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How Britain is whitewashing its Libyan crime

Whilst exposing the catastrophic consequences of the 2011 Western intervention in Libya the latest British House of Commons report is ultimately a whitewash because it continues the pretence that the objective was to protect civilians instead of achieving regime change.

Alexander Mercouris

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Just a few weeks have passed since the Chilcot report, which looked at the Blair government’s role in the Iraq war, and a British House of Commons Committee has now published a report into the Cameron government’s role in the Libyan war.

Its assessment is scathing.  Given the state of Libya, it could hardly be otherwise.  This is how the report describes Libya’s economic state before the Western powers intervened in 2011 to “save” it from “Gaddafi’s tyranny”

“The Libyan economy generated some $75 billion of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010. This economy produced an average annual per capita income of approximately $12,250, which was comparable to the average income in some European countries.  Libyan Government revenue greatly exceeded expenditure in the 2000s. This surplus revenue was invested in a sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), which was conservatively valued at $53 billion in June 2010.  The United Nations Human Development Report 2010—a United Nations aggregate measure of health, education and income—ranked Libya as the 53rd most advanced country in the world for human development and as the most advanced country in Africa. Human rights remained limited by state repression of civil society and restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression.”

And this how the same report describes the condition of Libya’s economy today, five years after Libya was “saved”

“In 2014, the most recent year for which reliable figures are available, Libya generated $41.14 billion of gross domestic product and the average Libyans annual income had decreased from $12,250 in 2010 to $7,820.28.  Since 2014, Libya’s economic predicament has reportedly deteriorated. Libya is likely to experience a budget deficit of some 60% of GDP in 2016. The requirement to finance that deficit is rapidly depleting net foreign reserves, which halved from $107 billion in 2013 to $56.8 billion by the end of 2015. Production of crude oil fell to its lowest recorded level in 2015, while oil prices collapsed in the second half of 2014. Inflation increased to 9.2% driven by a 13.7% increase in food prices including a fivefold increase in the price of flour.  The United Nations ranked Libya as the world’s 94th most advanced country in its 2015 index of human development, a decline from 53rd place in 2010.”

Beyond the collapse of Libya’s economy the report describes a country where law and order has broken down, where state institutions have collapsed, where there is no properly organised government, which is fought over by violent militias and Islamist warlords, where human rights are  disregarded, and where ISIS is on the rampage and is becoming an increasingly powerful presence.  

The report makes clear that all this was entirely foreseeable and was in fact foreseen.

It also makes all the same claims of poor planning, unclear objectives, sloppy decision making etc already familiar from the Chilcot report about the war in Iraq.

Thus the report admits that the entire case for intervening in Libya – presented to the Western public in 2011 through the medium of lurid atrocity stories published in the Western media – was completely bogus. 

The protests against Gaddafi were not peaceful but violent, with violent Jihadi groups involved in them from the start – just as Gaddafi was saying. 

Gaddafi never planned to carry out indiscriminate massacres in Benghazi or in any other rebel held city his forces recaptured, and he did not in fact carry out such massacres in those rebel held cities his forces did recapture.  Talk that his army was composed primarily or even entirely of African mercenaries was false.

The report admits that peaceful alternatives to the war were always there, that Gaddafi was amenable to compromise, and that means to settle the conflict peacefully and diplomatically were never explored.

Every single of these findings is true.  Every one of them was also obvious from the start.  It did not need five years and a lengthy report to state them. 

Back in October 2011, shortly after Gaddafi’s grisly murder, I wrote a long account of the Libyan conflict which makes all these same points.  The big difference between my account and the House of Commons Committee report is that my account is far more complete, far more accurate, and in all respects much better.

The reason for this is not because I had any superior insight in 2011 to the one the House of Commons Committee has now.  Nor is it because I knew more facts in 2011 than they do today. 

On the contrary they have means of obtaining information that are far beyond mine though as it happens everything I reported as a fact in my account written in 2011 – such as that British and French Special Forces were involved in the rebel capture of Tripoli – is confirmed by their report as true. 

The one exception is that the report accepts without comment assurances that Gaddafi himself was not a target of the Western bombing and that there was no plan to kill him.  As to that I disagree, and still believe he was a target for Western bombing and that there was an intention to kill him, just as I said there was in 2011.

