MintPress News

MintPress News
22 May 2024 | 6:51 pm

1. Follow the Money: How Israel-Linked Billionaires Silenced US Campus Protests

America's universities are on fire. A protest movement against the violence in Gaza and U.S. colleges' complicity in them has swept the nation, with encampments on college campuses in 45 of America's 50 states. The crackdown has been swift; thousands of students have been arrested, charged, fined, lost their degrees, or even deported. Amid corporate media demanding a "Kent State 2.0", riot police, armored vehicles and snipers have been deployed across the country to terrify those campaigning for justice into silence.

Why have overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations against a foreign power's actions been met with such a heavy-handed response? A MintPress News investigation finds that those same elite institutions have deep financial and ideological ties to the state of Israel, are funded by pro-Israel billionaires who have demanded they take action to crush the student movement, are partially funded by the Israeli government, and exist in a climate where Washington has made it clear that the protests should not be tolerated.


Israel's Billionaire Backers

The movement began on April 17 at Columbia University, where a modest Gaza solidarity encampment was established. Protestors hardly expected to be welcomed by university authorities but were shocked as university president Minouche Shafik immediately called in the NYPD – the first time the university had allowed police to suppress dissent on campus since the famous 1968 demonstrations against the Vietnam War.

Shafik's decision was no doubt influenced by the enormous pressure put on her by the university's top donors – many of whom have deep connections to the Israeli state and its military.

Robert Kraft

Billionaire businessman and sports executive Robert Kraft, for example, publicly announced he was cutting the university off from his lavish funding over its failure to suppress the protests effectively enough. "I am deeply saddened at the virulent hate that continues to grow on campus and throughout our country," he said in a statement, claiming that Columbia was not protecting its Jewish students.

The turning point, Kraft said, was watching a publicity stunt by Shai Davidai, an Israeli-American academic at Columbia, who claimed his access to campus was revoked. Davidai had previously called the student protestors "Nazis" and "terrorists" and called for the National Guard to be set upon the encampment, obliquely referencing the Kent State University Massacre while doing so.

Kraft is one of Columbia's most important donors, giving the institution millions of dollars, including $3 million to fund the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life.

He also has deep connections to Israel, having visited the country over 100 times, including to have private lunch with his friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said, "Israel does not have a more loyal friend than Robert Kraft."

Netanyahu is correct. Kraft is one of the Israel lobby's primary benefactors, donating millions to groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Israel Project and StandWithUs. He pledged a gigantic $100 million to his own Foundation to Combat Antisemitism – a group that presents critics of Israeli policy with the charge of anti-Jewish racism. He has also funded a host of pro-Israel politicians in races against progressive, anti-war challengers. A recent MintPress News investigation took a closer look at how Kraft is a key actor in trying to launder Israel's image in America.

Leon Cooperman

Another billionaire benefactor pulling his Columbia funding is Leon Cooperman. The hedge fund manager suspended his donations in October, citing student support for Palestine. "These kids are fucking crazy. They don't understand what they're doing or what they're talking about," he fumed, adding that they "have to be controlled." One person who does know what he is talking about on this issue is Columbia's Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History, Joseph Massad. Yet Cooperman demanded Massad be fired after the academic took positions on Palestine he objected to.

Cooperman has enormous influence at Columbia precisely because he is one of its chief income sources. In 2012, for instance, he donated $25 million to support the construction of the university's new Manhattanville campus.

However, Columbia is far from the only organization that receives lavish Cooperman cash. He is also a regular donor to the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF), a group that collects money to purchase supplies, equipment and support for active-duty Israeli soldiers. In addition, he was the first person to provide an endowment to Birthright Israel, an organization that provides free propaganda trips to Israel for young Jews.

Len Blavatnik

A third billionaire backer using his financial clout to pressure Columbia is Soviet-born oligarch Len Blavatnik, who demanded that the university protestors be "held to account." Leaked messages reveal that for Blavatnik,  this meant using the full weight of the law against protestors.

Blavatnik was a member of a secret WhatsApp group created in October 2023 that included many prominent Americans, former Israeli prime ministers Naftali Bennett and Benny Gantz, and Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog. Its mission was, in its own words, to "change the narrative" in favor of Israel and "help win the war" for U.S. public opinion. This included donating to pro-Israel political candidates and trying to pressure black celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Jay-Z and LeBron James to publicly "condemn antisemitism" – i.e., attempting to conflate the protestors with racists.

Blavatnik also bankrolls Birthright and the U.K. Friends of the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel's Soldiers and has funded at least 120 scholarships for former IDF soldiers. Together, Kraft, Cooperman and Blavatnik are thought to have donated nearly $100 million to Columbia.

Idan Ofer

From Columbia, the protests quickly spread across America, including to many of the country's most prestigious institutions, including Harvard.

From the start, the university was actively hostile to the protest movement and suspended dozens of protestors, effectively stopping them from graduating. This hostility is no doubt in part due to the university's big-money donors pulling out en masse since October 7. Chief among these is Israeli shipping magnate Idan Ofer, who cited what he called "the lack of clear evidence of support from the university's leadership for the people of Israel" and expressed his dismay that the Massachusetts college would not condemn Hamas strongly enough.

Ofer is a crucial player in Israeli intelligence. As a previous MintPress News investigation revealed, his family's Zodiac Maritime cargo ships have regularly been used to secretly ferry Israeli commandos around the Middle East for assassination operations. This includes the killing of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai and Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Khalil al-Wazir in Tunisia.

Leslie Wexner

Another billionaire apparently "stunned and sickened" by Harvard's pro-Hamas positions is former Victoria's Secret CEO Leslie Wexner. Apart from Wexner's exceptionally close and well-publicized connections to child sex traffickers and Israeli intelligence asset Jeffrey Epstein, Wexner is a major donor to Israeli causes.

A 2007 list of potential political donors compiled by Benjamin Netanyahu includes Wexner prominently. (Also included were Ofer's brother Eyal, Blavtnik, and Donald Trump). In 2023, Wexner donated a six-figure sum to AIPAC, the chief pro-Israel force in American politics.

Marc Rowan

Nowhere, however, has the elite backlash to student protests been as bitter as at the University of Pennsylvania. Leading the charge to suppress pro-Palestine sentiment on campus there has been Marc Rowan. The billionaire investor demanded that his side must "exact a price" on students who express solidarity with Palestine. "These kids who are marching, they don't think about it because there's been no price to pay," he explained, suggesting that they should never be allowed to work again: "I would not hire you if you were anti-Black. I wouldn't hire if you were anti-gay. I wouldn't hire you if you were anti-anything. Why would I hire an antisemite?" he stated, effectively conflating antisemitism with criticism of the Israeli government.

Rowan strongly opposed UPenn's hosting of a Palestinian literature festival in 2023, demanding that college president Liz Magill and UPenn board chair Scott Bok be fired. After October 7, Rowan and his allies succeeded in forcing both from their jobs.

Rowan has tremendous influence at his alma mater, primarily because of his extraordinarily deep pockets. In 2018, for instance, he donated $50 million to the Wharton School of Business at Pennsylvania. But like with Columbia and Harvard's big-money benefactors, he is far from a neutral actor on the subject of Israel and Palestine. In fact, he has considerable business interests in Israel. He has described himself as someone who has a "building and overwhelming commitment" to the country and "looks to the IDF and to what Israel does" for guidance.

Rowan and other oligarchs, Jonathon Jacobson and Ronald Lauder, helped organize a university funding strike until their demands were met. Jacobson, who claimed that the university refuses to stand for American values, is the chairman of the Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli think tank whose current director is former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin. Unsurprisingly, for a man of this background, he has a long history of making donations to pro-Israel groups in the U.S.

Lauder, meanwhile, is even more ingratiated with the Israeli establishment than Jacobson. A close confidant and supporter of Netanyahu, he was appointed a negotiator for Israel with the government of Syria in 1998. His presence at a One Jerusalem rally in front of religious and nationalist extremists in 2001 led to a boycott of the Estée Lauder brand across the Muslim world.


Academic Collaboration

In addition to pressure from donors, elite U.S. universities have close academic and business ties to Israel. For example, Columbia announced last year that it would open a "global center" in Tel Aviv, which would serve as a research hub for academics and graduate students. This would expand the university's dealings in Israel, where students can already pursue a joint degree with Tel Aviv University or study abroad in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. This development, however, will only benefit Israelis, as Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere are generally barred from entering Israel.

The plans for a new global center drew heavy criticism from Columbia faculty members, nearly 100 of whom signed a letter asking it to reconsider the decision, given Israel's human rights record. Moreover, in recent years, many Columbia academics have been barred from entering Israel, likely because of their political views. These include Rashid Kalidi, the Edward Saïd Professor of Modern Arab Studies, and law professor Katherine M. Franke, who was detained and interrogated by Israeli authorities for 14 hours before being deported.

Yet, when it comes to American educational institutions, Columbia's Israeli collaboration is not unusual. In 2003, Cornell University and the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund established a program for joint agricultural research. In 2014, Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs announced a joint program with the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya in Israel. (The Lauder School is named after its founder and benefactor, Ronald Lauder, a longtime advocate for the Zionist cause). The University of California signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel's National Technological Innovation Authority to increase cooperation between the two organizations.

Despite the growing movement calling for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions, intellectual collaboration between American and Israeli academics has grown. Between 2006 and 2015, there was a 45% increase in the number of articles in academic journals whose authors included researchers affiliated with both American and Israeli universities.

