position:secretary of state

  • Pays-Bas : la loi interdit à la police d’intervenir dans un lieu de culte lorsqu’un culte est en cours. Alors depuis 1 mois des centaines de pasteurs se relaient pour empêcher l’expulsion d’une famille arménienne cachée dans leur eglise.

    « Aux Pays-Bas, une loi interdit à l’État d’intervenir dans un lieu de culte lorsqu’un culte (les offices ici par exemple, ndlr) est en cours. Alors nous avons décidé d’officier en continu, jour et nuit, nous a expliqué Derk Stegeman. Les pasteurs se relaient nuit et jour pour les offices ».

    Et ce ne sont pas seulement les pasteurs de l’église Bethel qui participent à cette initiative : « au début on était un petit cercle, mais l’Église nationale a eu vent de l’histoire et a décidé de nous soutenir. Désormais il y a plus de 400 pasteurs venus de tous les pays qui viennent nous aider pour cet office continu », assure le coordinateur.

    A Dutch church is holding non-stop services for a refugee family — Quartz
    https://qz.com/1470153/a-dutch-church-is-holding-non-stop-services-for-a-refugee-family

    For the past 27 days, a small Protestant church in The Hague has been conducting round-the-clock religious services to protect an Armenian refugee family from deportation.

    By law, police officers in The Netherlands are not allowed to enter places of worship during religious services. So, reverends from around the country have taken turns holding services at Bethel Church to prevent officials from arresting the Tamrazyan family, who have been in The Netherlands for nine years. “By giving hospitality to this family, we could give them time and place to [demonstrate] to the secretary of state the … urgency of their situation,” Theo Hettema, chairman of the General Council of Protestant Ministers says.

    Sasun and Anousche Tamrazyan and their three children, Hayarpi, Warduhi, and Seyran, fled their native Armenia and sought asylum in The Netherlands after Sasun’s political activism earned them death threats. After several years of court procedures, the family was granted asylum by a judge, but the government launched legal proceedings and succeeded in overturning that ruling. (While Hettema does not know why the government sought to reverse the Tamrazyans’ asylum status, he believes appealing asylum approvals may be part of the government’s strategy to limit immigration.)


  • Nancy Pelosi and Israel: Just how hawkish is the likely next speaker of the house? - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Plus pro-israélien, on ne peut pas imaginer ! la probable future présidente de la chambre des représentants

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/nancy-pelosi-and-israel-why-the-house-s-pro-israel-stance-is-unlikely-to-ch

    Pelosi has also held staunchly pro-Israel views that have at times even out flanked the GOP from the right.
    In 2005, while addressing AIPAC, Pelosi had waxed poetic about her personal experiences in Israel and how they shaped her views: “This spring, I was in Israel as part of a congressional trip that also took us to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. One of the most powerful experiences was taking a helicopter toward Gaza, over the path of the security fence. We set down in a field that belonged to a local kibbutz. It was a cool but sunny day, and the field was starting to bloom with mustard. Mustard is a crop that grows in California, and it felt at that moment as if I were home.”
    Pelosi, who was the 52nd Speaker of the House, previously served from 2007 to 2011 in the position which coincided with the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza war known as Operation Cast Lead. In 2009, Pelosi sponsored a resolution that passed the House by a 390-5 majority blaming the Palestinian side for the violence and reaffirming U.S. support for Israel and a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    The resolution quoted then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said in 2008, “We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire and for the renewal of violence there.”
    Stephen Zunes, author and professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, pointed out at the time that the language in the House decision was even to the right of the Bush administration, which supported the UN Security Council resolution condemning “all acts of violence and terror directed against civilians” - the congressional resolution only condemns the violence and terror of Hamas.
    Pelosi’s resolution also called for “the immediate release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been illegally held in Gaza since June 2006.”
    The Shalit kidnapping was a personal issue for Pelosi, who in 2008, while meeting with then Israeli Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik, held up dog tags of three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in 2006.  Two of them belonged to Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose bodies were repatriated to Israel earlier that year. The third belonged to Gilad Shalit, who at the time was still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza. Shalit was famously freed in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal.
    Pelosi said she kept them as a “symbol of the sacrifices made, sacrifices far too great by the people of the state of Israel.”
    However, she hasn’t always been been on the right side of the pro-Israel divide. In 2014 Pelosi was criticized for suggesting Hamas is a humanitarian organization. On CNN she said, “And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization.” The host of the segment Candy Crowley then interrupted her to ask, “The U.S. thinks they’re a terrorist organization though, correct? Do you?” Pelosi responded with, “Mmm hmm.”
    After receiving a lashing from the likes of Megyn Kelly on Fox News and The Republican Jewish Coalition Matthew Brook, Pelosi’s office released a statement, “As Leader Pelosi reiterated in her CNN interview, Hamas is a terrorist organization.”
    Pelosi was also a vocal critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress denouncing then-President Obama’s nuclear deal, which she supported.
    After the speech she released a very harshly worded condemnation saying, “That is why, as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the prime minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.”
    Pelosi, who was endorsed this week by J Street in her bid for speaker, addressed the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference by reading a J Street-backed letter, which was signed by 191 members of Congress, mostly Democrats, urging U.S. President Donald Trump to support a two-state solution.
    “As strong supporters of Israel, we write to urge you to reaffirm the United States’ long-standing, bipartisan commitment to supporting a just and lasting two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Pelosi said.
    “It is our belief that a one-state outcome risks destroying Israel’s Jewish and democratic character, denies the Palestinians fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations, and would leave both Israelis and Palestinians embroiled in an endless and intractable conflict for generations to come,” she continued.
    Pelosi, at 78, represents the Democratic establishment’s traditional position on Israel, coupling unwavering support for Israeli defense and the two-state solution for peace between Israel and Palestinians, a bipartisan position that courts both AIPAC and J Street and doesn’t diverge too far from that of centrist Republicans. Unlike some new members of her caucus who criticize Israel for “occupying” the West Bank or for human rights abuses, Pelosi reservers her criticism only for Israeli leaders or policies she disagrees with, most prominently Netanyahu.


  • Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/13/iran-was-closer-to-a-nuclear-bomb-than-intelligence-agencies-thought

    ecret Iranian archive seized by Israeli agents earlier this year indicates that Tehran’s nuclear program was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought, according to a prominent nuclear expert who examined the documents.

    That conclusion in turn suggests that if Iran pulls out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has already abandoned, it has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months, said David Albright, a physicist who runs the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.

    Iran would still need to produce weapons-grade uranium. If it restarts its centrifuges, it could have enough in about seven to 12 months, added Albright, who is preparing reports on the archive.

    Before the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal mainly negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, that would have taken only two months, but under the accord Iran was required to ship about 97 percent of its nuclear fuel out of the country and dismantle most its centrifuges.
    […]
    The archive, which is well over 100,000 pages long, covers the period from 1999 to 2003, a decade before negotiations on a nuclear deal began. But the trove of documents demonstrates that Washington and the IAEA were constantly underestimating how close Tehran was to a bomb.
    […]
    Mossad agents seized the archive in a daring nighttime raid on a warehouse in Tehran at the end of January. In late April, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed some of the content in a speech that was panned as a melodramatic attempt to prod Trump into leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal. “These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.


  • Saudi Arabia Delivers $100 Million Pledged to U.S. as Pompeo Lands in Riyadh :: WRAL.com
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-money-syria.html

    This summer, Saudi Arabia promised the Trump administration $100 million for U.S. efforts to stabilize areas in Syria liberated from the Islamic State.

    That money landed in U.S. accounts Tuesday, the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for discussions with the kingdom’s leaders about the fate of a missing Saudi dissident.

    A mon avis, il manque un zéro...

    #kashoggi


  • C.I.A. Drone Mission, Curtailed by Obama, Is Expanded in Africa Under Trump

    The C.I.A. is poised to conduct secret drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State insurgents from a newly expanded air base deep in the Sahara, making aggressive use of powers that were scaled back during the Obama administration and restored by President Trump.

    Late in his presidency, Barack Obama sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks after a backlash arose over a series of highly visible strikes, some of which killed civilians. The move was intended, in part, to bring greater transparency to attacks that the United States often refused to acknowledge its role in.

    But now the C.I.A. is broadening its drone operations, moving aircraft to northeastern Niger to hunt Islamist militants in southern Libya. The expansion adds to the agency’s limited covert missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan, and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen.

    Nigerien and American officials said the C.I.A. had been flying drones on surveillance missions for several months from a corner of a small commercial airport in Dirkou. Satellite imagery shows that the airport has grown significantly since February to include a new taxiway, walls and security posts.

    One American official said the drones had not yet been used in lethal missions, but would almost certainly be in the near future, given the growing threat in southern Libya. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive operations.

    A C.I.A. spokesman, Timothy Barrett, declined to comment. A Defense Department spokeswoman, Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, said the military had maintained a base at the Dirkou airfield for several months but did not fly drone missions from there.

    The drones take off from Dirkou at night — typically between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. — buzzing in the clear, starlit desert sky. A New York Times reporter saw the gray aircraft — about the size of Predator drones, which are 27 feet long — flying at least three times over six days in early August. Unlike small passenger planes that land occasionally at the airport, the drones have no blinking lights signaling their presence.

    “All I know is they’re American,” Niger’s interior minister, Mohamed Bazoum, said in an interview. He offered few other details about the drones.

    Dirkou’s mayor, Boubakar Jerome, said the drones had helped improve the town’s security. “It’s always good. If people see things like that, they’ll be scared,” Mr. Jerome said.

    Mr. Obama had curtailed the C.I.A.’s lethal role by limiting its drone flights, notably in Yemen. Some strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere that accidentally killed civilians, stirring outrage among foreign diplomats and military officials, were shielded because of the C.I.A.’s secrecy.

    As part of the shift, the Pentagon was given the unambiguous lead for such operations. The move sought, in part, to end an often awkward charade in which the United States would not concede its responsibility for strikes that were abundantly covered by news organizations and tallied by watchdog groups. However, the C.I.A. program was not fully shut down worldwide, as the agency and its supporters in Congress balked.

    The drone policy was changed last year, after Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director at the time, made a forceful case to President Trump that the agency’s broader counterterrorism efforts were being needlessly constrained. The Dirkou base was already up and running by the time Mr. Pompeo stepped down as head of the C.I.A. in April to become Mr. Trump’s secretary of state.

    The Pentagon’s Africa Command has carried out five drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Libya this year, including one two weeks ago. The military launches its MQ-9 Reaper drones from bases in Sicily and in Niamey, Niger’s capital, 800 miles southwest of Dirkou.

    But the C.I.A. base is hundreds of miles closer to southwestern Libya, a notorious haven for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria. It is also closer to southern Libya than a new $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, 350 miles west of Dirkou, where the Pentagon plans to operate armed Reaper drone missions by early next year.

    Another American official said the C.I.A. began setting up the base in January to improve surveillance of the region, partly in response to an ambush last fall in another part of Niger that killed four American troops. The Dirkou airfield was labeled a United States Air Force base as a cover, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential operational matters.

    The C.I.A. operation in Dirkou is burdened by few, if any, of the political sensitivities that the United States military confronts at its locations, said one former American official involved with the project.

    Even so, security analysts said, it is not clear why the United States needs both military and C.I.A. drone operations in the same general vicinity to combat insurgents in Libya. France also flies Reaper drones from Niamey, but only on unarmed reconnaissance missions.

    “I would be surprised that the C.I.A. would open its own base,” said Bill Roggio, editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal, which tracks military strikes against militant groups.

    Despite American denials, a Nigerien security official said he had concluded that the C.I.A. launched an armed drone from the Dirkou base to strike a target in Ubari, in southern Libya, on July 25. The Nigerien security official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.

    A spokesman for the Africa Command, Maj. Karl Wiest, said the military did not carry out the Ubari strike.

    #Ubari is in the same region where the American military in March launched its first-ever drone attack against Qaeda militants in southern Libya. It is at the intersection of the powerful criminal and jihadist currents that have washed across Libya in recent years. Roughly equidistant from Libya’s borders with Niger, Chad and Algeria, the area’s seminomadic residents are heavily involved in the smuggling of weapons, drugs and migrants through the lawless deserts of southern Libya.

    Some of the residents have allied with Islamist militias, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates across Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya.

