War & Conflict

War in Afghanistan Is Killing Children in Record Numbers in 2017

by Ruchi Kumar, Truthout | Report – Four-year-old Alisina was playing in the fields outside her house in the Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan, located 80 kilometers from the capital city of Kabul, on a mid-April morning. Only vaguely aware of the constant war that surrounds them, Alisina and her friends didn’t know the large metal object they found in the field that day was in fact an unexploded ordnance left behind by one of the warring parties. The little girls squabbled over who would get to play with it first, and Alisina won the rights to the deadly weapon, which minutes later exploded in her hands as she attempted to lift it. “She has shell injuries to face and both eyes, chest and hands. Her thumb and third finger required traumatic amputation,” Alisina’s doctor at the Emergency Hospital in Kabul told me in an interview. “We had...

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NATO to ‘formally join’ Anti-ISIL Coalition

Member states of military alliance are set to officially join a US-led coalition fighting ISIL, diplomatic sources say. NATO member states are expected to formally join a US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group in Syria and Iraq, according to several diplomatic sources. The decision by the North Atlantic Council, the highest decision-making body within NATO, is expected to be officially announced at a meeting of the alliance’s leaders on Thursday. “The NATO (member state) ambassadors decided this evening an action plan on terrorism for the summit. It includes the accession of NATO to the global coalition against IS,” one diplomat told the AFP news agency on Wednesday, using a different name for ISIL. The decision is mainly political because all 28 NATO member states are already individually part of the coalition, with some only taking part in...

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Following Leak to Russia, Israel is Shifting How it Shares Intelligence With U.S.

by E.A. Crunden – European and U.K. officials have also expressed concern over leaks. Israel is altering how it shares intelligence with the United States after President Donald Trump shared classified information with Russia in the Oval Office two weeks ago. Trump, who was meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington, told both men about a believed threat from ISIS involving bombs buried inside of laptops. That information, the New York Times reported, came from Israel — something that was unconfirmed officially until Trump himself seemingly let it slip while speaking in Israel on Monday, ironically while attempting to defend himself on the issue to the media. “I never mentioned the word or the name ‘Israel’. Never mentioned during that conversation,” Trump said. “They’re all saying I did, so you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word ‘Israel.’” But Israeli officials seem concerned less about being...

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Of Confederate Monuments, NOLA’s Mayor Asks: “Is This Really Our Story?” (MUST SEE VIDEO)

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘The monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.’ Last week, as New Orleans completed the controversial and long-awaited task of taking down Confederate monuments from its public spaces, Mayor Mitch Landrieu marked the occasion by delivering a speech that has since been lauded as “stunning,” “incredible,” “powerful,” and “a clear-eyed view of our past as well as our present.” Many said the speech would go down in history. Jamelle Bouie ✔@jbouie This may rank with LBJ’s Howard commencement as 1 of the most honest speeches on race given by a white Southern pol. http://pulsegulfcoast.com/2017/05/transcript-of-new-orleans-mayor-landrieus-address-on-confederate-monuments … 11:04 PM – 22 May 2017 Transcript of New Orleans Mayor Landrieu’s address on Confederate monuments | The Pulse Just hours before workers removed a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee — the fourth Confederate monument to be...

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Palestinian Basic Rights ‘not on the agenda’ for Trump (VIDEOS)

by Farah Najjar – As US President Donald Trump arrives in Israel, analysts say efforts to revive peace talks are a ‘charade’. US President Donald Trump has arrived in Israel as part of his first foreign trip since taking office in January, but critics have already dismissed as lip service his vows to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. The trip will include bilateral meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who was in Washington earlier this month to pledge his support to a renewed peace process. But experts note that the Trump administration’s “unwavering support” for the state of Israel will render any potential negotiations futile. “They will fall over themselves loving Israel to get elected, come to their senses a bit when in office, then pay lip service to peace while serving the strategic alliance between the US and Israel by blindly supporting Israel,” Sam...

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US and Saudi Arabia Sign Arms Deals Worth Almost $110bn

US Secretary of State says the arms agreements will help Saudi Arabia deal with ‘malign Iranian influence’. The US and Saudi Arabia signed arms deals worth almost $110bn on Saturday, the first day of President Donald Trump’s visit to the traditional US ally. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the arms agreements will help Saudi Arabia deal with “malign Iranian influence”. “The package of defence equipment and services supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region,” Tillerson told reporters in Riyadh on Saturday. This is “in particular in the face of malign Iranian influence and Iranian-related threats which exist on Saudi Arabia’s borders on all sides,” Tillerson told reporters in Riyadh. Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from Riyadh, said that the arms deal would be seen by both signatories as a “win-win”, especially as the deal involved arms that Obama was not prepared to sell...

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‘Unconscionable’ Arms Deal Inked, Trump Delivers Remarks in Saudi Arabia

by Andrea Germanos – Trump says “We are not here to lecture” a day after he finalized a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia that critics say will fuel possible war crimes. A day after finalizing an “unconscionable” $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump on Sunday gave a speech in Riyadh to leaders of dozens of Muslim-majority countries—a “vast congress of dictators and cut-throat autocrats,” as one analyst put it—in which he called on them to “drive out the terrorists and extremists” and isolate Iran. Trump—who previously declared, “We’re having problems with the Muslims” and pushed for a Muslim ban—spoke of “shared interests” and stamping out terrorism. “To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce,” he said. Of the weapons sale, described as...

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Syria, Russia Condemn US-led Strike on Pro-Assad Forces (VIDEOS)

Deadly US-led coalition air raid against pro-Syrian government forces denounced as ‘brazen’ and ‘unacceptable’. Syria and its Russian ally have condemned a deadly US-led coalition air raid against pro-Syrian government forces in a desert area near the country’s border with Jordan and Iraq. Coalition fighter jets on Thursday struck a convoy of militiamen advancing inside a protected “deconfliction zone” north-west of the southern town of al-Tanf, the military alliance said in a statement. Syrians’ suffering persists after returning to former ISIL-held town The US, which is leading an air campaign in Syria targeting groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), said the convoy’s advance had posed a threat to US and US-backed Syrian rebel forces in the area. “This brazen attack by the so-called international coalition exposes the falseness of its claims to be fighting terrorism,” a Syrian military source told...

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Israeli Source That Trump Outed Was ‘the most valuable source’ on ISIS

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump didn’t just spill any source to Russia in his effort to show what a big man he is. He pilled a source that was key to dealing with ISIS. These officials, who are privy to intelligence about the terrorist group’s efforts, said the source of information was particularly valuable for tracking Islamic State’s attempts to place explosive devices on commercial airplanes. The most valuable source on ISIS, one that has the inside knowledge and connections to understand how that terrorist group is trying to strike out against travelers around the world. It was information from this source that caused the international alert about carrying laptops and other electronic devices earlier this year. And how did Donald Trump’s loose lip affect this ship? One official said now that the Russians are aware of the source, there is greater risk the source could be compromised in some...