This collaboration was primarily among elite institutions. Topping the list of schools was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which, between 2006 and 2015, had 1,835 joint publications with researchers from Israeli institutions. MIT was followed by the University of California, Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard and Stanford, respectively. The most common fields of research were medicine, physics and astronomy, biochemistry and biology. Tel Aviv University was the most prevalent Israeli collaborator.
Campus Protests The Reckoning

Police crack down on pro-Palestinian sutdent protests on the UCLA campus, in Los Angeles, May 2, 2024. Jae C. Hong | AP


Paid for by Israel

However, more controversial than the academic collaboration is the Israeli government's direct funding of American educational institutions. MIT, for example, is awash in Israeli cash. Scientists Against Genocide, a group at MIT, report that, since 2015, the university has received over $11 million in authorized research funding from the Israeli Ministry of Defense. This cash has reached various departments, including Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Biological Engineering, Physics, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering.

MIT labs and centers receiving funding include The Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, the Computer Science And Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Research Laboratory of Electronics.

The money has paid for research that directly benefits the Israeli military and helps them in their campaigns against the civilian population of Palestine. For example, one MIT project funded by Israel since 2022 is titled "Autonomous Robotic Swarms: Distributed Coordination and Perception." According to Scientists Against Genocide, the research has helped the IDF carry out aerial drone bombings, surveil protestors, and drop tear gas on Palestinians. Israel is known to be developing flocks of small autonomous drone aircraft guided by artificial intelligence to locate targets, direct airstrikes and aid military advances.

Another project, "Planning and Sensing Algorithms for Underwater Persistent Monitoring," has seen the Israeli Ministry of Defense give MIT $1.5 million to develop technology to help them police the Mediterranean Sea. Scientists Against Genocide have suggested that this has helped Israel enforce a naval blockade against Gaza, including targeting fishing ships to prevent Gazans from being able to feed themselves.

Israel has long limited the amount of food entering Gaza, keeping residents on a "diet." However, during its seven-month-long assault on the densely-populated strip, the food crisis has reached critical levels. The United Nations has warned that famine is imminent, and its high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, suggested Israel was carrying out a war crime by using starvation as a weapon.


Ties to the Military Industrial Complex

It could be argued that MIT could reasonably be accused of directly abetting a genocide in Gaza. However, MIT and other elite institutions are under enormous governmental pressure from the other side. Its president, Sally Kornbluth, as well as Harvard president Claudine Gay and Pennsylvania's Magill, were brought before Congress and grilled on their universities' alleged support for Hamas and indifference to antisemitism. The case made national news and focused waves of pressure on universities nationwide.

The U.S., of course, has an extremely close relationship with Israel, using it as an outpost of its power in the Middle East. Washington has vetoed successive bills at the United Nations that attempt to address the dire situation, including those calling for a ceasefire and full Palestinian statehood. The U.S. supplies Tel Aviv with nearly $4 billion worth of military aid each year, and in April, Congress voted to send $17 billion of additional U.S. taxpayer money. Critics have blasted the aid as pointless at best and supporting a genocide at worst. But President Biden maintains that every penny given to Israel is money well spent and has stated that if Israel did not exist, the United States would have to invent one.

American support for Israel comes at more than just a monetary cost. The U.S.'s international reputation is sinking. A recent poll shows that a majority of people in Southeast Asia would now choose China over the U.S. if forced to choose, with Washington's continued backing of Israel being a critical factor in this shift. A number of American officials have also publicly resigned from their positions in protest. Lily Greenberg Call, the first Jewish Biden appointee to publicly resign over Gaza, left her job as special assistant to the chief of staff at the Interior Department. Explaining her decision, Greenberg Call wrote:

The President has the power to call for a lasting ceasefire, to stop sending weapons to Israel, and to condition aid. The United States has used nearly no leverage throughout the last eight months to hold Israel accountable; quite the opposite. We have enabled and legitimized Israel's actions with vetoes of UN resolutions designed to hold Israel accountable. President Biden has the blood of innocent people on his hands."

The United States has long enabled Israeli war crimes and the status quo of apartheid and occupation. That status quo does not keep Israelis safe, nor Jews around the world."

Each campus protest is different. But they generally share the same goal: pressuring their universities into divesting their endowments from Israel and from companies linked to the ongoing Israeli occupation. Some have called for cutting academic ties with Israeli universities, while others, such as Cornell and Yale, have asked their schools to stop investing in weapons corporations that are making a killing from the bloodshed.

These requests have precedent. After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, a host of American institutions cut off collaboration with Russia almost overnight. Going further back, student protests forced many U.S. universities to sever financial ties with Apartheid South Africa.

But Israel and the military-industrial complex are so intertwined with the U.S. economy that an extensive boycott might prove difficult, especially considering elite American universities' deep ties to the defense industry. MIT, for example, has entered into long-term partnerships with a host of top weapons manufacturers, including RTX (formerly Raytheon), Lockheed Martin and Boeing, who has leased 100,000 square feet of research and lab space at MIT's new mixed-use building in Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA.

While corporate media has demonized the students as out-of-touch supporters of terrorism, they enjoy widespread support among their peers. Students approved a resolution calling on MIT to cut all research and financial ties to the Israeli military, with 63.7% of undergraduates and 70.5% of graduates voting in favor of it. American adults aged between 18 and 44 support the nationwide protests by a ratio of 4:3.
Israel-Palestinians-Campus Protests

A protester is arrested at S. 34th St. near the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, May 17, 2024. Steven M. Falk | AP


The Crackdown

Authorities, however, have been in little mood to negotiate, and images of black-clad riot police beating up and dragging away students and faculty members have gone viral across the globe.

MintPress spoke with Bryce Greene, a student organizer at the University of Indiana Bloomington, who told us how the administration collaborated with police to suppress the growing movement:

The night before we put our encampment up, the administration changed the rules of the space we were using and used that rule change to launch a military-level police assault on peaceful demonstrators. The university sanctioned armored vehicles, riot troops, assault weapons, shotguns, grenade launchers, a chopper circling overhead, a surveillance drone, and even a sniper on the roof."

"On day one, militarized police swept into the camp and arrested dozens of people," Greene said. Undaunted, protestors returned two days later and were met with similar levels of force. Greene was arrested and received a five-year ban from campus, something he attributes to his longtime student organizing.

The story at Indiana is far from unique. At MIT, more than 200 armed riot police stormed the protest camp at 4 am on May 11, destroying the encampment and arresting peaceful protestors. Harvard suspended the university's Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and has taken action against individual students. Many are now facing eviction from student housing and even deportation. Meanwhile, UPenn has blocked protest leaders from campus. Seniors believe this will affect their ability to graduate or receive their degrees. As of May 22, there have been well over 3,000 arrests nationwide.


Shredding the First Amendment

After a surprise attack by Hamas, Israel began its campaign on violence in Gaza on October 7. Relentless bombing of the tightly-packed strip has caused tens of thousands of deaths and led to nearly 2 million people being displaced in what is the worst episode of genocidal violence in Palestine since the 1948 Nakba when three-quarters of a million Palestinians were forced from their homes at gunpoint to prepare the ground for a Jewish state. Multiple international bodies, including the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and Amnesty International, have used the word "genocide" in discussing Israeli actions in Gaza. President Biden, however, rejected that interpretation and gave Israel his full support.

This unconditional backing is seriously harming Biden's polling numbers. A majority of Democrat voters consider Israel's actions to constitute genocide, and young Americans are abandoning support for him in droves.

Those groups, in particular, draw on alternative sources of news for Israel and Palestine. Polls show that young people who receive their news from TikTok and other social media (and not through the filter of corporate news) are most likely to hold a negative view of Israel's actions. The Biden administration's response has been to simply threaten the complete closure of TikTok in the United States. But it is far from clear whether this authoritarian measure will succeed in stemming the growing tide of Palestinian solidarity that has been building for years, partially down to the tireless work of activists on campuses across the nation.

Despite the campus demonstrations being overwhelmingly peaceful, authorities have chosen to crack down harshly upon them, shredding the First Amendment in the process. Why have both universities and the government shown virtually zero tolerance towards those protesting against genocide? Firstly, because so many big-money university benefactors are themselves committed Zionists and have deep ties to the Israeli state.

This raises the question of whether these so-called charitable donations are so charitable in the first place. For one, America's super-wealthy often receive tax write-offs for their contributions. Secondly, it gives them excessive power to control the directions of the institutions they are funding. Should wealthy individuals be able to dictate university policy for tens of thousands of people? Many would suggest that this is profoundly anti-democratic.

As we have seen, universities themselves also have deep academic and even financial connections to the state of Israel, making the students' divestment demands particularly sensitive. This is all happening in a context where the government continues to pledge its full support to Israel and its war aims and has moved to crack down on anti-Israel speech, attempting to make it functionally illegal to openly oppose Israel's expansionist policies. Israel has long been a political third rail in America. The thousands of students being arrested are learning that in real-time.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

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 Follow the Money: How Israel-Linked Billionaires Silenced US Campus Protests appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
21 May 2024 | 3:47 pm

2. Media Manipulation: The Truth About The Gaza Death Toll

Controlling narratives is critical in the context of international war and the media. The UN's reported death toll from Gaza has recently come under fire; allegations suggest that the UN dramatically reduced its numbers downward. The UN has denied this accusation, but it seems to be a part of a larger disinformation operation meant to support Israeli state propaganda and hide the truth about Palestinian suffering.