    Dirkou, in northeast Niger, is an oasis town of a few thousand people in the open desert, bordered by a small mountain range. For centuries, it has been a key transit point for travelers crossing the Sahara. It helped facilitate the rise of Islam in West Africa in the 9th century, and welcomed salt caravans from the neighboring town of Bilma.

    The town has a handful of narrow, sandy roads. Small trees dot the horizon. Date and neem trees line the streets, providing shelter for people escaping the oppressive midday heat. There is a small market, where goods for sale include spaghetti imported from Libya. Gasoline is also imported from Libya and is cheaper than elsewhere in the country.

    The drones based in Dirkou are loud, and their humming and buzzing drowns out the bleats of goats and crows of roosters.

    “It stops me from sleeping,” said Ajimi Koddo, 45, a former migrant smuggler. “They need to go. They go in our village, and it annoys us too much.”

    Satellite imagery shows that construction started in February on a new compound at the Dirkou airstrip. Since then, the facility has been extended to include a larger paved taxiway and a clamshell tent connected to the airstrip — all features that are consistent with the deployment of small aircraft, possibly drones.

    Five defensive positions were set up around the airport, and there appear to be new security gates and checkpoints both to the compound and the broader airport.

    It’s not the first time that Washington has eyed with interest Dirkou’s tiny base. In the late 1980s, the United States spent $3.2 million renovating the airstrip in an effort to bolster Niger’s government against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the leader of Libya.

    Compared with other parts of Africa, the C.I.A.’s presence in the continent’s northwest is relatively light, according to a former State Department official who served in the region. In this part of Niger, the C.I.A. is also providing training and sharing intelligence, according to a Nigerien military intelligence document reviewed by The Times.

    The Nigerien security official said about a dozen American Green Berets were stationed earlier this year in #Dirkou — in a base separate from the C.I.A.’s — to train a special counterterrorism battalion of local forces. Those trainers left about three months ago, the official said.

    It is unlikely that they will return anytime soon. The Pentagon is considering withdrawing nearly all American commandos from Niger in the wake of the deadly October ambush that killed four United States soldiers.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/09/world/africa/cia-drones-africa-military.html
    #CIA #drones #Niger #Sahel #USA #Etats-Unis #EI #ISIS #Etat_islamique #sécurité #terrorisme #base_militaire

    • Le Sahel est-il une zone de #non-droit ?

      La CIA a posé ses valises dans la bande sahélo-saharienne. Le New-York Times l’a annoncé, le 9 septembre dernier. Le quotidien US, a révélé l’existence d’une #base_de_drones secrète non loin de la commune de Dirkou, dans le nord-est du Niger. Cette localité, enclavée, la première grande ville la plus proche est Agadez située à 570 km, est le terrain de tir parfait. Elle est éloignée de tous les regards, y compris des autres forces armées étrangères : France, Allemagne, Italie, présentes sur le sol nigérien. Selon un responsable américain anonyme interrogé par ce journal, les drones déployés à Dirkou n’avaient « pas encore été utilisés dans des missions meurtrières, mais qu’ils le seraient certainement dans un proche avenir, compte tenu de la menace croissante qui pèse sur le sud de la Libye. » Or, d’après les renseignements recueillis par l’IVERIS, ces assertions sont fausses, la CIA a déjà mené des opérations à partir de cette base. Ces informations apportent un nouvel éclairage et expliquent le refus catégorique et systématique de l’administration américaine de placer la force conjointe du G5 Sahel (Tchad, Mauritanie, Burkina-Faso, Niger, Mali) sous le chapitre VII de la charte des Nations Unies.
      L’installation d’une base de drones n’est pas une bonne nouvelle pour les peuples du Sahel, et plus largement de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, qui pourraient connaître les mêmes malheurs que les Afghans et les Pakistanais confrontés à la guerre des drones avec sa cohorte de victimes civiles, appelées pudiquement « dégâts collatéraux ».

      D’après le journaliste du NYT, qui s’est rendu sur place, les drones présents à Dirkou ressembleraient à des Predator, des aéronefs d’ancienne génération qui ont un rayon d’action de 1250 km. Il serait assez étonnant que l’agence de Langley soit équipée de vieux modèles alors que l’US Air Force dispose à Niamey et bientôt à Agadez des derniers modèles MQ-9 Reaper, qui, eux, volent sur une distance de 1850 km. A partir de cette base, la CIA dispose donc d’un terrain de tir étendu qui va de la Libye, au sud de l’Algérie, en passant par le Tchad, jusqu’au centre du Mali, au Nord du Burkina et du Nigéria…

      Selon deux sources militaires de pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest, ces drones ont déjà réalisé des frappes à partir de la base de Dirkou. Ces bombardements ont eu lieu en Libye. Il paraît important de préciser que le chaos existant dans ce pays depuis la guerre de 2011, ne rend pas ces frappes plus légales. Par ailleurs, ces mêmes sources suspectent la CIA d’utiliser Dirkou comme une prison secrète « si des drones peuvent se poser des avions aussi. Rien ne les empêche de transporter des terroristes de Libye exfiltrés. Dirkou un Guantanamo bis ? »

      En outre, il n’est pas impossible que ces drones tueurs aient été en action dans d’autres Etats limitrophes. Qui peut le savoir ? « Cette base est irrégulière, illégale, la CIA peut faire absolument tout ce qu’elle veut là-bas » rapporte un officier. De plus, comment faire la différence entre un MQ-9 Reaper de la CIA ou encore un de l’US Air Force, qui, elle, a obtenu l’autorisation d’armer ses drones (1). Encore que…

      En novembre 2017, le président Mahamadou Issoufou a autorisé les drones de l’US Air Force basés à Niamey, à frapper leurs cibles sur le territoire nigérien (2). Mais pour que cet agrément soit légal, il aurait fallu qu’il soit présenté devant le parlement, ce qui n’a pas été le cas. Même s’il l’avait été, d’une part, il le serait seulement pour l’armée US et pas pour la CIA, d’autre part, il ne serait valable que sur le sol nigérien et pas sur les territoires des pays voisins…

      Pour rappel, cette autorisation a été accordée à peine un mois après les événements de Tongo Tongo, où neuf militaires avaient été tués, cinq soldats nigériens et quatre américains. Cette autorisation est souvent présentée comme la conséquence de cette attaque. Or, les pourparlers ont eu lieu bien avant. En effet, l’AFRICOM a planifié la construction de la base de drone d’Agadez, la seconde la plus importante de l’US Air Force en Afrique après Djibouti, dès 2016, sous le mandat de Barack Obama. Une nouvelle preuve que la politique africaine du Pentagone n’a pas changée avec l’arrivée de Donald Trump (3-4-5).

      Les USA seuls maîtres à bord dans le Sahel

      Dès lors, le véto catégorique des Etats-Unis de placer la force G5 Sahel sous chapitre VII se comprend mieux. Il s’agit de mener une guerre non-officielle sans mandat international des Nations-Unies et sans se soucier du droit international. Ce n’était donc pas utile qu’Emmanuel Macron, fer de lance du G5, force qui aurait permis à l’opération Barkhane de sortir du bourbier dans lequel elle se trouve, plaide à de nombreuses reprises cette cause auprès de Donald Trump. Tous les présidents du G5 Sahel s’y sont essayés également, en vain. Ils ont fini par comprendre, quatre chefs d’Etats ont boudé la dernière Assemblée générale des Nations Unies. Seul, le Président malien, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, est monté à la tribune pour réitérer la demande de mise sous chapitre VII, unique solution pour que cette force obtienne un financement pérenne. Alors qu’en décembre 2017, Emmanuel Macron y croyait encore dur comme fer et exigeait des victoires au premier semestre 2018, faute de budget, le G5 Sahel n’est toujours pas opérationnel ! (6-7) Néanmoins, la Chine a promis de le soutenir financièrement. Magnanime, le secrétaire d’Etat à la défense, Jim Mattis a lui assuré à son homologue, Florence Parly, que les Etats-Unis apporteraient à la force conjointe une aide très significativement augmentée. Mais toujours pas de chapitre VII en vue... Ainsi, l’administration Trump joue coup double. Non seulement elle ne s’embarrasse pas avec le Conseil de Sécurité et le droit international mais sous couvert de lutte antiterroriste, elle incruste ses bottes dans ce qui est, (ce qui fut ?), la zone d’influence française.

      Far West

      Cerise sur le gâteau, en août dernier le patron de l’AFRICOM, le général Thomas D. Waldhauser, a annoncé une réduction drastique de ses troupes en Afrique (9). Les sociétés militaires privées, dont celle d’Erik Prince, anciennement Blackwater, ont bien compris le message et sont dans les starting-blocks prêtes à s’installer au Sahel (10).


      https://www.iveris.eu/list/notes_danalyse/371-le_sahel_estil_une_zone_de_nondroit__


  • Exclusive: Mesa to include nine countries while prioritising Iran threat - The National

    https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/exclusive-mesa-to-include-nine-countries-while-prioritising-iran-threat-

    S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking has spent the last three weeks in shuttle regional diplomacy across the Gulf to lay the groundwork for a US-hosted summit in January that would launch the Middle East Strategic Alliance (Mesa), a concept similar to an Arab Nato.

    In an interview with The National on Wednesday, Mr Lenderking divulged details about the structure of Mesa and its long term prospects. He said besides the Gulf Cooperation Council members – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman – the US and both Egypt and Jordan would be members of such an alliance.

    Mr Lenderking said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be hosting a GCC + 2 meeting on the margins of United Nations General Assembly on Friday to prepare for the January summit.

    “This stems from the Riyadh summit in 2017 where everyone agreed that the US and the GCC would meet on an annual basis...we added on top of that the keen interest on both sides in building Mesa,” Mr Lenderking explained. The alliance would be based on a security, economic and political agreement that would bind together the GCC countries, along with the US, Egypt and Jordan.

    Notwithstanding the different policy priorities within the GCC itself, Mr Lenderking said the idea of Mesa is “it builds a good strong shield against threats in the Gulf,” naming Iran, cyber concerns, attacks on infrastructure, and coordinating conflict management from Syria to Yemen as part of its agenda.

    “The more we have coordinated efforts, the more effective in enhancing stability,” he said, adding that Iran was the “number one threat” on the Mesa list.

    The senior US official confirmed that the US would be part of the alliance and “we [US] would like to agree on the concept of Mesa by the January summit.”

    He cautioned, however, that these conversations are still in their early stages and “if we find we need to change dates we need to be flexible on that”.


  • Study questions Iran-al Qaeda ties, despite U.S. allegations | Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iran-alqaeda/study-questions-iran-al-qaeda-ties-despite-u-s-allegations-idUSKCN1LN2LE

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There is no evidence that Iran and al Qaeda cooperated in carrying out terrorist attacks, according to a study published on Friday that casts doubt on Trump administration statements about close ties between the two.

    FILE PHOTO: Iran’s national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl
    The conclusions of the study, by the New America think tank, were based on detailed analysis of documents seized in Osama bin Laden’s hideout after U.S. forces killed the al Qaeda leader in 2011.

    The findings clash with recent statements by U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggesting Iran has collaborated with al Qaeda, which carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

    Debate has swirled over the relationship between Iran, a majority Shi’ite Muslim state, and radical Sunni group al Qaeda since late 2001, when some al Qaeda members fled to Iran after the United States toppled the Taliban government that had sheltered them in Afghanistan.

    The bin Laden files, including a 19-page document not released until last November, show that Iran was uncomfortable with the militants’ presence on its soil, said Nelly Lahoud, the study’s author and an expert on al Qaeda.


  • Congress corners Pompeo on Saudi military actions - POLITICO

    The secretary of state faces a Sept. 12 deadline to certify whether Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are doing enough to limit civilian misery stemming from a U.S.-backed military campaign in Yemen, or face a cutback in Washington’s support.
    By NAHAL TOOSI 09/04/2018 04:

    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/04/congress-pompeo-military-saudi-yemen-806418

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo must soon make a key decision that could sharply limit U.S. backing for Saudi Arabia’s controversial war in Yemen, where more than three years of fighting have triggered a humanitarian crisis, claims of war crimes and bipartisan anger in Congress.

    A bipartisan group of lawmakers inserted a provision in this year’s congressional defense spending bill requiring Pompeo to certify by Sept. 12 whether Saudi Arabia and its military ally, the United Arab Emirates, are taking meaningful steps to reduce civilian casualties, increase humanitarian aid and find a political solution to the Yemen conflict. If Pompeo doesn’t offer the certification, the law prohibits the U.S. from refueling Saudi aircraft.

