21st Century Wire
For the past two weeks we’ve seen the Obama administration embroiled in controversy, as three separate scandals continue to grow and attach themselves to the White House.
While this is major news, and does have the power to topple this U.S. President, there are other far-reaching actions unfolding under his watch…
In a bizarre move, President Obama, held two joint press conferences last week, one with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and another with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Perhaps the dual Presidential podiums were a subliminal touch to what seemed to blur the line between world leaders, in a sense, becoming rule by global council. This strange observation may well be significant to understanding the kind of dark partnerships that are developing world-wide.
Rightly, most of the media will focus on the obvious take down of an empire, as they try to uncover the truth about Benghazi, IRS, and the DOJ. However, on the global chess board of finance and war, more stark revelations have come to light involving the U.S. President. During the press conference with Prime Minister Cameron, President Obama, made vague sweeping statements about a Transatlantic Partnership with the E.U. A partnership that many fear will lead to a Transatlantic Union which will impose more globalized standards and regulations, potentially derailing individual free trade.
This was made clear by The New American earlier this year:
“The “Transatlantic Partnership,” of course, is just one of the major sovereignty-threatening international schemes being pursued by the Obama administration simultaneously — closer North American Integration and the so-called “Trans-Pacific Partnership” are two of the most prominent efforts. The latest plot, though, has far-reaching, global implications that critics argue represent a serious threat to America and freedom. If the U.S.-EU deal ends up becoming reality, the regulatory regime governing the new bloc, which accounts for about half of global GDP, would become the de-facto standard-setting entity for the entire planet.”
Obama had this to say during the Cameron press conference:
“With respect to the relationship between the U.K. and the EU, we have a special relationship with the United Kingdom. And we believe that our capacity to partner with a United Kingdom that is active, robust, outward-looking and engaged with the world is hugely important to our own interests as well as the world. And I think the U.K.’s participation in the EU is an expression of its influence and its role in the world, as well as obviously a very important economic partnership”.
Obama echoed the same rhetoric at the Erdogan press conference adding: “Today, we focused on three areas that I want to highlight. First, we agreed to keep expanding trade and investment. Over the past four years, our trade has surged and U.S. exports to Turkey have more than doubled. As the United States pursues a new trade and investment partnership with the EU, I want to make sure that we also keep deepening our economic ties with Turkey. So we’re creating a new high-level committee that will focus on increasing trade and investment between our two countries and will help fuel Turkish innovation. And the progress that Turkey’s economy has made over the last several years I think has been remarkable and the Prime Minister deserves much credit for some of the reforms that are already taking place.”
It seems that more and more we’re faced with a manufactured reality, one in which international institutions will have dictatorial power over trade and the economy world-wide. Breaking away from sovereign entities controlling their own destiny.
Is the transatlantic partnership a sleeping giant for the global economy? What other partnerships are being harbored in regards to U.S., Britain and Turkey? How does this tie into the situation in Syria?
Writer Patrick Henningsen delves further into this in a recent op-ed for Russia Today news: “On Wednesday Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul(R) weighed in on the Benghazi debacle, in a direct challenge to the President and Hillary Clinton, inferring that the Sept. 11, 2012 attack unfolded as a result of a secret arms trade, and rubbishing the previous government line put forward by Susan Rice and the US Intelligence community that the attack was a result of a YouTube film, “The Innocence of Muslims”. During a recent CNN interview Paul explains:
“I’ve actually always suspected that, although I have no evidence, that maybe we were facilitating arms leaving Libya going through Turkey into Syria,” he said. “Were they trying to obscure that there was an arms operation going on at the CIA annex?”
One can only conclude that those in the world who are making economic reforms aligned to a socialist “pay your fair share” tax scheme, can also control the narrative on world events. Creating a new kind of “strategy of tension” by forcing countries to be complicit in illegal activities, via their trade partnerships. Is the new growing economic partnership, a partnership in conflict and consolidation?
Russia says arming foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government is in violation of international law.
“Arming the opposition is in breach of international law,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a joint press conference with his British counterpart William Hague in London on Wednesday.
The conference was also attended by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his British counterpart Philip Hammond.
“International law does not allow, does not permit supplies of arms to non-governmental actors and in our point of view it is a violation of international law,” Lavrov said.The Russian foreign minister reiterated that it is only up to Syrians to decide the future of their nation.
He also rejected any chance of Moscow pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into stepping down.
