Turkey: Dozens of Women Protest Increasing Violence Against Women (AFP) 28 Sept 2019

Istanbul Protest 8 March 2019(8 March 2019 Women’s Rights Protest in Istanbul, Turkey) 

ISTANBUL: Dozens of women protested in Istanbul Saturday to denounce rising violence against women and the government’s failure to stop brutal attacks across the country.

They gathered in the Kadikoy neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul, recounting harrowing stories of women recently murdered across the country, including Emine Bulut, whose killing by her ex-husband in August sparked outrage.

“Stop the murder of women!”, “Stop male violence!” and “Do not watch violence, do something,” they shouted.

Bulut’s murder in front of her daughter sent shockwaves across Turkey after a video of the attack was published online.

The 38-year-old was stabbed to death in a cafe on August 18 by her former husband in the central Anatolian city of Kirikkale. Bulut, who had divorced him four years ago, died in hospital.

Her name was a worldwide trending topic on Twitter and “I don’t want to die” (#olmekistemiyorum) was widely quoted on social media.

“The murder of Emine Bulut sparked frustration and resentment in society. Her last words are ringing in all women’s ears: I don’t want to die,” Gamze Ozturk, one of the organizers, told AFP.

“There are increasing numbers of women being murdered and none of them wanted to die,” she said.

A total of 294 women were murdered in the only first eight months of 2019 – 40 of them in August alone, while 440 women were killed last year, according to the women’s rights group We Will Stop Femicide, which has been tracking gender-related deaths.

“We will be out on the streets to protect women’s rights until no single woman is killed,” protester Bircan Sahin told AFP.

Turkey has ratified the Council of Europe’s 2011 Istanbul Convention on preventing domestic violence – but activists say more needs to be done to put the laws into practice.

Archived – https://archive.is/PzYwX

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DW Report on Domestic Violence Against Women in Turkey – 27 Jan 2019 (5:53 min)

18 Drones 7 Cruise Missiles – How the Saudi Oil Field Attack Overturned America’s Apple Cart – by Conn Hallinan – 30 Sept 2019

For all their overwhelming firepower, the U.S. and its allies can cause a lot of misery in the Middle East, but still can’t govern the course of events.

 

In many ways it doesn’t really matter who – Houthis in Yemen? Iranians? Shiites in Iraq? – launched those missiles and drones at Saudi Arabia. Whoever did it changed the rules of the game, and not just in the Middle East. “It’s a moment when offense laps defense, when the strong have reason to fear the weak,” observes military historian Jack Radey.

In spite of a $68 billion a year defense budget – the third highest spending of any country in the world – with a world-class air force and supposed state-of-the-art anti-aircraft system, a handful of bargain basement drones and cruise missiles slipped through the Saudi radar and devastated Riyadh’s oil economy. All those $18 million fighter planes and $3 million a pop Patriot antiaircraft missiles suddenly look pretty irrelevant.

This is hardly an historical first. British dragoons at Concord were better trained and armed than a bunch of Massachusetts farmers, but the former were 5,000 miles from home and there were lots more of the latter, and so the English got whipped. The French army in Vietnam was far superior in firepower than the Viet Minh, but that didn’t count for much in the jungles of Southeast Asia. And the US was vastly more powerful than the insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we still lost both wars.

The September 14 attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco refineries at Abqaiq and Khurais did more than knock out 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil production – it shook the pillars of Washington’s foreign policy in the region and demonstrated the fragility of the world’s energy supply.

The End of the Carter Doctrine?

Since 1945, Washington’s policy in the Middle East has been to control the world’s major energy supplies by politically and militarily dominating the Persian Gulf, which represents about 15 percent of the globe’s resources. The 1979 Carter Doctrine explicitly stated that the US reserved the right to use military force in the case of any threat to the region’s oil and gas.

To that end, Washington has spread a network of bases throughout the area and keeps one of its major naval fleets, the Fifth, headquartered in the Gulf. It has armed its allies and fought several wars to ensure its primacy in the region.

And all that just got knocked into a cocked hat.

Washington blames Iran, but the evidence for that is dodgy. The Americans have yet to produce a radar map showing where the missiles originated, and even the Trump administration and the Saudis have scaled back blaming Tehran directly, instead saying the Iranians “sponsored” the attack.

Part of that is plain old-fashioned colonial thought patterns: the “primitive” Houthis couldn’t pull this off. In fact, the Houthis have been improving their drone and missile targeting for several years and have demonstrated considerable skill with the emerging technology.

The US– and, for that matter, the Saudis – have enormous firepower, but the possible consequences of such a response are simply too costly. If 18 drones and seven cruise missiles did this much damage, how much could hundreds do? World oil prices have already jumped 20 percent. How high would they go if there were more successful attacks?

The only way to take out all the missiles and drones would be a ground attack and occupation. And who is going to do that?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has already begun withdrawing its troops from Yemen and has been holding talks with the Houthis since July (which is likely why UAE oil facilities were not attacked this time around). The Saudi army is designed for keeping internal order, especially among Shiites in its Eastern provinces and Bahrain. The princes in Riyadh are far too paranoid about the possibility of a coup to build a regular army.

Would the US? Going into an election with prices already rising at the pump? The US military wants nothing to do with another war in the Middle East, not, mind you, because they have suddenly become sensible, but as Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chair of the Joints Chiefs of Staff put it, it drains resources from confronting China.

Starting with the administration of George W. Bush, and accelerated during the Obama presidency’s “Asia Pivot,” the US military has been preparing for a confrontation with China in the South and/or East China Sea. The Pentagon also has plans to face off Russia in the Baltic.

