, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Only evidence provided by Syria and Russia is mentioned in the report, none of which however appears to “corroborate” the air attack conclusion.  Almost certainly the “corroboration” comea from the four NATO powers (“France, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America”) since it most unlikely Iran would have done so, or would have had the information to do so.

None of this however means that the air attack conclusion is wrong.  However since “satellite and ground imagery” is always subject to interpretation, and since the “corroboration” almost certainly comes from the same NATO powers that in the immediate aftermath of the attack and before the Board of Inquiry was set up were already accusing Syria and Russia of responsibility for the attack, it is inevitable that some people are already taking issue with the Board of Inquiry’s findings, and are calling its report a whitewash.

I do not go that far.  On the contrary, I think the Board of Inquiry’s findings are almost certainly correct, and that the convoy was indeed destroyed by an attack from the air.

I also think that the Board of Inquiry is almost certainly correct in pointing to the Syrian air force as the perpetrator of the attack, even if the nature of its remit prevents it from saying so.

As the Board of Inquiry correctly says, since no one is accusing the US and the Western powers of carrying out the attack they can be safely excluded, as for different reasons can the Russians (see below).  Since the Board of Inquiry says the convoy was destroyed as a result of an air attack, and as the Jihadis do not have an air force, by elimination that means it must have been the Syrian air force which carried out the attack.

However, before discussing this further, it is essential to read carefully what the Board of Inquiry’s conclusions actually are

The area immediately around the SARC compound had been hit on at least two occasions between 26 June 2016 and 1 September 2016, with two separate groups of buildings, located between 55m and 140m away, having been attacked, most likely from the air. The Board considered that the location of the SARC compound, on the outskirts of a populated area, in an industrial zone and astride one of the two primary roads leading to southwestern Aleppo, made it a realistic possibility that the buildings around it were used by armed opposition groups prior to the date of the incident. Therefore the Board considered that it had most likely been attacked by pro-Government forces.

The Board noted that aircraft operating as part of the forces of the International Coalition Forces and aircraft of the Russian Federation and of the SAAF all had the capabilities needed to carry out an attack of the kind that had occurred on 19 September 2016, including at night.   Armed opposition groups did not have the capability to carry out air attacks.

The Board further noted that no party had alleged the involvement of International Coalition Forces aircraft and, as such, their involvement was highly unlikely.

The Board stated that it had received reports that information existed to the effect that the SAAF was highly likely to have perpetrated the attack, and even that the attack was carried out by three Syrian Mi-17 model helicopters, followed by three unnamed fixed-wing aircraft, with a single Russian aircraft also suspected of being involved. However, the Board did not have access to raw data to support these assertions and, in their absence, it was unable to draw a definitive conclusion. Moreover, the Governments of both the Russian Federation and Syrian Arab Republic denied all allegations of their involvement in the incident.

The Board noted in this connection that there were technical issues pertaining to a hypothesis of the incident being a result of a joint Syrian Arab Air Force/Russian Federation strike. The Board had been informed that that the Russian Federation did not conduct joint strikes. A high degree of interoperability and co-ordination would also be required for two air forces to operate in the same airspace, targeting the same location.

(bold italics added)

These are very carefully chosen words, which show the intense behind-the-scenes pressure from the Western powers on the Board of Inquiry.

Firstly, the first paragraph all but confirms that the convoy was attacked in error.

It seems the convoy was attacked because it was inside a compound located astride two main roads, one of which was one of the two main routes used by the Jihadis to send supplies and fighters to the battlefields near Aleppo.  It was also located next to buildings which were almost certainly occupied by the Jihadis and used by them for their own purposes.

That one of the two roads next to the compound in which the convoy was located was a major supply route used by the Jihadis sending supplies and reinforcements to Aleppo is confirmed in an earlier part of the report

The SARC compound, the incident site, is located approximately 1.5 km east of the town of Urem al-Kubra.  It consists of mixed light industry and dwellings.  The compound is located alongside Highway 60 — the primary Aleppo-to-Idlib road.  Highway 60 was one of the two primary lines of communication — the other being the M5 highway, which runs South to Hama and Homs — that could be used by armed opposition groups to move military materiel, equipment and personnel to frontline areas in Aleppo.

