Category: iran

  • In a sign of major geopolitical realignment, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states sent warm congratulations to Iran on its newly elected President Masoud Pezeshkian.

    Saudi King Salman welcomed the news of Iran’s election winner last weekend and said he hoped that the two Persian Gulf nations would continue developing their relations “between our brotherly people”.

    That olive branch from Saudi Arabia to Iran is an unprecedented diplomatic development – one that will trigger alarm in Washington whose primary goal in the Middle East has been to isolate Iran from its neighbors.

    There were similar cordial official messages from Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain. Together with Saudi Arabia, these oil-rich states comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). There is much talk now of the Gulf Arab bloc normalizing relations with its Persian neighbor.

    For his part, President Pezeshkian – a heart surgeon by profession – says he wants to prioritize peaceful regional relations.

    For decades, since the Iranian revolution in 1979, the Gulf Arab states have viewed the Islamic Republic with deep suspicion and hostility. For one thing, there is the sectarian tension between Shia Islam as professed mainly by Iran and the Sunni Islam that dominates the Gulf Arab states.

    There is also the visceral fear among the Arab monarchies that the revolutionary politics espoused by Iran might infect their masses thereby threatening the rigid autocracies and their system of hereditary rule. The fact that Iran holds elections stands in stark contrast to the Gulf kingdoms ruled by royal families. So much for President Joe Biden’s mantra about the U.S. supposedly supporting democracy over autocracy.

    The United States and its Western allies, in particular, the former colonial power Britain, have exploited the tensions in the Persian Gulf to exercise a divide-and-rule policy. The British are past masters at playing the sectarian game in all their former colonies from Ireland to Myanmar and everywhere in between, including the Middle East.

    Taking a leaf out of that imperialist playbook, Washington has historically fuelled fears of Iranian expansionism. This has ensured Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors remain under U.S. “protection” which is vital for maintaining the petrodollar system that underpins the American dollar as the international reserve currency. Without the petrodollar privileges, the U.S. economy would implode.

    Secondly, the Gulf is an eye-watering huge market for American weapons exports, from overrated Patriot air defense systems to overpriced fighter jets.

    In short, the policy of the U.S. and its Western allies was and is to promote a Cold War in the Gulf between the Arab states and Iran.

    The schismatic animosity cannot be overstated. The Arab monarchies were habitually paranoid about Iran infiltrating their societies. Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni rulers conducted severe repressive policies towards their Shia populations.

    In 2010, an explosive exposé by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks organization showed the then Saudi ruler King Abdullah pleading with the United States to launch military attacks on Iran. The Saudi monarch described Iran as “the head of the snake” and he implored the U.S. to decapitate the Islamic Republic.

    Fast forward to the present Saudi ruler, King Salman, a half-brother of the deceased Abdullah, who is now calling for fraternal relations with Iran – as are other Gulf Arab states.

    Saudi heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also extended his congratulations to Iran’s new president and went further to propose regional security cooperation. The Saudi heir reportedly told President Pezeshkian: “I affirm my keenness on developing and deepening the relations that unite our countries and peoples and serve our mutual interests.”

    This is an astounding turnaround for positive relations. Crown Prince MbS was the main instigator of Saudi’s disastrous war on Yemen in 2015 which was prompted by his fear of Iran’s alliance with the Houthis in Saudi’s southern neighbor following the landmark international nuclear deal with Tehran.

    Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Sunni states were also instrumental in pursuing the U.S.-led covert war for regime change in Syria against Iranian ally Bashar al Assad. That proxy war effort was a defeat for the U.S. side after Russia and Iran stepped in to defend Syria.

    What’s happening here is a major geopolitical realignment. Russia, Iran, China and others have put a decisive marker down spelling the end of U.S. and Western hegemony.

    It is clear that the U.S.-led so-called “rules-based global order” is nothing more than a dead-end scam imposed on the rest of the world. All empirical evidence shows that the primary enemy of international peace and security is the U.S. hegemon and its Western vassals.

    The U.S.-instigated proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is recklessly pushing the world to the abyss of a nuclear catastrophe. Elsewhere, in the Middle East with the Western-backed Israeli genocide in Gaza and the relentless belligerence of NATO in the Asia-Pacific toward China, it is increasingly evident what is the source of international conflict and chaos – U.S.-led Western imperialism.

    The Gulf Arab leaders may not be reacting out of democratic sensibilities. But they must surely know that the writing is on the wall for American hegemony and its destructive death wish to survive at all costs.

    The world is changing dramatically to a new multipolar order where the majority of nations are trying to come to a peaceful coexistence.

    Last year, China brokered a historic rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. All of these parties know that the U.S. disorder of hegemonic Cold War division is unsustainable and ultimately self-defeating for those who adhere to it.

    The Saudis know that the Eurasian economic engine is driving the world economy and the embrace of the Global South of a multipolar order is hammering nails into the coffin of Western hegemony.

    Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Arab states are signing up as new members of the Shanghai Cooperation Council which also includes Russia, China, Iran, India and Pakistan, among others.

    King Salman and other Arab leaders are finally realizing that Uncle Sam’s patronage is like putting a loaded gun to your head. As that old American war criminal Henry Kissinger once reputedly remarked with his trademark cynicism: being an enemy of the U.S. can be dangerous but to be an ally of Uncle Sam is absolutely fatal.

    The days of Washington and its Western minions playing divide and rule are over because they have discredited themselves irreparably.

    • First published in Strategic Culture Foundation

    The post U.S. divide and rule no more… Washington’s Gulf allies embrace Iran first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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  • Yogi Berra, famous as a baseball catcher and a wandering philosopher, is credited with the statement, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Uncle Sam, famous for initiating endless wars and philosophizing about democracy and human rights follows Yogi’s pronouncement in only one direction ─ the road to war.

    The endless wars, one in almost every year of the American Republic, are shadowed by words of peace, democracy, and human rights. Happening far from U.S. soil, their effects are more visual than visceral, appearing as images on a television screen. The larger post-World War II conflagrations, those that followed the “war to end all wars,” in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have not permanently resolved the issues that promoted the wars. From their littered battlefields remain the old contestants and from an embittered landscape new contestants emerge to oppose the U.S. “world order.” The U.S. intelligence community said, “it views four countries as posing the main national security challenges in the coming year: China, followed by Russia, Iran and North Korea.” Each challenge has a fork in the road. Each fork taken is leading to war.

    China
    “China increasingly is a near-peer competitor, challenging the United States in multiple arenas — especially economically, militarily, and technologically — and is pushing to change global norms,” says a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Interpretation ─ China has disrupted the United States’ world hegemony and military superiority. Only the U.S. is allowed to have hegemony and the military superiority that assures the hegemony.

    Foreign Policy (FP) magazine’s article, “How Primed for War Is China,” goes further: “The likelihood of war with China may be the single-most important question in international affairs today.”

    If China uses military force against Taiwan or another target in the Western Pacific, the result could be war with the United States—a fight between two nuclear-armed giants brawling for hegemony in that region and the wider world. If China attacked amid ongoing wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, the world would be consumed by interlocking conflicts across Eurasia’s key regions, a global conflagration unlike anything since World War II. How worried should we be?

    No worry about that. Beijing will not pursue war. Why would it? It is winning and winners have no need to go to war. The concern is that the continuous trashing will lead the PRC to trash its treasury holdings that finance U.S. trade debt (already started), use reserves to purchase huge chunks of United States assets, diminish its hefty agricultural imports from Yankee farms, and enforce its ban of exports of rare earth extraction and separation technologies  (China produces 60 percent of the world’s rare earth materials and processes nearly 90 percent). The U.S. should worry that, by not cooperating, the Red Dragon may decide it is better not to bother with Washington and use its overwhelming industrial power, with which the U.S. cannot compete, to sink the U.S. economy.

    China does not chide the U.S. about its urban blight, mass shootings, drug problem, riots in Black neighborhoods, enforcing the Caribbean as an American lake, campus revolution, and media control by special interests. However, U.S. administrations insist on being involved in China’s internal affairs — Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, South China Sea, Belt and Road, Uyghurs — and never shows how this involvement benefits the U.S. people.

