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Entire territory of Syria, Iraq now liberated from Islamic State - Trump

March 24, 0:06 UTC+3

An Islamic State militant flag lies in a tent encampment after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took control of Baghuz, the last Islamic State stronghold in Syria on Saturday, March 23 © AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

WASHINGTON, March 23. /TASS/. The United States and its partners in the international anti-terrorist coalition have liberated the entire territory of Syria and Iraq from the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia), US President Donald Trump said in a statement released by the White House on Saturday.

"I am pleased to announce that, together with our partners in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, including the Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces, the United States has liberated all ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq 100% of the ‘caliphate,’" Trump said.

According to the US leader, just two years ago, terrorists "controlled a vast amount of territory in both Iraq and Syria."

"Since then, we have retaken more than 20,000 square miles of land and liberated millions of Syrians and Iraqis from ISIS’s ‘caliphate,’" the president added.

Trump also made an address to young people supporting Islamic State.

"You will be dead if you join. Think instead about having a great life," he warned.

The US president went on to say that his country would "remain vigilant against ISIS" and will keep fighting the Islamic State terrorists until they are finally defeated wherever they operate.

"We will continue to work with our partners and allies to totally crush Radical Islamic Terrorists," he said.

Commenting on the statement, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (NSA) John Bolton said in a Twitter post: "The U.S. will continue to closely monitor the remnants of ISIS and continue to work alongside our Coalition partners to prevent any resurgence."

Earlier, the international anti-terrorist coalition announced it had crushed the remnants of the ISIS "caliphate" in the village of Baghuz on the border with Iraq.

Coalition’s statement

The US-led international coalition said in a statement on Saturday that since the launch of the Inherent Resolve operation in 2014, the coalition and partner forces (74 nations and five international organizations) have liberated nearly 110,000 square kilometers (42,471 square miles) from the Islamic State. "As a result, 7.7 million people no longer live under Daesh oppression," the document reads.

"Make no mistake, Daesh is preserving their force," said US Army Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve commanding general. "They have made calculated decisions to preserve what is left of their dwindling personnel and capabilities by taking their chances in camps for internally displaced persons and going to ground in remote areas. They are waiting for the right time to reemerge."

"Many civilians evacuated from Baghuz Faqwani are family members of Daesh terrorists and they willingly subscribed to Daesh's radical ideology. These family members will not easily abandon their ideology. Their reintegration into society will require a collective effort from the coalition and international community to help eliminate conditions that would allow Daesh to reemerge," said LaCamera.

The US general added that the coalition will keep supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces in rebuilding the region and defeating the Islamic State and its ideology.

R ~ Is this the concept of snatching victory from defeat? I cannot imagine that Trump does not know that Syria and every other intervention by the 'Coalition' has been disaster after disaster. Other than short term territorial gains during which as much oil and artifact looting goes on it's defeat.

Defeat after defeat as a matter of fact. That and blood, death and carnage. So why is he making these absurd claims in stead of acknowledging defeat, attributing that defeat to those who have been swamp creatures and that he has raised up with titles and powers they ought not to have. If this is 'the plan' then we have a problem since Trump is giving away Jerusalem and now all of the Golan Heights. These were issues in abeyance, on the shelf so to speak, and gained America absolutely nothing except yet further money for Israel.

We have gone over two years and we have a man that offers no directions toward what was promised in his campaign. North Korea was of the same nature - a non issue that he made an issue out of. he just keeps tossing everything into the soup. Now add Venezuela. In his favor he has not acted by force as promised in his belligerent speeches. If I have even a smidgen of hope it is in that lack of action under a blizzard of rhetoric, mostly false and all extremely deceptive.

Russia and Syria have done the job Trump claims to have done. they have done the job in spite of the entire deep state and it's (((head))) throwing every bit of stolen money into the job of unseating Assad and devastating the country from end to end, with atrocities of all kinds committed by this USG proxy, financed by a coalition of psychopaths, psychopaths acting in our name.
US airstrike kills 14 members of one family in Afghanistan

Sun Mar 24, 2019 08:08AM [Updated: Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:44AM ]

Men are standing over the bodies of people they said were killed during US airstrikes in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, on March 23, 2019. (Photo by AP)

The United States has carried out airstrikes in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province after a fatal insider attack, leaving at least 14 civilians dead, mostly women and children.