Jihadi military convoys moving down Highway 60 and Jihadi fighters based in the buildings immediately adjoining the compound where the convoy was located, are legitimate military targets.  Almost certainly the Syrian aircraft which attacked the convoy mistook it for part of the military traffic the Jihadis were sending down Highway 60 to reinforce the fighters in Aleppo.

Whilst the report is careful to say that the UN and Red Crescent had kept the Syrian and Russian authorities fully informed of the convoy’s movements, it seems this information was not passed on to the Syrian air force pilots who carried out the attack on what they clearly assumed was a legitimate military target located inside a Jihadi base.  Such tragedies are unfortunately all too common in war.  That there was a communications breakdown which meant that the Syrian authorities failed to pass on to the Syrian air force information about the whereabouts of the convoy is strongly hinted in the report in the following paragraph

The Board noted that it could not gain a full understanding of the coordination measures employed by the Syrian authorities and that it was not evident from the answers that it had received to its questions that the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) was informed of the convoy.

There is however unfortunately possibly more to it than that.

Recently I speculated that some of the attacks on hospitals in eastern Aleppo had happened because the Jihadis had intentionally located hospitals next to military sites, which were legitimate military targets for air attack.  Here is what I wrote about this

I will here set out my own view, which is that though certain hospitals were indeed bombed in eastern Aleppo, this was either done unintentionally, or was the result of the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis deliberately positioning hospitals and medical facilities close to their ammunition depots, firing positions, and assembly areas, putting them intentionally in the line of fire, so as to cause attacks on them, which could be exploited for their propaganda value.

Unfortunately the report at least leaves open the possibility that this was what was done to the convoy.

The report shows that it was the Jihadis who ‘escorted’ the convoy in the days before it was attacked, and that they were even pilfering its supplies along the way.  It is possible that it was the  Jihadis who positioned the convoy inside a compound near what was apparently a Jihadi military base.

If this is correct then the Jihadis placed the convoy in danger, either because they hoped to use it to give cover to their adjoining military base and to the military traffic they were sending down Highway 60, or because they hoped to milk a possible attack on the convoy for propaganda purposes by intentionally locating it somewhere where it was likely to be attacked, or possibly because they also made a mistake.

In any case, if – as is overwhelmingly likely and as the Board of Inquiry clearly believes – the Syrian air force attacked the convoy in error because it was either intentionally or negligently placed next to a military target, and because as a result of a communications failure the Syrian pilots who carried out the attack believed it was a legitimate target, then there was no war crime, and no grounds to allege one.

It is however in what the report says about alleged Russian involvement in the attack that the report becomes most interesting.

In the days immediately following the attack two US government officials were prowling around the offices of Western news media agencies, anonymously making claims that the convoy was destroyed as a result of a Russian air strike, and talking of the supposed presence of two Russian SU24 aircraft in the area at the time of the attack.  Here is what I had to say about this at the time

Instead of the US publicly identifying who they say attacked the convoy, two US officials are doing  so anonymously, in comments to the BBC and Reuters, spreading a story of two Russian SU24 fighter bombers supposedly being seen in the air (by whom?) in the area of the convoy.  These same two unnamed US officials are also claiming that the attack on the convoy was revenge for the US air strike on the Syrian troops defending Deir Ezzor.

Given the choice between straightforward public and categorical statements of denial from the Syrians and the Russians, and elliptical semi-secret off-the-record insinuations of Russian guilt from the US, the Western media without hesitation preferred the elliptical semi-secret off-the-record insinuations of Russian guilt from the US.  As a result it was reporting all of yesterday as fact that it was the Russian air force which attacked the convoy.

This is the reverse of what responsible journalism would do.  It should hardly need saying that a straightforward public denial ought always to carry more weight than elliptical semi-secret off-the-record insinuations of guilt.

(bold italics added) 

In its carefully chosen words the Board of Inquiry has not only trashed the claims of the two US officials, effectively saying they were untrue, but has exposed the pressure it came under from the US.

Firstly, the Board of Inquiry says that it was told by some party, which it fails to name but which can only have been the US, that a “single Russian aircraft was also suspected of being involved”.  However the Board of Inquiry pointedly refused to accept this claim, pointing out that it had not been given “access to raw data to support these assertions”.

In other words the Board of Inquiry is implicitly saying that in the absence of evidence it is not prepared to accept the US’s word on this issue.