One suspects that the generals made it clear that, while they can blow up a lot of Iranians, a shooting war would not be cost free. US Patriot missiles can’t defend our allies’ oil fields (or American bases in the region), and while the anti-missile capabilities on some US naval ships are pretty good, not all of them are armed with effective systems like the Sea Sparrow. Americans would be coming home in boxes just as the fall election campaign kicked into high gear.

Whether the military got that message through to the Oval Office is not clear, but Trump’s dialing down of his rhetoric over Iran suggests it may have.

Making Good on a Stalemate

What happens now? The White House has clearly ruled out a military response in the short run.

Trump’s speech at the UN focused on attacking globalism and international cooperation, not Iran. But the standoff is likely to continue unless the Americans are willing to relax some of their “maximum pressure” sanctions as a prelude to a diplomatic solution.

The US is certainly not withdrawing from the Middle East. In spite of the fact that shale oil has turned the United States into the world’s largest oil producer, we still import around one million barrels per day from Saudi Arabia. Europe is much more dependent on Gulf oil, as are the Chinese and Indians. The US is not about to walk away from its 70 plus year grip on the region.

But the chessboard is not the same as it was six months ago. The Americans may have overwhelming military force in the Middle East, but using it might tank world oil prices and send the West – as well as India and China – into a major recession.

Israel is still the dominant local power, but if it picks a fight with Iran or Hezbollah, those drones and cruises will be headed its way. Israel relies on its “Iron Dome” antimissile system, but while Iron Dome may do a pretty good job against the primitive missiles used by Hamas, mobile cruises and drones are another matter. While Israel could inflict enormous damage on any of its foes, the price tag could be considerably higher than in the past.

Stalemates can be dangerous because there is an incentive to try and break them by introducing some game changing weapon system. But stalemates also create the possibility for diplomatic solutions. That is certainly the case now.

If a more centrist government emerges from this last round of Israeli elections, Israel may step back from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relentless campaign against Teheran. And Trump likes “deals,” even though he is not very good at them.

“This is the new strategic balance,” says Newclick Editor-In-Chief Prabir Purkayastha in the Asia Times, “and the sooner the US and its NATO partners accept it, the quicker we will look for peace in the region.”

Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Conn Hallinan can be read at www.dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and www.middleempireseries.wordpress.com.

Archive – https://archive.is/nrvpE

Right-Wing Militant Street Fighter – Kyle Chapman AKA ‘Based Stickman’ Given 5-Year Probation Sentence (CBS SF) 25 Sept 2019

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Right-wing activist Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman has been sentenced to five years probation for possessing a leaded cane during a violent clash of protesters at an anti-President Donald Trump Berkeley rally in 2017.

Kyle Chapman 3

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Mark McCannon told Chapman, a 43-year-old Daly City man, “You have a right to protest but peaceful protests have more influence than violent protests.”

Chapman — who had dubbed himself an “American nationalist” — was charged for his actions at the “March 4 Trump” rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley on March 4, 2017, in which Trump supporters clashed with counter-protesters.

“You were armed to the teeth during the protest” and said what could have been a peaceful protest turned violent “and the next thing you know it was a melee,” the judge scolded Chapman.

Ben Shapiro

At a hearing before another judge on Aug. 7, Chapman pleaded no contest to the felony possession of a leaded cane charge in a deal with prosecutors that called for him to be placed on three years’ probation.

McCannon added two years to the probation but did explain why he was changing the plea agreement.

The judge told Chapman, who was dressed in blue pants and a light blue short-sleeved shirt, he could throw out the plea deal if Chapman wanted to take his case to trial and try to get a shorter sentence.

However, Chapman agreed to the new sentence.

Kyle Chapman

At the March rally there were multiple instances of violence between the pro- and anti-Trump groups and Chapman was identified as one of the people causing violence, Berkeley police Officer Darrin Rafferty wrote in a probable cause statement.

EBT-L-CHAPMAN-0826

A man later identified as Chapman, who was wearing a black baseball helmet, goggles and a backpack with metal buckles, sprayed what appeared to be pepper spray into a crowd of protesters that Chapman’s group had been arguing with, according to Rafferty.

“Chapman was involved in multiple altercations with many people” and “was swinging what appeared to be a wooden stick at many people,” Rafferty wrote.

However, Rafferty said it was unclear if Chapman hit anyone because the camera didn’t stay focused on him during the altercation.

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/09/25/right-wing-activist-kyle-based-stickman-chapman-given-5-year-probation-sentence/

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Kyle Chapman 5

MAY 8, 2017 –The latest hero of the alt-right, a California man who has beaten and maced anti-Trump protesters on the streets of Berkeley, is a thrice-convicted felon who has served three separate prison terms, jumped bail, twice violated parole, used cocaine, LSD, and meth, and was described by his own lawyer as having “severe psychological problems,” court records show.

Kyle Chapman, a 41-year-old rough boy committed to destroying the “neo-Marxist scourge,” was arrested March 4 following a melee at a rally organized by Trump supporters. While marchers purportedly were there in support of free speech, Chapman–who has spent a combined 10 years behind bars–came dressed for a fight.

Chapman, a Bay Area resident, was one of ten combatants busted, but he alone emerged from the “March on Berkeley” as a fully formed right wing meme. Chapman wore a baseball helmet, shin guards, ski goggles, and a gas mask. He carried pepper spray and swung a large wooden closet rod. Chapman also toted a protective shield, a la Captain America.

At one point during the protest, Chapman broke the closet rod over the head of an opponent. Video of the strike quickly went viral, with fans of the costumed Chapman dubbing him the “Based Stickman” and the “Alt-Knight.”

