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Empty bragging: Trump trumpets ‘isolating’ Russia from China in UN Security Council

In further sign of his chronic amateurism and tendency to brag President Trump trumpets as a ‘foreign policy success’ his getting China to abstain on the Khan Sheikhoun UN Security Council vote, claiming wrongly this ‘isolated’ Russia from China.

Alexander Mercouris

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The reason why Chinese President Xi Jinping recently felt driven to send a personal message to Russian President Vladimir Putin reaffirming China’s friendship and de facto alliance with Russia became all too clear when then Trump administration published on the White House website on Thursday 27th April 2017 a list of its foreign policy achievements in its first 100 days.

By most conventional criteria the list of ‘achievements’ is remarkably thin.  That is hardly surprising given that Donald Trump has been President for just 3 months.  It is scarcely credible that any US administration would achieve any great breakthrough in foreign policy in the first 3 months of its existence, and I cannot recall a single case in recent history when that has happened.  Any other President would not waste his time with such a list at such an early stage in his administration when publishing it can only provoke ridicule.

This President is however different, and here for completeness is the list, or rather that part of it which concerns foreign policy

PUTTING AMERICA FIRST, PROTECTING NATIONAL SECURITY: President Donald J. Trump’s top priority is the security of the American people and the American homeland.

  • President Trump has prioritized rebuilding and empowering the military to restore national security. During his first 100 days, the President has:
    • Advocated increasing the defense budget by $54 billion to end the devastating effects of the sequestration that has persisted for years.
    • Empowered commanders in the field to make decisions.
    • Saved hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars by negotiating with defense contractors.
  • President Trump has stood up to countries that have threatened our national security after years of failed diplomacy. During his first 100 days, the President has:
    • Sent a message to the world with his swift and decisive order to strike the Syrian air base that launched a horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians.
    • Further isolated Syria and Russia at the United Nations through successful diplomacy with President Xi Jinping of China.
    • Imposed sanctions on Syria for its use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians.
    • Imposed sanctions on Iran for violating an international agreement that restricts its ballistic missile programs.
    • Worked to isolate North Korea and repositioned military assets to confront the regime’s provocative missile tests.

AMERICA FIRST DIPLOMACY: President Trump has rebuilt America’s standing in the world and forged stronger ties with our allies.

  • President Trump has actively reached out to world leaders to advance American interests and build relationships. During his first 100 days, President Trump has:
    • Made 70 calls to 38 different world leaders.
    • Hosted 17 bilateral meetings with world leaders.
  • President Trump negotiated with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to free American charity worker Aya Hijazi, her husband, and four other humanitarian workers

(bold italics added)

The words I have highlighted are the ones which have set the alarm bells ringing in Beijing and Moscow.  President Trump is bragging that through his personal diplomacy with China’s President Xi Jinping he split away China from Russia in the UN Security Council in the vote on the alleged chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

This is totally delusional.  China did not support the draft Resolution the US presented to the UN Security Council in connection with the alleged chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun.  Instead after a personal appeal from President Trump to President Xi Jinping it abstained on the vote on it, doing so however in the knowledge that Russia would veto it.

I have discussed this vote in the UN Security Council previously, and explained at length why China decided to abstain in the vote, and why this is of no significance

That the Trump administration is indeed trying to make trouble between Beijing and Moscow has been all but confirmed by no less a person than President Trump’s National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, who in an interview with ABC television said the following

What we do know is that, in the midst of responding to the mass murder of the Syrian regime, the president (Trump) and the first lady hosted an extraordinarily successful conference, summit, with President Xi and his team. And not only did they establish a very warm relationship, but… they worked together as well in connection with the response to the mass murder on the part of the Assad regime in connection with the U.N. vote.  I think President Xi was courageous in distancing himself from the Russians, isolating really the Russians and the BoliviansAnd I think the world saw that, and they (Xi) saw, well, what club do you want to be in? The Russian-Bolivian club? Or the — in the club with the United States, working together on our mutual interests and the interests of peace, security

(bold italics added)

This comment serves as a further illustration of the inexperience and naivety of US diplomacy in the age of Trump.  It confirms that China abstained in the vote in the UN Security Council on 12th April 2017 following a personal request from Trump to Xi Jinping.  However it completely misconstrues the meaning of that act.