    The pressure on Pompeo reflects growing anger among American lawmakers over the U.S. military role in Yemen, where thousands of civilians have died and millions more face starvation as a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE battles Iran-backed Houthi rebels. In addition to the refueling, the U.S. has assisted the Arab-led coalition with targeting and supplied it with munitions.

    The choice for Pompeo also comes as United Nations officials warn that the Saudis may be committing war crimes. Last month, a coalition airstrike hit a school bus, reportedly with a U.S.-made missile, killing 40 Yemeni children.

    The Trump administration has closely aligned itself with the Saudi and UAE governments, and has made combating Iran’s regional influence a top priority. But with international outrage growing — and Democrats widely expected to make gains in the November midterm elections that could lead to new legislative efforts to reduce the U.S. role in the Yemen fight as well as possibly embarrassing hearings, Pompeo faces mounting pressure to act.

    #yemen


  • Kerry reveals details of Assad’s secret letter to Netanyahu in 2010 - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-kerry-reveals-details-of-secret-2010-assad-netanyahu-letter-1.6448

    WASHINGTON – Syrian President Bashar Assad sent U.S. President Barack Obama a secret proposal for peace with Israel in 2010, which was also shared with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Secretary of State John Kerry writes in his new memoir published Tuesday.
    According to Kerry, Netanyahu found the proposal “surprising” because it showed that Assad was willing to make more concessions than in previous negotiations.
    The letter was drafted by Assad a year before the start of Syria’s civil war; Syria and Israel did engage in American-mediated negotiations up until early 2011, but eventually did not reach any agreements or understandings.


  • Japan at the crossroad of US-China rivalry — La Cité
    https://www.lacite.info/politiquetxt/2016/5/9/japan-us-china-rivalry

    Territorial disputes in the South China Sea have persisted for decades. In addition to the important gas and oil reserves the seabed is believed to contain, rich fishing grounds, and strategic sea lanes of communication, the region is today at the center of US-China systemic rivalry. How does Japan fit into this picture?

    Lionel Fatton
    9 May 2016

    Last February, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed serious concerns about satellite images showing the deployment by China of surface-to-air missile batteries on a contested island in the Paracel chain. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea between nine countries of the region have persisted for decades. Recently, however, China’s massive land reclamation and infrastructure building projects on islands and reefs, as well as a growing militarization of disputes, have pushed international tensions up to a new level.

    #japon #chine #états-nis #pacifique #géostratégie #géopolitique


  • Saudi Arabia Planned to Invade Qatar Last Summer. Rex Tillerson’s Efforts to Stop It May Have Cost Him His Job.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/rex-tillerson-qatar-saudi-uae

    THIRTEEN HOURS BEFORE Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned from the presidential Twitter feed that he was being fired, he did something that President Donald Trump had been unwilling to do. Following a phone call with his British counterpart, Tillerson condemned a deadly nerve agent attack in the U.K., saying that he had “full confidence in the U.K.’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had called the attack “reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible,” but stopped short of blaming Russia, leading numerous media outlets to speculate that Tillerson was fired for criticizing Russia.

    But in the months that followed his departure, press reports strongly suggested that the countries lobbying hardest for Tillerson’s removal were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which were frustrated by Tillerson’s attempts to mediate and end their blockade of Qatar. One report in the New York Times even suggested that the UAE ambassador to Washington knew that Tillerson would be forced out three months before he was fired in March.

    The Intercept has learned of a previously unreported episode that stoked the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s anger at Tillerson and that may have played a key role in his removal. In the summer of 2017, several months before the Gulf allies started pushing for his ouster, Tillerson intervened to stop a secret Saudi-led, UAE-backed plan to invade and essentially conquer Qatar, according to one current member of the U.S. intelligence community and two former State Department officials, all of whom declined to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

    In the days and weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed down their land, sea, and air borders with the country, Tillerson made a series of phone calls urging Saudi officials not to take military action against the country. The flurry of calls in June 2017 has been reported, but State Department and press accounts at the time described them as part of a broad-strokes effort to resolve tensions in the Gulf, not as an attempt by Tillerson to avert a Saudi-led military operation.

    In the calls, Tillerson, who dealt extensively with the Qatari government as the CEO of Exxon Mobil, urged Saudi King Salman, then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir not to attack Qatar or otherwise escalate hostilities, the sources told The Intercept. Tillerson also encouraged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to call his counterparts in Saudi Arabia to explain the dangers of such an invasion. Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar’s capital city, is the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops.

    Pressure from Tillerson caused Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the country, to back down, concerned that the invasion would damage Saudi Arabia’s long-term relationship with the U.S. But Tillerson’s intervention enraged Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and effective ruler of that country, according to the U.S. intelligence official and a source close to the Emirati royal family, who declined to be identified, citing concerns about his safety.

    Later that June, Mohammed bin Salman would be named crown prince, leapfrogging over his cousin to become next in line for the throne after his elderly father. His ascension signaled his growing influence over the kingdom’s affairs.

    Qatari intelligence agents working inside Saudi Arabia discovered the plan in the early summer of 2017, according to the U.S. intelligence official. Tillerson acted after the Qatari government notified him and the U.S. embassy in Doha. Several months later, intelligence reporting by the U.S. and U.K. confirmed the existence of the plan.

    The plan, which was largely devised by the Saudi and UAE crown princes and was likely some weeks away from being implemented, involved Saudi ground troops crossing the land border into Qatar, and, with military support from the UAE, advancing roughly 70 miles toward Doha. Circumventing the U.S. air base, Saudi forces would then seize the capital.


  • The Maps of Israeli Settlements That Shocked Barack Obama | The New Yorker

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-map-of-israeli-settlements-that-shocked-barack-obama?mbid=nl_Daily%20

    One afternoon in the spring of 2015, a senior State Department official named Frank Lowenstein paged through a government briefing book and noticed a map that he had never seen before. Lowenstein was the Obama Administration’s special envoy on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a position that exposed him to hundreds of maps of the West Bank. (One adorned his State Department office.)

    Typically, those maps made Jewish settlements and outposts look tiny compared to the areas where the Palestinians lived. The new map in the briefing book was different. It showed large swaths of territory that were off limits to Palestinian development and filled in space between the settlements and the outposts. At that moment, Lowenstein told me, he saw “the forest for the trees”—not only were Palestinian population centers cut off from one another but there was virtually no way to squeeze a viable Palestinian state into the areas that remained. Lowenstein’s team did the math. When the settlement zones, the illegal outposts, and the other areas off limits to Palestinian development were consolidated, they covered almost sixty per cent of the West Bank.

    Lowenstein showed the small map to Secretary of State John Kerry and said, “Look what’s really going on here.” Kerry brought the map to his next meeting with President Obama. The map was too small for everyone in the Situation Room to see, so Lowenstein had a series of larger maps made. The information was then verified by U.S. intelligence agencies. Obama’s Presidency was winding down, but Lowenstein figured that he could use the time left to raise awareness about what the Israelis were doing. “One day, everyone’s going to wake up and go, ‘Wait a minute, we’ve got to stop this to at least have the possibility of a two-state solution,’ ” Lowenstein said.

    The State Department presentation, which was prepared in 2015 and updated in 2016, showed examples of what the State Department identified as “Palestinian incitement” and maps depicting Israel’s settlement growth in the West Bank. One of the maps was titled “What a One State Reality Looks Like,” and included a bullet point that read, “In the combined areas of Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Jews no longer represent the majority.” (Israeli officials have said that the number of Jews and Arabs is at or near parity.)


  • L’écart se creuse entre les besoins et les offres de places de réinstallation pour les réfugiés

    Le HCR, l’Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés, s’est déclaré aujourd’hui préoccupé par l’écart croissant entre le nombre de réfugiés ayant besoin d’une réinstallation et les places offertes par les gouvernements à travers le monde.

    Dans son rapport 2019 sur les besoins prévus de réinstallation dans le monde (Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2019 report, en anglais) présenté à Genève lors de sa réunion annuelle sur le sujet, le HCR montre que le nombre de réfugiés en attente d’une solution dans des pays tiers atteindrait 1,4 million en 2019 selon les prévisions, tandis que le nombre de places de réinstallation dans le monde est tombé à seulement 75 000 en 2017. Sur la base de ces chiffres, il faudrait 18 ans pour que les réfugiés les plus vulnérables à travers le monde soient réinstallés.

    « Au Niger où je me trouvais la semaine dernière seulement, j’ai vu combien la réinstallation permet littéralement de sauver des vies et ce, grâce à un dispositif innovant qui permet d’évacuer vers le Niger des réfugiés libérés d’épouvantables conditions en Libye pour les réinstaller ensuite dans de nouveaux pays. Nous avons besoin de davantage de places de réinstallation pour que ce programme perdure et de voir dans tous les États une transposition massive de ce type d’objectif commun et de détermination afin de relever les défis qui se posent au monde aujourd’hui », a déclaré Filippo Grandi.

    L’augmentation des possibilités de réinstallation offertes aux réfugiés dans des pays tiers est l’un des objectifs clés d’une nouvelle approche globale des crises de réfugiés approuvée en septembre 2016 par les 193 États Membres des Nations Unies dans la Déclaration de New York pour les réfugiés et les migrants, ainsi que l’un des axes majeurs du nouveau Pacte mondial sur les réfugiés qui sera présenté à l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies d’ici la fin 2018.

    « La réinstallation n’est pas seulement une essentielle bouée de sauvetage pour certains des individus les plus vulnérables de la planète, c’est aussi un moyen concret pour les gouvernements et les communautés de mieux partager la responsabilité de la crise mondiale des déplacements. Nous avons d’urgence besoin que de nouveaux pays viennent rejoindre les rangs des États de réinstallation et que ces derniers trouvent des moyens pour élargir leurs propres programmes », a encore déclaré Filippo Grandi.

    Trente-cinq pays font aujourd’hui partie du programme de réinstallation du HCR, contre 27 États en 2018. Selon le rapport, des réfugiés de 36 nationalités relevant de 65 opérations menées dans différents pays du monde ont aujourd’hui besoin d’une réinstallation. Les réfugiés originaires de Syrie et de République démocratique du Congo représentaient deux tiers des dossiers de réinstallation présentés par le HCR en 2017.

    Le HCR exhorte les pays à accueillir davantage de réfugiés de différents pays et opérations qui présentent d’impérieux besoins en matière de protection internationale et à s’engager à les accueillir durablement. À l’heure actuelle, seulement 14 des 25 États de réinstallation reçoivent des réfugiés provenant de plus de trois opérations de réinstallation. Le HCR appelle également les États à réserver au moins 10 % des places offertes aux cas graves et urgents présentés par le HCR.

    Plus de 250 délégués gouvernementaux et représentants d’ONG, d’universités, d’entreprises privées et de réfugiés participent aux consultations tripartites annuelles du HCR sur la réinstallation qui se tiennent cette semaine à Genève et constituent le premier forum sur les problèmes en matière de réinstallation à travers le monde.

    http://www.unhcr.org/fr/news/press/2018/6/5b32163ca/lecart-creuse-besoins-offres-places-reinstallation-refugies.html
    #réinstallation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #places_de_réinstallation #monde #statistiques #chiffres #monde #besoins

    #rapport :
    Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2019


    http://www.unhcr.org/5b28a7df4

    @_kg_ Tu peux montrer dans ton mémoire que la réinstallation... une solution pendant la crise indochinoise, aujourd’hui, ne marche plus ! Ce qui, aussi cause les problèmes de blocages dans les pays de transit.
    (regarde tout ce fil de discussion, sur la réinstallation)

    • What Next for Global Refugee Policy? Opportunities and Limits of Resettlement at Global, European and National Levels

      Only a small minority of refugees worldwide currently has access to resettlement programmes. In this present crisis in global refugee policy, resettlement is nonetheless a promising approach to dealing with refugee situations. The Policy Brief analyses the state of play as regards the resettlement system in Germany, Europe and at global level, as well as the development and implementation of alternative admission pathways such as humanitarian programmes and private sponsorship schemes. Based on this analysis, the Policy Brief discusses whether resettlement is an alternative or addition to territorial asylum and how alternative pathways can fit into the mix of available admission procedures, and it presents recommendations for action in regard to developing resettlement policy.

      https://www.svr-migration.de/en/publications/resettlement
      #Allemagne

    • The EU has started resettling refugees from Libya, but only 174 have made it to Europe in seven months

      Abdu is one who got stuck. A tall, lanky teenager, he spent nearly two years in smugglers’ warehouses and official Libyan detention centres. But he’s also one of the lucky ones. In February, he boarded a flight to Niger run (with EU support) by the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, to help some of those stranded in Libya reach Europe. Nearly 1,600 people have been evacuated on similiar flights, but, seven months on, only 174 have been resettled to Europe.

      https://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2018/06/26/destination-europe-evacuation

    • US Sets Refugee Admissions at Historic Low

      The United States will cap the number of refugee admissions in the coming year at 30,000, President Donald Trump announced Thursday, an anticipated move by his administration that refugee advocates had lobbied against in recent weeks.