    U.S. interference in China’s internal affairs has not changed anything! The United States is determined to halt China’s progress to economic dominance and to no avail. China will continue to do what China wants to do. With an industrious, capable, and educated population, which is four times the size of the U.S. population, arable land 75 percent of that of the U.S. (295,220,748 arable acres compared to 389,767,633 arable acres), and a multiple of resources that the world needs, China, by default will eventually emerge, if it has not already, as the world’s economic superpower.

    What does the U.S. expect from its STOP the unstoppable China policy? Where can its rhetoric and aggressive actions lead but to confrontation? The only worthwhile confrontation is America confronting itself. The party is over and it’s time to call it a day, a new day and a new America ─ not going to war to protect its interests but resting comfortably by sharing its interests.

    Russia
    Western politicos responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comment, “The breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century,” with boisterous laughter. Go to Ukraine and observe the tragedy and learn that Putin’s remark has been too lightly regarded. It’s not a matter of right and wrong. It’s a matter of life and death. The nation, which made the greatest contribution in defeating Nazi Germany and endured the most physical and mental losses, suffered the most territorial, social, and economic forfeitures in post-World War II.

    From a Russian perspective, Crimea had been a vital part of Russia since the time of Catherine the Great ─ a warm water port and outlet to the Black Sea. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s attachment of Crimea to The Ukraine Republic was an administrative move, and as long as Ukraine allowed Russia free entry to Crimea, Moscow did not seek annexation. To the Russia government of year 2014, the Euromaidan Revolution changed the arrangement. Putin easily rationalized annexing a Ukraine region whose population was 2/3 Russian, considered a part of Russia, and was under attack by Ukrainian nationalists.

    Maintaining Ukraine in the Russian orbit, or at least, preventing it from becoming a NATO ally, was a natural position for any Russian government, a mini Monroe Doctrine that neutralizes bordering nations and impedes foreign intrusions. Change in Ukraine’s status forecast a change in Russia’s position, a certain prediction of war. Ukraine and Russia were soul mates; their parting was a trauma that could only be erased by seizure of the Maiden after the Euromaidan.

    Ukraine has lost the war; at least they cannot win, but don’t tell anybody. Its forces are defeated and depleted and cannot mount an offensive against the capably defended Russian captured territory. Its people and economy will continue to suffer and soldiers will die in the small battles that will continue and continue. Ukraine’s hope is having Putin leave by a coup, voluntarily, or involuntarily and having a new Russian administration that is compliant with Zelensky’s expectations. The former is possible; the latter is not possible. Russian military will not allow its sacrifices to be reversed.

    For Ukrainians, it is a “zero sum” battle; they can only lose and cannot dictate how much they lose. A truce is impeded by Putin’s ambition to incorporate Odessa into Russia and link Russia through captured Ukraine territory to Moldova’s breakaway Republic of Transnistria, which the Russian president expects will become a Russian satellite, similar to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This leaves Ukraine with two choices: (1) Forget the European Union, forget NATO, and remain a nation loosely allied with Russia, or (2) Solicit support from the United States and Europe and eventually start a World War that destroys everybody.

    As of July 8, 2024, Ukraine and United States are headed for the latter fork in the road. After entering into war, the contestants find no way, except to end it with a more punishing war. That cannot happen. Russians crossing the Dnieper River and capturing Odessa is also unlikely. The visions of the presidents of Russia and Ukraine clash with reality. Their visions and their presence are the impediments to resolving the conflict. Both must retire to their palatial homes and write their memoirs. A world tour featuring the two in a debate is a promising You Tube event.

    Commentators characterized the Soviet Union as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. After it became scrambled eggs, Russia’s characterization became simplified; no matter what Putin’s Russia does, it is viewed as a cold, icy, and heartless land that preys on its neighbors and causes misery to the world. Apply a little warmth, defrost the ice, and Russia has another appearance.

    Iran
    Ponder and ponder, why is the U.S. eager to assist Israel and act aggressively toward Iran? What has Iran done to the U.S. or anybody? The US wants Iran to eschew nuclear and ballistic weapons, but the provocative approach indicates other purposes — completely alienate Iran, destroy its military capability, and bring Tehran to collapse and submission. Accomplishing the far-reaching goals will not affect the average American, increase US defense posture, or diminish the continuous battering of the helpless faces of the Middle East. The strategy mostly pleases Israel and Saudi Arabia, who have engineered it, share major responsibility for the Middle East turmoil, and are using mighty America to subdue the principal antagonist to their malicious activities.

    Although Iran has not sent a single soldier cross its borders to invade another nation and has insufficient military power to contest a United States’ reprisal, the Islamic republic is accused of trying to conquer the entire Middle East. Because rebellions from oppressed Shi’a factions occur in Bahrain and Yemen, Iran is accused of using surrogates to extend their power ─ guilt by association. Because Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah have extended friendship (who does not want to have friends), Iran, who cannot even sell its pistachio nuts to these nations, is accused of controlling them.

    Iran is an independent nation with its own concepts for governing. The Islamic Republic might not be a huggable nation, but compared to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, it is a model democracy and a theocratic lightweight. Except for isolate incidents, Iran has never attacked anyone, doesn’t indicate it intends to attack anyone, and doesn’t have the capability to wage war against a major nation.

    Defined as Iran, the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism, the Iranian government has not been involved in terrorist acts against the United States, or proven to have engaged in international terrorism. There have been some accusations concerning one incident in Argentina, one in the U.S. and a few in Europe against dissidents who cause havoc in Iran, but these have been isolated incidents. Two accusations go back thirty to forty years, and none are associated with a particular organization.

    If the US honestly wants to have Iran promise never to be a warring nation, it would approach the issues with a question, “What will it take for you (Iran) never to pursue weapons of mass destruction?” Assuredly, the response would include provisions that require the U.S. to no longer assist the despotic Saudi Kingdom in its oppression of minorities and opposition, in its export of terrorists, and interference in Yemen. The response would propose that the U.S. eliminate financial, military and cooperative support to Israel’s theft of Palestinian lands, oppressive conditions imposed on Palestinians, and daily killings of Palestinian people, and combat Israel’s expansionist plans.

    The correct question soliciting a formative response and leading to decisive US actions resolves two situations and benefits the U.S. — fear of Iran developing weapons of mass destruction is relieved and the Middle East is pointed in a direction that achieves justice, peace, and stability for its peoples. The road to war is a tool for Israel’s objectives. The U.S. continues on that road, willingly sacrificing Americans for the benefit of the Zionist state. Tyranny and treason in the American government and the American people either are not observant or just don’t care.

    Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK)
    Nowhere and seemingly everywhere, North Korea stands at a fork in the road. The small and unimportant state that wants to be left alone and remain uncontaminated by global germs, is constantly pushed into responding to military maneuvers at its border, threats of annihilation, and insults to its leaders and nation. From United States’ actions and press coverage, North Korea assumes the world stage as a dynamic and mighty nation and exerts a power that forces respect and response. How can a nation, constantly described as an insular and “hermit kingdom,” cast a shadow that reaches 5000 miles to the United States mainland and speak with a voice that generates a worldwide listening audience?

    The world faces a contemporary DPRK, a DPRK that enters the third decade of the 21st century with a changed perspective from the DPRK that entered the century. Rehashing of old grievances, reciting past DPRK policies that caused horrific happenings to its people, and purposeful misunderstanding of contemporary North Korea lead to misdirected policies and unwarranted problems. Purposeful misunderstanding comes from exaggerations of negative actions, from not proving these negative actions, from evaluating actions from agendas and opinions and not from facts, from selecting and guessing the facts, and from approaching matters from different perspectives and consciences.

    Instead of heading away from North Korea, the U.S. speeds toward a confrontation and North Korea makes preparations — developing nuclear weapons and delivery systems and signing a mutual defense pact with Russia. The U.S. State department paves the road to war and, as a favor to its antagonist, induces it to develop the offensive and defensive capabilities to wage the war. Apparently, the U.S. defense department has orders not to attack the DPRK before it has ICBMs and warheads that can demolish the U.S. Unlike Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, let’s make this a fair fight.