The UN promptly refuted the initial accusation that it had significantly altered the death toll from Gaza. In spite of this, the idea was not written off as a straightforward error in the media but rather as a conscious attempt at misinformation. The number of civilian deaths recorded by the Gaza Health Ministry—figures that are also cited by significant NGOs and the UN—has long been contested by pro-Israeli pundits and government representatives. These officials, frequently without supporting documentation, have written off these figures as Hamas propaganda for years.

A May 7 debate between Piers Morgan and Israeli government spokesman Avi Hyman went viral, casting doubt on the Israeli story. Hyman faced severe criticism when he attempted to defend Israel's conduct in Gaza during the interview. This event prepared the groundwork for additional fabrication of the Gaza death toll story.

Three days later, The New York Sun ran an article written by M. J. Koch, a member of the infamous rich Koch family. Koch used a May 8 United Nations infographic, which showed 34,844 deaths overall, selectively quoting it. Koch, however, falsely claimed that the 10,000 individuals reported missing were deducted from the overall death toll and instead concentrated on the breakdown of 24,686 confirmed dead, which included 4,959 women and 7,797 children. In actuality, there were documented missing people in addition to the 34,844 fatalities. Koch intentionally left out context in an attempt to cast doubt on the reliability of UN statistics.

Other media sites swiftly began to carry the misinformation. Using the same graphics, The Times of Israel published an item on May 10 that claimed a 17% decrease in women's and children's mortality in just two days. The post also mentioned another from May 6. Similar to Koch's essay, this one did not discriminate between the overall and identified death tolls.

Fox News ran a widely shared item on May 13 with the headline, "UN revises Gaza death toll, almost 50% fewer women and children killed than previously reported." The article for Fox News, authored by British-Israeli writer Ruth Marks Eglash, who has ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, focused only on the smaller number of confirmed deaths while disregarding the entire death toll. Eglash's past assistance in reaching out to English-speaking media outlets on behalf of Israel's UN envoy raises concerns about her reporting ethics and objectives.

The New York Post swiftly republished the false Fox News story with the explosive headline, "UN admits Gaza death toll wrong, with almost 50% fewer women, children killed than previously reported." This misleading story quickly gained traction on social media and was supported by organizations such as the publicly financed CBC in Canada. In a piece that seemed to validate the narrative, the CBC hinted that the UN had really altered the number of deaths.

In response to the spreading misinformation, the UN clarified its data, reinforcing the accuracy of its records. On the same day, the Israeli government, for the first time in nearly eight months of conflict, released a statistic for civilian casualties in Gaza. This announcement was made by Avi Hyman, the same spokesperson who had been challenged by Piers Morgan just days earlier.

It appears that there was a concerted attempt to sway public opinion, given the timing of Israel's announcement of its civilian death toll statistic and the disinformation campaign directed at the UN. The purpose of this effort was likely to manipulate the conflict's narrative and divert public attention away from the true extent of Palestinian suffering.

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and hosts the show 'Palestine Files'. Director of 'Steal of the Century: Trump's Palestine-Israel Catastrophe'. Follow him on Twitter @falasteen47

The post Media Manipulation: The Truth About The Gaza Death Toll appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
15 May 2024 | 7:12 pm

3. Leaked Docs Reveal British Intelligence’s Secret Exploitation of Palestinian Refugees

Leaked files obtained by MintPress News detail the intensive interest taken in Palestinians both within and without the country by British intelligence operatives and Foreign Office-funded and directed cutouts over many years. Collectively, the material leaves little room for doubt that the British government has long sought to covertly surveil, infiltrate, and manipulate Palestinians for malign ends while exploiting their suffering to serve London's geopolitical objectives.

Throughout the Syrian proxy conflict, British intelligence ran expansive psychological warfare programs, targeting the local population and Western citizens. The objective was to destabilize Bashar Assad's government and convince domestic and foreign audiences, including overseas governments and international bodies, that the Western-backed Free Syrian Army was a moderate, legitimate alternative and flood media globally with pro-opposition propaganda. A corrupt constellation of private contractors staffed by British military veterans and "former" spies delivered these clandestine campaigns.

Innovative Communications & Strategies (InCoStrat) was a particularly prolific participant in this effort. The firm was founded by Paul Tilley, Britain's former Ministry of Defence head of communications for West Asia, and Emma Winberg, a longtime MI6 officer, who subsequently married now-deceased White Helmets founder James Lemesurier. The leaked documents reveal that in Syria, she was tasked with the "management and development" of a local "network of interlocutors, key leaders and local coordinators":

[This network is] able to assist in the development of messages and influence through word of mouth, in difficult to reach areas. The knowledge gained through these interactions will generate the contextual understanding that provides the foundation for our communication campaigns, our ability to assess their effect and to provide detailed atmospheric reports that inform HMG of the developing situation in Syria."

Winberg is described as Britain's "lead on engagement with the Syrian armed opposition in Istanbul" while serving as a Foreign Office "Political-Military Officer" in Turkey from 2013 onwards. She cultivated "an extensive range of contacts in north and eastern Syria," meaning she was "trusted and respected by moderate opposition leadership figures." This may account for why InCoStrat avowedly "maintained a perfect record of safety and security for its staff" in the country, even while the company secretly operated in "areas under ISIS control."

Winberg harvested so much crucial intelligence in this role that her resultant insights represented a "core contribution" to British, European and US understanding and assessment of armed groups in Syria. Intriguingly, she was transferred to Istanbul directly from the British consulate in Jerusalem, a vital regional base of operations for MI6. While there, she reported on "violent extremist organizations" active in Gaza, "including during Operation Cloud Pillar" in November 2012, for which she was "commended internally."

Cloud Pillar saw Israeli Occupation Forces massacre almost 200 Palestinian civilians after assassinating high-ranking Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari. This was in keeping with MI6's strategy to "degrade the capabilities" of "rejectionists" of the pro-Zionist Palestine Authority. Winberg's close-range view of these events made her a compelling candidate for overseeing London's contribution to the proxy war from the perspective of her employers in British intelligence. Moreover, she was not alone among InCoStrat operatives in secretly surveilling Palestinian resistance firsthand.

One company staffer managed a $25 million "small grants programme to directly support community stabilisation, engage youth, and moderate actors in the Palestinian Territories" for US intelligence cutout USAID, 2005 – 2007. This placed them on the frontline of the Zionist entity's embarrassing defeat by Lebanon's Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 and concurrent "military incursion" in Gaza.

Along the way, they "reported on the political, economic, and security situation" locally, "including extensive reporting during internal instability in Gaza." Meanwhile, another InCoStrat operative's CV boasts that they "travelled and studied in Israel and Palestine, focusing on religious political movements," then "studied Palestinian refugees in Syria before the uprising." After that, they "worked with and trained Syrian activists in several different organisations."


'Improved Conditions'

It is a supremely striking feature that multiple InCoStrat operatives went straight from intently "studying" Palestinian refugees and armed groups to cloak-and-dagger management of the "moderate" Syrian opposition. In this context, what are we to make of the fact that British intelligence cutouts have, for many years, been heavily active in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps? Around 300,000 Palestinian refugees inhabit Lebanon, roughly half of them in camps administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Living conditions are appalling, with overcrowding, poverty, and rampant unemployment. Discrimination towards Palestinian refugees at both a public and state level is commonplace. This intensified significantly due to untold numbers of displaced people – among them many Palestinians – pouring into Lebanon from neighboring Syria as a result of the grinding, 11-year Western proxy war against Damascus. Such a milieu inevitably produces a wide array of grievances among refugees, which can be malignly exploited by British intelligence.

Lebanon Israel Palestinians
Residents watch a protest by a Palestinian resistance movement at the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, May 11, 2024. Hassan Ammar | AP

Since 2009, Foreign Office contractor ARK—founded and run by MI6 operative Alistair Harris—has operated in Lebanon's 12 Palestinian refugee camps. In leaked files, the company boasts of its "granular understanding" of the camps' internal political, economic, ideological, religious and everyday dynamics. ARK's voluminous "local contacts" have "access throughout all camps and gatherings." This means that community-level discussions and activities of all residents can be influenced and spied upon, as required.

Such everyday, real-life insight is augmented by "daily monitoring of neighborhood-level WhatsApp groups." Meanwhile, local engagement with a social media platform created by ARK, Nastopia, is heavily monitored. The page, run by a 24-strong team of ARK-trained "youth reporters," is intended to increase demand for "community engagement and improved conditions" among camp residents. It promotes covertly Foreign Office-financed projects in the camps as "success stories" while serving "as a forum for online and offline discussion about social injustices [and] virtual space to talk about topics considered taboo in the camps."

ARK has spearheaded various community initiatives elsewhere in the "offline" realm. These include repairing and restoring streets and cemeteries, recycling, promoting small businesses, providing welfare to disadvantaged and disabled residents, managing nurseries and daycare centers, and even launching a local coffee shop. The leaked files describe this as "a popular place for youth to gather and promote civic engagement in their community and a shared Palestinian identity that bridges factional differences."  '


Contentious Politics

Insidious surveillance and manipulation components of these projects aside, one might reasonably argue that given the harsh internal environments of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, any effort to regenerate and improve conditions for residents of all ages and create a sense of community is a net positive. Yet, the ultimate purpose of these projects is to create a secret army of anti-government activists, which can be activated to stir up trouble if and when British intelligence wishes.

