Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
I have been trying to think about this, because I feel sure that when the US ruling class, at least the non-Jewish part of it, manipulate Salafism/Wahhabism as a revolutionary force, via the Sauds and the Qatari ruling family, the Thanis, they (the US rulers of Protestant background) are certainly thinking about it. In many respects, the processes involved are parallel ones. The Salafis and Wahhabis regard other forms of Islam as idolatrous, in the same way that the original Protestants regarded Catholicism as idolatrous. The cults they object to are actually very similar: the shrines and graves of Saints, for example. And sociologically there is also a parallel: the vernacular forms of Islam are characteristic of rural cultures, each of which prizes the memorials of its Saints, whereas the more austere and rigorous monotheism of the Salafis and Wahhabis is nowadays funded & programmed by an urban, capitalised culture, based on wage labour rather than peasant farming. However, in the European Reformation, the rise of capitalism and urban power, and the development of wage labour, took place in nationalist frameworks, in every European country. It coincided with the desire of the Kings and/or wealthy elites of the European states to break free from Papal control. What is happening in the Muslim world is actually the reverse of this. Though the Wahhabi/Salafi forces may represent a more advanced form of capitalism than the mixed Sunni/Sufi/Shi’a cultures they are attacking, these Wahhabi/Salafi forces are not the expression of rising nationalism; the mixed cultures they are attacking are the expressions of nationalism, and the Wahhabi/Salafi attack is a form of proxy colonialism, ultimately conducted on behalf of the imperial power, which for convenience I shall continue to call USrael. Therefore, the sociological model, which makes a certain amount of sense and is widely accepted as something approaching a global developmental law (Weber, Tawney, etc) is being stood on its head. It is not an indigenous sociological development we are seeing here, but an artificially contrived, imperially directed ‘religious movement’ which makes no sense in local terms. Its closest Reformation equivalent would be, for instance, the conquest and colonisation of Ireland (and some of the Caribbean) by Cromwell’s Protestant government in England.
ZOA Regains Tax-Exempt Status After Yearlong Hiatus
Josh Nathan-Kazis, Forward, May 20 2013
The right-wing Zionist Organisation of America has regained its tax exemption more than a year after its failure to file financial disclosures led the IRS to revoke its nonprofit status. The 116-year-old Jewish group’s tax exemption was reinstated on May 15, according to a statement from the ZOA. ZOA President Morton Klein told the Forward:
We’re delighted and gratified. Now we can be raising money directly for ZOA. There’s been zero impact, zero, on our work. Our campus work, our work on the Hill, our Title XI work, my speaking, my writing, my doing TV and radio. Nothing organizationally changed. We’re coming back with major people.
Donations intended for the ZOA given between Feb 2012 and May 2013 went to a donor advised fund maintained by an outside organization. ZOA faced deep internal strife following the loss of its tax exemption in Feb 2012. ZOA Vice Chairman Steven Goldberg emerged as a strident critic of the organization’s professional leadership, criticizing Klein for what Goldberg alleged was an effort to keep the loss of the tax exemption from the public. ZOA also fired Orit Arfa, the LA-based executive director of ZOA’s Western Region, who had complained internally that the group was not doing enough to inform donors that the group’s tax exemption had been revoked. A ZOA spokesman said at the time that Arfa’s firing was not retaliatory. Arfa has sued ZOA for wrongful termination in federal court in California. ZOA has filed a motion to dismiss the case. Klein declined to comment on Arfa’s suit, though he called it “without merit.” ZOA’s loss of its tax exemption was not revealed until the publication of a Forward exposé in Sep 2012. A Mar 2012 email from ZOA national executive director David Drimer, submitted as an exhibit in Arfa’s lawsuit, asked ZOA staffers to keep the revocation quiet. Drimer wrote:
In general, please do not broach this subject with donors unless it is absolutely necessary or they ask about it specifically. We firmly believe we can turn this around quickly through retroactive reinstatement so that assertively publicizing the current state of affairs will not be advantageous for the short and long-term interests of the ZOA.
An attached set of talking points prepared staffers to answer questions raised by donors. The revocation came after the ZOA failed to file three years’ worth of required annual financial disclosures with the IRS. Subsequent filings revealed that Klein received a 38% pay rise during the period in which ZOA failed to file its tax reports. Klein told the Forward that ZOA has now instituted organizational protections to prevent such filing errors from recurring, including the creation of a board committee to oversee the organization’s accounting operations. As of May 15, the ZOA is again able to accept donations itself. ZOA canceled its annual gala in 2012, citing the loss of the group’s tax-exempt status. The group says its 2013 gala will now go forward. The keynote speaker will be Mike Huckabee. Loews Corp CEO James Tisch will also be honored.
Israeli soldier accidentally killed clearing Golan minefield
DEBKAfile, May 22 2013
Pvt Roi Alfi, 19, of Gan Yavne, of the IDF Engineering Corps, was killed while clearing a minefield in the southern Golan yesterday. The IDF ordered an investigation to find out why the mine which designed to target tanks exploded under a man’s weight.
Here’s the extended version. Notice the structure: reams and reams on mine-clearing, then an offhand reference to a jeep being hit, right at the end. Are we supposed to assume the jeep was just sitting there with no-one in it?
