Category Archives: Mideast

Cold War 2.0: The tensions continue to rise


As the Obama administration draws to a close, global tensions largely dormant since the end of the Cold War near three decades ago are smoldering again, and with renewed intensity.

It.s an ominous turn, given that both apparent presidential candidates are among the most bellicose since the Cold War ended.

We begin today’s account of the latest development with RT:

Russia will take adequate measures to counter NATO’s increasingly “aggressive rhetoric,” President Vladimir Putin told MPs at the closing session of the State Duma. He called to create an international security system open to all countries.

It’s necessary to create a collective security system void of “bloc-like thinking” and open to all countries, Putin said on Wednesday in Russia’s parliament.

“Russia is ready to discuss this extremely important issue,” he said, adding that such proposals have been so far left unanswered by Western countries.

“But again, as it was at the beginning of WWII, we don’t see any positive response,” he continued. “On the contrary, NATO ups its aggressive rhetoric and aggressive actions near our borders.”

“In this environment, we must pay special attention to strengthening our country’s defense capabilities,” he concluded.

Russia plans to public positions of America’s secret spay satellites

From RT again, another provocative move:

Russia’s own data on near-Earth objects – including military satellites not covered by the open catalog of the North-American warning system NORAD – could soon be made publicly available as a comprehensive database, Russian media report.

Russia is planning to set up a free database on thousands of near-Earth objects, including those not publicly listed in open catalogs of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Izvestia newspaper reported on Tuesday.

NORAD doesn’t only track Santa at Christmas – its database also provides details on thousands of satellites launched, destroyed or still functioning. While the catalog does not disclose data on America’s own military or dual-use satellites (or those of allies – Japan, France, Germany and Israel among them), as Izvestia says, it does feature Russia’s defense satellites.

At a Vienna meeting of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in mid-June, Russia proposed to create a similar UN-run database “collecting, systemizing, sharing and analyzing information on objects and events in outer space.” Such an international database would be available to any country that has capabilities in the areas of human spaceflight, launches or satellites.

And the U.S. sends spy planes to the China Seas

Another move certain to up the ante in the hot zone where provocations by the U.S., China, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam could easily tturn into armed conflict.

From the Diplomat:

Amid rising tensions in the South China Sea, the United States Navy dispatched four U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft and about 120 military personnel to Clark Air Base, an air force base located on Luzon Island in the Philippines, according to a U.S. Seventh Fleet press release.

The four aircraft and 120 personnel arrived on June 15 for training with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) FA-50 aircraft pilots and to support U.S. and Philippine naval operations in the South China Sea, as the statement makes clear with a veiled reference to so-called freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the disputed waters.

“In addition to bilateral training missions, Growler aircraft will support routine operations that enhance regional maritime domain awareness and assure access to the air and maritime domains in accordance with international law,” the press release reads.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Israel ups the ante for East Bank settlements


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lurches even further to the right, and thanks to Washington, we presume he’ll get away with his latest land grab, and it makes no difference whether Clinton or Trump wins in November.

The big winners will be ISIS and others of their ilk.

From United Press International:

The Israeli government agreed Sunday to devote $20 million more in financing to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The move underscores the country’s more right-leaning orientation and has raised the ire of some politicians, as well as the Palestinians, the New York Times reported.

The money will be added to $87.9 million the Israeli government already has marked for allocation for the nation’s enclaves in the occupied West Bank, Haaretz.com reported.

Palestinian officials called the move a “slap on the face” for the international community.

Headline of the day: Zealotry runs amok, again


From the Washington Post:

Israeli minister wants to annex half of the West Bank and kick out the Palestinians

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, while traveling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a state visit to Russia, told the Times of Israel that the world should forget about a Palestinian state.

Quote of the day: ‘Green’ colonialism, old and new


From Naomi Klein, writing in the London Review of Books:

The Israeli state has long coated its nation-building project in a green veneer – it was a key part of the Zionist ‘back to the land’ pioneer ethos. And in this context trees, specifically, have been among the most potent weapons of land grabbing and occupation. It’s not only the countless olive and pistachio trees that have been uprooted to make way for settlements and Israeli-only roads. It’s also the sprawling pine and eucalyptus forests that have been planted over those orchards, as well as over Palestinian villages, most notoriously by the Jewish National Fund, which, under its slogan ‘Turning the Desert Green’, boasts of having planted 250 million trees in Israel since 1901, many of them non-native to the region. In publicity materials, the JNF bills itself as just another green NGO, concerned with forest and water management, parks and recreation. It also happens to be the largest private landowner in the state of Israel, and despite a number of complicated legal challenges, it still refuses to lease or sell land to non-Jews.

I grew up in a Jewish community where every occasion – births and deaths, Mother’s Day, bar mitzvahs – was marked with the proud purchase of a JNF tree in the person’s honour. It wasn’t until adulthood that I began to understand that those feel-good faraway conifers, certificates for which papered the walls of my Montreal elementary school, were not benign – not just something to plant and later hug. In fact these trees are among the most glaring symbols of Israel’s system of official discrimination – the one that must be dismantled if peaceful co-existence is to become possible.

