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Grief and Anger After UAE Soldiers Torture and Kill Yemeni-American Student Trying to Visit Family

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/09/2021 - 1:56am in

DHAMAR, YEMEN –– As his hope that the Sana’a International Airport will be reopened has faded, smiley-faced Abdulmalek Anwar Alsanabani — a 25-year-old Yemeni-American living in Fresno, California — finally decided to take the risky journey across the south of Yemen in order to see his family in Sana’a. Al-Sanabani had gone eight years away from his loved ones. On Wednesday, he arrived at southern Yemen’s Aden Airport, where he shared his last Facebook post before his smiley face became bloodied and bruised.

Abdulmalek, a graduate of Huntsville Community College, was not kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured like the thousands of Yemeni students traveling through Saudi-controlled points of entry have been. Rather he was robbed, tortured and murdered at a checkpoint in the Tour Al-Baha district in the northern Lahj province by the Security Belt Forces of Transitional Council, an armed militant group backed by the United Arab Emirates.

On Wednesday, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) announced they had arrested “a suspected member of the Houthi rebel movement” while he was traveling with thousands of U.S. dollars from Aden towards Houthi-controlled areas in the north. The news, published on websites supporting the UAE, was accompanied by a photo showing Alsanabani with his hands tied behind his back on the bed of a military vehicle.

Abdulmalek UAE

A photo showing Abdulmalek bound in the back of a truck belonging to UAE-backed militants

Abdulmalek’s father recounted to MintPress that “We were in constant contact with Abdulmalek during his trip before communication was cut on Wednesday afternoon.” Later, his family was surprised when media outlets and statements by officials affiliated with the Saudi-led Coalition in Tor Al-Baha began reporting the arrest of their son on charges of belonging to the Houthis and possessing sums of money. “We quickly traveled to Aden, but were shocked to find his dead body in the morgue of the Republican Hospital in Aden after he had been tortured and killed,” his father said. Abdulmalek’s body was full of bruises and wounds indicating that he had been tortured. There were also three bullet entry wounds in his back and a fourth in his leg, according to the Alsanabani family.


Death for no reason

Abdulmalek, who had never so much as belonged to a political party or group, was looted of what he had saved for his family, tortured and killed by gunshots by soldiers wearing the uniform of, and receiving their salary from, Abu Dhabi. He committed no crime other than being from an area classified by the Coalition as a “Houthi area.” But Abdulmalek was not the only one to meet such a fate because of the region from which he hailed, his sect or his family.

On Saturday, four students — Hossam Tariq al Shaibani, Ibrahim Ahmed al-Shahari, Ahmed Moeen al-Madani, and Yahya Mansour al-Areiqi — were kidnapped when they arrived at Aden Airport. Their families told MintPress that their fate is still unknown, a fact confirmed by the General Union of Yemeni Students in Malaysia, which issued a statement in the wake of the disappearance.

Since 2015 — when the Saudi war, supported by the United States and other Western military powers, transformed this nation on the Arabian Peninsula into a large prison for millions of Yemenis — students studying abroad, along with stranded medical patients and expatriates, have had only this option to return home: either cross al-Mahrah, Syoun in the east or Aden in the south, all routes that pass through Lahj, Shabwah and Marib, areas under Saudi-led Coalition control. As soon as they arrive at these places, militants affiliated with Saudi Arabia or the UAE check their identities. If they live in provinces, cities, streets, or even neighborhoods that are classified as a hotbed for Ansar Allah (Houthis), or if they belong to certain Yemeni families or are affiliated with a Shia Muslim sect, they ​are often arrested, tortured and imprisoned on charges of belonging to the Houthis.


Grieving and protests

The plights of Abdulmalek and the four other students have touched the hearts of Yemenis across the political and religious divide and sparked an uproar inside the country and abroad. In the United States, hundreds of Yemeni expatriates took to the streets in Michigan, California and New York. Protesters condemned the crime and held the UAE responsible, calling for the Sana’a International Airport to be reopened so that Yemenis can travel safely without the risk of imprisonment, torture and death.

In Yemen, dozens of protests were held, mostly in the northern provinces, but the largest demonstration was in Abdulmalek’s hometown of Dhamar, a city in southwestern Yemen. There, many of his relatives who spoke to MintPress accused both the Biden administration and the UAE of murdering a family member and U.S. citizen. “If the Sana’a Airport was open, Abdulmalek would now live in peace. We know in fact that the airport siege is supported by America,” Hani Alsanabani, one of Abdulmalek’s relatives, told MintPress in the wake of a protest that took place in Sanaban. Abdulmalek’s death has also triggered condemnation from nearly all Yemeni political parties, human rights organizations, activists, journalists, lawyers, and members of the Yemeni community in the United States.


Forced to sell an organ for rent

The closure of the Sana’a Airport and the imposition of an air embargo have exacerbated the humanitarian situation for many civilians both inside and outside the country. With the continued absence of safe corridors, many stranded students, patients and professionals recently deported from Saudi Arabia are left in a state of legal limbo, unable to secure citizenship in neighboring countries and therefore unable to work — leaving them with no way to earn money short of begging on the street or agreeing to sell their organs.

In 2018, Musa al-Ezaki, the editor of Yemen’s widely-circulated Al-Hayat newspaper, made a very public offer to sell one of his kidneys to the highest bidder. Al-Ezaki coordinated with his brother who was living in Egypt at the time to place an ad in a Cario newspaper with the caption, “Under compelling circumstances, I regret to announce the sale of my kidney to pay rent; if someone wants to buy a kidney, please call me.” It’s unknown if al-Ezaki ever found a buyer.

A Saudi Move to Deport Yemeni Professionals En Masse is Likely to Backfire Dramatically

Since 2015, the Saudi bombing of civilians and infrastructure and the imprisonment and torture of political opponents have often characterized the news from Yemen. But the imprisonment of students in secret prisons supervised and managed by both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — a fact that is well-known and likely supported by the United States — may be the darkest chapter in this dirty war.

The deaths of Abdulmalek and other students have again sparked concerns among millions of Yemenis — particularly expatriates, students, and medical patients stranded abroad — about the unchecked violence carried out by the Saudi-led Coalition in their country. The incidents further highlight the dangers faced by Yemenis seeking to travel across the country in dangerous circumstances, and the role of the United States in the ongoing suffering of Yemenis who struggle against starvation, epidemics and bombing. It is estimated that nearly four million Yemenis are currently stranded abroad, according to data provided by the Sana’a International Airport Media Center.

Feature photo | A photo showing Abdulmalek bound in the back of a truck belonging to UAE-backed militants

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sana’a. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post Grief and Anger After UAE Soldiers Torture and Kill Yemeni-American Student Trying to Visit Family appeared first on MintPress News.

British Soldier Arrested for Protesting Against Yemen War & Arms Support for Saudi Arabia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 3:32am in

The war in Afghanistan appears to be drawing to a close. But Western atrocities in the Middle East continue, with the 20-year-old War on Terror estimated to have displaced over 37 million people globally.

One particularly noteworthy example is the onslaught in Yemen, driving the country to become “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” in the opinion of the United Nations. Currently, more than half the country — 14 million people — are considered to be at risk of starvation.

While the Saudis may be doing the majority of the fighting, they are being armed, trained, aided and supported by the United States, Great Britain, and other Western nations profiting from the suffering.

One man who knows more than most about this is Ahmed Al-Babati. Ahmed was a lance corporal in the British Army until last August, where he staged a public protest in London, demonstrating against British complicity in the violence.

Explaining his decision, he said:

I joined the army in 2017 and took an oath to protect and serve this country, not to be part of a corrupt government that continues to arm and support terrorism. What made this decision so easy for me and why I choose to sacrifice a lot of things, including possibly my freedom, is the simple fact that I myself, as somebody who was born in Yemen, could have easily fallen victim to one of those air strikes or died from hunger.

I’ve seen too much not to speak out and I’d rather sleep peacefully in a cell than stay silent for a paycheck.”

Video Shows British Soldier Being Arrested for Opposing UK Arming of Saudi Arabia

Ahmed Al-Babati joins Watchdog host Lowkey today to discuss his life, his protest, British crimes in the Middle East, and what can be done to put a stop to endless war.

Born in Yemen but growing up in the industrial city of Sheffield in the north of England, Al-Babati told Lowkey that he naively believed that the army would pay him to travel the globe and that the organization he was joining was a pro-Muslim one. However, he soon found that it was actually filled with fascists who support far-right provocateurs like Tommy Robinson or Nigel Farage.

As part of his duties to his faith, he began collecting money and sending food parcels to people in his birth country. However, he soon began receiving feedback from recipients that, while grateful, they would rather people from the United Kingdom stop participating in the ongoing slaughter than send aid. It was at that point that he began seriously examining his own life and how he was a part of the war machine. He told Lowkey:

I looked in depth at what the British involvement was and I felt like a hypocrite because I was helping these [Yemeni] people out in terms of giving them aid to live by. But at the same time, I was serving the same government that was putting them there [in a situation of famine] in the first place.”

In August of last year, Al-Babati staged a protest outside the Ministry of Defense in London. He was quickly detained and expected the worst. However, his actions received enough attention and public sympathy that he was not treated harshly by his superiors. “It is thanks to the people who were protesting on my behalf that the charges were dropped,” he said.

Britain plays an outsized role in the conflict in Yemen. A 2018 paper found that an estimated 7,000 employees of U.K. contractor companies, civil servants, and temporarily deployed military personnel were currently aiding Saudi forces in their attack on the country.

Serving Saudi Arabia is big business in the U.K. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the kingdom is by far Britain’s most important arms customer, responsible for 49% of all international weapons purchases.

New Report Reveals Involvement of 7,000 UK Personnel in Saudi-Led Bombing of Yemen

In this free-flowing conversation, Lowkey and Al-Babati discuss Britain’s role in the world. “Whether it is Yemen, Afghanistan or Palestine, it seems like we are at the center of the problems happening around the world. And the reason for that is that we benefit from it; we profit from it,” Al-Babati said.

The new MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip-hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know — including intelligence, lobby and special-interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media. 

MintPress News is a fiercely independent, reader-supported outlet, with no billionaire owners or backers. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and by subscribing to our social media channels, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Also, be sure to check out the new Behind the Headlines channel on YouTube.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic, political campaigner, and a MintPress video and podcast host. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique, and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network, and The Peace and Justice Project founded by Jeremy Corbyn.

The post British Soldier Arrested for Protesting Against Yemen War & Arms Support for Saudi Arabia appeared first on MintPress News.

Why Israel’s Gilboa Prison Break has Palestanians Celebrating

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/09/2021 - 3:39am in

GILBOA PRISON, PALESTINE — It is said that Palestinians are the most incarcerated people in the world. Rarely does one find a Palestinian who has not been a victim of the Israeli prison system and when one does find one such person, he or she will have a sibling, parent or another close relative who serves or has served time in an Israeli prison. Opportunities for Palestinians to celebrate as a nation are few and far between. When the news broke of the escape of six high-profile Palestinian prisoners from one of Israel’s most secure prisons, it was a reason to celebrate. This was a reason not only for Palestinians to celebrate but indeed for all people who believe in justice and freedom.

This escape, which Reuters described as a “Hollywood-style escape,” was a daring and courageous operation. It had Palestinians celebrating in the streets and provides the Palestinian Authority and the countries that surround Palestine an opportunity to demonstrate to whom they are loyal. The world will see whether they will support the efforts of the oppressor to catch the freed political prisoners or support the cause of freedom and help these six brave men find safety.

Gilboa prison Break

A guard stands at northern Israel’s notorious Gilboa prison, Sept. 6, 2021. Sebastian Scheiner | A{P


The prison

Gilboa Prison is located in northeastern Palestine in what used to be known as the Baisan District. It is a beautiful and very fertile region and home to some of Israel’s most prosperous settlements, many of them established prior to 1948.

