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The ‘America Last’ Express Hurtles On: Saudi Arabia, INF, Ukraine

Any realistic notion of American national interests comes last after the priorities of – well, pretty much everyone else with leverage in Washington.

Jim Jatras

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Authored by Jim Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


As the façade of 2016 Candidate Donald Trump’s promised “America First” continues to crumble away, the baked-into-the-cake pathologies of the foreign and security policy “experts” who monopolize President Trump’s administration plunge forward along their predetermined paths. Any realistic notion of American national interests comes last after the priorities of – well, pretty much everyone else with leverage in Washington.

Case in point, let’s start with Saudi Arabia and all the breast-beating over whether Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) really is guilty of ordering the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. (Spoiler Alert: You betcha!)

American and western media were all a-twitter last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s high five to Crown Pariah MbS at the G20. Amid the faux outrage – come on, does anyone really think MbS was the only killer in that room? – the gesture received America’s highest media tribute: a parody on “Saturday Night Live.”

What a circus. Apart from Putin’s greeting, the assembled hypocrites went out of their way to shun the leprous MbS, even shunting him to the margins of the group picture – as though the killing of one dodgy journalist outweighed their abetting MbS’s business-as-usual slaughter in Yemen. Really! I barely know the guy. We were never actually friends

Khashoggi’s gruesome death is the gift that keeps on giving, exacerbating as it does both international and domestic American fault lines. Let’s keep in mind that his affiliation was with the Muslim Brotherhood (and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan), the CIA, and (almost the same thing) the Washington Post. Internationally these line up with Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi elements currently on the outs with MbS and who would like to send him to join Khashoggi. Domestically in the US these add up to the Deep State and “the Resistance” to President Donald Trump, who are thrilled to be able to hang Khashoggi around his neck like an albatross, which he’s foolishly allowing to happen.

On the other hand, MbS is supported by Israel, which has a lot of clout on Capitol Hill (duh) and virtually owns the Trump administration (also duh). Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has Trump dancing to his tune via Jared Kushner (Trump and Kushner may now in fact be the same person), Ivanka Trump, and Sheldon Adelson, plus his entire foreign policy team, starting with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Rather than wisely using the Khashoggi imbroglio as an opportunity to take the exit ramp away from US support for the crazed Wahhabist head-choppers in Riyadh of any faction, Team Trump is doggedly defending their the line in the sand in support of MbS personally as the spearhead of their anti-Iran, “Arab NATO” program.

The Resistance side is no less anti-Iran, but beating the Khashoggi drum and even tying it to support for Yemen slaughter (not that they really give a damn about Yemen, except for a few bleeding hearts like Senator Rand Paul and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who even have the temerity to oppose the CIA’s arming of al-Qaeda in Syria!) is a twofer: to weaken and humiliate Trump, plus hoping at some point to install a replacement to MbS who would be a more reliable tool for their anti-Iran vendetta. The big break, if it comes, will be if Bibi’s foot soldiers around Trump decide they need to dump MbS as counterproductive to their agenda on Iran. Then they’ll stop resisting the Resistance, MbS will be removed (with extreme prejudice), and Trump will have egg on his face for having supported him for so long. For the Resistance, it’s win-win …

… if it happens that way. On the other hand, even exposed as the bloody minded killer he is, it’s not impossible MbS, with Israel backstopping him, can just tough it out. After all, those waiting in the wings in Riyadh are no angels either. At least in the short term MbS may still have the upper hand via squatter’s rights; he’s in power and the guy everybody still has to deal with. He can also still spread a lot of cash around as Khashoggi recedes into the rear view mirror.

If things really look as though they are going south on him, MbS might think to take leaf from the playbook of Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili in 2008 and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko a couple of weeks ago (more below) and provoke an incident with Iran on his own to force Washington back him up. That would be risky, to say the least. It’s unlikely that even Bolton and Pompeo are ready for war – yet. They seem to believe their own propaganda about regime change via sanctions and economic collapse and the supposedly yuge popularity of the “People’s Mojahedin” (MEK), our designated replacement waiting to be parachuted into Tehran. They’ll at least want to run the sanctions game a while longer to weaken Iran (and humiliate the Europeans some more) before they go for Plan B if necessary. Also, they’d need a phony pretext along the lines of Iraqi WMDs, Benghazi, Racak, and it’s uncertain MbS is competent give them one all by himself.