The Chinese almost certainly cleared their decision to abstain in the UN Security Council vote ahead of the vote with Moscow.  From their point of view and that of the Russians a decision by China to abstain would have meant little.  There was no possibility that the draft Resolution would pass because Russia had already made known it would veto it, whilst the US had already removed the most offensive words in the draft of the Resolution before it was put to the vote by deleting wording in the draft which blamed the Khan Sheikhoun incident on the Syrian government before any investigation had taken place.

Why would China hurt and humiliate Trump – whom Xi Jinping had met just days before – by refusing his request and voting against a Resolution which was no longer controversial, which did not concern an issue important to China, and which the Chinese knew the Russians were going to veto anyway?

What was undoubtedly intended by the Chinese as a simple diplomatic courtesy to the new US President over an issue which for China is of secondary importance, is however now being misconstrued by the Trump administration as a big step by China against Russia.

To be clear, it would have been an entirely different matter if China had voted for the Resolution after Russia had made known it would vote against it.  In that case it would have been legitimate to speak of a serious rift over the Syrian issue between Beijing and Moscow.  However an abstention should not be construed in that way.

China has previously abstained on votes in the UN Security Council on Syria and Ukraine, and it is far from unusual for China to sidestep Western criticism by acting in this way over issues which it regards as being of only secondary importance to itself.  The Russians understand this fully, and have never shown any concern about it.

It is however fully understandable that in light of the sort of comments that have been coming out of the Trump administration the Chinese leadership should now be pulling out the stops to make clear that China’s alliance with Russia is unaffected and as strong as always.

By no means everything President Trump is doing in foreign policy is wrong.  The single most positive thing he has done and which is mentioned in the list is that he has made 70 calls to 38 foreign leaders in just 3 months.

This contrasts sharply with the aloof and arrogant behaviour of his predecessor Barack Obama, who barely condescended to speak to other world leaders except in the highly controlled setting of summits and only after hours of briefings.

Unlike Obama President Trump seems instinctively to understand that personal contact with other world leaders is essential if the US is to conduct its foreign policy successfully.

However President Trump also has to understand that the good effect of this will be undone if he persists in misunderstanding and misrepresenting what other leaders say to him.

His juvenile attempt to split China from Russia, his adolescent bragging about it, and his ham-fisted attempts to play China off against North Korea, are not only obliging the Chinese leadership to take urgent steps to reaffirm the enduring strength of China’s relationship with Russia.

They are starting to make China angry, with the result that Chinese criticism of US policy in Syria and Korea is increasing, whilst China is now hardening its stance on the North Korean issue, and is publicly backing North Korean demands for an end to joint military exercises in the Korean Peninsula between the US and South Korea, establishing a linkage between those exercises and the North Korean nuclear weapons programme which the US in the past has always resisted.

As for the reality of Chinese and Russian cooperation in the UN Security Council, that was on full public display yesterday on the critical North Korea issue, when the Russians strongly backing China in a way that clearly shows that the leaderships of China and Russia were coordinating closely with each other.

This most amateur and inexperienced of Presidents urgently needs to start listening to some good advice from the many well-intentioned foreign policy specialists of the realist school there still are in the US, who are anxious to advise and help him, but whose advice and help he has so far spurned.

He also needs to learn both how to hold his tongue, and how to read diplomatic signals correctly.

Above all he needs to understand that international diplomacy is not conducted in the same way that commercial deal making in the US property industry is.

If he fails to learn these lessons soon, then he may find before long that other world leaders will start refusing to take his calls.

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The future of war: UAE hires U.S. mercenaries to assassinate political leaders (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 137.