According to Addameer, the Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association, Gilboa Prison was established in 2004 next to Shatta Prison in the Baisan area. It is a high-security prison described as “the most intensely secured of its kind where occupation authorities incarcerate Palestinian prisoners.”

According to a report by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, at Gilboa Prison every group of six “security prisoners” is housed in cells that are 22 square meters (c. 230 square feet) in size, including a shared toilet and bathroom. The cells contain three bunk beds and the inmates are unable to maintain social distancing. The beds are situated less than 1.5 meters from each other and the top bunks are positioned just 80 centimeters (c. 30 inches) above the bottom bunks.

Gruesome Details Emerge of Israel’s Torture of Palestinian Prisoners


The Israeli security apparatus fails

The ineptitude of the Israeli security apparatus is well known, although it is not often publicized. Now the entire Israeli security system is desperately trying to come to grips with this breach of security and enormously embarrassing failure. The circumstances of the escape seep slowly to the press and show an enormous hole, no pun intended, in the system. The few details that have emerged through the Israeli press reveal human error, carelessness, and perhaps even the help of officers within the prison, which all led to the success of the prison break.

A hole in a floor is seen after six Palestinian prisoners escaped from the Gilboa prison in north Israel, Sept. 6, 2021. Photo | Israeli Prisons Service via AP

Initially, it was reported that the tunnel through which the prisoners escaped was structural, or part of the prison. Later, it was reported that it had apparently been dug over a five-month period, and then the reports claimed it took an entire year of planning. Then, the guard who was supposed to look over the area where the tunnel entrance was located was asleep while on duty and the prison guards at the command center, where several computer screens show images of every inch of the prison, were just not paying attention.

To add to that, prison authorities were not aware that the prisoners had escaped until several hours after the escape. It began when a civilian called the police and reported seeing “suspicious” looking men crossing a field. It took a couple of hours before the prison was notified and then apparently some time elapsed before the prison authorities realized that the six men were gone. In other words, the prisoners had a head start of several hours before authorities began searching for them, which means they could be anywhere in, or even out of, the country.

As these words are being written, several days have passed since the prisoners escaped and all that the Israeli authorities have been able to accomplish is to ignite riots within the various prisons that hold Palestinians and intense riots throughout Palestine. Jenin, which is the home of all six men, is particularly celebratory and the Jenin Refugee Camp is sealed off by armed Palestinian resistance fighters, keeping the Israeli military and others who might collaborate with the Israeli authorities out.

It has also been reported in the Israel press that four of the six had tried to escape before and were categorized as “high risk of escape.” Still, they were placed together in the same cell.

The Israeli Defense Forces: The Most Inept Army in the World


The Six

Zakaria Zubeidi is the one Palestinian prisoner who is well known both locally and internationally. He is featured in the film Arna’s Children. The movie was directed by Juliano Mer-Khamis, who documented a number of promising child actors in a theatre group he founded with his mother, Arna, at the Jenin refugee camp during the First Intifada. Juliano returned to Jenin Refugee Camp in April 2002 in the aftermath of an Israeli massacre in the camp to see what happened to the children he knew and loved. He found that all but one were killed; the lone survivor was Zakaria Zubeidi, who is featured in the film as a child and then as a commander of Palestinian resistance in the camp.

Zubeidi has been in and out of the Israeli prisons and has survived several assassination attempts. I recall seeing him speak after a showing of the film in Jenin during the Jenin Film Festival several years ago. He was arrested in 2019 and has not yet been sentenced.

Zakaria Zubeidi

Zakaria Zubeidi is carried by supporters during a presidential elections campaign rally in support of Mahmoud Abbas in 2004. Nasser Nasser | AP

Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah, 46, from Jenin, was the leader of the Gilboa Prison escape operation, according to a piece in Middle East Eye that quotes the Palestinian armed group al-Quds Brigades. Ardah was arrested in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison on charges of being a member of the al-Quds Brigades and for his involvement in the killing of Israeli soldiers. He reportedly tried to escape in 2014 from Shatta prison by digging a tunnel, but his plan was unsuccessful.

Mohamed Qassem Ardah, 39, is from Jenin and was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to life in prison. He too was charged with belonging to al-Quds Brigades and being involved in the killing of Israeli soldiers.

Yaqoub Mahmoud Qadri — 49, from Bir al-Basha, Jenin — was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to life in prison on charges of belonging to al-Quds Brigades and killing an Israeli settler. In 2014, he and a number of other prisoners, including Mahmoud Abdullah Ardah, tried to escape from Shatta prison through a tunnel, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

Ayham Nayef Kamanji, 35, is from Kafr Dan. He was arrested in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison on charges of killing an Israeli settler and participating in other armed activities against Israeli targets.

Munadil Yaqoub Nfeiat, 26, is from Ya’bad, southwest of Jenin. He has been jailed without charge since 2019.

The international community must come out in defense of these six men and demand that they be safe from the Israeli authorities. Furthermore, guarantees must be given for the safety of their relatives and the communities these men are from, which will undoubtedly be the victims of more Israeli violence.

Editor’s Note | Shortly after this article was published, Yaqoub Kadri and Muhammad Ardah were captured by Israeli forces in Nazareth. Follow MintPress News on Twitter to read more.

Feature photo | Palestinians ride a motorcycle decorated with a poster that shows pictures of six Palestinian prisoners who escaped from Israel’s notorious Gilboa Prison. Nasser Nasser | AP

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Why Israel’s Gilboa Prison Break has Palestanians Celebrating appeared first on MintPress News.

How the US Government Stokes Racial Tensions in Cuba and Around the World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/09/2021 - 1:34am in

HAVANA — “A Black uprising is shaking Cuba’s Communist regime,” read The Washington Post’s headline on the recent unrest on the Caribbean island. “Afro-Cubans Come Out In Droves To Protest Government,” wrote NPR. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal went with “Cuba’s Black Communities Bear the Brunt of Regime’s Crackdown” as a title.

These were examples of a slew of coverage in the nation’s top outlets, which presented what amounted to one day of U.S.-backed protests in July as a nationwide insurrection led by the country’s Black population — in effect, Cuba’s Black Lives Matter moment.

Apart from dramatically playing up the size and scope of the demonstrations, the coverage tended to rely on Cuban emigres or other similarly biased sources. One noteworthy example of this was Slate, which interviewed a political exile turned Ivy League professor presenting herself as a spokesperson for young Black working class Cubans. Professor Amalia Dache explicitly linked the struggles of people in Ferguson, Missouri with that of Black Cuban groups. “We’re silenced and we’re erased on both fronts, in Cuba and the United States, across racial lines, across political lines,” she said.

Dache’s academic work — including “Rise Up! Activism as Education” and “Ferguson’s Black radical imagination and the cyborgs of community-student resistance,” — shows how seemingly radical academic work can be made to dovetail with naked U.S. imperialism. From her social media postings, Dache appears to believe there is an impending genocide in Cuba. Slate even had the gall to title the article “Fear of a Black Cuban Planet” — a reference to the militant hip-hop band Public Enemy, even though its leader, Chuck D, has made many statements critical of U.S. intervention in Cuba.

Perhaps more worryingly, the line of selling a U.S.-backed color revolution as a progressive event even permeated more radical leftist publications. NACLA — the North American Congress on Latin America, an academic journal dedicated, in its own words, to ensuring “the nations and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean are free from oppression and injustice, and enjoy a relationship with the United States based on mutual respect, free from economic and political subordination” — published a number of highly questionable articles on the subject.

One, written by Bryan Campbell Romero, was entitled “Have You Heard, Comrade? The Socialist Revolution Is Racist Too,” and described the protests as “the anger, legitimate dissatisfaction, and cry for freedom of many in Cuba,” against a “racist and homophobic” government that is unquestionably “the most conservative force in Cuban society.”

Campbell Romero described the government’s response as a “ruthless … crackdown” that “displayed an uncommon disdain for life on July 11.” The only evidence he gave for what he termed “brutal repression” was a link to a Miami-based CBS affiliate, which merely stated that, “Cuban police forcibly detained dozens of protesters. Video captured police beating demonstrators,” although, again, it did not provide evidence for this.

Campbell Romero excoriated American racial justice organizations like Black Lives Matter and The Black Alliance for Peace that sympathized with the Cuban government, demanding they support “the people in Cuba who are fighting for the same things they’re fighting for in the United States.”

“Those of us who are the oppressed working-class in the actual Global South — colonized people building the socialist project that others like to brag about — feel lonely when our natural allies prioritize domestic political fights instead of showing basic moral support,” he added. Campbell Romero is a market research and risk analyst who works for The Economist. Moreover, this oppressed working class Cuban proudly notes that his career development has been financially sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Bryan Campbell Romero

Cuban government critic Bryan Campbell Romero proudly touts his US State Department-funded education

Unfortunately, the blatant gaslighting of U.S. progressives did not end there. The journal also translated and printed the essay of an academic living in Mexico that lamented that the all-powerful “Cuban media machine” had contributed to “the Left’s ongoing voluntary blindness.” Lionizing U.S.-funded groups like the San Isidro movement and explicitly downplaying the U.S. blockade, the author again appointed herself a spokesperson for her island, noting “we, as Cubans” are ruled over by a “military bourgeoisie” that has “criminaliz[ed] dissent.” Such radical, even Marxist rhetoric is odd for someone who is perhaps best known for their role as a consultant to a Danish school for entrepreneurship.

NACLA’s reporting received harsh criticism from some. “This absurd propaganda at coup-supporting website NACLA shows how imperialists cynically weaponize identity politics against the left,” reacted Nicaragua-based journalist Ben Norton. “This anti-Cuba disinfo was written by a right-wing corporate consultant who does ‘market research’ for corporations and was cultivated by U.S. NGOs,” he continued, noting the journal’s less than stellar record of opposing recent coups and American regime change operations in the region. In fairness to NACLA, it also published far more nuanced opinions on Cuba — including some that openly criticized previous articles — and has a long track record of publishing valuable research.


BLM refuses to play ball

The framing of the protests as a Black uprising against a conservative, authoritarian, racist government was dealt a serious blow by Black Lives Matter itself, which quickly released a statement in solidarity with Cuba, presenting the demonstrations as a consequence of U.S. aggression. As the organization wrote:

The people of Cuba are being punished by the U.S. government because the country has maintained its commitment to sovereignty and self-determination. United States leaders have tried to crush this Revolution for decades.

Such a big and important organization coming out in unqualified defense of the Cuban government seriously undermined the case that was being whipped up, and the fact that Black Lives Matter would not toe Washington’s line sparked outrage among the U.S. elite, leading to a storm of condemnation in corporate media. “Cubans can’t breathe either. Black Cuban lives also matter; the freedom of all Cubans should matter,” The Atlantic seethed. Meanwhile, Fox News contributor and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, Marc A. Thiessen claimed in The Washington Post that “Black Lives Matter is supporting the exploitation of Cuban workers” by supporting a “brutal regime” that enslaves its population, repeating the dubious Trump administration claim that Cuban doctors who travel the world are actually slaves being trafficked.

Despite the gaslighting, BLM stood firm, and other Black organizations joined them, effectively ending any hopes for a credible shot at intersectional imperialist intervention. “The moral hypocrisy and historic myopia of U.S. liberals and conservatives, who have unfairly attacked BLM’s statement on Cuba, is breathtaking,” read a statement from the Black Alliance for Peace.

The Bay of Tweets: Documents Point to US Hand in Cuba Protests


Trying to create a Cuban BLM

What none of the articles lauding the anti-government Afro-Cubans mention is that for decades the U.S. government has been actively stoking racial resentment on the island, pouring tens of millions of dollars into astroturfed organizations promoting regime change under the banner of racial justice.

Reading through the grants databases for Cuba from U.S. government organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID, it immediately becomes clear that Washington has for years chosen to target young people, particularly Afro-Cubans, and exploit real racial inequalities on the island, turning them into a wedge issue to spark unrest, and, ultimately, an insurrection.