Lavrov made the remarks one day after British Prime Minister David Cameron said London would mull ignoring a European Union arms embargo on Syria in order to pave the way for sending weapons to the militants fighting against the government.
On March 8, the Russian diplomat said Moscow is opposed to any preconditions to halt the ongoing turmoil in Syria since his country’s top priority is to save lives.
Lavrov said those who say Assad must disappear before the start of any talks have a different priority than the lives of the Syrian people.
On March 11, a member of Syria’s opposition bloc, known as the National Coalition, held talks with Lavrov in Moscow in an effort to persuade Russia to back calls for Assad’s resignation.
Many people, including large numbers of security personnel, have lost their lives in the foreign-backed unrest that erupted in Syria in March 2011.
Source: Press TV
RELATED: Open War Crimes: US and British-Backed Weapons Airlift From Croatia to Terrorists in Syria
21st Century Wire says… The US government is now going the direct, and highly illegal route of funding – and effectively arming, the al Qaeda jihadists rebel killers in Syria – under the guise of “food, medicine and blankets” for the poor al Qaeda foreign fighters in Syria. Washington, now being fronted by Secretary of State John Kerry, is nudging its way forward in conducting a murderous proxy war to overthrow the Syrian Government, and all out war afterwards in the region…
ROME — The Obama administration will provide food and medicine to Syrian rebel fighters, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Thursday, opening the first channel of U.S. aid to the opposition military.
The cautious foray into front-line battlefield support fell far short of the heavy weaponry and high-tech gear the rebels seek. But Kerry said he would take additional opposition requests “back to Washington for further consideration.”
“The stakes are really high, and we can’t risk letting this country — in the heart of the Middle East — be destroyed by vicious autocrats or hijacked by the extremists,” Kerry said after discussions among opposition leaders and a group of Western and Arab nations that are funding, and in some cases arming, the fighters.
The military supplies are to be funneled through the Syrian Opposition Coalition, the rebel political organization, to “vetted individuals, vetted units,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity before Kerry’s public statement. Britain, France and other opposition supporters are expected to announce shipments of non-lethal military aid — including night-vision equipment and body armor — to the rebels over the next week.
Kerry also announced that the United States would provide $60 million in humanitarian assistance to the coalition to provide basic services and help build governing institutions for civilians in parts of Syria under rebel control.
In both cases, the aid is intended to bolster moderate forces that the United States and its allies think have lost ground to Islamist extremists in battles against President Bashar al-Assad’s military and in the provision of services to civilians. The administration remains unwilling to provide the rebels with weapons or to intervene with U.S. military forces.
Kerry called the provision of aid directly through the opposition “a significant stepping-up of the policy.” The United States has previously provided $50 million in indirect communication supplies to the opposition, and $385 million to nongovernmental aid organizations providing humanitarian relief to Syrian refugees and people displaced inside the country during the nearly two-year-old conflict.
Standing with Kerry in an appearance before reporters, the leader of the political opposition had no words of thanks for an offer that still represents a hedge of the U.S. bet on the group it helped to form last year.
January 16, 2013
BEIRUT – On arrival to Lebanon’s capital city, all seems very functional and normal on the surface, as the city runs business as usual.
Below the surface however, there is a feeling of trepidation, an unspoken collective worry that a city and country who has gradually managed to pick up the pieces from the decades-long conflict which stretched through the 70’s and 80’s, an Israeli occupation of its south, followed by a brief, albeit destructive, ‘33 Day War’ with Israel in 2006 – might once again be dragged into another sub-regional conflict. It goes without saying that police and security services in Lebanon are on high alert.
Tourism Hit Hard
The neighboring conflict has also had a very negative impact on Lebanon’s tourism, keeping away the much-needed outside currency for which many jobs, independent hotels and other SMEs are dependent for their economic survival. But despite the recent problems, Beirut is still moving ahead, still attracting some foreign investment made visible by the hundreds of new building projects springing up all over the city. And as expected, the restaurants seem busy and the cafes are still buzzing.Already there is a tangible presence of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and in the capital Beirut, who have fled from the fighting and breakdown of society currently unfolding next door. The impact of the Syrian conflict on its neighbor Lebanon in such a short space of time is substantial.Latest reports put the number of Syrian refugees recently accumulated in Lebanon at 300,000. This figure is contrasted by the number of Palestinian refugees whose ancestors fled Israel’s ethnic cleanings in 1947-48, still housed in Lebanon today – which is currently estimated at 500,000.