Of course, the leaked documents do not frame that objective in such terms. One file refers to the value of highlighting "success stories" in the camps as "enhancing the audience's confidence in their own ability to contribute to social change." In other words, encouraging Palestinian refugees to take matters into their own hands. This intention is articulated far more emphatically in a leaked March 2019 study conducted by ARK.

The document identified a segment of Beirut's diverse population that could be united in opposition to Lebanon's government and therefore mobilized to "affect positive social change" on their own initiative. The ideal target group was comprised of individuals who disavowed violence but not "other forms of contentious politics" and could be "influenced" to engage in certain "behaviors," such as protests, leafleting campaigns, and other community initiatives. The analysis explicitly characterized Palestinian refugees as an "important part" of such an effort.

Therefore, ARK pledged to both covertly and overtly promote the message that "change is possible and ordinary citizens have a role to play in achieving change" through propaganda campaigns and civil society initiatives. These would "highlight where change has been achieved or where threats to Lebanon's stability have been countered." In turn, the broader population of Lebanon would be well-educated on how "barriers" to reform can be overcome via direct popular action.

Seven months after ARK produced this study, large-scale protests engulfed the streets of Beirut. Western media immediately spoke of "revolution" in the country. Few outlets acknowledged that the unrest had begun in July of that year, when thousands of refugees inhabiting several camps commenced mass demonstrations, demanding reforms to local employment laws that barred them from numerous professions.

Coincidentally, in one leaked document, ARK boasts of how the company "takes pride" in ensuring refugees recruited to its illicit schemes receive "annual leave, sick leave, and health insurance," despite this not being "legally necessary" due to local legislation "discriminating against Palestinians."


'Future Transitional Syria'

Lebanon was a critical organizing nucleus for the Syrian opposition, which ARK directed and embedded with before the "revolution" started. A document circulated among anti-Assad elements in Beirut in May 2011, secretly intercepted by Syrian security services, set out a blueprint for events in the uprising to date and precisely what would subsequently transpire in Damascus.

The opposition proposed convening mass demonstrations in every major Syrian city so security forces "will lose control of all regions," be "taken unaware," and become "exhausted and distracted." This, along with "honest officers and soldiers" joining "the ranks of the revolution," would make "toppling down the regime" straightforward. Any crackdown on these protests was forecast to precipitate a Western "military strike," ala Libya. The opposition foresaw major news outlets playing a significant role:

Everyone should be confident that with the continuation of demonstrations today, media channels will have no choice but to cover the events…Al Jazeera will be late due to considerations of mutual interests. But we have Al Arabiya and Western media channels who will come forward, and we will all see the change of tone in covering the events and demonstrations will be aired on all channels and they will have wide coverage."

The Assad government did not choose to publicize this bombshell file for unclear reasons. It only became publicly available – and translated into English – through the work of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA). The organization was spun out of ARK in May 2011 to prosecute Syrian officials for war crimes. Its first act was to covertly train opposition activists "in basic international criminal and humanitarian law" in service of a "domestic justice process in a future transitional Syria."

As the foreign-fomented crisis escalated into an all-out proxy war, CIJA began employing extremist groups to smuggle sensitive documentation out of abandoned government buildings in opposition-occupied areas of Syria, paying these factions – including al-Nusra Front and ISIS – vast sums for their services. While generating enormous amounts of fawning media coverage, the Commission convicted just two Syrian officials of war crimes, and only after the pair voluntarily defected and made numerous incriminating statements to their Western handlers.

Syria Anti-government fighter
An FSA fighter holds a bullet riddled poster of President Assad in Aleppo, Syria, March 30, 2013. Sebastiano Tomada | SIPA

This failure is, of course, attributable to the collapse of the British and US regime change project in Syria. Indeed, the success of CIJA's business model was wholly contingent on the violent overthrow of Assad and his government. The fact that the Commission was founded before the Syrian Arab Army was even formally deployed to Damascus amply demonstrates that CIJA and ARK had substantial grounds to believe that decisive Western intervention would be forthcoming at the earliest stages of the 'peaceful revolution.'

Per the intercepted document, so too did opposition activists in Lebanon in May 2011 – the same month CIJA was founded – which, of course, referenced then-ongoing NATO airstrikes on Libya. While such intervention didn't arrive as expected, arms and fighters promptly began flowing from Tripoli to Syria after that, in direct coordination with MI6. Many insurgents were former members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), who were freed from prison four years earlier by Muammar Gaddafi after an intervention from one of the group's founders, Noman Benotman.

Benotman claimed to have rejected political violence, embraced pacifism and democracy, and pledged to deradicalize the jailed LIFG fighters in return for their release. In 2010, he became President of the UK government-funded Quilliam Foundation, the world's first "counter-extremism" think tank. In this position, he was instrumental in securing high-level defections from Gaddafi's government during the civil war. The organization's avowed contribution to the NATO effort intensified existing suspicions about the spectral interests it might be serving.

After Quilliam shut down in April 2021, veteran journalist Ian Cobain made a startling disclosure. The Foundation had been secretly established by the Office for Security and Counterterrorism (OSCT), a shadowy British intelligence agency. London's spies had initially planned to fund the venture covertly, "with money appearing to come in from a Middle Eastern benefactor, but channeled by MI6." Instead, overt government financing was granted, a move "eventually judged within Whitehall to have been a mistake." An OSCT source lamented:

Should have run it from within the agencies. They do this sort of stuff all the time. And you never find out."

Palestinian-focused civil society organizations and initiatives are frequently constructed by British intelligence without participants or broader local populations learning the true sponsors and purposes they serve. With Israel openly planning to reconstruct a politically "moderate," Hamas-free Gaza post-genocide, it is incumbent to reflect on how any proposed replacement leaders will almost inevitably be one way or another "graduates" of MI6-sponsored programs and, therefore, British assets, whether knowingly or not.

Feature photo | A young Palestinian walks through the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila in Beirut, Lebanon, May 15, 2024. Hassan Ammar | AP

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPress News contributor exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. His work has previously appeared in The Cradle, Declassified UK, and Grayzone. Follow him on Twitter @KitKlarenberg.

The post Leaked Docs Reveal British Intelligence's Secret Exploitation of Palestinian Refugees appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
13 May 2024 | 4:13 pm

4. IDF Rafah Assault Doomed to Fail: Analysis by Former US Special Operations’ Greg Stoker

MintPress News teamed up with Greg Stoker, a former U.S. Army Special Operations member turned anti-imperialist, to provide insightful analysis of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) assault on Rafah, shedding light on why it is likely doomed to fail.

Stoker's examination begins with a stark revelation regarding the IDF's logistical hurdles. "The Israeli Army is grappling with a severe munition shortage," Stoker asserts, "not just limited to aerial bombs, but also extending to artillery." This casts doubt on the IDF's capacity to sustain a prolonged assault while preserving stockpiles necessary for deterrence against Hezbollah and other regional threats. He notes, "They may have enough to detonate Rafah into Oblivion, but they will not be able to level Rafah the way they want to and still maintain stockpiles for deterrence."

Moreover, Stoker highlights the IDF's historical ineffectiveness in detecting tunnel systems in Gaza despite occupying the Philadelphia Corridor along the Rafah Crossing. "They have thus far proven considerably ineffective," he remarks, emphasizing the operation's coercive nature aimed at pressuring Hamas into acquiescence.

Characterizing the entire operation as a "performative public relations stunt," Stoker questions its strategic efficacy. "The narrative that assaulting Rafah is requisite to defeat Hamas has been proven ludicrous," he asserts, citing Hamas' continued resilience in the face of Israeli aggression. Stoker further challenges the operation's legitimacy, citing Israeli intelligence veterans' projections of a multi-year timeline for Hamas' defeat.

Stoker warns of the operation's unsustainability in light of mounting casualties and dwindling resources. "Despite potential declarations of victory," he emphasizes, "the IDF lacks achievable goals, an exit strategy, and faces diminishing political capital." Recent statements from White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby underscore the operation's waning legitimacy.

The IDF's occupation of the Philadelphia Corridor along the Rafah Crossing ostensibly aims to locate and collapse smuggling tunnels from Egypt. However, Stoker highlights the IDF's historical ineffectiveness in detecting tunnel systems in Gaza. This occupation serves as a coercive tactic to pressure Hamas into accepting unfavorable terms, "It is just another pressure point to force Hamas into accepting a subpar deal by collectively punishing civilians," Stoker concludes, warning of the operation's unsustainability, citing a lack of achievable goals, exit strategy, and diminishing resources.

For further updates and analysis on this unfolding situation, watch Stoker's full analysis and follow MintPress News.

Greg Stoker is an activist, anti-imperialist, US Special Forces veteran and host of the @colonialoutcasts podcast.

The post IDF Rafah Assault Doomed to Fail: Analysis by Former US Special Operations' Greg Stoker appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
10 May 2024 | 1:30 pm

5. From PropOrNot to New Lines: How Washington is Weaponizing Media

New Lines Magazine purports to be an independent media organization. Yet it constantly attacks genuine alternative media who stray from Washington's official foreign policy line, all while employing many spooks, spies and other figures at the heart of the national security state.

Worse still, its parent organization, the New Lines Institute, has recently admitted to being directly funded by the U.S. government. MintPress News takes a closer look at this shady organization acting as Washington's attack dog.