For instance, a 2020 NED project, entitled “Promoting Inclusion of Marginalized Populations in Cuba,” notes that the U.S. is attempting to “strengthen a network of on-island partners” and help them to interact and organize with one another.

A second mission, this time from 2016, was called “promoting racial integration.” But even from the short blurb publicly advertising what it was doing, it is clear that the intent was the opposite. The NED sought to “promote greater discussion about the challenges minorities face in Cuba,” and publish media about the issues affecting youth, Afro-Cubans and the LGBTI community in an attempt to foster unrest.

NED grant Cuba

A 2016 NED grant targets hides hawkish US policy goals behind altruistic language like “promoting racial integration”

Meanwhile, at the time of the protests, USAID was offering $2 million worth of funding to organizations that could “strengthen and facilitate the creation of issue-based and cross-sectoral networks to support marginalized and vulnerable populations, including but not limited to youth, women, LGBTQI+, religious leaders, artists, musicians, and individuals of Afro-Cuban descent.” The document proudly asserts that the United States stands with “Afro-Cubans demand[ing] better living conditions in their communities,” and makes clear it sees their future as one without a Communist government.

The document also explicitly references the song “Patria y Vida,” by the San Isidro movement and Cuban emigre rapper Yotuel, as a touchstone it would like to see more of. Although the U.S. never discloses who exactly it is funding and what they are doing with the money, it seems extremely likely that San Isidro and Yotuel are on their payroll.

Only days after “Patria y Vida” was released, there appeared to be a concerted effort among high American officials to promote the track, with powerful figures such as head of USAID Samantha Power sharing it on social media. Yotuel participates in public Zoom calls with U.S. government officials while San Isidro members fly into Washington to glad-hand with senior politicians or pose for photos with American marines inside the U.S. Embassy in Havana. One San Isidro member said he would “give [his] life for Trump” and beseeched him to tighten the blockade of his island, an illegal action that has already cost Cuba well over $1 trillion, according to the United Nations. Almost immediately after the protests began, San Isidro and Yotuel appointed themselves leaders of the demonstrations, the latter heading a large sympathy demonstration in Miami.

“The whole point of the San Isidro movement and the artists around it is to reframe those protests as a cry for freedom and to make inroads into progressive circles in the U.S.,” said Max Blumenthal, a journalist who has investigated the group’s background.

Cuba’s cultural counter-revolution: US gov’t-backed rappers, artists gain fame as ‘catalyst for current unrest’


Rap as a weapon

From its origins in the 1970s, hip hop was always a political medium. Early acts like Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, KRS One, and Public Enemy spoke about the effect of drugs on Black communities, police violence, and building movements to challenge power.

By the late 1990s, hip hop as an art form was gaining traction in Cuba as well, as local Black artists helped bring to the fore many previously under-discussed topics, such as structural racism.

Afro-Cubans certainly are at a financial disadvantage. Because the large majority of Cubans who have left the island are white, those receiving hard currency in the form of remittances are also white, meaning that they enjoy far greater purchasing power. Afro-Cubans are also often overlooked for jobs in the lucrative tourism industry, as there is a belief that foreigners prefer to interact with those with lighter skin. This means that their access to foreign currency in the cash-poor Caribbean nation is severely hampered. Blacks are also underrepresented in influential positions in business or education and more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts. In recent times, the government has tried to take an activist position, passing a number of anti-racism laws. Nevertheless, common attitudes about what constitutes beauty and inter-racial relationships prove that the society is far from a racially egalitarian one where Black people face little or no discrimination.

Cuba Black Lives Matter

Cubans attend a pro-government demonstration in a show of support for the Cuban revolution, in Havana, July 17, 2021. Eliana Aponte | AP

The new blockade on remittances, married with the pandemic-induced crash in tourism, has hit the local economy extremely hard, with unemployment especially high and new shortages of some basic goods. Thus, it is certainly plausible that the nationwide demonstrations that started in a small town on the west side of the island were entirely organic to begin with. However, they were also unquestionably signal-boosted by Cuban expats, celebrities and politicians in the United States, who all encouraged people out on the streets, insisting that they enjoyed the full support of the world’s only superpower.

However, it should be remembered that Cuba as a nation was crucial in bringing about the end of apartheid in South Africa, sending tens of thousands of troops to Africa to defeat the racist apartheid forces, a move that spelled the end for the system. To the last day, the U.S. government backed the white government.

Washington saw local rappers’ biting critiques of inequality as a wedge issue they could exploit, and attempted to recruit them into their ranks, although it is far from clear how far they got in this endeavor, as their idea of change rarely aligned with what rappers wanted for their country.

Sujatha Fernandes, a sociologist at the University of Sydney and an expert in Cuban hip hop told MintPress:

For many years, under the banner of regime change, organizations like USAID have tried to infiltrate Cuban rap groups and fund covert operations to provoke youth protests. These programs have involved a frightening level of manipulation of Cuban artists, have put Cubans at risk, and threatened a closure of the critical spaces of artistic dialogue many worked hard to build.”

In 2009, the U.S. government paid for a project whereby it sent music promoter and color-revolution expert Rajko Bozic to the island. Bozic set about establishing contacts with local rappers, attempting to bribe them into joining his project. The Serbian found a handful of artists willing to participate in the project and immediately began aggressively promoting them, using his employers’ influence to get their music played on radio stations. He also paid big Latino music stars to allow the rappers to open up for them at their gigs, thus buying them extra credibility and exposure. The project only ended after it was uncovered, leading to a USAID official being caught and jailed inside Cuba.

Creative Associates International (CAI): It’s Not Exactly the CIA, But Close Enough

Despite the bad publicity and many missteps, U.S. infiltration of Cuban hip hop continues to this day. A 2020 NED project entitled “Empowering Cuban Hip-Hop Artists as Leaders in Society” states that its goal is to “promote citizen participation and social change” and to “raise awareness about the role hip-hop artists have in strengthening democracy in the region.” Many more target the wider artistic community. For instance, a recent scheme called “Promoting Freedom of Expression of Cuba’s Independent Artists” claimed that it was “empower[ing] independent Cuban artists to promote democratic values.”

Of course, for the U.S. government, “democracy” in Cuba is synonymous with regime change. The latest House Appropriations Bill allocates $20 million to the island, but explicitly stipulates that “none of the funds made available under such paragraph may be used for assistance for the Government of Cuba.” The U.S. Agency for Global Media has also allotted between $20 and $25 million for media projects this year targeting Cubans.


BLM for thee, not for me

What is especially ironic about the situation is that many of the same organizations promoting the protests in Cuba as a grassroots expression of discontent displayed a profound hostility towards the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, attempting to defame genuine racial justice activists as pawns of a foreign power, namely the Kremlin.

In 2017, for example, CNN released a story claiming that Russia had bought Facebook ads targeting Ferguson and Baltimore, insinuating that the uproar over police murders of Black men was largely fueled by Moscow, and was not a genuine expression of anger. NPR-affiliate WABE smeared black activist Anoa Changa for merely appearing on a Russian-owned radio station. Even Vice President Kamala Harris suggested that the hullabaloo around Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest was largely cooked up in foreign lands.

Meanwhile, at the height of the George Floyd protests in 2020, The New York Times asked Republican Senator Tom Cotton to write an op-ed called “Send in the Troops,” in which he asserted that “an overwhelming show of force” was necessary to quell “anarchy” from “criminal elements” on our streets.

Going further back, Black leaders of the Civil Rights era, such as Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, were continually painted as in bed with Russia, in an attempt to delegitimize their movements. In 1961, Alabama Attorney General MacDonald Gallion said, “It’s the communists who were behind this integration mess.” During his life, Dr. King was constantly challenged on the idea that his movement was little more than a communist Trojan Horse. On Meet the Press in 1965, for instance, he was asked whether “moderate Negro leaders have feared to point out the degree of communist infiltration in the Civil Rights movement.”



The U.S. has also been attempting to heighten tensions between the government of Nicaragua and the large population of Miskito people who live primarily on the country’s Atlantic coast. In the 1980s, the U.S. recruited the indigenous group to help in its dirty war against the Sandinistas, who returned to power in 2006. In 2018, the U.S. government designated Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as belonging to a “troika of tyranny” — a clear reference to the second Bush administration’s Axis of Evil pronouncement.

Washington has both stoked and exaggerated tensions between the Sandinistas and the Miskito, its agencies helping to create a phony hysteria over supposed “conflict beef” — a scandal that seriously hurt the Nicaraguan economy.

Why Shady Billionaire-Funded NGOs Pushed a PBS Report on Nicaraguan “Conflict Beef”

The NED and USAID have been active in Nicaragua as well, attempting to animate racial tensions in the Central American nation. For instance, a recent 2020 NED project, entitled “Defending the Human Rights of Marginalized Communities in Nicaragua,” claims to work with oppressed groups (i.e., the Miskito), attempting to build up “independent media” to highlight human rights violations.

To further understand this phenomenon, MintPress spoke to John Perry, a journalist based in Nicaragua. “What is perhaps unclear is the extent to which the U.S. has been engaged,” he said, continuing:

There is definitely some engagement because they have funded some of the so-called human rights bodies that exist on the Atlantic coast [where the Mistiko live]. Basically, they — the U.S.-funded NGOs — are trying to foment this idea that the indigenous communities in the Atlantic coast are subjected to genocide, which is completely absurd.”

In 2018, the U.S. backed a wave of violent demonstrations across the country aimed at dislodging the Sandinistas from power. The leadership of the Central American color revolution attempted to mobilize the population around any issue they could, including race and gender rights. However, they were hamstrung from the start, as Perry noted:

The problem the opposition had was that it mobilized young people who had been trained by these U.S.-backed NGOs and they then enrolled younger people disenchanted with the government more generally. To some extent they mobilized on gay rights issues, even though these are not contentious in Nicaragua. But they were compromised because one of their main allies, indeed, one of the main leaders of the opposition movement was the Catholic Church, which is very traditional here.”


A Nicaraguan man poses at a USAID event about LGBT issues in 2018. Source | CAI

U.S. agencies are relatively open that their goal is regime change. NED grants handed out in 2020 discuss the need to “promote greater freedom of expression and strategic thinking and analysis about Nicaragua’s prospects for a democratic transition” and to “strengthen the capacity of pro-democracy players to advocate more effectively for a democratic transition” under the guise of “greater promot[ion of] inclusion and representation” and “strengthen[ing] coordination and dialogue amongst different pro-democracy groups.” Meanwhile, USAID projects are aimed at getting “humanitarian assistance to victims of political repression,” and “provid[ing] institutional support to Nicaraguan groups in exile to strengthen their pro-democracy efforts.” That polls show a large majority of the country supporting the Sandinista government, which is on course for a historic landslide in the November election, does not appear to dampen American convictions that they are on the side of democracy. Perry estimates that the U.S. has trained over 8,000 Nicaraguans in projects designed to ultimately overthrow the Sandinistas.

In Bolivia and Venezuela, however, the U.S. government has opted for exactly the opposite technique; backing the country’s traditional white elite. In both countries, the ruling socialist parties are so associated with their indigenous and/or Black populations and the conservative elite with white nationalism that Washington has apparently deemed the project doomed from the start.



Stoking racial and ethnic tension appears to be a ubiquitous U.S. tactic in enemy nations. In China, the Free Tibet movement is being kept alive with a flood of American cash. There have been 66 large NED grants to Tibetan organizations since 2016 alone. The project titles and summaries bear a distinct similarity to Cuban and Nicaraguan undertakings, highlighting the need to train a new generation of leaders to participate in society and bring the country towards a democratic transition, which would necessarily mean a loss of Chinese sovereignty.

