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The US has two realistic options: save itself or destroy the world in trying to do so

One Belt–One Road could save the US economy if it was embraced by Washington. The alternative is for the US to fight an increasing numbers of losing wars, all while failing to enrich itself economically and destroying the dream of world peace.

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Yesterday’s marathon speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping was not only a blueprint for China’s future, but for the future of the 21st century. Not only will all roads lead to China by century’s end, but in many ways, the new and most vibrant roads in the world already do.

Xi Jinping’s 3.5 hour speech before the 19th CPC National Congress is actually a succinct introduction to China’s road-map for the future

Meanwhile, the US appears to be hellbent on maintaining its power through disrupting China’s progress on One Belt–One Road, the system of interconnecting highways and maritime routes that will literally link up new and existing commercial hubs, while symbolising the new modus operandi which underscores the modern Chinese model of exchange. This can be summarised as “share openly, but never impose”.

The US model of geo-political/geo-economic quid pro quo, as opposed to the more pragmatic cost benefit analysis business model of China, has clearly failed. Fewer countries are interested in US quid pro quos, because more and more countries realise that in order to gain even limited access to American money and American markets, one has to surrender one’s political independence and domestic freedoms.

Currently, Iraq is failing to succumb to Kurdish agitations while remaining spiritually, politically and military aligned with Iran. Iraq is also now allied with Syria, a country which perhaps best symbolises the place where America’s regime change foreign policy met its first battle ground failure. While regime change has been a disaster from Yugoslavia, to Iraq and Libya, it was only in Syria where the US proxy steamroller hit a roadblock prior to reaching the seat of power in Damascus.

In South Asia, America’s crowning failure of Afghanistan continues to haunt both military and political leaders in Washington. The US is likewise confused about its policies with Pakistan and India. While the US under Trump ha ratcheted up its anti-Islamabad rhetoric while attempting to turn India into a giant US proxy in the heart of Asia, mixed messages and lethargy from the Modi government have disrupted the would-be even flow of such a plot. Recently, the US stated that it no longer opposes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, in a move that is as much of a surrender to reality as it is an attempt to re-patch rapidly declining relations with Pakistan.

In respect of South East Asia, while many focus primarily on Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s domestic policies, his foreign policy pivot to both China and Russia is becoming increasingly symptomatic of a region that is moving away from the US. While Philippines is the most prominent US ‘ally’ to pivot away from Washington, Indonesia is making moves in the same direction. All of this is happening while countries like Vietnam remain consistently pro-Russia, in spite of historical differences with Russia’s most important 21st century ally, China.

While Turkey remains in NATO, it is difficult to see how the US could ever resurrect the Ankara-Washington alliance. Apart from damage control, there is little the US can do to win trust from  Turkey. This is especially the case so long as President Erdogan is in power and the likelihood is that he will be in power in Ankara long after Donald Trump leaves the White House.

The US has also divided its European allies over Iran and even the Arab states of the Persian Gulf are engaging more thoroughly with Russia and China than ever before.

Venezuela has also united the Russian and Chinese superpowers in a strong show of support for a country in a continent that used to be the CIA and US military’s backyard playground.

While the crux of this piece is about China’s rise to global economic and trading dominance, there has also been a great deal of discussion about Russia. This if for the obvious reason that as a vast superpower, Russia is among the most important of partners in China’s One Belt–One Road, as well as one of the most openly enthusiastic.

By contrast, the United States, failing to built new partnerships and rapidly losing old ones, including South Korea whose economic dealings with Russia continue to increase, is getting desperate. Because of this, the US has resorted to threats against important positions along One Belt–One Road, ranging from the Iraq-Iran border, to the Afghan-Pakistan border, to the Korean peninsula, to the Russo-European borderlands.

US troops in Europe and the Middle East are there to provoke China more than Russia or Iran

In each of these cases though, the US is trying more to destroy than to create. In some places like Iran and North Korea, the US will almost certainly not even try to directly engage in a conflict. Instead, threats and proxy agitations serve as the go-to method through which to achieve destabilisation. In respect of the Russo-European borderlands, the US may have been able to install a wildly pro-NATO regime in Kiev, but this regime looks to be on shaky ground and in any case, the US hasn’t profited from its Ukrainian coup, it has merely made it harder for the Ukrainians to profit from any partnerships themselves.