      The refugee ceiling for the 2019 fiscal year will be the lowest in the history of the program, which in recent years saw 60,000 to nearly 90,000 refugees arrive in the country annually.

      “We are troubled by this decision to further limit America’s role in offering protection to those who need it most,” said Kay Bellor, vice president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), one of the leading resettlement agencies in the country. “The United States is capable of far more than this.”

      For three decades, the U.S. was the leading resettler of refugees the United Nations determined could not safely stay in their country of asylum, or return to their home country. Canada and Australia trailed at a sizable distance until Trump took office.

      He and his cabinet implemented a series of policy decisions that chipped away at the country’s refugee program, cutting the cap from 110,000 during the last year of President Barack Obama’s tenure, to 45,000 in 2018, and now to 30,000 for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

      Trump insisted that additional security measures were needed for refugees, and added extra vetting for those from certain countries. Since then, the number of arrivals dropped. In FY 2018, the U.S. accepted 22,491 refugees — less than half of the proposed ceiling.

      Evidence-based data does not support the idea that there is an increased security risk posed by refugees selected for resettlement to the U.S.

      Before the State Department announced its intent to resettle a maximum of 30,000 refugees this fiscal year, advocates lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill to push for 75,000.

      The required consultation between Congress and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday was unsuccessful in budging the Trump administration on the cap.

      The regional allocations for FY 2019, according to Thursday’s presidential determination, are:

      Africa — 11,000

      East Asia — 4,000

      Europe and Central Asia — 3,000

      Latin America/Caribbean — 3,000

      Near East/South Asia — 9,000

      https://www.voanews.com/a/us-sets-refugee-admissions-at-historic-low/4600218.html


  • Top U.S. officials to Haaretz: Peace plan will be basis for talks, not ’take it or leave it’ document

    Senior officials say the plan will be revealed soon and stress that Trump sees Palestinian President Abbas as the only ’relevant address’

    Amir Tibon
    Jun 13, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-white-house-to-haaretz-peace-plan-is-basis-for-talks-not-blueprint

    WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East won’t be a “take it or leave it” proposal, but rather a basis for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, administration officials told Haaretz this week. They said the plan will be revealed soon, and that the White House hopes to share it not only with the leaders in  the region, but also with the general public.
    The officials said previous reports that the plan would be released immediately at the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan were incorrect. “We hope to release it in the near future, but not immediately after Ramadan,” one official explained. “Our top priority is to put it out at the right moment, so that the various spoilers who don’t want us to succeed have less of a chance to cause damage.” 
    >> Palestinians to U.S.: No ’Deal of the Century’ if Jerusalem Not Addressed ■ U.S. Hopes to Unveil Breakthrough in Gaza Cease-fire Alongside Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan
    While there have been some reports asserting that the plan will be a blueprint for a final peace agreement that the two sides will have to either accept or reject, the officials who spoke with Haaretz said those reports, too, were inaccurate.
    “We have said all along that we don’t want to impose an agreement. So presenting the plan as a ‘take it or leave it’ kind of document would be inconsistent with that,” one official explained. “We are a facilitator. It would be arrogant to assume we know better than anyone else,” said a second official. “At the end of the day, the two sides need to negotiate and reach an agreement. We want to help them reach that point, but we can’t structure the agreement for them.”
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    The officials criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to engage with the administration, a position he has held to ever since Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December. “We assume there will be fair and substantial criticism of the plan, but we are astonished that Abbas won’t even see it,” one official said. “It would be a shame for the Palestinian people if the Palestinian leadership refuses to engage with this plan.”
    At the same time, the officials stressed that the Trump administration is not looking for a way to bypass Abbas, and is not speaking to any other Palestinian political figures. “We are not trying to engage with any Palestinian politicians except President Abbas. He is the relevant address, and he is the one we hope to work with,” one official said. 
    >> Trump Mideast envoy: The Palestinians deserve so much more than Saeb Erekat ■ Erekat fires back: Trump administration is killing the peace process, not me
    Last month Haaretz reported that the only recent contact between high-ranking Palestinian and American officials was a meeting between Abbas’ security chief, Majid Faraj, and Mike Pompeo, who is now Secretary of State and headed the CIA at the time of the meeting. Palestinian officials explained that the meeting focused only on security and intelligence issues, which are not included in the Palestinian Authority’s political and diplomatic boycott of the administration.

    The administration officials emphasized that they are encouraged by signs that Arab countries are getting closer to Israel, but added that they have no illusions about the Arab world “abandoning” the Palestinians as part of an alliance with Israel. “It’s not realistic to expect that the Arabs would abandon the Palestinians. That’s not going to happen,” one of the officials stated. The Arab states, in the administration’s view, can help encourage the two sides to move forward with negotiations – but aren’t expected to force anything on either side.
    Under previous administrations, there were different approaches with regard to public exposure of detailed plans for Middle East peace. The George W. Bush administration released its “Road Map for Peace” in a speech by the president. The peace plan of former Secretary of State John Kerry, by contrast, was never made public (although drafts of it were published by Haaretz last June.)
    The current administration is considering making its peace plan available to the public, but only after its final version is shared with the leaders in the region. “We want the public to know what is in it, at the right time, because the public needs to support it, not just the leaders,” said one official. “At the end of the day, the public is part of the process. The leaders need to have public support for going forward with this.” 
    The officials who spoke with Haaretz could not share specific details about the plan, which they said is close to being finalized. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will travel to the region next week with Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East peace process, to discuss the plan with leaders in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and possibly also other countries.
    The Trump administration’s main foreign policy focus this week, of course, was the summit in Singapore in which Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The officials who spoke with Haaretz said the summit proves that Trump’s unusual approach to foreign policy is working, adding that “this event should give hope to people in the Middle East that things can get better.”
    One official contended that “this event shows how suddenly and unexpectedly things can change, and how intractable positions can potentially be softened and modified. The members of our peace team have a lot of experience as negotiators. We know that positions can change. We know that views can be morphed.”
    The officials said a Middle East peace deal is still a top priority for Trump. “The president has the same level of dedication on this issue as he does on the Korean issue,” they maintained. 
    When asked if it is possible that following his summit with Kim, Trump will lose interest in an Israeli-Palestinian deal since he no longer needs a foreign policy achievement to present to the American public, one official used a metaphor from Trump’s real estate career to explain why he’s convinced that that’s not going to happen.
    “The president built Trump Tower, and then what did he do after that? He went and he built another five Trump Towers,” the official said.
    “He didn’t just stop with one.”


  • Security Brief: Unclear U.S. Demands on North Korea; Iran Deal Fall Out – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/05/14/security-brief-unclear-u-s-demands-on-north-korea-iran-deal-fall-out

    Don’t shoot the messenger. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are set to meet on June 12 in Singapore for a highly anticipated summit meeting, but White House officials are struggling to get on the same page in their messaging ahead of the summit.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton made the rounds on Sunday talk shows to pledge that the United States does not seek to overthrow Kim and that the United States will help boost the North Korean economy if he agrees to give up his nuclear weapons.

    What President Trump wants is to see the North Korean regime get rid of its nuclear weapons program in completely and in totality and in exchange for that, we are prepared to ensure that the North Korean people get the opportunity that they so richly deserve,” Pompeo said on CBS.

    But at another point in his CBS interview, Pompeo appeared to outline a far more modest goal for the summit — that “America is no longer held at risk” by North Korean nuclear weapons and that Pyongyang eliminate its chemical and biological weapons program.

    In an appearance on Fox News, Pompeo again appeared to focus on preventing North Korean nukes reaching American targets, “America’s interest here is preventing the risk that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon into L.A. or Denver or to the very place we are sitting here this morning,” Pompeo said. “That’s our objective.

    Pompeo’s rhetorical stumbles over the weekend are notable in part because of an astounding admission he made on Friday. Asked how he would define what the United States means by its goal of “denuclearization” in North Korea, Pompeo conceded: “I’m not sure how to define it fully.

    He then immediately back-tracked and offered a convoluted answer: “It’s pretty clear what that means. It would be an activity that undertook to ensure that we didn’t end up in the same place that we’d ended up before, or multiple passes at trying to solve this conundrum for the world, how to ensure that North Korea doesn’t possess the capacity to threaten not only the United States but the world with nuclear weapons.

    • Je ne sais pas ce qui, de tout ça, est le plus inquiétant…

      …to ensure that the North Korean people get the opportunity that they so richly deserve.

      (comment ne pas entendre : _se débarrasser, ENFIN !, de la famille Kim ?)

      America is no longer held at risk

      Sympa pour les alliés sud-coréens et japonais.

      I’m not sure how to define fully “denuclearization” in North Korea.

      sans commentaire…



  • Trump Is Ending One Gulf Conflict to Start Another – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/05/03/trump-is-ending-one-gulf-conflict-to-start-another

    Now Trump is back to intervening — but only to make an apparent U-turn. Instead of hammering the Qataris as he did last June, the president just sent his newly confirmed secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to the Middle East, where he read the Saudis the riot act. Pompeo told Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to fix the problem with Qataris. Enough is apparently enough.

    What changed? The Trump administration realized its relationship with #Iran is coming to a head, and it wants a unified Gulf Cooperation Council on its side. Trump’s change of tone on Qatar almost certainly means he has made up his mind to bust the Iran nuclear deal in the coming weeks.

    Ironically, the Saudi-Emirati-Egyptian-Bahraini blockade had become, in the interim, the new regional reality, with #Qatar using its considerable financial wherewithal to tread water. It has set up its own dairy industry, adjusted Qatar Airways’ flight patterns, deepened its ties with Turkey, and accepted shipments of food from Iran, especially in the early days of the blockade. The emir has also used the fact that not everyone in the region was on board with the four countries’ program to his own diplomatic advantage.

    The blockading nations, for their part, once they understood the Qataris would not knuckle under and accede to 13 demands they had laid out as a condition for ending the blockade, shifted to working toward Doha’s long-term isolation in the region. The conflict has thus settled into a pattern of each side indulging in various degrees of trolling via fake news, strategic leaks, and hacks to embarrass the other. At times the level of pettiness has barely approached middle school levels. Etihad Airways has, for example, removed the word “Qatar” from its moving map program; meanwhile, the repeated public dumps of the Emirati ambassador’s emails have taken on a vendetta quality.

    #nuit_torride #mesquineries
    #bagarre_de_cour_de_récréation (c’est pas moi qui le dit…)


  • The Perils of a Putsch in Venezuela – Foreign Policy
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/05/04/the-perils-of-a-putsch-in-venezuela

    Encouraging a coup in Caracas will give Russia and China a foothold in the United States’ backyard.
    BY BRIAN FONSECA

    In recent months, high-ranking U.S. officials have been signaling to Venezuelan military leaders that they have Washington’s blessing to take the reins in Caracas. In a February speech ahead of his trip to Latin America, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is often times that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad and the leadership can no longer serve the people.

    Others have been blunter. Just a few days after Tillerson’s remarks, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) took to Twitter to say that the world “would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator.” And earlier this week, in a speech at Florida International University, Juan Cruz, U.S. President Donald Trump’s special assistant and senior director for western hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council, urged “the military to respect the oath they took to perform their functions.
     