Likewise, the NED and other organizations have been pouring money into Hong Kong separatist groups (generally described in corporate media as “pro-democracy activists”). This money encourages tensions between Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese with the goal of weakening Beijing’s influence in Asia and around the world. The NED has also been sending millions to Uyghur nationalist groups.

Intersectional Imperialism: A Wholesome Menace


Intersectional empire

In Washington’s eyes, the point of funding Black, indigenous, LGBT or other minority groups in enemy countries is not simply to promote tensions there; it is also to create a narrative that will be more likely to convince liberals and leftists in the United States to support American intervention.

Some degree of buy-in, or at least silence, is needed from America’s more anti-war half in order to make things run smoothly. Framing interventions as wars for women’s rights and coup attempts as minority-led protests has this effect. This new intersectional imperialism attempts to manufacture consent for regime change, war or sanctions on foreign countries among progressive audiences who would normally be skeptical of such practices. This is done through adopting the language of liberation and identity politics as window dressing for domestic audiences, although the actual objectives — naked imperialism — remain the same as they ever were.

The irony is that the U.S. government is skeptical, if not openly hostile, to Black liberation at home. The Trump administration made no effort to disguise its opposition to Black Lives Matter and the unprecedented wave of protests in 2020. But the Biden administration’s position is not altogether dissimilar, offering symbolic reforms only. Biden himself merely suggested that police officers shoot their victims in the leg, rather than in the chest.

Thus, the policy of promoting minority rights in enemy countries appears to be little more than a case of “Black Lives Matter for thee, but not for me.” Nonetheless, Cuba, Nicaragua, China and the other targets of this propaganda will have to do more to address their very real problems on these issues in order to dilute the effectiveness of such U.S. attacks.

Feature photo | Cubans attend a pro-government demonstration in a show of support for the Cuban revolution, in Havana, July 17, 2021. Ismael Francisco | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post How the US Government Stokes Racial Tensions in Cuba and Around the World appeared first on MintPress News.

Revealed: Mercer Street’s Parent Shipping Company a Front for Israeli Intelligence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/2021 - 6:08am in

GULF OF OMAN — Earlier this summer, the Israeli-operated oil tanker Mercer Street was attacked by drones, allegedly emanating from Iran, disabling the ship and killing two people on board. The incident, portrayed as an unprovoked attack on a civilian vessel, caused worldwide outrage, and marked a new low in Iranian relations with Israel and its Western allies. But a MintPress investigation can now reveal that Zodiac Maritime, the Mercer Street’s operator, has a long history of working closely with both the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and Israeli intelligence unit Mossad, using its ships to ferry arms and operatives around the region for covert operations, including assassinations.


Zodiac Killers

Zodiac Maritime is a worldwide shipping conglomerate owned and operated by the Ofer family. Brothers Eyal and Idan Ofer are Israel’s third and ninth richest billionaires, respectively, having taken over the business from their father, Sammy. The company also has a long history of working alongside the Israeli government on special operations.

Defying American sanctions, for years, Zodiac ships continued to trade with the Islamic Republic, docking regularly in Iranian ports. By the time of Sammy’s death in 2011, the U.S. government was investigating the firm and the Treasury Department had announced sanctions against it for supposedly helping Iran skirt round the American-imposed blockade.

Why such a well-established Israeli firm would breach sanctions and collaborate with an enemy state in Iran also mystified many Israeli officials, who launched their own inquiry. However, the government hearing on the affair was abruptly shut down after the chair was passed a note by a “very high-ranking security official” — that official rumored to have been Mossad Director Tamir Pardo. As soon as Committee Chairman Carmel Shama read the message, he immediately ordered all press to leave the meeting and finished the event behind closed doors. “Let’s just be clear: the note is not from a political figure and not from a business figure. It turns out that reality is much more complex, much more complicated and touchy than the average imagination can handle,” Shama offered as an explanation. The reaction from both the Knesset and the United States government suggests that this agreement was extremely secret indeed, with operations going on behind both of their backs.

The news, which Israeli media had christened “OferGate,” was immediately dropped and glossed over, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisting that the elderly Sammy Ofer, who died the same week, was a “Zionist through and through.” Meir Dagan, who had recently retired as director of Mossad, concurred, stating that the case had been “blown out of proportion,” and hinted that the Ofer family may have actually been acting in the service of the state.

Among such known missions are Zodiac Maritime cargo ships with modified hulls being used to ferry Israeli Black Hawk helicopters to Iran, where they were used by elite commando teams in reconnaissance missions against the Islamic Republic’s alleged nuclear programs. Zodiac Maritime’s business relationship with Iranian ports and shipping companies was crucial to this endeavor, providing both the cover and the means to enter Iranian waters without attracting suspicion.

The year before OferGate blew up in Israeli media, the billionaire clan’s boats were used in a successful assassination mission against Palestinian leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Mossad killed the Hamas official, responsible for procurement of weapons, in his Dubai hotel room, causing a worldwide outrage. Secret agents traveled to the United Arab Emirates on Ofer’s ships, posing as workers and using forged foreign passports. Reports suggest that al-Mabhouh was drugged, electrocuted and suffocated with a pillow in his room, with some operatives escaping on the same ship they arrived on.

Although successful, the mission did not go as smoothly as planned, as Emirati police were able to identify a number of the perpetrators. Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland expelled Israeli diplomats in protest at Mossad’s use of faked passports from their countries as cover for the operation.

Going further back, in 1988, elite Israeli forces, under the command of future Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, used modified cargo ships to smuggle soldiers and helicopters into Tunisia, where they stormed into Tunis and killed Deputy Leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Khalil al-Wazir, before returning to the ship and making a hasty retreat.

The long history of Zodiac Maritime and other Israeli civilian shipping companies aiding the government in acts of international terrorism raises the question whether perhaps Iranian intelligence suspected something about the Mercer Street that is not publicly known. The vessel was travelling from Africa to the United Arab Emirates, and, when hit, was about to enter the Gulf of Oman — the narrow maritime passage between the Arabian peninsula and Iran. There was reportedly no cargo on board.

Yet any possibility of clandestine activities has been overlooked by corporate media when reporting on the Mercer Street attack. Instead, all such outlets preferred to echo Western governments’ framing of the events as an “unacceptable and outrageous attack on commercial shipping,” in the words of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.


The British connection

The 28,400 ton vessel was attacked by drones on July 29 and July 30. The two casualties reported are an unidentified Romanian worker and Adrian Underwood, a soldier with a long and distinguished record in the British army. Underwood had recently joined private security group Ambrey.

Based in the provincial English city of Hereford, Ambrey boasts that its 600 operatives work in over 20 countries worldwide, providing security and training services around the globe. Hereford is also the headquarters of the SAS, Britain’s most elite fighting force. Because of the SAS, the city of barely 60,000 people has become arguably the worldwide center for mercenaries, a recent report noting that no fewer than 14 private military and security companies are based there. Ambrey itself has deep connections to the British armed forces, with most of its directors serving long tours of duty in its ranks.

The United Kingdom has close links with the Israeli national security state, supplying the IDF with over $500 million worth of weapons since 2015, much of this being aircraft or high tech machinery. British units provide training to their Israeli counterparts and there is even a small British force stationed inside the Jewish state. The U.K. and Israel now conduct joint war games as well as share intelligence. As Declassified UK noted, the United Kingdom also plays a crucial role in maintaining Israeli nuclear weapons, supplying submarine components that maintain the country’s nuclear capabilities.

PalAction: Shutting Down the British Arms Trade to Israel

Israel also enjoys significant influence in the U.K., selling weapons and funding political groups. Indeed, a recent investigation found that one third of the British cabinet, including Prime Minister Johnson, have been directly financed by Israel or pro-Israli lobby groups. Earlier this year, former Conservative Minister Alan Duncan claimed that he was blocked from being appointed Middle East Minister by Israeli pressure groups “for no other reason than that I believe in the rights of the Palestinians.” “The Israelis think they control the Foreign Office. And they do!” he added — a statement that goes beyond even the wildest remarks of Labor politicians accused of anti-Semitism.

Zodiac Maritime and the Ofer family also have close connections with Great Britain. Sammy Ofer himself served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. And although Zodiac Maritime is legally based in Monaco, its day-to-day operations are run from London, with much of its fleet registered in Britain. Ofer donated substantial sums to British institutions, giving £20 million (around $27 million) to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in East London and £3.3 million (~ $4.5 million) to restore the historic ship Cutty Sark. There is now an entire wing of the National Maritime Museum named in his honor. In 2008, he was awarded the title of Honorary Knight of the British Empire. Ofer’s sons Eyal and Idan also reside in London, and both have continued their father’s tradition of giving ostentatiously to local art and cultural institutions.


Anatomy of an attack

Although the Mercer Street is operated by Zodiac Maritime, it is actually owned by a subsidiary of the Japanese shipping conglomerate Nippon Yusen Group. And despite Zodiac being an Israeli-owned and controlled company, it is, as previously noted, headquartered in London and technically registered as a Monaco-based operation. On top of all this, the Mercer Street flies a Liberian flag, as around one in ten big ships do. Such is the tax-avoiding world of international big business.

Built in 2013, the Mercer Street sailed throughout Africa, Europe and Asia. It was hit by a sustained attack from suicide drones on the evening of July 29 and the morning of July 30. In addition to the two human fatalities, the ship suffered considerable damage to its bridge, rendering it out of action. Zodiac Maritime refused to answer questions about the extent of the damage, reveal the identity of the Romanian individual killed, or confirm or deny its relationship with the Israeli government when asked by MintPress.

Responding to distress calls, the U.S. Navy sped to the ship, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan escorting it to a safe port. U.S. Central Command conducted an investigation into the affair, concluding that three UAV drones were used in the attack, and that military-grade explosives were used to blast a 6-foot hole in the topside of the pilot house, badly damaging its interior as well. Meanwhile, Britain immediately flew a team of 40 SAS commandos to eastern Yemen, acting on the theory that Iranian-supported Houthi rebels could have been behind the attack. That the United States and United Kingdom were so quick to act raises questions about how closely they are coordinating with each other and against Iran.

Mercer Street

The Mercer Street is seen moored off Fujairah, UAE, on Aug. 4, 2021, one week after it was attacked. Jon Gambrell | AP

The U.S. and Israel both blamed Iran for the incident. “Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack,” said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. “We are working with our partners to consider our next steps and consulting with governments inside the region and beyond on an appropriate response, which will be forthcoming.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was even more confident — and belligerent. “I determine, with absolute certainty, Iran carried out the attack against the ship,” he stated. “The intelligence evidence for this exists and we expect the international community will make it clear to the Iranian regime that they have made a serious mistake… We know how to send a message to Iran in our own way,” he added.

Iran, for its part, has rejected the accusations. “Regarding the politically motivated statements made by the United States and the United Kingdom in this meeting against Iran concerning the Mercer Street vessel incident, I reiterate, once again, our firm rejection of these unsubstantiated allegations,” said Zahra Ershadi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, who stressed that “the Islamic Republic of Iran is highly interested in, and attaches great importance to, maritime security.”


Tit-for-Tat spats

This is, however, far from the first time Iran has been linked with attacks on Israeli vessels. Indeed, earlier that month, a UAE-bound ship in the Strait of Hormuz, previously owned by Zodiac Maritime, was hit, with Israeli officials pointing the finger at Iran. The Times of Israel speculated that the incident could have been a response to an Israeli attack on an Iranian centrifuge production site in June.

Israeli-owned ships have also come under fire in April, March, and February of this year, each time Jerusalem suspecting Iran. The last of these, the attack on the MV Helios Ray, damaged its hull. Ambrey operatives were also providing security for that ship. “This was indeed an operation by Iran. That is clear,” Netanyahu told the press at the time. Iran also denies responsibility for these attacks. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh stated that Netanyahu suffered from “Iranophobia” and suggested that he was using the incidents as a distraction to Israel’s domestic problems.