The reason my account from October 2011 is so much better than the report the House of Committee has published now is because I did not accept then, any more than I accept now, the claim that the war that was waged on Libya in 2011 for any other purpose than to overthrow Gaddafi and to achieve regime change there. 

Now as then I say the facts speak for themselves, and I say that to argue otherwise and to say – as the House of Commons Committee report does –  that the Western attack on Libya in 2011 had some other purpose, and was not intended to end with Gaddafi’s overthrow, is on the facts unsustainable and even ridiculous. 

Here for example is how I showed back in October 2011 that regime change and Gaddafi’s overthrow were the only possible explanations for the conduct of the Western powers in the discussions in the UN Security Council which led to the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1973

“25. As was pointed out at the time Resolutions 1970 and 1973 are a further disturbing development.  It is a fundamental principle of the UN System that member states are sovereign over their own internal affairs.  This builds on the previously established law of nations that countries do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and do not take sides or interfere in their civil wars.  Over time this principle has been modified to permit intervention in exceptional circumstances such as where genocide is taking place or is beiing threatened.  These exceptions are however hedged around with safeguards and procedures all of which were completely disregarded in this case.  As a matter of fact we now know as a result of the investigations carried out by the International Crisis Group, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that the situation in Libya was not in fact of the sort as would justify intervention in accordance with these exceptions. 

26. Despite the fact that the situation in Libya was not such as to justify outside intervention in its conflict that is precisely what Resolutions 1970 and 1973 in practice made possible.  The Security Council passed these Resolutions in breach of its own procedures and of standard diplomatic practice on the basis of information that has now been shown to have been false and without giving the country that was the object of these Resolutions an opportunity to state its case.  This happened because a small number of powerful states on the Security Council were able to abuse the monopoly the western media still has over information in order to blackmail the rest.  There is moreover no doubt that this was done in pursuit of a straightforward agenda of regime change even though this was not actually authorised by the Resolutions.”

(bold italics added)

The House of Commons Committee report refuses to see this because it simply accepts at face value the fantastic claim of the British politicians and officials involved in the war that their objective was not regime change – which was illegal and which might expose them to legal action – but the “protection of civilians”.  

On the strength of that the House of Commons Committee claims that the military operation, through some mysterious and unexplained process, somehow “morphed” into a campaign for regime change apparently contrary to the intentions of its authors.

It should be said clearly that this is total nonsense.  If the intention really had been to protect civilians a completely different Resolution to Resolution 1973 would have been proposed and the UN Security Council would have unanimously supported it.  Here is what in 2011 I said about that

“27. That this is so is shown by the failure of the western powers to propose to the Security Council the kind of Resolution that would in fact have been best calculated to protect civilians had that actually been the intention and had they actually been in danger.  This would have been a Resolution that ordered both sides to observe an immediate ceasefire whilst authorising the deployment of a peacekeeping force to the two threatened cities of Misurata and Benghazi.  There are numerous precedents for such Resolutions and there is no doubt that had such a Resolution been proposed it would have been unanimously carried.  There is also no doubt that a peacekeeping force could have been assembled and deployed quickly (most probably from the African Union states) and that Gaddafi would have complied with such a Resolution and would have agreed to the deployment of such a force.  He had in fact already said as much and he was to go on saying it throughout the remainder of the conflict.”

Moreover if the intention had not been regime change, the military operation would have been conducted completely differently.  Even the House of Commons Committee was driven to ask

“45. We questioned why NATO conducted air operations across Libya between April and October 2011 when it had secured the protection of civilians in Benghazi in March 2011.”

To which the only answer British ministers could come up with was some enduring, mythical threat from Gaddafi to the civilians even after they had been “saved”

“Lord Hague advanced the argument that “Gaddafi’s forces remained a clear danger to civilians. Having been beaten back, they were not then going to sit quietly and accept the situation”.  Dr Fox stated that “the UN resolution said to take all possible measures to protect civilians, and that meant a constant degradation of command and control across the country. That meant not just in the east of the country, but in Tripoli.”  Throughout their evidence, Lord Hague and Dr Fox stuck to the line that the military intervention in Libya was intended to protect civilians and was not designed to deliver regime change.”