    North and South Vietnam have only one problem ─ U.S. interference in their internal affairs. Stop the joint maneuvers and remove the U.S. troops and the North and South will learn how to get along and realize they must get along. If they do not find friendship and engage in hostilities, they will resolve the issue in a way that badly affects both and does not affect the U.S. Why internationalize an issue that is national and can be contained? Why make the U.S. land subjected to possible attack because two miscreants cannot behave?

    North Korea might go down in history as the nation that awakened the world to the consequences of global saber rattling. It has shown that the nuclear world can become one big poker game, in which a challenge to a bluff can be an ‘all win’ and ‘all lose’ proposition. Which gambler is willing to play that game when an ‘all win’ doesn’t add much more to what the gambler already has, and an ‘all lose’ means leaving the person with nothing? The odds greatly favor America, but the wager return is not worth taking the bet, despite the odds. Keep it sweet and simple, let the Koreans settle their problems, and we will see doves flying over the Korean peninsula.

    The Road to War
    The U.S. does not develop foreign policies from facts and reality; they are developed from made-up stories that fit agendas. Those who guide the agendas solicit support from the population by providing  narratives that rile the American public and define its enemies. This diversion from facts and truth is responsible for the counterproductive wars fought by the U.S., for Middle East turmoil, for a world confronted with terrorism, and for the contemporary horrors in Ukraine and Gaza. U.S. foreign policy is not the cause of all the problems, but it intensifies them and rarely solves any of them.

    Because violence and military challenges are being used to resolve the escalating conflicts throughout the globe, should not more simplified and less aggressive approaches be surveyed and determined if they can serve to resolve the world conflagrations. Features of that determination modify current U.S. thinking:

    (1) Rather than concluding nations want to confront U.S. military power, realize nations fear military power and desire peaceful relations with the powerful United States.

    (2) Rather than attempting to steer adversaries to a lose position, steer them to a beneficial position.

    (3) Rather than denying nations the basic requirements for survival, assist their populations in times of need.

    (4) Rather than provoking nations to military buildup and action, assuage them into feeling comfortable and not threatened.

    (5) Rather than challenging by military threat, show willingness to negotiate to a mutually agreed solution.

    (6) Rather than interfering in domestic disputes, recognize the sovereign rights of all nations to solve their own problems.

    (7) Rather than relying on incomplete information, purposeful myths, and misinterpretations, learn to understand the vagaries and seemingly irrational attitudes of sovereign nations whose cultures produce different mindsets.

    Recent elections in the United Kingdom indicate a shift from adventurism to attention with domestic problems. The Labor Party win over a Conservative government that perceived Ukraine as fighting its war and the election advances of the far right National Rally and the far-left Unbowed Parties in France show a trend away from war. A win by Donald Trump, whose principal attraction is his supra-nationalist antiwar policy, will emphasize that trend and indicate that the most disliked of two disliked is due to the abhorrence to war.

    From ever war to war no more.
    A pleasant thought
    that U.S. administrations thwart.
    All roads still lead to war.

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  • Voters in Iran elected Masoud Pezeshkian as president Saturday. The heart surgeon and former health minister defeated hard-liner Saeed Jalili in a runoff vote held just weeks after President Ebrahim Raisi and other top officials died in a helicopter crash. Pezeshkian has criticized Iran’s mandatory hijab law for women and has promised to disband Iran’s morality police, as well as better relations…

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  • Political moderation has won a victory in Iran. Cardiac surgeon and former health minister Masoud Pezeshkian defeated stalwart conservative Saeed Jalili in a presidential runoff election, by a margin of 16.3 million votes to 13.5 million votes. Much of Pezeshkian’s platform centered on domestic issues such as loosening strictures regarding female dress. But he also called for engagement with the…

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    This post was originally published on Latest – Truthout.

  • Political moderation has won a victory in Iran. Cardiac surgeon and former health minister Masoud Pezeshkian defeated stalwart conservative Saeed Jalili in a presidential runoff election, by a margin of 16.3 million votes to 13.5 million votes. Much of Pezeshkian’s platform centered on domestic issues such as loosening strictures regarding female dress. But he also called for engagement with the…

    Source

    This post was originally published on Latest – Truthout.

  • Despite losing the presidential debate to Republican candidate Donald Trump, President Joe Biden’s electoral campaign appears to be in full swing now. The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, has been set free after a plea deal in order to woo progressive voters. In Gaza, Biden is simultaneously playing the role of arsonist and the firefighter.

    Last October, he sent aircraft-carriers and nuclear submarines in support of Israel and provided military assistance to the tune of billions of dollars, including bombs, missiles and aircraft, to slaughter hapless Palestinians. But at the same time, he built a shoddy pier to let humanitarian aid flow, and persuaded Netanyahu to let him at least create optics of being a neutral arbiter while he is the main enabler of Zionists’ genocide of Palestinians.

    The only theater where the purported peacenik [Biden a peacenik? — DV ed] can’t do much is the Ukraine War because the Pentagon’s military brass won’t let him squander the opportunity to destabilize arch-rival Russia. Therefore he would have to convince gullible neoliberals by deploying Orwellian jargon that war is peace, bombs are rose petals, America’s adversaries are recalcitrant villains, while the United States is the only bastion of democracy and civil liberties under the thumb of corporate interests and the deep state.

    As far as the Zionist regime’s genocidal war in Gaza is concerned, this isn’t even a war but downright genocide of unarmed Palestinians, as war is between two comparable armies, whereas in the Gaza Holocaust, a regional power backed by the world’s most powerful military force is committing merciless ethnic cleansing of hapless Palestinians.

    Incidentally, the death toll of the savage slaughter is grossly understated by monopoly media for ulterior motives. 38,000 is just the number of dead bodies counted by aid workers, whereas the exact death toll is well above 100,000, as most dead bodies are still buried beneath the rubble of Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah and would take months, if not years, to recover after the rubble is cleared.

    Besides the Biden admin’s reluctance to start another devastating Middle East war in the election year and eliminating Biden’s chances of winning a second term, another reason the American deep state is also hesitant to greenlight Israel’s ground invasion of Hezbollah’s bastion in southern Lebanon is that all the military resources of the Pentagon are currently being consumed by the protracted proxy war in east Ukraine.

    Moreover, the Biden admin is also concerned that mounting a military offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon might provoke Iran to mount retaliatory missile and drone strikes on critical energy infrastructure in the Persian Gulf, such as the Abqaiq oil installation attack in September 2019, [This attack on the Abqaiq facility is usually ascribed to the Houthis in Yemen — DV ed] thus disrupting global energy supply in the election year and eliminating Biden’s chances of winning the elections.

    However, Israel’s opportunistic policymakers are yearning to draw Iran into Gaza War, thus creating a pretext for the expansion of the war in southern Lebanon in order to cash the opportunity to dismantle the Iran-Hezbollah nexus once and for all, posing a security threat to Israel’s northern borders.

    Even though by the mainstream media’s own accounts the Shiite leadership of Iran and Hezbollah wasn’t even aware of Sunni Palestinian liberation movement Hamas’ October 7 assault. It’s worth pointing out that Hamas’ main patrons are oil-rich Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt, not Iran, as frequently alleged by the mainstream disinformation campaign. In fact, Hamas as a political movement is the Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

    Notwithstanding, while craven Arab petro-sheikhs, under the thumb of duplicitous American masters enabling the Zionist regime’s atrocious genocide of unarmed Palestinians, were squabbling over when would be the opportune moment to recognize Israel and establish diplomatic and trade ties, the Iran-led resistance axis, comprising Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Ansarallah in Yemen, has claimed stellar victories in the battlefield against Israel.

    As far as Israel’s airstrike at Iran’s consulate in Damascus on April 1 is concerned, killing two top commanders of the IRGC, it is the declared state policy of the Zionist regime of medieval assassins to use deception and subterfuge in order to eliminate formidable adversaries if it lacks the courage to cross swords with them in the battlefield.