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Donald Trump’s Middle East Visit: What to Expect (VIDEOS)

by William Roberts – Saudi Arabia arms deal, Syria’s war and Arab-Israeli peace set to top agenda of Trump’s first foreign trip as president. Donald Trump heads to Saudi Arabia on Friday on his first foreign trip as president to repair relations with the United States’ closest Arab ally, restart the Arab-Israeli peace process and, potentially, reassert the US security role in the region. Going to Saudi Arabia first is a highly symbolic move for President Trump who is struggling with political troubles at home, but is drawing optimism from Arab leaders despite his deep unpopularity in Arab public opinion for his anti-Muslim commentary during the 2016 US election campaign. The president will hold a series of meetings starting on Saturday with Saudi rulers, including King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudis want more US help confronting Iran and armed groups, as well as private...

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Jordanian Spies Provided ISIL Bomb Intel: Officials

by Ali Younes – Reported Israeli intelligence on plane-bomb plan came from Jordanian spies inside ISIL, officials tell Al Jazeera. Intelligence on an ISIL airliner bomb plot given by US President Donald Trump to Russian officials originated in part with Jordanian spies, not Israelis,veteran Jordanian intelligence officials told Al Jazeera. According to several US media reports, Trump’s disclosure of sensitive intelligence to the Russians may have endangered an Israeli spy inside Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ABC News reported on Tuesday “the life of the spy is now at risk”. But several Jordanian sources who spoke on condition of anonymity doubted this assertion. They said they don’t believe Israel has any high level spies inside ISIL and depends instead on “intelligence sharing with Arab spy services partners”. “When it comes to ISIL, unlike Jordan, Israel relies on its electronic surveillance collection and its intelligence sharing-arrangement with its Arab partners,”...

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What’s In the Transcript? There’s a Way to Find Out What Trump Told Russia

by Deirdre Fulton – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday morning demanded the White House release an “unedited transcript” of Trump’s meeting with Russians. Among the revelations in Monday evening’s bombshell Washington Post report on President Donald Trump disclosing classified information to Russian diplomats is the fact that one U.S. counterterrorism official “called for the problematic portion of Trump’s discussion to be stricken from internal memos and for the full transcript to be limited to a small circle of recipients, efforts to prevent sensitive details from being disseminated further or leaked.” Now, amid outrage, calls are growing for that transcript to be released—if not to the public at-large, than at least “to Congress for investigative purposes,” as National Memo editor-in-chief Joe Conason wrote Tuesday. “he House and Senate intelligence committees should request—or if necessary, subpoena—the transcripts of Trump’s meeting with the Russians, to see who is telling the truth,” Conason...

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New York Times: Intelligence Trump Leaked to Russians Came From Israel

by Joan McCarter – The rapidly unraveling story of popular vote loser Donald Trump leaking classified intelligence to Russian diplomats, as the result of an order from Vladimir Putin, just gets worse. Directly on the heels of the admission from National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster that Trump didn’t even know where the intelligence came from, we found out where the intelligence came from: Israel, according to The New York Times. Israel is one of the United States’ most important allies and a major intelligence collector in the Middle East. The revelation that Mr. Trump boasted about some of Israel’s most sensitive information to the Russians could damage the relationship between the two countries. It also raises the possibility that the information could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the Middle East. In the meeting with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister, Mr. Trump disclosed...

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NATO Allies Prepare for the Arrival of Lil’ Donny Tantrum

by Hunter – There’s a NATO meeting coming up, which means 27 other countries are now scrambling to put plastic caps over the electrical outlets and childproofing the cupboard doors. Because Little Donny Tantrum is comin’ to town. NATO is scrambling to tailor its upcoming meeting to avoid taxing President Donald Trump’s notoriously short attention span. The alliance is telling heads of state to limit talks to two to four minutes at a time during the discussion, several sources inside NATO and former senior U.S. officials tell Foreign Policy. Strengthening the security of the free world: important. Coming up with ways to do it that you can fully convey before the egg timer in Trump’s head dings; very important. Four months in office, and our nation’s leader is already so notoriously dim that allies are reshaping multinational meetings in order to cope with his obvious, ahem, limitations. “It’s kind of ridiculous...

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US says Assad Using ‘Crematorium’ to Hide Mass Killings

Trump administration says it has evidence Syrian authorities are burning bodies at Saydnaya prison near Damascus. The US administration has accused the Syrian government of installing a crematorium in a military prison in order to destroy the remains of thousands of murdered prisoners. Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary for the state department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, gave reporters satellite pictures apparently showing snow melting on the roof of the facility. “Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Saydnaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium,” he said, referring to a military jail north of Damascus. “Although the regime’s many atrocities are well documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of the mass murders taking place in Saydnaya.” Syrian government accused of mass prison executions Jones said the information came from credible humanitarian...

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Iraqi Forces Push Toward ISIL’s ‘Last Pocket’ in Mosul (VIDEOS)

ISIL controls nine percent of war-torn city’s west, army official says, as US-backed Iraqi forces seek to evict group. US-backed Iraqi forces have pushed deeper into the last pocket of Mosul controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), as the battle for the city approaches an end after seven months of gruelling combat. ISIL fighters have now been dislodged from all but a handful of districts in the western half of Mosul including the Old City, where the group is expected to make its last stand, taking advantage of narrow streets and its dense population. Mosul: Uncertain future awaits children born under ISIL rule Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul said on Sunday the area controlled by ISIL was no more than nine percent of west Mosul, which is bisected by the River Tigris. “It’s a very small area,” he told Reuters. “God...

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Battle for Mosul: 400k Iraqis Displaced in Two Months

UN report says 434,775 people have fled ISIL’s last stronghold about two months into the army’s offensive to retake it. More than 400,000 people have been displaced from western Mosul about two months into the Iraqi army’s battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to the UN. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, citing the Iraqi government, that 434,775 people have fled ISIL’s last stronghold in Iraq since Iraqi forces launched the western Mosul operation on February 19. Mosul: Uncertain future awaits children born under ISIL rule This brings the number of internally displaced people, since the Mosul operation started in October, to a total of 615,150 Iraqis. According to OCHA, about 30,000 civilians have returned to their homes in western Mosul since the end of April – meaning that the number of internally displaced people from western Mosul...

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Turkey Condemns US Move to Arm Syrian Kurdish Fighters

Officials criticise Trump’s decision to arm YPG units in battle for Raqqa against ISIL as US tries to reassure Ankara. Turkey’s top officials have sharply criticised a decision by the United States to arm Kurdish fighters battling ISIL in Syria – with Washington responding that it will address Ankara’s security concerns. Dana White, the Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman, said in a written statement on Tuesday that President   Donald Trump decided to “equip Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as necessary to ensure a clear victory” against ISIL in Raqqa, the group’s self-declared capital in Syria. Turkey views the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), a central part of SDF, as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought the state in the southeast of Turkey since 1984 and is considered a “terrorist group” by the US and EU. Turkish President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan said...

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Venezuela: The Catastrophe the World has Been Ignoring

by E.A. Crunden – Venezuela is in a crisis. Blackouts, deaths, a state of emergency. Over the course of the past few months, Venezuela’s national crisis has gone from bad to worse, as food shortages and economic distress have pushed citizens into the streets. Protests have been raging for the past two months, resulting in the deaths of at least 37 people, with more than 700 protesters wounded and over 1,000 arrested. The situation hasn’t been getting a tremendous amount of attention in the Western world — but after this week, that could change. On Thursday, students stormed Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, demanding that the government hold elections and address terrible food shortages. Sprayed with tear gas and confronted by soldiers, the protesters persisted, undaunted. “The terrorists today are in government, today we are the ones who are fighting for Venezuela, today they are stopping us, today they are killing us, today we are victims...