    Giving the green light for a military coup is not only bad for America’s image; it is also a threat to U.S. strategic interests.Giving the green light for a military coup is not only bad for America’s image; it is also a threat to U.S. strategic interests. That’s because encouraging a putsch in Venezuela could backfire and end up increasing Russian and Chinese influence in the Western Hemisphere.
    The U.S. officials praising the prospect of a military takeover seem to disregard the fact that U.S.-Venezuelan military relations are virtually nonexistent today. U.S. defense contacts with Venezuela declined sharply in the years following the rise of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 1999. Meanwhile, the Russians, Chinese, and Cubans have replaced the United States as the primary sources of financial, technical, and material support to the Venezuelan military. The mere threat of a coup in Venezuela could be enough to rally the military around hard-liners and compel U.S. rivals to consider their preferred alternatives to the Maduro regime as collapse becomes imminent. Rivals with economic, political, and geostrategic interests in Venezuela, such as Russia and China, are far better positioned than the United States to influence the Venezuelan military during any transition.

    Moscow and Beijing will be especially interested in cultivating ties with the top brass in Caracas if they sense that offering economic and political support to a new Venezuelan leadership could change the mineral-rich country’s trajectory from an economic basket case to an economically and politically stable authoritarian regime. In such a situation, Russia, China, and Cuba — in some formal or informal configuration — could abandon the flailing and ineffective leadership of President Nicolás Maduro and back a military regime in uncomfortably close geographic proximity to the United States.

    The current situation in Venezuela is untenable. Oil production is declining, public unrest is spreading, inflation is up nearly 13,000 percentage points in the last two months, and military and civilian elites are becoming increasingly dissatisfied. Moreover, other countries in Latin America that stood by Chavez in the past are now denouncing Maduro. Pressure for regime change is growing.


  • The #New_York_Times on Twitter: ‘Breaking News: The Senate easily confirmed Mike Pompeo as the nation’s 70th secretary of state, elevating the foreign policy hawk from CIA director https://t.co/63wBaqrbAn
    https://mobile.twitter.com/nytimes/status/989548207112892422

    Mehdi Hasan on Twitter: “This is why the liberal media fails minorities time and again. The problem with Pompeo isn’t just that he’s a ‘hawk’, it’s that he is a card-carrying #bigot and ally of the fringe far-right. https://t.co/c3C2rMxkke
    https://mobile.twitter.com/mehdirhasan/status/989556470046916608

    #euphemisme #MSM


  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 16
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM16.htm

    Stalin’s Party

    The days passed into weeks, the weeks into months. An incessant lapse of time in which there was no purpose, in which one only looked back and felt a great emptiness in the soul.

    Winter had come. The New Year of 1947 was approaching. In us Soviet men, who stood on the bound between two worlds, this aroused few cheerful memories and still fewer cheerful expectations. We had recently witnessed two noteworthy events: in the October there had been the first post-war elections to the Berlin municipal council, and in November the regular election of candidates to the Supreme Soviet of the U. S. S. R.

    The German elections aroused far greater interest among the Soviet residents in Berlin than one would have expected. Perhaps it was because they differed fundamentally from those to which we were accustomed. It was strange to see the pre-election slogans of the various parties. We were struck by the powerful and intelligent propaganda of the Socialist Unity Party. Here one sensed the long experience of Soviet propaganda; it was self-confident and shameless. We, who were the masters of the S. E. D. and knew what was behind it all, were particularly struck by this latter aspect.

    I well remember one incident that occurred during the Berlin elections. One Sunday morning I and two other officers decided to take advantage of the fine weather to go for a motorcycle ride. We borrowed three heavy military motorcycles from the Auto Battalion and tore out of Karlshorst along the Frankfurter-Allee.

    On our way to the Alexanderplatz we overtook a slowly marching column of men with crimson banners and flags in their hands. The demonstrators made an exceptionally depressing and joyless impression. Men in Thaelmann caps and red armbands were bustling backward and forward along its sides. We accelerated to drive past. It had been organized by the trade unions of the Soviet sector to express the wishes and desires of the German people. Attendance was compulsory. Any man who didn’t turn up was in danger of losing his job. It was pitiful and absurd to see this flock of sheep moving along under the supervision of the herdsmen in Thaelmann caps.

    I don’t know how it came about, but all the three of us Soviet officers began to ride our powerful military motorcycles round and round that column. The demonstrators looked at one another anxiously, assuming that we were a military patrol sent to ensure that the procession didn’t melt away. The herdsmen stared at us in astonishment, and as we drove close to the edge of the column they had to jump aside to avoid being knocked down. For our part, we were sickened at the sight of this shameful comedy, and on the other hand we enjoyed not having to take part in it ourselves for once.

    On that same day a Soviet patrol shot an American who was attempting to photograph a similar demonstration in the Soviet sector of Berlin. Evidently someone was of the opinion that such photographs might have the same effect on the close observer that that procession had made on us.

    The elections were held on 21 October. I have never known people in the Soviet Union to take any interest in the results of elections to the Soviet elected authorities. But on that election day in Berlin I doubt whether there was one man in Karlshorst who was not interested in the results. Most interesting of all was the fact that the S. E. D. came last but one of the parties. Not much was said about this eloquent circumstance.

    In the S. M. A. Administration for Industry the Berlin elections led to the following conversation between Captain Bagdassarian and Major Zhdanov:

    “You know,” Captain Bagdassarian said, as he pointed to the results printed in one of the newspapers, “when I think of these elections I get a queer thought. All the parties are voting. Supposing the Communist Party gets a majority. Does it mean that the others will let it take over the power?”

    “Yes, it looks like it,” Major Zhdanov answered uncertainly.

    “That’s funny! If the Communist Party comes to power, its first step will be to wring the necks of all the other parties. Yet these other parties are ready to give the power into the Communist Party’s hands without making any resistance. That doesn’t make sense!”

    “You can’t make sense of this democracy business all at once!” the major sighed.

    “It’s utter idiocy!” the captain agreed.

    “Perhaps it isn’t so stupid after all.” The major knitted his brows in the attempt to get to the bottom of it all. “Democracy as a political form is the will of the majority. If the majority votes for communism, there will be communism. True, very few are voting for it at the moment!” he ended on a different note.

    “All the same, it’s queer.” Captain Bagdassarian ran his fingers through his curly hair. “They all sling abuse at one another, but nobody puts anybody else into prison. But we do just the reverse: one says nothing and is put in prison. A man doesn’t even think, and still he’s put in prison...”

    In December 1946 the Officers’ Club in Karlshorst was the scene of electoral meetings at which candidates were nominated for the U. S. S. R. Supreme Soviet. On the day set apart for the Administration for Industry all the workers in the Administration had to be present in the Club, which had been decorated for the occasion with additional portraits of the leaders, and red bunting.

    We sat for some time in the hall, utterly bored. At last the chairman called on a speaker, who had been previously arranged. With a paper in his hand the speaker went to the platform and, speaking in a monotonous tone, began to explain how happy we all were that we ourselves could elect the representatives to our country’s supreme governmental authority. Then a further speaker went to the platform to propose our candidate from the Special Electoral District formed by the Soviet Occupation Zone.

    Then the candidate himself came out from the wings and told us his life story. He was a general, but I doubt whether he had ever spoken in such a humble and lackadaisical manner in his entire previous military career. The second candidate was someone quite unknown to all of us. We knew such a person existed only when he went to the platform not from the wings, but from the body of the hall. He was chosen to play the role of candidate ’from the very heart of the people’. Both candidates had been put forward in advance by the S. M. A. Political Administration and had been approved by Moscow.

    We all waited impatiently for this boring procedure to finish, especially as it was to be followed by a film show. When the chairman announced that he proposed to take the vote the hall sighed with relief, and everybody hurriedly raised their hands without waiting to be invited. Armed with pencils and paper, the tellers hurried through the hall. The audience began to murmur with impatience. At last the votes were counted, and the chairman asked in a drowsy tone: “Those against?”

    There was a dead silence. Nobody stirred.

    The chairman waited for a moment or two, then looked round the hall. Then, to intensify the effect of the unanimous decision, he asked in a tone of assumed surprise: “Nobody against?”

    And thus we elected two men ’chosen of the people’ to the U. S. S. R. Supreme Soviet.

    The turn of the year brought several innovations that made one take yet another glance back over the eighteen months that had passed since the capitulation of Germany.

    In the early autumn of 1946 the United States Secretary of State, Byrnes, had made a speech in Stuttgart, soberly surveying events since the end of the war and indicating the main features of American foreign policy. Only now, after eighteen months, were the Americans beginning to suspect that it was hard to sup out of the same bowl as good old Uncle Joe.

    Byrne’s’ speech was not to the Kremlin’s liking, and it was given a sharp answer in Molotov’s speech on the occasion of the revolutionary celebrations on 7 November. So much importance was attached to this speech that it was made the subject of compulsory study in all the political study circles throughout the S. M. A.

    There was no attempt to conceal the connection between the Byrnes and Molotov speeches from the senior officials of the S. M. A.; the two speeches were studied simultaneously, and those taking part in the discussion had to unmask the American’s imperialist intrigues and to stress Molotov’s peace-loving policy. But Byrne’s’ speech was regarded as too dangerous for the less politically educated workers, and they were allowed to discuss only their own leader’s speech.

    These two political speeches can be regarded as marking the beginning of the cold war. In the Control Commission Allied relations cooled off still more and went no further than diplomatic courtesy required. Decisions affecting the future of Germany were more and more removed from the Control Commission meetings to the private offices of the Kremlin and the White House.

    This situation also served as a signal for a final tightening of the screw on the Soviet post-war front. The S. M. A. Political Administration issued an instruction accusing minor Party authorities of having lost contact with the masses and neglecting political educational work. This was the crack of the whip. One could guess what would follow. In fact the first consequence was a change of Party organizers in all the S. M. A. departments. This was followed by measures to tighten things up all through the Soviet machinery.

    Hitherto the Soviet residents of Karlshorst had lived and worked without engaging in political study. Anybody who knows anything about Soviet life will know what that meant. The higher authorities were secretly astonished, the smaller fry quietly rejoiced; but one and all held their tongues, on the principle of not mentioning the devil in case he appeared. But now political studies were started, including study of the Short History of the C. P. S. U. And it had to be carried through in shock tempo at that. Evidently to make up for lost time.

    The next step was a campaign to raise labor discipline. It was decided to remind Soviet citizens abroad that there was such a thing as the Soviet labor code. Brand-new boards with hooks and numbers were hung up in all the departments, and every worker in each department had to take off and re-hang his own allotted number four times a day. In the Soviet Union these boards are the object of fear, but their effect on us was rather to get our backs up.

    The head of the Administration for Industry, Alexandrov, entrusted his number to his chauffeur, who very quickly lost it. We officers regarded the boards as an insult and took it in turn to remove several numbers at a time. But once more Soviet law with all its consequences hung as a threat over the head of every one of us.

    Then a hysterical ’vigilance’ campaign was inaugurated. Personnel Departments were instituted in all the S. M. A. offices with the obvious job of keeping closer watch on the workers. Once more extensive questionnaires were drawn up ’for Soviet citizens abroad’. These with their endless list of questions had to be filled afresh every three months. Many of us kept a copy of the questionnaire and our answers, and next time simply copied the old answers on to the new form.

    A demobilized lieutenant of the N. K. V. D. forces was appointed head of the Personnel Department in the Administration for Industry. From the very beginning he behaved with such rudeness and insolence that many of the officers, who were of higher rank, were infuriated. His room was in the basement, and he would ring someone up: “Comrade Colonel, come down to me and fill in your questionnaire.” But as often as not he got the answer: “If you need it filled in, bring it up to me. At the moment I’m still a colonel, I believe.”

    An order issued by General Dratvin, chief of staff of the S. M. A., was circulated for the information of all members of the S. M. A. In it, without actually mentioning names, he stated that the wives of quite a number of highly placed Soviet officials were going to the Berlin western sector while their husbands were at work, and were forming impermissible acquaintances among officers of the western powers. The order spoke in very sharp terms; it referred to fashionable restaurants, expensive furs, and, to crown all, agents of foreign intelligence services. All the accused women were returned to the Soviet Union at twenty-four hours’ notice, and the husbands were sternly reprimanded for their lack of Bolshevik vigilance.

    The secret purpose of this unusually frank order was revealed in its second paragraph, in which all members of the S. M. A. were strictly forbidden to visit the western sector, and were reminded of the necessity to be particularly vigilant in the circumstances of residence abroad. The women were chastised in order to serve as a warning to others.

    In conclusion General Dratvin threatened the application of sterner measures to all who violated the order... down to and including return to the Soviet Union. In saying so much, the general went too far. For thus officially, in the words of the S. M. A. chief of staff, return to one’s native land was recognized as serious punishment for Soviet citizens abroad.