Soldier killed during land mine clearing near Syrian border
Gili Cohen, Haaretz, May 21 2013
An IDF soldier was killed Tuesday afternoon during a training course while removing a land mine in the Golan Heights. Private Roi Israel Alfi, 19, and his unit were undergoing a standard advanced training course near Moshav Yonatan when an old land mine exploded, causing his death. This was an anti-tank land mine expected to explode only as a result of a heavy vehicle, such as an APC or a tank, driving over it. It is still unclear why the land mine exploded but initial evaluations point to a technical malfunction. An official involved in the investigation said such an accident has not occurred in several years. Five people, including three children, were injured just over three years ago as a result of a land mine explosion in the Mount Avital region, near Kibbutz Merom Golan in the Golan Heights. According to data from the Survivors Corps organization, published in a document by the Knesset Research center in 2010, there are as many as 260,000 land mines in Israel. The minefields are scattered over more than 33,000 dunams (8,250 acres) of open space, farmland and near communities, but are mainly found in the Golan Heights, the Arava and near Israel’s borders. In the Golan Heights alone more than 36,000 dunams (9,000 acres) are suspected of being mined, some by the Syrian army until 1967 and some by the IDF after the 1967 War. The Defense Ministry has established an authority that is in charge of clearing land mines, but it only deals with clearing anti-personnel mines. Sources in the Defense Ministry say mine-clearing will start this year in the area of Had Nes, northest of the Kinneret and Magdal Shams on the slopes of Mount Hermon, but will be limited to anti-personnel mines that endanger human life. Syrian forces fired at Israeli forces on Monday night, the third such incident this week. At approximately 1:00 A.M., Syrian forces fired at IDF troops patrolling near Tel Fares in the central Golan Heights. No one was wounded, but an army jeep was damaged.
It crossed the ceasefire line, again:
Third exchange of fire over Golan Heights in a week
Alistair Dawber, Independent, May 21 2013
Israeli and Syrian troops exchanged fire across the Golan Heights today, the third time this week that the two sides have clashed across the disputed border. According to the IDF, troops came under fire, with at least one vehicle left damaged after the incident. IDF artillery units responded with Tammuz missiles. The Israeli military said its troops “returned precise fire” after the vehicle was hit. No injuries were reported. The Syrian army claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement that it had “destroyed an Israeli vehicle with everything that it had in it.” The statement said the vehicle was shot at after it crossed the ceasefire line.
Here’s the official Syrian version:
Army Units Destroyed Israeli Vehicle Crossed Cease-Fire Line
SANA, May 21 2013
DAMASCUS – General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces said that our armed forces destroyed an Israeli vehicle entered from the occupied territories and crossed the cease-fire line towards the village of Bir Ajam. The General Command said in a statement issued Tuesday: “The village is located in the liberated area of Syrian territories where there are armed terrorist groups. Following that, the Israeli enemy fired two rockets from the occupied site of Tal al-Faras toward one of our sites in al-Zubaydiah village. No casualties were reported.” It added that the aggression aims at raising the terrorist groups’ collapsed moral due to the painful blows they received at the hands of our armed forces in more than one place, especially in al-Qusayr area. The General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces said that the blatant aggression confirms again the involvement of the Zionist entity in the ongoing events in Syria and the direct coordination with the armed terrorist gangs. The statement stressed that any breach or an attempt to violate the state sovereignty will be responded. It stressed that whoever thinks that he is able to test our strength, alert and readiness to maintain our dignity and sovereignty is mistaken.
We may hypothesize that two other soldiers were in the jeep when it was hit, as would probably be SOP for a patrol jeep:
Mine blast kills IDF soldier
Yoav Zitun, Ynet, May 22 2013
Private Roi Israel Alfi, 19, an IDF soldier from the Engineering Corps was killed at around noon Tuesday when an old anti-tank mine exploded in the southern Golan Heights. Two other soldiers sustained very mild injuries in the blast. The soldier who was killed was recruited only a few months ago. His family has been notified. The tragic incident occurred during the clearing of a minefield near Moshav Yonatan. Medical teams that were alerted to the scene pronounced the soldier’s death. The army has launched an investigation. The mine clearing operation was part of an advanced training phase of the Engineering Corps, a senior army source said. Engineering Corps soldiers routinely clear minefields in the Golan and Jordan Valley. The mine that exploded Tuesday was an anti-tank mine, more powerful than an anti-personnel mine. A senior Engineering Corps officer said:
We don’t yet know why it went off. It was not a mine that hasn’t been spotted before. It was exposed and marked today along with additional mines. It was an Israeli mine that we had information on.
The clearing of the minefield had no connection to the mounting tensions along Israel’s border with Syria. As part of the investigation, IDF Northern Command head Maj-Gen Yair Golan arrived at the scene of the blast, as did Ground Forces Commander Maj-Gen. Guy Tzur, who appointed a team of experts to probe the incident.
Soldier killed in Golan minefield accident
Asher Zeiger, Times of Israel, May 21 2013
A soldier was killed when a land mine exploded on the Golan Heights Tuesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear what caused the mine to detonate. The IDF was investigating what it said was an unprecedented accident. The soldier, in training in the Combat Engineering Corps, was clearing anti-tank mines in the southern Golan, near the small town of Yonatan. A senior source in the engineering corps said the mine was Israeli, in a field that dated from the 1990s, and had been discovered earlier in the day, uncovered and marked. The soldier did not step on the mine, which in any case was meant to require more than the weight of a person to detonate, but he was very close to it when it exploded, IDF sources said. It was of a kind designed to explode if an armored vehicle went over it. The family of the soldier was informed of his death. Two other soldiers were very lightly injured in the blast. The mine contained 10 kg of explosives, military sources said. It was supposed to have required a weight of over 140 kg to detonate.