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Nearly 500K People Urge Congress to “Take Away Trump’s Nuclear Football”

by Nadia Prupis – New legislation would prohibit president from launching nuclear strike without declaration of war from Congress. Close to 500,000 people have signed a petition, delivered to Congress on Wednesday, that urges lawmakers to take President Donald Trump’s finger off the nuclear button. The petition supports the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act,” legislation introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that would prohibit Trump from launching a nuclear weapon without Congress first authorizing a declaration of war. “No American president should be allowed to launch an unprovoked nuclear war,” Markey said at the press conference marking the petition delivery. “The Constitution gives the power to declare war to Congress, and we should not allow President Trump—or any president—to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack against the U.S. or our allies.” More than a dozen advocacy groups helped circulate the...

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Talk to, Don’t Provoke, North Korea

by Sheldon Richman – Remember this the next time someone asks, “Can we trust North Korea?” The more appropriate question is whether North Korea can trust the U.S. government. There’s little more we can do than hope that some cool heads around Donald Trump are telling him he’d be nuts to attack North Korea. I don’t know who they might be. Still, we must hope. It doesn’t take a lifetime of study to know that, fortunately, no military resolution of the standoff is available. Ten million South Koreans live within artillery reach of the capital of Seoul, some 30 miles from the demilitarized zone separating North and South. Nearly 30,000 U.S. military personnel are around there too. North Korea has thousands of underground and undersea military facilities that American bombs and missiles would not find. A conventional U.S. attack would be catastrophic, and a nuclear attack far, far worse, for the...

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Trump’s Foreign Policy is Incoherent

by E.A. Crunden – From Syria to Russia, the administration doesn’t seem to agree on its messaging — or who should deliver it. In an email seen by the New York Times, diplomats requested that United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley aides use cues from Tillerson’s department when making comments, especially on high-profile topics. Her remarks should be “re-cleared with Washington if they are substantively different from the building blocks, or if they are on a high-profile issue such as Syria, Iran, Israel-Palestine, or the D.P.R.K. ,” the email read. The article noted that neither the State Department nor the United States mission at the United Nations had responded for comment. Tensions between the former South Carolina governor’s bolder approach to foreign policy and Tillerson’s more reserved method have been on the rise for some time. Haley, outspoken on foreign policy and firm in her stances, has drawn...

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Seoul Rejects Trump Demand it Pays for Missile System (VIDEO)

$1bn THAAD defence system in South Korea guarding against threats from North Korea will be operational ‘within days’. South Korea’s government has brushed aside US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that it should pay for a $1bn missile defence system the two allies are installing in South Korea to guard against threats from North Korea. The first components of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system have already been delivered and set up at a former golf course in South Korea – infuriating China – at a time of heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes. Top US officials have said THAAD will be operational “within days”. “I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. It’s a billion-dollar system,” Trump said in an interview with the Reuters news agency. “It’s phenomenal. It’s the most incredible equipment you’ve ever seen – shoots missiles right out of the sky,” said...

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US Wants to Bring North Korea to ‘Path of Dialogue’ (VIDEOS)

Diplomacy still the preferred option but military action also on the table, US lawmakers are told at the White House. The United States wants to bring North Korea back to the “path of dialogue” over its nuclear weapons programme and will use diplomatic measures and additional sanctions to increase pressure on it. After briefing senators in a highly unusual meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a statement that toned down military rhetoric and urged the international community to help find a solution to North Korea’s nuclear programme. President Donald Trump aims to “pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners”, the statement read. Trump calls for tougher sanctions on North Korea “We are...

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North Korean Artillery and the Concept of “Flattening Seoul” – a Breakdown

by Rei – You hear it often: if war in Korea were to break out, Seoul would be flattened. Not because of a nuclear strike, but because of North Korean artillery.  North Korea is estimated to have (depending on the analysis and definitions) 8600-12000 artillery pieces, dug in and defended against a first strike. At one round per minute, they could fire at least five hundred thousand rounds per hour, quickly reducing Seoul to a heap of rubble. Is this actually the case?  Let’s break it down. First off, can North Korea actually hit Seoul? Image: GlobalSecurity The above map shows the range of various types of North Korean artillery fired from the closest point on the DMZ. It quickly becomes clear that the vast majority of them aren’t actually in range of Seoul. Only the M-1978 (since modified to the M-1989) actually is. This is a large, rather unwieldy system...

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Trumpism and the Danger of Willful Ignorance

by DarkSyde – A useful example of the willful ignorance spreading among conservatives as exemplified by Trump. Here, conservatives changed their opinion on a simple yes or no question based solely on the party in control of the WH. It is a good bet that many who changed their mind would vehemently deny they ever held any other view on the matter. Humans are all born ignorant. We may mature into the most knowledgeable creatures on Earth, but at the start, we’re about as intellectually helpless as any mammal on the eutherian side of a marsupial. Sadly, many of us stay relatively ignorant our whole lives, mostly not by choice. But for a few, ignorance is willful, intentional, and terminal. Trumpism carries that further: What is key though is to understand that this is not just ignorance. Ignorance is just the first stage of Trump’s fairly advanced problem. He is not only ignorant but clearly unaware...

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The Trump Doctrine

by ROBERT REICH – Though his foreign policy seems arbitrary and inconsistent, a pattern has emerged to explain Donald Trump’s worldview and how the US will carry it out. What’s the “Trump Doctrine” of foreign policy? At first glance, foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary and devoid of principle. A few weeks ago, even before the airstrike on Syria, Trump communications director Mike Dubke told Trump’s assembled aides that international affairs presented a messaging challenge because the Trump administration lacks a coherent foreign policy. “There is no Trump doctrine,” Dubke declared. I think Dubke is being grossly unfair. Of course there’s a Trump Doctrine. You just have to know where to look for it. The Trump Doctrine began to emerge when Trump issued his travel bans (both the first and second) on predominantly Muslim countries. But he notably excluded predominately Muslim countries where Trump has business interests. So under what might...

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America’s Addiction to War (VIDEO)

by Andrew Mitrovica – War brings supposedly disparate parts of the US together to rally around the flag, yellow ribbons and even Donald Trump. Eventually, the truth reveals itself. And so it was after President Donald Trump – a still surreal phrase to put to paper – elected to bomb a mostly vacant Syrian airstrip in supposed response to the slow, suffocating murder of children by Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime. The Pentagon-supplied images of Tomahawk cruise missiles bursting into the night sky triggered a near orgasmic reaction among the same band of US cable TV network-approved geopolitical “experts” and journalists-in-name-tag-only who gush with unbridled excitement each time flashy weapons go bang in the night. You’ll recall that not too long ago, this giddy, easily impressed lot, joined by rancorous Democrats on Capitol Hill, were universally repulsed by the same dangerous demagogue they recently applauded on Twitter, TV and elsewhere as a...