Arab unity and Russian unity – the Donbass and Kurdistan case study

Through all of these processes, US living standards continue to decline. While the US has always had a rarely talked about poverty problem among both the mostly non-white urban poor and the mostly white rural poor, the large and generally well-off American middle class, helped US propagandists to obscure this reality. Now though, with many middle class Americans of all backgrounds, struggling with the same issues today as America’s forgotten poor have been struggling with for decades, the problems of housing, transport, a job which pays a sustainable income and even household expenses are becoming a worry for many Americans.

America’s military industrial complex is not only a money drain, as Dr. Ron Paul frequently points out, but it is also a brain drain. The popular myth of the ‘stupid American’ isn’t true per se. What is true however, is that outside of military-technology firms, America’s best and brightest are harder and harder to find. If the US used the money and brainpower it has in the military-industrial complex and applied this to civilian projects ranging from infrastructure rebuilding, to state-financed medical research, to developing affordable micro-technologies for civilian use, the US could in fact save itself both from financial poverty and from the poverty of a population increasingly divided by lack of practical opportunities to learn and use a skill in a civilian vocation.

This is where One Belt–One Road comes into things. While received wisdom is that the US has increasingly little to offer China except as a marketplace for goods, if the US were to shift from a military-industrial complex to a civilian-industrial complex, this would not be the case.

The reason that One Belt–One Road frightens both western protectionists and western globalists, is because it offers a model that is superior to both. Like globalism, One Belt–One Road offers opportunities for economic enrichment and the enhancement of living standards through global trade and economic connectivity. But like protectionism and unlike western free trade globalism, One Belt–One Road is focused on each nation playing to its strengths and allowing these domestic strengths (whether tapped or fully untapped) to then, expand globally. While globalism seeks to offshore entire economies, One Belt–One Road’s model allows strong domestic industries to create new markets for themselves while effectively and cheaply supplying these economies with much needed materials and expertise that cannot be produced domestically. It’s not a coincidence that “win-win” is one of Xi Jinping’s favourite phrases.

Because of this, all countries, including the US could benefit from integrating themselves into One Belt–One Road. In this sense, it helps to think of the declining US as an economy with the potential for growth. But the US can only grow if it admits that the old model has failed and that it is high time to embrace a new one, one which will create more domestic jobs, more domestic wealth and more global peace.

The US could avoid the protectionism that would cut off much required Asian materials and finished goods from the US economy, while also avoiding the prolonged offshoring of the US industrial base if it spoke with China about joining One Belt–One Road and expanding it westward, rather than positioning itself as an adversary.

The US, like all of China’s other partners could agree on which sectors could produce things that other countries along One Belt–One Road require, while also agreeing to import the things that the US requires from China’s One Belt–One Road partners. In the words of Xi Jingping, this would be a ‘win-win’ model.

China has been able to develop a largely self-sufficient industrial economy while also trading openly with the world on just this model. When one trades globally, yet preserves important sectors nationally, based on pragmatic geo-industrial realities, one can in fact both be open to the world and independent at home.

While many might maintain that the infamous “1%” in the United States who have enriched themselves through financial speculation and investments in the military-industrial complex, will be reticent to embrace this change, such a reticence will be at the “1%’s” own peril in the long term, in addition to the peril of working and middle class Americans (the 99%).

In this sense, it is not only greed that might ultimately force America into a position of continued hostility towards China and her partners like Russia, but moreover, it represents a a short sighted stupidity. There is plenty of money to be made in the United States, were American businesses to embrace One Belt–One Road. Even Alibaba founder Jack Ma has told American audiences that it isn’t China that has created US debt, unemployment and declining living standards, but instead, that it is America’s wars which are doing so. All of the money spent on war, could be money spent on peace and yes, peace is big business, just ask any Chinese businessman.