Alex Christoforou

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An investigation by BuzzFeed News has revealed that Middle East Monarchy, United Arab Emirates, hired U.S. mercenaries to assassinate political leaders and religious clerical leaders in war torn Yemen.

The U.S. ex-military, elite soldiers were paid by to kill those designated as “terrorists” by the UAE.

The UAE worked with the U.S. based mercenary-for-hire Spear Operations Group, founded by Israeli-American Abraham Golan, who told BuzzFeed News…

“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen. I was running it.”

Spear Operations Group’s first target in Yemen was Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah, a party whose members include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkul Karman.

Is this the future of war?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda discuss the stunning Buzzfeed News article that exposes the dangerous and dark assassination strategy of the United Arab Emirates, hiring American ex-soldiers to target and kill political enemies.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Authored by Aram Roston via BuzzFeed News…


The operation against Mayo — which was reported at the time but until now was not known to have been carried out by American mercenaries — marked a pivot point in the war in Yemen, a brutal conflict that has seen children starved, villages bombed, and epidemics of cholera roll through the civilian population. The bombing was the first salvo in a string of unsolved assassinations that killed more than two dozen of the group’s leaders.

The company that hired the soldiers and carried out the attack is Spear Operations Group, incorporated in Delaware and founded by Abraham Golan, a charismatic Hungarian Israeli security contractor who lives outside of Pittsburgh. He led the team’s strike against Mayo.

“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”

The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead an alliance of nine countries in Yemen, fighting what is largely a proxy war against Iran. The US is helping the Saudi-UAE side by providing weapons, intelligence, and other support.

The press office of the UAE’s US Embassy, as well as its US public affairs company, Harbour Group, did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails.

The revelations that a Middle East monarchy hired Americans to carry out assassinations comes at a moment when the world is focused on the alleged murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, an autocratic regime that has close ties to both the US and the UAE. (The Saudi Embassy in the US did not respond to a request for comment. Riyadh has denied it killed Khashoggi, though news reports suggest it is considering blaming his death on a botched interrogation.)

Golan said that during his company’s months-long engagement in Yemen, his team was responsible for a number of the war’s high-profile assassinations, though he declined to specify which ones. He argued that the US needs an assassination program similar to the model he deployed. “I just want there to be a debate,” he said. “Maybe I’m a monster. Maybe I should be in jail. Maybe I’m a bad guy. But I’m right.”

Spear Operations Group’s private assassination mission marks the confluence of three developments transforming the way war is conducted worldwide:

  • Modern counterterrorism combat has shifted away from traditional military objectives — such as destroying airfields, gun emplacements, or barracks — to killing specific individuals, largely reshaping war into organized assassinations.
  • War has become increasingly privatized, with many nations outsourcing most military support services to private contractors, leaving frontline combat as virtually the only function that the US and many other militaries have not contracted out to for-profit ventures.
  • The long US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have relied heavily on elite special forces, producing tens of thousands of highly trained American commandos who can demand high private-sector salaries for defense contracting or outright mercenary work.

With Spear Operations Group’s mission in Yemen, these trends converged into a new and incendiary business: militarized contract killing, carried out by skilled American fighters.

Experts said it is almost inconceivable that the United States would not have known that the UAE — whose military the US has trained and armed at virtually every level — had hired an American company staffed by American veterans to conduct an assassination program in a war it closely monitors.

One of the mercenaries, according to three sources familiar with the operation, used to work with the CIA’s “ground branch,” the agency’s equivalent of the military’s special forces. Another was a special forces sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard. And yet another, according to four people who knew him, was still in the Navy Reserve as a SEAL and had a top-secret clearance. He was a veteran of SEAL Team 6, or DEVGRU, the sources told BuzzFeed News. The New York Times once described that elite unit, famous for killing Osama bin Laden, as a “global manhunting machine with limited outside oversight.”