A Slick, Well-Funded Organization

If you read the Wikipedia entries for many alternative media outlets, they are written off as fringe conspiracy websites pushing debunked foreign propaganda. MintPress News, for example, is described as a "far-left news website" which "publishes disinformation and antisemitic conspiracy theories." The Grayzone is similarly smeared as a "fringe" blog known for its "misleading reporting" and "sympathetic coverage of authoritarian regimes" such as Syria, Venezuela and China.

The evidence for these evidence-light smears comes primarily from the U.S. foreign policy journal, New Lines Magazine, a product of the New Lines Institute. New Lines is a very new organization that was established only in 2020. Despite this, it has already become a key player in setting U.S. agendas worldwide, boasting a staff of more than 50 and working with over 150 contributors. Headquartered on the prestigious Massachusetts Avenue NW (some of the most expensive real estate in the world), it sits between foreign embassies and many of America's most prestigious think tanks, a stone's throw – metaphorically and physically – from the White House.

New Lines describes its goal as "seeking to shape U.S. foreign policy" based on a "deep understanding of distinct regional geopolitics and value systems." It began by focusing solely on the Middle East but quickly expanded to cover Ukraine, China, Venezuela and other political hotspots that most concern hawks in Washington. It certainly shapes public debate, and its research and experts are regularly quoted in influential outlets like The New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN.


A Rogue's Gallery Of US Officials

New Lines presents itself as an independent organization, claiming that it is "one of the few think tanks in Washington with no foreign or local agendas." Yet its higher ranks are packed with former state officials.

Chief amongst them is New Lines Institute founder and president Ahmed Alwani. Alwani served on the advisory board of the U.S. military's Africa Command and influenced Washington's Middle East positions. His New Lines biography boasts that he "met the commanding generals of Fort Jackson, Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Base Andrews as well as then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his staff numerous times during the Iraq War to consult on U.S. policy" – something many might not consider a badge of honor.

Alwani also founded Fairfax University, a controversial private educational institution that Virginia state regulators considered shutting down in 2019. Auditors found that "teachers weren't qualified to teach their assigned courses," academic quality was "patently deficient," plagiarism was "rampant," and students' English levels were "abysmally poor," making Fairfax look far more like a degree mill than a legitimate university.

New Lines' senior director, Faysal Itani, has a similarly notable past. Before joining the organization, Itani was simultaneously a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council – a NATO-funded think tank that serves as the brains of the military alliance, and an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University – a department a previous MintPress News investigation exposed as a department filled with CIA agents that functions as a training ground for the next generation of American spies.

Another senior director, Nicholas Heras, was central to U.S. actions in Iraq and Syria. Between 2013 and 2014, Heras was a research associate at the National Defense University (an institution funded and overseen by the Pentagon). While there, he worked with military leaders at U.S. Central Command, Special Operations Command and the broader U.S. intelligence community, briefing them on matters relating to the two countries.

Other key New Lines staff members with similar pasts include Tashi Chogyal, who served in the Obama administration at the Department of Justice and as a special assistant to the administrator of USAID, an organization that has overseen a host of foreign regime change operations; Kamran Bokhari, formerly the Central Asia Studies Course Coordinator at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute; Tanya Domi, a 15-year U.S. Army veteran who also served at the State Department as a spokesperson and counsel for multiple American ambassadors to Bosnia and Herzegovina; Tammy Palacios, currently employed by the United States Military Academy as a counter-terrorism research fellow and Michael Weiss, a non-resident senior research fellow at NATO's Atlantic Council.

When it comes to attacking alternative media, Weiss, in particular, has a notable past. In late 2016, an anonymous organization called PropOrNot published a list of some 200 websites that it classified as routine peddlers of Russian disinformation. Many leading alternative media outlets were on that list, including MintPress News, WikiLeaks, Truthout, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism and Antiwar.com. The charges were false, but the effect was staggering.

The PropOrNot list went viral, boosted by mainstream outlets such as the Washington Post, which insinuated that a massive, Kremlin-controlled propaganda network was responsible for Donald Trump's electoral victory. Google, Facebook and other prominent social media platforms subsequently changed their algorithms to punish the outlets on the list and promote "authoritative" content like the Washington Post or Fox News. MintPress News lost more than 90% of its Google search traffic almost overnight, never to return. It was later revealed that PropOrNot was likely Weiss' brainchild, meaning that the hysteria over foreign government interference in our media was probably a domestic government-funded operation.

A number of other key New Lines staff also previously worked at Stratfor, an organization often referred to as the "shadow CIA," a private group carrying out intelligence gathering on behalf of the U.S. government.


Spy Games

Perhaps the most notable New Lines Institute employee, however, is non-resident fellow Elizabeth Tsurkov. Tsurkov is a Russian-born Israeli who, before joining New Lines, worked at a number of hawkish think tanks, including the Atlantic Council and Freedom House.

She grew up in Israel and served for many years in Israeli military intelligence, including during Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon. She also worked directly for former Israeli Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky. In 2015, she published a photo of her at the Pentagon, claiming she was on a "special mission accompanied by the State Department."

Tsurkov was an obscure figure who only came to international attention in 2023 when she was arrested in Baghdad, carrying out what authorities described as a spying mission. The news made worldwide headlines, with many official figures in the West leaping to her defense, describing the charges as ridiculous.

It transpired that she had concealed her identity, entering Iraq on a Russian passport, and presented herself as a Russian researcher and supporter of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. A 2022 video interview shows Tsurkov in Baghdad dressed in a khimar – a modest black dress and head covering. "It is clear that Muqtada al-Sadr is a patriotic figure who rejects intervention from any country, whether in the West or the East… In my opinion, this should be the position of every Iraqi political leader," Tsurkov says, adding that the United States is an "oppressor" nation.

This is a blatant deception, given that she is a former Israeli intelligence officer who worked for NATO's think tank. In fact, Tsurkov has long taken hostile, anti-Shia positions, supported Sunni militias in Syria and championed U.S. military intervention in the region.

For years, she was one of the most outspoken Syria regime change hawks online, downplaying the U.S.-backed "moderate rebels'" connections to Al-Qaeda and even promoting the "Gay Girl in Damascus" blog – an online personality purporting to be a Syrian opposition organizer that was later unmasked as a pro-regime change hoax run by an American student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Tsurkov initially claimed she was in Iraq to conduct academic research for Princeton University. This was also the position taken by the Israeli government (whose laws prohibit its citizens from traveling to Iraq without special dispensation). "She is an academic who visited Iraq on her Russian passport, at her own initiative pursuant to work on her doctorate and academic research on behalf of Princeton University in the U.S.," stated the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Princeton, however, categorically denied that it had allowed her to go to Iraq on university business.

Thus, very little about her story makes any sense, leading many to conclude that Iraqi authorities were correct in their assessment of Tsurkov. Adding weight to this theory is the complete radio silence from New Lines since her arrest and imprisonment. In more than one year, neither the New Lines Institute nor its magazine has released so much as a sentence addressing the detention of one of the institute's more senior staff members.

In a video released in November, Tsurkov stated that she was actually in Iraq on behalf of the CIA and Israeli intelligence outfit Mossad. Her goals were to foment intra-Shia division and strife and to organize and support anti-corruption protests. She also said that she traveled to Syria to build ties between Israel and the (Sunni) Syrian opposition forces. Given that she had been detained for over half a year by this point, it is not clear if she was coerced into "confessing."


Attacking Alternative Media

Studying their output, it is clear that New Lines has two principal targets: nations the U.S. has deemed enemy states and alternative media outlets that question the narratives that New Lines and the U.S. government are trying to establish. Indeed, New Lines has spent years investigating alternative media, promoting a narrative that opposition to U.S. foreign policy equals being in the pay of official enemy countries.

A 2022 article titled "How the Pro-Putin West Is Coping With Russian Defeat in Ukraine" presented journalists such as Max Blumenthal and Michael Tracey, as well as renowned academic Professor Noam Chomsky as Kremlin admirers, and claimed that Ukraine's "lightning counteroffensive" and the "rapid territorial advances" had left Russia defeated. News of this defeat will no doubt surprise many reading in 2024. But this sort of disinformation about disinformation has become a common method of attacking and smearing anti-war voices.

Another article describes what it calls an "echo chamber" of Syria "conspiracy theorists." It mentions MintPress News and a host of other alternative media outlets, including Consortium News, Project Censored, Free Speech TV, Media Roots, Shadow Proof, The Grayzone, Truthout, Common Dreams and Antiwar.com.

New Lines again attacked MintPress News for our coverage of Latin America, claiming that we backed "leftist dictatorships" by "looking the other way" as they crushed protests. The report appeared particularly annoyed that we did not support the 2021 Cuban protests – a movement it lionized as an anti-racist uprising led by the local hip-hop community. MintPress showed that the Cuban demonstrations were led by artists funded, trained, and supported by the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID, which are part of the same network that funds New Lines.

Groups like the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the Center for Economic and Policy Research, as well as journalist Ben Norton and author and public intellectual Vijay Prashad, were also singled out for their support for anti-imperial governments in Latin America.


State-Funded Media

Considering its output, its constant support for U.S. policy and attacks on both domestic and international opponents of Washington, speculation was rife that the U.S. government was secretly funding New Lines. But the institute had always denied this, presenting itself as a neutral, agenda-free organization. That was, at least, until late last year when it announced that it had reached a "cooperative agreement" with the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy at West Point to "jointly develop actionable recommendations for U.S. global leadership to address pressing global security challenges." In other words, to plan out American military strategy. The New Lines Institute also noted that they would now "serve as an intellectual resource for solving military problems."