Following his arrest, Chapman fans raised money for his bail and a legal defense fund has reportedly amassed more than $87,000 (the money, contributors are told, will cover legal fees “as well as financial assistance” for Chapman’s family “if need be”). The fundraising effort has gotten a push from Mike Cernovich, an alt-right leader who saluted Chapman as a “political prisoner.” Chapman has also solicited direct contributions via PayPal and GoFundMe and recently launched a web site that sells “Based Stickman” merchandise.

On April 15, during another Berkeley protest, Chapman, carrying an American flag, was filmed sucker punching a man. He was also recorded atop another man executing a ground and pound attack that left his victim bloody and dazed. As Chapman was landing blows, white supremacist Nathan Damigo was nearby punching a woman in the face and another man–wearing a yellow “Jesus Will Judge You!” hoodie–was stomping on a prone opponent.

“The Communists got their asses handed to them today,” exclaimed Chapman, who promised that his street fighting men were headed to “every liberal stronghold” to confront those who would “take our constitutionally protected rights from us.” He added, “All you cocksuckers in fucking Boston, watch out, we’re coming for you.”

Chapman, pictured in the below mug shots, recently announced the formation of the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, a group founded to “protect and defend our right wing brethren” through “street activism, preparation, defense, and confrontation.” The organization, Chapman declared, “is for those that possess the Warrior Spirit. The weak or timid need not apply.” He added, “President Trump has our back for the next 8 years. The timing couldn’t be better. Let’s do this!”

Chapman was more reserved when he returned to Berkeley on April 27 to address the cancellation of author Ann Coulter’s appearance at the University of California, Berkeley. During a brief speech, Chapman–who introduced himself as the “Alt-Knight”–pledged to “fight the radical left” to protect “our right for speech and assembly.” Describing left wing groups as domestic terrorism organizations, Chapman assured the small crowd that, “We are law-abiding Americans who care for the Constitution.” He then urged listeners to thank police officers for “being on the right side of the law.”

Now as for that law-abiding claim, Chapman’s rap sheet begs to disagree.

Chapman’s first felony conviction came days before his 18th birthday in November 1993. Chapman and an accomplice pleaded guilty to a pair of felony robbery charges, according to Texas court records.

Chapman, Houston police charged, pointed a firearm at two victims and demanded money. Though he was only brandishing a pellet gun, Chapman warned, “This is a .44 Magnum. Give me your money or I will shoot you.”

During a 2009 prison evaluation, Chapman told a psychologist that he had been “booted out” of high school “due to disciplinary problems.” Chapman said he joined the Navy in 1993, but never served due to the robbery arrest. He also told the prison doctor that, as a juvenile, he abused alcohol and used LSD and marijuana. But his “substance of choice,” Chapman added, was Scotchgard fabric spray, which he huffed.

Sentenced to five years in prison, Chapman served a combined 30 months in custody before being paroled in 1996. During his incarceration, Chapman said, he was repeatedly assaulted by fellow inmates.

Chapman eventually moved to California, where he worked as a bouncer at various San Diego-area strip clubs. During his 2009 psych exam, Chapman said that he stopped drinking while on parole in Texas, but resumed imbibing in California.

Chapman’s next felony conviction came in June 2001, when he pleaded guilty to grand theft. According to Superior Court records, he stole in excess of $400 worth of merchandise from a Macy’s in San Diego. Chapman was sentenced to four years in prison–three years on the grand theft rap and a one-year “enhancement” due to his prior conviction for robbery.

Chapman served a total of two-and-a-half years in custody, according to California court and corrections records. He was twice sent back to prison for violating terms of his parole, resulting in an additional five months behind bars.

After his release from prison, Chapman was under psychiatric care and was prescribed multiple medications for depression and anxiety. When his parole term expired, Chapman later told a psychologist, he “stopped all medication.” But he continued to drink heavily and was abusing the painkiller Vicodin (taking upwards of 30 pills daily). Chapman also acknowledged smoking pot and using cocaine “once in a while.” [The psych report notes that Chapman used methamphetamine as an adult, but it does not specify a time frame.]

Chapman’s most recent felony conviction came as a result of an undercover operation launched by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents and the San Diego Police Department’s street gang unit.

With the help of a confidential informant, investigators determined that an owner of a San Diego tattoo shop was illegally selling guns from the business. Agents suspected that some of the weapons ended up in the hands of local Hispanic street gang members.

On two occasions, Chapman provided the tattoo shop owner with weapons–a shotgun and an assault rifle–that were then immediately resold to the informant. One evening, as Chapman drove from his home to the tattoo shop to deliver the assault rifle, a San Diego Police Department surveillance helicopter followed Chapman’s Lexus on the six-mile trip.

Chapman was named in a July 2008 indictment charging him with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Chapman was arrested at his San Diego home, which was simultaneously searched by cops and ATF agents. According to a search warrant inventory, investigators seized body armor, a Ruger pistol, two throwing knives, a bag of “suspected marijuana,” metal knuckles, two glass pipes, assorted ammo and shotgun shells, clips, and magazines.

In a plea agreement, Chapman copped to the felony charge related to his possession of the assault weapon.

While free on $35,000 bond posted by his girlfriend (who is now his wife), Chapman went on the lam before his February 2009 sentencing. During his one month as a fugitive, Chapman was “living as a homeless person in river beds,” according to a court filing by his lawyer, who claimed that his client “has severe psychological problems” and suffered from auditory and visual hallucinations and “delusions of persecution.”