To which claim I already provided provided a rebuttal back in 2011

“40. The western powers justify this hardline by claiming that they would have been unable to guarantee the safety of Libyan civilians whilst Gaddafi was still in Libya and remained free.  Supposedly Libyan civilians would always have been in danger from Gaddafi so long as he was in Libya and remained free.  This would apparently have been the case even if a ceasefire was in existence and talks were underway. This argument elevates the supposed threat from Gaddafi to superhuman and even mythic levels.  It is a bizarre endorsement of the personality cult he had previously created around himself.”

Moreover – and as I also pointed out in my 2011 account – the question of the purpose of the operation was put beyond doubt by a public letter Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy released right at the start of the military campaign, which made it crystal clear that the objective was the overthrow of Gaddafi.

The House of Commons Committee actually refers to this letter in its report, and admits it referred to the removal of Gaddafi.  However it fails to draw any conclusions from it, obviously because it contradicts its case that the original plan was to protect civilians and not to carry out regime change

“48. When the then Prime Minister David Cameron sought and received parliamentary approval for military intervention in Libya on 21 March 2011, he assured the House of Commons that the object of the intervention was not regime change.  In April 2011, however, he signed a joint letter with United States President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy setting out their collective pursuit of “a future without Gaddafi”.”

(bold italics added)

This refusal to admit the obvious, that the objective throughout was regime change, makes the House of Commons Committee report – for all its demolition of the factual case for war – in the end a whitewash. 

Moreover it is a whitewash that seeks to exculpate the British through the ancient dodge of blaming the French, who supposedly were the prime movers for the war and who supposedly led the naive and well-meaning British by the nose.  The reality – as was obvious to everyone at the time – was that the British were every bit as enthusiastic about the war and about achieving regime change in Libya as the French were.

The House of Commons Committee report does however slip out one critically important piece of information, which has direct bearing on the current US Presidential election.

In his interviews with The Atlantic US President Obama has attempted to present himself as a reluctant supporter of the war, dragged into it against his better judgement by the French and the British and by his gung-ho Secretary of State, who was of course Hillary Clinton.  The House of Commons Committee report however slips out a fact that appears to contradict this account.

The key provision in UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which the Western powers used as their legal cover to justify their military campaign, was a provision in the Resolution that authorised use of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

That provision did not in fact authorise an unrestricted military campaign intended to achieve regime change.  Here is what I wrote about this provision in another post I wrote in 2011, whilst the war was still underway, in which I showed how these words were being misinterpreted to enable the Western powers to do the very things Resolution 1973 in fact prohibited

“Recent revelations from France that the French military has been supplying small arms to the anti Gaddafi rebels has triggered discussion about whether this action breaches the terms of the arms embargo imposed on Libya by Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.  Supporters of arming the rebels say it does not allegedly because Security Council Resolution 1973 allows “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.  Purportedly “all necessary measures” can extend to arming civilians if this is necessary for their protection.

This line of reasoning is absurd.  The arms embargo is imposed by Security Council Resolution 1970.  This forbids any and all shipments of arms to Libya without distinguishing between the government forces or the rebels.  Security Council Resolution 1973 reaffirms this embargo and contains further provisions for its enforcement.  Neither Resolution 1970 nor Resolution 1973 say that the rebels are excluded from the embargo.  Had this been the intention the Resolutions would have said as much.  To suggest that the expression “all necessary measures” in one part of Resolution 1973 somehow invalidates or qualifies the arms embargo in another part of Resolution 1973, thereby rendering the Resolution self contradictory and void on one of its most important points, is nonsensical.

I would add that both Resolutions 1970 and 1973 end with the expression that the “Security Council remains seized of the matter”.  In other words the Security Council has ownership of the Resolutions. This means that it is for the Security Council and not for the French or the British or anyone else by themselves to decide what steps are “necessary” to protect civilians and whether the arms embargo imposed by the Resolutions should be relaxed or set aside.  If the French, the British or anyone else feel that arming the rebels is “necessary” to protect civilians then according to the text of the Resolutions they have to seek permission to do this from the Security Council, which is the only body that has the power to decide the matter.  If the Security Council decides that such a step is needed then it can relax the arms embargo by amending Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

In other words the French arming of the rebels is simply another in a long list of breaches of the two Resolutions.  It is not even the most flagrant.  The bombing and killing of civilians in Tripoli and elsewhere is.