The Issue of Sectarianism
Lebanon is, more than ever, a demonstration of sectarianism par excellence. In of country of 4 million, there is differentiation within the Christian community – Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Melkite, Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic, as well as within and the Muslim community – Sunnis, Shi’ites, and Druze. In addition to this, there is a substantial Armenian community, a large community of foreign nationals from the US and Europe, Asian and African migrant workers, and a small Jewish community. One might also note that the internal rifts between Christian and Muslim factions are almost as great as the polarity separating Christians and Muslim as a whole.That said, it is also the only society in the region where contrasting religions and cultures are completely intermingled and where tolerance has evolved into a virtue.
In its totality, Lebanon consists of some of 19 religions and dozens more ethnic , groups. Many a thesis and book have sought to chronicle (and will continue to argue no doubt) this strive towards cultural détente in the Levant. One such writer is Lebanese-American Professor Walid Phares, who sums up the country’s current alignment as follows:
“Although multi-ethic and multi-religious, Lebanon was viewed by the political establishment as a unitary republic which can only have a majority and a minority. Therefore, and without a mechanism of decentralization, Federation or simply pluralism, that establishment was vying over who really represents the “majority” of all Lebanese, and who reduced to a “minority.” The debate was then about numbers, census, demographic changes, communities who have allegedly increased in numbers because of poverty versus communities who have decreased in numbers because of emigration. But that was a false problem.”Much of the country’s political energy has been expended over the course of the last half century in determining who is the majority and who is the minority, and although the intention was to present a fair solution to representation in its central government, it has also been the source of internal power-politics, which some believe laid down a fertile soil for the sharp upheaval Lebanon experienced from 1975 onward.
Nowhere is the nation’s simmering ‘political ratio’ reflected more than in its own constitution – a document which goes to extraordinary lengths to secure some form of socio-religious balance. The Lebanese constitution mandates that the office President should be held by a Maronite Christian, the Speaker of the House held by a Shi’ite Muslim, and the post of Prime Minister held by a Sunni Muslim.
Many academics such as Phares, feel that the future would be brighter if Lebanon would embrace its multicultural reality and take a feather out of Belgium’s or Canada’s cap, and consider phasing out its historical obsession with ethnic and religious minorities and majorities. In other words, if Lebanon could embrace ‘multiculturalism’, it wouldn’t need the old system. This idea is easier said than done, as vested political interests and blood spilled over decades has, to a large degree, cemented traditional political and social paradigms into place.
Syria Simmering Next Door
What’s foremost on the minds of Lebanese in 2013 is what will happen with Syria, and will Lebanon we dragged to their war. Alongside this, many are left questioning whether or not Lebanon will ever achieve some form of long-term peace with its southern neighbor Israel. The former is the key to its short-term prosperity, while the latter is the key to healing wounds still festering from the wars, as well as the influx of Palestinians it has had to shoulder since 1948. The situation in Syria is made even more complex by the fact that a number of foreign powers with vested interests in Damascus regime change are supplying fighters, arms, logistics, money and mass media support – which has always been a recipe for chaos throughout history. Among these foreign actors vying for position in Syria are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, US, UK and France (somehow, it’s all beginning to look more and more like pre-WWI power-politics). Syria has long played an overshadowing role in the stability – and destiny of its smaller neighbor Lebanon. The scares still run deep from Syria’s obtuse and often disjointed alliances with different factions over the course of Lebanon’s Civil Wars in the 70’s and 1980’s. The result of Syria’s hand in those affairs has been a dysfunctional, and often times confusing relationship between Damascus and Beirut, as well as the cause for political dysfunction within Beirut itself. In 2013, however, the alignments are markedly different from previous decades. For starters, Syria, itself, is now a major piece on the global chessboard, not least of all because of its three major allies, all of whom seem to run contrary to ‘central planning‘ in the West – namely, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran and now Russia. All interested parties see Syria as the key domino, and this, rightly so, is the cause for much worry right now.
Lebanon has a number of internal issues I’m sure it would prefer to sort out first before being dragged into another sub-regional conflagration – like it’s own central government, its economy, its potentially massive tourism trade, and of course, the Palestinian refugee issue. Yesterday, I was able to travel south the ancient city of Tyre, some 16km from the the Israeli border. The ruins are stunning, but so are the Palestinian refugee camp which runs alongside it. It’s was a little tragic, if not amusing to discover there that some Palestinians in need of rock for building their homes had permanently borrowed some of the antiquity ruins next door. In a certain way, some five millennia of history puts the current protracted upheaval into some perspective.