After Chapman surrendered to federal agents, a U.S. District Court judge ordered a psychological evaluation to determine whether the felon was “suffering from a mental disease.” A Bureau of Prisons psychologist subsequently concluded that Chapman was not “substantially impaired by a mental disease or defect” and had not exhibited “any symptoms of serious mental illness” while being held in San Diego’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. Regarding a personality test that purported to show that Chapman was “psychologically disturbed,” Dr. Gordon Zilberman found that Chapman likely was “exaggerating or manufacturing symptoms when completing this test.”

In June 2009, Chapman was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison to be followed by a three-year probation term. Among the character references sent to the judge by Chapman’s family and friends was a letter from Chapman’s brother Derek. Sent a day before Chapman became a fugitive, the letter described the defendant as a “generally law abiding person.” Jeff Kugel, who met Chapman in 2007, wrote that “Kyle is very knowledgeable about history and the struggles of mankind against central power structures.” Kugel added that, “It is easy to come across as a little paranoid to the uninitiated when broaching this subject.”

After five years behind bars, Chapman was released from Bureau of Prisons custody in January 2014, at which time his probation sentence began. The terms of his supervised release included periodic drug testing and substance abuse treatment. He was also barred from consuming alcohol, attending gun shows, and possessing body armor, firearms, and ammunition. Chapman was also directed to participate in a mental health treatment program as directed by his probation officer.

Chapman’s federal supervision ended less than two months before the shield-carrying “Alt-Knight” made his March debut on the Berkeley streets. Court records contain no indication that Chapman’s federal probation was violated at any time.

Chapman was arrested on multiple felony counts for his alleged activities during the March 4 protest (which he proudly calls the “Battle of Berkeley”). Prosecutors with the Alameda County District Attorney’s office are still reviewing police reports and videos in advance of making a final charging decision when it comes to Chapman and his fellow arrestees.

While Chapman supporters wait to see if the ex-con adds yet another felony charge to his personal docket, they can bide the time in his online store, where $39.99 gets you “The Official Battle for Berkeley Hoodie.” The charcoal garment–a 50/50 cotton blend–is advertised as “As seen on TV, worn by Kyle Chapman,” who always dons the stylish item when battling the hordes laying siege to American ideals. (10 pages) http://www.thesmokinggun.com/file/based-stickman

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/meet-the-based-stickman-173908

https://archive.is/BHTKe

Iran Prevails Over the US, Twice, But This Is Far from Over – by The Saker • 26 Sept 2019

UK Tanker 2

 

An Iranian official has announced that the UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero was free to leave. Remember the Stena Impero? This is the tanker the IRGC arrested after the Empire committed an act of piracy on the high seas and seized the Iranian tanker Grace 1. Col Cassad posted a good summary of this info-battle, blow by blow (corrected machine translation):

  1. Britain, at the instigation of the US, seizes the Iranian tanker Grace 1 and demands from Iran guarantees that it in any case does not go to Syria.
  2. Iran, in response, captures the British tanker Stena Impero and says it will not retreat until the British releases Grace 1. British ships that guarded merchant ships in the Strait of Hormuz were warned that they would be destroyed if they interfered with the IRGC’s actions.
  3. After 2 months, Britain officially releases Grace 1, which is renamed Adrian Darya 1. It raised the Iranian flag and changed the crew.
  4. The British government says the tanker is released under Iran’s obligations not to unload the tanker at the Syrian port of Banias or anywhere else in Syria. Iran denies this.
  5. The US officially requires Britain and Gibraltar to arrest Adrian Darya 1 and not let it into Syria, as it violates the sanctions regime. Britain and Gibraltar refuse the US.
  6. Adrian Darya 1 reaches the coast of Syria and after a few days on the beam of Banias, unloads its cargo in Syria. The Iranian government says it has not made any commitments to anyone.
  7. After Adrian Darya 1 left Syria, Iran announced that it was ready to release the British tanker. The goal has been achieved.

This is truly an amazing series of steps, really!

The US is the undisputed maritime hyper-power, not only because of its huge fleet, but because of its network of bases all over the planet (700-1000 depending on how you count) and, possibly even more importantly, a network of so-called “allies”, “friends”, “partners” and “willing coalition members” (aka de facto US colonies) worldwide. In comparison, Iran is a tiny dwarf, at least in maritime terms. But, as the US expression goes, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” which decides the outcome.

And then there is the (provisional) outcome of the Houthi strike on the Saudi oil installations. The Saudis appeared to be pushing for war against Iran, as did Pompeo, but Trump apparently decided otherwise:

(Video link)

Some have focused on the fact that Trump said that it was “easy” to attack Iran. Others have ridiculed Trump for his silly bragging about how US military gear would operate in spite of the dismal failure of both US cruise missile attacks (on Syria) and the Patriot SAMs (in the KSA). But all that bragging is simply obligatory verbal flag-waving; this is what the current political culture in the US demands from all politicians. But I think that the key part of his comments is when he says that to simply attack would be “easy” (at least for him it would) but that this would not show strength.

I also notice that Trump referred to those who predicted that he would start a war and said that they were wrong about him. Trump also acknowledged that a lot of people are happy that he does not strike (while others deplored that, of course, beginning with the entire US pseudo-liberal & pseudo-Left media and politicians). The one exception has been, again, Tulsi Gabbard who posted this after Trump declared that the US was “locked and loaded”:

(Video link)

Whatever may be the case, this time again, Trump seemed to have taken a last minute decision to scrap the attack the Neocons have been dreaming about for decades.

I think that I made my opinion about Trump pretty clear, yet I also have to repeat that all these “climbdowns” by Trump are, just by themselves, a good enough reason to justify a vote for Trump. Simply put; since Trump came to power we saw a lot of hubris, nonsense, ignorance and stupidity. But we did NOT see a war, especially not a major one. I will never be able to prove that, but I strongly believe that if Hillary had won, the Middle-East would have already exploded (most likely after a US attempt at imposing a no-fly zone over Syria).