    None of this was anything new to us. We had experienced it all before, at home. But coming after we had won the war, after we had looked forward hopefully to changes in the Soviet system, and above all after our comparatively free life in occupied Germany, this abrupt return to former practices gave us furiously to think. Or rather, to avoid thinking if possible. That was the only hope.

    II

    I had made Major Dubov’s acquaintance during the war. Even a brief comradeship at the front binds men together more strongly than many years of acquaintance in normal conditions. That may have been the reason why we greeted each other as old acquaintances when we met again as fellow workers in the S. M. A

    He was over forty. Outwardly stern and incommunicative, he had few friends, and avoided society. At first I regarded his reserve simply as a trait of his character. But after a time I noticed that he had a morbid antipathy to anybody who began to talk politics in his hearing. I assumed that he had good reasons for his attitude, and never bothered him with unnecessary questions.

    It so happened that I was the only person Dubov introduced to his family. He had a charming, well-educated wife, and two children. When I came to know his family, I realized that he was not only a good husband and father, but also a rarely decent fellow morally.

    His one great passion was hunting. That brought us still closer together. We often drove out of Berlin on a Saturday and spent all day and all night hunting, cut off from Karlshorst and the entire world.

    On one occasion, tired out after hours of wandering through the dense growth of thickets and innumerable little lakes, we flung ourselves down to have a rest. The conversation happened to turn to discussion of an officer we both knew, and I casually remarked: “He’s still young and stupid...”

    The major gave me a close look and asked with a queer smile:

    “And are you so old and wise?”

    “Well, not quite,” I answered. “But I’ve learned to keep a still tongue in my head.”

    He again looked at me fixedly. “Tell me, has anything ever happened to you... of... you know what?”

    “Absolutely nothing,” I replied, realizing what he was hinting at.

    “Then why aren’t you in the Party?” he asked almost roughly.

    “I’ve simply not had the time,” I answered shortly, for I had no wish to go further into details.

    ’Now listen, Gregory Petrovich, it’s not a joking matter," he said slowly, and I caught an almost fatherly note in his voice. “For a man in your position it smacks almost of a deliberate demonstration. It might even have serious consequences for you.”

    “I’m doing my job as well as any Party man!” I retorted.

    He smiled, rather sadly. “That’s how I argued once,” he said with bitter irony.

    Then, without my prompting him, in an objective sort of tone he told me his story: how he had come to join the Party, and why he avoided people who talked politics.

    In 1938 Dubov was an engineer working in a Leningrad factory producing precision instruments. He was a capable engineer, and held a responsible post connected with the construction of instruments for the air force and the navy. He liked his job, devoted all his free time to research, and bothered little about politics. Despite his responsible post he remained a non-Party man.

    One day he was summoned to the director’s room. From that moment he was not seen in the works again. Nor did he return home. His wife found out what had happened to him when the N. K. V. D. men turned up at their apartment in the middle of the night, made a thorough search, and confiscated all her husband’s personal property. Next day she went to the N. K. V. D. to ask for news of him. She was told they knew nothing about him, and was advised not to worry, nor to worry others. If there were any need, she would be informed.

    Dubov spent more than a year in the investigation cells of the N. K. V. D. He was charged with sabotage and counter-revolutionary activity. The sentence was the standard one: ten years’ imprisonment, to be spent in one of the camps in Central Siberia, where new war factories were being built. There he continued to work as an engineer.

    He discovered the real reason for his arrest only two years later. Among a fresh batch of prisoners he recognized the former chief engineer at the Leningrad factory for precision instruments. Dubov was delighted to see him, but the man seemed restrained and avoided Dubov as much as possible. But as the months passed the two engineers struck up a friendship based on their common memories of freedom. One day the conversation turned to the reasons why they had been sent to the camp.

    “Someone denounced me,” Dubov said.

    The chief engineer looked away, then sighed, and laughed bitterly. “Would you like to know who it was?” he asked.

    Dubov stared at him distrustfully.

    “I did it,” the other man said, and hurried on without giving Dubov a chance to comment: “We regularly received orders from the N. K. V. D. to provide them with so many persons possessing such and such qualifications. The lists had to be drawn up by the Party organizer and confirmed by the chief engineer and the director. What could I do? I too had a wife and children....”

    “But why was I put on the list?” Dubov asked.

    “Because you were not a Party member,” the former chief engineer said. “The Party organizer put you down.”

    Dubov said nothing for some time, then he looked wearily at the other man and asked: “But how did you get here?”

    The engineer only shrugged his shoulders helplessly.

    Dubov spent four years in the camp. But during all those years he did not suffer as much as his wife and children. Under Soviet law a political prisoner’s guilt extends to include his family. His wife was morally and physically shattered. Their children grew up in the knowledge that their father was ’an enemy of the people’, and felt always that they were not like other children.

    In 1948 he was released before the expiration of his term. With no explanation given, he was completely rehabilitated and the conviction quashed. He was called up straight from the camp into the army. That was the real reason for his premature discharge. Without seeing his family he went as an officer directly to the front.

    At the front he was an exemplary officer, just as he had been an exemplary engineer in Leningrad and an exemplary prisoner in the Siberian camp. He was just to his men and ruthless to the enemy. And he was devoted to his native land, with all its Party organizers and prison camps.

    Shortly before the end of the war he received another battle decoration, and in addition was singled out for the honor of being invited to join the Communist Party. This time he did not hesitate. Without a word he filled in the questionnaires. And without a word he accepted the Party ticket, which the corps commander’s political deputy presented to him.

    In the S. M. A. Major Dubov was regarded as one of their most reliable and knowledgeable engineers. He was given the responsible task of transferring the German industry in the Soviet zone to new lines, but his rank and position remained unchanged. Why? Because, although he had been completely rehabilitated and the conviction had been quashed, in his personal file was a curt note: ’Conviction under article 58.’ That was enough to cast a shadow over all his future life.

    III

    During my stay in Karlshorst I formed a close friendship with Captain Belyavsky. Little by little I came to know his story too, though he talked about himself very reluctantly, and only dropped hints. In 1936 Belyavsky was in Spain, where he was a lieutenant in the staff of the Republican forces. This was about the time that the Yezhov terror was at its height in the Soviet Union, and one night his father was arrested, to vanish without trace. Belyavsky was immediately recalled from Spain and demobilized. Until 1941 he shared the fate of other relatives of ’enemies of the people’; in other words, he was outside the pale.

    All those spheres of Soviet life in which the first requirement is a completed questionnaire were closed to him. Only a Soviet citizen can understand all the significance of such a situation. When war broke out in 1941 he was not called up for the army, since he was ’politically unreliable’. But when the German forces began to lay siege to his native city, Leningrad, he went to the military commander and volunteered for service. His request was granted, and that same day, as an ordinary private, he was flung into the fight - in a punitive battalion. In other words, straight to his death. But fate was more merciful to him than the Soviet regime, and he escaped with a wound.

    He spent the next three years as an ordinary soldier, going right through the siege of Leningrad. His service was exemplary, and he was recommended again and again for officer’s rank, but each time the questionnaire put an end to the story. In 1944, when the Soviet armies were suffering from a very serious shortage of officers, he was summoned to the staff once more.

    The colonel who interviewed him pointed to the entry: ’article 58’ on his questionnaire and asked: “Why do you always mention that?”

    Belyavsky did not reply.

    “Is it that you don’t want to fight?” the colonel asked sharply; he avoided looking at the decorations on Belyavsky’s chest. Belyavsky only shrugged his shoulders. The decorations rattled a little, as though answering the colonel’s question.

    “If you continue to make such entries, I must regard it as an attempt to avoid military service,” the colonel said. “Take a new form and fill it in properly. Leave a space for your service rank.”

    Private Mikhail Belyavsky did not return to his company. But next day First-Lieutenant Belyavsky was on his way to Moscow. In his pocket he had an order to proceed to the Military-Diplomatic College of the Red Army General Staff. Men were needed in wartime, and there was no bothering about a thorough examination of questionnaires. There would be plenty of opportunity for that after the war. And so Mikhail Belyavsky entered one of the most privileged military colleges in the Soviet Union.

    He was discharged from the college in the autumn of 1945 with the rank of captain, and was sent to work in the Soviet Military Administration. That was nothing extraordinary. Many of the students were freed from further study even in the middle of their second-year course, in order to take up a post.

    Captain Belyavsky’s personal file, which was kept in the S. M. A. Personnel Department, was in spotless order. All through his documents the phrase occurred again and again: ’Devoted to the Lenin-Stalin Party’. That was a stereotyped remark and was to be found in almost every officer’s personal file, but it was truer of him than of the majority.

    Certain days were set apart for political instruction, and on one of these days Belyavsky went to his office two hours earlier, as was his custom, and unfolded his papers. The educational circle to which he belonged was of a rather higher level, for it consisted exclusively of men with advanced education. With earnest faces they pored over the pages of the Short Course, though they must have known that the book was full of lies and falsifications.

    The leader of the circle, who normally was one of themselves, began proceedings by asking:

    “Well, who’s prepared to open on the third chapter? Any volunteers?”

    They all bowed their heads even lower over their books. Some of them began to turn over their papers hurriedly; others fixed their eyes on the table as though collecting their thoughts with a view to speaking later. There was no volunteer.

    “All right, then we’ll follow the list,” the leader proposed. There was a sigh of relief.

    The majority of the circle leaders kept alphabetical lists of their circle members. Each member knew whom he followed. And so the question was settled quite simply. The first on the list began to deliver a summary of the chapter, while the one who was to follow him read farther, underlining passages with red pencil. In this way the majority of circles got through their course without difficulty.

    All the members of Belyavsky’s circle had worked through the Short Course several times already. They were all bored to tears. When each had done his duty he sat gazing out of the window, smoking, or sharpening his pencil.

    Everything went off as usual. The speakers droned away monotonously. The leader sat with his eyes on his notebook, not even listening. It was a hot day, and everybody felt sleepy. And in that drowsy kingdom something happened to Captain Belyavsky that he himself would have had difficulty in explaining.

    When his turn was reached he had to expatiate on the passage which deals with the Entente’s three anti-Soviet campaigns. The theme had a heroic quality and there were parallels to the experiences of the war just ended. As soon as Belyavsky began to speak the leader raised his sleepy eyes and stared at him in astonishment. And one by one all the others began to gaze at him in bewilderment.

    For he spoke as though addressing a meeting. His voice had a note of unusual conviction. It sounded a note of faith, of challenge. He depicted the three foreign interventions in Soviet Russia after the 1917 revolution, and cleverly linked them up with the invasion and destruction of the Nazi armies in 1941-1945. He did not summarize the Short Course; he spoke extemporaneously, from a heart burning with conviction. The bewildered looks of his fellows expressed the mute question: ’Has he gone mad? Why all this unnecessary bother?’

    It happened that the circle that day included the Instructor from the S. M. A. Political Administration, who was there as observer. Belyavsky’s speech attracted his notice; obviously he had not often heard anyone speak with conviction in these circles for political education. He made a note of the name. Next day Belyavsky was summoned to the Political Administration.

    “Listen, Comrade Captain,” the instructor said to him. "I’m amazed at you. I’ve been looking through your personal file. An exemplary officer, the finest of testimonials, and yet you’re not a Party member. That simply won’t do. The Party must interest itself in men like you...

    “No, no, no...” he raised his hand, as though afraid Belyavsky might make some objection. “You made a very remarkable speech in the political circle yesterday... And yet you’ve never been drawn into Party work. We shall assign you to the task of giving political instruction to the officers’ wives. That to begin with. And secondly, you must put in your application for Party membership at once. No objections! Get that?”

    Belyavsky had no thought of objecting. Membership of the Party connoted a full and valid position in Soviet society. His heart was filled with joy; he shook the instructor’s hand with genuine gratitude.

    The November revolutionary celebrations were drawing near. In addition to having charge of a political education circle, Belyavsky was entrusted with the preparations for the festival. He plunged headlong into social and political activity and devoted all his free time to it. Spiritually he was born again. But above all he rejoiced because the Party had forgotten his past, because he was no longer a lone wolf. Only now did he fully realize how bitterly he had felt his alienation from society.

    Just about then an insignificant incident occurred which had unexpected consequences.