There is little doubt among the wider global consensus that the US is currently the biggest obstacle to world peace. The reason for this is that the US continues to cling onto an imperial model of world trade. If the US adopted the Chinese model and made it work for American businesses and American workers, they would find that not only could they make a lot of money, but that China would become far more flexible when approached through the language of opportunity rather than that of suspicion and aggression. This is true of any country. Even today, fewer and fewer countries are standing up to US neo-imperial bullying, Syria, Iran, Venezuela and the DPRK are merelythe most vocal examples.

The only other alternative is for the US to cling on to a model that has objectively failed. It is a failed model that if taken to its logical extreme, would mean more war and little else. This would be a ‘lose-lose’ situation for the entire planet.

With countries throughout the world buying more Russian and Chinese weapons and increasing their ability to resist would-be US military aggression, even when accounting for its military strength, the US will find itself increasingly disabled in respect of turning its hegemonic attitude into meaningful economic results.

Why would the US want to make itself poorer and the world less peaceful when a ready-made alternative is available which could make the world safer and all participating nations richer? When one considers the words, stupidity, insanity and irrationality, one might find an answer to such a question.

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Russia and China Are Containing the US to Reshape the World Order

China and Russia are leading this historic transition while being careful to avoid direct war with the United States.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Fortunately the world today is very different from that of 2003, Washington’s decrees are less effective in determining the world order. But in spite of this new, more balanced division of power amongst several powers, Washington appears ever more aggressive towards allies and enemies alike, regardless of which US president is in office.

China and Russia are leading this historic transition while being careful to avoid direct war with the United States. To succeed in this endeavor, they use a hybrid strategy involving diplomacy, military support to allies, and economic guarantees to countries under Washington’s attack.

The United States considers the whole planet its playground. Its military and political doctrine is based on the concept of liberal hegemony, as explained by political scientist John Mearsheimer. This imperialistic attitude has, over time, created a coordinated and semi-official front of countries resisting this liberal hegemony. The recent events in Venezuela indicate why cooperation between these counter-hegemonic countries is essential to accelerating the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar reality, where the damage US imperialism is able to bring about is diminished.

Moscow and Beijing lead the world by hindering Washington

Moscow and Beijing, following a complex relationship from the period of the Cold War, have managed to achieve a confluence of interests in their grand objectives over the coming years. The understanding they have come to mainly revolves around stemming the chaos Washington has unleashed on the world.

The guiding principle of the US military-intelligence apparatus is that if a country cannot be controlled (such as Iraq following the 2003 invasion), then it has to be destroyed in order to save it from falling into Sino-Russian camp. This is what the United States has attempted to do with Syria, and what it intends to do with Venezuela.

The Middle East is an area that has drawn global attention for some time, with Washington clearly interested in supporting its Israeli and Saudi allies in the region. Israel pursues a foreign policy aimed at dismantling the Iranian and Syrian states. Saudi Arabia also pursues a similar strategy against Iran and Syria, in addition to fueling a rift within the Arab world stemming from its differences with Qatar.

The foreign-policy decisions of Israel and Saudi Arabia have been supported by Washington for decades, for two very specific reasons: the influence of the Israel lobby in the US, and the need to ensure that Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries sell oil in US dollars, thereby preserving the role of the US dollar as the global reserve currency.

The US dollar remaining the global reserve currency is essential to Washington being able to maintain her role as superpower and is crucial to her hybrid strategy against her geopolitical rivals. Sanctions are a good example of how Washington uses the global financial and economic system, based on the US dollar, as a weapon against her enemies. In the case of the Middle East, Iran is the main target, with sanctions aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from trading on foreign banking systems. Washington has vetoed Syria’s ability to procure contracts to reconstruct the country, with European companies being threatened that they risk no longer being able to work in the US if they accept to work in Syria.

Beijing and Moscow have a clear diplomatic strategy, jointly rejecting countless motions advanced by the US, the UK and France at the United Nations Security Council condemning Iran and Syria. On the military front, Russia continues her presence in Syria. China’s economic efforts, although not yet fully visible in Syria and Iran, will be the essential part of reviving these countries destroyed by years of war inflicted by Washington and her allies.