A spokeswoman for the American military confirmed the Saturday airstrikes, but blamed the Taliban militant group for the civilian deaths.

“The Taliban were hiding in civilian homes and maneuvered in and out of compounds without any concern for the families living inside,” said Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson.

The attack came a day after two US soldiers and four Afghan troops were killed during a joint operation in Gul Tepa, a district on the outskirts of Kunduz city.

PressTV-Two US soldiers killed in operation in Afghanistan
Two US troops have been killed in Afghanistan, bringing the fatalities to four this year.

According to the New York Times on Sunday, the latest episode began after an armored vehicle used by US troops broke down as they were heading to a security checkpoint.

When the soldiers got out to fix the vehicle, an Afghan soldier described by officials as a Taliban insider opened fire on them.

The US forces reportedly fired back at the assailant, “and Afghan soldiers stationed in a nearby outpost returned fire at them, not realizing what had happened,” the newspaper quoted a local commander as saying.

Richardson said the Americans called in air raids, which killed 12 civilians and six soldiers.

Nangayalay, a local police commander in the area, said 14 members of a large refugee family were killed in one of the aerial attacks that hit their house.

The American bombs also hit the Afghan outpost, leaving between four and eight soldiers dead, according to varying estimates.

Safiullah Amiri, deputy head of the Kunduz provincial council, said four Afghan troops and 14 civilians lost their lives in the raids.

Local officials said at least eight children and four women were among those who lost their lives in the airstrikes.

Civilian casualties from aerial attacks conducted by US forces have surged across Afghanistan over the past few months.

The United States has recently stepped up its air raids in an attempt to exert pressure on the Taliban to accept a negotiated end to its 18-year insurgency.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan recorded 649 civilians casualties as a result of aerial attacks in the first nine months of last year, the highest number in any year since systematic recording began in 2009.

The Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end in the wake of a US-led invasion in 2001, but the militant group still continues to attack government and civilian targets as well as foreign forces.

The administration of US President Donald Trump is now negotiating with the Taliban group, excluding the Kabul government.
The World Below / Yellow Vests hold protests across France despite place bans
« Last post by Rudi Jan on Yesterday at 12:30:06 PM »
Apart from Champs-Elysees: Yellow Vests hold protests across France despite place bans

Published time: 23 Mar, 2019 14:32
Edited time: 23 Mar, 2019 19:21

©  REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Yellow Vest protests continue in France for the 19th straight weekend. In Paris, they have been banned from demonstrating on the Champs-Elysees, and those daring to violate the ban face fines.

Following the previous violent weekend, French authorities have banned the Yellow Vests from the most popular protest locations, including the Champs-Elysees in Paris, Pey-Berland square in Bordeaux, and the Capitole in Toulouse.

According to the latest official figures from the Ministry of Interior, some 40,500 people demonstrated across France, including 5,000 in Paris.

The ban on protesting on the Champs-Elysees and the surrounding area was announced by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Monday. Those who violate the ban face fines of up to €135.

© RT / @RT France

While the restrictions imposed by the authorities have seemingly scared off some protestors, many believe that it’s just a temporary setback and next week more people will take to the streets. Banning the Yellow Vests from certain locations won’t stop the protests, one of the main figures of the movement, Éric Drouet, told RT France.

“Last Saturday we’ve seen great activation and I think it will repeat during future demonstrations,” Drouet said.

A police convoy seen at the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France on March 23, 2019. ©  Reuters / Benoit Tessier

“I am not disappointed at all, considering how much pressure they’ve put on us. There was this story with the military – even if it was misinterpreted, it is a little scary; a fine of 135 euros also scares, so you can understand why some people were quite restrained,” another protester stated. “This weekend is a short break, after which people will come even more motivated next weekend.”

Demonstrators steered clear of the iconic avenue itself, but gathered in central Paris, heading towards Montmartre. Upon reaching Montmartre, the Yellow Vests gathered at the stairs of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, waving flags and displaying banners.