    Belyavsky was a keen motorcyclist. While working in the S. M. A. he had had innumerable specimens of motorcycles pass through his hands, and in the end he had picked on a very fine BMW sports model for himself. All Karlshorst knew that machine, and many a young officer stood to admire it as it flashed by.

    One evening, as he was riding past the house where Valia Grinchuk lived, he saw a light in her rooms, and decided to drop in and see her. He leaned the motorcycle against the railings, but did not lock it up, as was his habit, for he did not intend to stay long.

    Valia had guests, the company was a merry one, and he stayed longer than he thought. He left about ten o’clock. When he got outside his motorcycle had disappeared. He looked about him, thinking someone must be playing a practical joke. But there was no sign of it anywhere.

    He broke into a string of curses. Obviously someone had stolen the machine. But what infuriated him most was the knowledge that the thief must be one of his own, Soviet, people. No Berlin thief would ever have dared to take anything from Karlshorst, least of all a motorcycle.

    The Karlshorst commandatura was only a few paces away. He went and reported the theft to the officer on duty. The lieutenant sympathized with him and promised to find out whether the theft had been committed by one of the commandatura guards. He knew well enough who were responsible for the majority of the thefts that took place in Karlshorst.

    Belyavsky had no great faith in the commandatura, and he decided to go straight to a German police station situated just outside the sealed-off Soviet area. He returned accompanied by a German policeman and a police dog. At the spot where the motorcycle had been left the policeman put the dog on the scent. It made directly for the next wicket gate and began to paw at it.

    Belyavsky knew that the Party organizer for the Administration of Justice, Major Yeroma, and his deputy, Major Nikolayev, lived there, and he thought the dog was completely on the wrong trail. But each time they tried out the animal it persistently led them to that wicket gate. In the end Belyavsky shrugged his shoulders hopelessly and let the German policeman go.

    Next day he happened to be passing the gate at which the dog had pawed, and he decided to go in and make inquiries. He found four young women sitting in the sitting room. One of them was the wife of Major Nikolayev; another was the wife of the head of the S. M. A. Political Administration, General Makarov.

    All the women were rather problematic wives, wives only within the bounds of Karlshorst. Almost all the high S. M. A. officials had exceptionally young wives. Marshal Sokolovsky’s wife was several years younger than his daughter was. Such things were the result of the war.

    Belyavsky apologized for troubling them, explained why he had called, and inquired whether they had noticed anything suspicious the previous evening. They exchanged embarrassed glances and expressed their indignation at the theft. They seemed bored, and they invited him to stay awhile. Quite an animated conversation followed, a conversation, which played a large part in the further developments, chiefly because he made a very good impression on those young women.

    After searching fruitlessly for a week he had resigned himself to | the loss of his favorite machine, when one evening he was called | to the telephone. He was astonished to hear a woman’s voice

    “Is that Comrade Captain Belyavsky?” the unknown asked, and went on hurriedly: “You mustn’t mind my not mentioning my name. I I’m one of the ladies who... you remember, you called to inquire | about the motorcycle.... I phoned up to let you know that your machine is in the cellar of the house you called at. Go at once and you’ll find it. You can guess who took it.... Please don’t tell anybody how you found out. I wouldn’t like...”

    He hurriedly thanked her and put down the receiver. He sat for a moment considering what he should do next. For the thief could be no other than the S. M. A. Party organizer for the Administration of Justice, Yeroma himself. Finally he decided to ask a Lieutenant-Colonel Potapov and Major Berko to go with him as witnesses. On their way to Major Yeroma’s house they picked up the officer on duty at the commandatura.

    Major Yeroma was not at home. At the commandatura officer’s request the cellar was opened. There they found the missing motorcycle. The commandatura officer drew up an official report on the theft and discovery of the machine. In his simplicity he wrote: ’The thief is Major Yeroma, of the Administration of Justice, and Party organizer to the Administration of Justice.’ The report was signed by all the witnesses, including Major Yeroma’s wife.

    As the four officers struggled to haul the heavy machine up the stairs, between their groans and pants the officer could not help remarking: “One man couldn’t have got it down there by himself. He must have had at least two others to help him.”

    It transpired that the day the machine was stolen Major Yeroma was returning late in the evening from the Political Administration, accompanied by two other officers of the Administration of Justice. As he approached his house the Major noticed the machine and, without stopping to think, persuaded the other two officers to help him put it in his cellar. Probably it would not have been found if Belyavsky hadn’t chanced to call on the young women.

    They knew that Major Yeroma had got hold of a motorcycle the previous evening, but they had no idea where he had obtained it. When Belyavsky told his story they put two and two together, but they did not tell him what they were thinking, for obvious reasons. After he had gone they quarreled among themselves. The young wife of the head of the Political Administration took Belyavsky’s side and declared that the machine must be returned to him.

    In his indignation he decided to take steps to bring the culprits to justice. He wrote reports of the affair to General Dratvin, the S. M. A. chief of staff, to the Political Administration, and the S. M. A. Military Prosecutor. If justice were done, Major Yeroma should be expelled from the Party, stripped of his officer’s rank and sentenced to imprisonment for theft. So the law prescribed.

    When Major Berko heard what Belyavsky intended to do he advised him not to be in any hurry. A charge against Yeroma involved much else besides him, and in such cases it was advisable to be prudent. He suggested that Belyavsky should first go and see Yeroma personally, and they decided to call on him during lunchtime.

    They found him at home. He was sitting at the table, with his tunic unbuttoned and unbelted. Before him was an aluminum dish of steaming beetroot soup. He did not even look up when the visitors were shown in, but went on spooning up his soup.

    “Well, Yeroma,” Belyavsky said, “how did my motor-cycle get into your cellar?”

    “I found it,” the major answered with his mouth full of food, and not batting an eyelid.

    “I shall send a report to the Political Administration.” Belyavsky was so taken aback by the Party organizer’s impudence that he didn’t know what else to say.

    Yeroma went on eating, or rather guzzling his soup; the sweat rolled down his face. When he had finished the dish he picked it up and poured the last few drops into his spoon. Then he licked the spoon and smacked his lips.

    “You’ll never make any impression on him with a report,” Berko said in a rage. “Spit in his plate and let’s go!” They went, slamming the door behind them. The same evening Belyavsky went to the office of the head of the Political Administration and handed the adjutant on duty his report. While the adjutant was reading it with some interest General Makarov himself came out of his room.

    “Another case relating to Yeroma, Comrade General,” the adjutant reported with a smile.

    “Ah! That’s good!” the general observed. “He’s already on our list for bigamy...”

    The adjutant afterwards explained to Belyavsky that, following his superiors’ example; Yeroma had taken a new wife to himself. But in doing so he had made one tactical error: unlike others, he had registered his marriage at the Soviet register office in Karlshorst. But he had not taken the trouble to obtain a divorce from his first wife, who was in Russia.

    Belyavsky then went to the S. M. A. military prosecutor, Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov. Orlov knew Belyavsky personally, and he told him frankly: “We can’t take him to court. In this case it all depends on the Political Administration. You know yourself it’s a Party matter.”

    If Belyavsky had had more experience in Party matters, he would probably have avoided measuring his strength against the Party. Meanwhile, the Political Administration had received a resolution from a local Party group recommending Captain Belyavsky’s acceptance as a Party member. His application was accompanied by brilliant testimonials to his conduct during the war. But now the affair of the stolen motorcycle was beginning to be talked about all over Karlshorst. In order to smother the scandal the Political Administration decided that it must close the mouth of one of the two antagonists, and the choice fell on Belyavsky.

    Quite unexpectedly he received the order that he was to be demobilized and returned to the Soviet Union. He knew at once what was behind that order. What he did not know was that on his return he was to be brought to trial. The explanation was quite simple. Not long before the motorcycle incident he had filled up one of the regular questionnaires. This time, in accordance with new, strict instructions, it was sent to the local M. V. D. departments in all his previous places of residence, to be checked. It was returned from Leningrad with the comment: ’father sentenced under article 58.’ So he was demobilized and sent back to the U. S. S. R., where he was tried for making a false statement which he had been forced into making under threat of court-martial.

    Belyavsky’s collision with the Party in the person of Major Yeroma was not a decisive factor in his recall to the Soviet Union. He belonged to a category of people whose fate was predetermined. That was shown by the fact that almost at the same time Major Dubov also was demobilized and recalled. Only the S. M. A. Personnel Department and Major Dubov himself knew what was behind that order. He, too, had to take his postwar place in life.

    IV

    Two men in my close circle of acquaintances had been cut out of life and thrown overboard. I respected them as men and liked them as colleagues. Others, too, thought of them as fine exemplars of the new Soviet society. Neither of them had anything in common with the old classes, which, according to Marxism, were destined to be eliminated. They had both been created by the Soviet world and were, in the best sense of the words, true citizens of Soviet society. Yet they were condemned, irrevocably condemned to death. To spiritual death at the least. And there are millions of similar cases.

    That can easily be proved. During the thirty years of the Soviet regime at least thirty million people have been subjected to repressive measures on political grounds. As the families of all such people are automatically classified as politically unreliable, if we assume that each of them had only two relatives at least sixty million people must be on the black list.

    If ten million out of the thirty million died in prison camps, and at least another ten million are still in the camps, while ten million have served their time and been released, we get a figure of eighty million people whom the Soviet State has turned into its enemies, or, at least, regards as its enemies. That explains why in every section of the Soviet state apparatus there are personnel departments charged with the scrutiny and check of questionnaires. Today it is indubitable that the main class of the new Soviet society consists of millions of automatic enemies of the Soviet State.

    This invisible class of enemies who are also slaves permeates all society from top to bottom. Is it necessary to cite examples? One could mention the names of many marshals of the Soviet Union, as well as Stalin prize-winners, who have been in N. K. V. D. prisons; and these would be names known all over the world. Of the millions of petty collisions between State and individual who can speak?

    State and individual! Involuntarily I think of Valia Grinchuk, an undersized girl, and a partisan fighter who in the fight for her freedom took up arms. She fought bravely. She not only defended her freedom against the foreign enemy; she climbed the ladder of Soviet society. She raised herself out of the gray mass and became an individual. And hardly had she achieved this when she felt the heavy hand of the State.

    Her duties often took her to the Allied Control Commission. There she came to know a young Allied officer. There could be no outward objection to this acquaintance, as she visited the Control Commission in the course of her work. After some time the acquaintance developed into a personal friendship.

    One day she was summoned to the Party organization. She was given to understand quite amiably that the Party knew of her acquaintance with an Allied officer. To her astonishment, that was all that was said, and it seemed that the Party leaders were quite sympathetic in regard to the friendship. Some time later this incident was repeated, and she had the impression that they were even encouraging the acquaintance.

    Time passed and this friendship between a Soviet girl and an Allied officer developed into a genuine attachment. But now she was once more summoned to the Party organization, and, as a Party member, was confronted with the demand to harness her love to State interests.

    Next day she was taken to hospital. The doctors found she had a very high temperature and blood pressure, but could find no visible reason for her condition. Weeks passed without any change for the better.

    One day an elderly, experienced neuro-pathologist came to her ward, studied her case history, and shook his head as he asked her: “Have you met with any great unpleasantness... in your personal life?”

    “No!” she curtly replied.

    She spent more than two months in hospital. When she was discharged she applied on health grounds to be transferred to work which did not bring her into contact with the Control Commission. Through acquaintances she informed her lover that she had been recalled to Russia. Valia had the heart of a soldier.

    Only very few people knew the connection between these incidents. Everybody continued to regard her as a fine officer who was assiduously doing her duty in Soviet society. And only a few noticed that she began to leave off wearing her officer’s tunic with its decorations, and took to ordinary feminine clothes.

    All these things happened to people who were close acquaintances of mine. They affected me personally because sooner or later I, too, would have to join the Party. There was no other choice, except to face up to a future, which for Major Dubov and Captain Belyavsky had become the present.

    Today there is no Communist Party in the Soviet Union. There is only Stalin’s Party with its obsolete facade. The aim and end of that Party is power, indivisible power. The ideal Party member should not have any independent thought; he must be only a dumb executive of the higher will. A striking example is provided by Party organizer Major Yeroma, a bestial brute and an ideal Bolshevik of the Stalin school.