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Trump Touted ‘Armada’ He was Sending to North Korea While it was Sailing in Opposite Direction

by Aaron Rupar – The White House is blaming the Defense Department for the mistake. The armada Trump bragged about sending to North Korea last week was actually headed in the opposite direction, according to a new report from the New York Times. In an interview with Fox Business that aired on April 12, President Trump declared that the United States was “sending an armada” to deal with the threat posed by the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s refusal to stop testing weapons. Trump said,  “We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.” Trump’s comments came on the heels of news reports that the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson strike group was headed toward North Korea — news seemingly confirmed by a strike group spokesman. The day before Trump’s Fox Business interview aired, Press Secretary Sean Spicer also seemed to confirm the strike...

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‘New Step in Long Walk to Freedom’: Palestinian Prisoners Launch Mass Hunger Strike

by Deirdre Fulton – As many as 1,500 political detainees are taking part in the demonstration demanding ‘freedom and dignity’. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a hunger strike on Monday, protesting dismal conditions as well as “Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation.” Some said as many as 1,500 political prisoners in six jails across Israel were participating in the open-ended strike, commemorating Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and coming ahead of June’s 50-year anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War, when the occupation began. Solidarity rallies were also taking place in the occupied cities of Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus. According to the human rights and prisoner advocacy organization Addameer, which is urging global solidarity with the detainees, “the hunger striking prisoners’ demands include: family visits, proper medical care, end to Israel’s practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial in so-called administrative detention, and stopping the use of...

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Will China Intervene in North Korea? (VIDEOS)

by Salvatore Babones – If China intervenes in North Korea, it would not to be to save Kim Jong-un. North Korea is in the headlines – again. For a small, poor country of 25 million people, it sure does make a lot of news. This time it’s the perennial issue of nuclear testing. North Korea has tested five nuclear devices since 2006. Donald Trump is in no mood to allow a sixth. Just days before his Florida summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump vowed that “if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.” Then just after the summit he backed up his pledge by ordered an aircraft carrier strike group to the region. North Korea showcases new missiles at military parade Most people agree that North Korea is a problem. Aside from its nuclear tests, it also stands accused of state-sponsored counterfeiting of foreign currencies, the industrial-scale manufacture and...

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No, Dropping a MOAB on ISIS in Afghanistan Doesn’t Make Surge 2.0 a Good Idea

by Ed Krayewski – Geeze Louise. The U.S. military dropped the 21,000-pound GBU-43, or MOAB, on a tunnel complex out of which ISIS operated, U.S. Central Command announced today, giving proponents of a renewed surge in Afghanistan new hope that President Trump will follow that course. But another escalation in the war in Afghanistan remains a bad idea—there’s very little, if anything, the U.S. can do in its 16th year of war that it couldn’t accomplish in the first 15, even if the bombs used are getting bigger. The GBU-43, called the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, bomb, is the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and was developed for the Iraq war (of course it was) but never used there. The action in Afghanistan was the first time the bomb has been used in the battlefield—it was tested in 2003. Its creator, Albert Weimorts, previously designed a 5,000-pound...

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Ask Yourself: Will Donald Trump EVER Become President?

by BILL MOYERS – As our institutions bend and buckle and approach the breaking point, the president bombs Syria and is hailed by an obeisant media. It’s been a week now since Donald Trump once again became our president. Here’s how it happened. After he unleashed missiles on a Syrian airfield, members of Washington’s national security establishment and elite pundits swooned. Top Democrats and Republicans led the way. Good soldiers all in the military-industrial-political complex, they stood smartly at attention and saluted the commander-in-chief for sending a message to the world, although exactly what the message meant remains far from clear. The headline above Glenn Greenwald’s story at The Intercept summed up the response: “The Spoils of War — Trump Lavished with Media and Bipartisan Praise for Bombing Syria.” The hawkish Hillary Clinton, who long had been critical of Barack Obama for not bringing Bashar Assad to heel, “appeared at an...

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Could Trump’s Need to be Adored Lead to a War with North Korea: A Psychological Perspective

by HalBrown – Just watching Dan Rather talking about N. Korea to Rachel. He made the point that Trump basks in feeling adoration. Reflecting on the positive press Trump received after his last two militaristic actions, he worries whether Trump will push for a military engagement with North Korea. This would, of course, likely lead to war. The mere fact anyone would even consider that an American president’s psychological dysfunction — to put it mildly — could lead to a war is surreal and chilling. Dan Rather also suggested that Trump is woefully uninformed about what happened in the Korean War and that he ought to read, or have read to him, “The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War “ by David Halberstam, published in 2007. The cadre of online shrinks I communicate with every day who have been studying Trump, are asking this question: Given what we know about Trump’s extreme, malignant narcissism, do...

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North Korea Warns of ‘Thermonuclear War’ After Trump Threatens Strike

by Nika Knight – ‘Yet again, the Trump administration appears to be threatening a preemptive war against North Korea. When the inevitable retaliation comes, what form does it take?’ The Trump administration has succeeded in ratcheting up tensions in the Korea Peninsula after dispatching a Navy strike group to the western Pacific Ocean and threatening a “preemptive strike” against North Korea if the country goes ahead with a nuclear bomb test. In response to the Trump administration’s saber-rattling, North Korea on Friday warned of a looming “thermonuclear war,” threatening a preemptive strike of its own if the U.S. engages in “reckless” aggression. In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said that “Pyongyang has determined the Trump administration is ‘more vicious and more aggressive’ than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama,” AP writes. “He added that North Korea will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in ‘quality and...

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The ‘Mother of All Bombs’ is Big, Deadly – and Won’t Lead to Peace

by Medea Benjamin – “I’m really very good at war. I love war, in a certain way,” bragged candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Iowa. This is the same Donald Trump who avoided the Vietnam draft by claiming a bone spur in his foot, a medical problem that never kept him off the tennis courts or golf courses, and miraculously healed on its own. But with the escalation of US military involvement in Syria, the record number of drone attacks in Yemen, more US troops being sent to the Middle East and, now, the dropping of a massive bomb in Afghanistan, it looks like Trump may indeed love war. Or at least, love “playing” war. In Syria, Trump went for 59 Tomahawk missiles. Now, in Afghanistan, he has opted for a “super weapon”, the second largest of the US military’s non-nuclear bombs. This 21,600-pound explosive, never before used in combat, was used to...

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Syria’s Civil War Explained From the Beginning

The Syrian civil war is the deadliest conflict the 21st century has witnessed thus far. As the Syrian conflict enters its seventh year, more than 465,000 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, more than a million injured and over 12 million Syrians – half the country’s prewar population – have been displaced from their homes. In 2011, what became known as the Arab Spring revolts toppled Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak . That March, peaceful protests erupted in Syria as well, after 15 boys were detained and tortured for having written graffiti in support of the Arab Spring. One of the boys, 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb , was killed after having been brutally tortured. The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad , responded to the protests by killing hundreds of demonstrators and imprisoning many more. In July 2011, defectors from the military...