    It’s worth noting that a tip-off from the Mossad led to the cowardly assassination of Iran’s celebrated warrior Haj Qassem Soleimani in January 2020, after Haj Soleimani gave the Zionist regime and its American patrons a bloody nose in Syria’s proxy war.

    Nonetheless, after the consulate airstrike, Iran retaliated by mounting the first direct airstrike on Israel with over 300 drones, cruise and ballistic missiles on April 13. The airstrike was codenamed Operation True Promise, or Vada-e-Sadiq in Persian.

    In response, Israel vowed to avenge the direct Iranian airstrike on its territory. Immediately afterwards, on April 19, Israeli F-15s reportedly launched Blue Sparrow ballistic target missiles at Isfahan’s military sites from Iraq’s airspace that destroyed the radar system of an S-300 air defense battery at a military airport in Isfahan.

    But the retaliatory strike failed to assuage the murderous frenzy of Israel’s military hawks who vowed to teach Iran a memorable lesson for punching above its weight. Then Mossad Director David Barnea presented a detailed plan to the war cabinet to execute Iran’s president, which was immediately approved by PM Netanyahu and Israeli military’s top brass because the covert assassination plot left sufficient room for claiming plausible deniability. The Biden admin and CIA Director William Burns also gave green light to the Mossad, according to Turkish and Azerbaijani security officials who were briefed on the matter by CIA officials.

    Thus, on the fateful day of May 19, Iran’s charismatic and eloquent President Ebrahim Raisi was due to inaugurate a hydroelectric dam in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, alongside Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. It’s pertinent to mention that Azerbaijan is one of the closest allies of Israel in the region that has longstanding trade and defense ties with Israel. It received generous Israeli military assistance during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, and hosts several listening posts of Mossad in order to spy on Iran.

    After the inauguration of the dam, the Azerbaijani delegation presented a souvenir to the Iranian delegation to be conveyed to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. It was a voluminous, handwritten book on Islamic jurisprudence dating back to the Safavid era, according to Iranian security officials who refused to be identified. The book was placed in a box and handed over to representative of the Supreme Leader in East Azerbaijan Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem.

    Ale-Hashem boarded the same helicopter as President Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and placed the box with a hidden enclosure containing remotely controlled explosive device in the luggage compartment. The helicopter was part of a convoy of three helicopters that departed for Tabriz after the inauguration of the dam. But the Iranian delegation didn’t know that an Israeli stealth drone operated by Mossad was chasing the convoy.

    Forty-five minutes into the flight, the pilot of Raisi’s helicopter, who was in charge of the convoy, ordered other helicopters to increase altitude to avoid a nearby cloud. Thus, under the cover of the clouds the drone sent a signal and the explosive device in the briefcase detonated, causing the helicopter to crash on the rocks below, killing all eight people onboard.

    I’m not sure if that’s a coincidence but the crash site is identified as the village of Uzi in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. Because Uzi is a globally renowned Israeli sub-machine gun, often brandished by gangsters and assassins in the Hollywood flicks. In any case, Mossad’s operatives do have a sense of irony.

    Although Iran’s competent investigators are quite capable to figure out the Mossad’s assassination plot, they were forced by Iran’s political leadership to declare the assassination an accident. Because hardliners in Iran have been clamoring for a full-scale war with Israel after witnessing the merciless genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

    Had Iran’s political leadership admitted the fact that Ebrahim Raisi’s death was in fact an assassination by Mossad, then it would have become impossible to hold back the war hawks. Therefore, the leadership decided to bury the hatchet and immediately called elections in which moderate candidate Masoud Pezeshkian has been elected the new president of Iran.

    The post How Mossad Plotted to Assassinate Iranian President? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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  • For the past eight months, Hezbollah has attacked the northern portion of Israel in an attempt to pull the Israeli army out from Gaza, reports Al Jazeera. Fears of a wider war have prompted international calls to deescalate the situation at the border between Lebanon and Israel. During a recent meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters…

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    This post was originally published on Latest – Truthout.

  • Reformist legislator Masoud Pezeshkian and conservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili will face off in a second round of voting after neither candidate secured a majority of the votes in Iran’s election Friday. Surprise elections in Iran were called after conservative President Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash on May 19, opening what one expert called a “void in the Islamic…

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    This post was originally published on Latest – Truthout.

  • The future of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, a target of US imperial power since its inception in 1998, may be decided on July 28, the date of their presidential election.

    Incumbent President Nicolás Maduro and seven other presidential candidates pledged to abide by the choice of the electorate. Edmundo González, promoted by the US, and another candidate have not signed the pledge, consistent with the far right only accepting contest results where they win. Likewise, a bipartisan and bicameral resolution was introduced on June 18 to the US Congress not to recognize a “fraudulent” Maduro victory.

    This election is taking place in the context of US unilateral coercive measures. These so-called sanctions have amounted to an actual economic and financial blockade designed to cripple the economy and cause the people to renounce their government. Such outside interference by Washington is tantamount to electoral blackmail.

    Yet Carlos Ron, Venezuela’s deputy minister of foreign affairs for North America, is confident that the government party will win. He spoke on June 25 at a webinar organized by the Venezuela Solidarity Network.

    Ron explained that the Venezuelan people and government have achieved remarkable progress, resisting Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign. A tanking economy has now been reversed. By the end of 2023, Venezuela had recorded 11 quarters of consecutive growth after years of economic contraction.

    Instead of irrevocably crashing the economy, according to Ron, the US hybrid warfare against Venezuela exposed the US-backed opposition, who have called for sanctions against their own people and have even treasonously endorsed a US-backed military coup option.

    Economist Yosmer Arellán, who is associated with the Central Bank of Venezuela and has collaborated with the UN Special Rapporteur on the impact of unilateral coercive measures, also addressed the webinar. Arellán spoke of the pain visited upon the Venezuelan people by the US sanctions.

    The economist explained that the economy was further impacted by the crash in oil prices, beginning in 2014, as well as by overcompliance with the economic coercive measures by third-parties fearful of US reprisals. Then Covid hit. During the height of the pandemic, even though Venezuela had the hard currency, US sanctions blocked the financial transactions necessary to buy vaccines. He likened such measures to “bombs dropped on our society.”

    In contrast, Venezuela’s economic situation is now looking comparatively bullish. On the same day as the webinar, President Maduro announced oil production had recovered to one million barrels a day. Earlier this month, the five millionth home was delivered as part of the Great Housing Mission social program.

    Arellán described what he called the three-step “virtuous formula” for recovering the economy. This is a model, he added, for the some one third of humanity being punished by US unilateral coercive measures.

    First came resistance in the face of the “extortion” of the unilateral coercive measures. Venezuela learned through trial and error how to do more with less. Out of necessity, the country began to wean itself from dependence on oil revenues which had fallen over 90%. Small and medium businesses were promoted. The private sector, despite being prone to oppose the socialist project, was also punished by the US measures. Today, big business is investing more in domestic productive capacity, according to Arellán.

    Second was halting the economic freefall and achieving economic stability. Two areas in particular were key: rationalizing the exchange rate of the Venezuelan bolivar in relation to the US dollar and taming runaway inflation. Monthly inflation got down to 1.2%, a previously unheard of low rate.

    Third has been the recovery stage, transforming the economy from one dependent on oil revenues to buy foreign goods to one that is now over 90% food sovereign. The economy is being diversified with the sober understanding that relief from the US imperialist hybrid war is unlikely in the near future.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Ron further explained the political dimensions of the US sanctions, which were designed to reverse the sizable achievements of the Chávez years. The aim, he said, was to kill hope and blame socialism for the attacks of “predatory capitalism.” The Venezuelan state was robbed by the US and its allies: seizure of overseas assets; dispossession of  CITGO, the state-owned oil subsidiary in the US; and confiscation of gold reserves held abroad.

    The “perversity of sanctions,” according to Ron, is that they undermine the social functions of the state to support the welfare of the people. That is, they try to cripple the government in order to make socialism look bad.

    Ron gave the example of the 16% malnutrition rate when Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1998. By 2011, the rate was reduced to only 3%. But with the US maximum pressure campaign, the rate shot up to 13% (still better than before the revolution but punishing nonetheless).