The CIA said it had no information about the mercenary assassination program, and the Navy’s Special Warfare Command declined to comment. A former CIA official who has worked in the UAE initially told BuzzFeed News there was no way that Americans would be allowed to participate in such a program. But after checking, he called back: “There were guys that were basically doing what you said.” He was astonished, he said, by what he learned: “What vetting procedures are there to make sure the guy you just smoked is really a bad guy?” The mercenaries, he said, were “almost like a murder squad.”

Whether Spear’s mercenary operation violates US law is surprisingly unclear. On the one hand, US law makes it illegal to “conspire to kill, kidnap, maim” someone in another country. Companies that provide military services to foreign nations are supposed to be regulated by the State Department, which says it has never granted any company the authority to supply combat troops or mercenaries to another country.

Yet, as BuzzFeed News has previously reported, the US doesn’t ban mercenaries. And with some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to serve in foreign militaries, whether one is motivated by idealism or money. With no legal consequences, Americans have served in the Israel Defense Forces, the French Foreign Legion, and even a militia fighting ISIS in Syria. Spear Operations Group, according to three sources, arranged for the UAE to give military rank to the Americans involved in the mission, which might provide them legal cover.

Despite operating in a legal and political gray zone, Golan heralds his brand of targeted assassinations as a precision counterterrorism strategy with fewer civilian casualties. But the Mayo operation shows that this new form of warfare carries many of the same old problems. The commandos’ plans went awry, and the intelligence proved flawed. And their strike was far from surgical: The explosive they attached to the door was designed to kill not one person but everyone in the office.

Aside from moral objections, for-profit targeted assassinations add new dilemmas to modern warfare. Private mercenaries operate outside the US military’s chain of command, so if they make mistakes or commit war crimes, there is no clear system for holding them accountable. If the mercenaries had killed a civilian in the street, who would have even investigated?

The Mayo mission exposes an even more central problem: the choice of targets. Golan insists that he killed only terrorists identified by the government of the UAE, an ally of the US. But who is a terrorist and who is a politician? What is a new form of warfare and what is just old-fashioned murder for hire? Who has the right to choose who lives and who dies — not only in the wars of a secretive monarchy like the UAE, but also those of a democracy such as the US?

BuzzFeed News has pieced together the inside story of the company’s attack on Al-Islah’s headquarters, revealing what mercenary warfare looks like now — and what it could become.

Full Story at BuzzFeed News…

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Saudis Admit Khashoggi Killed At Consulate “In Fist-Fight”, King Salman Fires 5 Top Officials

Saudi Arabia confirmed tonight that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at its consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

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Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff has weighed in on the Khashoggi murder admission from KSA claiming “the Saudi report of Khashoggi is not credible.”

The White House issue a statement…

Via Zerohedge


Saudi Arabia confirmed tonight that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at its consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

In a statement put out on Saudi state television, citing an initial investigation by Saudi prosecutors, SPA said that:

“an argument erupted between him [Khashoggi] and others whom he met in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul leading to a fistfight which led to his death.”

Prosecutors said the investigation was still ongoing and that 18 people, all Saudi nationals, had so far been arrested, SPA reported.

“The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public,” the statement said.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has removed a key royal adviser and a senior intelligence official..

King Salman issued an order to remove Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the state-run Ikhbariya television.

The monarch also relieved deputy intelligence chief Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.

This follows the narrative reported by The New York Times on Thursday that Riyadh is looking to blame Assiri for the purported murder of Khashoggi in an effort to shield Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the blame.

Saudi King Salman has also ordered the formation of ministerial committee led by crown prince Mohammad bin Salman to restructure the general intelligence agency.

As Ali Shihabi, Founder, The Arabia Foundation, tweets:

“The removal of two top officials, a cabinet ranking, very powerful and close advisor of MBS and the Deputy Head of Foreign intelligence + 4 other Generals in foreign intelligence (virtually its whole top leadership) cannot be written off as a cover up. This is unprecedented.”

This is not saying “rogue killers” but implicating virtually the whole top leadership of foreign intelligence. They carried out a mission that went sour very quickly and tried to cover it up initially. Bad news travels slowly to the top.”