We are also very lucky that, at least in this case, the rapid every four year Presidential election in the US contributes to keep Trump (and his Neocon masters) in check: Trump probably figured out that a blockade of Venezuela or, even more so, a strike on Iran would severely compromise his chances of being re-elected, especially since neither theater offers the US any exit strategy.

Still, following these immensely embarrassing defeats, Trump and his advisors had to come up with something “manly” (which they confuse with “macho”) and make some loud statements about sending more forces to the Persian Gulf and beefing up the Saudi air defenses. This will change nothing. Iran is already the most over-sanctioned country on the planet and we have seen what US air defense can, and cannot do. Truth be told, this is all about face-saving and I don’t mind any face-saving inanities as long as they make it possible to avoid a real shooting war.

Still, the closer we get to the next US election, the more Trump should not only carefully filter what he says, he would be well advised to give some clear and strict instructions to his entire Administration about what they can say and what they cannot say. Of course, in the case of a rabid megalomaniac like Pompeo, no such “talking points” will be enough: Trump needs to fire this psychopath ASAP and appoint a real diplomat as Secretary of State. After all, Pompeo belongs in the same padded room as Bolton.

Now if we look at the situation from the Iranian point of view, it is most interesting. First, for context, I recommend the recent articles posted by Iranian analysts on the blog, especially the following ones:

  1. War Gaming the Persian Gulf Conflict” by Black Archer Williams
  2. Karbala, The Path of Most Resistance” by Mansoureh Tadjik
  3. Resistance report: Syrian Army takes the initiative in Idlib while Washington blames its failures on Iran again” by Aram Mirzaei

I also recommend my recent interview with Professor Marandi.

I recommend all these Iranian voices because they are so totally absent from the political discussions on the Middle-East, at least in western media. Williams, Tadjik, Mirzaei and Marandi are very different people, they also have different point of views and focuses of interest, but when you read them you realize how confident and determined Iranians are. I am in contact with Iranians abroad and in Iran and all of them, with no exception, share that calm determination. It seems that, just like Russians, Iranians most certainly don’t want war, but they are ready for it.

The Iranian preferred strategy is also clear: just the way Hezbollah keeps Iran in check so will the Houthis with the KSA. The Houthis, who are now in a very strong negotiation position, have offered to stop striking the KSA if the Saudis do likewise. Now, the Saudis, just like the Israelis, are too weak to accept any such offer, that is paradoxical but true: if the Saudis officially took the deal, that would “seal” their defeat in the eyes of their own public opinion. Having said that, I can’t believe that the Saudis believe their own propaganda about war against Iran. No matter how delusional and arrogant the Saudi leaders are, surely they must realize what a war against Iran would mean for the House of Saud (although when I read this I wonder)! It is one thing to murder defenseless Shias in the KSA, Bahrain or Yemen and quite another to take on “the country which trained Hezbollah”.

Speaking of delusional behavior, the Europeans finally did fall in line behind their AngloZionist overlords and agreed to blame Iran for the attack under what I call the “Skripal rules of evidence” akahighly likely“. The more things change, the more they remain the same I suppose…

It is pretty clear that all the members of the Axis of Kindness (US, KSA, Israel) are in deep trouble on the internal front: Trump is busy with theZelensky vs Biden scandal, especially now since the Dems are opening impeachment procedures, the latest elections failed to deliver the result Bibi wanted, as for the Saudis, after pushing for war they now have to settle for more sanctions and radars, hardly a winning combination.

The Saudis are too weak, clueless and obese (physically and mentally) to get anything done by themselves. But the US and Israel are now in a dire need to show some kind of “victory” over, well, somebody. Anybody will do. Thus the US have just denied visas 10 members of the Russian delegation to the United Nations (thereby violating yet another US obligation under international law, but nobody in the US cares about such minor trivialities as international law); and just to show how amazingly powerful the Empire is, the Iranian delegation to the UN received the same “punished bad boys” treatment: truly, a triumph worthy of a superpower! Last minute update: the US is now revoking Iranian student visas and denying entry to Venezuelan diplomats.

This “war of visas” is the US equivalent of the “war on statues” the Ukrainians, Balts and the Poles have been waging to try to distract their population from the comprador policies of their governments.

As for the Israelis, I now expect the Israelis to strike some empty building in Syria (or even in Gaza!).

Conclusion: facts don’t really matter anymore, and neither does logic

Ten years ago Chris Hedges wrote a book calledEmpire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle and, a full decade later, this title is still an extremely accurate diagnostic. What Hedges politely called the “end of literacy” can be observed in all its facets, listening to US political and military leaders. While most of them are, indeed, morally bankrupt and even psychopaths, it is their level of ignorance and incompetence which is the most amazing. First, the Russians spoke ofnon-agreement-capable “partners” but eventually Putin quipped that it was hard to work withpeople who confuse Austria and Australia“. This all, by the way, applies as much to the Obama Administration as it does to the Trump Administration: their common motto could have been “illusions über alles” or something similar. Once a political culture fully enters into the realm of illusions and delusions the end is near because no real-world problem ever gets tackled: it only gets obfuscated, denied and drowned into an ocean of triumphalist back-slapping and other forms of self-worship.

Post scriptum: the US goes crazy but Trump just might survive after all

So the Dems decided to try to impeach Trump. While I always expected the Neocons to treat Trump as the “disposable President” which they would try to use to do all the stuff they don’t want to be blamed for directly, and then toss him away once they squeezed him for everything he could give them, I am still appalled by the nerve, the arrogance and the total dishonesty of the Dems (see my rant here).