    Venezuela experienced record out migration. This emigration was not due, as claimed by the US, to political persecution but was precipitated by worsening economic prospects caused primarily by the US politically-motivated sanctions. But now, Ron explained, citizens are returning to Venezuela and a new vice-ministry to assist their return has been created.

    Washington tried to isolate Venezuela both financially and diplomatically. Four years ago the US and some 50 of its allies recognized the parallel government of “interim president” Juan Guaidó, who had never even run for national office in Venezuela. Today only the US, Israel, and a few others still fail to recognize the elected government.

    Meanwhile, Venezuela has forged significant new economic and political ties with Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran among others. Regional alliances with Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and some Caribbean states, such as ALBA, have been strengthened. Close cooperative relations have been reinforced with friendly governments in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia, three of the four leading economies in Latin America.  And Venezuela is orienting toward the Global South, with the possibility of joining the expanded BRICS+ alliance of emerging economies looking increasingly likely.

    Indeed, far from being isolated, Ron noted, Venezuela has further integrated into an emerging multipolar world. Venezuela was just elected to a vice-presidency of the UN General Assembly.

    Ron credited current successes to the political will of a strong and unwavering leadership under President Maduro, which he characterized as a “collective leadership” encompassing many actors. This was coupled with organized “people power.” Both, he emphasized, were needed. Venezuela, he concluded, demonstrated the people’s willingness to face challenges and a government that did not give up on the battle for socialism.

    The post How Venezuela Is Overcoming the US Blockade first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    This post was originally published on Dissident Voice.

  • The future of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, a target of US imperial power since its inception in 1998, may be decided on July 28, the date of their presidential election.

    Incumbent President Nicolás Maduro and seven other presidential candidates pledged to abide by the choice of the electorate. Edmundo González, promoted by the US, and another candidate have not signed the pledge, consistent with the far right only accepting contest results where they win. Likewise, a bipartisan and bicameral resolution was introduced on June 18 to the US Congress not to recognize a “fraudulent” Maduro victory.

    This election is taking place in the context of US unilateral coercive measures. These so-called sanctions have amounted to an actual economic and financial blockade designed to cripple the economy and cause the people to renounce their government. Such outside interference by Washington is tantamount to electoral blackmail.

    Yet Carlos Ron, Venezuela’s deputy minister of foreign affairs for North America, is confident that the government party will win. He spoke on June 25 at a webinar organized by the Venezuela Solidarity Network.

    Ron explained that the Venezuelan people and government have achieved remarkable progress, resisting Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign. A tanking economy has now been reversed. By the end of 2023, Venezuela had recorded 11 quarters of consecutive growth after years of economic contraction.

    Instead of irrevocably crashing the economy, according to Ron, the US hybrid warfare against Venezuela exposed the US-backed opposition, who have called for sanctions against their own people and have even treasonously endorsed a US-backed military coup option.

    Economist Yosmer Arellán, who is associated with the Central Bank of Venezuela and has collaborated with the UN Special Rapporteur on the impact of unilateral coercive measures, also addressed the webinar. Arellán spoke of the pain visited upon the Venezuelan people by the US sanctions.

    The economist explained that the economy was further impacted by the crash in oil prices, beginning in 2014, as well as by overcompliance with the economic coercive measures by third-parties fearful of US reprisals. Then Covid hit. During the height of the pandemic, even though Venezuela had the hard currency, US sanctions blocked the financial transactions necessary to buy vaccines. He likened such measures to “bombs dropped on our society.”

    In contrast, Venezuela’s economic situation is now looking comparatively bullish. On the same day as the webinar, President Maduro announced oil production had recovered to one million barrels a day. Earlier this month, the five millionth home was delivered as part of the Great Housing Mission social program.

    Arellán described what he called the three-step “virtuous formula” for recovering the economy. This is a model, he added, for the some one third of humanity being punished by US unilateral coercive measures.

    First came resistance in the face of the “extortion” of the unilateral coercive measures. Venezuela learned through trial and error how to do more with less. Out of necessity, the country began to wean itself from dependence on oil revenues which had fallen over 90%. Small and medium businesses were promoted. The private sector, despite being prone to oppose the socialist project, was also punished by the US measures. Today, big business is investing more in domestic productive capacity, according to Arellán.

    Second was halting the economic freefall and achieving economic stability. Two areas in particular were key: rationalizing the exchange rate of the Venezuelan bolivar in relation to the US dollar and taming runaway inflation. Monthly inflation got down to 1.2%, a previously unheard of low rate.

    Third has been the recovery stage, transforming the economy from one dependent on oil revenues to buy foreign goods to one that is now over 90% food sovereign. The economy is being diversified with the sober understanding that relief from the US imperialist hybrid war is unlikely in the near future.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Ron further explained the political dimensions of the US sanctions, which were designed to reverse the sizable achievements of the Chávez years. The aim, he said, was to kill hope and blame socialism for the attacks of “predatory capitalism.” The Venezuelan state was robbed by the US and its allies: seizure of overseas assets; dispossession of  CITGO, the state-owned oil subsidiary in the US; and confiscation of gold reserves held abroad.

    The “perversity of sanctions,” according to Ron, is that they undermine the social functions of the state to support the welfare of the people. That is, they try to cripple the government in order to make socialism look bad.

    Ron gave the example of the 16% malnutrition rate when Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1998. By 2011, the rate was reduced to only 3%. But with the US maximum pressure campaign, the rate shot up to 13% (still better than before the revolution but punishing nonetheless).

    Venezuela experienced record out migration. This emigration was not due, as claimed by the US, to political persecution but was precipitated by worsening economic prospects caused primarily by the US politically-motivated sanctions. But now, Ron explained, citizens are returning to Venezuela and a new vice-ministry to assist their return has been created.

    Washington tried to isolate Venezuela both financially and diplomatically. Four years ago the US and some 50 of its allies recognized the parallel government of “interim president” Juan Guaidó, who had never even run for national office in Venezuela. Today only the US, Israel, and a few others still fail to recognize the elected government.

    Meanwhile, Venezuela has forged significant new economic and political ties with Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran among others. Regional alliances with Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and some Caribbean states, such as ALBA, have been strengthened. Close cooperative relations have been reinforced with friendly governments in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia, three of the four leading economies in Latin America.  And Venezuela is orienting toward the Global South, with the possibility of joining the expanded BRICS+ alliance of emerging economies looking increasingly likely.

    Indeed, far from being isolated, Ron noted, Venezuela has further integrated into an emerging multipolar world. Venezuela was just elected to a vice-presidency of the UN General Assembly.

    Ron credited current successes to the political will of a strong and unwavering leadership under President Maduro, which he characterized as a “collective leadership” encompassing many actors. This was coupled with organized “people power.” Both, he emphasized, were needed. Venezuela, he concluded, demonstrated the people’s willingness to face challenges and a government that did not give up on the battle for socialism.

    The post How Venezuela Is Overcoming the US Blockade first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    This post was originally published on Dissident Voice.

  • Faramarz Farbod: You have taught at Princeton University for four decades; you were the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in Israel (2008-2014); and you are the author of numerous books about global issues and international law. In preparation for this conversation, I have been reading your autobiography, Public Intellectual: The Life of a Citizen Pilgrim (2019). Tell us about yourself and how you became politically engaged in your own words.

    Richard Falk: I grew up in New York City in a kind of typical middle-class, post-religious, Jewish family that had a lot of domestic stress because I had an older sister with mental issues who was hospitalized for most of her life. This caused my parents to divorce because they saw the issues in a very different way. I was brought up by my father. He was a lawyer and quite right-wing, a Cold War advocate, and a friend of some of the prominent people who were anticommunists at that time, including Kerensky, the interim Prime Minister of Russia after the revolution between the Czar and Lenin. My father had a kind of entourage of anti-communist people who were frequent guests. So, I grew up in this kind of conservative, secular environment, post-religious, post any kind of significant cultural relationship to my ethnically Jewish identity.