The JNF is an extreme and recent example of what some call ‘green colonialism’. But the phenomenon is hardly new, nor is it unique to Israel. There is a long and painful history in the Americas of beautiful pieces of wilderness being turned into conservation parks – and then that designation being used to prevent Indigenous people from accessing their ancestral territories to hunt and fish, or simply to live. It has happened again and again. A contemporary version of this phenomenon is the carbon offset. Indigenous people from Brazil to Uganda are finding that some of the most aggressive land grabbing is being done by conservation organisations. A forest is suddenly rebranded a carbon offset and is put off-limits to its traditional inhabitants. As a result, the carbon offset market has created a whole new class of ‘green’ human rights abuses, with farmers and Indigenous people being physically attacked by park rangers or private security when they try to access these lands. Said’s comment about tree-huggers should be seen in this context.

Headline of the day II: Same tune, another singer


From the Guardian:

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: no Muslim family can accept birth control

Turkish president says it is the responsibility of mothers to ensure the continued growth of country’s population

Headline of the day: Winners declared in Iraq war


From Mint Press News:

After Iraq War, Monsanto, Cargill & Dow Chemical Took Over Iraqi Agriculture

According to one environmental activist, under U.S. diplomat Paul Bremer’s orders, ‘Iraqi farmers are not allowed to save seeds, they are not allowed to share seeds … and they are not allowed to replant harvested seeds.’

Israle veers harder Right with change at the top


Following a blistering criticism of Israel increasing hard Right turn, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was removed for his post, and he, in turn, has removed himself from Israel politics, resigning from both his political party and the national legislature.

His replacement comes from a small party that’s to the Right of Likud, the party of both Ya’alon and the man who deposed him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The result will be a heating up of tensions both within and without Israel, given that the new defense minister is avowedly bloodthirsty and in the past has called for military strikes against Iranian facilities suspected of processing fuel for nuclear weapons.

From Vice News:

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon resigned on Friday, saying that “extremist and dangerous elements” had hijacked the nation after the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to replace him with the leader of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.

In a televised speech outside the defense ministry a grim-faced Yaalon, who spent four years in the post, said he was stepping down following “difficult disputes over matters of principle and professionalism” with Netanyahu and several members of the cabinet.

“I fought with all my might against manifestations of extremism, violence, and racism in Israeli society, which are threatening its sturdiness and also trickling into the IDF [Israel Defense Forces],” he continued. “Sadly, leading politicians in this country chose the path of inciting and dividing between parts of Israeli society, instead of uniting and joining [them].”

The Washington Post has more from the press conference:

In a press conference Friday, Yaalon, a fellow member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, warned that Israel was drifting dangerously toward extremism.

“I fought with all my might against manifestations of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society, which are threatening its sturdiness and trickling into the armed forces, hurting it already,” he said.

Yaalon appeared to be referring to widespread support by Israeli leaders for a combat medic who shot to death a wounded Palestinian attacker as he lay on a street in Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

Thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv and proclaimed the soldier a hero. Israeli human-rights activists called it a cold-blooded execution. The killing was captured on video.

More from the London Telegraph:

Mr Ya’alon said he had spent his career fighting extremism, violence and racism, but that they were threatening the “sturdiness” of society and trickling into the IDF.

“The state of Israel is patient and tolerant toward the weak among it and minorities,” he said. “But to my great regret extremist and dangerous elements have overrun Israel as well as the Likud party, shaking up our home and threatening harm to those in it.”

He added that he had “recently found myself in strong disagreement on moral and professional issues with the prime minister, a number of ministers and several MPs”.

Mr Ya’alon’s dismissal as defence minister came after months of disagreements with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

From the Independent, terms of agreement:

Yaalon is also a Likud politician who shares Netanyahu’s dim views on the prospects for a long-term accord with the Palestinians. But they clashed this month over the trial of a soldier who shot dead a wounded and supine Palestinian assailant, with Yaalon coming out against public calls for clemency while Netanyahu took a more circumspect position.

A poll aired by Israel’s Channel 10 television on Thursday found that 51 percent of Israeli Jews saw Yaalon as best suited for defence minister. Twenty-seven percent preferred Lieberman.

U.S. officials have declined comment on the prospect of dealing with Lieberman as Israeli defence minister, but one Egyptian diplomat told Reuters on Thursday that Cairo was “shocked” at the idea.

Defense News translated Ya’alon’s resignation speech, and here’s a key section:

“[T]o my great regret, extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud party and are shaking our national home and threatening to harm its residents.

“This is not the Likud movement that I joined — the Likud of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin. And it is proper that the decisive majority of Likud voters and the sane public and responsible governing establishment understand the deep rifts and gathering ominous winds that are seizing the movement.

“I hope that also the public at large — from the right and the left — will understand the grave significance of the extreme minority overtaking the center and will fight against this phenomenon.

“To heartsick regret, senior politicians in the country have chosen a path of attack and separation from parts of Israeli society rather than uniting them.

“It is intolerable in my eyes that we will disintegrate into cynical and power-lusting factions. I’ve expressed my opinions on this subject out of candid concern for the future of Israeli society and generations to come.”

There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading