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Tensions rise between nuclear powers India and Pakistan in disputed Kashmir (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 91.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss airstrikes launched by India against what it says are militants in Pakistani territory, in what has become a major escalation of tensions between the two countries.

The Indian government said the airstrikes strikes targeted a training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group in Balakot. Pakistan countered by saying its jets had forced back the Indian planes and denied there were any casualties.

Via the BBC…

India accuses Pakistan of allowing militant groups to operate on its territory and says Pakistani security agencies played a role in the suicide attack on 14 February, which was claimed by JeM and killed 40 Indian troops.

Pakistan denies any role and says it does not provide safe haven to militants.Balakot is in Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Residents there told BBC Urdu they were woken by loud explosions. Pakistan condemned the strike and said it would respond “at the time and place of its choosing”.

The strikes are the first launched across the line of control – the de facto border that divides India-administered Kashmir from Pakistan-administered Kashmir – since a war between the two countries in 1971.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir, but control only parts of it. The nuclear-armed nations have fought three wars and a limited conflict since independence from Britain in 1947 – and all but one were over Kashmir.

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Via Zerohedge


With most of the world distracted by President Trump’s second summit meeting with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, tensions between two nuclear-armed powers flared roughly 2,000 miles West in the contested border region of Kashmir.

In retaliation for one of the deadliest terror attacks in the history of the long-running Kashmiri insurgency – earlier this month, a Muslim ‘mujahidin’ drove a car loaded with explosives into a bus packed with Indian paramilitary soldiers, killing more than 40 – Indian fighter jets carried out a tactical strike on what the Indian government described as a training camp for the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), killing more than 300 militants and infuriating the government in Islamabad, which condemned the attack and insinuated that it could launch a counter-strike of its own, with Prime Minister Imran Khan warning the nation of 200 million and its armed forces to “remain prepared for all eventualities.”

Unsurprisingly, the two countries offered contrasting descriptions of the attack. Here’s more from Al Jazeera:

Indian fighter jets on Tuesday crossed into Pakistani territory, conducting what the foreign ministry in New Delhi termed a “non-military pre-emptive action” against armed group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), dramatically escalating tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours weeks after a suicide attack in the disputed Kashmir region.

Pakistan reported the Indian airspace incursion, with military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor saying its air force jets were scrambling to respond, forcing the Indian aircraft to “release [their] payload in haste while escaping”.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, however, asserted that the jets had hit their target, and that “a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated”.

“The government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism,” he told reporters in New Delhi. “Hence this non-military pre-emptive action was specifically targeted at the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp.”

One professor said this was the first time Indian air forces had crossed the “line of control” dividing Kashmir in more than four decades…

“The last time the Indian Air Force crossed the line of control intentionally and publicly to conduct air strikes was 1971,” Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT said via email, referring to the last Indo-Pakistan war.

…And the strike also marked the first time that Indian air forces had attacked a “terrorist target” on Pakistani territory.

C Uday Bhaskar, the director of the Society for Policy Studies based in New Delhi, said: “India has sent a very firm signal.”

“The fact that air power has been used for the first time against a terrorist target to my mind signalled to Pakistan that India is demonstrating resolve in terms of using military power, particularly air power,” he said.

In response to the Feb. 14 terror attack that initially sent tensions soaring, the Indian Army said earlier on Feb. 19 that it had killed a JeM leader in Kashmir who was a Pakistani national with links to the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service. Pakistan has denied any links.

Bloomberg described the attack as “the worst escalation” between the two countries since 2001, when India and Pakistan moved ballistic missiles and troops to the contested border following an attack on India’s parliament in New Delhi.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi accused India of violating the line of control during a televised press conference.

“India has committed aggression against Pakistan today – I will call it a grave aggression,” Qureshi said.

Relations between the historic arch-rivals has been extremely tense since a suicide car bombing, claimed by the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, on Feb. 14 in Kashmir killed 40 members of India’s security forces. Jaish-e-Mohammed is a United Nations designated terrorist group.

Anybody who needs a refresher on the roots of the Kashmir conflict should watch this video from Al Jazeera:

Though the region is majority Muslim, India controls two-thirds of Kashmir:

As we reported earlier, Rand Corp estimated a decade ago that a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would kill two million people immediately, and another 100 million during the ensuing weeks. Major water sources in the two countries would be contaminated. Clouds of radioactive dust would blow around the globe.

And there are a few key aggravating factors that differentiate this incident between other recent flareups along South Asia’s most contentious border: Looming elections in India have made the Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi fearful of being perceived as “soft” on Muslim terrorists. And in response to India’s clearly superior conventional weapons heft, Pakistan has refused to rule out the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons if confronted with a superior military threat.

And with that, the world inches closer and closer to all-out nuclear war.

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India and Wakistan Should get together and calm their nerves over a cup of tea. Because if a greater conflict ensues, then Russia China, the West, will benefit from a war. Selling arms. So, they do not want these nations to stop fighting. As a Christian, I would ask them both to give up their territory, and allow a unfication of the two sides. To become a new nation. And freedom of speech, Democratic, not Demon-cratic. For all religious sides to respect the outcomes. With their nuke behaviour, the peasants who will die. God does not bother with hostile Religion,… Read more »

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TASS reports: Russia ready to contribute to normalization of Indian-Pakistani relations World March 01, 14:14 UTC+3 The Kremlin noted that President Vladimir Putin had discussed the issue during a phone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi MOSCOW, March 1. /TASS/. Russia is ready to provide all possible assistance to resolve the crisis in relations between India and Pakistan, Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “Russia is, naturally, ready to contribute to the early normalization of the crisis situation [in relations between India and Pakistan] in every possible way,” he said. “However, that depends, first and foremost, on the parties,… Read more »

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

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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

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

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

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Via Zerohedge


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Seraphim Hanisch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

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

Seraphim Hanisch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That can be very dangerous.

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