However, few seem to believe that Iran is entirely guilt free. National security blogger Richard Silverstein described the Mercer Street incident as Iran repaying Zodiac Maritime in kind for its role in helping the Israeli military. “President Raisi seems intent on conveying a strong message: whatever you may have thought of [former President Hassan] Rouhani, he was a walk in the park compared to what I will be,” Silverstein wrote.

Receiving less press attention, Israel has also been carrying out a campaign against Iranian ships, targeting at least 12 Syria-bound vessels, most of them carrying Iranian oil. One such attack earlier this year backfired heavily on Israel, however. IDF commandos successfully attached a mine on an Iraninan oil tanker in the Mediterranean. But the resulting blast led to over 1,000 tons of oil leaking into the sea and washing up on Israeli beaches, causing the worst ecological disaster in the country’s history. Animals and coastal areas were covered in oil, forcing the government to close Israeli beaches for weeks afterward, as thousands of people worked to clean up the spill.

In April, Iranian military ship MV Saviz was attacked in the Red Sea. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz stopped short of claiming responsibility, but stated that “Israel must continue to defend itself,” adding that, “Any place we find an operational challenge and necessity, we will continue to act.” But officials in Gantz’s government reportedly privately confirmed to the U.S. that it was indeed responsible for the attack. An Iranian military vessel also mysteriously caught fire and sank in early June of this year.

Israel has also carried out numerous attacks on the Iranian nuclear program, the most notable of which was perhaps the assassination of top scientist Moshen Fakhrizadeh last November. While traveling between a meeting and a university lecture in Tehran, Fakhrizadeh was gunned down, with many reports suggesting that a remotely operated gun mounted on a truck was responsible. Former Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen strongly hinted his agency was involved in the killing.

Iran is currently in negotiations with the United States about a redesigned nuclear deal, something that Israel strongly opposes. In 2018, President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Barack Obama’s nuclear deal, but later tried to convince other nations to sanction Iran based on the Islamic Republic’s non-adherence to the agreement he had personally scuppered. The recent series of attacks have done nothing to help the prospect of a long-term accord being reached.

American sanctions have already inflicted serious hardship on Iran, sending the prices of consumer goods soaring and the value of its currency, the rial, plummeting. Oil production has sputtered, as the country can find few buyers for its primary national export. The price of food has also become a serious issue for many. “The sanctions deliberately target ordinary Iranians, women and children,” Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Professor of English Literature at the University of Tehran, told MintPress last year. “They are designed to kill hospital patients and to create poverty. They have had partial success.”

How US Sanctions are Hurting Iran: A Firsthand Report

The assault on the Mercer Street provokes many questions. If Iran did indeed attack the ship, why did it do so? Did they suspect or know anything about what was on board? Or was this simply another episode in the tit-for-tat spat that has been escalating between the two countries for years? How closely does Zodiac Maritime work with the Israeli security services? What is the role of the British mercenary group in all this? And to what extent does Israel work with the U.S. and U.K. on these issues? As with so much in the world of espionage, the truth rarely comes out quickly, if at all.

Editor’s note | Additional support and research for this article were provided by MintPress News staffer, Lowkey

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Revealed: Mercer Street’s Parent Shipping Company a Front for Israeli Intelligence appeared first on MintPress News.

Privatizing the Occupation: How Israeli Corporations Came to Police the Palestinians

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/2021 - 4:14am in

OCCUPIED WEST BANK — On any given morning, masses of Palestinians are packed like sardines at the Qalandiya checkpoint at the edge of Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank. Here, the Israeli army, border police, and Israeli police are all on patrol. But another group of officers — nearly indistinguishable from the state authorities — also stands guard. These are the employees of Israeli private security behemoth Modiin Ezrachi. The security corporation is part of a plethora of private companies carrying out state functions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.


Private security at the checkpoints

The process of transferring military operations to private security contractors commenced during the Second Intifada (Palestinian uprising against the Israeli state) from 2000 to 2005. An Israeli government decision handed over the powers to civilian and police control in 2005 and established the Crossing Points Authority as the body responsible for maintaining the checkpoints.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated the reasoning behind this decision was to preserve Palestinians’ “fabric of life.” The fabric of life refers to the basic minimum conditions a person needs to work, study, and live. Dr. Shir Hever, a political economist and author of the book “The Privatisation of Israeli Security,” explained Israel’s security interest in protecting Palestinians’ fabric of life as arising not out of moral duty but rather as a diplomatic strategy. “The whole point is that the Israeli security operations need to disrupt that fabric as little as possible in the fewest instances possible because this impacts the Israeli image abroad,” Hever told MintPress News.

“The presence of 18-year-old soldiers in the checkpoints, where the soldiers are not trained and not experienced in dealing with civilian populations, causes embarrassing issues,” Hever continued. In order for the MoD to avoid potential gaffes on the world stage, trained security personnel replaced the army.

Yet security professionals appear just as inept at interacting with civilians as does the Israeli army.

Maram Saleh Hassan Abu Ismail was attempting to cross the Qalandiya checkpoint with her teenage brother, Ibrahim Taha, when the siblings were shot dead by two civilian security guards on April 27, 2016. Israel Police claimed the woman threw a knife at an officer, prompting the fatal shooting. A police investigation was opened and abruptly closed the following August with no indictments.

This is just one of many violent incidents perpetrated by private security guards against Palestinians at checkpoints, settlements, and various Israeli public places. The Israeli government’s objective for privatization was for more professional interaction between Palestinians and security forces. But Dr. Hever explained that the way privatization was structured actually eliminated all interaction. “Everything’s done remotely and mechanically, meaning there’s a voice coming from the wall telling you to put your bag into the machine, put your identity card into the slot, move through the turnstile, and you don’t see anybody. You don’t speak with anybody,” Hever said.


The companies operating at the checkpoints

According to Machsom Watch, an Israeli women’s organization monitoring the checkpoints, there are 593 checkpoints in the West Bank — including 23 border checkpoints. The border checkpoints have been undergoing privatization efforts since 2006. Research center Who Profits details all of the checkpoints along the Apartheid Wall — which the Israeli government refers to as the Separation Barrier, between the West Bank and 1948-Occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) — that are to be privatized. Fifteen checkpoints are currently privatized and one is partially privatized.

The following are the companies involved in the checkpoints:

Sheleg Lavan

Sheleg Lavan is an Israeli firm providing cleaning and security services. In 2019, it won a tender from the Israel Police to provide security operations to the area of the Apartheid Wall surrounding Jerusalem (Israel Police declined to provide an interview for this story; Sheleg Lavan and the Crossing Points Authority did not respond to requests for comment).

The company has inspectors and guards at the following checkpoints in Gaza and the West Bank: Tarqumia, Meitar, Maccabim, Habika, Eliyahu, Hashmonaim, Sha’ar Efraim, and Kerem Shalom. The company’s revenue stands at 600 million shekels or nearly $190 million.

Modiin Ezrachi

Modiin Ezrachi is one of the largest Israeli security companies, with a revenue of 700 million shekels or nearly $220 million. It has security guards and inspectors at the following checkpoints in the West Bank, Gaza, and Occupied East Jerusalem: Gilboa, Reihan, Eyal, Hotze Shomron, Qalandiya, Sheikh Sa’ad, Anata, and Al-Jib. The two security guards responsible for Abu Ismail and Taha’s deaths were employed by Modiin Ezrachi.

G1 Secure Solutions

This Israeli security firm’s luggage- and body-scanning machines are used at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza, and at the Qalandiya, Bethlehem and Sha’ar Efraim checkpoints in the West Bank. The company had a contract with the Israel Civil Administration (ICA) for maintenance of metal gates designed by U.S. corporation Rapiscan and installed at ICA checkpoints. The contract was renewed until April 2018. G1 Secure Solutions did not respond to comments on whether it still retains this contract. The company’s current revenue is 821.4 million shekels or roughly $260 million.

Malam Team

Malam Team is an Israeli information technology firm. The company has an estimated revenue of $711 million shekels or $220 million. Malam Team’s subsidiary, Eltel, has scanning equipment at several West Bank checkpoints and at the Erez checkpoint in Gaza. It also maintains scanning equipment in the following checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza: Hotze-Shomron, Eyal, Barta’a, Eliyahu, Jalme, Metar, Metzudut Yehuda, Sha’ar Efraim, Maccabim, Tarqumya, and Habika.

T&M Protection Resources Holdings Israel

This Israeli security company won a tender published by the Israel Police in 2019 for nine checkpoints in Jerusalem near the Apartheid Wall. These checkpoints are: a-Sheikh Sa’ed, a-Sawahrah, a-Za’ayem, Mazmuriyeh, Ein Yael, The Tunnels, Anata, Checkpoint 300, and a-Zaitun. The firm also provides guarding services to the Crossing Points Authority.

T&M Israel is the highest-ranked company in Israel’s security and cleaning industry. Its 2021 revenue stands at 1.175 billion shekels or $367 million. The company’s CEO, Shimon Talmor, served as a combat fighter in the Israeli army.

International Institute for Nonviolent Action

Credit | International Institute for Nonviolent Action | Creative Commons


Private security in the settlements

Many of the private companies operating at the checkpoints also provide security services to the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2008, the Israeli military decided to transfer the security of 40 settlements to private security personnel. The military attributed its decision to the installation of army equipment having made the presence of soldiers in the settlements obsolete, and maintained that trained professionals would be able to offer better security than soldiers.

Modiin Ezrachi, G1 Secure Solutions, Malam Team, and T&M Israel are all involved in the settlements.

Modiin Ezrachi provides security to settlements in East Jerusalem, including working with the settler organization El’ad; nine settlements in the West Bank; and has been contracted by the Mount Hebron and Mateh Benjamin settlement councils. Settlement councils are Israeli government-run institutions charged with running the affairs of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, including the hiring of contractors. Most of Israel’s illegal settlements are managed by a group of representatives known as regional councils. The company provides security to businesses in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone and the construction sites in the Beitar Illit settlement.

G1 Secure Solutions provides security to eight settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Malam runs an IT services project employing orthodox Jewish women, called Ma’alot in Beitar Illit. And T&M Israel provides security, guarding and escorting services to settlers in East Jerusalem.

Legalized Apartheid: The Israeli Supreme Court Just Cemented Jewish Supremacy into Law

The following security companies also operate in the settlements and industrial zones in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Reshef Security

This Israeli security firm operates in 22 settlements in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the occupied Syrian Golan. Reshef Security won a tender issued by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in 2019 for maintaining security at nine sites in the Golan and 10 in the West Bank. It works with the Ministry of Education to provide security to educational facilities in the West Bank. And Reshef Security’s National Center for Earthquake Prediction and Control has sensors installed in 10 settlements in the West Bank.

Tzevet 5

Tzevet 5 provides security services to 13 settlements, settlement councils, and industrial zones in the West Bank. In 2019, Who Profits researchers documented Tzevet 5 employees guarding the Og sewage purification plant located in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

Moked Matara

This Israeli security and surveillance company’s clientele includes seven settlements in the West Bank. The company’s top executives are all veterans of the Israeli army.

According to his LinkedIn profile, chairman Yossi Refaelov served as a Combat Engineering Brigade commander and Special Operation Unit commander in the Israel Defense Forces. Yossi Arbiv is Moked Matara’s business development manager and “served as a Deputy in one of the Combat Engineering Battalions, as a commander of a Bomb Disposal Unit, as a Special Operation Unit deputy commander and as operations officer of Combat Engineering Corps.” Atai Shelach has served as the company’s director since 2014. Shelach’s Linkedin profile boasts “27 years of military operational experience. He served as the Commander of the special Elite Combat Engineering Unit of the Israel Defense Forces, as Head of the IDF’s VIP Protection Unit, as Chief, IDF’s CBRN Center and as Second in Command of the IDF engineering corps.”