Days later, New Lines' "About Us" section was updated, removing all reference to being funded by the Fairfax Foundation and inserting a clause admitting U.S. government financial support, strongly suggesting that the military is now bankrolling it. It now reads (emphasis added):

Funding for The New Lines Institute is provided by the The [sic] Washington Institute for Education and Research, a 501c(3) nonprofit organization registered in Washington DC.

New Lines Institute accepts research grants and charitable donations from U.S. individuals, registered U.S. legal entities, and the U.S. Government in support of its research priorities, and only insofar as such support is in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations; aligns with the institute's vision, mission, purpose and principles; and falls within its core areas of expertise.

The news did not come as a shock to those paying close attention. "It will come as a surprise to no-one that New Lines is funded by the U.S. government," wrote investigative journalist Matt Kennard on Twitter. There is a certain tenor to the articles of these cut-outs that is instantly recognizable. Slightly critical—to be convincing—but only up to a point which leaves state narratives robust."

It will come as a surprise to no-one that New Lines is funded by the US government.

There is a certain tenor to the articles of these cut-outs that is instantly recognisable.

Slightly critical – to be convincing – but only up to a point which leaves state narratives robust. https://t.co/lWoHt00EVI

— Matt Kennard (@kennardmatt) April 3, 2024

Others were even more scathing. "Congrats to New Lines on their new collaboration with the Modern War Institute at West Point Military Academy," quipped The Grayzone's Aaron Maté; "A good reminder that people who smear Grayzone and other independent journalists as state-funded are often projecting."


Servants of Empire

With their quiet admission of U.S. government funding, New Lines joins an ever-growing list of organizations like Graphika and Bellingcat that present themselves as independent but are funded by the U.S. government. Former U.S. state and intelligence officials staff them and dutifully repeat U.S. government narratives and talking points.

Through their reports and studies, groups like New Lines launder Washington's narratives into the public domain, smuggled in under the guise of objectivity. Worse still, New Lines has been at the forefront of attacking and demonizing the few dissenting voices left in American society, their reports being used to further marginalize alternative media – the only place where serious domestic critique of U.S. foreign policy can occur. It is, therefore, doubly crucial that organizations like New Lines are understood for precisely what they are: the State Department's attack dogs.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

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 From PropOrNot to New Lines: How Washington is Weaponizing Media appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
8 May 2024 | 3:02 pm

6. Documentary | Automated Apartheid: Walking Through Hebron Smart City

A silent sentinel watches over every corner in the bustling streets of Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, where the ancient echoes of history collide with the modern hum of daily life. This sentinel is not a person but a network of surveillance technology known ominously as the "Hebron Smart City." Designed by Israeli authorities, this system blankets the city in a web of cameras, sensors and even automated weapons, tracking every movement of its Palestinian residents.

"Palestinians in Hebron are the most surveilled people on the planet," explains journalist and activist Mnar Adley, highlighting the omnipresence of cameras and face-scanning technology. Adley says that the area, also known as al-Khalil to Palestinians, has become a testing ground for Israel's surveillance apparatus, with advanced technologies like the "Wolf Pack" surveillance system in operation. This system collects vast amounts of data on Palestinians, including their personal details and movements, creating an atmosphere of constant surveillance.

Izzat Karake, a member of Youth Against Settlements, echoes this sentiment, noting the discomfort caused by constant surveillance. "Wherever I go as a Palestinian, I can see cameras," he told MintPress while pointing out dozens of Israeli military cameras lining the streets. "We are constantly under surveillance."

The Hebron Smart City, Adley explains, is more than just a collection of cameras and sensors; it is a symbol of Israel's relentless efforts to control every aspect of Palestinian life. Face-scanning cameras, known as Red Wolf, line every street, their unblinking gaze capturing the faces of every passerby without their consent. These images are then fed into Israel's Wolf Pack Database, a vast repository of information on Palestinians, all accessible through a mobile app, allowing them to track and monitor individuals with ease.

Amnesty International has condemned this mass surveillance project, denouncing it as "Automated Apartheid" in a scathing report. The system, they argue, reinforces existing practices of discrimination and segregation, further eroding the rights of Palestinians in Hebron at the hands of Israeli authorities, which the human rights group says has "a record of discriminatory and inhuman acts that maintain a system of apartheid. "The Israeli authorities are able to use facial recognition software – in particular at checkpoints – to consolidate existing practices of discriminatory policing, segregation, and curbing freedom of movement, violating Palestinians' basic rights," the report concludes.

This invasive surveillance technology that targets and monitors Palestinians compounds an already existing segregated system of apartheid in Hebron, where the city has been split into two zones, H1 and H2. These two segments of Hebron are separated by a militarized checkpoint that allows for the maintenance and expansion of an illegal Israeli settlement right in the middle of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood that overlooks the Palestinian city's marketplace.

This is where Youth Against Settlements was born after a Palestinian building that was initially occupied first by the Israeli military and later by Israeli settlers was reclaimed for Palestinian use through a nonviolent direct action and legal campaign. Once a bustling Palestinian neighborhood, Tel Rumeida now hosts over 700 illegal Israeli settlers, heavily armed and protected by the military. The main thoroughfare, formerly known as Shuhada Street, has been renamed "Chicago Street" by Israeli authorities in an attempt to erase Palestinian heritage.

Each year, Izzat and his colleagues with Youth Against Settlements hold an annual march called Open Shuhada Street campaign that draws international attention to the illegal siege of the city. Not only has Israel occupied and fragmented this neighborhood to make room for the Israeli settlers, but it's altering this area to Judaize the quarter – meaning planning to expand its colonization of the area to ethnically cleanse and displace Palestinians out of here, so Israeli settlers can take over. This military strategy is used to protect, expand and connect other Jewish settlements nearby in Israel's quest to ensure an ethno-Jewish state.

Hebron has seen some of the most violent settler assaults against Palestinians, especially after Hamas' surprise attack and Israel's subsequent assault on Gaza. In many cases, the armed settlers are escorted and protected by Israeli soldiers. Barbed wire covers Palestinian homes that are fenced in to protect them from Israeli settler attacks and harassment. But the intimidation doesn't end there.

An AI smartshooter sits atop a checkpoint on Shuhada Street, pointing directly at Hebron's marketplace, where thousands of Palestinians pass by each day. Israel installed the remote-controlled automatic turret gun in 2022. According to Israel's Army spokesperson, the AI smart shooter "is used as a dispersal measure "as part of the Army's improved preparations for confronting people disrupting order. However, the introduction of AI technology, such as the smartshooter, has only heightened tensions in the city. Residents walk through their own neighborhoods with a sense of unease, knowing that they are always under watchful eyes.

Just as Gaza has become a laboratory and showroom for Israel's "battle-tested" weapons, the success of the Hebron Smart City facial recognition technology and database through Wolf Pack to track Palestinians will be used for Israel to continue to profit off of its illegal military occupation of Palestine and surveillance of Palestinian civilians.

This "Automated Apartheid" only further establishes segregation of Palestinians and expands Israel's apartheid system and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.

The post Documentary | Automated Apartheid: Walking Through Hebron Smart City appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
7 May 2024 | 2:27 pm

7. Biden Is Deeply Concerned About Israel’s Behavior, Media Claims

President Joe Biden is deeply concerned and worried about Israeli behavior in Gaza. We know this because corporate media constantly tell us this.

Biden, we are told, is "outraged" by Israeli missile strikes that kill civilians, has privately warned that his administration's patience is wearing thin, ordered Netanyahu to do everything in his power to protect civilians and even branded Netanyahu an "asshole", in a sign of supposed increasing tensions between the two leaders.

Yet these leaks stand in total contrast to the very public actions of President Biden and his administration, which have repeatedly stated that there are no "red lines" that Israel could cross, effectively giving it a free hand to carry out whatever violence it wishes with no consequences. In this video for MintPress News and Behind the Headlines, MintPress Senior Staff Writer and Podcast Producer Alan MacLeod delves into this disparity and explains why we are constantly told that Biden does not like what is going on and not to believe our lying eyes.

Most of these stories, MacLeod notes, are based on little more than anonymous leaks from U.S. government officials and repeated credulously by sympathetic, well-connected reporters. These reporters ignore mountains of evidence to the contrary to carry weight for the administration, effectively helping them wash the blood off their hands and distance themselves from the genocide they are actively supporting. In doing so, corporate media who publish these stories are aiding the U.S. government to get away with murder and are doing a disservice to the public, who are increasingly turning against Israel and its actions.

Washington, after all, has approved more than $100 billion worth of arms sales to Israel since October 7 and has gone out of its way to protect Israel diplomatically, including blocking Palestinian statehood at the United Nations and threatening the International Criminal Court.

Every day, Palestinian homes, schools, hospitals and places of worship are being destroyed by U.S.-made bombs supplied to Israel with the blessing of President Biden. Corporate media, however, are trying to convince the public that Biden is deeply angry and concerned by the violence and by the positions that the Israeli government has taken.

MacLeod concludes that we need a truly independent media that will hold governments and other powerful entities to account. Unfortunately, if this example is anything to go by, we are a long way from having that.