If MbS does hazard to strike out on his own before they (Donald Kushner and Boltpeo) are ready, he may end up chewing on his tie like Saakashvili (or whatever the equivalent of that is with a thobe and gutra). At that point he would be universally seen as a liability and removed. Nothing can be ruled out of course, and if MbS thinks are getting really shaky he just might do it, figuring he’s got nothing to lose … but his head.

Shifting gears to the big league between the US and Russia, it’s virtually certain the Trump administration will follow through on its threat to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, originally concluded between the US and the USSR in 1987. Pompeo’s ultimatum to Russia to confess they were cheating and dispose of the offending 9M729 missiles was couched in a laundry list of “admit when you stopped beating your wife” charges: “These violations of the INF treaty cannot be viewed in isolation from the larger pattern of Russian lawlessness on the world stage. The list of Russia’s infamous acts is long: Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, election meddling, Skripal and now the Kerch Strait, to name just a few.”

Pompeo’s ultimatum came literally one day after Trump signaled in a Tweet that he does not want a new arms race:

‘I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!’

Ha! Who does this Trump fellow think he is – the President? He doesn’t want a “crazy” arms race? Too bad. He’d better check with the guys he’s picked to run his administration for him. They’re completely copasetic with crazy – and then some!

Perhaps we can hold out a desperate hope that Trump’s intention is to replicate his tentative win on Korea, that threatening to pull out of the INF Treaty and accusing Moscow of every sin under the sun is just part of the “art of the deal,” “little rocket man” versus “mentally deranged dotard,” etc., with the real goal a new and better deal with Russia, maybe including China as well. But if that were so (there’s no evidence for it) there’s no need to trash the current agreement or even to threaten to do so. There is a lot that has changed technologically since 1987, and updates and revisions, perhaps in a protocol to the existing treaty might make sense.

That’s unlikely to happen though. Instead, not only will there be a new arms race in the intermediate range – which Moscow declares its willingness to undertake, however reluctantly – the flaccidity of America’s European so-called allies is again relevant. US threats to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Europe would be meaningless if European countries refused to host them because doing so would make them a target for Russian weapons. But while the European Union whines it would be better to keep the Treaty (just like it whined impotently about the JCPOA), NATO – mainly the same countries as belong to the EU – dutifully backed up the US position. There’s no evidence Europeans are prepared to confront Washington with a firm Ohne uns! if the INF agreement is terminated. Servility to their Transatlantic hegemon outweighs even their instinct for self-preservation. Whereas in the 1980s the first intermediate-range deployment of US Pershing missiles sparked a huge, mainly Leftist, European peace movement – which in turn helped lead to the INF Treaty in the first place – nothing of the sort exists now. This perhaps reflects the fact that today’s Left, which has little affinity with ordinary working people and is obsessed with Cultural Marxist identity politics, has become quite anti-Russian with the demise of communism.

Finally, moving to Ukraine, one would think the Trump Administration would not be particularly friendly towards a government that was complicit in the attempt to use the Christopher Steele dossier to put Hillary Clinton in the White House and then, when that failed, to cripple the Trump administration through the witch hunt known as Russiagate. While the major players were intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the United States and the United Kingdom(not necessarily in that order), other countries were involved too. One of the prominent ones was Ukraine, whose President Petro Poroshenko feared could be left out in the cold if Trump improved ties with Russia per his oft-stated intent– since after all, nobody in Washington could care less about Ukraine except as a club to beat Russia with. Steps were taken to avert that:

‘Andrii Telizhenko, a former high-ranking Ukrainian diplomat known well in Washington circles, had vital information about collusion between elements of Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko administration and the US’ Democratic National Committee (DNC) to dig up – or create – dirt on Donald Trump, but he has been chronically ignored by US investigators.

‘Telizhenko appeared as a key source in a January 2017 Politico article by Ken Vogel titled, “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire: Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton.”’

Whatever concerns Poroshenko might have had that his complicity in the anti-Trump US-UK Deep State plot would hurt his standing with the administration of his target have long since been put to rest. Trump’s turning his administration into a haven for Bush-era recidivists and others of the sort who have turned American policy into a shambles for the past three decades has seen to that. Hostility to Russia is and will remain a lodestar of US policy, whichipso facto makes Poroshenko our “friend.”

That means that Poroshenko need only poke the bear to get a growl and kneejerk pledges of support will click into place. While Ukraine may not be a full member of the golden circle of countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom that have the US on a leash, it’s not too far from it either.

With his reelection prospects in March 2019 appearing dismal, Poroshenko decided to “wag the dog” with a stunt in the Kerch Strait connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland that he knew would provoke a Russian response. As Moon of Alabama reports:

‘The Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko sent the boats with the order not to coordinate their passage with Russian authorities. The captured sailors confirm that. He obviously wanted to provoke a violent Russian reaction.

‘The government of Ukraine practically admitted that the mission had nefarious intent:

“Ukraine’s state security service [SBU] says that its intelligence officers were among the crew on Ukrainian naval ships seized by Russia in a standoff near Crimea.

“The SBU agency said in a statement Tuesday that the officers were fulfilling counterintelligence operations for the Ukrainian navy, in response to ‘psychological and physical pressure’ by Russian spy services. It didn’t elaborate, but demanded that Russia stop such activity.”

“Russia’s FSB intelligence agency said late Monday that that there were SBU officers on board the Ukrainian ships, calling that proof of a “provocation” staged by Ukraine.”

Moscow is acutely aware of the danger of an attack to disable the Kerch Strait Bridge, built quickly and at great expense (a fact that undermines the oft-repeated anti-Russian claim that Moscow is plotting to seize Mariupol, Zaporozhye Oblast, and part of Kherson Oblast to establish a mainland route from Donbas to Crimea from the north). There have been rumors (perhaps no more than that) that Ukraine seeks to deploy a Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM), a small, man-portable, low-yield (circa one kiloton) device developed by NATO in the 1950s for destroying European infrastructure in advance of a Soviet invasion. Such a device would be deployable by divers if they had access to the bridge. Whether or not there’s any factual basis for such concerns, Moscow takes threats to the bridge seriously. In May 2018 the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against establishment commentator Tom Rogan and his Washington Examiner editor for advocating blowing up of the bridge, which Russian officials called incitement to terrorism.

Right on cue, Washington is preparing new sanctions, planning to send US warships into the Black Sea in a show of support for a country to which we are not allied (amid a lunatic call from the Atlantic Council to force an entry into the Sea of Azov as well!), and conducting “extraordinary” observation flight over Ukraine. What could possibly go wrong?

The bottom line is that Poroshenko now can jerk our chain and we will respond. While this time he failed to get a nationwide, 60-day martial law declaration approved by a Rada concerned he’d use it to cancel next year’s election, he did get 30 days in oblasts bordering Russia and Pridnestrovie. This will be useful not only for hampering electoral activities of his opponents in areas where he is even more unpopular than in the rest of Ukraine, it will facilitate seizures of churches and monasteries from the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church – a process that has already begun. He is secure in the knowledge that another provocation is always an option, in Kerch again, or the Donbas, or a grab against a major Church site like Pochaev or Pechersk.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that it has now become all so predictable. We were told that Donald Trump’s administration would put America and American interests first. But instead, those acting in his name tell us through their actions: “Get in line, peasants.”

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Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

“In May 2018 the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against establishment commentator Tom Rogan and his Washington Examiner editor for advocating blowing up of the bridge, which Russian officials called incitement to terrorism”. Well, of course it was incitement to terrorism. No ifs, buts or maybes. You couldn’t have a more clear-cut example of that particular crime. What may obscure the issue for some is the industrial-strength double standard that Washington has created, which allows Americans and their pals to commit serious crimes with impunity. Just imagine that, rather than the Kerch Straits bridge, Rogan had advocated blowing… Read more »

Dave3200
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Dave3200

Excellent post, Tom. The US establishment, Deep State, Military-Industrial Complex and never Trumpers have no limits to the actions they’re apt to take to protect their controlling interests. They’ve proven this repeatedly recently in places like Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Benghazi, Yemen, Turkey (Kashoggi) and Crimea…. not to mention the crap they pull domestically. Do you remember Seth Rich? Assassination by the CIA has no territorial boundaries.

The good news is that the American people are getting wise to their antics. I dread to think how this all might come to an end.

Cudwieser
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Cudwieser

Civil war hopefully. I’d be impressed to see the US nuke itself.

Flying Gabriel
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Flying Gabriel

It might just be that a Constitution and several hundred million armed Americans are the last bastion blocking globalism crowning itself King of the World. Forget the never Trumpers – they are going to wish he’d never been born. Enjoy the Show.

Flying Gabriel
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Flying Gabriel

I’m so sick of confronting ignorance and disinformation with these op-eds.
If you’re not part of the movement by now you’re against it.
This is nothing but a prop for the deep state in their war against Trump.
The Q Army is taking names Jim, and you’re on it.
Tick tock. JUSTICE is coming.

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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

RT

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By

Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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