The recent past certainly has pulled Lebanon down in a spiral of social tension and extreme economic strife, but set against the larger backdrop of successive empires and cultures who have been overlaid on to this small, but historically pivotal region, it’s merely the latest chapter in a much larger epic novel. Many people outside of Lebanon – academics, archeologists, tourists – all long to see Lebanon achieve stability and one day showcase its incredible cultural and historical wealth to the world.In essence, making the difficult transition from a fractured state, to one of stability and eventual prosperity. I talked about this to one long-term Beirut resident, named Jamal, who put it simply, “To do all this, first we need to have peace.”It’s that simple. On paper anyway.….
Writer Patrick Henningsen is a roving correspondent for the UK Column, as well as host of 21st Century Wire TV programme airing Thursdays at 6pm on PSTV SKY channel 191 in the UK.
BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains confident that he can ride out the maelstrom engulfing his country, casting into doubt prospects that intensified efforts to negotiate an end to the bloodshed can succeed, according to Syrians familiar with the thinking of the regime.
Although Assad isn’t winning the fight against the rebels, he isn’t losing, either — at least not yet, or by enough of a margin to make him feel he needs to abandon his efforts to crush the rebellion by force and embark on negotiations that would end his hold on power and expose his loyalists to the threat of revenge, the Syrians and analysts say.
It is hard to imagine Assad ever being in a position to restore his authority over the many parts of Syria that have slipped beyond his control. The rebels seeking to topple him have steadily been gaining ground, most recently seizing control of a strategically important airbase in the north of the country, and if the current trajectory continues, the eventual demise of the four-decade-old Assad family regime seems all but inevitable, analysts say.
But concerns are growing about how long that might take, and at what cost, prompting many Syrians to question whether Assad’s confidence might not be merited, given the realities of a conflict so brutally complex, so finely balanced and so entangled in global geopolitical rivalries that there is still no clearly identifiable endgame in sight nearly two years after the uprising began.
“From Day One, Bashar al-Assad was underestimated by the opposition and by the international community,” said Malik al Abdeh, a Syrian journalist based in London who is one of a number of opposition activists growing increasingly gloomy about the prospects that an end to the bloody conflict could be near. “He is playing a high-stakes game, he’s playing it pretty smart and he seems to be winning because of the simple fact that he is still in power.”
When Assad delivered a defiantly uncompromising speech to supporters last week, the State Department condemned him for being “out of touch with reality.” But many Syrians wonder whether it isn’t the United States and its allies who are out of touch for continuing to press for a negotiated settlement to a conflict Assad still has reason to believe he can win, Abdeh said.
Though the Syrian army has been degraded by thousands of rank-and-file defections and heavy casualties, it is still fighting. Key units comprising members of Assad’s own Alawite sect, an obscure and little-understood offshoot of Shiite Islam, remain fiercely loyal.
Defections from his government have been few and far between. The rebels have been systematically overrunning government positions in many locations, but they have not demonstrated the capacity to make headway against the tough defenses ringing Damascus, the capital, and the key prize for whoever claims to control the country.
His allies Russia and Iran have shown no sign that their support is wavering, and they have their own reasons not to cede ground in the struggle for influence over a country whose strategic location puts it at the crossroads of multiple regional conflicts. On Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated its view that Assad’s departure should not be part of any negotiated settlement.
Part 1 – We speak with veteran international broadcaster Afshin Rattansi to discuss Iran’s demographics, economy, internal politics, post-revolution culture and where the country currently resides on the geopolitical scene…
Part 2 - We speak with independent researcher and science writer Dante Xavier Voltaire to discuss Iran’s emerging technologies which may come as a surprise to many people, and could be pivotal for the quantum physics debate…
Part 3 - We speak with 21st Century Wire TV host and geopolitical analyst Patrick Henningsen, to discuss Iran’s role within the larger geopolitical spectrum, as well as the dangers of a Third World War…
This TV show airs Thursdays at 6pm on SKY Channel 191 Paradigm Shift TV(PSTV) in the UK: http://www.paradigmshift.tv
For info on upcoming DVD’s visit: http://21stcenturywire.com.previewdns.com/2012/10/29/season-one-21st-century-wire-on-sky-tv/
21st Century Wire and UK Column’s analyst Patrick Henningsen discusses with RT about how NATO’s recent deployment of missile defense batteries in neighboring Turkey is nothing more than a chess move to prepare for western/NATO airstrikes at some point further down the timeline, and also how Syria’s so-called ‘opposition’ are using the chaos in the country to steal land, businesses and profit from the new black market that has replaced the previous economy.