One of the protesters said he was determined to demonstrate every Saturday as long as President Emmanuel Macron is in office – as of now, that's 163 Saturdays to go, he calculated.

“We’re asking not that much,” he said. “I have less than €500 in my bank account right now. In the past, probably, I reached the end of the month with a zero balance, yet once a year I could get holidays for my daughter, a Christmas gift for her. For several years already that’s impossible. Christmas is at her grandparents’ and the holidays on the couch at home. They [the government] are to blame for this.”

©  Ruptly

Protesters have draped the iconic Basilica with yellow cloth, a correspondent with RT France reported.

So far, the protest has been peaceful, and no major clashes between demonstrators and police have occurred. Around 70 people have been detained in the French capital, according to police.

In Nice, where Yellow Vest protests have been completely banned, law enforcement detained 20 individuals for taking part in unauthorized gatherings.

Riot police try to disperse the Yellow Vests as they stage protests in Nice, France on March 23, 2019. ©  Reuters / Eric Gaillard

In other cities, law enforcement deployed tear gas in efforts to disperse the crowds. Gas plumes were spotted in central Metz.

R ~ What disgusts me more than anything in these protests are  the 'riot' police. Do they not go home at night to families and friends? Are they so isolated as to not see who the problem is, their employer? is this not discussed at the dinner table or is it entirely ignored by these gendarmes?

As to staying away from the Champs-Elysees - unless you want to walk in the crap Macron's favorites have left on the street.

The World Below / Pentagon Claims Syria Completely Freed From Daesh
« Last post by Rudi Jan on March 22, 2019, 10:07:43 AM »
Pentagon Claims Syria Completely Freed From Daesh

19:10 22.03.2019(updated 20:22 22.03.2019)

© REUTERS / Rodi Said

On Friday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters that the Daesh* terror group had been completely eliminated in Syria.

Reacting to the White House's official statement, the Syrian envoy to the UN called the Pentagon's announcement of victory over Daesh a 'bluff'.

The envoy's response comes shortly after a Sputnik source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the US announcement about the complete elimination of Daesh is not very convincing.

This comes after earlier in the day White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declared that the entire territory of Syria has been "100 per cent eliminated" from Daesh* terrorists. She also noted that President Donald Trump was briefed on the issue by US Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan while the American leader was on his way to Florida on Air Force One.

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said that the final terrorist group's enclave would be "gone by tonight." Later, reports claimed that the US-backed SDF "liberated all of Baghouz from the Daesh mercenaries". However, the next day, Reuters reported citing a Syrian Democratic Forces' authority that the Kurdish-led group rejected claims that it captured the last Daesh stronghold in Syria.

The Syrian village of Baghouz was considered the last Daesh stronghold in the Arab Republic where the Kurdish-led SDF had been repeatedly conducting operations and the US-led coalition conducting bombings.

*Daesh, also known as ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State is a terrorist group banned in Russia

R ~ A 'bluff' based on an outright lie... unless extracting the USG/Israel/Saudi useful tools used to direct the 'revolution' militarily is 'eliminating' Daesh - from Syria. Rest assured they are being reorganized to further 'Democracy', wherever that blight appears.
The World Below / World countries blast US on Golan
« Last post by Rudi Jan on March 22, 2019, 09:06:20 AM »
World countries blast US on Golan, Syria vows to liberate Israeli occupied territory

Fri Mar 22, 2019 08:12AM [Updated: Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:44AM ]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, is seen during a visit to the occupied Golan Heights in August 2015.

The Arab League, Russia, Iran and Turkey have strongly warned the US after President Donald Trump declared Thursday that he will recognize Syria's Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

The strategic highlands have been under the Israeli occupation since 1967, but Trump's abrupt declaration a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Israel brings the dispute to a boiling point.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Trump's statement has brought the region to the edge of a new crisis.

In a speech at a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Erdogan said: "We cannot allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed shock at Trump's plan.

"All shocked by @realDonaldTrump continuing to try to give what is not his to racist Israel: first Al-Quds & now Golan" Zarif tweeted from Istanbul where he was attending the emergency OIC meeting.