The simple reality is that the operation against Libya is now so far in breach of Resolutions 1970 and 1973 that there is no point in trying to relate it to those Resolutions.  In truth the Resolutions were never more than a figleaf for military action, which would surely have happened anyway whether the Resolutions were passed or not.”

(bold italics added)

What the House of Commons Committee report now makes clear is that the ultimate author of the words “all necessary measures” in Resolution 1973 – the words used to justify the illegal military campaign to overthrow Gaddafi – was none other than Obama himself.  Here is what the House of Commons Committee report says about this

“24…..Former US Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, pointed out:

“Cameron and Sarkozy were the undisputed leaders, in terms of doing something. The problem was that it wasn’t really clear what that something was going to be. Cameron was pushing for a no-fly zone, but in the US there was great scepticism. A no-fly zone wasn’t effective in Bosnia, it wasn’t effective in Iraq, and probably wasn’t going to be effective in Libya. When President Obama was confronted with the argument for a no-fly zone, he asked how this was going to be effective. Gaddafi was attacking people. A no-fly zone wasn’t going to stop him. Instead, to stop him we would need to bomb his forces attacking people.”

The United States was instrumental in extending the terms of Resolution 1973 beyond the imposition of a no-fly zone to include the authorisation of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.  In practice, this led to the imposition of a ‘no-drive zone’ and the assumed authority to attack the entire Libyan Government command and communications network.”

(bold italics added)

In other words far from being the reluctant warrior he wants everyone to think he was, Obama was instrumental in re-crafting Resolution 1973 so that it could be used to justify an unrestricted military campaign against the Libyan government which could have only ended with regime change.

The war of course also has a direct bearing on Hillary Clinton’s eligibility for the US Presidency.  By universal consent she was the prime advocate of the war in the US.  This is a war which a British House of Commons Committee has now said was fought on false pretences, was ill-conceived, and which was disastrous in its consequences. 

At the conclusion of the war, following Gaddafi’s public torture and murder, Hillary Clinton publicly crowed “we came, we saw, he died” – a grotesque comment that provoked Dmitry Rogozin, at that time Russia’s ambassador to NATO, to tweet that NATO officials gloating over the murder of Gaddafi reminded him of delinquent children getting their kicks by hanging cats in cellars.  It is also incidentally a comment that all but confirms that the objective of the US government in supporting the military operation against Libya was Gaddafi’s overthrow and regime change.

As my colleague Adam Garrie has repeatedly and rightly said, this appalling conduct, and this grotesquely callous comment, ought in any rational world to disqualify Hillary Clinton from the US Presidency. 

Unfortunately the world – or at least the world of US Presidential politics – is not fully rational, which is presumably why the House of Commons Committee report on the Libyan war with – for all its many flaws – its scathing assessment of that war, is being barely reported in the US.

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Fake news media FREAK OUT over Trump and NATO (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 172.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the media meltdown over remarks that U.S. President Trump may have made with regard to NATO, and how neo-liberal war hawks championing the alliance as some sort of foreign policy projection of peace and democracy, are really just supporting aggression, war, and the eventual weakening of the United States.

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Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO, Authored by David Swanson:


The New York Times loves NATO, but should you?

Judging by comments in social media and the real world, millions of people in the United States have gone from having little or no opinion on NATO, or from opposing NATO as the world’s biggest military force responsible for disastrous wars in places like Afghanistan (for Democrats) or Libya (for Republicans), to believing NATO to be a tremendous force for good in the world.

I believe this notion to be propped up by a series of misconceptions that stand in dire need of correction.

1. NATO is not a war-legalizing body, quite the opposite. NATO, like the United Nations, is an international institution that has something or other to do with war, but transferring the UN’s claimed authority to legalize a war to NATO has no support whatsoever in reality. The crime of attacking another nation maintains an absolutely unaltered legal status whether or not NATO is involved. Yet NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. This misconception is not the only way in which NATO works against the rule of law. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members (so what?). And NATO, of course, assigns nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war — a responsibility that requires them to be prepared for war, with all the damage such preparation does.