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 Biden Is Deeply Concerned About Israel's Behavior, Media Claims appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
6 May 2024 | 2:51 pm

8. The Dust Has Settled: The Aftermath Of Iran’s Retaliatory Strikes On Israel

In the wake of escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, MintCast brings you an exclusive interview with Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran. Join MintPress as we delve into the unfolding events and gain insights into Iran's perspective.

As the world's attention remains fixated on the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the subsequent global student protests, focus has shifted to the broader implications of Israel's actions, particularly concerning Iran. Recently, Israel's bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Syria, followed by retaliatory drone attacks from Iran, sparked fears of further escalation. However, despite hawkish rhetoric from certain quarters, both sides seemed inclined to avoid further confrontation.

Against this backdrop, we sit down with Dr. Marandi to explore the mood in Iran amidst these turbulent times. Furthermore, we delve into the motivations behind Iran's missile strikes on Israel, shedding light on the strategic rationale behind these actions.

Moreover, Dr. Marandi addresses Iran's support for various groups across the region, including Ansar Allah in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon. We examine the extent of Iran's involvement and the underlying rationale guiding its foreign policy decisions.

We revisit Dr. Marandi's recent debate with TV host Piers Morgan, highlighting the nuances of language and the implications of demonizing terminology such as "regime," offering valuable insights into the power dynamics shaping media discourse on Iran and its adversaries.

Piers Morgan is being taught a lesson by Dr Marandi @PiersUncensored #Iran @s_m_marandipic.twitter.com/NKhLR2Vj38

— Soureh 2 (@Soureh_design2) April 18, 2024

In this episode, we also explore the complexities of Iran's nuclear program and the implications of its enrichment activities in the aftermath of the United States' withdrawal from the JCPOA. Dr. Marandi also analyzes Iran's economic strategies, including its burgeoning partnerships with Russia, China, and other BRICS nations, and the potential impact on its resilience against American sanctions.

Join MintPress as we unpack these pressing issues and gain a deeper understanding of Iran's perspective on the evolving geopolitical landscape in the Middle East.

MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member of Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud.

Also, check out rapper Lowkey's video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.

The post The Dust Has Settled: The Aftermath Of Iran's Retaliatory Strikes On Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
3 May 2024 | 7:15 pm

9. Exclusive: Yemen Braces For Impending Massive US-Led Air and Ground Campaign

Senior military officials in Sana'a have informed MintPress News of ongoing military preparations by the US, UK, and Saudi-led Coalition over the past two weeks. According to these sources, there are plans to initiate a significant aerial assault on the Yemeni mainland, focusing particularly on coastal regions in the west, as well as areas in the south near the Saudi border. This assault is expected to be accompanied by ground offensives carried out by factions aligned with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

MintPress News sources indicate a probable escalation, coinciding with significant military reinforcements. Notably, squadrons of US F-16 aircraft have been arriving at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, located less than 200 kilometers from the Yemeni border. Additionally, extensive air transport activities involving weapons and equipment have been observed over the past two weeks, with US cargo planes shuttling to and from military bases in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.

On April 29, the Aviano Air Base in Italy declared the deployment of F-16 Fighting Falcon jets from its 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to the Middle East. As stated on the Aviano Air Base website, these F-16s are set to undertake a range of missions, including safeguarding civilian vessels in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian, alongside other crucial force protection and deterrence duties

Sources near the Saudi-led coalition-backed government in Aden revealed to MintPress News that the United States and Britain have ramped up their dialogue with the Ministry of Defense in the Aden administration. This surge comes in response to recent Yemeni activities in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean.

Military and political insiders in Sanaa informed MintPress News about the military exercise held on April 24. The event, dubbed "Desert Flag 9," saw the participation of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other Arab nations at the Al Dhafra base in the Emirates. This maneuver is believed to be part of preparations for the announcement of a new military coalition, ostensibly aimed at safeguarding international freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean. At the outset of the exercise, General Charles Keough, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauded the collaboration among allies in countering perceived Iranian threats.

Numerous officials in Sanaa and among Ansar Allah have issued public warnings about alleged plans orchestrated by the United States and Britain, with support from certain Arab nations. The Supreme Political Council, the highest governing body in the northern region, has cautioned against any hostile escalation by the United States in Yemen. It asserts that ongoing suspicious preparations aimed at dissuading Yemen from supporting Gaza will prove futile. Emphasizing that any consequences of such escalation will extend beyond Yemen's borders, the Council has urged Saudi Arabia to prioritize its national interests over those of the United States.

It seems evident that Saudi and Emirati endeavors extend beyond merely challenging the naval blockade imposed by Ansar Allah on Israel, currently engaged in what many legal experts have termed a genocide in Gaza. Rather, indications suggest that these oil-rich nations may be poised to actively participate in an anticipated U.S. and U.K. military intervention. Their aim? To dismantle the blockade on Israel imposed by Yemeni forces and quell Ansar Allah's assaults on Israeli vessels—actions purportedly intended to halt the ongoing genocide and alleviate the siege on civilians within the embattled enclave.

In addressing the Yemen-Saudi border situation, Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Supreme Political Council, raised poignant questions: "Why does Saudi Arabia deliberately target civilians on the Yemeni border with French Caesar's cannons? Wouldn't it be wiser for the Saudi army to position these cannons near the borders of the northern kingdom to aid the people of Gaza?" He cautioned against reckless actions, stating, "Do not play with fire. We possess a strategic arsenal far beyond what you anticipate."

Hussein Al-Ezzi, serving as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Sana'a government, issued a stark warning:

We are well aware of Washington's hostile intentions. Henceforth, we hold Washington accountable for any dire consequences resulting from its reckless actions against Yemen. It may soon find itself devoid of safe havens in the region, as its interests become a common target for all those who value freedom."

Seeking to entangle itself anew in the Yemen conflict and forge closer ties with Israel, the United States has pledged support to Saudi Arabia. This includes assistance for a Saudi nuclear program and designating Saudi Arabia as a major non-NATO ally. Talks are ongoing to solidify a joint defense pact and enhance security cooperation, as reported by Saudi media.


Impending Assaults on Critical Assets

The peril isn't just about the conflict's escalation, but also the neighboring nations getting entangled in operations beyond their control. This risks sparking another tragic conflict, impacting not only war-torn Yemen but also neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia.

MintPress sources have confirmed that, in the case of a U.S.-led ground invasion of Yemen, planned assaults by Ansar Allah will target not only U.S. interests and bases within the involved nations but also critical facilities and assets belonging to those participating countries, such as oil installations.

Ansar Allah has issued a grave threat of launching a large-scale and aggressive assault aimed at crucial installations, including oil facilities, in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This ominous warning mirrors previous attacks, such as the devastating strikes on the Abqaiq oil facilities in September 2019, which resulted in a significant disruption to half of Saudi Arabia's oil production.

Ali al-Quhom, a Member of the Political Council of Ansar Allah, wrote on X, "The stage has changed, and with it, the rules of engagement have changed. Saudi Arabia and the UAE must realize this, and seven years are enough to learn the lesson. Yemen has become stronger with the increase in military capabilities at all levels. Escalation will be met with escalation, and this is a fixed and inseparable rule that will never change, ever. As you lost before, you will lose now, but this time your loss will be greater than before." He added:

There should be no submission or surrender on the part of neighboring countries to American, British and Israeli pressure and will, indicating that any American move from the territories of neighboring countries will lead to strong Yemeni responses, these countries will be the target of Yemeni operations, We have a target bank that includes strategic and vital targets in depth and in areas of economic importance."


Imminent Retaliation

Mounting tensions in Yemen and the broader region coincide with the withdrawal of an American aircraft carrier from the Red Sea. Yemeni analysts suggest that this move signifies not only the persistence of Yemeni operations targeting maritime navigation linked to the Israeli regime but also hints at a shift towards ground-based operations for a more extensive assault on Yemeni territory. Yemeni sources indicate that the departure of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Gravely from the Red Sea is part of the preparations for the coming assault.

General Shamsan, the head of the Military Spokesmen Committee in the Yemeni Army, informed MintPress that concurrent with the withdrawal of the American aircraft carrier, a squadron of aircraft has arrived at Saudi bases. This development aligns with diplomatic and political maneuvers. The Americans seem compelled to pivot towards attacks from land bases to mitigate potential heavy losses from retaliatory strikes against U.S. aircraft carriers and destroyers at sea.

While certain Yemenis perceive the withdrawal of the American aircraft carrier from the Red Sea as a triumph, numerous political, military officials, and analysts interviewed by MintPress regard Washington's move with deep suspicion, framing it within the context of ongoing operational preparations, as emphasized by Brigadier General Shamsan.

Last Friday, the U.S. Navy declared that USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Gravely departed from the Red Sea after an almost four-month presence. Despite their deployment, the U.S. battle group was unable to impede Yemeni operations targeting maritime navigation associated with the Israeli regime, as these operations persisted.

Additionally, there's a possibility, as indicated by a Yemeni source linked to the coordination between Yemeni and Iraqi resistance forces, that certain groups within the Resistance Axis, notably the Iraqi resistance, may engage in retaliatory strikes against key American and Saudi targets in the region. This prospect hints at potential conflict not only in the Red Sea but also in the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Gulf, posing a genuine threat to American interests. However, such escalation could potentially be averted or delayed, especially considering the Russian front and the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.