My gut feeling is that Trump just might beat this one for the very same reason he won the first time around: because the other side is even worse (except Tulsi Gabbard, of course).

Of course, an attack on Iran would be a welcome distraction à lawag the dog and Trump might be tempted. Hopefully, the Dems will self-destruct fast enough for Trump not to have to consider this.

…………………

Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Attack Saudi Territory – 500 Saudis Troops Dead – Thousands Surrender (Al Jazeera) 29 Sept 2019

Yemen’s Houthi rebels release Saudi attack video

Saudi Arabia has not yet responded to Houthi claim 500 of its forces were killed or wounded in cross-border attack.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Sunday broadcast footage they said was of a major attack into Saudi Arabia that killed or wounded 500 soldiers with thousands of others surrendering.

Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesman, described an ambush on the Saudi forces that then developed into an “all-out” cross-border offensive that trapped the troops inside Saudi Arabia.

“More than 200 were killed in dozens of [missile and drone] strikes while trying to escape or surrender,” Saree said.

The fighting took place in the southern region of Najran with video images aired showing armoured vehicles hit by blasts and surrendering soldiers.

Saudi Arabia has not yet responded to the Houthi claim. Al Jazeera was not independently able to verify the footage or claims broadcast on Houthi-run Almasirah TV.

Saree said the offensive 72 hours earlier had defeated three “enemy military brigades”, leading to the capture of “thousands” of troops, including Saudi army officers and soldiers, and hundreds of armoured vehicles.

He said the prisoners “will be treated according to the ethics and the customs on the basis of a deal to exchange the POWs with the aggressors”.

Video showed armoured vehicles, some ablaze, with stencilled Saudi markings, along with large piles of weapons and ammunition the rebels say they seized.

The images also appeared to show bodies and men in Saudi military uniforms. Several identified themselves as Saudis.

Yemeni Houthi Rebel Fighters
Houti Rebels

‘Very much alone’

Yemen’s stalemated war has killed tens of thousands of people, badly damaged its infrastructure and crippled its health system.

Catherine Shakdam from the Next Century Foundation told Al Jazeera there was no reason to doubt what the Houthis are saying.

“The video and images coming through are actually affirming the statement. It’s a pivotal point in this war that now Yemeni are moving on Saudi land. It’s quite interesting to see with all the talk of a grand Saudi coalition that Saudi is very much alone in this fight,” Shakdam said.

Yemeni government troops, supported by air strikes of the Saudi-led coalition, have in recent months fought Houthi forces in the Kataf region of Yemen’s northern Saada province near the Saudi border. Local sources have said the Houthis have captured scores of Yemeni troops in the battles.

The Saudi-led coalition, which receives arms and intelligence from Western countries, intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government from power in the capital Sanaa a year earlier.

‘War of attrition’

Shakdam said it appears the Houthis now have the upper hand in the conflict as Yemen’s people have “rallied around” the rebels because of Saudi human rights abuses, famine and the immense hardship caused by the war. 

“This war of attrition has worked against Saudi Arabia… Through their military advances they’re gaining access to more weapons, more territory and essentially pushing the Saudi against the wall,” she said.

Shireen al-Adeimi from Michigan State University said the attack might change the Saudi leadership’s perceptions of the four-and-a-half-year conflict.   

“It’s incredibly embarrassing for the Saudis giving how much support they have from not only the UAE but also the United States, the UK and several other countries. If the Houthis are able to carry out this level of operation it poses a significant turn in this war,” al-Adeimi told Al Jazeera.

The Houthis, who had recently stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi cities, have claimed responsibility for the largest-ever attack on Saudi oil facilities on September 14.

Riyadh dismissed the claim, saying the assault did not come from Yemen and has blamed Iran. Tehran denied this.

Damaged prestige

The Houthis said on September 20 they would halt missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia if the alliance stopped its operations. The coalition has not responded to the proposal.

Iran’s foreign minister urged Saudi Arabia to accept “security cannot be bought”, saying an end to the war in Yemen would quell regional tensions.

In an interview with Tehran’s official IRNA news agency, Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the Saudi leadership of stirring up strife.

“They think that, in the same way that they have so far bought everything with money and have managed to buy weapons, friendship and support, they can buy security with money as well,” he said, urging Riyadh to “put aside this illusion”.

Zarif said the solution “is absolutely clear and that is an end to the Yemen war”.

“Tension in the region will end and it will stop Saudi Arabia’s prestige being further damaged,” he said.

…………..

Al Jezeera – https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/yemen-houthi-rebels-release-saudi-attack-video-190929130644121.html

BBC – Houthi rebels video fails to prove Saudi troop capture claim – https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49866677

Two AWOL US soldiers joined a far-right militia in Ukraine – Returned to US and killed a Florida couple – Planned to Fight Socialists in Venezuela – By Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) 27 Sept 2019

              (Alex Zwiefelhofer poses with a group of Ukrainian fascist fighters.)

 

The listing said, “For Sale: Lot of Guns,” and Serafin Lorenzo was interested.

The 53-year-old who went by Danny liked to buy expensive items and resell them for a profit, and the cache of guns he found on ARMSLIST.com offered the bargain he was looking for. There were four Glocks, a couple of 9mm pistols and nine high-powered rifles. The Florida seller, a guy named “Jeremy,” wanted just $3,000 cash.

“Leaving the country soon,” Jeremy’s listing said. “Looking to sale [sic] all my guns as I can’t take them with me.”