China and Russia’s containment strategy in the Middle East aims to defend Syria and Iran diplomatically using international law, something that is continuously ridden roughshod over by the US and her regional allies. Russia’s military action has been crucial to curbing and defeating the inhuman aggression launched against Syria, and has also drawn a red line that Israel cannot cross in its efforts to attack Iran. The defeat of the United States in Syria has created an encouraging precedent for the rest of the world. Washington has been forced to abandon the original plans to getting rid of Assad.

Syria will be remembered in the future as the beginning of the multipolar revolution, whereby the United States was contained in military-conventional terms as a result of the coordinated actions of China and Russia.

China’s economic contribution provides for such urgent needs as the supply of food, government loans, and medicines to countries under Washington’s economic siege. So long as the global financial system remains anchored to the US dollar, Washington remains able to cause a lot of pain to countries refusing to obey her diktats.

The effectiveness of economic sanctions varies from country to country. The Russian Federation used sanctions imposed by the West as an impetus to obtain a complete, or almost autonomous, refinancing of its main foreign debt, as well as to producing at home what had previously been imported from abroad. Russia’s long-term strategy is to open up to China and other Asian countries as the main market for imports and exports, reducing contacts with the Europeans if countries like France and Germany continue in their hostility towards the Russian Federation.

Thanks to Chinese investments, together with planned projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the hegemony of the US dollar is under threat in the medium to long term. The Chinese initiatives in the fields of infrastructure, energy, rail, road and technology connections among dozens of countries, added to the continuing need for oil, will drive ever-increasing consumption of oil in Asia that is currently paid for in US dollars.

Moscow is in a privileged position, enjoying good relations with all the major producers of oil and LNG, from Qatar to Saudi Arabia, and including Iran, Venezuela and Nigeria. Moscow’s good relations with Riyadh are ultimately aimed at the creation of an OPEC+ arrangement that includes Russia.

Particular attention should be given to the situation in Venezuela, one of the most important countries in OPEC. Riyadh sent to Caracas in recent weeks a tanker carrying two million barrels of oil, and Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has taken a neutral stance regarding Venezuela, maintaining a predictable balance between Washington and Caracas.

These joint initiatives, led by Moscow and Beijing, are aimed at reducing the use of the US dollar by countries that are involved in the BRI and adhere to the OPEC+ format. This diversification away from the US dollar, to cover financial transactions between countries involving investment, oil and LNG, will see the progressive abandonment of the US dollar as a result of agreements that increasingly do away with the dollar.

For the moment, Riyadh does not seem intent on losing US military protection. But recent events to do with Khashoggi, as well as the failure to list Saudi Aramco on the New York or London stock exchanges, have severely undermined the confidence of the Saudi royal family in her American allies. The meeting between Putin and MBS at the G20 in Bueno Aires seemed to signal a clear message to Washington as well as the future of the US dollar.

Moscow and Beijing’s military, economic and diplomatic efforts see their culmination in the Astana process. Turkey is one of the principle countries behind the aggression against Syria; but Moscow and Tehran have incorporated it into the process of containing the regional chaos spawned by the United States. Thanks to timely agreements in Syria known as “deconfliction zones”, Damascus has advanced, city by city, to clear the country of the terrorists financed by Washington, Riyadh and Ankara.

Qatar, an economic guarantor of Turkey, which in return offers military protection to Doha, is also moving away from the Israeli-Saudi camp as a result of Sino-Russian efforts in the energy, diplomatic and military fields. Doha’s move has also been because of the fratricidal diplomatic-economic war launched by Riyadh against Doha, being yet another example of the contagious effect of the chaos created by Washington, especially on US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Washington loses military influence in the region thanks to the presence of Moscow, and this leads traditional US allies like Turkey and Qatar to gravitate towards a field composed essentially of the countries opposed to Washington.