"This illegal and unacceptable recognition does not change the fact that it belongs to Syria," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in Tehran.

“The Zionist regime, as an occupying regime, has no sovereignty over any Islamic and Arab lands and its occupation (of the Golan) and acts of violation should be swiftly brought to an end,” he said.

Qassemi said the only solution to the Golan dispute is to end the Israeli occupation. He said Trump's "personal and rash decisions reveal yet another reality of US policies that are dangerous to the entire world, and will particularly push this volatile region to successive crises.”

The Islamic Republic, he said, "will closely monitor all future developments in the region and continue its cooperation and consultations with the Syrian government and other countries to take appropriate measures."

Syria, which declared last month that it was ready to go to another war with Israel for the Golan, condemned Trump's pledge in a statement issued by its foreign ministry on Friday.

"The American position towards Syria's occupied Golan Heights clearly reflects the United States' contempt for international legitimacy and its flagrant violation of international law," it said.

“The irresponsible remarks by Trump, the US president, one more time demonstrated the US’ blind and relentless support for the Israeli occupying regime and its hostile acts,” it added.

Trump's announcement came ahead of a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States next week. 

In a tweet that caught many by surprise, Trump said the time had come for the United States to take the step, which Netanyahu warmly welcomed as a “miracle” on the Jewish holiday of Purim.

PressTV-Trump: Time to recognize 'Israeli sovereignty' over Golan
US President Donald Trump says it was time to back "Israeli sovereignty" over the Golan Heights, a Syrian territory under occupation since 1967.

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!" Trump tweeted.

The US would be the first country to recognize the annexation, which the rest of the international community regards as Syria territory occupied by Israel.

The Syrian statement on Friday said Washington’s stance is a threat to global peace and security.

"The statements of the US president and his administration on the occupied Syrian Golan will never change the fact that the Golan was and will remain Arab and Syrian," it said.

"The Syrian nation is more determined to liberate this precious piece of Syrian national land through all available means," it added.

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the 22-member organization "fully supports Syria's right for its occupied territory."

The Golan Heights are “occupied territory” belonging to Syria under international law and the resolutions of the United Nations and the UN Security Council, he stressed.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also condemned the US president's declaration, stressing that Ankara supports Syria’s territorial integrity.

"Attempts by the US to legitimize Israel's actions against international law will only lead to more violence and pain in the region," he wrote in a tweet late Thursday.

PressTV-UN urges Israel to withdraw from Syria’s Golan
The UN General Assembly has called on Israel to withdraw from the entirety of Syria's Golan Heights.

A member of the Russian Federation Council also slammed Trump's pledge, saying "Russia will never recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights."

Oleg Morozov said Trump’s move is aimed at splitting the Arab world and undermine Syria and its “partnership with Russia.”

Last week, in its annual human rights report, the US State Department dropped the phrase “Israeli-occupied” from the Golan Heights section, instead calling it “Israeli-controlled.”

Netanyahu has for weeks been stepping up longstanding Israeli requests for the US and others to recognize the occupied Golan as Israeli territory.

Trump’s announcement came as Pompeo was wrapping up a two-day trip to Jerusalem al-Quds during which he made a controversial visit to the Buraq Wall, called by Israel as the Wailing Wall, in the Old City.

The visit made him the highest-ranking US official to visit the site with any Israeli leader and appeared to further signal the Trump administration’s support for Israel’s control of the contested city.

In December 2017, Trump formally recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the so-called capital of Israel and later moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city which Palestinians view as the capital of their future state.

Pompeo’s visit also appeared to signal Trump’s support for Netanyahu who is facing a tough challenge in the upcoming elections and reeling from a series of corruption scandals.

R ~ Lovely pic of Netanyahoo and his cohorts, lusting after their neighbours' lands.
Bolton Threatens to Respond to Alleged Detention of Venezuela's Guaido's Aide

16:58 21.03.2019(updated 19:44 21.03.2019)

© AFP 2019/ Ronaldo Schemidt

The Venezuelan authorities have yet to officially confirm the information spread by the opposition about the alleged detention of Guaido's associates.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton has threatened to respond to the alleged arrrest of Western-backed Venezuela's self-proclaimed "interim leader" Juan Guaido's aide, calling the move by Caracas a "big mistake."