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Dan Rather Says What Every Person With a Moral Compass is Thinking Regarding Sean Spicer & Trump

by Sarah – It’s gotten to the point where if Donald Trump doesn’t fire Sean Spicer for his egregious remarks about the Holocaust, Assad and Syria, he should be seen as agreeing with Spicer’s sentiment as well as condoning it. It’s disgusting, to say the least, and the legendary Dan Rather just released a statement that should summarize what every person with a decent moral compass is thinking right now. Rather wrote: “It is with sadness that I do not know where to begin. Today in a briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement that is so far beyond the pale, so tone deaf and blind to history and our precarious moment in world affairs, that it is with only a heavy heart that I even bring attention to it. There can be no joy in such incompetence. In trying to make the case for the Administration’s policy...

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Russia Faces Mounting Pressure to Abandon Syria’s Assad (VIDEO)

New sanctions on agenda as foreign ministers from G7 group, Turkey and Arab states meet in Italy to discuss the war. Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialised nations meeting in Lucca in Italy are looking to put pressure on Russia to break its ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Italy has also invited the foreign ministers from several “like-minded countries” – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar – to sit down with the G7 group in the Tuscan city to discuss Syria. Seated around conference tables in the Tuscan city on Tuesday, the diplomats smiled and exchanged pleasantries but made no remarks as photographers were allowed in briefly for the start of the meeting. The session lasted roughly an hour. Calling last week’s US missile strike on a Syrian airbase a “game changer”, Boris Johnson, UK’s foreign minister, said on Monday that support for Assad “was...

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AP: U.S. Official Alleges Russia Knew About Syria’s Chemical Attack on Civilians in Advance

by Leslie Salzillo – On Monday, the Associated Press ran an uncharacteristically vague and somewhat mysterious story about a Washington official who is stating Russia was well aware, in advance, of the Syrian chemical attack that killed 80 innocent civilians last week. Donald Trump said the images of the children prompted him to authorize the firing of 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian base days after the chemical attack. Given the ineffectiveness of his strike, Trump’s actual motives are still in question, as well as his ties to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. AP journalists Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor report: The official said a drone operated by Russians was flying over a hospital as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment. Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons....

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The Chemical Brothers: Putin and Assad (VIDEOS)

by Roman Dobrokhotov – What would Russia’s support for Assad cost Vladimir Putin? This week the world witnessed yet another chemical attack in Syria. After horrendous footage from Khan Sheikhoun showed children suffocating from sarin gas and relatives crying over piles of dead bodies, Russia was forced to react. But while Washington used the attack as an excuse for missile strikes on a regime-held airbase in southern Syria, Moscow did the exact opposite – it used it as an excuse for more excuses. And the excuse was produced quickly: The ministry of defence announced that there was no chemical attack but that a rocket had hit a stockpile of “terrorists'” chemical weapons, which led to the release of the poisonous gas. WATCH: Idlib attack – Results show chemical weapons were used (2:16) To many Russian journalists, this explanation sounded familiar. In 1999 during another “counterterrorism operation” (the one that brought Vladimir Putin to...

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Trump’s Syria Strike Displays Arrogance, Not Toughness

by Robert Borosage – The bombing of Syria is the most irresponsible act of Donald Trump’s circus presidency – yet it enjoys the greatest applause from the foreign policy and political establishment. Trump is doing what Obama refused to do – bombing a sovereign nation in response to a humanitarian horror, purportedly committed by the Assad government. Obama’s refused to retaliate after the Assad government was accused of crossing his “red line” and using chemical weapons on his own people. Obama couldn’t understand how a retaliatory strike would produce any result. Instead, his administration joined with Vladimir Putin to negotiate the dismantling of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal. Our foreign policy establishment has condemned him to this day for his alleged “weakness.” Trump’s bellicosity is likely to prove the wisdom of Obama’s restraint. In his campaign, Trump indicted that foreign policy elite for its failures, particularly in the Middle East,...

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US Strike Group Heads Towards Korean Peninsula (VIDEO)

Third Fleet says USS Carl Vinson making its way to the Western Pacific Ocean following North Korean ‘provocations’. The Pentagon says a group of US warships is headed to the western Pacific Ocean to provide a physical presence near the Korean Peninsula. The strike group, called Carl Vinson, includes an aircraft carrier and will make its way from Singapore towards the Korean Peninsula. The development comes in response to North Korea’s “reckless, irresponsible” conduct, a US navy official said, referring to recent missile tests. “US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific,” Commander Dave Benham, spokesperson at US Pacific Command, told AFP news agency. North Korea fires ballistic missile in advance of Trump-Xi meeting “The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of...

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What Next for US-Russia Ties After Syria Strike? (VIDEO)

US-Russian relations are under the spotlight ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Russia next week. Questions have been raised over the future of US-Russian ties after Washington launched a barrage of tomahawk missiles against an airbase in Syria, where Russia’s military is on the ground propping up its ally, President Bashar al-Assad. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will next week make the first visit to Russia by a Trump administration official, just days after the US strike on Shayrat airfield in Homs province – described as a response to a suspected chemical attack in the Idlib province, blamed by many on Assad. The attack, as well as multiple Russia-related investigations in the US, will follow Tillerson’s trip, which was designed to test the Trump administration’s hopes for closer ties to its former Cold War foe. Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow, said that the implications for US-Russia relations would depend...

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Saudi Arabia, Iran, Others React to US Airstrikes in Syria (VIDEOS)

Regional and world leaders are quick to react to the news after US fires missiles at Syria air base. The United States had fired nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles at a military airfield in Syria, the first direct military action Washington has taken against Syrian government forces in the six-year-old conflict. Survivors speak of Syria chemical attack, two years on The US said the missiles on Friday severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at the airfield. US President Donald Trump  said he ordered the strikes against Shayrat air base in Homs province, saying it is believed that a suspected gas attack on a town in Idlib province had been launched from there. Trump said he acted in America’s “vital national security interest”. World and regional leaders and countries were quick to react to the news. Russia, which has been bombing rebel-held areas in Syria in...

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Trump, Syria, and Chemical Weapons: What We Know, What We Don’t, and the Dangers Ahead

by Phyllis Bennis – Further military engagement by the U.S. is not the way to end the horrific carnage. Let’s start with what we don’t know. Experts remain uncertain what chemical(s) were involved in the horrific chemical attack, almost certainly from the air, on the village of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province in Syria.  The nerve agent sarin, chlorine, and unknown combinations of chemicals have all been identified as possible, but in the first 48 hours nothing has been confirmed. We don’t know for sure yet what it was that killed more than 75 people, many of them children, and injured many more. Crucially, we also don’t know who was responsible. Western governments, led by the United States, and much of the western press have asserted that the Syrian regime is responsible, but there is still no clear evidence. Certainly Damascus has an air force, has been known to use chemical,...