The caring facade of French imperialism
David Cronin, New Europe, May 12 2013
The PR accompanying wars has become wearily predictable. Whenever one of its governments or allies conducts a military action, there is a near certainty that the EU will host or participate in a “donors’ conference.” One of these grotesque events has been dedicated to Afghanistan each year since it was invaded by the US in 2001. After Gaza was bombed for three weeks in late 2008 and early 2009, the EU rushed to foot the bill for damage caused by Israel, often to infrastructure previously built or equipped with Western aid. And now the European taxpayer is expected to pick up the tab for destruction wrought by France during its military expedition in Mali. I’m fully in favour of increasing aid to healthcare and education in Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries. Yet this Wednesday’s donors’ conference, jointly organised by France and the EU, is not really designed to reduce hardship in Africa. Rather, its purpose is to cover French imperialism with a veneer of benevolence. At this juncture, there can be no doubt that France’s “intervention” was motivated primarily by its determination to control natural resources in Mali and Niger. An analysis published in February by in-house researchers at the defence ministry in Paris points out that these two neighbouring countries possess 60% of global uranium reserves. While exploitation of these reserves by Areva, the French nuclear firm, is “certain,” according to the researchers, “instability in the Sahel has an impact on economic projects in the whole region.” Less than a month after he was sworn in as president last year, François Hollande hinted that he regarded this uranium as effectively Areva’s property. Following talks with Mahamadou Issoufou, his counterpart from Niger, Hollande said that Areva must be allowed to extract uranium from the giant mine of Imouraren at the earliest possible date. As the former colonial power, it was France which set the border between Mali and Niger. The Touareg people who straddle this artificial frontier have been striving for autonomy since the 1960s. Hollande has been eager to quell the recent resurgence in the Touareg struggle and to bolster the Malian authorities. His efforts have been sold as being part of a fight against “terrorism”. A more plausible explanation is that he wishes to make sure that the uranium in this area doesn’t fall into the “wrong” hands. It is no accident that French troops were deployed earlier this year in both Mali and around the Arlit mine in Niger, a key source of uranium for Areva.
There is a fundamental dishonesty behind this week’s donors’ conference. Briefing material prepared by its organisers gives the impression that it is part of the EU’s overall development aid activities. The objective of development aid is defined in the EU’s Lisbon treaty as reducing and eventually eliminating poverty. Indeed, the inclusion of this principle is one of the few positive things in a treaty that has a right-wing ideological orientation. Raiding the aid budget to help a resource grab in Mali runs counter to that objective. It can, therefore, be considered as illegal. This is not the first time that the EU is violating its own law. A 2011 EU strategy paper on the Sahel blurs the distinction between military and development aid. The pretext cited is that security is a prerequisite for progress. This ignores how it is poverty and oppression that beget conflict. With some rare exceptions, the EU’s governments have reneged on a decades-old commitment to earmark at least 0.7% of their GDP for tackling global poverty. Diverting some of the already inadequate development aid budgets to military training exercises is tantamount to blowing raspberries at the hungry. Apart from tiny Luxembourg, all of the EU’s governments spend a higher proportion of GDP on the military than on international development. Not content with that manifest injustice, corporate-funded think tanks have pounced on the French intervention in Mali to advocate that Europe’s military expenditure should be even higher. Nick Witney, the first head of the European Defence Agency, a body tasked with boosting military cooperation between both private firms and nations, has written an especially opportunistic tract for his current employer, the European CFR. Witney laments that the “crisis in Mali once again exposed the hollowness of Europe’s military pretensions.” France was “left to do the job alone,” he writes, because of the lack of a “shared strategic culture in Europe.” His proposed solution is to have a similar level of scrutiny for the military spending of EU governments as that introduced for other types of expenditure over the past few years. This is despicable: the scrutiny to which he refers enables the Brussels bureaucracy to insist that countries eviscerate their schools and hospitals in the name of deficit reduction. Witney advocates that the same bureaucracy can simultaneously demand greater expenditure on drones. Meanwhile, a pamphlet by Notre Europe, an institute headed by one-time European Commission chief Jacques Delors, labels many of the EU states as “free-riders” because they did not deploy fighter jets in Libya during 2011 or help France in Mali this year. These pamphlets have been produced as part of a concerted effort to step up the pace of the EU’s militarisation. You can be sure that they won’t be allowed gather dust.
Kyrgyzstan bent on evicting US air base in 2014
AP, May 21 2013
BISHKEK — Kyrgyzstan’s president has reaffirmed that next year the Central Asian nation will evict the US air base that supports military operations in nearby Afghanistan. President Almazbek Atambayev has repeatedly pledged to shut the Manas Transit Center next year, dismissing US assumptions the base would remain in exchange for higher rent. Currently, the US pays $60m/yr for the base. Atambayev said Tuesday the Kyrgyz Cabinet had drafted a bill on the base closure and submitted it to parliament. He said Kyrgyzstan would compensate for the loss of revenue through other economic projects. All US troops moving in and out of nearby Afghanistan travel through Manas. Large numbers of troops are set to flow through the facility as part of the withdrawal of most international troops next year.