Lorenzo and Deana

Less than 24 hours after inquiring, Lorenzo and his wife, Deana, 51, were on the road from Brooksfield, Florida, late on the night of April 9, 2018, to meet Jeremy at an address just off Corkscrew Road in Estero, about 190 miles south. At 10:44 p.m., Lorenzo texted: “I’m at the church.”

Minutes later, the Lorenzos were dead.

Police found Lorenzo and his wife in the church parking the next morning. Next to Lorenzo’s body was a bill of sale for 15 firearms and a cellphone that sent the FBI down a wild path stretching halfway around the world leading to the alleged perpetrators.

Starting with little more than the online gun listing and the texts to Lorenzo from a Walmart burner phone, authorities say they learned the gunmen were two ex-Army soldiers bent on joining right-wing paramilitary groups involved in armed conflicts worldwide. The gun listing was true in one respect: They were leaving the country to go to Venezuela to fight the government with the resistance, prosecutors say. The guns were coming with them. They allegedly just wanted the Lorenzos’ $3,000 to fund the journey.

Alex Z

(Alex Zwiefelhofer)

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors identified the ex-soldiers as Alex Zwiefelhofer, 22, and Craig Lang, 29, in an indictment charging them with a host of federal crimes tied to the double homicide in Estero, just south of Fort Myers. The 33-page complaint traces the soldiers’ zigzagging paramilitary campaigns across the world, starting in Ukraine and, in Lang’s case, finally to Venezuela, revealing how some military veterans have been drawn to extremist causes overseas.

Caught in the crosshairs were the Lorenzos in an ambush plot that the FBI says Zwiefelhofer and Lang stole straight out of a movie clip they studied on the internet.

 

Murder Scene

(Serafin ‘Danny’ Lorenzo Jr. and Deana K. Lorenzo were found both killed at 9351 Corkscrew Road in Fort Myers, Florida on April 10, 2018. Danny, had been shot seven times and his wife Deana, had eleven bullet wounds )

“A review of this video was important,” an FBI special agent wrote of the unidentified movie, “in that the homicide scene in Estero, Fla, was consistent with the tactical approach of shooters and trajectory of the gunshot defects depicted in the movie.”

Lang was also named in a separate federal indictment this week as the alleged “mentor” to Army Pfc. Jarrett William Smith, who is accused of providing recipes for explosives online and talking about killing Antifa protesters and bombing CNN, the network reported. Smith had hoped to join Lang as a fighter in another extremist unit in Ukraine, where Lang currently lives, according to that complaint.

Craig Lang

(Craig Lang)

Lang is now in custody in Ukraine, Radio Free Europe reported Thursday, citing Lang’s associates and local fighters. Zwiefelhofer was arrested earlier this month in Wisconsin, and both are now awaiting extradition to Florida. Attorneys for the men are not yet listed in federal court records. An uncle of Lang’s Ukrainian girlfriend, Ihor Skritsky, told Radio Free Europe that Lang “denies any involvement.”

Zwiefelhofer and Lang were used to fighting behind the same lines.

They met after joining the same battalion in the Right Sector, a far-right Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary group dedicated to battling Russian separatists on eastern Ukrainian soil. Itching for combat, they were enamored by the group’s stated goal of removing Ukraine from Russian or European Union influence. “These people f—— want change,” Lang, who had completed two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, told Vice in a 2016 story about why right-wing Americans were joining the Right Sector. The Ukrainian government had banned the group from the battlefront.

Lang joined in 2016 after his life fell apart in the U.S. In 2014, he went AWOL from Fort Bliss in El Paso and drove cross-country to North Carolina in a car stocked with assault rifles and body armor, saying he wanted to kill his pregnant wife, Vice reported. Lang was dishonorably discharged from the Army and, after spending time in jail for the incident, couldn’t get a job, he told Vice.

So, he went back to war. Months later, in September 2016, Zwiefelhofer would go AWOL from the Army too, prosecutors say, and would encounter Lang upon arriving in Ukraine.

Alex z

(Alex Zwiefelhofer)

But after a while, Lang and Zwiefelhofer decided they wanted to change course. In June 2017, they headed to South Sudan to fight al-Shabab, a jihadist terrorist organization allied with al-Qaeda. They made it to Kenya with one other former Army soldier only to be captured by the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army trying to cross the border without papers. Stuck in a Kenyan jail, writing from a smuggled “prison pocket phone,” Zwiefelhofer complained in a July 2017 Facebook post: “so, week six of African jail. just contracted cholera.”

He and Lang would ultimately get deported back to the United States, each arriving at separate airports. But more jail awaited Zwiefelhofer upon his arrival in Charlotte that August. While interrogating him over his paramilitary endeavors in Ukraine and South Sudan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the airport also found child porn on his phone, according to the complaint. He was held in jail for months before being released on bond in November 2017 only to fail to turn up for his hearings.

He and Lang were too busy plotting their next overseas war-zone mission, according to the complaint. This time, prosecutors said they planned to hijack a yacht in Miami and sail south to join the armed conflict against the Venezuelan government.

On Zwiefelhofer’s Internet history, the FBI discovered one question he asked Google: “How to Smuggle Myself to South America.”

The FBI says it found the details of the plot in numerous Facebook messages he and Lang exchanged in the weeks and days leading up to the Lorenzo killings.

On April 4, 2018, the two men met at a Greyhound bus station in Florida and together headed to Miami, prosecutors say. Lang brought the cache of guns from home in Arizona. Once checked into the La Quinta Inn, they planned to hit up an Army surplus store for body armor, meet with a yachting company to tour some boats that would make ideal candidates for theft ― and finally, put up the fake gun listing to set up the deadly robbery, according to the complaint.