Having made this point, the Board of Inquiry then went on in its report to go much further, making it crystal clear, albeit indirectly, that it believes US claims of Russian involvement in the attack are untrue.

Not only does the report say that the Russian and Syrian air forces do not conduct joint air strikes (a fact which as an observer of the Syrian conflict I had already noticed) but it also says there is insufficient interoperability between the Russian and Syrian air forces to make such a thing possible (“to operate in the same airspace, targeting the same location.”)

Whilst evidence for this second assertion must have come from the Syrians and the Russians, the highly professional individuals who made up the Board of Inquiry (the chief of whom is an Indian general) are undoubtedly competent enough to verify it.  That they did so is shown by the way the report reports this assertion as true.

The Board of Inquiry’s very limited remit means that it was under no duty to disclose that it had rejected information about Russian involvement provided by the US.  Nonetheless it chose to do so – a sure sign of the pressure it came under from the US, and the anger this caused amongst some of its members.  In the process it has exonerated the Russians of involvement in the attack and exposed US claims of Russian involvement, which circulated so widely and so publicly in the days following the attack, as untrue.

As a result of the Board of Inquiry’s work it is now possible to arrive at a reasonable conclusion of what happened to the convoy.

The convoy was almost certainly attacked in error by the Syrian air force because the Jihadis, whether intentionally or not, placed it next to their own military facilities, which were not only a legitimate target for attack, but which the Syrian air force actually had attacked on 1st September 2016 ie. just a few weeks before.

Since the attack was almost certainly an error, no war crime was committed.

All claims of Russian involvement in the attack are untrue.

Not only is the US unable to provide information to support this claim, but the Syrians and the Russians have provided technical information which proves it to be untrue.

All in all, this is a careful and good report, which has cast a clear light over this incident.  Whilst in the absence of an inspection of the crime scene its conclusions are open to challenge, everything suggests the Board of Inquiry went about its work properly and responsibly.  Overall there is no strong reason to doubt its conclusions, and for my part I accept them.

This marks a refreshing change from the way certain other Inquiries involving Russia have gone about their business.  The one headed by Professor McLaren, the one into the Litvinenko murder, and the two into the MH17 shoot-down, are cases in point.

It shows what can be achieved when an Inquiry carries out its work impartially and responsibly, refusing to be pressured or led by the nose into accepting wild assertions as facts, whilst taking care to listen to all the parties.

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Kaspersky Lab snags former NSA contractor stealing hacking tools

Semi-buried article did see publication on Politico and Fox News, but Kaspersky Lab was not vindicated for its help in solving this case.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In a time known for Smear Campaigns of the Strangest Kind, we have seen Russia blamed for being there, for interfering and preventing the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Presidency, putting Donald Trump in the White House instead. One of Russia’s companies, Kaspersky Lab, has a particularly notable history of late; that is to say, this computer security company has found itself on the receiving end of quite frankly, illegal levels of slander and punishment without cause from the US government. Kaspersky Lab owner and CEO tried very hard to come to the US to discuss these matters with a Congressional committee, only to have the meeting shelved into limbo.

However, the truth made itself manifest when it became known that Kaspersky Lab actually helped the American FBI catch Harold T. Martin III, who was found to be attempting to steal some of the American government’s most sensitive hacking tools. This fact emerged on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, when sources familiar with this investigation spoke to The Politico magazine. Politico says the following in its report:

[Kaspersky Lab’s] role in exposing Martin is a remarkable twist in an increasingly bizarre case that is believed to be the largest breach of classified material in U.S. history.

It indicates that the government’s own internal monitoring systems and investigators had little to do with catching Martin, who prosecutors say took home an estimated 50 terabytes of data from the NSA and other government offices over a two-decade period, including some of the NSA’s most sophisticated and sensitive hacking tools.

The revelation also introduces an ironic turn in the negative narrative the U.S. government has woven about the Russian company in recent years.

Under both the Obama and Trump administrations, officials have accused the company of colluding with Russian intelligence to steal and expose classified NSA tools, and in 2016 the FBI engaged in an aggressive behind-the-scenes campaign to discredit the company and get its software banned from U.S. government computers on national security grounds. But even while the FBI was doing this, the Russian firm was tipping off the bureau to an alleged intelligence thief in the government’s own midst.