He says it’s serious business, but I agree with the wider world that it’s farcical, self-betraying, and unnecessary. The correct way to do these operations, in my view, is by a sort of method acting: try to believe your own cover, and do everything, literally everything, within its terms. That means you don’t ‘recruit agents’ in this stupid and obvious way; you befriend them within the framework of your legitimate cover role, which is ‘information sharing to jointly fight terrorism’. If possible, you even conceal your payments to them within an ostensibly legitimate vehicle, such as a consultancy. If as Giraldi intimates all this cloak & dagger crap is required by Langley rules for “denied areas”, then Langley rules are self-defeating garbage – RB
Spycraft in Moscow: The wigs may seem silly, but this is serious business
Philip Giraldi, AmConMag, May 21 2013 (extracts)
The Russians filmed the arrest of Fogle and also obligingly provided the world media with a photo of what he was carrying when he was detained. The photo has inspired considerable merriment on the blogosphere. The FSB is reporting that Fogle, a third secretary at the political section in the Moscow Embassy, twice phoned a Russian intelligence officer who specialized in Islamic terrorism in Russia’s Caucasus region. Fogle, who revealed in a Russian-language letter to his prospective agent that there had already been some quid pro quo, clearly believed that the Russian was already committed to assisting the US. The letter that he carried provided instructions on setting up a secure Gmail account and pledging up to $1m/yr with the promise of additional bonuses for information. Fogle was also carrying a considerable sum in cash which might have been regarded as a recruitment bonus. The Russians and the media have been making fun of Fogle over the letter, his wigs, his Moscow street atlas, and his compass, but all are components for running intelligence operations in what is referred to as a “denied area,” meaning an environment that is controlled by a hostile security service. Fogle’s disguises were meant to fool live surveillance following him on foot or in cars and to make it more difficult to track him on CCTV, which covers central Moscow. The Russians have revealed that the Fogle wigs matched a wig they seized while arresting CIA officer Mike Sellers in 1986, not completely surprising, as the Agency has its own disguise factory. Fogle’s route through Moscow would have been meticulously planned, indicating that the atlas and compass had an operational rather than a practical purpose. The street atlas would be used to set up secure communications in Moscow by use of dead drops, where material could be left by one party and later picked up by another. I would imagine dead-drop sites were somehow marked and indicated on the city street maps. The compass likely would be used, rather than a GPS that gives off a trackable signal, because Fogle may have been testing communicating to satellite from that part of Moscow. The system used fires a microsecond burst of encoded information but requires precise timing and compass orientation to work correctly when the satellite is in the right position. The cell phone shown in the FSB photo, large and clunky as it is, might have been modified to communicate with the satellite. It is clear from the letter that Fogle was intending to meet his prospective agent, a man Fogle or others would have certainly met with before, likely outside of Russia. The approach itself might be construed as clumsy, but the letter carried by Fogle is not as bizarre as it is being portrayed, as it would both outline and confirm the commitment to compensate the fledgling agent with lots of money, the presumed motivation for cooperation. In this case, everyone involved from the CIA side was effectively diddled. The new agent was clearly a double, undoubtedly a “dangle” produced by the FSB with the expectation that the CIA, desperate for sources on the Caucasus in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, would forget about normal security protocols and take the bait. They did just that, falling into a trap set by the Russians and being filmed while doing so. The FSB had reportedly been surveilling Fogle for months, since he arrived in country, after noting that his outside-the-embassy behavior did not fit the pattern of other US diplomats. The outing of the station chief by the Russians is serious business, as it demands commensurate retaliation. So the arrest and expulsion of Foyle will have real consequences.
this was originally twice as long, because the editors had added all the usual, endlessly repeated, rote propaganda
Austria says peackeepers may quit Golan if EU arms rebels
Michael Shields, Reuters, May 21 2013
VIENNA – Austria may pull its peacekeeping troops from the Golan Heights, evacuating the UN buffer zone, its defence minister warned on Tuesday. Vienna’s warning was aimed at Britain and other allies which want to lift EU arms embargo. Doing so, minister Gerald Klug told Reuters, would rob Austrian troops of their neutrality. Foreign peacekeepers have come under fire and some have been held hostage. He stopped short of saying an end to the EU arms ban would automatically prompt the departure of the 380 Austrian soldiers. But their withdrawal after four decades would leave a huge hole in the 1,000-strong UN force. The blue-helmeted ranks of UNDOF, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, have already seen Japanese and Croatian troops depart since the Syrian conflict began in 2011 and the Philippines, the other main contributor of combat troops along with Austria, has said it may also withdraw after several incidents in which Syrian rebels have held its men prisoner. Diplomats have said that Fijian soldiers are likely to fill some of the existing gaps. But the disappearance of the critical Austrian contingent would cause the UN major difficulties. Klug said in an interview a day before EU leaders in Brussels will discuss an arms embargo that expires on Jun 1:
My view is that if the arms embargo were not extended, then the impartiality of the peace mission could no longer be maintained. Our mission would be additionally fraught and it would no doubt come to a new assessment of the situation. There is a Plan B for every foreign mission, not just for the Golan. To me the safety of Austrian troops is the most important thing in this context. But I also say that Austria has clearly shown in years past that it is a reliable provider of troops and Austria wants to remain a reliable provider of troops. It makes little sense to discuss red lines in public, but they are there. I cannot of course prejudge the discussions, but without doubt there are several options in the political discussion, and withdrawal is one of these options. It would be up to the UN to decide if UNDOF could live without our contribution. Given the quantitative importance that Austrian soldiers have on the Golan I would have serious doubts that the mission could be maintained.