Nof Yam Security

Nof Yam provides security services to four settlements in the West Bank: Ma’ale Adumim, Efrat, Har Gilo, and Elazar. According to Who Profits, “[t]he company’s directors and consultants are former high-ranking officers in the Israeli military and security forces.”

Ben Security

This Israeli security firm operates in eight settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Ben Security ranked 10th in Israel’s index of the leading security and cleaning companies. The company’s estimated revenue is 170 million shekels or just over $50 million.

Galshan Marketing Human Resources Guarding & Security

Galshan is a private security company whose settlement clientele includes Beit El Local Council, Mevaseret Zion Local Council, Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, Gush Etzion Regional Council, and Beitar Illit.

International Institute for Nonviolent Action

Credit | International Institute for Nonviolent Action | Creative Commons


From military head to security firm CEO

It’s no coincidence that many of these companies’ top management officials were once senior military officers. Dr. Hever explained the traditional career step for most retired Israeli army generals is the private sector:

The Israeli military has a very low retirement age — between 40 and 45 — so these officers have time for a second career. That second career explains a lot of why these security companies are so prosperous, and why so many of them are getting so many contracts, because that’s the employment option for these retired generals.”

With the rise of high technology, ex-generals became less desirable as company CEOs, with preference given to engineering and tech experts instead. “The options for these retired generals are narrowing and they either become arms dealers or they set up security companies,” Hever said.

But for Palestinians, whether it’s a soldier or private security guard stationed at a settlement or checkpoint doesn’t matter.

Faced with ICC Investigation, Apartheid Israel Asserts Moral Superiority Over The Victims of Its Terror

“What do Palestinians care who looks at their papers?” Hanna Barag, an activist with Machsom Watch, told MintPress.

The psychological effect that you have to go through a checkpoint with papers when you never know what’s going to happen any day of the year, any minute, and that you never know if you’re going to get these papers back…this is the real occupation, sitting in the fact that you have no freedom of movement.”

Feature photo | An armed Israeli stands atop a water tower in a settlement near the West Bank village of Um Fagarah, South Hebron Hills, West Bank. Oren Ziv | Activestills

Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.

The post Privatizing the Occupation: How Israeli Corporations Came to Police the Palestinians appeared first on MintPress News.

How the US Trained the Afghan Mujahideen To Produce War Propaganda

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/09/2021 - 2:24am in

By now, everyone knows about the White Helmets – the State Department’s propaganda operation to manufacture consent for the U.S.’s dirty war on Syria. But long before the White Helmets were the Afghan mujahideen.

Quick review: The White Helmets were presented as laudable rescue teams who operated in opposition-held territory in Syria.

They also embedded with jihadist groups like al Nusra – al Qaeda’s branch in Syria. And were financed by U.S. government bodies like USAID.

This turned Syria into a made-for-TV warzone, pumping decontextualized war porn into American minds through cable news and Netflix “documentaries.”

This propaganda appealed to the conscience of Western liberals to get them to support U.S. military attacks on Syria such as Donald Trump’s bombing of Douma or Khan Sheikoun. Or, during the Obama era, the Pentagon and CIA arming competing militias and warlords who were consumed by jihadist groups committed to exterminating minorities.

Syria was version 2.0. The original was in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Back then, the U.S. was seeking to overthrow Afghanistan’s socialist government that had come to power in the Saur Revolution. It is well known that the U.S. began funding the mujahideen, Islamic fundamentalist holy warriors who were united with the U.S. in their belief that godless communism was the ultimate evil. Of course, we all know how that alliance turned out.

But at the time, the U.S. public wasn’t interested in Afghanistan – a country seven thousand miles away that everyday Americans couldn’t find on a map – and news barely covered it.

In 1982, the U.S. government sent Hollywood star Kirk Douglas to Peshawar, Pakistan to film a Thanksgiving special in which he met with mujahideen leaders and showed the horrors of the Soviet intervention and the plight of Afghan refugees.

But after that effort flopped, the now-defunct U.S. propaganda arm known as the U.S. Information Agency, or USIA, tried its hand. USIA Director Alvin Synder came up with the idea of training mujahideen in “journalism” and providing them with video cameras. The articles and footage they provided would bolster the U.S. government’s narrative of the Soviet intervention as an invasion of a godless evil empire and the Afghan holy warriors as freedom fighters that America had to support.

Congress passed legislation to train the mujahideen and allocated half a million dollars to set up a journalism school for them. This was done in conjunction with Boston University. The Afghan Media Resource Center was born. Its policy manual specified that every employee must be obedient to the Islamic faith and “must honestly and generously sacrifice for holy jihad and take an active share in Afghanistan’s independence struggle.”

The trainees were sent to the Afghan battlefield, where they captured the realities of war: dead soldiers on both sides, unspeakable tragedies. Cable news outlets like CBS and CNN began to air the footage, and U.S. officials credited their efforts for the eventual Soviet withdrawal.

With a gun in one hand and a camera in the other, the mujahideen propagandists interviewed warlords like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of a guerrilla group known as The Islamic Party and CIA favorite, to whom Washington funneled more than a billion dollars to as he became the biggest drug lord in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar had a reputation for spraying acid in the faces of women who dared be in public without covering their heads. His indiscriminate shelling of Kabul during the war against the Soviet-backed government killed 50,000 and earned him the nickname the “Butcher of Kabul.”

In 2003, after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, the U.S. designated Hekmatyar a global terrorist as his forces waged a fierce insurgency against the U.S. occupation.

There’s Haji Zaman, a mujahideen commander and drug lord whom, decades later, the U.S. accused of helping Osama Bin Laden escape from Tora Bora.

Then U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Peter Tomson described mujahideen leader Mullah Mulang in glowing terms, saying “He is a very patriotic Afghan; he has contributed a lot to the jihad; he said he is looking forward to contributing more in the future.”

Here’s a photo of Jalaluddin Haqqani. A CIA asset during the anti-Soviet jihad, he founded the Haqqani network, which would become one of the U.S.’s fiercest enemies in Afghanistan.

Jalaluddin Haqqani

Source | Afghan Media Resource Center

Decades later, this propaganda formula would be applied to Syria, but in a much more sophisticated way. The U.S. and EU funded media trainers and provided cameras for propagandists to embed with anti-government armed groups including the Syrian al Qaeda branch, al Nusra. In Afghanistan, there was the Afghan Media Resource Center.

In Syria, there were numerous media branches. The Aleppo Media Center – funded by the Washington-based Syrian Expatriates Organization, which famously posted videos of Omran Daqneesh – the four-year-old boy who, against his father’s wishes, became a central part of the war propaganda effort. The person who took the infamous photo of Daqneesh – who became known in U.S. media as “Aleppo boy” – was Mahmoud Raslan.

Raslan was also a member of a U.S.-funded armed group, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, that beheaded 10-year-old Palestinian boy Abdallah Issa.

There was Syria Direct – funded by the State Department, as well as French and Australian embassies. Syria Direct trained numerous journalists whose articles were furnished to U.S. media outlets like USA Today, CNN, and Radio Free Europe.

Propaganda has been a key component of every war the U.S. has waged from Vietnam to Grenada to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. These efforts become more sophisticated and insidious over time. Without them, the U.S. permanent war state simply couldn’t operate.

Feature photo | Graphic by James Russo

Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000.

The post How the US Trained the Afghan Mujahideen To Produce War Propaganda appeared first on MintPress News.

On Propaganda and Failed Narratives: New Understanding of Afghanistan is a Must

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/09/2021 - 11:30pm in

For twenty years, two dominant narratives have shaped our view of the illegal US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, and neither one of these narratives would readily accept the use of such terms as ‘illegal’, ‘invasion’ and ‘occupation.’

The framing of the US ‘military intervention’ in Afghanistan, starting on October 7, 2001, as the official start of what was dubbed as a global ‘war on terror’ was left almost entirely to US government strategists. Former President, George W. Bush, his Vice President, Dick Cheney, his Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld and an army of spokespersons, neoconservative ‘intellectuals’, journalists and so on, championed the military option as a way to rid Afghanistan of its terrorists, make the world a safe place and, as a bonus, bring democracy to Afghanistan and free its oppressed women.

For that crowd, the US war in an already war-torn and extremely impoverished country was a just cause, maybe violent at times, but ultimately humanistic.

Another narrative, also a western one, challenged the gung-ho approach used by the Bush administration, argued that democracy cannot be imposed by force, reminded Washington of Bill Clinton’s multilateral approach to international politics, warned against the ‘cut and run’ style of foreign policymaking, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere.

Although both narratives may have seemed at odds, at times, in actuality they accepted the basic premise that the United States is capable of being a moral force in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Whether those who may refer to themselves as ‘antiwar’ realize this or not, they, too, subscribe to the same notion of American exceptionalism and ‘Manifest Destiny’ that Washington continues to assign to itself.

Decline and Fall of the US Empire: Lawrence Wilkerson Discusses Afghanistan Pull-Out

The main difference between both of these narratives is that of methodology and approach and not whether the US has the right to ‘intervene’ in the affairs of another country, whether to ‘eradicate terrorism’ or to supposedly help a victim population, incapable of helping themselves and desperate for a western savior.

However, the humiliating defeat suffered by the US in Afghanistan should inspire a whole new way of thinking, one that challenges all Western narratives, without exception, in Afghanistan and throughout the world.

Obviously, the US has failed in Afghanistan, not only militarily and politically – let alone in terms of ‘state-building’ and every other way – the US-Western narratives on Afghanistan were, themselves, a failure. Mainstream media, which for two decades have reported on the country with a palpable sense of moral urgency, now seem befuddled. US ‘experts’ are as confused as ordinary people regarding the hasty retreat from Kabul, the bloody mayhem at the airport or why the US was in Afghanistan in the first place.

Meanwhile, the ‘humanistic interventionists’ are more concerned with Washington’s ‘betrayal’ of the Afghan people, ‘leaving them to their fate’, as if the Afghans are irrational beings with no agency of their own, or as if the Afghan people have called on the Americans to invade their country or have ‘elected’ American generals as their democratic representatives.

The US-Western propaganda, which has afflicted our collective understanding of Afghanistan for twenty years and counting, has been so overpowering to the point that we are left without the slightest understanding of the dynamics that led to the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country. The latter group is presented in the media as if entirely alien to the socio-economic fabric of Afghanistan. This is why the Taliban’s ultimate victory seemed, not only shocking but extremely confusing as well.

For twenty years, the very little we knew about the Taliban has been communicated to us through Western media analyses and military intelligence assessments. With the Taliban’s viewpoint completely removed from any political discourse pertaining to Afghanistan, an alternative Afghan national narrative was carefully constructed by the US and its NATO partners. These were the ‘good Afghans’, we were told, ones who dress up in Western-style clothes, speak English, attend international conferences and, supposedly, respect women. These were also the Afghans who welcomed the US occupation of their country, as they benefited greatly from Washington’s generosity.

If those ‘good Afghans’ truly represented Afghan society, why did their army of 300,000 men drop their weapons and flee the country, along with their President, without a serious fight? And if the 75,000 poorly-armed and, at times, malnourished Taliban seemed to merely represent themselves, why then did they manage to defeat formidable enemies in a matter of days?

Why I Deserted: Dissident Joe Glenton on the Futility of the Afghan War and “War on Terror”

There can be no argument that an inferior military power, like that of the Taliban, could have possibly persisted, and ultimately won, such a brutal war over the course of many years, without substantial grassroots support pouring in from the Afghan people in large swathes of the country. The majority of the Taliban recruits who have entered Kabul on August 15 were either children, or were not even born, when the US invaded their country, all those years ago. What compelled them to carry arms? To fight a seemingly unwinnable war? To kill and be killed? And why did they not join the more lucrative business of working for the Americans, like many others have?

We are just beginning to understand the Taliban narrative, as their spokespersons are slowly communicating a political discourse that is almost entirely unfamiliar to most of us. A discourse that we were not allowed to hear, interact with, or understand.