2. NATO is not a defensive institution. According to the New York Times, NATO has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is an article of faith, based on the unsubstantiated belief that Soviet and Russian aggression toward NATO members has existed for 70 years and that NATO has deterred it rather than provoked it. In violation of a promise made, NATO has expanded eastward, right up to the border of Russia, and installed missiles there. Russia has not done the reverse. The Soviet Union has, of course, ended. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic, bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. No NATO member has been attacked or credibly threatened with attack, apart from small-scale non-state blowback from NATO’s wars of aggression.

3. Trump is not trying to destroy NATO. Donald Trump, as a candidate and as U.S. President, has wondered aloud and even promised all kinds of things and, in many cases, the exact opposite as well. When it comes to actions, Trump has not taken any actions to limit or end or withdraw from NATO. He has demanded that NATO members buy more weapons, which is of course a horrible idea. Even in the realm of rhetoric, when European officials have discussed creating a European military, independent of the United States, Trump has replied by demanding that they instead support NATO.

4. If Trump were trying to destroy NATO, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Trump has claimed to want to destroy lots of things, good and bad. Should I support NAFTA or corporate media or the Cold War or the F35 or anything at all, simply because some negative comment about it escapes Trump’s mouth? Should I cheer for every abuse ever committed by the CIA or the FBI because they investigate Trump? Should I long for hostility between nuclear-armed governments because Democrats claim Trump is a Russian agent? When Trump defies Russia to expand NATO, or to withdraw from a disarmament treaty or from an agreement with Iran, or to ship weapons to Ukraine, or to try to block Russian energy deals in Europe, or to oppose Russian initiatives on banning cyber-war or weapons in space, should I cheer for such consistent defiance of Trump’s Russian master, and do so simply because Russia is, so implausibly, his so-inept master? Or should I form my own opinion of things, including of NATO?

5. Trump is not working for, and was not elected by, Russia.According to the New York Times, “Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said.” But are anonymous “American officials” really needed to acquire Russia’s openly expressed opinion that NATO is a threatening military alliance that has moved weapons and troops to states on Russia’s border? And has anyone produced the slightest documentation of the Russian government’s aims in an activity it has never admitted to, namely “meddling in American elections,” — an activity the United States has of course openly admitted to in regard to Russian elections? We have yet to see any evidence that Russia stole or otherwise acquired any of the Democratic Party emails that documented that party’s rigging of its primary elections in favor of Clinton over Sanders, or even any claim that the tiny amount of weird Facebook ads purchased by Russians could possibly have influenced the outcome of anything. Supposedly Trump is even serving Russia by demanding that Turkey not attack Kurds. But is using non-military means to discourage Turkish war-making necessarily the worst thing? Would it be if your favorite party or politician did it? If Trump encouraged a Turkish war, would that also be a bad thing because Trump did it, or would it be a bad thing for substantive reasons?

6. If Trump were elected by and working for Russia, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Imagine if Boris Yeltsin were indebted to the United States and ended the Soviet Union. Would that tell us whether ending the Soviet Union was a good thing, or whether the Soviet Union was obsolete for serious reasons? If Trump were a Russian pawn and began reversing all of his policies on Russia to match that status, including restoring his support for the INF Treaty and engaging in major disarmament negotiations, and we ended up with a world of dramatically reduced military spending and nuclear armaments, with the possibility of all dying in a nuclear apocalypse significantly lowered, would that too simply be a bad thing because Trump?

7. Russia is not a military threat to the world. That Russia would cheer NATO’s demise tells us nothing about whether we should cheer too. Numerous individuals and entities who indisputably helped to put Trump in the White House would dramatically oppose and others support NATO’s demise. We can’t go by their opinions either, since they don’t all agree. We really are obliged to think for ourselves. Russia is a heavily armed militarized nation that commits the crime of war not infrequently. Russia is a top weapons supplier to the world. All of that should be denounced for what it is, not because of who Russia is or who Trump is. But Russia spends a tiny fraction of what the United States does on militarism. Russia has been reducing its military spending each year, while the United States has been increasing its military spending. U.S. annual increases have sometimes exceeded Russia’s entire military budget. The United States has bombed nine nations in the past year, Russia one. The United States has troops in 175 nations, Russia in 3. Gallup and Pew find populations around the world viewing the United States, not Russia, as the top threat to peace in the world. Russia has asked to join NATO and the EU and been rejected, NATO members placing more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by weapons profits. Those profits are massive, and NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe.