NATO has begun deploying surface-to-air missiles and troops on Turkey’s border with Syria. The Alliance approved the reinforcements last month, after Ankara requested support. NATO claims the move is to help defend its member from the conflict in Syria. But Moscow said the deployment will only serve to escalate tension in the region. Germany and the Netherlands are preparing to ship six more Patriot batteries early next week, they’ll be operational by the end of January. However, Jeremy Salt, a Middle Eastern history and politics professor from Bilkent University says NATO is actually now realizing who it’s supporting, and losing its appetite for direct action in Syria.
ABU DHABI — Qatar’s al-Jazeera television station
provided a great ringside seat for the “day of rage” in Cairo almost two years ago that offered the first clear sign of the threat to the rule of then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
While many western media organizations were scrambling to ramp up coverage of Egypt’s nascent revolution, al-Jazeera had gripping reports of an extraordinary protest that ended with the ruling party headquarters ablaze and the army on the streets.
Yet, mirroring the progress of the Arab uprising itself, the 16-year-old Doha-based broadcaster’s Cairo triumph has since given way to a more complicated life, as it seeks to extend its international influence by buying into the U.S. television market.
Long recognized in the Middle East for its daring and sometimes groundbreaking reporting in a politically repressive region, al-Jazeera described its purchase this week of former vice president Al Gore’s Current TV network as a “historic development” in a market where it has long coveted expansion. The station, which has a respected English language arm and is already seen in more than 260 million homes in 130 countries, plans to start a U.S.-based news channel available to 40 million American households.
While al-Jazeera is celebrating its U.S. plans, it faces tough questions about its coverage and whether it is as independent of Qatar’s autocratic ruling monarchy as it claims to be. The broadcaster is partly funded by the government of Qatar, and the country’s increasingly prominent political role in the region’s turmoils has intensified scrutiny of al-Jazeera’s coverage.
“With the Arab Spring, al-Jazeera’s reach and credibility have grown in the West,” said Jane Kinninmont, a senior research fellow in the Middle East division of Chatham House, the London-based think tank. “But certainly, it has become more criticized in the Arab world – or, at least, become seen as more politicized.”
Although the popular revolts that swept the Arab world and brought down regimes from Tunisia to Yemen have presented al-Jazeera with an extraordinary opportunity to expand its audience, they have thrown up growing problems of perception.
And while the English channel is seen as enjoying a high degree of leeway, some analysts say Doha’s foreign policy positions — including support for armed rebels in Libya and Syria — are reflected in the tone of coverage, particularly on the flagship Arabic channel. Critics say Islamist movements with which Qatar has tried to achieve good relations have received over-sympathetic attention, with airtime given to wild allegations that opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, are agents of foreign powers.
Some observers say al-Jazeera is cautious about reporting sensitive stories in Qatar, such as the fire at a Doha nursery last year that killed 13 children and six adults, although the channel denies it was slow to cover the tragedy.
“Al-Jazeera is generally a free network, but it works within the political constraints as understood in Qatar,” said Michael Stephens, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute Qatar think tank.
Al-Jazeera dismisses suggestions its coverage shows any bias, including toward fellow Persian Gulf states allied to Qatar. The broadcaster says that, far from following official agendas, it often sets them. “We were covering Syria, for example, long before outside governments took great interest,” it said.
It says that — while it takes a “good portion” of its funding from the Qatari state — it is a private not-for-profit company with other sources of income, such as advertising. And though Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim al Thani, al-Jazeera’s director-general, is a member of Qatar’s ruling clan, the broadcaster says he has “no definable relationship” to the country’s ruler and is part of a “professional management who have steered Al Jazeera to success regardless of their nationalities or surnames”.
Perhaps the most unpredictable tension now facing al-Jazeera springs from Qatar’s political scene, which appears increasingly at odds with the broadcaster’s preferred image as a fearless network “dedicated to telling the real stories from the Arab street.” The Qatari authorities sentenced a poet to life imprisonment in November for insulting the emir in a widely-circulated work about the Arab Spring that criticized the “repressive elite”.
But al-Jazeera gives short shrift to the notion that its reputation might be threatened by the Qatar government’s intolerance of opposition at home. “Our journalists have never been told to cover or not cover a story due to pressure from outside this organization,” the broadcaster said.
Abeer Allam of the Financial Times in Cairo contributed to this story.