We await President Trump’s “very severe consequences.”

 

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Pat Buchanan: Caravan Puts Trump Legacy on the Line

Unwanted mass migration is the issue of our time, as there is no foreseeable end to it before it alters America irremediably.

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


Our mainstream media remain consumed with the grisly killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and how President Donald Trump will deal with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Understandably so, for this is the most riveting murder story since O.J. Simpson and has strategic implications across the Middle East.

Yet far more critical to the future of our civilization is the ongoing invasion of the West from the Third World.

Consider the impact of the decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2015 to throw open Germany’s doors to 1 million refugees from Syria’s civil war.

Last weekend, in a crushing blow to Merkel, the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of her CDU, won its smallest share of the vote in half a century, 37 percent. Her coalition party, the SPD, saw its share of the Bavarian vote fall to a historic low of less than 10 percent.

The right-wing Alternative for Deutchland saw its support rise to 10 percent and has become a force in German politics. Some conservatives are urging the CDU to adopt the AfD hardline on illegal immigration.

The message sent by the Bavarian electorate is the message voters across Europe have been sending to their own capitals for years: You are failing in your first duty — defense of the homeland from foreign invasion. Mass migration of unassimilable peoples and cultures from a global South represents an existential threat to our Europe.

As Merkel’s chancellorship approaches its end, French President Emmanuel Macron, her progressive EU partner, has seen his approval fall to below 30 percent.

The U.S.-led NATO alliance may guard the Baltic and Black Sea regions against a Russian invasion from the east. But in Central, Southern and Western Europe, the more feared invaders are the peoples of Africa and the Muslim world, whose numbers are expected to triple or quadruple by this century’s end.

And as their numbers grow, so, too, does their desperation to escape, even at risk of their lives, the poverty, wars and repression of their homelands to cross the Med and fill the empty spaces left by a depopulating Europe.

It also now appears that the U.S. elections, not three weeks away, may be affected by another immigration crisis on the U.S. border.

As of Thursday, a caravan of 4,000 refugees without visas had crossed from Honduras into Guatemala and was heading toward Mexico. By Election Day, it will either have been stopped, or it will be here. And this caravan is a portent of things to come.

According to The Washington Post, during FY 2018, which ended last month, 107,212 members of “family units” crossed over into the U.S., “obliterating the previous record of 77,857 set in 2016.”

Citing DHS figures, the Post adds, “Border patrol agents arrested 16,658 family members in September alone, the highest one-month total on record and an 80 percent increase from July.”

When Trump, under intense political fire, ended his “zero tolerance” policy of separating refugees from their children, this message went out to Mexico and Central America:

Bring your kids with you when you cross the border. They will have to stay with you, and they cannot be held for more than 20 days. Thus, when they are released, you will be released to await a hearing on your claim of asylum. The odds are excellent that you can vanish into the U.S. population and never be sent back.

Enraged, Trump has threatened to cut off aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala if they do not stop the caravans and has warned Mexico he will use the U.S. military to secure our border.

Unwanted mass migration is the issue of our time, as there is no foreseeable end to it before it alters America irremediably.

As these migrants are almost all poor, not highly skilled, and do not speak English, most will join that segment of our population that pays no income taxes but qualifies for social welfare benefits like food stamps, medical care and free education in our public schools.

They are thus a net drain upon the resources of a nation that is already, at full employment, running a deficit of $779 billion a year.

These migrants, however, are a present and future benefit to the Democratic Party that built and maintains our mammoth welfare state, and which, in presidential elections, routinely wins 70 to 90 percent of the votes of people whose trace their ancestry to Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Not without reason, Democrats believe that if they can change the composition of the American electorate, they can control America forever.

If Donald Trump was elected on any one issue, it was immigration and his promises to secure the border, build the wall and halt the invasion.

How he deals with the impending crisis of the migrant caravan may affect both the fate of his party in November and his presidency in 2020.

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