Now that the US and its NATO allies are leaving Afghanistan, unable to justify or even explain why their supposed humanitarian mission led to such an embarrassing defeat, the Afghan people are left with the challenge of weaving their own national narrative, one that must transcend the Taliban and their enemies to include all Afghans, regardless of their politics or ideology.

Afghanistan is now in urgent need of a government that truly represents the people of that country. It must grant rights to education, to minorities and to political dissidents, not to acquire a Western nod of approval, but because the Afghan people deserve to be respected, cared for and treated as equals. This is the true national narrative of Afghanistan that must be nurtured outside the confines of the self-serving Western mischaracterization of Afghanistan and her people.

Feature photo | In this Aug. 22, 20121, image provided by the U.S. Air Force, service members prepare to board Afghan evacuees onto a military aircraft, Aug. 22, 2021, in Qatar. Photo | U.S. Air Force via AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is

The post On Propaganda and Failed Narratives: New Understanding of Afghanistan is a Must appeared first on MintPress News.

A Saudi Move to Deport Yemeni Professionals En Masse is Likely to Backfire Dramatically

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 4:49am in

IBB, YEMEN — Yemeni lecturer and professor Mohammed Ali (a pseudonym, by his family’s request) was in a dazed state when he was suddenly told that he was being fired and would longer be allowed to enter the Saudi University at which he taught. Last week, the head of the university in Asir province in southern Saudi Arabia told Ali over the phone that his contract was being cancelled without explanation and that he should leave the Kingdom. “I went home and just curled up in my bed in a fetal position for six hours; I was shocked,” Mohammed said. The Yemeni academic was not alone. “All of my colleagues at the university received notifications from the university that their contracts have been canceled or will not be renewed, without explanation,” he added.

Hundreds of Yemeni professionals — including academics, teachers, doctors, and workers with official labor contracts and regular residency — have already been kicked out of the oil-rich Kingdom en masse and replaced with non-Yemeni workers. And more than 700,000 Yemeni professionals are slated to be expelled within a few months.

The move against Yemeni professionals in the Kingdom, whose salaries are significant compared to their counterparts in Yemen, will force Yemenis inside Saudi Arabia to face a difficult choice: go home to a country on the brink — to face epidemics, bombings and war — or find work in another country. The move could also impact the hundreds of thousands of Yemenis in the Kingdom whose families rely on remittances to survive amid the Saudi Coalition’s war and blockade on their homeland.

Secret directives have reportedly been issued to government-run institutions and owners of private companies in Saudi Arabia’s southern districts — including Asir, Najran and Jizan — and the eastern regions, including Dammam and al-Ahsa. The directives require the termination of contracts with all Yemeni nationals — specifically academics, doctors, medical assistants and other professionals — in preparation for their deportation, according to several sources in the Yemeni expat community in Saudi Arabia. Sources told MintPress that Riyadh has given employers just four months to lay off Yemeni workers in the eastern Kingdom and two months in the south, in preparation for the mass deportation, and officials have vowed to impose penalties if their mandate is not implemented. From July to the 20th of August, at least 250 Yemeni academics at universities in Najran, Jizan, Asir, Albaha and other districts have been fired.

In Ibb province, located in the inland south of the country, Yemenis who have family members that work in medical and government-run facilities told MintPress that the Saudi government had already terminated their contracts or refused to renew them. Yemen’s Ministry of Expatriate Affairs, run by the Ansar Allah-led government in Sana’a, chided the move, saying in a statement that “Yemenis have resided in these areas for decades and have real estate and commercial property and capital registered in the names of Saudis, according to the sponsorship system.” A document dated July 27, from the Saudi Health Ministry and addressed to a hospital in al-Baha, demanded the hospital stop issuing new contracts or renew existing contracts for Yemenis.


Resentment and anger on all sides

The rich oil Kingdom’s new policy has provoked resentment from Yemenis on all sides of the Saudi-led war, including Saudi allies inside the war-torn country. Many Yemeni activists, news outlets, and even former government officials affiliated with the Saudi government, have criticized Riyadh’s move and by extension, ousted President Abdul Mansour al-Hadi’s government. The World Federation of Yemeni Communities has launched an international campaign deriding the policy. Meanwhile, the ousted Hadi government, which has long advocated for even more Saudi intervention in order to “save the economy,” has not commented on the move. Instead, many leaders in Yemen’s Saudi-backed government in Aden have incited mistrust of Yemenis expatriates, accusing them of “being spies for the Houthis.”

An estimated 2.5 million Yemeni expatriates were working in Saudi Arabia before the new policy, most of them highly qualified and working in education, medicine, and other professions across the Kingdom. At Najran University alone, 106 Yemeni academics now facing deportation have worked for years as professors, administrators and in publishing, contributing greatly to the construction and prosperity of the Kingdom during the past decades. During Saudi Arabia’s oil-driven economic boom of the 1970s and ‘80s, Yemeni construction workers provided much of the labor that helped to build the Kingdom.

The move — which comes on the heels of a Saudi decision to raise the U.S. dollar exchange rate used to calculate customs duties on essential goods that enter Yemen — is being used to leverage political pressure on both the Ansar Allah-led government in Sana’a and the Saudi-backed government in Aden, according to Yemeni economic experts who spoke to MintPress.

Manipulating Dollar-Riyal Exchange Rate, Saudis and US Double Cost of Yemen’s Staple Goods

This isn’t the first time the Kingdom has used foreign nationals as a means to achieve policy objectives. The Saudi regime expelled some 360,000 Yemeni workers from the Kingdom after Yemen’s government under former President Ali Saleh signaled that Yemen would begin to develop its own oil from the country’s al-Jawf Governorate, a resource long sought by Saudi Arabia. During the 1991 Gulf War, Yemenis refused the United States-led military intervention and as a result, Saudi Arabia revoked visa exemptions and expelled an estimated 1 million Yemeni workers. However, those victims were low-skilled or undocumented workers; this time it is highly-skilled professionals that are being targeted.


What the targeted Yemenis most fear

In Ibb, the families of professionals are living difficult days with a fear of the future that awaits their only breadwinner, as their jobs are the only source of livelihood. Many said that Saudi Arabia’s measures target their children, who will starve. Some of them expressed serious fears that members of their families might be kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned, or even killed, similar to what happened to the Saudi journalist/academic Jamal Khashoggi.

“Where will we get the money to buy food, medicine and pay the rent and transportation?” a family member of Izzy Nasser, a financial accountant in a commercial center in Jizan, asks desperately.

“I do not trust the Saudis. I am afraid. He could be imprisoned, or tortured or cut up,” another university teacher’s sister echoes.

Samah, 78, who lives in Sana’a and is the mother of a media professor, added, “They will fabricate shreds of evidence against our sons for communicating with Al-Houthi.” Stories like these are appallingly widespread among Yemeni professionals and their families.

Mohammed Ali was born in Saudi Arabia and worked for quite a few years in one of the Saudi universities in the west of the Kingdom. He holds a doctorate from a Kingdom university, and he resides there with his family. He has grandchildren born in the same country, while he is no longer linked to Yemen except by some of his relatives, who support them with some aid, and his family’s old house. “I have provided many services to Saudi Arabia, which I consider my country. Many of my colleagues worked in study centers and provided advice to the Saudi regime to help them in Yemen,” Mohammed said. “The decision to deport us makes us fear for our lives. We can’t anticipate the next steps of the House of Saud.”

Given the large scale of incitement that has been launched by Saudi activists, politicians and public opinion leaders inside the Kingdom and on social media, which the Saudi state thoroughly monitors, these concerns expressed by the families of Yemeni professionals are real and the most terrifying scenarios can come true. In fact, there are dozens of expatriates, even Saudis, in the prisons or killed by the Saudi regime on charges of “communicating with the Houthis” and sometimes for publishing video clips of drones and missiles hitting targets inside the Kingdom.

It is noteworthy that the new Saudi efforts came despite the fact that many of the Yemeni academics and other professionals helped Saudi authorities as researchers, analysts, advisors, and experts in Yemeni affairs, not only to defeat the national forces in the south and east of the country that oppose the Saudi occupation of their country, but also to control the whole country, including recruiting spies and troops. Saudi Arabia’s move to abandon those Yemenis who helped it is a lot like NATO`s move in Afghanistan, where ​many Afghans who helped NATO are being abandoned. Some expect that there will soon be scenes in the Yemeni-Saudi outlets, such as the one that the world watched at Kabul Airport, even if they do not receive such media coverage.

To be sure, there are academics, doctors, and other professionals who oppose brutal Saudi intervention in their country or stand on the sidelines, but there is no evidence proving that they support the Houthis or local resistance in their country of origin.


A counterproductive move?

Ostensibly, Saudi Arabia’s move to deport Yemenis comes in the context of a plan aimed to “Saudize” jobs in the kingdom, an excuse that few outside of the monarchy are buying. The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, a pro-Saudi think-tank, said in a new report, titled “Riyadh’s unconscionable campaign to purge Yemeni workers,” that the move appears to be a punitive measure specifically targeting Yemenis. The report concludes:

After all this, Saudi Arabia is now targeting Yemeni workers in the Kingdom, whose remittances constitute one of the few remaining bulwarks between Yemen and the bottom of the abyss. This will not only undermine the Yemeni government Riyadh claims to want to return to power in Sana’a, but harm the Yemeni population at large.

The presence of Yemeni workers in the Kingdom is governed by two agreements between the governments of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The Taif Agreement and its annexes were signed in 1934 and renewed in the Jeddah Agreement in 2000. Article 14 of that agreement granted Yemenis the right to work, open residence, freedom of investment and property, and non-confiscation of property. Until 1990, Yemenis were able to enter the Kingdom without a visa, had freedom of movement, and could work without a sponsor (kafeel) anywhere in Saudi Arabia.

In targeting the southern Saudi provinces of Asir, Najran and Jizan in particular, the Kingdom may not only be in violation of the Taif Agreement, but it may also lead to renewed tribal tensions in the region, which could eventually even provide expelled Yemenis a rationale to demand these regions return to Yemeni control, according to Yemeni legal experts who spoke to MintPress. Moreover, the move could serve as the impetus for disenfranchised southern tributes to switch allegiance from the Saudi government to Yemeni resistance fighting Saudi forces in Najran, Jizan and Asir

Another Front in Saudi War: Kingdom Deports Yemeni Workers to Face Starvation at “Home”


What the Saudis most fear

Behind the headlines, there is a terrifying fate that the Saudis fear pushing them to expel the Yemenis wholesale from Saudi Arabia, especially from southern Saudi Arabia. Historically, the tribes of southern Saudi Arabia in Asir, Jizan and Najran belong to the Yemeni tribes, especially the “Yam and Hamedan” tribes, which preserve their Yemeni identity through customs, traditions and even traditional clothing. These tribes, who reject Saudi aggression against Yemen, have strong familial ties with the Hamdan tribes in Saad’a, Yemen, the stronghold of Ansar Allah.

Doctrinally, the tribes of southern Saudi Arabia belong to the Zaydi sect, a branch of Shia Islam shared by most members of Ansar Allah. The same is true for most of the expatriates, who either belong to the Zaydi sect or come from Zaydi areas inside of Yemen. This has led to long-term discrimination and mistrust from the Saudi government against tribes in Asir, Jizan and Najran, who have been accused of being spies for Ansar Allah. And indeed, many Saudis in the region sympathize with Ansar Allah and have even fought alongside them against the Kingdom. Tribal members from those regions and as far away as the Saudi city of Mecca, were even honored during a ceremony in Sana’a last March commemorating those who died fighting against the Kingdom in the battles of Abdulaziz Omar, Makkah Al-Mukarramah and Al-Sulaymaniyah, among others.