Washington’s military and diplomatic defeat in the region will in the long run make it possible to change the economic structure of the Middle East. A multipolar reality will prevail, where regional powers like Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran will feel compelled to interact economically with the whole Eurasian continent as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The basic principle for Moscow and Beijing is the use of military, economic and diplomatic means to contain the United States in its unceasing drive to kill, steal and destroy.

From the Middle East to Asia

Beijing has focussed in Asia on the diplomatic field, facilitating talks between North and South Korea, accelerating the internal dialogue on the peninsula, thereby excluding external actors like the United States (who only have the intention of sabotaging the talks). Beijing’s military component has also played an important role, although never used directly as the Russian Federation did in Syria. Washington’s options vis-a-vis the Korean peninsular were strongly limited by the fact that bordering the DPRK were huge nuclear and conventional forces, that is to say, the deterrence offered by Russia and China. The combined military power of the DPRK, Russia and China made any hypothetical invasion and bombing of Pyongyang an impractical option for the United States.

As in the past, the economic lifeline extended to Pyongyang by Moscow and Beijing proved to be decisive in limiting the effects of the embargo and the complete financial war that Washington had declared on North Korea. Beijing and Moscow’s skilled diplomatic work with Seoul produced an effect similar to that of Turkey in the Middle East, with South Korea slowly seeming to drift towards the multipolar world offered by Russia and China, with important economic implications and prospects for unification of the peninsula.

Russia and China – through a combination of playing a clever game of diplomacy, military deterrence, and offering to the Korean peninsula the prospect of economic investment through the BRI – have managed to frustrate Washington’s efforts to unleash chaos on their borders via the Korean peninsula.

The United States seems to be losing its imperialistic mojo most significantly in Asia and the Middle East, not only militarily but also diplomatically and economically.

The situation is different in Europe and Venezuela, two geographical areas where Washington still enjoys greater geopolitical weight than in Asia and the Middle East. In both cases, the effectiveness of the two Sino-Russian resistance – in military, economic and diplomatic terms – is more limited, for different reasons. This situation, in line with the principle of America First and the return to the Monroe doctrine, will be the subject of the next article.

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Nearly assassinated by his own fighters, al-Baghdadi and his caliphate on its last legs (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 178.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how the Islamic State has been rapidly losing territory over the last two years in Syria and Iraq, due to efforts by Russian and Syrian forces, as well as the US and their Kurdish allies.

The jihadist caliphate has lost most of its forces and resources, leading it to go into hiding.

Al-Masdar News is reporting that Daesh* leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reportedly attacked in a village near Hajin by some of the terrorist organisation’s foreign fighters in an apparent coup attempt, The Guardian reported, citing anonymous intelligence sources. Baghdadi reportedly survived the alleged coup attempt, with his bodyguards taking him into hiding in the nearby desert.

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Meanwhile European leaders are shocked at US President Trump’s ISIS ultimatum. Via Zerohedge

After President Trump’s provocative tweets on Sunday wherein he urged European countries to “take back” and prosecute some 800 ISIS foreign fighters as US forces withdraw from Syria, or else “we will be forced to release them,” the message has been met with shock, confusion and indifference in Europe. Trump had warned the terrorists could subsequently “permeate Europe”.

Possibly the most pathetic and somewhat ironic response came from Denmark, where a spokesperson for Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said Copenhagen won’t take back Danish Islamic State foreign fighters to stand trial in the country, according to the German Press Agency DPA“We are talking about the most dangerous people in the world. We should not take them back,” the spokesperson stressed, and added that the war in Syria is ongoing, making the US president’s statement premature.

Germany’s response was also interesting, given a government official framed ISIS fighters’ ability to return as a “right”.  A spokeswoman for Germany’s interior ministry said, “In principle, all German citizens and those suspected of having fought for so-called Islamic State have the right to return.” She even added that German ISIS fighters have “consular access” — as if the terrorists would walk right up to some embassy window in Turkey or Beirut!

Noting that the Iraqi government has also of late contacted Germany to transport foreign fighters to their home country for trial, she added, “But in Syria, the German government cannot guarantee legal and consular duties for jailed German citizens due to the armed conflict there.”