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Trump Fires Missiles w/o Congress—Suddenly Cares About Syrians? No. He’s Found the #1 Distraction

by Leslie Salzillo – And here we go. Earlier this week, chemical warfare was used to kill over 80 Syrian innocent civilians (including children) many who suffocated to death. Vladimir Putin and/or Syria’s dictator Assad are allegedly responsible. Donald Trump is under critical investigation for his ties with Putin. And now suddenly, SUDDENLY Trump cares about the lives of Syrian Muslims after banning them from entering the United States for life-saving refuge and after vilifying them for over a year. On Thursday night Trump fired dozens of missiles onto a Syrian airbase without Congressional approval. It was about an hour after dining with China’s president at Trump’s resort in Florida (at the expense of American tax-payers  — while enriching himself and his family). Of course, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley prepped the world for this at the United Nations on Wednesday with her photos and statement, “We might have to take action.”...

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‘Chemical Attack’ in Syria Draws International Outrage (VIDEO) GRAPHIC !

UN to investigate potential war crimes after dozens were killed in Idlib attack US says ‘cannot be ignored’. WARNING: The below report contains images some may find distressing. A suspected chemical attack in Syria has drawn international condemnation, with the United States, France and Britain all pointing the finger at President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. At least 58 people, including 11 children, were killed in the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Tuesday, doctors and a monitor said. The United Nations said it would investigate the bombing raid as a possible war crime, and an emergency Security Council meeting was scheduled for Wednesday . The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack caused many people to choke or faint, and some to foam from the mouth, citing medical sources who described the symptoms as signs that gas was used. Local health workers said the death toll could rise...

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‘Why is Jared Kushner in Iraq?’ Trump Son-in-Law Expands Shadow Diplomat Role

by Nika Knight – ‘Seems we have one family running our government’—Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) Raising eyebrows once again about President Donald Trump’s merging of family and government business, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner accompanied the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman on an official visit to Iraq on Monday. Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, has no diplomatic, military, or foreign policy experience. Nevertheless, he has been tasked by the president with brokering Middle East peace, according to the Washington Post, and his trip to Iraq marks an expansion of his role as a shadow diplomat. Notably, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—who has been criticized for keeping a bizarrely low profile and avoiding the press—has not yet visited Iraq. Meanwhile, Kushner has “taken on some international outreach for the White House,” the Post writes, and his portfolio also includes China, Mexico, and Canada. Trump has strained U.S. relations with China...

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ISIL Second-in-Command Reportedly Killed in Airstrike (VIDEO)

Ayad al-Jumaili, along with other commanders, killed in air strike in al-Qaim region, Iraqi state TV reports. Ayad al-Jumaili, believed to be ISIL’s second-in-command after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been killed in Iraqi air strikes near the Syrian border, Iraqi state TV reported. Jumaili and two other commanders were reportedly killed in the al-Qaim region in the western Anbar province. Brigadier general Yahya Rasool of Iraq’s Joint Operation Command, citing military intelligence, said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group’s director of administrative affairs, Salem Mudafar al-Ajmi, was also killed in the raid. The news comes as Iraqi government continued its push to liberate more areas from ISIL control in Mosul. Fears of ISIL fighters infiltrating Iraqi refugee camps More than 300 civilians have been killed in western Mosul since Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition began an offensive last month to push...

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Gaza: Israel’s War Drums are Getting Louder (VIDEO)

by Tareq Baconi – Israel is entertaining another round of fighting on the besieged strip. On Friday, a senior member of Hamas’s military wing, Mazen Faqha, was assassinated in the Gaza Strip by armed gunmen. It was an assassination tactic not seen in Gaza for at least a decade. Faqha was a leading member of Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank. In 2003, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Israel for his role in planning attacks following Israel’s assassination of Salah Shehadeh, then al-Qassam’s leader. Faqha was set free in the prisoner-exchange deal that released Gilad Shalit in return for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in 2011. He was delivered from prison straight to the Gaza Strip, where he resided until his death. The timing and the tactic of Faqha’s killing raise questions about the possibility of another conflagration between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian factions in Gaza agree...

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Trump’s Awkward Meeting with Angela Merkel just got More Cringeworthy

by Laurel Raymond – Trump reportedly handed the Chancellor an invoice for what he thinks Germany “owes” NATO and the U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel was always going to be awkward. Trump rode to office on a wave of nationalistic populism and has openly slammed NATO, one of the key alliances binding the U.S. and Germany, while Merkel has been a staunch defender of the global world order. During his campaign, Trump even levied Merkel’s name as an insult, sneering that his opponent Hillary Clinton wanted to be “America’s Angela Merkel.” Nonetheless, Trump took to Twitter the day after the chilly meeting to defend his “GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel” despite “FAKE NEWS” claiming otherwise, before reiterating his claim Germany owes NATO money for its defense — a claim that is profoundly ignorant of how NATO works. Now, the Times of London is reporting that Trump went a...

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Why Spend $54 Billion More on the Pentagon? To Start a War, Obviously

by JOHN FEFFER – The president wants to put the U.S. on a permanent war footing to sustain his unpopular presidency. So, let me see if I’ve got this right. North Korea has been pushing its ally China to rein in the United States. Pyongyang is worried that Washington is about to launch a preemptive attack, so it has tried to use whatever minimal amount of influence it has to persuade China to use its considerable economic leverage with the United States to get those knuckleheads inside the Beltway to listen to reason. Or maybe I misheard the report on the radio. How about this: As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to stop reckless U.S. military interventions overseas, like the one he so disliked (after it failed) in Iraq. So, as president, he is withdrawing all troops from Syria, reducing U.S. military presence in Asia, and pulling the United States...

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North Korea ‘Fails’ in New Missile Test: South

South Korean and US officials say they have detected a failed missile launch attempt by North Korea. A new North Korean missile test appeared to have ended in failure, according to South Korean and US officials. The reported failed launch on Wednesday came during large-scale annual military drills involving US and South Korean forces that the North has called a rehearsal for an invasion. Seoul’s defence ministry said in a statement that Pyongyang fired one missile from an air base in the eastern port of Wonsan but the launch was believed to had failed. “We are in the process of analysing what type of missile it was,” it added. The statement came after Japan’s Kyodo news service, citing an unidentified government source, said the North might have launched several missiles and that they were a failure. A US military spokesman also said they had detected a failed North Korean missile launch attempt, with...

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Rebels Launch Second Damascus Attack in Three Days

Government forces and rebels engaged in fresh fighting as rebel offensive near Jobar neighbourhood enters third day. Syrian rebels stormed a government-held area in northeastern Damascus for the second time in three days, sources on both sides said, pressing the boldest assault on the capital by opposition fighters in several years. The spokesman for one of the main rebel groups involved in the attack said the new offensive began at 0300 GMT, targeting an area rebel fighters had seized from government control on Sunday before being forced to retreat. “We launched the new offensive and we restored all the points we withdrew from on Monday. We have fire control over the Abassiyin garages and began storming it,” Wael Alwan, spokesman of rebel group Failaq al-Rahman, told Reuters. Syrian government hits back at rebels after Damascus assault Failaq al-Rahman rebels are fighting alongside fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and...

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ISIL After Mosul: Insurgency and Rivalry

by Alia Brahimi – As the battle for Mosul reaches its final stages, what we are witnessing is ISIL’s transformation, not its demise. “The battle now is in the final stages,” Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi said on March 14 of the government offensive to retake Mosul from ISIL. “They are cornered, and if they will not surrender they will definitely get killed.” While the impending combat threatens to be circuitous and uncertain – involving, as it will, fighting among civilians in the narrow streets and alleyways of the Old City – Abadi’s confidence about the final outcome appears to be warranted. But what will be the broader repercussions of Mosul’s liberation for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)? Back to insurgency WATCH: More than 76,000 flee Mosul’s war zone (2:30) Firstly, on the tactical level, ISIL will continue to devolve into an insurgency –...