Mounting Tension and Military Preparations

On the ground, clear signs of an impending conflict are emerging, particularly in the conflict zones of Taiz and Lahj, alongside other fronts. This coincides with significant military reinforcements being deployed by factions aligned with the Saudi-Emirati coalition from Aden to the strategic Tur al-Baha and Haifan fronts. These areas serve as vital contact points between Sanaa-aligned forces and coalition-backed militias. Tragically, in the Maqbanah area southwest of Taiz, an attack allegedly conducted by a drone affiliated with these factions resulted in the loss of two children and three women.

According to Yemeni military media, an American MQ9 drone was brought down above Saada Governorate while conducting a military operation. Footage released last Friday depicted Yemeni Armed Forces successfully shooting down the US MQ-9 aircraft using a missile.

مشاهد لعملية إسقاط الدفاعات الجوية للطائرة الأمريكية MQ9 أثناء قيامها بمهام عدائية في أجواء محافظة صعدةhttps://t.co/Hw6ko4NQVu#معركة_الفتح_الموعود_والجهاد_المقدس pic.twitter.com/6FcYTHoygh

— الإعلام الحربي اليمني (@MMY1444) April 27, 2024

In the days, military tensions between Yemeni forces and the American and British navies have surged to unprecedented levels. Reports indicate violent explosions along the coasts of Al-Khawkhah and Al-Mokha, spanning from Khor Amira, facing Bab Al-Mandab, to the southern shores of the country

Yemenis harbor a pervasive belief in the imminent likelihood of a ground invasion, a notion taken with utmost seriousness across the nation. Numerous officials, in interviews with MintPress, have openly discussed the potentiality of such an occurrence, grounded not in analysis but in raw data. Consequently, all regions, cities, and institutions have experienced a surge in recruitment efforts, operating under the banner of "Al-Aqsa Flood."


Yemen's Resolve Amid Escalating Tensions

While Yemenis are earnestly grappling with the looming prospect of escalation, their resolve extends beyond merely halting attacks aimed at ending the conflict in Gaza and lifting the blockade. They've heralded an unprecedented development targeting Israeli vessels across the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, and Bab al-Mandab. On Tuesday, the Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF) launched strikes against two United States warships in the Red Sea and targeted the Cyclades bulk carrier, achieving precise hits. Subsequently, military media footage surfaced, showcasing the moment of the Cyclades ship's bombing in the Indian Ocean, underscoring the Yemeni army's capacity to execute operations hundreds of kilometers from the Yemeni coastline.

مشاهد لحظة استهداف سفينة (CYCLADES) بطائرة مسيرة والتي كانت متجهة إلى موانئ فلسطينَ المحتلة في البحر الأحمر pic.twitter.com/BNC4jPj1SM

— الإعلام الحربي اليمني (@MMY1444) April 30, 2024

In a televised address to the nation last Thursday discussing the latest regional developments, Ansar Allah leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi stated that the Yemeni army is enhancing its presence in the Indian Ocean, aiming to block Israeli-affiliated vessels from navigating the Cape of Good Hope route or towards the Red Sea. He further remarked, "The Yemeni front will remain open, and the Yemeni Armed Forces' (YAF) operations in support of Palestine will continue."

Since Abdul-Malik al-Houthi's speech, four Israeli, American, and British vessels have been hit. The Yemeni Navy struck the British ship ANDROMEDA STAR and the Israeli MSC Darwin ship on Saturday, along with an American warship and another commercial vessel named MAERSK YORKTOWN, and the Israeli MSC VERACRUZ on April 24. Preceding these events, the Yemeni army conducted four operations targeting two Israeli ships and two American ships on April 10.

Following Abdulmalik al-Houthi's speech, four vessels affiliated with Israel, the United States and Britain were targeted by Ansar Allah. The Yemeni navy attacked the British vessel Andromeda Star and the Israeli MSC Darwinship on Saturday, as well as an American warship and a commercial vessel named Maersk Yorktown, and the Israeli MSC Veracruz on April 24. Prior to these incidents, the Yemeni army executed four operations against two Israeli ships and two American ships on April 10.

It's worth noting that Ansar Allah has turned down several American offers aimed at halting their maritime attacks in support of Gaza. These offers included recognition of their group, revocation of their terrorist designation, payment of government employee salaries, and the signing of a comprehensive agreement with Saudi Arabia to end the war and initiate Yemen's reconstruction.

Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said in a press briefing that there are ongoing communications with Ansar Allah, urging the movement to engage in the Yemeni political process. However, she clarified that she wouldn't characterize the discussions with strong language at this point. Leaf emphasized that "Washington is employing all available means, both diplomatically and militarily, to deter the Houthis from their actions," which she described as "reckless" in the Red Sea.

Feature photo | Yemenis attend a massive rally against US-led airstrikes on Yemen and the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip in Sanaa, Yemen, March 1, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | 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 Exclusive: Yemen Braces For Impending Massive US-Led Air and Ground Campaign appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
3 May 2024 | 3:44 pm

10. From Gaza to Guantanamo: The Horrors of Western Imperialism

Over the past six months, we have witnessed some of the darkest moments in human history and some of the worst of its capabilities.

Every day, we collectively watch in horror as an apartheid state carries out war crimes against defenseless civilian populations with almost complete impunity – and with the near total support of Western leaders, who continue to funnel money, weapons and political protection to Israel.

Every day, images of war crimes are beamed to our smartphones, and the screams of babies, the wails of widows and the cries of fathers carrying their deceased children ring through our ears.

Tens of thousands of people have already been slaughtered. Officials in Washington simply repeat the mantra that Israel has a right to defend itself, even as it commits war crimes by destroying schools, hospitals and places of worship, deliberately starving a population under its control and heavily bombing populated civilian areas.

But not only is every war crime effectively signed off by Washington, but what Israel is doing in Gaza and beyond is the standard for American foreign policy.

The Israeli military has repeatedly used banned white phosphorus weapons in Gaza, burning down houses and melting peoples' skin.

Yet the United States has admitted to using the same weapons in Syria and Iraq and used depleted uranium in Fallujah. To this day, hospitals in Fallujah report a 2,200% increase in Leukemia rates and a 740% spike in the number of brain tumors.

Deliberate Israeli strikes have destroyed or damaged every single hospital in Gaza. The United States itself has a very long history of targeting hospitals, including in El Salvador, Yugoslavia, Grenada, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Cambodia and Laos. In Syria in 2017, the U.S. dropped white phosphorus munitions on Syria's Raqqa hospital, killing at least 30 civilians.

Food supplies in Gaza are desperately low, with two-thirds of households currently limited to only one meal per day. The Israeli government is refusing to allow aid convoys into Gaza, leaving its residents to starve as acute malnutrition begins to set in.

Yet U.S. sanctions are deliberately crafted to produce the same result and have led to shortages of food in targeted countries, such as Iran and Venezuela. Meanwhile, a U.S. government document explicitly states that their Cuba sanctions are meant to "decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and [the] overthrow of [the] government."

We should rightly be shocked at the brutal Israeli treatment of Palestinian prisoners, which has included zip-tying limbs so tightly they needed to be amputated. But we should also remember what the U.S. did in Abu Ghraib and continues to do in Guantánamo Bay.

And while we watch ghastly videos of IDF atrocities daily, are they really so different from the "Collateral Murder" video released by Wikileaks in 2010, which showed U.S. forces massacring Iraqi civilians, including two journalists? A crime for which no one has been charged but for which Julian Assange remains languishing in a British prison.

To be clear, what Israel is doing in Gaza is terrible and amounts to genocide. But this is far from the first time this has happened; Israeli-style terrorism is standard U.S. foreign policy.

What Israel is doing in Gaza is just an outward expression of what the United States has done for decades to the Global South.

Since the end of World War II, the United States has dominated the world, overthrowing governments left, right and center, crushing movements for national liberation, and propping up brutal dictatorships across the planet. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. tried to change other countries' governments 72 times during the Cold War alone.

Israel has been a key outpost of U.S. power in the Middle East since its creation in 1948. But that power is slipping. After its defeats and fiascos in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and beyond and as nations like China rise, American influence is waning.

And what the war in Gaza has done has exposed the moral depravity of the so-called rules-based international order, as the U.S. and other Western powers make themselves look foolish carrying water for genocide while still trying to present themselves as the arbiters of morality on the world stage.

Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal, yes. But so is President Joe Biden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and all the other Western leaders backing Israel.

What Israel is doing is rooted in a standard Western policy that needs to be addressed in our own countries. Yes, Zionism is the problem, but it's only part of the problem. The overriding issue is Western imperialism, which creates this kind of ideology. And fortunately, we are seeing the beginnings of a moral awakening. Tens of millions of people around the world have taken to the streets for Palestine.

Students across college campuses in this country are occupying their universities, demanding their campuses divest from Israel and weapons manufacturers building the bombs Israel is dropping on Gaza.

We are shutting down weapons companies that supply the apartheid regime with arms like Palestine Action is doing in the UK, we are occupying the offices of our elected officials, and we are protesting on college campuses the world over.

And while many of Palestine's neighbors quietly assist Israel in its attack, Yemen, the region's poorest country, has enforced a Red Sea maritime blockade of Israeli ships in a bid to force Israel to end its siege on Gaza.

People have broken through the fog of war and see this for what it is. But we cannot rely on our elected officials to stop it because Israeli barbarity was made and perfected in the USA in the first place.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.

The post From Gaza to Guantanamo: The Horrors of Western Imperialism appeared first on MintPress News.

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