“It’s irony piled on irony that people who worked at Kaspersky, who were already in the sights of the U.S. intelligence community, disclosed to them that they had this problem,” said Stewart Baker, general counsel for the NSA in the 1990s and a current partner at Steptoe and Johnson. It’s also discouraging, he noted, that the NSA apparently still hasn’t “figured out a good way to find unreliable employees who are mishandling some of their most sensitive stuff.”

The Politico piece as well as Fox News’ variant still seem somewhat determined to keep that negative narrative in place, with Fox assessing that the FBI had a “strange bedfellow” in the investigation, and what appears to be an absolutely enormous presumption in Politico’s piece:

The first message sent on Aug. 13, 2016, asked one of the researchers to arrange a conversation with “Yevgeny” — presumably Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky, whose given name is Yevgeny Kaspersky. The message didn’t indicate the reason for the conversation or the topic, but a second message following right afterward said, “Shelf life, three weeks,” suggesting the request, or the reason for it, would be relevant for a limited time.

However, there are many people in the world named “Yevgeny” (Evgeny, or Eugene) in Russia, and presumably many Evgenys in Kaspersky Lab itself. The notion that the CEO of the company would be involved in this appears to be an absolutely enormous leap of logic.

The maintenance of a negative narrative about Kaspersky Lab has been one of the most frustratingly effective examples of American propaganda in use since Russia overall became increasingly used as America’s newest scapegoat.

This is also not the first time that Kaspersky Lab saved the day for an American intelligence agency. In 2017 the same company’s services found 122 viruses on an NSA employee’s computer.

Kaspersky Lab itself is a highly sophisticated company based in Moscow, Russia, specializing in securing computers against malware, viruses, ransomware and all manner of invasive efforts by the bad guys out on the ‘Net, and among the providers of such services it consistently rates among the best in the industry, including in US surveys. While US retailers Best Buy, Office Depot and the US government have banned selling or running Kaspersky Lab software, European allies of the US have not even breathed the slightest bit of discontent with the AV provider. The narrative is the only thing that is actually wrong, and since Evgeny Kaspersky’s education was largely at the Academy that trained former KGB personnel, (now called FSB), the anti-Russia narrative in the US the acronym “KGB” is usually enough to alarm most low-information American news readers and watchers. 

However, logic and awareness of life in modern Russia, point to the fact that getting an education on security at the FSB Academy ought to be equivalent to the same education at the CIA. Who would know better about how to create security than those people specially trained to compromise it? However the propaganda vantage point that Kaspersky afforded the US government in its drive to get rid of President Donald Trump made the Russian company too juicy a target to ignore.

Over the last year or two, however, this narrative has slowly been falling apart, with this Politico article being a significant, though still small vindication of the company’s prowess and abilities.

That a Russian Internet Security company could succeed where American enterprises failed, and especially where it helped the Americans catch a man who was stealing very powerful hacking tools, is a significant story, indeed.

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Neofascist Push for Europe’s Implosion Is Not in EU Members National Interest

The European Union must become for the people by the people.

Gilbert Mercier

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Via News Junkie Post


The European Union is under numerous existential threats. On one hand, there are the internal threats, with the rise to power of the so-called nationalist-populist eurosceptics — which are in reality racist neofascists — in Austria, Hungary, Poland, and to a lesser extent Italy, with the Interior Minister Matteo Salvini being an influential part of the country’s coalition government, as well as the recent gain in political clout of anti-EU far-right parties such as the Rassemblement National of Marine Le Pen, in France. On the other hand, there are the external threats, which used to be diffuse and secretive but are becoming more and more overt, from the Trump administration in the United States through the unofficial operative Steve Bannon, as well as, to a much lesser extent, Russia, perhaps China, and also, for some odd reason, even Iran’s Islamic Republic on monetary issues. Go figure. It seems that a downgrade, or even dismantlement, of the EU as a geopolitical major player suits the needs of other leading world powers. There is a cautionary tale here for all Europeans, especially those like the Gilets Jaunes who reject the Europe of bankers and technocrats. It is a geopolitical cautionary tale about reforming what you have and not jumping to conclusions and doing a tabula rasa of a European Union adventure that is 62 years in the making.