Earlier in the day, an informed source in the Venezuelan police in Caracas told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the Venezuelan intelligence service had detained two associates of the country's opposition leader Juan Guaido.

While the information has yet to be officially confirmed by Caracas, it has first appeared on sites linked to the Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaido, who had earlier proclaimed himself interim president of Venezuela, with the US swiftly expressing its support for the politician.

According to the unnamed source cited by RIA Novosti, one of the two detained Guaido associates had rifles and a grenade in possession.

"Early today morning, two of the closest associates of Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, Roberto Marrero and Sergio Vergara, were detained at their homes. The detention was carried out in the El Cafetal neighbourhood of the Baruta municipality. Two rifles and a grenade were found in Marrero's house," the source said.

The source said that Vergara had been released and Marrero remained in custody, while the reason for their alleged detention remains unknown.

According to a Sputnik correspondent, as of 8:30 a.m. local time (12:30 GMT), the situation in El Cafetal was stable, with no signs of increased police presence in the area.

Venezuela has been in a political crisis since 23 January, when Venezuelan National Assembly leader Juan Guaido declared himself to be the country's interim president, with the US, the EU and most Latin American states shortly recognising him the interim leader of the state. At the same time, Russia, China, Mexico, Turkey and other countries continue to recognize Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s only legitimate president who came to power after winning the May 2018 elections.

Maduro himself called Guaido a "puppet" of the United States and accused Washington of orchestrating a coup d’etat in Venezuela in order to force a change in government and claim the energy-rich country's resources. In response to the move made by Washington and its allies, Maduro also announced his decision to sever diplomatic ties and close Venezuela’s embassy and consulates in the United States.

READ MORE: Maduro Says Trump Stole $5Bln Allotted for Venezuela's Medicine Manufacturing

On January 24, the United States recalled all "non-essential" diplomats and embassy personnel from Venezuela, citing security concerns. Last week, the United States withdrew its remaining diplomatic staff from Caracas.

Separately, Washington imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan government-run PVDSA energy giant and its US-based subsidiary Citgo in a move described by Caracas as an attempt to steal the country's resources.

READ MORE: Venezuelan Opposition Seizes Control of 3 Diplomatic Buildings in US

Despite the travel ban issued by the Venezuelan Supreme Court due to the investigation, Guaido left the country in February and visited a number of Latin American states, as well as the Lima group meeting on the Venezuelan crisis. Because of the travel ban violation, an arrest warrant has recently been issued on Guaido.

R ~ Both the aide and Bolton deserve but one thing - to hang on a rope after trials for treason, the aide in Venezuala and Bolton in a court in America. Bolton is trying to come off as some Mafia Don - and succeeding.
The 'Big Short' In Canada: Eisman Ups Bets Against "Big Six" Canadian Banks

by Tyler Durden
Thu, 03/21/2019 - 15:35

Over the last year, Neuberger Berman portfolio manager Steve Eisman - who gained notoriety beyond Wall Street thanks to 'The Big Short' and his portrayal by Steve Carrell in the movie adaptation - has taken seemingly every opportunity to talk his book, which apparently consists of concentrated bets against the financial systems of two developed nations: The UK and Canada.

Though UK banks largely bottomed out in October and have managed only a tepid rebound since, their Canadian peers have clawed back much of their losses from late last year. But this hasn't shaken Eisman's faith in his bet against Canadian banks, which is effectively a bet against the Canadian housing market (though Eisman doubts the fallout will be anywhere near as intense as the US housing market collapse that minted his reputation).


During an interview with the FT that was published on Thursday, Eisman explained that he's simply betting on a "normalization of credit" in the Canadian economy, where lax lending terms fueled a housing bubble that has been tentatively acknowledged as a systemic risk by the Bank of Canada. For the first time ever, the central bank late last year even started buying mortgage bonds late last year to prop up the sliding Canadian housing market help increase the tradeable float of its benchmark securities

"I’m calling for a simple normalisation of credit that hasn’t happened in 20 years," Mr Eisman told the FT, while declining to name the banks he is shorting, or the full extent of his positions. He said the effects would hurt banks and the real estate sector, but would not be as intense as the financial crisis a decade ago in the US, when he and others saw huge profits from the implosion of the subprime mortgage market. "This is not ‘The Big Short: Canada’ - I’m not calling for a housing collapse," he said.