    I attended a fairly progressive private school that I didn’t like too much because I was more interested in sports than academics at that stage of my life. I managed to go to the university and gradually became more academically oriented. I was jolted into a fit of realism by being on academic probation after my first year at the University of Pennsylvania. That scared me enough that I became a better student. I went to law school after graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in economics. But I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer in the way my father was. So, it was a very puzzling time. I studied Indian law and language to make myself irrelevant to the law scene in the US. I never thought of myself as an academic because of the mediocre academic record I had managed to compile. When I graduated from law school, I was supposed to go to India on a Fulbright, but it was canceled at the last minute because India hadn’t paid for some grain under the Public Law-480 program [commonly known as Food for Peace signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954 to liquidate US surplus agricultural products and increasingly used as a policy tool to advance US strategic and diplomatic interests with “friendly” nations]. It turned out Ohio State University was so desperate to fill a vacancy created by the sickness of one of its faculty that they hired me as a visiting professor. I realized immediately that it was a good way out for me. I managed to stay there for six years until I went to Princeton for 40 years.

    I became gradually liberated from my father’s conservatism and achieved a certain kind of political identity while opposing the Vietnam War. That took a very personal turn when I was invited to go to Vietnam in 1968. There I encountered the full force of what it meant to be a Third World country seeking national independence and yet be opposed by colonial and post-colonial intervention. I was very impressed by the Vietnamese leadership, which I had the opportunity to meet. It was very different from the East European and Soviet leadership that I had earlier summoned some contact with. They were very humanistic and intelligent and oriented toward a kind of post-war peace with the US. They were more worried about China than they were about the US because China was their traditional enemy. But it made me see the world from a different perspective. I felt personally transformed and identified with their struggle for independence and the courage and friendship they exhibited towards me.

    FF: What did you teach at Princeton University?

    RF: My academic background was in international law. Princeton had no law school, so in a way, I was a disciplinary refugee. I began teaching international relations as well as international law. The reason they hired me was that they had an endowed chair in international law instead of a law school and they hadn’t been able to find anyone who was trained in law but not so interested in it. They tracked me down in Ohio State and offered me this very good academic opportunity. They invited me as a visiting professor first and then some years later offered me this chair which had accumulated a lot of resources because they had been unable to fill this position and I was able to have a secretary and research assistants and other kinds of perks that are not normal even at a rich university like Princeton. I felt more kind of an outsider there in terms of both social background and political orientation, but it was a very privileged place to be in many ways that had very good facilities, and I was still enough of an athlete to use the tennis and squash courts as a mode of daily therapy.

    FF: Why would the Vietnamese leadership invite you to come to Vietnam to meet them? Was it because you were a professor at a prestigious university, which gave you an elite status, or was it something else?

    RF: I think it was partly because of my background. I had written some law journal articles that had gotten a bit of attention, and somebody must have recommended me. I don’t know. I was somewhat surprised. I was supposed to go with a well-known West Coast author considered a left person, but she got sick, and I was accompanied by a very young lawyer. So, I was basically on my own, inexperienced, and didn’t know what to expect. It seemed a risky thing to do from a professional point of view because I was going as an opponent of an ongoing war. There was a 19th-century law that said if you engage in private diplomacy, you’re subject to some kind of criminal prosecution. I didn’t know what to anticipate. But it turned out this was at a time when the US was at least pretending to seek a peaceful negotiation to end its involvement. So, when I came back, because I had these meetings with the Prime Minister and others who had given me a peace proposal that was better than what Kissinger negotiated many deaths later during the Nixon presidency, the US government rather than prosecuting me, came to debrief me and invited me to the State Department and so on, which was something of a surprise.

    FF: Did the State Department take this peace proposal seriously?

    RF: I don’t know what happened internally in the government. I made them aware of it. It was given a front-page New York Times coverage for a couple of days. There was this atmosphere at that time, in the spring of 1968, that was disposed toward finding some way out of this impasse that had been reached in the war itself. The war couldn’t be won, and the phrase of that time was “peace with honor” though it was hard to have much honor after all the devastation that had been carried out.

    FF: What were the elements of that peace proposal given to you that were striking to you?

    RF: The thing that surprised me was that they agreed to allow a quite large number of American troops to stay in Vietnam and to be present while a pre-election was internationally monitored in the southern part of Vietnam. They envisioned some kind of coalition government emerging from those elections. It was quite forthcoming given the long struggle and the heavy casualties they had endured. It was a war in which the future in a way was anticipated; the US completely dominated the military dimensions of the war, land, sea, and air, but managed to lose the war. That puzzle between having military superiority and yet failing to control the political outcome is a pattern that was repeated in several places, including later in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    It is a lesson the US elites can not learn. They are unable to learn because of the strength of the military-industrial-congressional complex. They can’t accept the limited agency of military power in the post-colonial world. Therefore, they keep repeating this Vietnam pattern in different forms. They learned some political lessons like not having as much TV coverage of the US casualties. One of the things that was often said by those who supported the war was that it wasn’t lost in Vietnam; it was lost in the US living rooms. Years later, we heard the same concerns with “embedded” journalists with combat forces, for instance, in the first Gulf War. It was a time when they abolished the draft and relied on a voluntary, professional armed forces. They did their best to pacify American political engagement through more control of the media and other techniques. But it didn’t change this pattern of heavy military involvement and political disappointment.

    FF: This pattern maybe repeating itself in Gaza as we speak. But I would like to ask you a follow up question. You said that the reason essentially for the persistence of that pattern is the existence of a powerful military-industrial-congressional complex. Are you assuming that the US political leadership is wishes to learn the hard lessons but gets blocked by the influence of this complex? Could it be that the US ruling class is in fact so immersed in imperial consciousness that it cannot learn the right lessons after all? When the US leaders look at debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam, don’t they seek to learn lessons to pursue their imperial policies more effectively the next time? Which of these perspectives is closer to reality in your thinking?

    RF: The essential point is that the political gatekeepers only select potential leaders who either endorse or consider it a necessity to go along with this consensus as to putting the military budget above partisan politics and making it a matter of bipartisan consensus with small agreements at the margins about whether this or that weapon system should be given priority and greater resource. Occasionally one or two people in Congress will challenge that kind of idea but nothing politically significant in terms of friction. There’s no friction in terms of this way of seeing the projection of US influence in the post-colonial world.

    FF: Let’s assume that’s correct, and I think you’re right about that. But why is that the case? Is it because the US political class knows that a modern capitalist political economy and state needs this military industrial complex as a kind of floor to the economy, that this floor needs to exist, otherwise, if you remove it, stagnationist tendencies will prevail? Is this military industrial floor a requirement of modern US capitalism? Is that why they’re thinking in this way?

    RF: It is a good question. I’m not sure. I think that the core belief is one that’s deep in the political culture. That somehow strength is measured by military capabilities and the underrating of other dimensions of influence and leadership. This is sustained by Wall Street kind of perspectives that see the arms industry as very important component of the economy and by the government bureaucracy that became militarized as a consequence first of World War Two and then along the Cold War. It overbalanced support for the military as a kind of essential element of government credibility. You couldn’t break into those Washington elites unless you were seen as a supporter of this level of consensus. It’s similar in a way to the unquestioning bipartisan support for Israel, which was, until this Gaza crisis, beyond political questioning, and still is beyond political questioning in Washington, despite it being subjected for the first time to serious political doubts among the citizens.

    FF: I think you’re right. There is a cultural element here as well in addition to the uses of military Keynesianism for domestic economic reasons and for imperial reasons to project power. I want to ask you one final question about your reflections on Vietnam. What was the quarrel about from the US perspective? Why was the US so keen on having decades of engagement after the French were defeated in early 1950s all the way to mid 1970s? Why did the US engage in such destructive behavior?

    RF: I think there are two main reasons. Look at the Pentagon Papers that were released by Daniel Ellsberg; they were a study of the US involvement in Vietnam.

    FF: In 1971.

    RF: Yes in 1971, but they go back to the beginning of the engagement. The US didn’t even distinguish between Vietnam and China. They called the Vietnamese Chicoms in those documents. Part of the whole motivation was this obsession with containing China after its revolution in 1949. The second idea was this falling dominoes image that if Vietnam went in a communist direction, other countries in the region would follow and that would have a significant bearing on the global balance and on the whole geopolitics of containment. The third reason was the US trying to exhibit solidarity with the French, who had been defeated in the Indochina war, and to at least limit the scope of that defeat and assert a kind of Western ideological hegemony in the rest of Vietnam.