Austrian troops have beefed up their armour and have, Klug said, been issued with new protection against chemical attack. But they were ready to continue their 39-year mission in the zone. UNDOF, essentially with Austrians in the north and Filipinos in the south, polices a 75 km ribbon of DMZ running from the mountainous Lebanese border in the north to Jordan in the south, separating Syria from the Golan Heights, seized by Israel from Syria in 1967. 44 of its members have died since it was set up in 1974, some in accidents. The neighboring UN force in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL, was set up in 1978. On Tuesday, Syria said its troops destroyed an Israeli vehicle that crossed into its territory, while Israel said the incident took place on its side of the line and the vehicle was only damaged. Both sides said Israel fired back. Filipino peacekeepers have on two occasions been held for days by the Syrian rebel Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade. In November, two Austrian peacekeepers were hurt when their convoy came under fire near the airport in Damascus. Klug called the Golan situation “tense but manageable” and declined to go into detail on what elements of EU policy changes might prompt an exit. Klug, a center-left Social Democrat in the right-left grand coalition in Vienna, took charge of the ministry in March and visited the Austrian troops on the Golan this month. They had, he said, curtailed patrol areas and taken extra equipment including body armour, armoured vehicles and equipment for chemical warfare, though Klug played down any risk of chemical weapons attacks. Northern areas patrolled by the Austrians were generally less tense than the south of the zone. But Klug said his troops, with their backs to Israeli positions on the heights, still saw a mix of both Syrian government forces and rebels on the Syrian side. It was hard to determine who was who, he said, adding:
You can see them with binoculars. They get pretty close.
Al-Jazeera roiled by US manager’s decision to censor Joseph Massad article
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, May 21 2013
Days after a top al-Jazeera executive ordered the removal of an op-ed critical of Zionism by Joseph Massad, the article was today restored to the network’s English-language website. Imad Musa, the head of al-Jazeera English Online, also posted a statement on the Editor’s Blog denying that al-Jazeera had “succumbed to various pressures, and censored its own pages” when it removed the article. The about-face follows a growing uproar inside and outside al-Jazeera over the article’s removal, amid fears for editorial independence and freedom of speech as the Qatar-based network prepares to launch al-Jazeera USAia. Musa’s statement claims:
After publication, many questions arose about the article’s content. In addition, the article was deemed to be similar in argument to Massad’s previous column, ‘Zionism, anti-Semitism and colonialism,’ published on these pages in December. However, we should have handled this better, and we have learned lessons that will enable us to maintain the highest standards of journalistic integrity.
Massad, who has written for the al-Jazeera English website for two years, welcomed the restoration of his article, but expressed disappointment in al-Jazeera’s statement in a response sent to the Electronic Intifada. Massad rejected al-Jazeera’s claim that the article had been removed due to its similarity to a previous article, and said he had been given the same line by Imad Musa, who telephoned Massad from Doha last night. Massad wrote:
I quickly disabused him of it, explaining that while ‘The Last of the Semites’ was related to the article I published last December, it was a different article altogether and had a different frame and a different set of arguments and facts. That argument was just a damage control move that refuses to take responsibility for al-Jazeera’s submission to US Zionist dictates. I explained that since he was the new Head of al-Jazeera Online (he told me that he had been appointed in this new position ten days ago), he could restore the article and issue the apology immediately and not have to wait till the next day. He explained that the matter was “more complicated than that.” I retorted: “Are you or are you not the Head of al-Jazeera Online?” He murmured embarrassingly that the matter was not in his hands. I responded by reaffirming to him that indeed it was not and that the matter was not up to him but to the higher-ups who made the decision for political reasons.
Musa did not respond to an email from The Electronic Intifada requesting comment. Speaking with multiple sources over the course of several days, the Electronic Intifada has been able to piece together and corroborate key elements of what happened and these inquiries confirm that politics and commercial interests were indeed at play. As Massad explained in a statement in Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar, he filed “The Last of the Semites” after a request from his editor to submit a piece for Nakba Day. Massad’s article, based on a lecture he gave in Stuttgart, Germany on May 10, was published on May 14. The entire conference, including Massad’s speech, was carried on the network’s live channel al-Jazeera Mubasher. Mhamed Krichen, one of al-Jazeera’s star anchors, participated on two panels at the conference, including one with Massad. But in the days after Massad’s article appeared, as the Electronic Intifada previously reported, there was a more than usually intense outcry from high-profile Zionist commentators including The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who grossly distorted Massad’s article and escalated their defamation and slurs against him. On May 19, the article disappeared from Al Jazeera’s main English website, and hours later from its mobile site. The person who got spooked by the volume of criticism was Ehab al-Shihabi, executive director for international operations of al-Jazeera USAia, the man in charge of launching the network’s high-profile, high-risk US venture. Al-Shihabi, a Palestinian USAian himself, demanded that the article be taken down, and, by several accounts, management in Doha acquiesced. A career management consultant with no journalistic background and no formal editorial role, al-Shihabi’s intervention was unusual to say the least. But al-Shihabi’s power in the company has grown tremendously in recent years, along with criticism that he is accountable to no one. Massad wrote in Al-Akhbar that when he saw that his article had been removed, he called one of the two editors with whom he normally works. That editor was also initially unaware that the article had been removed, and when he got back to Massad after looking into it, could only confirm that it had been “pulled by management.” Al-Shihabi did not respond to an email from The Electronic Intifada requesting comment. Al-Shihabi’s reason for wanting Massad silenced was fear of the political repurcussions for al-Jazeera USAia. He conveyed his concerns that the intensified criticism could jeopardize his efforts to launch the channel including winning cable distribution deals needed to get the channel into US living rooms. Al Shihabi recently said of the nascent US-based al-Jazeera offshoot:
It will be the voice of Main Street.