Adding to the already precarious finances of Canadian households, more Canadians are plundering their home equity to finance everything from renovations to car purchases.

Meanwhile, Canadian home sales crashed in January...

...while new home prices dipped for the first time in a decade.

Fortunately for Eisman - who hasn't disclosed specifics about his bets against Canadian or UK banks - more investors are piling into bets against the "big six" Canadian banks, which have seen their profits sag as they have raised their loan-loss provisions.

Mr Eisman is not alone: collective wagers against Canadian banks have risen 19 per cent since the start of the year to positions worth US$12.3bn, according to S3 Partners, a data provider based in New York. The activity is largely driven by falls in the country’s property market after years of rapid growth, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners.

"Unsold inventories are beginning to stack up,” said Mr Dusaniwsky. “Even the turbocharged markets of Vancouver and Toronto are experiencing slowing demand and price fragility.” Toronto’s TD Bank has emerged as the most popular target for the short sellers, with bets against its stock up 17 per cent to a total of $3bn since January. Bets against CIBC, also based in Toronto, have jumped 26 per cent to $2.3bn, while those against Bank of Montreal are up 37 per cent to $1.3bn, according to S3 Partners.

But as the Canadian economy continues to slow, Eisman believes a day of reckoning for the country's banks is inevitable, and its housing market, is inevitable. "Canadian banks are an oligopoly," he said. "They’re not mentally prepared."
Oil profits grease Trump administration’s move to recognize Israeli annexation of Golan

Finian Cunningham
Published time: 19 Mar, 2019 16:30

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman ©REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Washington last week gave another sign that the Trump administration is moving towards declaring the Golan Heights to be Israeli sovereign territory. At the heart of the move are huge anticipated US-Israeli oil profits.

In an annual human rights report, the State Department referred to the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled,” dropping the international norm of citing the contested area as “Israeli-occupied.” The change in wording is significant.

The Golan Plateau is considered to be Syrian territory under international law, according to UN resolutions. Israel has occupied the strategically important area overlooking the Jordan Valley since the 1967 Six Day War. In 1981, Israel formally annexed the land, but the self-declared claim has never been recognized internationally.

Hence, the normative term “Israeli-occupied Golan” in UN terminology, not “Israeli-controlled.”

The Trump administration, however, seems to be edging towards a landmark shift in US policy, which would officially recognize the Golan as part of Israel. A senior White House official was quoted last week as denying there was a change in US policy regarding the disputed territory. But several signs suggest otherwise.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held his first visit with newly elected President Trump in the White House in February 2017, top of the agenda for their discussions was for the US to reciprocate long-held demands by Israel for Washington to assent to its annexation of the Golan.

Last year, Israel’s Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Reuters in an exclusive interview that he was confident the Trump administration was ready to make a declaration on Golan in his country’s favor. “I reckon there is great ripeness and a high probability this will happen,” said Katz, adding that the move would be within the “next year.” His interview with Reuters was in May, some 10 months ago.

Earlier this month, US Senator Lindsey Graham, who is close to the Trump administration, went on a tour of the Golan accompanied by Netanyahu. Following the tour, Graham told media reporters he would be pushing for Washington to recognize Golan as under Israeli sovereignty.

Several bipartisan members of the US Senate, including Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, have already presented legislation aimed at recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied mountainous area.

So, the Trump administration seems primed to overturn decades of US policy on the Golan’s status, and deliver another shock to international consensus. Recall that President Trump already showed his favor towards Israel by declaring Jerusalem its capital at the end of 2017. Months later, Trump once again snubbed international consensus by walking away from the UN-backed Iran nuclear accord. That move was also seen as the White House doing Israel’s bidding.