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Israel Carries Out Air Strikes Inside Syria (VIDEO)

Fighter jets bomb multiple targets, prompting Syrian retaliation with ground-to-air missiles, Israeli army says. The Israeli army says its aircraft have carried out several strikes inside Syria overnight, prompting Syrian forces to retaliate with ground-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted. It was one of the most serious incidents between the two countries, which remain technically at war, since civil war broke out in Syria in March 2011. In response of Thursday night’s attack, the Syrian government deployed air defence systems and fired a number of missiles towards Israeli jets, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. None of the missiles struck the jets, the army said, though one of the projectiles was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow missile defence system north of Jerusalem, according to Haaretz. “Overnight … aircraft targeted several targets in Syria,” an Israeli army statement said. “Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and aerial...

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UN Report: Israel has Established an ‘Apartheid Regime’

by Ben White – Report breaks new ground on the UN’s examination of the situation in occupied Palestine by using the word ‘apartheid’. A new United Nations report accuses Israel of having established “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. The publication comes amid renewed debate about whether, through its settlement policy and rejection of Palestinian self-determination, the Israeli government is creating – or even has already created – a de facto “one-state”, which critics warn would constitute a form of apartheid. It urged governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives”. The report – Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid – was commissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and launched in Beirut. John Reynolds, a lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland,...

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Cambodia Outraged as US Demands Repayment of ‘Blood-Stained’ War Debt

by Nika Knight – The US dropped more than 500,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Cambodians are responding with outrage to the U.S. government’s demand that the country repay a nearly 50-year-old loan to Cambodia’s brutal Lon Nol government, which came to power through a U.S.-backed coup and spent much of its foreign funds purchasing arms to kill its own citizens, according to Cambodia’s current prime minister Hun Sen. While the U.S. was backing the Lon Nol government, it was also strafing the Cambodian countryside with bombs—a carpet-bombing campaign that would eventually see over 500,000 tons of explosives dropped on the small Asian country, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and leaving a legacy of unexploded ordnances. “ dropped bombs on our heads and then they ask us to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF not to lend us...

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Tortured and Wrongly Held at Guantánamo for 14 Years, Abdul Zahir Now Has Freedom, but No Justice

by Adam Hudson, Truthout | Report – Before Barack Obama left office, he released 10 detainees from Guantánamo to Oman. Among them was Abdul Zahir, a 45-year-old man from Afghanistan. Zahir was detained at Guantánamo for 14 years, even though the US government later admitted that he was wrongfully held. He was mistaken for another man who shared his nickname, Abdul Bari. Zahir’s story exemplifies the cruelty of Guantánamo and the policies of indefinite detention and torture, which will, in all likelihood, continue with Trump as president. “I want to leave behind the bad things that happened to me while I have been imprisoned. I want to focus on the positive things ahead of me, seeing my family again, studying at university and perhaps being able to help others,” Zahir said, according a press release provided by his lawyers before he left Guantánamo. Zahir has three sons and speaks Arabic, Pashto and some Urdu,...

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US says ‘All Options on Table’ to Deal with North Korea (VIDEOS)

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley calls Kim Jong-un arrogant and not ‘a rational person’. The United States has said “all options are on the table” to deal with North Korea. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also denounced North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after the United Nations Security Council discussed Pyongyang’s launch of four ballistic missiles on Monday. “We are not dealing with a rational person,” said Haley. “It is an unbelievable, irresponsible arrogance that we are seeing coming out of Kim Jong-un at this time.” China urges US and North Korea to avoid ‘head-on collision’ She said the administration of US President Donald Trump was reevaluating how it would handle North Korea and that “all options were on the table”. “We are making those decisions now and we will act accordingly,” Haley said. North Korea fired the missiles into the sea off Japan’s...

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Trump Spreads Lie About Obama Releasing Gitmo Prisoners

by Laurel Raymond – Trump doesn’t just get his news from Fox News. He takes it and runs with it. President Donald Trump began his Tuesday by live tweeting statistics from Fox News — and embroidering the media coverage on Fox to spread a falsehood about how which Guantanamo detainees former President Barack Obama released. While the statistic had appeared on Fox shortly before, the falsehood was Trump’s own extrapolation. At 6:13 a.m. during a news rundown, Fox News mentioned the death of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Yasir al-Silmi, who was killed in an air strike on Yemen on March 2nd. “A win in the war on terror, the Trump administration just killed a former Guantanamo Bay detainee released by Barack Obama, Yasir al-Silmi,” the segment went. “He had been released back in 2009 even though the department of defense recommended that he stay behind bars. 122 prisoners released from Gitmo have returned to...

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Father Of Slain SEAL Demands Investigation Into His Botched Yemen Raid

by John Prager – Donald Trump’s botched Yemen raid left 30 civilians — including an 8-year-old American girl and other women and children — dead, as well as a Navy SEAL. Trump has been largely silent about the death of William “Ryan” Owens, and with good reason: it was his negligence that caused it. An 11-year-old child was the first to be struck by a bullet after he heard a commotion outside. Many more children as young as three months old would lose their lives in the bloodbath that was Trump’s first military operation. Trump, in his haste to approve the operation over dinner without adequate “intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations” according to military officials, failed to kill his primary target. All that we have to show from the botched mission are a few training videos the Trump administration touted as evidence of their success. The videos have been...

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McMaster’s Challenge: His Boss Is Already Making America Less Safe

by Vikram Singh and Peter Juul – At a time when the Trump administration continues to spark an immediate and growing national security crises due to mismanagement and reckless policies, the national security community felt great relief at the president’s selection of Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as the next national security advisor. McMaster will be tasked with resolving a number of serious foreign policy blunders already committed by the new administration. President Trump must ensure that McMaster has the authority and tools to deal with the following seven problems. Chaotic and dysfunctional management. Even before former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s forced resignation, President Trump’s National Security Council proved disturbingly dysfunctional. For example, U.S. military officials told Reuters that the president “approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.” The operation in Yemen was launched with no normal process and resulted in the...

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Iraqi Forces Take Control of Mosul Airport (VIDEO)

Iraqi forces storm ISIL-held Mosul International Airport as they continue offensive on western half of the city. US-backed Iraqi security forces closing in on the ISIL-held western half of Mosul have stormed the city’s airport and a nearby military base, state television said. Counterterrorism service (CTS) troops and elite interior ministry units known as Rapid Response forces descended on the airport early on Thursday and the nearby Ghazlani military complex, CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan told state TV. Iraqi army hits ISIL positions amid Mosul airport push “This is one of the major achievements that the Iraqi forces were hoping to get in the first phase of going towards the Western side of the city,” said Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Erbil. “This area is about 30 kms away from the western edge of the city, and Iraqi forces now say that they are in full control. “They...