    FF: I think Indonesia was probably more important from the US perspective. Once there was a successful US-backed coup d’etat in 1965, some in the US argued that perhaps it’s over. The US has won and achieved its strategic objectives by securing Indonesia from falling in the image of the falling dominoes. The US could have gotten out of Vietnam then. But it didn’t. Maybe this was because of concerns about losing credibility. Do you have any thoughts on this matter?

    RF: Yes, that’s a very important observation and it’s hard to document because people don’t acknowledge it fully. The support that the US and particularly CIA gave to the Indonesian effort at genocidal assault on the Sukarno elements of pro-Marxist, anti-Western constituents there resulted in a very deadly killing fields. Indonesia was from a resource and a geopolitical point of view far more important than Vietnam. But Vietnam had built-up a constituency within the armed forces and the counterinsurgency specialists that created a strong push to demonstrate that the US could succeed in this kind of war. The defeat which eventually was acknowledged in effect was thought correctly to inhibit support within the United States for future regime changing interventions and other kinds of foreign policy.

    FF: Let’s move on to another politically engaged episode in your life. You were engaged with the revolutionary processes in Iran in late 1970s. You even met Ayatollah Khomeini in 1978 in a three-hour-long meeting prior to his departure from Paris to Iran in early 1979 when he founded the Islamic Republic and assumed its Supreme Leadership until his death in 1989. What were your thoughts about the Iranian revolution? And what are your reflections today given the vantage point of 45 years of post-revolutionary history? Also tell us what were your impressions of Ayatollah Khomeini in that long meeting you had with him?

    RF: My initial involvement with Iran was a consequence of several Iranian students of mine who were active at Princeton. Princeton had several prominent meetings in 1978 during the year of the Revolution. As a person who had been involved with Vietnam, I was approached by these students to speak and to be involved with their activities. They were all at least claiming to be victims of SAVAK, the Iranian intelligence service under the Shah that was accused of torturing people in prison. I was convinced that after Vietnam, the next place the US would be involved in a regressive manner would be in Iran in support the Shah. Recall that Henry Kissinger in his book on diplomacy says that the Shah was the rarest of things and an unconditional US ally. By that he meant that he did things for Israel that were awkward even for the US to do and he supplied energy to South Africa during the apartheid period. This sense that there would be a confrontation of some sort in Iran guided my early thinking. Then I also had this friendship with Mansour Farhang, who was an intellectual opponent of the Shah’s regime [and later the revolutionary Iran’s first ambassador to the UN] and represented the Iranian bazaari [pertaining to the traditional merchant class] view of Iranian politics that objected to the Shah’s efforts at neoliberal economic globalization. All that background accounted for my invitation to visit Iran and learn first-hand what the revolution was about.

    I went with the former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and a young religious leader. Three of us spent two quite fascinating weeks in Iran in the moment of maximum ferment because the Shah left the country while we were there. It was a very interesting psychological moment. The people we were with in the city of Qazvin on the day the Shah left couldn’t believe it. They thought it was a trick to get people to show their real political identity as a prelude to a new round of repression. During the Carter presidency, the US was very supportive of the Shah’s use of force in suppressing internal revolt. They had an interval at [the September 1978] Camp David talks, seeking peace between Egypt and Israel, to congratulate the Shah on the shooting of demonstrators [on 8 September in Jaleh Square] in Tehran. That was seen as the epitome of interference in Iran’s internal politics.

    After our visit, we met many religious leaders and secular opponents of the Shah’s government. It was a time when Carter sent the NATO General Huyser to Iran to try to help the armed forces. Because our visit went well, we were given the impression that as a reward for our visit we would have this meeting with Khomeini in Paris, which we did. My impression was of a very severe individual, but very intelligent, with very strong eyes that captured your attention. He was impressive in the sense that he started the meeting by asking us questions – quite important ones as things turned out. His main question was: Did we think the US would intervene as it had in the past in 1953 against Mossadeq? Would the US repeat that kind of intervention in the present context? He went on to add that if the US did not intervene, he saw no obstacle to the normalization of relations. That view was echoed by the US ambassador in Iran, William Sullivan, during our meeting with him. Khomeini objected to speaking of the Iranian revolution and insisted on calling it the Islamic revolution. He extended his condemnation of the Shah’s dynasty to Saudi Arabia and the gulf monarchies arguing that they were as decadent and exploitative as was the Shah. He used a very colorful phrase that I remember to this day, which was the Shah had created “a river of blood” between the state and society. His own private ambition was to return to Iran and resume his religious life. He did not want to be a political leader at that point at least or he may not have understood the degree of support that he enjoyed in Iran at that time. He did go back to the religious city of Qom and resumed a religious life but was led to believe that Bazargan, the Prime Minister of Iran’s interim government, was putting people in charge of running the country who were sacrificing revolutionary goals.

    FF: When you met Ayatollah Khomeini, were you aware of the series of lectures he had given in the early 1970s in Najaf while in exile in Iraq that were smuggled via audio cassettes into mosque networks inside Iran and later published as a book titled Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist? Some people knew that he had those ideas about an Islamic state, but he did not talk about it in Paris. Did he talk about it when you met him?

    RF: He didn’t talk about it. I was superficially familiar with it. Among the people we met in Tehran was a mathematician who was very familiar with that part of Khomeini’s writing and was scared by what it portended. Of course, Khomeini, as I said, did not anticipate or at least said he did not anticipate his own political leadership, and may have regarded that vision in his writing as something he hoped to achieve but did not necessarily think of himself as the agent of its implementation. I have no idea about that.

    FF: In retrospect, what are your general reflections looking back on Iran’s revolution?

    RF: One set of reflections is the revolution’s durability. Whatever failures it has had, it has successfully resisted its internal, regional, and global adversaries. If it had not been tough on its opponents, it probably would not have survived very long. The comparison, for instance, with the Arab Spring’s failures to sustain their upheavals is quite striking, particularly with Egypt when comparing the failure of the Egyptian movement to sustain itself with the Iranian experience and resistance.

    The second thing is disappointment at the failure to develop in more humane directions and the extreme harshness of the treatment of people perceived as their opponent. In that sense, there is no doubt that it has become a repressive theocratic autocracy. But countries like Israel and the US are not completely without some responsibility for that development. There was a kind of induced paranoia in a way because they had real opponents who tried to destabilize it in a variety of ways. The West encouraged Iraq to attack Iran and gave it a kind of green light. The attack involved the idea that they could at least easily control the oil producing parts of Iran, if not bring about the fall of the Khomeini-style regime itself. As often is the case in the US-induced use of force overseas, there are a lot of miscalculations, probably on both sides.

    FF: The US has viewed Iran ever since its revolution as a threat to its geostrategic interests. I think that the “threat” is more the deterrence power of Iran, in other words, Iran’s ability to impose a cost on US operations in the region, oftentimes targeting Iran itself. And of course, Israel, too, is in alliance with the US. Do you agree with this assessment that there is basically no threat to the United States from Iran aside from Iran’s ability to impose costs on US operations in the region, oftentimes against Iran itself?

    RF: I completely agree with that. Iran had initially especially at most an anti-imperial outlook that did not want interference with the national movement. Of course, it wanted to encourage Islamic movements throughout the region and had a certain success. That was viewed in Washington as a geopolitical threat. It was certainly not a national security threat in the conventional sense. But it could be viewed as a threat to the degree to which US hegemony could be maintained in the strategic energy policies that were very important to the US at that time.

    FF: Let’s shift to Palestine-Israel. What is the appropriate historical context for understanding what happened on Oct. 7 and what has been taking place since then in Gaza and the West Bank? We know that the conventional US view distorts reality by talking about this issue as if history began on 7 October with the Hamas attack on southern Israel.