Clearly, in al-Shihabi’s eyes, Massad’s searing, well-researched criticism of Zionism was not going to fly in the US mainstream. Al-Shihabi has positioned himself as the face of al-Jazeera USAia, barnstorming US campuses and other locations, often promoting pictures of himself on the company blog. Yet, the huge embarrassment al-Shihabi’s intervention to remove Massad’s article has caused the network suggests a serious lack of judgment. Al-Shihabi certainly knew that al-Jazeera, which has cleverly used the Internet to reach primary audiences, has had a hard time getting its English-language channels carried by US cable distributors. It has often faced politically-motivated and racist opposition and accusations that the channel promotes “terrorism” because of its Arab and Qatari background and willingness to air viewpoints routinely suppressed in mainstream US media. In January, al-Jazeera bought Current TV, a cable network founded by Al Gore, which instantly enabled it to expand its reach to 40 million US homes from just 4.7 million before the deal. Soon after, the deal was criticized by former long-time WaPo media commentator and CNN host Howard Kurtz, who also pointed out that the network has been called “anti-USAian” and a “fount” of “anti-Israel propaganda.” The vast majority of the criticism of al-Jazeera’s US expansion plans has indeed come from extreme Islamophobic and pro-Israel sources. Just weeks ago, the NY Post reported that al-Jazeera was in talks to buy more cable networks, a move that is likely only to generate more opposition. Perhaps hoping to head off such resistance, Ehab al-Shihabi, an intensely political operator, has sought to cozy up to key players in the US establishment, such as his recent, high-profile meeting with Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first White House chief of staff, a hardline supporter of Israel, and son of a member of the Zionist terrorist gang, the Irgun. Clearly, the normal editorial controls had been circumvented in order for Massad’s article to be removed. The breakdown in accountability demonstrated by this incident has caused soul-searching among al-Jazeera staffers. Several journalists on several continents spoke of a widespread sense that the blunder damaged the reputation of the whole network, especially in light of persistent criticism that Al Jazeera’s legendary independence, particularly of its Arabic channel, has been sacrificed to the interests of Qatar’s foreign policy. Al-Shihabi, an unaccountable senior manager, ordering the deletion of an article without telling either the author or the editors who commissioned it, seemed to confirm the worst expectations. Azmi Bishara, the Palestinian political leader and academic and one of al-Jazeera’s most prominent commentators, forcefully condemned the network’s action as “cowardly and opportunistic.” In a statement on his Facebook page hours before Massad’s article was restored, Bishara said that the deletion of Massad’s article followed false accusations of anti-Semitism by “Zionist” and “racist” individuals. Relating the move to the planned launch of al-Jazeera USAia, Bishara added:
If the price of al-Jazeera’s entry into the US means its submission to Zionist dictates, then this means that USAia will be moving into al-Jazeera and not the reverse.
Given that even Massad’s university, Columbia, had eventually stood up to similar false and disproven accusations and campaigns, Bishara noted that al-Jazeera had been “even less vigilant than Columbia in defending the rights of an Arab professor to express his opinion. Shame on you.” Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald added his own searing indictment of the network earlier today:
No media outlet can possibly do something like this without publicly accounting for what happened and expect to retain credibility. How can you demand transparency and accountability from others when you refuse to provide any yourself? Refusing to comment on secret actions of this significance is the province of corrupt politicians, not journalists. It’s behavior that journalists should be condemning, not emulating.
What Bishara has said publicly, many present and former al-Jazeera staffers have been saying privately. Yet many al-Jazeera journalists are determined to retain the respect that the network has enjoyed for being willing to take on stories and offer voices, especially on Palestine, that no other network of its size would touch. The restoration of Massad’s article, they must hope, will be a first step towards regaining al-Jazeera’s reputation as a place where free discussion of Palestine, Zionism and Israel are still permitted, even if it doesn’t always sell on Main Street. But there’s no doubt the damage has been great.