    I was wearing Soviet officer’s uniform and I was a child of the October Revolution. If I had been born twenty years earlier, I would perhaps have been a convinced Marxist and revolutionary, active in the October Revolution. Today, despite everything, I was still not a member of the Communist Party. If I had not been faced with the necessity, the indubitable necessity, it would never even have entered my head to join the Party, which was called the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide


  • Israel Kills Palestinians and Western Liberals Shrug. Their Humanitarianism Is a Sham.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/04/02/israel-killing-palestine-civilian-liberal-humanitarian

    So, where is the outcry from liberal interventionists across the West? Where is BHL, as Palestinians are being shot and wounded in the hundreds in 2018?

    Where is the call from former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose 1999 speech in Chicago defending the concept of a “just war” and a “doctrine of the international community” became a key text for liberal interventionists, for a “no-fly” zone over Gaza? Why does a guest speaker at Ariel Sharon’s funeral have nothing to say about the increasing number of Palestinian funerals?

    Where is the moral outrage from former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, the famously pro-intervention, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a “A Problem From Hell,” which lamented U.S. inaction in Rwanda, over the sheer number of unarmed Palestinians shot, killed, and injured in recent days? How does she have time to retweet a picture of an elephant and a lion cub, but not to make a statement about the violence in Gaza?

    Where is the demand from Canadian academic-turned-politician Michael Ignatieff, who was once one of the loudest voices in favor of the so-called responsibility to protect doctrine, for peacekeeping troops to be deployed to the Occupied Territories?

    Where are the righteously angry op-eds from Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, or Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, or David Aaronovitch of The Times of London, demanding concrete action against the human rights abusers of the IDF?

    And where is the appeal from former U.S. Secretary of State and arch-interventionist Madeleine Albright for economic and financial sanctions against the state of Israel? For an arms embargo? For travel bans on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Lieberman, and IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot?

    Their silence is deafening — and telling. Palestinians, it seems, have been so dehumanized that they don’t deserve a humanitarian intervention


  • Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia: Top three stunning admissions from the top U.S. general in the Middle East

    Assad has won, Iran deal should stand and Saudis use American weapons without accountability in Yemen: head of U.S. military’s Central Command’s stunning Congressional testimony

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/top-three-stunning-admissions-from-the-top-u-s-general-in-the-region-1.5910

    Haaretz and Reuters Mar 16, 2018

    The top U.S. general in the Middle East testified before Congress on Tuesday and dropped several bombshells: from signaled support for the Iran nuclear deal, admitting the U.S. does not know what Saudi Arabia does with its bombs in Yemen and that Assad has won the Syrian Civil War.
    U.S. Army General Joseph Votel said the Iran agreement, which President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from, has played an important role in addressing Iran’s nuclear program.
    “The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran, so if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program,” said U.S. Army General Joseph Votel. JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is the formal name of the accord reached with Iran in July 2015 in Vienna.
    Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the accord between Tehran and six world powers unless Congress and European allies help “fix” it with a follow-up pact. Trump does not like the deal’s limited duration, among other things.
    Votel is head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iran. He was speaking to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the same day that Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after a series of public rifts over policy, including Iran.
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    Tillerson had joined Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in pressing a skeptical Trump to stick with the agreement with Iran.
    “There would be some concern (in the region), I think, about how we intended to address that particular threat if it was not being addressed through the JCPOA. ... Right now, I think it is in our interest” to stay in the deal, Votel said.

    When a lawmaker asked whether he agreed with Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford’s position on the deal,Votel said: “Yes, I share their position.”
    Mattis said late last year that the United States should consider staying in the Iran nuclear deal unless it was proven Tehran was not complying or that the agreement was not in the U.S. national interest.
    A collapse of the Iran nuclear deal would be a “great loss,” the United Nations atomic watchdog’s chief warned Trump recently, giving a wide-ranging defense of the accord.
    Iran has stayed within the deal’s restrictions since Trump took office but has fired diplomatic warning shots at Washington in recent weeks. It said on Monday that it could rapidly enrich uranium to a higher degree of purity if the deal collapsed.
    Syria
    Votel also discussed the situation in Syria at the hearing.
    During the Syrian army’s offensive in eastern Ghouta, more than 1,100 civilians have died. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by Russia and Iran, say they are targeting “terrorist” groups shelling the capital.
    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned on Monday that Washington “remains prepared to act if we must,” if the U.N. Security Council failed to act on Syria.
    Votel said the best way to deter Russia, which backs Assad, was through political and diplomatic channels.
    “Certainly if there are other things that are considered, you know, we will do what we are told. ... (But) I don’t recommend that at this particular point,” Votel said, in an apparent to reference to military options.
    Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked whether it was too strong to say that with Russia and Iran’s help, Assad had “won” the civil war in Syria.
    “I do not think that is too strong of a statement,” Votel said.
    Graham also asked if the United States’ policy on Syria was still to seek the removal of Assad from power.
    “I don’t know that that’s our particular policy at this particular point. Our focus remains on the defeat of ISIS,” Votel said, using an acronym for Islamic State. 
    Saudi Arabia
    In a stunning exchange with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, Votel admitted that Centcom doesn’t know when U.S. fuel and munitions are used in Yemen. 
    “General Votel, does CENTCOM track the purpose of the missions it is refueling? In other words, where a U.S.-refueled aircraft is going, what targets it strikes, and the result of the mission?” Warren asked.
    “Senator, we do not,” Votel replied.
    The Senator followed up, citing reports that U.S. munitions have been used against civilians in Yemen, she asked, “General Votel, when you receive reports like this from credible media organizations or outside observers, is CENTCOM able to tell if U.S. fuel or U.S. munitions were used in that strike?”
    “No, senator, I don’t believe we are,” he replied.
    Showing surprise at the general’s response, Warren concluded, “We need to be clear about this: Saudi Arabia’s the one receiving American weapons and American support. And that means we bear some responsibility here. And that means we need to hold our partners and our allies accountable for how those resources are used,” she said.


  • New U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a hawkish history on Iran and Israel - U.S. News - Haaretz.com

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-new-u-s-secretary-of-state-mike-pompeo-has-a-hawkish-history-on-ir

    In November 2015, Pompeo visited Israel and met with Netanyahu, a meeting which he said left a strong impression on him. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a true partner of the American people,” Pompeo said after their discussion at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “Our conversation was incredibly enlightening as to the true threats facing both Israel and the United States. Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons are incredibly admirable and deeply appreciated.”
    During the same visit, Pompeo met senior officers in the Israeli police and was briefed by them on the “lone wolves Intifada” that included dozens of stabbing and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians across the country. A statement by his office described the Israeli police officers he met as “a group of officers who not only bravely defend the people each day, but have also been targeted themselves by terrorists.” Pompeo said that “by putting on their uniform, the men and women of the Israeli National Police put a target on their back for terrorists who want to murder law enforcement. In the fight against terrorism, cooperation between Israel and the United States has never been more important.”
    Two weeks after his visit, Pompeo released a statement condemning “the ongoing violence in the State of Israel,” explaining that “I can tell you that the Israeli people and the Israeli National Police are demonstrating admirable restraint in the face of unspeakably cruel attacks.” He added that "We cannot let these acts of terror go on any longer. Those who carry out, encourage, or defend this violence should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We must stand with our ally Israel and put a stop to terrorism. Ongoing attacks by the Palestinians serve only to distance the prospect of peace.


  • Pompeo, Big Oil and the attack on Iran Deal | Informed Comment
    https://www.juancole.com/2018/03/pompeo-attack-iran.html

    By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –
    All you need to know about Mike Pompeo, the four-term congressman from Kansas who is actually from California, is that most of his life he has been in business with the Koch brothers. His appointment as Secretary of State puts a seal on Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accords.
    More dangerously, Trump was straightforward that he put Pompeo in to replace Rex Tillerson in order to destroy the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action treaty between the United Nations Security Council and Iran.
    Pompeo, despite his obvious brilliance, appears to be driven by profound currents of anger, resentment and vindictiveness, and to be unable to feel remorse for purveying falsehoods. His shameful performance at the circus he ran attempting to blame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the 2011 Benghazi attack and its aftermath demonstrated a willingness to play fast and loose with the facts and an inquisitorial, McCarthyite mindset.
    His lack of a moral compass makes his connection to the Kochs especially dangerous.
    Charles and David Koch, the notorious billionaires gnawing like termites at the foundations of American democracy, are all about petroleum. They fund phony climate denialism with a Potemkin village of foundations and expert frauds, to make sure oil keeps its value for as long as possible (even at the cost of visiting catastrophes on our children and grandchildren, since burning oil is causing catastrophic global heating).


  • Emails show UAE-linked effort against Tillerson - BBC News
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43281519

    The BBC has obtained leaked emails that show a lobbying effort to get US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sacked for failing to support the United Arab Emirates against regional rival Qatar.
    Major Trump fundraiser and UAE-linked businessman Elliott Broidy met Mr Trump in October 2017 and urged him to sack Mr Tillerson, the emails reveal.
    In other emails, he calls the top US diplomat “a tower of Jello”, “weak” and says he “needs to be slammed”.
    Mr Broidy says Qatar hacked his emails.
    “We have reason to believe this hack was sponsored and carried out by registered and unregistered agents of Qatar seeking to punish Mr Broidy for his strong opposition to state-sponsored terrorism,” a spokesman for the businessman said.
    He said some of the emails “may have been altered” but did not elaborate.
    Saudi Arabia, UAE and a number of Arab countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017 over its alleged support for terrorism, a claim which it denies. The unprecedented move was seen as a major split between powerful Gulf countries, who are also close US allies.
    Qatari royal ’held against will’ in UAE
    Nations silent on Tillerson Qatar blockade plea
    The BBC has asked the Qatar embassy in Washington for a response to the accusations.
    Mr Broidy’s defence company Circinus has hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts with the UAE, according to the New York Times newspaper.
    He had recently returned from the UAE when he met Mr Trump at the White House in October.
    What did the emails say?
    According to a memorandum he prepared of the meeting, Mr Broidy urged continued support of US allies the UAE and Saudi Arabia and advised Mr Trump against getting involved in last year’s row with Qatar.
    Mr Broidy called Qatar “a television station with a country” - alluding to broadcaster Al Jazeera - and said it was doing “nothing positive”, according to the emails.
    He said he touted a regional counter-terrorism force being set up by the UAE that his company was involved with, and suggested that the US president “sit down” with Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and a top UAE military commander.
    “I offered that MBZ [the crown prince] is available to come to the US very soon and preferred a quiet meeting in New York or New Jersey. President Trump agreed that a meeting with MBZ was a good idea,” Mr Broidy wrote in an email.
    He also said he advised the president on Mr Tillerson - who was “performing poorly and should be fired at a politically convenient time”.
    Mr Tillerson had criticised the blockade of Qatar and called for it to be eased, in comments that contrasted with Mr Trump’s support for the move.
    Mr Tillerson spent most of the first year in his position embattled and weakened.
    Last autumn, in a rare move for the soft-spoken secretary, the state department held a press conference in which Mr Tillerson pushed back against reports he had called the president “a moron”.
    Who did Mr Broidy email?
    He emailed a detailed account of his meeting with the president to George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman with decades of experience serving as an interlocutor between the Middle East and Washington.
    Sources familiar with the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and possible links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, tell the BBC that Mr Nader has become a person of interest and has been questioned in recent weeks.
    Investigators questioned Mr Nader and other witnesses on whether there were any efforts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to Mr Trump’s presidential campaign, according to a New York Times report.

    What else was in the leaked emails?
    Mr Broidy also detailed a separate sit-down with Mr Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, according to the emails.
    After Mr Broidy criticised Qatar extensively to Mr Kushner, “Jared’s demeanour was very passive and pleasant but he seemed to not want to engage on this issue,” he wrote to Mr Nader.
    Kushner Companies - owned by the family of Jared Kushner - is reported to have in April 2017 sought financing from Qatar for its flagship property at 666 5th Avenue, New York.
    However, Mr Kushner has maintained that he has had no role in his family’s business since joining the White House last year.
    Has anyone else claimed to have been hacked?
    UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba - who in diplomatic circles is known as the most effective and influential ambassador in Washington - has himself been a recent victim of email hacking.
    It’s well known in Washington that Mr Otaiba and Mr Kushner have enjoyed close relationship.
    Industry experts looking at both hacks have drawn comparisons between the two, showing reason to suspect links to Qatar.
    “This is rinse and repeat on Otaiba,” a source familiar with the hack told the BBC.
    The UAE has also been known to use similar tactics, and was accused of hacking Qatari government websites prior to the blockade, according to the FBI.