France, for its part, has already agreed to repatriate over 130 French Islamic State members as part of a deal reached in January with US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are holding them, after which they will go through the French legal system. However, French Secretary of State Laurent Nuñez still insisted that the west’s Kurdish allies would never merely let ISIS terrorists walk out their battlefield prisons free.

“It’s the Kurds who hold them and we have every confidence in their ability to keep them,” Nuñez told French broadcaster BFMTV on Sunday. “Anyway, if these individuals return to the national territory, they all have ongoing judicial proceedings, they will all be put on trial, and incarcerated,” he said, in comments which appeared to leave it up to others to make happen.

And representing the Belgian government, Justice Minister Koen Geens charged Trump with blindsiding his European allies with the demand, which included Trump underscoring that it is “time for others to step up and do the job” before it’s too late. “It would have been nice for friendly nations to have these kinds of questions raised through the usual diplomatic channels rather than a tweet in the middle of the night,” Geens said during a broadcast interview on Sunday, according to the AFP.

Meanwhile in the UK the issue has recently become politically explosive as debate over so-called British jihadist bride Shamima Begum continues. The now 19-year old joined Islamic State in 2015 after fleeing the UK when she was just 15. She’s now given birth in a Syrian refugee camp and is demanding safe return to Britain for fear that she and her child could die in the camp, so near the war zone.

Conservatives in Britain, such as Interior Minister Sajid Javid have argued that “dangerous individuals” coming back to the UK from battlefields in the Middle East should be stripped of their British citizenship. He said this option has already been “so far exercises more than 100 times,” otherwise he also advocates prosecution of apprehended returning suspects “regardless of their age and gender.”

Identified as French nationals fighting within ISIS’ ranks, via Khaama press news agency

The UN has estimated that in total up to 42,000 foreign fighters traveled to Iraq and Syria to join IS — which appears a very conservative estimate — and which includes about 900 from Germany and 850 from Britain.

SDF leaders have previously complained about the “lack the capacity” for mass incarceration of ISIS terrorists and the inability to have proper battlefield trials for them. Recent estimates have put the number of ISIS militants in US-SDF battlefield jails at over 1000, though Trump put the number at 800 in his tweet.

However, even once they do return to Europe it’s unclear the extent to which they’ll be properly prosecuted and locked in prison by European authorities.

For example, another fresh controversy that lately erupted in Britain involved a 29-year old UK woman who traveled to join ISIS, and was convicted for membership in a terrorist group upon her return to Britain. She was jailed on a six year sentence in 2016, but is now already walking free a mere less than three years after her conviction.

 

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‘End of free speech’: Maffick CEO, host slam Facebook’s unprovoked ‘censorship’ after CNN report

This is because of the political content that challenges the US wars. It is absolutely an act of censorship.

RT

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Via RT…


Facebook blocking several pages operated by Maffick Media is nothing short of outright censorship, the company’s CEO Anissa Naouai said, after a US-funded think tank pointed them out to CNN for a ‘hit-piece’.

The actions of the social media giant, which suspended the accounts of In the Now, Soapbox, Back Then and Waste-Ed last Friday without providing any explanation or even contacting the company that ran the pages, is nothing but a simple attempt to get rid of dissenting voices critical of Washington’s policies, Naouai told RT.

It is blatant censorship. What else can you call it?

Unexplained ban

The ban came literally out of the blue even though Maffick did not violate any existing Facebook regulations. “There is no rule that you have to post anything about your funding or personal funding. No one does it, not any of the US-sponsored outlets,” Naouai said. However, that was apparently the stated reason for the blocking as a Facebook spokesperson said the social media giant wanted the pages to become more transparent by disclosing their funding and “Russian affiliations.”

Facebook never contacted Maffick Media directly, though. In fact, it did not even answer the company’s emails and stayed conspicuously silent about the ways that would allow the accounts to be reinstated. “We have not heard a word from Facebook and it has been over three days now,” Naouai said.

The whole situation makes one think that the suspension is in fact connected to the pages’ popularity as well as their critical stance towards US policies, the Maffick CEO said. “We have hosts that talk about things that are not allowed to talk about on other networks like CNN,” she explained.

“If a video that says that gets hundreds of thousands of views on a page that has millions of views, people [in Washington] start to notice that and they get upset. I believe that is why we were targeted: because of our success and because of, as CNN said, high quality of our videos,” Naouai added.

The Maffick CEO also assumed that a recent piece on the US-sponsored coup attempt in Venezuela might have become a trigger for this drastic measure taken by Facebook. “There is a very … divisive and obnoxious policy taking place right now against Venezuela,” she said, “we do not know if this was the segment that triggered [the suspension] but the timing is convenient.”

“When someone calls out what is happening in Venezuela as a blatant coup it ruffles the feathers of think tanks that spent millions if not billions of dollars to persuade [the audience otherwise] and lobby their interests.”

‘Interrogation’ by CNN

Some details of this whole case may indeed seem odd. Just about an hour after the pages were blocked, CNN published a report on the issue as if they broke the news. “CNN knew that we were going to be blocked before we did,” Naouai said, explaining that, when she found out her company’s pages were suspended, CNN had already published its piece.

Weeks before the blocking, CNN sought to interview some freelancers working with Maffick in an apparent attempt to “dig up some dirt,” Rania Khalek, the American host of Soapbox – one of the video shows Maffick ran on Facebook – recalled.

When the company’s leadership “got wind of it” and offered CNN an interview, it all ended up with a 45-minute “interrogation” loaded with “unethical” questions that “almost any other media organization would even think to answer.”

It felt like a police interrogation: very invasive questions about Maffick and our editorial policies. It was clear that they were doing a hit-piece.

“A CNN journalist repeatedly asked me about my political viewpoints. He was in complete disbelief that I have editorial control over my scripts. He could not understand how it was possible,” Khalek, who was one of those, who gave the interview to CNN, said.

Maffick Media assumed that CNN might in fact pressure Facebook into blocking the accounts. “It is a very competitive market existing in a very political atmosphere that is toxic right now in the US,” Naouai said.

Loophole for state censorship?

CNN itself admits in its piece that it did not just stumble upon the Facebook pages in question independently. Instead, this issue was brought to its attention by the Alliance for Securing Democracy – a part of the German Marshall Fund. This fund is a think tank, which is financed by the US and German governments and has such people as Michael Morell, the former CIA deputy head, and Jacob Sullivan, former Vice President Joe Biden’s top security aide, on its advisory board.

Now, CNN, which stepped on a slippery slope by scrutinizing other media outlets’ funding, had to go to some extraordinary lengths to persuade its audience that the Alliance for Securing Democracy “does not receive any funding” from the German Marshall Fund, while still being a part of it at the same time. However, all these facts just added a new layer to the story.

“You have this US-funded think tank prompting CNN to pressure Facebook to ban our pages. That is an act of censorship,”Khalek said. She thinks the whole scheme was used to circumvent the First Amendment banning the US authorities from directly censoring free speech. “So, they use a middleman to pressure private companies to censor us,” she added, calling it a “legal loophole.”

‘Beginning of an end’

Regardless of who is really behind the ploy, Facebook banning some media pages without any explanation sets a tremendously dangerous precedent, Maffick Media believes. “We had a verified page, which had billions of views, just disappear from online without any kind of comment, any kind of requirement, without breaking any rules. That is unprecedented,” Naouai said.

You have Facebook dictating what people can and cannot see and judging what is good content and bad content. And it is all based on the accusations and criticism coming from a government-funded outlet. If Facebook does it to us, it can do it to anyone,” Khalek warned.

This is because of the political content that challenges the US wars. It is absolutely an act of censorship.

The US establishment apparently seeks to suppress the outlets that “offer a platform to alternative voices that can speak out against US wars and the corporate control over our government in a way that you just do not hear in our corporate media,” the Soapbox host believes.

However, if the social media giant and the likes of it will just continue to randomly block media resources while having “no grounds” to do so, it could create very serious problems for society, Naouai believes.

That would be the beginning of an end of free speech.

 

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