JNF UK faces official questions over racial discrimination
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, May 21 2013
The Charity Commission is to quiz the Jewish National Fund’s UK-registered bodies over claims it falls foul of British anti-racism law. The move comes in response to a formal complaint by Stop the JNF campaigners about the JNF’s racist practices in Palestine-Israel, lodged with the commission in March. In a detailed letter [PDF] to Stop the JNF, the commission denied their request to strip the three JNF bodies of their charitable (and thus tax-exempt) status, but admitted that the campaigners’ complaint “raises matters of potential regulatory interest for the Commission.” They said they would now “raise with the trustees of JNF Charitable Trust how they are satisfied that the restriction of the provision of services to people defined by a protected characteristic, is lawful.” A “protected characteristic” under British law is a usually a race or religion. Stop the JNF’s Sofiah Macleod emphasized in a press release that there was still much left to do:
We are glad that the Charity Commission is at last looking at the JNF’s systematic racist discrimination. The Stop the JNF campaign will be seeking to make the necessary legal challenges to force the Charity Commission to do its job, to remove the JNF charities from the register.
Mike Maher, the Charities Commission official who signed the letter, could not be reached by phone and so far has not replied to an email. The commission’s press office did not immediately reply to an out-of-hours email. The JNF is a veteran Zionist institution with quasi-governmental status and authority over land in Israel, which it holds in trust exclusively for Jews. Affiliated charitable fronts operate around the world. In April, the Electronic Intifada revealed that the Canadian government’s tax agency was asked, probably by the Auditor General, whether it would “investigate or revoke” the JNF’s charitable status in Canada. In 2005, Israel’s high court found that the JNF, which owns 13% of the country’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest, systematically excluded Palestinian citizens of Israel from leasing its property. In the Naqab (Negev), the JNF is involved in projects to “Judaize” the southern desert. Palestinian Bedouin communities are being compelled to move into American-style reservations dubbed “development towns.” The “unrecognized” village of al-Araqib, for example, has reportedly been destroyed by Israel and rebuilt around 50 times since 2010. In Oct 2012, Budour Hassan reported for the Electronic Intifada that JNF representatives raided the 5,000-strong town of Bir Hadaj (which is ostensibly “recognized”) alongside interior ministry agents, handing out demolition orders. When local youths protested, police invaded, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and some live ammunition.
RT censored their report to omit the name, compare at bottom of the two edits below. According to the Telegraph, a diplomat with the same name is listed as a Counsellor in the US Moscow embassy in the autumn-winter 2012-13 edition of a directory of foreign diplomatic, media and business offices in the city – RB
CIA Troublemaking in Caucasus
Wayne Madsen, Strategic Culture Foundation, May 20 2013
It is clear that Russia’s arrest and expulsion of two CIA agents who were trying to recruit members of the FSB fighting against Salafi separatists in the Caucasus is part of a Russian mopping-up operation directed at the CIA’s decades-long covert support for terrorists operating in the Northern and Southern Caucasus. The FSB recently arrested Ryan Christopher Fogle, a CIA ‘official cover’ US embassy Third Secretary, who was trying to recruit an FSB counter-terrorism officer for the CIA. A Russian phone intercept of Fogle’s conversation with the targeted counter-terrorism officer revealed the following offer by the CIA agent:
You can earn up to $1m/yr and I’ll give you $100k up front, but only if we meet right now. Yes or no?
Earlier this year, the FSB nabbed another CIA agent, yet unnamed, and quietly deported him (I think that would be Thomas Firestone, see the story I have added to the bottom of this post – RB). The list of key US Foreign Service officers assigned to the Moscow embassy dated Apr 1 2013 does not contain Fogle’s name. Traditionally, the CIA prefers to operate under the official cover of ‘Political Officer’ at large embassies like Moscow. In smaller embassies, the CIA presence can often be found in the deputy chief of mission. The Political Officer in Moscow is Michael Klecheski, formerly with the CIA-connected RAND Corporation and the National Security Council, who was assigned to the Moscow embassy during Soviet times. There is a good chance that Klecheski was Fogle’s local supervisor. The FSB revealed publicly that the CIA station chief for the embassy is Stephen Holmes. Another embassy Third Secretary, Benjamin Dillon, was expelled in January for activities similar to those of Fogle.
According to Turkish sources, the Jamestown Foundation’s operations in the Caucasus are tied in directly with those of the CIA. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, according to documents from the Georgian Interior Ministry, attended training sessions in Tbilisi last eyar sponsored by Jamestown. The foundation was set up as an anti-Soviet organization by CIA director William Casey in the early 1980s. Its board of directors have included the author Tom Clancy. Jamestown president Glen Howard is fluent in Turkish and Azerbaijani. Tamerlan’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni (aka Tsarnaev) had been a business associate of former CIA Turkish specialist Graham Fuller, who has participated in a number of Jamestown events. Jamestown has two major missions on behalf of the CIA:
- To ensure the flow of energy, including oil and natural gas, from the Caspian through pipelines in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey;
- To prop up or topple governments in the region to ensure US predominance.
The latter is accomplished through organizing the political opposition, setting up conferences, and gaining influence in universities through NGOs established to veil the CIA’s financing of the operations. The NGOs ensure the CIA has a cadre of academics, politicians, former bureaucrats and diplomats, and intelligence agents to support its efforts through participation in ‘joint studies’ many of which are conducted by Jamestown. In return, the CIA provides its interlocutors with secret cash payments through the electronic transfer of funds to their bank accounts. Jamestown President Glen Howard has publicly revealed the US bases of operations are in West Azerbaijan and Georgia and the target is the South and North Caucasus.