In an era of Cold War redux, the EU is a geopolitical imperative

The birth of the EU was in 1957. It was signed into existence in the Treaty of Rome by the six founding members: Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg and West Germany. Naturally, this must be understood in the context of a post-Yalta world, which effectively started the split of world affairs and influences between the two empires born out of the ashes of World War II: the United States of America, of course, and the USSR, which have agreed to disagree on ideologies, but have come to a tacit understanding about their spheres of influence. The constant conflicts between the two blocks have manifested themselves through various proxy wars, always at the expense of third parties. From a military standpoint, the US came up with NATO in 1949, using the fear of the supposed Soviet threat to subjugate its European so-called allies, which became not much more than vassals. Behind the legendary Iron Curtain, Stalin’s USSR had the Warsaw Pact.

Since the Ukrainian crisis, five years ago, we have reentered a Cold War logic, and again Russia is painted by Western mainstream media as the biggest threat to the supposed free world — whatever this means in the propagandist lexicon — and Vladimir Putin as the ultimate bogeyman head of state. At the time of the treaty of Rome, it took some courage for the six founding members to take this initiative, considering that all of them had US troops de facto occupying their respective countries. This very timid start in the mid-1950s was followed by attempts to make the EU, not only an economic union but a political force.

Let us fast forward to the current legal framework of the EU: the Treaty of Lisbon, still in force today, which is an amendment of the Maastricht Treaty of 1993. The Treaty of Lisbon was signed in Portugal on December 13, 2007; however, it took two years to be ratified by all EU members, and it became a legally binding agreement for all members on December 1, 2009. It is the current cornerstone of the EU’s political framework. In this treaty, which of course, BREXIT has put to a serious test, Article 50 established the provision that “Any member state may decide to withdraw from the union in accordance with its own constitutional requirement.” In the case of BREXIT, this was after an exit of the EU was voted on by British citizens, and this narrowly won a referendum.

In the case of the BREXIT win, which could turn out to be disastrous for the welfare of British people, and even the influence of the former British Empire, it was not the immensely and famously nefarious hand of Vladimir Putin that was involved, as claimed by many in the UK, but actually the hand of Steve Bannon, through the shady firm, Cambridge Analytica, using the vast assets of the Mercer hedge fund. This hedge fund is the financial entity that powers Alt-Right sites such as Breitbart and many others. This being said, to be fair, Mercer’s nemesis George Soros, for his part, invested heavily in the No-BREXIT vote. Where there foreign influences in the BREXIT vote? Yes, but it was a Robert Mercer vs George Soros confrontation that involved two conflicting visions of globalization, each one as toxic as the other. But Bannon, Mercer and Co.’s instrument, who is now operating in Europe to trigger similar scenarios, such as FREXIT for France, is in reality working for the neocon US world domination program, which is the so-called Project for the New American Century.

In a better-known fight between financial puppet masters, it was Bob Mercer’s cash and Steve Bannon’s media savvy that arguably elected Donald Trump US president in 2016, against a Clinton campaign that was partially financed by the billionaire George Soros. In both cases, Soros lost. Regardless of the pseudo-ideological bickering, and Bob Mercer phony libertarian views, US imperialism is still the hallmark of US foreign policy, just as it has been since 1945. Allies are truly vassals, and States that attempt to be independent are not fair competitors but enemies. A politically strong European Union, with its own military, independently of NATO, would be a perceived threat to the American Empire.

The neocon United States of Trumpism: Main enemy of the EU

A recent event in Washington went almost unnoticed by European observers, although it was symbolically of great importance. The Trump administration decided to downgrade the status of the European Union’s official foreign representation from an embassy to mere delegation with an office. This is an important illustration of the current US administration’s view of the EU as being something cumbersome and redundant in its foreign policy lexicon and agenda. This stand of Trumpism, really controlled by the neocon John Bolton, is reminiscent of what another neocon, this time Donald Rumsfeld, called, in the build up to George W. Bush’s 2003 Iraq war, the Old Europe. A more compliant New Europe was wanted, as opposed to the not-so-subservient Old Europe, personified by then French President Jacques Chirac, who was unwilling to join the folly of Iraq’s invasion. France was not then part of NATO.

