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Zimbabwe on edge: President Robert Mugabe under house arrest amid coup fears

At the age of 93, Robert Mugabe is a political survivor, but his days could be numbered.

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Zimbabwe is in the midst of what appears to be a political crisis that is looking more and more like a military coup. Events started late yesterday when tanks from the Zimbabwean Army poured into the streets of the capital Harare.

Since then, Zimbabwean broadcasters have been off air, with reports emerging that the Army has taken control of the state broadcaster, a move which often signals that a general coup is taking place against the government.

As of last night and early this morning, local time, telecom services in Zimbabwe were switched off, meaning that information has been slow to emerge and when news items do come out of Harare, are often marred in contradiction.

The first statement to emerge was from the Army itself. An officer appeared on ZBC television and said that no coup is taking place but rather, that certain figures “committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country”. The statement continued,

“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy”.

The Army’s statement further assured the country that President Robert Mugabe and his family are safe.

However, a statement from a representative of Harare’s city government offered a summation of events which seems to imply that business is progressing in a normal way and that there are seemingly fewer Army vehicles on the streets than initially reported. The statement from City Hall read,

“We’re doing our work normally, and everybody is at work as usual. Public transport is available and people are going to work. Access to the City Hall is open. I’m in my office right now. Everybody is at work. We are doing our work as normal. There’s no one from the military here”.

 

Hours ago, South African President Jacob Zuma called for calm and stated that he spoke to President Mugabe who is “confined to his home but said that he was fine”.

It can therefore be assumed with some measure of confidence that Mugabe is effectively under house arrest while de-facto out of power, even though he remains the internationally recognised President of Zimbabwe.

Zuma issued a further call for calm via the South African government’s Twitter,

Robert Mugabe who has been President of Zimbabwe since 1987 while being Prime Minister prior to that, starting in 1980, is a political survivor against many odds, both foreign and domestic.

Throughout the 1970s, Mugabe led the Maoist Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in the struggle against the government of Ian Smith, the leader of what was then Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain in 1965. Smith went on the rule the widely unrecognised state of Rhodesia from 1965 until its collapse in 1979. While in power, Smith presided over a government whose members were compromised overwhelmingly of Rhodesia’s white minority, a situation the black majority found unacceptable.

Mugabe’s ZANU faction was rivalled by another black liberation party, Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) led by the Marxist-Leninist Joshua Nkomo. Against the background of the Sino-Soviet rivalry ZANU was favoured by China while ZAPU was favoured by the Soviet Union with Smiths’ government winning favour almost exclusively from South Africa as well as right wing politicians in Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States.

In 1979, Britain held talks between all sides in what led to the Lancaster House Agreement. This agreement temporarily brought what by then was called Zimbabwe-Rhodesia back under British rule as  Southern Rhodesia, before fully gaining independence as Zimbabwe in 1980.

Mugabe became the first Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, working with both his black pro-Soviet rival Nkomo as well as Ian Smith who under the terms set out in the new constitution, was able to retain a bloc of seats in the parliament specifically designated for the white minority. In 1983, Mugabe had his penultimate falling out with Nkomo, who later fled the country.

In 1987, Smith whose relationship with Mugabe became increasingly tense, stepped down as the leader of the white opposition movement, the Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe..

That same year Mugabe moved from the office of Prime Minister to President, in an increasingly strong presidential system, as opposed to the previous parliamentary driven government.

In the subsequent years, Mugabe instigated his land reform programme which saw the private holdings of white farmers transferred to black ownership. The move proved deeply unpopular with the white minority, but won Mugabe acclaim in both Zimbabwe and among the black population of Apartheid South Africa.

By the turn of the 21st century, Mugabe’s position was widely unassailable, but rampant inflation proved to cause consternation among a majority of Zimbabweans.

More recently, the prospect of further investment from Mugabe’s consummate ally China, has brought hope of economic renewal for Zimbabwe.

At 93 years old, the biggest threat to Mugabe’s rule has been the largely accurate perception that when he dies, he intends to pass power onto his deeply unpopular wife Grace.

Grace remains a polarising figure and her rise to power could well have been a proximate cause of the apparent coup. The careful, though by no means perfect, tribal balancing act that has allowed Mugabe to remain in power could be threatened by a leader such as his wife.

That being said, South Africa is in a position to restore Mugabe’s rule should President Zuma believe that a constitutional crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe threatens regional stability. Furthermore, some members of Zuma’s African National Congress and other smaller left-wing parties in South Africa continue to view Mugabe as a hero of the anti-colonial black liberation movement.

For the moment, Zuma has called for calm, but his words indicating that peace and stability must not be “undermined”, does leave the door open for a South African intervention to restore Mugabe’s legal power should Zuma feel that such a thing is worth it.

While some have been quick to say that the events in Zimbabwe are foreign “regime change”, the realities on the ground do not yet indicate this. It is true that foreign powers pump money into many of Mugabe’s political opponents in Zimbabwe, but the fact that the once highly loyal army along with Mugabe’s own left-wing party appear to have willingly participated in procuring his and Grace’s house arrest, indicates that the events in the country are domestic in origin.

It would appear that the Army has chosen to rally around former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who recently fled the country after being sacked by Mugabe.

In this sense, the ‘coup’ against Mugabe is somewhat similar in terms of its likely effects as was the judicial ouster of former Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif. While the Supreme Court in Islamabad removed Sharif from office, his party remained and the policies of the Pakistani government remained largely the same. If the ‘coup’ in Zimbabwe is successful, something similar will likely happen in Zimbabwe, especially as it relates to the country’s long-term good relations with China, relations which will almost certainly continue to remain positive under a would-be successor to Mugabe plucked from the ranks of the ZANU-PF elite.

While even some of Mugabe’s erstwhile supports have become fatigued with his omnipresent rule in the country, Mugabe has previously faced off challenges with comparative ease. So long as Robert Mugabe is alive and well, which apparently he is, there is always a chance that either with the help of his loyal lieutenants or with the help of South Africa, he could restore his position. It is still too early to write off the future prospects of a man who is a true political survivor in a continent that has had more violent power struggles than any other.

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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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