8. Crimea has not been seized. According to the New York Times, “American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.” Again we have an anonymous claim as to a goal of a government in committing an action that never occurred. We can be fairly certain such things are simply made up. The vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia is commonly called the Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote. I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea — just like a Honduran immigrant — was voting to secede from a coup government, by no means an action consistently frowned upon by the United States.

9. NATO is not an engaged alternative to isolationism. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world. A nonviolent, cooperative, treaty-joining, law-enforcing alternative to the imperialism-or-isolationism trap is no more difficult to think of or to act on than treating drug addiction or crime or poverty as reason to help people rather than to punish them. The opposite of bombing people is not ignoring them. The opposite of bombing people is embracing them. By the standards of the U.S. communications corporations Switzerland must be the most isolationist land because it doesn’t join in bombing anyone. The fact that it supports the rule of law and global cooperation, and hosts gatherings of nations seeking to work together is simply not relevant.

10. April 4 belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr., not militarism. War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. A growing coalition is calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70thanniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against war on April 4, 1967, as well as his assassination on April 4, 1968.

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Turkey prepared to take Syria’s Manbij, won’t let it turn into ‘swamp’ like N. Iraq

Turkey sees the US-backed Kurdish YPG militias as an extension of the PKK and considers them terrorists as well.

RT

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Ankara has “almost completed” preparations for another military operation in Syria and will launch it if “promises” made by other parties about the protection of its borders are not kept, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Turkey still hopes that talks with the US, Russia and “other parties” will allow it to ensure its security without resorting to force but it is still ready to proceed with a military option and will not “wait forever,” Erdogan said. He was referring to Ankara’s plans for the northern Syrian territories east of the Euphrates River, which it seeks to turn into a “security zone”free of any Kurdish militias.

“We are on our border with our forces and following developments closely. If promises made to us are kept and the process goes on, that’s fine. Otherwise, we inform that we have almost completed our preparations and will take steps in line with our own strategy,” the president said, addressing a group of businessmen in Ankara on Monday.

He did not elaborate on the promises made. However, they are apparently linked to the withdrawal of the Kurdish YPG militia from the Manbij area and the regions along the border with Turkey. “We will never allow a safe zone to turn into a new swamp,” Erdogan said, referring to the northern Syrian territories and comparing them to the northern Iraq, where the militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – an organization that Ankara considers a terrorist group – have been entrenched for decades.

Turkey sees the US-backed Kurdish YPG militias, which form the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as an extension of the PKK and considers them terrorists as well. “Our proposal for a security zone under Turkey’s control aims to keep terror organizations away from our borders,” the Turkish president said.

He went on to explain that Ankara does not seek any territorial gains in its military campaigns in Syria but merely seeks to restore order in the war-ravaged country. “We will provide security for Manbij and then we will hand over the city to its real owners,” Erdogan said. “Syria belongs to Syrians.”

Turkey also seeks to establish a “security zone 20 miles [32 kilometers] deep” into Syria, Erdogan said, adding that he already discussed this issue with the US President Donald Trump. “Those who insistently want to keep us away from these regions are seeking to strengthen terror organizations,” he added.

Ankara has been long planning to push YPG units out of the area east of the Euphrates River. Its operation was delayed by the US withdrawal from Syria. However, Erdogan repeatedly hinted that his patience is wearing thin and he is not ready to wait much longer. He warned Trump against backtracking on his pledge to withdraw some 2,000 US forces out of Syria following a suicide attack in Manbij that killed four Americans. If the US president halted the withdrawal, it would mean that Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) had won, Erdogan argued.

He has also reiterated that Turkey is ready to take over Manbij “without delay.” The US military is currently working on security arrangements with the Turkish forces to create a buffer zone between Turkey and the Kurdish fighters. The Kurds, meanwhile, invited the Syrian government to take over the city and have reportedly begun to leave the area. Turkey has dismissed the reports saying its a “psyop”.

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Political Knives Dull Themselves on the Rock of Brexit Article 50

The invocation of Article 50 was undertaken by an act of Parliament. And it will take another act of Parliament to undo it.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored Tom Luongo via Strategic Culture Foundation:


Theresa “The Gypsum Lady” May went through an extraordinary twenty-four hours. First, seeing her truly horrific Brexit deal go down in historic defeat and then, somehow, surviving a ‘No-Confidence’ vote which left her in a stronger position than before it.