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Iraqi Forces Push Into ISIL-Held Southern Mosul

Troops backed by jets battle their way to Mosul airport, as US defence chief arrives in Baghdad on unannounced visit. Iraqi security forces have pushed into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a new offensive to drive ISIL fighters from the city’s western half, as US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit. Iraqi forces backed by jets and helicopters battled their way to Mosul airport on Monday as they prepared to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s stronghold in the city’s west bank. “The federal police has resumed its advance … Our cannons are targeting Daesh defence lines with heavy fire,” federal police chief Raed Shaker Jawdat said, using and Arabic acronym for ISIL, also known as ISIS. INSIDE STORY: Will the latest Iraqi offensive mean the end of ISIL in Mosul? (25:10) The main...

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Defence Secretary Jim Mattis: Not in Iraq to Seize Oil

Jim Mattis arrives on unannounced visit to Iraq as Pentagon considers acceleration of military campaign against ISIL. US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, on an unannounced visit to Iraq, said the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Donald Trump that has rattled Iraq’s leaders. Mattis arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday, as the battle to oust the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group fighters from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Under the president’s deadline, Mattis has just a week to send Trump a strategy to ramp up the fight and defeat ISIL. And any plan is likely to depend on US and coalition troops working with and through the local forces in both countries. “We’re going to make...

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Trump Walks Back Years of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East (VIDEO)

by E.A. Crunden – The president says he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution. The two-state solution as we know it may be over. Speaking during a press conference Wednesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump failed to commit his support for a future Palestinian state, saying that he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution and that he would defer to whatever solution might be preferred by both parties. “I’m looking at a two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one.” Trump’s comments are an ominous sign that a shift is coming, and a dramatic shift away from decades of U.S. foreign policy. Broad bipartisan support exists for the two-state solution and few U.S. presidents have seen fit to rock...

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Trump’s Over Dinner Commando Raid Loses an Ally in the Fight Against Extremists

by Mark Sumner – It’s amazing. Donald Trump has said the magic words “radical Islamic terrorism,” and yet it doesn’t seem to have caused all opposition to dry up and blow away. In fact, Trump’s Muslim ban has proven to be a gift to enemies. The beneficiaries of this policy have been extremists, who can now say across the Muslim world: “The US will never help you.” And in his first military action — approved over dinner with Bannon and Kushner — Trump has created a costly catastrophe that has had drawn mockery from the terrorists it was mean to target and made the fight that much harder. Angry at the civilian casualties incurred last month in the first commando raid authorized by President Trump, Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country, according to American officials. Also not helping the situation: A delusional White House...

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ISIL Fighters ‘Besieged’ in Syria’s al-Bab in Aleppo (VIDEO)

ISIL is now surrounded by Syrian army from the south and by Turkish-backed rebels from the north, monitoring group says. Syrian government forces have advanced on the ISIL-held city of al-Bab, cutting off the last supply route that connects it to the armed group’s strongholds further east towards Iraq, according to a monitoring group. ISIL fighters in the area are now effectively surrounded by the Syrian army from the south and by Turkish-backed rebels from the north, as Damascus and Ankara race to capture the largest stronghold of the armed group in Aleppo province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday. Syrian rebels meet fierce ISIL resistance in al-Bab The British-based war monitor, which tracks developments in Syria’s conflict, added that the army and allied militia had made gains southeast of al-Bab overnight and fought ISIL there on Monday. Backed by air strikes, they severed a road...

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Echoes of Iraq Heard in Latest Threats Against Iran

by Ben Schreiner – (Screenshot via CNN) Marx offered that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.  A mere two weeks into the reign of a new administration in Washington, it appears the farce has already commenced. In an eerie parallel to the George W. Bush administration’s fevered fixation on “regime change” in Iraq from its very earliest days, the freshly minted Donald Trump administration has wasted little time in laying the groundwork for a disastrous military confrontation with Iran. Appearing before the White House press corps last Wednesday, Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn provocatively boasted that the administration was now “officially putting Iran on notice.” The following day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to further explain Flynn’s “on notice” broadside by carelessly conflating a Saudi naval vessel with an American vessel and Yemeni Houthi rebels with Iranian forces.  According to Spicer, Iran is “on notice”...

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NATO Calls on Russia to Stop Violence in Ukraine

NATO chief says Russia must end the violence as both sides move heavy artillery close to front line. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Russia to use its “considerable influence” to end fighting in eastern Ukraine after a renewed surge in violence there. Moscow-backed rebels and government forces have trade blame for the flare-up in the industrial east that has seen the highest casualty rate since mid-December and cut off power and water to thousands of civilians on both sides of the front line. The shelling eased on Wednesday, but the January 29 to 31 clashes near the Kiev-held front line town of Avdiyivka brought the festering conflict back into focus amid warnings of a looming humanitarian crisis. “We call for an immediate return to the ceasefire,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels. “We call on Russia to use its considerable influence over the separatists to bring the violence...

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White House says Raid that Killed Civilians and a SEAL was ‘Successful Operation by all Standards’

by Aaron Rupar – Military officials said the Trump administration acted on insufficient intelligence. During his press conference on Thursday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer characterized President Trump’s first military raid — an action against al Qaeda in Yemen on Sunday that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and many civilians — as a “successful operation by all standards.” “It’s hard to ever call something a complete success when you have loss of life or people injured, but I think when you look at the totality of what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America and against our people and our institutions and probably throughout the world, in terms of what some of these individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards,” Spicer said. Yemeni officials say 16 civilians — eight women and eight children — were killed, while medics at the scene said the number of...

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U.S. Military Officials Find that Trump’s First Counterterrorism Operation was Unprepared

by First Amendment – What a clusterf**k. Donald Trump is totally unprepared to run our country. Trump administration is a complete disaster. They can only be counted on to f**k up anything they touch. Trump administration drops SEAL team into reinforced Al Qaeda base that was defended by landmines and snipers and without sufficient intelligence, ground support and adequate backup preparations! Women and children killed in fierce firefight. SEAL team member killed. Totally unprepared and it cost many lives. We heard about Benghazi for months and just two weeks into Trumpland they have this massive screw up. Will there be outrage from Republicans? Don’t count on it, as they’re drunk with power and couldn’t care less. Without any conscience or sense of duty to country coming from Republicans, this will almost certainly be repeated. mobile.reuters.com/… U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens died in the raid on a branch of al Qaeda, also known as AQAP, in al Bayda province, which the Pentagon said also killed 14...

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Israel Begins Evacuation of Illegal Amona Outpost

Israeli police move to clear West Bank settlement as construction of 3,000 new settler homes announced elsewhere. Hundreds of Israeli border police have entered a hardline Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank Wednesday to evict its residents after a court ruled the homes were built on private Palestinian land. Hundreds of officers marched into the Amona outpost near Ramallah on Wednesday, just hours after the Israeli government announced that another 3,000 more illegal homes would be built in occupied Palestinian territory. The officers’ evacuation of Amona marked the end of months of attempts by government hardliners to legalise the outpost, and the approval over the past two weeks of nearly 5,000 new settler homes elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territories was widely seen as a move to win their support. There had been fears of violence after hundreds of hardline sympathisers of the settlers slipped past army roadblocks on...

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