Let’s face it. The neocons are fully in charge of Trump’s foreign policy and are pursuing more than ever their agenda. Their goal is uncontested US world domination by any means necessary: political, economic through various sanctions on whatever countries they define as enemy states, and of course, in cases of last resort, through the armed fist of US imperialism, which is NATO. Those are the US policy imperatives defined almost a quarter century ago in the neocons’ bible and opus: The Project for the New American Century. Rain or shine, the neocons still control the US foreign policy agenda.

Instead of imploding the EU, Europeans should exit NATO

What the demagogues of the European far-Right in Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Poland, as well as neoliberal governments in Germany, Spain, and the UK are not telling their populations while they posture about nationalism, is the simple fact that their countries are actually occupied by US troops. In the case of Poland, they are even eager to host more American occupiers. The unapologetic ultra neocon deep-pocketed think tank, The Heritage Foundation, which is providing a lot of top-position appointees to the Trump administration, gloats about the US empire’s military strength in Europe, and of course frames the narrative in terms of deterrent against semi-fictional potential Russian aggressions.

Today, 74 years after the end of World War II, the number of US troops stationed in the European Union is absolutely staggering. About 65,000 active US troops are deployed in Europe, in around 17 main operating bases mainly in Germany, Italy (Mr. Salvini, how about Italian sovereignty?), the United Kingdom and Spain. Deployments are in the works in Poland as well, at the request of the far-Right government. The Gilets Jaunes and some European politicians are correct: the respective EU nations should break free from their servitude to giant multinational corporations, financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, as well as nefarious state players such as Saudi ArabiaQatar and the United Arab Emirates. But the real masters are not in Bruxelles, they are somewhere in the United States, around Washington DC, shuffling between the Pentagon, the White House, the CIA and of course Wall Street.

Despite the claims of the US administrations, either Democrat or Republican, and their allies/vassals in Europe and Canada, NATO’s wars in AfghanistanIraqLibya and Syriawere not necessarily meant to be won on the battlefield, but rather to become a semi-permanent occupation of various countries mainly for the exploitation of natural resources. This first-wreck-then-exploit strategy has been especially applied in the Middle East by toppling Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi. In both Iraq and Libya, two failed states were, either on purpose or by default, engineered by NATO. Because of Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran, the same plan, with the minute variation of using ISIS as a proxy, didn’t work at all against Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Afghanistan has been called the graveyard of empires: rightly so in the cases of Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviets. NATO, and especially Europeans should have known better than to venture into such a dangerous land as invaders. However, America Empire Inc. and its financial, economical and military might thought that they could break the will of the Pashtuns. They didn’t.

The European Union must become for the people by the people 

In December 2010, I was, to my knowledge, the first analyst to forecast the collapse of the current dominant global empire. The out-of-control madness of Trumpism might be providing a helping hand in that process. Perhaps a redefined European Union, for the people by people, following the impulse of the Gilets Jaunes movement leading the way, will help us to free ourselves from the shackles of a globalization that only serves to profit a minute portion of the population worldwide. The European Union can be built upon rather than destroyed, and perhaps, once it finally stops serving as the little helper of corporate imperialism, it could become an inspiration of real conviviality for other continents, a truly multi-ethnic and multi-cultural association of people, more than States, which departs from the dead end that is our global capitalist system.

Editor’s Notes: Gilbert Mercier is the author of The Orwellian Empire. Photographs one by Theophilos Papadopoulos, two by Looking for Poetry, five by Gage Skidmore; six by Ian Glover, seven by Jason, eight from the archives of Resolute Support Media, nine from the archives of NATO, eleven by Radiowoodand composites ten and twelve byJared Rodriguez.

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China’s Ambassador to Canada Exposes the White Supremacist Five Eyes Surveillance State

This is the deep state that has been dedicated to overthrowing American President Donald Trump since MI6 and their junior partners in America began organising Russia-gate in 2015.

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In a January 9, 2019 op-ed in Ottawa’s Hill Times, China’s Ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye did what no other mainstream media outlet has been willing to do since the untimely arrest of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou occurred while she was boarding a plane in Vancouver on December 1st. Much dispute has arisen over the arrest and China’s response with its own arrest of two Canadians suspected of espionage in Beijing.