It looks like May rightly calculated that the twenty or so Tory Remainers would put party before the European Union as their personal political positions would be terminally weakened if they voted her out of office.

While there is little stomach in the British Parliament for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, there is less for allowing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister. And that is the crux of why the incessant calls to delay Brexit, call for a ‘people’s vote’ or, in Corbyn’s case, “take a no-deal Brexit off the table,’ ultimately lead to a whole lot of political knife-fighting and very little substantive action.

The day-to-day headline spam is designed to wear down people’s resistance and make it feel like Brexit getting betrayed is inevitable. That has been the British Deep State’s and EU’s game plan all along and they hoped they could arm-twist enough people in parliament to succeed.

But the problem for them now, since the clock has nearly run out, is the invocation of Article 50 was undertaken by an act of Parliament. And it will take another act of Parliament to undo it.

And I don’t see anyone on the Remainer side working towards that end. That should be your clue as to what happens next.

Why? Because they know they don’t have the time to get that act past Parliament. So, the rest of this is simply a PR campaign to push public opinion far enough to allow for an illegal canceling or postponing of Brexit.

But it’s not working.

According to the latest polls, Brits overwhelmingly want the original Brexit vote respectedLeave even has a 5-6 point lead over Remain.

And, I think Theresa May now realizes this. It is why she invited the no-confidence vote against her. She knew she had the votes and it would give her the ammunition to ignore Corbyn’s hysterical ranting about taking a no-deal Brexit off the table.

Whether she realizes that the only negotiating tool she has with the EU is the threat of a No-Deal Brexit, exactly like Nigel Farage and those committed to Brexit have been telling her for two years is still, however, up in the air.

It looks like she’s finally starting to get it.

The net result is we are seeing a similar outing of the nefarious, behind-the-scenes, power brokers in the public eye similar to what’s been happening in the US with Donald Trump and Russiagate.

May has been singularly unimpressive in her handling of Brexit. I’ve been convinced from the beginning that betraying Brexit was always her goal. Negotiating a deal unacceptable to anyone was meant to exhaust everyone into the position to just throwing up their hands and canceling the whole thing.

The EU has been in the driver’s seat the entire time because most of the British establishment has been on their side and it was only the people who needed to be disrespected.

So, after all of these shananigans we are back to where we were last week. May has cut off all avenues of discussion. She won’t commit to taking ‘no-deal’ off the table to tweak Corbyn. She won’t substantively move on any other issue. This is likely to push her deal through as a last-minute panic move.

Corbyn is still hoping to get new elections to take power, and the majority of MP’s who don’t want to leave the EU keep fighting among themselves to cock up the entire works.

All they are doing is expending pound after pound of political capital beating themselves against their own act of Parliament which goes into effect on March 29th.

By the time that date comes around the frustration, shame and humiliation of how Parliament has mishandled Brexit will make it difficult for a lot of Remainers to hold together their majority as public opinion has decidedly turned against them.

In the past the EU has had that façade of democratic support undermining any change at the political level. With Brexit (and with budget talks in Italy) that is not the case. The people are angry.

The peak moment for Remainers to stage a bipartisan political coup against May should have been the most recent no-confidence vote.

With May surviving that it implies that Remainers are not willing to die politically for their cause.

This should begin to see defectors over the next couple of weeks as they realize they don’t have a hand to play either.

And by May refusing to rule out a ‘no-deal’ Brexit it has finally brought the EU around to throw a bone towards the British. Their admitting they would extend Article 50 is just that. But they know that’s a non-starter as that is the one thing May has been steadfast in holding to.

On March 29th with or without a deal the U.K. is out of the EU. Because despite the European Court of Justice’s decision, Britain’s parliament can only cancel Article 50 at this point by acting illegally.

Not that I would put that past these people, but then that opens up a can of worms that most British MP’s will not go along with. The personal stakes are simply too high.

When dealing with politicians, never bet against their vanity or their pocketbook. In May’s case she may finally have realized she could have the legacy of getting Britain out of the EU just before it collapses.

And all she has to do between now and the end of March is, precisely, nothing.

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