For the White House to change tack on the Golan would certainly mark another controversial – not to say illegal – departure from international consensus. A UN Security Council resolution in 1981, including a vote from the US, unanimously condemned the Israeli annexation of Golan and called for the area to be eventually returned to Syria.

However, the Trump administration has shown a zealous willingness to appease Israeli demands at every turn. This is no doubt due in part to the multi-million-dollar donations to the Trump election campaign by Jewish billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

Perhaps even more pivotal is the lucrative matter of giant oil reserves reckoned to be under the Golan rocks, as reported previously by Whitney Webb. US oil company Genie, through its Israeli subsidiary, was given exclusive exploration rights to drill the occupied territory by the Netanyahu government in April 2013. Two years later, a major oil discovery was made.

The Economist headlined in November 2015: ‘Black gold under the Golan – just one catch.’ The business magazine reported how US and Israeli oil experts had found a bonanza but in a “most inconvenient site.” Inconvenienced, that is, by international law not recognizing Israeli territorial claims.

It was following the oil discovery that Israeli officials intensified diplomatic efforts to change US policy on the Golan’s status. The Obama administration reportedly rebuffed Netanyahu’s supplications. But with the election of Trump, Tel Aviv appears to have found a more willing White House occupant.

Another driving influence is the close connections between Trump’s inner circle and the Genie Energy company. Former president of the company is Ira Greenstein, a lawyer who is close to the Kushner family through mutual business interests. Greenstein was brought into the White House advisory circle as a legal aide reportedly through his connections to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Observers have noted that revolving-door relation is a stark and potentially illegal conflict of interest in the White House.

The cozy overlap of connections include Gary Cohn, a former chief executive at Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs and who until last year served as Trump’s economic adviser. Goldman Sachs was reportedly a major investor in Genie Energy. Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt is also reportedly another major investor in Genie.

If the US were to officially recognize Golan as Israeli territory then that would unlock the legal impasse concerning the area’s oil business. As it stands under current legal conditions, oil in the Golan cannot be commercially extracted and traded on international markets because that would violate UN resolutions. However, if Washington were to declare Golan to be part of Israel, then oil could be legally traded with the US – and a lot of investors, including those close to the Trump White House, stand to make handsome profits. The move by the US would also pave the way for other nations under pressure from Washington to row in behind the policy of recognizing Israel’s annexation of Syria’s southern territory.

What the US is shaping up to do regarding the Golan Heights is flagrantly criminal. The territory was invaded by Israel and has been illegally occupied for nearly 52 years. For the Trump administration to assent to this criminality makes it complicit in an egregious violation of international law – all the more sordid because it appears to be driven by oil profits.

Furthermore is the outrageous hypocrisy of the US. This week, Washington renewed its condemnations of Russia for allegedly annexing Crimea five years ago. Both Washington and its European allies have increased economic sanctions against Moscow to coincide with the fifth anniversary of Crimea voting in a referendum to join the Russian Federation. The US, European Union and NATO have issued hard-hitting condemnations of Russia’s “annexation of Crimea.”

Washington and its allies ignore the fact that Crimea voted overwhelming in March 2014 to become part of Russia, which it had been for centuries until Cold War politicking by the Soviet Union bequeathed the Black Sea peninsula in an anomalous arrangement with Ukraine. Western claims of Russia’s annexation do not stand up to historical facts.

Western pious protests over Crimea don’t stand up to scrutiny either. As can be seen from the cynical expediency the US is exercising with regard to the Golan Heights, gradually giving Israel a green light to annex Syria’s oil-rich southern territory. Given the rank duplicity, Washington is in no position to lecture others about “illegality of annexation.”

R ~ In a word - theft.
Lavrov’s deputy to war-hawk Abrams: Venezuela ‘aid’ op unacceptable, Russia to protect its interests

Published time: 19 Mar, 2019 21:02

(L) © Reuters / Thomas Peter, (R) © AFP / Johannes Eisele

Russia is opposed to any efforts by the US to use ‘humanitarian aid’ as a pretext to intervene in Venezuela, Deputy FM Sergey Ryabkov told US special envoy Elliott Abrams, adding that Moscow will protect its interests there.