In an article entitled Why the double standard on justice for Canadians, Chinese? Ambassador Lu cut through the noise being created by the media and western political class by exposing the over bloated western surveillance state known as the Five Eyes which he properly identified as the outgrowth of the unconstitutional Patriot Act, the Prism surveillance system which has annihilated all semblance of privacy among trans-Atlantic nations.

After describing the double standard applied by Canadian elites who have constructed a narrative that always paints China as the villain of the world while portraying the west as “free and democratic” Ambassador Lu stated: 

“these same people have conveniently ignored the PRISM Program, Equation Group, and Echelon—global spying networks operated by some countries that have been engaging in large-scale and organized cyber stealing, and spying and surveillance activities on foreign governments, enterprises, and individuals. These people also took a laissez-faire attitude toward a country that infringes on its citizens’ privacy rights through the Patriot Act. They shouted for a ban by the Five Eyes alliance countries…. on the use of Huawei equipment by these countries’ own enterprises”

For those who may not be aware, the Five Eyes is the name given to the British GCHQ-controlled surveillance structure that involves the four primary Anglo-Saxon Commonwealth countries (Britain, Canada, Australian and New Zealand) along with the United States. This is the deep state that has been dedicated to overthrowing American President Donald Trump since MI6 and their junior partners in America began organising Russia-gate in 2015-when it became apparent that Trump had a serious chance of defeating the Deep State candidate Hillary Clinton.

As many patriotic whistle blowers such as Bill Binney, Ray McGovern, and Edward Snowden have exposed throughout recent years, the Five Eyes system that the Ambassador referenced was formed in the “post-911 world order” as a means of overriding each nations’ constitutional protection of its own citizens’ by capitalising on a major legal loop hole (viz: Since it is technically illegal for American intelligence agencies to spy on Americans without warrant, and for CSIS  to do the same to Canadians, it is claimed that it is okay for British/Canadian intelligence agencies to spy on Americas and visa versa).

The Chinese Ambassador didn’t stop there however, but went one step further, ending his op-ed with a controversial claim which has earned him much criticism in the days since its publication. It was in his closing paragraph that Ambassador Lu made the uncomfortable point that the double standards employed against China and the west’s willingness to ignore the Five Eyes “is due to Western egotism and white supremacy”. Is this the “belligerent and unfounded name calling” that his detractors are labelling it, or is there something more to it?

When we look to the origins of the Five Eyes, which goes back MUCH further than September 11, 2001, we can clearly see that Lu Shaye is touching a very deep and truthful nerve.

Cecil Rhodes and the Racist Roots of the Deep State

19th Century spokesman for the British Empire, Cecil Rhodes wrote his infamous “Seventh Will” in 1877 where, speaking on behalf of an empire dying in the midst of the global spread of republican institutions, called for the formation of a new plan to re-organise the Empire, and re-conquer all colonial possessions that had been contaminated by republican ideas of freedom, progress, equality and self-determination[1]. Rhodes stated:

“I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings what an alteration there would be if they were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence, look again at the extra employment a new country added to our dominions gives. I contend that every acre added to our territory means in the future birth to some more of the English race who otherwise would not be brought into existence…. Why should we not form a secret society with but one object the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule for the recovery of the United States for the making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire…”[2]

Race Patriot” Cecil Rhodes from Punch Magazine lording over Africa

The Rhodes Trust was set up at his death in 1902 to administer the vast riches accrued during Rhodes’ exploitation of diamond mines in Africa. Steered by Lord Alfred Milner, it was this Trust which gave birth to the Round Table Movement and Rhodes Scholarship Fund which themselves have been behind the creation of a century’s worth of indoctrinated technocrats who have permeated all branches of government, finance, military, media, corporate and academia- both in America and internationally [3].

The Round Table Movement, (working in tandem with London’s Fabian Society) didn’t replace the old British Empire’s power structures, so much as re-define their behaviour based upon the re-absorption of America back into the Anglo-Saxon hive. This involved centralising control of the education of their “managerial elite” with special scholarship’s in Oxford  and the London School of Economics- then sending the indoctrinated victims in droves back into their respective nations in order to be absorbed into the British Empire’s governance structures in all domains of private and public influence. In Fabian Society terms, this concept is known as “permeation theory”[4].