Since 2015, when the war began, Ansar Allah has gained popularity in southern and eastern Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government is anxious lest the relationship between Ansar Allah and the tribes develop into a military alliance and lead to an armed uprising in the south and east of the Kingdom, or to assisting Ansar Allah with information and financing, at a minimum. Those fears could materialize in light of the arbitrary crackdown by Saudi authorities against Yemeni expatriates and Saudi Arabia’s Shia citizens in the south and east of the Kingdom, according to tribesmen and strategic planners who spoke to MintPress.

Contrary to what the Saudi government wants, the expulsion of Yemeni professionals will not only lead to renewed hostility towards the Kingdom, it will inflame sympathy towards Ansar Allah and Iran. That is a natural reaction, in hopes that one day they may return to the homes where they were born or raised or that they may eventually find employment in Yemeni universities run by the Ansar Allah-led Salvation Government, or in the areas under its control. Meanwhile, Ansar Allah has already taken up a plan to absorb these professionals.

Feature photo | Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center right, and Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, center left, review an honor guard during the welcoming ceremony at Neom Bay Airport in northwestern Saudi Arabia, July 11, 2021. Saudi Royal Palace via AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sana’a. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post A Saudi Move to Deport Yemeni Professionals En Masse is Likely to Backfire Dramatically appeared first on MintPress News.

Zionism’s Anthem: The Danger Lurking in “Jerusalem of Gold”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 4:27am in

JERUSALEM — The risk of Israel destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and replacing them with a so-called Jewish temple is real and present. Building a temple in place of the mosque and golden dome that grace Jerusalem today has been a long-time Zionist aspiration, expressed in songs, tales, and, over the last decade, provocations that could lead to the spark Zionists need to raze the Haram Al-Sharif.

One example of Zionist propaganda that lays claim to the Haram Al-Sharf is the iconic Hebrew song “Jerusalem of Gold.” Written by the Israeli national poet Neomi Shemer, it is often presented as a simple song that expresses the yearning of the Jewish people for their lost, historical capital. However, it isn’t hard to see that the song, its writer, and the people who commissioned the song had a very clear political agenda.

The song begins with the following lines:

Mountain air as clear as wine

And the fragrance of pines

Is carried in the evening wind 

With the sound of ringing bells

And in the slumber of tree and stone

Trapped in its dream 

The city that sits alone

And in its heart a Wall

Jerusalem of gold

And bronze and light

To all your songs

I am a violin…

The image of Jerusalem as a lone city sitting alone and secluded, a haunted city with nothing but a past, reflects a romanticized idea that protestant evangelicals and dreamy Zionists share, but it is not a true reflection of the Jerusalem of 1967. The song goes on with the following lines:

How the water wells dried up

The city square is empty

And no one ascends to the Temple Mount

In The Old City

And not a soul goes down the Dead Sea

By way of Jericho.

The city of Jerusalem was divided in 1948 between the newly formed states of Jordan and Israel, and both sides were populated. The Western side was subjected to an ethnic cleansing campaign that emptied it of its indigenous Palestinian population and settled by Zionist immigrants making it an Israeli-Jewish-only city. The Eastern side of Jerusalem, including the Old City, remained in Arab hands and came under Jordanian rule.

The markets in the Old City were filled with people; worshipers on the Haram Al-Sharif (The Temple Mount) prayed; and the water wells were not dried up. Only for Neomi Shemer, who at the time was Israel’s national poet and songwriter, East Jerusalem — and especially the Old City — was empty because, as she put it, “a world without Jews is empty.”

Reading the lines of her song one could almost forget that the Old City of Jerusalem, to which Neomi Shemer was referring, was in fact an Arab and predominantly Muslim city for over 1,500 years. The city also included, among several other minorities, a small, impoverished community of Jews.

Naomi Shemer pictured in July, 2004. Photo | Flash90


A family connection

To add a disclaimer, I must confess that Neomi Shemer was a close friend of my family. Her mother, Rivka Sapir, and my grandmother Sarah both came to Palestine as young Zionist pioneers in the early part of the twentieth century. Even though they settled in different parts of the country — Rivka in the northern settlement of “Kvutzat Kinneret,” a settlement on the banks of Lake Tabariya, and my grandmother Sarah in Jerusalem — they remained the closest of friends for over fifty years. Neomi Shemer and my father were friends growing up, though my father was her senior in age, and the two families were close for decades.

Neomi Shemer admittedly had a deep admiration for the young Zionist men of that generation — men who, like my father, had dedicated their lives to the military arm of the Zionist colonial project, and in fact created the military machine known as the Israeli Army, or IDF.


Determined to “complete the job”

By the 1960s, my father and his generation of officers were all generals and had become the subject of enormous national admiration within the young Zionist state. Their intention — indeed their ambition to “complete” the conquests of 1948 by taking the West Bank and East Jerusalem — was not a secret. Neomi Shemer, like so many other Israelis, shared that ambition, which was an Israel that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

It wasn’t until May of 1967 that the opportunity arrived to realize the ambition to take the rest of Palestine. Israeli intelligence made it clear that the Arab armies were no match for the Israeli Defense Forces and, with this knowledge, they began to campaign to get popular support to complete their ambition of conquest.


A brilliant campaign

The campaign had several parts. One had to do with perpetuating the lie that the Arab armies were poised to attack and that the “Jewish State” was under an existential threat. This argument was used to pressure the Israeli government, which was at that time hesitant about initiating yet another war, to give the green light to start a preemptive strike.

The other front was more visionary and included the song “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” or “Jerusalem of Gold.” Only Neomi Shemer could have written this song. She knew how to play on the chords of national sentiments more than any other songwriter, and indeed she was tasked with the job. The mayor of Jerusalem at the time was the ambitious Teddy Kolek, who no doubt could already taste having the magnificent Old City of Jerusalem under his control. He had the song commissioned just weeks before the war.

With her background, her ability to romanticize Zionism and the achievements of Zionism, and her deep and personal connections to the generals of the IDF, who were chomping at the bit to start a war, Neomi Shemer was sure to deliver the goods. And indeed she did.

Israel’s nineteenth Independence Day was held on the 9th of May that year. The military parade customary on Independence Day was a more modest version, as the military was already preparing for war. The song “Jerusalem of Gold” was performed for the first time by Shuli Natan, a young female singer who was until that moment unknown and was personally chosen by Shemer. It was an astounding success and, overnight, the song was heard throughout the entire country.


The Temple Mount

On June 4, after two stormy meetings between the IDF top brass and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, the green light was given to conduct a preemptive strike against Egypt. The mandate from the government was to attack Egypt only. However, there is evidence indicating that the popularity of the song had given impetus to the popular demand for Israel to take the Old City of Jerusalem. This meant opening the war to an eastern front and taking the entire West Bank from Jordan. The generals were only too happy to do this, and indeed they did it without waiting for government approval.

The conquest of the Old City was made all the more dramatic as the song had become popular to the point that it was being constantly played on Israeli radio and in every home. I myself remember the song playing before and during the war, as my father spent days and nights at IDF headquarters and my older brother, a young officer at the time, on the Egyptian front. Then came the famous announcement by Colonel Mordechai Gur, commander of the IDF paratrooper Brigade who took the Old City:

I am not a religious man, but I am touching the stones of the Kotel (the Western Wall), I am touching the stones of the Kotel with my bare hands!”

Later on, Colonel Gur called out what became the most iconic statement of the war: “Har Habayit Beydeynu!” or “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”

Immediately after the war, and once the eastern part of Jerusalem including the Old City was conquered by the Israeli army, Neomi Shemer went on tour to perform in front of the victorious troops who were still at the front. At that point she added the following lines to the song:

We have returned to the Water Wells

To the Market and the City Square

A Shofar calls on the Temple Mount

In The Old City

And once again we will go down to the Dead Sea

By way of Jericho.

Neomi Shemer performing her most famous song, “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.”



After the war there was some criticism of the song for its implication that there were no people in the Old City before Israel had occupied it. However, just as the Zionists did not see the Palestinains as people in 1948, Nemoni Shemer did not see them in 1967. In an interview she gave in response to the criticism, she said, “People criticize me because I say that no one was there when it was full of Arabs,” and then she added, “This made me extremely angry. For me a place without Jews is empty.”


A national symbol

It is said that when a conflict is political it is solvable, but if it becomes religious then it is far more dangerous because each side believes that God is on their side. In the case of Jerusalem, and especially the Haram Al-Sharif, the opposite is true. Zionists have been able to create a yearning among non-religious Israelis to see a “Jewish” temple built in place of the glorious Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, as a national aspiration.

It is as though Israel will not be complete until such a temple — the temple of King David — once again sits there instead of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. As I look back at my own childhood, I can recall countless folk songs in which the building of the temple is mentioned and repeated as a yearning, as a national aspiration of all Jews, religious and non-religious, including ones like myself who were raised completely secular.


Quiet can be a dangerous thing

In a video in Hebrew that came out in 2019, one of Israel’s beloved national public figures, Yehoram Ga’on, who made a career as a singer and actor, speaks to this yearning. He speaks about the “injustice” of denying Jewish people access to the Temple Mount, “the holiest place for the Jews.” In this video, he refers specifically to the fact that on “Jerusalem Day” that year the Temple Mount will be closed to Jewish people because it fell on the last day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Ga’on says that the government — or the “kingdom,” as he refers to it — prefers “quiet” over allowing Jewish people to access what is rightfully theirs. “This is a knockout victory [of] the Islamic calendar over the Jewish calendar,” he says, meaning that, because the dates of their holiday collided with ours, we capitulated for the sake of “quiet.” He explained:

The kingdom does not want to mobilize the army, police and border police to face off crowds who call out ‘With blood and spirit we will free Palestine,’ because the kingdom wants quiet.

All we asked is that we too are allowed to enter the Mount — is that too much to ask?”

Ga’on then went on to say that this desire for quiet means that the Jews have to give in and to forgo their own rights, their beliefs, their existence, and that this is a desecration of the memory of those who gave their lives in battle. The video is peppered with clips of Palestinian “violence,” which contradicts the presumption of “quiet,” and proposes that, even with this egregious injustice to the Jews, Israel does not have the quiet it desires because the Arabs are violently demanding more and more.

The innocence of his proposition could make one believe that indeed Jewish Israelis were the ones living under occupation; that Jewish Israelis are denied rights; that they are the ones who are struggling to survive in an oppressive, apartheid regime that wants to get rid of them. Listening to his reasoning — his quiet, reasonable voice — one could almost be convinced that a terrible wrong has been done to the Jews in Jerusalem.

The ability to exclude the context from every argument is a tactic that Zionist propagandists have used for many decades. They gloss over almost an entire century of ethnic cleansing, violence, racist policies, an apartheid regime, and a concerted effort to rid Palestine of its people and its landmarks.

Fifteen hundred years of history, fifteen hundred years of worship, and maintaining what is one of the most wonderful structures known to humanity are meaningless in the eyes of Zionists. As an example, Al-Aqsa and the structures that surround it are older and in many ways more beautiful and certainly more significant than the Taj Mahal. Now imagine someone coming to claim that the Taj Mahal is sitting on an ancient temple and must be destroyed.

Whether it is Neomi Shemer or Yehoram Ga’on, both of whom are Zionist cultural icons, the message is the same: Only Jews matter. As we look at the short history of Israel, we can see clearly that the role of Zionist zealots was always instrumental in achieving Zionist goals. If it weren’t for zealots, fanatic Zionist settlers, there would be no Zionist state, no settlements in the West Bank, and no State of Israel. The Zionist movement was always a step ahead, indoctrinating, supporting, and funding the zealot settlers who then took things into their own hands and created facts on the ground.

Should the Al-Aqsa Mosque be destroyed, the match will be lit by a fanatic settler, but it is decades of Zionist indoctrination and Israeli policies that will be responsible for the destruction. And all that will be left for the rest of the world to do is look at the ashes in shame.

Feature photo | Dome of the Rock at dawn. Photo | Joiseyshowaa | Flickr CC

Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

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