Just before setting it all in motion, the FBI said, they replayed the movie clip over and over from their hotel room and then took selfies in Hawaiian-style shirts, the FBI wrote.

The text message the duo was waiting for came in at 2:10 p.m. on April 9: “I have cash on hand,” Lorenzo wrote. “Mine is a sure deal.”

By the time police discovered the Lorenzos’ bodies in the church parking lot, Zwiefelhofer and Lang were long gone. One of Lang’s ex-Army associates would later tell the FBI that Lang and Zwiefelhofer never carried out the boat hijacking plot, instead fleeing to Washington state, as far away from the crime scene as possible.

Zwiefelhofer ultimately returned to Wisconsin. But Lang hadn’t given up on the plan to go to Venezuela or even back to Ukraine, prosecutors said. After lying low for a while, Lang met up with his ex-Army soldier associate, identified as “M.S.M.” in the indictment, who agreed to go with him to go south.

The new plan: Sell the guns used in the Florida killings to two men in exchange for their identities and social security numbers. That way, prosecutors said, they could obtain fraudulent passports and flee the United States for Ukraine or South America, according to the indictment.

It worked.

Lang and M.S.M. managed to fly to Bogota, Colombia. The resistance group Lang allegedly wanted to join had a safe house in the mountains of Cúcuta, Colombia, and they were planning to cross the border to fight the Venezuelan government. Lang got on a bus, M.S.M. told the FBI, and that was the last time M.S.M. saw him. M.S.M. got cold feet.

“He left Lang in Bogota because M.S.M. did not want to kill people,” the FBI reported in the complaint.

Lang faces federal passport fraud charges in a separate indictment filed last month. In that case, a man named Matthew Scott McCloud is indicted in the conspiracy with Lang. According to Missouri authorities, McCloud fled to Ukraine to avoid prosecution for felony stealing, then traveled to Colombia, Mexico and back to the United States, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

As for Zwiefelhofer, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested him in May in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, after he allegedly lied on an ATF form while trying to buy a gun. The FBI obtained a warrant to search his home, finding the distinctive Hawaiian shirt they allege he wore in Miami, and the laptop containing his search history.

The gun listing, they said, was created under the name Jeremy on that same computer

During an interrogation, Zwiefelhofer told the FBI about his excursions with Lang in Ukraine. He told the agent about their plans to meet in Miami, how they wanted to take a boat to Venezuela.

But when asked about the burner phone authorities linked back to him, the one that lured Serafin and Deana Lorenzo to their deaths, Lang denied any wrongdoing. He said he bought the burner phone at Walmart because they ran out of money to stay at La Quinta Inn and had to spend the night in a dog park, where the sprinkler system came on overnight and ruined his cellphone.

He said the story ended there.

………….

Stars and Stripes

Archived – https://archive.is/VTfCJ

Russian military in Syria says it downed dozens of drones – by Yuras Karamanau (AP) 27 Sept 2019

Russian SU-35

(Russian Su-35 in Syria, Thursday, 26 Sept 2019)

HEMEIMEEM AIR BASE, Syria (AP) — The Russian military said Friday it has downed dozens of drones and rockets launched by militants this year targeting Russia’s air base in Syria.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that so far in 2019 the military has shot down 58 drones and 27 rockets that targeted the Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s Mediterranean province of Latakia.

Russia has waged a military campaign in Syria since September 2015, allowing Bashar Assad’s government to reclaim control over most of the country amid a devastating civil war.

Russian in Syria

(Russian Pilot in Su-35 in Syria – Thursday, 26 Sept 2019)

Konashenkov, speaking to reporters during a trip to Syria organized by the ministry, said the militants have continuously improved their drones, which have a range of up to 250 kilometers (155 miles) and an altitude of up to 4 kilometers (13,123 feet).

He added that while the drones may look primitive, they perform well and are difficult to spot.

“It’s quite worrying that the terrorists have obtained the navigation and control technologies that only a few countries possess,” Konashenkov said.

He said the Russian base is protected by a variety of air defense assets. He said short- and medium-range Pantsyr S-1 and Tor M-2 air defense systems have proven highly efficient against the drones, and the base also has the long-range S-400 air defense systems.

Konashenkov said that most of the drone attacks were launched from Khan Sheikhoun and Latamna in the northwestern province of Idlib. The Syrian army captured those areas last month following weeks of a sweeping offensive backed by Russia.

Idlib, which lies along the border with Turkey, is the last major rebel stronghold, and the Syrian army onslaught has created friction between Russia and Turkey, which struck a de-escalation agreement for Idlib a year ago. Turkey protested the offensive as a violation of the deal, while Russia countered that the offensive was necessary to uproot militants who used the area as a base to launch attacks on Syrian government troops and Russia’s military base.

More than eight years of fighting has left the country in ruins, and officials in the areas reclaimed by the government are pleading for international assistance.

“We have suffered twice — first from the rebels who deliberately destroyed historic monuments and now from the indifference of international organizations that refuse to help us,” said Adnan Karaza, an official who oversees the historic Old City of Aleppo. “We haven’t received a penny.”

Many sections of the ancient city were destroyed in years of vicious fighting until Assad’s forces captured the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo three years ago. A giant portrait of Assad decorates the gates of the monumental medieval Citadel, the city’s top landmark.

Assad’s government has paid for the restoration of a section of the city’s medieval market, but there is no money to do the rest of the job.

“We wouldn’t like to think that the world doesn’t care about centuries of history,” said Waleed Hawala, a 72-year-old professor of history at Aleppo’s university who volunteered to help clear the Old City of debris together with his students. “But so far we have been doing all the restoration work ourselves.”

___

Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

Source

https://archive.is/rXMwThttps://archive.is/rXMwT