Although it sometimes took the early removal of nationalist political leaders from power, via intrigue, coups or assassination, the 20th century was shaped in large measure by the cancerous growth of this British-directed network that sought to undo the republican concept that progress and cooperation were the basis for both sovereignty and international law as laid out in the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 [5].

This is the deep state that President Roosevelt warned of when he said in 1936 “The economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain about is that we seek to take away their power.” This is the deep state that outgoing President Eisenhower warned of when he spoke of the “acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex” in 1961 and that John Kennedy fought against when he fired Allen Dulles and threatened to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter into the winds”. It is what Ronald Reagan contended with when he attempted to break the world out of the Cold War by working with Russia and other nations on Beam defense in 1983. It is this structure that owned Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s entire career, from his 1980s railroading of Lyndon LaRouche into prison to his cover up of the Anglo-Saudi role in 911 as CIA director to his efforts to impeach President Donald Trump today [6].

It is this same complex which is the direct outgrowth of the racist British-run drug wars on China and suppression of India and Africa throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

In Canada, this was the network that destroyed the plans of nationalist Prime Minister John Diefenbaker after he fired the Rhodes Scholar Governor of the Bank of Canada in 1959 during a desperate struggle to take control of the national bank in order to fund his Northern Vision [7]. Earlier, it was this group that Lincoln-admirer Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier warned of after his defeat in 1911 when he said “Canada is now governed by a junta sitting at London, known as “The Round Table”, with ramifications in Toronto, in Winnipeg, in Victoria, with Tories and Grits receiving their ideas from London and insidiously forcing them on their respective parties.”[8]

The lesson to be learned is that the Deep State is not “American” as many commentators have assumed. It is the same old British Empire from which America brilliantly broke free in 1776 and which Cecil Rhodes and Milner led in re-organising on behalf of the monarchy at the beginning of the 20th century. It was racist when Lords Palmerston and Russell ran it in the 19th century and it continues to be racist today.

So when Ambassador Lu says “the reason why some people are used to arrogantly adopting double standards is due to Western egotism and white supremacy – in such a context, the rule of law is nothing but a tool for their political ends and a fig leaf for their practising hegemony in the international arena” he is not being “belligerent or provocative”, but is rather hitting on a fact which must be better understood if the deep state will finally be defeated and nations liberated to work with the new spirit of progress and cooperation exemplified by China’s Belt and Road Initiative which is quickly spreading across the earth.

Footnotes

[1] By 1876, the American Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia showcased to a world audience the success of the “American System of Political Economy” which asserted that the value and behaviour of money was contingent upon the physical productive growth of the nation rather than “British-system free markets”. Lincoln’s system was being adopted across South American nations, Japan, China, India and many European powers as well (including Russia) which had grown tired of being manipulated by British imperial intrigues.

[2] Cecil Rhodes, 1877 Confessions of Faith, University of Oregon

[3] See American System or British Dictatorship part 1 by the author, Canadian Patriot #7, June 2013

[4] For anyone in Canada wishing to learn about this in greater depth, they may wish to ask Canadian technocratic Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland how her experience as a Rhodes Scholar shaped her career.

[5] The Peace of Westphalia: France’s Defense of the Sovereign Nation by Pierre Beaudry, EIR Nov. 29, 2002

[6] Robert Mueller Is an Amoral Legal Assassin: He Will Do His Job If You Let Him by Barbara Boyd, October 1, 2017 larouchepac.com. A common denominator among all of the mentioned American leaders is not only that they waged war on the deep state structures but made constant attempts to work constructively with Russia, China, India and other nations for industrial and scientific development. This policy of “win-win cooperation” is antagonistic to all systems of empire and is the reason why the Empire hates China and the potential created with Trump’s intention to work with both China and Russia.

[7] See John Diefenbaker and the Sabotage of the Northern Vision by the author, Canadian Patriot #4, January 2013

[8] O.D. Skelton, The Life of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, p. 510

 


BIO: Matthew J.L. Ehret is a journalist, lecturer and founder of the Canadian Patriot Review. His works have been published in Executive Intelligence Review, Global Resesarch, Global Times, Nexus Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, Veterans Today and Sott.net. Matthew has also published the book “The Time has Come for Canada to Join the New Silk Road” and three volumes of the Untold History of Canada (available on untoldhistory.canadianpatriot.org). He has been associated with the Schiller Institute since 2006.

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