Turkish sources also report that the key Jamestown interlocutor between the organization and the Caucasus Emirate of Salafi guerrillas among whom Tamerlan Tsarnaev made contacts is Fatima Tlisova, a former Russian national of Circassian ethnicity and a journalist. Granted political asylum by the US, Tlisova reportedly met Anzor Astemirov, aka Emir Sayf’Ullah, the head of the Salafi Caucasus Emirate branch in Kabardino-Balkaria, who was killed shortly thereafter, on Mar 24 2010, in a shoot-out with police in Nalchik, the Kabardino-Balkaria capital. Tlisova now travels on a US passport, according to Turkish sources. Astemirov was on record stating that he did not support a global Jihad against countries such as the US, and had asked the US for assistance in the Islamic Emirate’s war against Russia. The Caucasus Emirate is known to receive substantial financial support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. A Circassian Russian named Ali Berzeg also operates under Jamestown’s umbrella, according to Turkish sources and he is active in the ‘No Sochi’ campaign to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics next year. Berzeq participated in the Nov 19-21 2010 Jamestown conference in Tbilisi on Circassian nationalism in the Adygea and Karachay-Cherkessia autonomous republics of Russia. He also spoke of support for Jamestown’s Circassian adventurism by the governments of Estonia and Lithuania, particularly that offered by Estonian MEP Indrek Tarand. Berzeg also revealed in Tbilisi that the Circassians were supported by diaspora communities based in New York, Istanbul, Antalya, Munich, and Haifa.
Jamestown, through its links with Fuller, and through him with Tsarni, had two Chechen organizations circling its orbit: the Congress of Chechen International Organizations, located at Fuller’s home in Maryland, and the US-Chechen Republic Alliance Inc, located at the home of Alavi Tsarnaev, Ruslan Tsarni’s brother. Jamestown is also linked, according to Turkish sources, with the Cerkes Society of New Jersey, the New Jersey Circassian Association, and the Circassian Cultural Institute, all, like their Chechen counterparts, taking full advantage of the Internal Revenue Service’s 501(c)3 tax-exempt provisions. Jamestown was instrumental in founding the Circassian Cultural Center of the Republic of Georgia, authorized by a special decree from Saakashvili on Oct 12 2011. Jamestown uses Ilia State University in Tbilisi to hold many of its Caucasus secessionist conferences.
The group also supports the activities of Iyad Youghar, the head of the International Circassian Council. Youghar spoke at a Ilia-Jamestown seminar at the school’s campus on May 24, 2012, during the time Tamerlan Tsarnaev was said to be at Jamestown training in Tbilisi. One of the conference speakers was Walter Richmond, author of The Northwest Caucasus: Past, Present, Future, a professor at Occidental College, a prime recruiting ground for the CIA and Obama’s old alma mater. Jamestown’s Howard was also in attendance, as was, more interestingly, Professor Brian Glyn Williams, professor of Islamic History at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Williams said he received an email from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in May 2011, asking about Chechnya and that he helped him with a high school paper on his home country. Turkish sources report that Williams has consulted for the CIA and Scotland Yard and is an expert on Turkish Volunteers in Chechnya and ‘al-Qaeda Turka’. The Chechen-Ichkeria Republic separatist flag was on clear display at the Ilia-Jamestown seminar in Tbilisi on May 24 2012.
Jamestown has rightly been referred to by the Russian Foreign Ministry as “singing the services of supporters of terrorists and pseudo-experts.” The ministry charged that Jamestown seminar speakers were “given carte blanche to spread extremist propaganda, incite ethnic and inter-religious discord.” Based on the circumstantial but important links between the organization and Fuller, Uncle Ruslan Tsarni and Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Jamestown has always skirted the edges of aiding and abetting terrorists, from its “Chechen Project” and its liaison with Chechen guerrillas from the Pankisi Gorge who would later turn up fighting US and NATO troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to Caucasus Emirate terrorists who constantly commit attacks on Russian military, police, and civilian personnel. It is clear that the CIA requires reforming if not outright abolition. It was the sincere wish of the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to see the CIA abolished, with its analysis division rolled into the US State Dept. Since that will not happen anytime soon, reforming the CIA could start with cutting out its fringes, such as the Jamestown Foundation and similar tax-exempt groups that carry out covert operations while fleecing the US taxpayers.
This in my opinion is the other CIA agent. I think the FSB offered him the opportunity to turn double, and threw him out when he refused it – RB
Russia Expels Former US Embassy Official
David Herszenhorn, Mark Mazzetti, NYT, May 19, 2013
MOSCOW — A former senior Justice Dept official at the US Embassy here was declared “persona non grata” and barred from Russia this month, according to people familiar with the case, possibly because he had rebuffed an effort by the FSB to recruit him as a spy. The former official, Thomas Firestone, had been living and working in Moscow as a lawyer for a US law firm, and had extensive contacts in the Russian government. He was detained at Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow on May 5 while trying to return to Russia from a trip abroad; the authorities held him for 16 hours and then put him on a flight to the US. Firestone was contacted in March by Russian intelligence operatives who sought to enlist him to spy for the Russians, according to one person who is familiar with the case. Firestone turned them down, the person said. It was not clear whether the episode was the cause of his ejection from Russia. The Obama administration has raised the matter of Firestone’s expulsion with the Russian government, according to one US government official. Spokesmen for the White House, the State Dept, and the US Embassy in Moscow all declined to comment.