The diplomats met in Rome on Tuesday to discuss the increasing tensions between Washington and Moscow over the Donald Trump administration’s continued push for regime change in Venezuela.

“We strongly urged the US side… against any temptation to resort to military power. It includes our warning against, so to speak, hardcore massive military intervention, which can’t be excluded given the type of behavior we’ve seen on the US side in recent years,” Ryabkov told RT, where he appeared live after the talks.

The same goes for “low intensity conflicts – the penetration into the sovereign territory of Venezuela from abroad by elements that could be described as paramilitaries to stage provocations and in other ways interfere in the affairs of this state,” he added.

Russia’s representative told Abrams that Moscow’s interests in Venezuela must be protected and said he assumes that Washington has heard that demand. The deputy FM also pointed out that Moscow is increasingly worried about Washington’s sanctions against Caracas.

“How can one blame the [Venezuelan] government for mismanagement, while at the same time depriving this very government of huge assets?” he said, adding that “the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela shouldn’t be abused for political reasons,” and that sanctions must be lifted to improve the life of the people.

The US has been tightening and increasing sanctions on Caracas in recent months in an effort to squeeze President Nicolas Maduro’s government out of power. Washington has called for regime change in favor of right-wing opposition leader Juan Guaido, who Trump threw his support behind in January.

Ryabkov said that during the talks, the US and Russian sides didn’t manage to find consensus on the Venezuela crisis, but acknowledged that he has a better understanding of the US side after the talks which, he said, were “an example on how things can be done professionally.”

“The differences are huge. They’re fundamental in some aspects, including on the aspect of Russia not recognizing Juan Guaido as interim president. Likewise, the US wasn’t able to understand why Russia insists that the legitimate president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, should be respected as such.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has reaffirmed that it is considering “all options” for Venezuela. Trump has said multiple times in recent months that he is not prepared to rule out US military action in the country.

Ryabkov said Moscow was willing to offer its services as an intermediary in Venezuela talks and that Guaido should take the situation and offer seriously.

“I’m sure with a considerable, sufficient degree of political will and reason this situation could be overcome and resolved. What’s needed most is intra-Venezuelan government based on the Venezuelan Constitution,” the deputy FM concluded.
‘Our tolerance has limits!’ Expel US envoy for acting like ‘occupation commissioner’, says German MP

Published time: 19 Mar, 2019 13:13
Edited time: 19 Mar, 2019 13:43

US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell leaves meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel © REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Berlin seems to be losing patience with the US ambassador who didn’t mince his words over German defense spending. A high-ranking MP demanded that the envoy be sent home because he acts “like an occupation commissioner.”

Wolfgang Kubicki, vice speaker of the German parliament, called for Richard Grenell to be declared persona non grata immediately, local media reported. The emotive remark wasn’t limited to what Berlin should do in relation to the American ambassador.

“If a US diplomat acts like a high commissioner of an occupying power, he will have to learn that our tolerance has its limits,” Kubicki said angrily. Grenell had crossed the line again and interfered “in political affairs of the sovereign Federal Republic,” the senior MP argued.

Earlier, the official Twitter account of the US embassy in Berlin quoted Grenell as saying: “Reducing its already unacceptable commitments to military readiness is a worrisome signal to Germany’s 28 NATO allies.”

Grenell was sworn in as US ambassador to Germany back in May 2018, after being considered for the posts of the ambassador to NATO and the UN. He ignited a scandal within hours of taking office in Berlin when he demanded that German companies doing business in Iran should “wind down operations immediately.”

Throughout 2018, Grenell hit a nerve with German politicians on numerous occasions, including his threat to sanction local firms taking part in Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, a demand to break trade ties with Iran, and an appeal to help Washington put pressure on Moscow.

In May of the same year, he got some telling advice from Wolfgang Ischinger, a retired German envoy to the US. “My advice, after a long ambassadorial career: explain your own country’s policies, and lobby the host country,” the diplomat tweeted, adding: “But never tell the host country what to do, if you want to stay out of trouble.”

R ~ Perhaps he's just acting on what was done in WW2 - the destruction of Germany and the support of Stalin that enslaved Germany. He does in fact represent the reality that Germany has been occupied ever since.
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