    RF: This is a complicated set of issues to unravel in a brief conversation. But there is no question that the context of the Hamas attack is crucial to understanding its occurrence, even though the attack itself needs to be problematized in terms of whether Israel wanted it to happen or let it happen. They had adequate advance warning; they had all that surveillance technology along the borders with Gaza. The IDF did not respond as it usually does in a short period. It took them five hours, apparently, to arrive at the scene of these events. On the one side, we really don’t know how to perceive that October 7 event. We do know that some worse aspects of it, the beheading of babies, mass rapes, and those kinds of horrifying details, were being manipulated by Israel and its supporters. So, we need an authoritative reconstruction of October 7 itself.

    But even without that reconstruction, we know that Hamas and the Palestinians were being provoked by a series of events. There is a kind of immediate context where Netanyahu goes to the UN General Assembly and waves a map with Palestine essentially erased from it. To Netanyahu, this is the new Middle East without Palestine in it. He has made it clear recently that he is opposed to any kind of Palestinian statehood. So, one probable motivation was for the Palestinians to reassert their presence or existence and resolve to remain.

    The other very important contextual element is the recollection of the Nakba or catastrophe that occurred in 1948 where 750,000 Palestinians were forced to flee from their homes and villages and not permitted to return. The Israeli response since October 7 gives rise to a strong impression that the real motivation on its part is not security as it is ordinarily understood but rather a second Nakba to ethnically cleanse and to implement this by the forced evacuation and unlivability of Gaza carried out by what many people, including myself, have regarded as a genocide.

    The Israeli argument that they are entitled to act in self-defense seems very strained in this context. Gaza and the West Bank are from an international law point of view occupied territories; they are not foreign entities. How do you exercise self-defense against yourself? The Geneva Accords are very clear that the primary duty of the occupying power is to protect the civilian population. It is an unconditional duty of the occupying power, and it is spelled out in terms of an unconditional obligation, to make sure that the population has sufficient food and medical supplies, which the Israeli leadership from day one excluded. They tried to block the entry of food, fuel, and electricity and have caused a severe health-starvation scenario that will probably cost many more lives than have already been lost.

    FF: Not to speak of another violation by Israel: As an occupying power it is prohibited from transferring its own population to the territories that it has been occupying.

    RF: Yes.

    FF: Of course, Israeli expansionism in terms of its settlements, practically does away with the viability of the idea of a two-state solution, unless somehow, they can be forced to remove all the settlers and dismantle the major settlement blocks in the West Bank.

    Let me get your thoughts on the following. It seems Israel used October 7 as an excuse to carry out a speedier mass expulsion campaign rather than to continue with the slower ethnic cleansing that oftentimes characterize its actions in various decades in the period of Israeli control over these territories. We can point to 1948 and 1967 as two other occasions when Israel took advantage of historical moments and expelled many Palestinians. Post-Oct. 7 may be the third historical moment in which Israel is behaving in this manner. Do you agree with this assessment?

    RF: Absolutely. The only thing I would add is that the Netanyahu coalition with religious Zionism as it took over in Israel in January of 2023 was widely viewed, even in Washington, as the most extreme government that had ever come to power in Israel. What made it extreme was the green lighting of settler violence in the West Bank, which was clearly aimed at dispossessing the Palestinian presence there. They often at these settler demonstrations would leave on Palestinian cars these messages: “leave or we will kill you.” It is horrifying that this dimension of Israeli provocation has not been taken into some account.

    FF: Yes, we see that in the West Bank since October 7. By now some 16 villages have been depopulated, several hundred Palestinians killed, and close to 6000 arrested by the Israeli Offensive (not Defensive) Forces who often act alongside armed settlers who enjoy impunity in terrorizing the Palestinians.

    Well, thank you, Richard, for joining me in this conversation. I found it to be very interesting.

    RF: Thank you and I also found your questions very suggestive and a challenge.

    The post Richard Falk on the Vietnam War, Revolution in Iran, and Genocide in Gaza first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    This post was originally published on Dissident Voice.

  • Iranian-Swedish citizen Saeed Azizi also exchanged for Hamid Noury, who was serving life in Sweden for role in death of political prisoners

    Johan Floderus, the Swedish EU diplomat held in captivity for two years in Iran, has been freed and has arrived home, the Swedish prime minister has announcedgreeted by the prime minister and his delighted and relieved family and friends.

    Ulf Kristersson said on Saturday that the Iranian lifer Hamid Noury was being exchanged for Johan Floderus and the Iranian-Swedish citizen Saeed Azizi. He arrived back in Sweden later that evening.

    Continue reading…

    This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

  • When Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter went missing in the mountains on May 19, authorities initially responded by urging the public not to worry. In a country accustomed to being on razor’s edge — only weeks before, Iranians feared Israel would launch a major attack within the country’s borders — the statement was intended to reassure people. But it quickly turned into a joke.

    Source

    This post was originally published on Latest – Truthout.

  • Front Line Defenders issues regularly urgent appeals on behalf of Human Rights Defenders. This case is just an example: on 29 May 2024 FLD called for action on behalf of woman human rights defender Jina Modares Gorji in Iran who was sentenced to twenty-one years in prison.

    Please get your own Front Line Defenders Appeals. By subscribing to this list [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/secure/act-now.php] you will receive information on all cases that Front Line Defenders takes up on behalf of human rights defenders at risk. You will receive an average of 4 to 8 emails per week.

    On 24 May 2024, Jina Modares Gorji was notified that Branch 1 of the Sanandaj Revolutionary Court has sentenced her to a total of twenty-one years in prison. In the verdict of the revolutionary court, the woman human rights defender has been sentenced to ten years in prison on the charge of “forming groups and association with the intention of disturbing the national security,” ten years in prison for “collaboration with a hostile government,” and one year in prison on the charge of “propaganda activities against the state.”

    Jina Modares Gorji is a woman human rights defender, book seller, and feminist podcaster and blogger in Sanandaj, in the Kurdistan province in Iran. Her human rights work includes advocating for women among the Kurdish community, girls’ rights, and socio-cultural rights via holding book clubs and writing blogs. She has been arrested several times since September 2022, following the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini in the custody of the Iranian morality police …

    On 9 April 2024, the last hearing occurred for the woman human rights defender. The aforementioned charges are related to her peaceful human rights activities, which includes speaking to media, participating in international conferences and organising activities to promote women’s rights in the Kurdistan province in Iran. The woman human rights defender was arrested on 10 April 2023 and was arbitrarily detained for almost three months in solitary condiment and in the public Womens Ward of Sanandaj prison. She was also denied access to a lawyer. In mid-February 2023, she was informed that “spreading disinformation” had been added to the previous charges of “forming groups and association with the intention of disturbing the national security”, and “propaganda activities against the state”. On 3 July 2023, the woman human rights defender was released on a bail of one billion IRR.

    In April 2023, Branch 1 of the Sanandaj Public and Revolutionary Court dismissed the lawsuit that Jina Modares Gorji filed against the physical and verbal assault during her arbitrary arrest.

    On 12 February 2023, Jina Modares Gorji appeared with her lawyer before Branch 1 of the Sanandaj Revolutionary Court, where she did not sign the pardon scheme as she stated this would constitute an acknowledgement that the charges against her human rights work were legitimate. This scheme was announced by the Iranian judiciary in February 2023 on the occasion of the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

    The woman human rights defender had previously been arrested on 21 September 2022 for her work and participation in the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests, and charged with “gathering and collusion against the national security” and “propaganda activities against the state.” She was released on a bail of 10 billion IRR on 30 October 2022, after going on hunger strike for three days in protest against the physical assault and detention she endured in the Sanandaj Correctional Centre.

    The prosecution of Jina Modares Gorji is part of a wide crackdown on human rights defenders in Iran where, hefty sentences issued against human rights defenders on the charge of “forming groups and association with the intention of disturbing the national security,” against groups of human rights rights defenders reported by Front Line Defenders in April and May 2024.

    Front Line Defenders is particularly concerned with the sentencing of the woman human rights defender Jina Modares Gorji , as it believes the judicial action is in reprisal for her peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

    Download the urgent appeal.

      This post was originally published on Hans Thoolen on Human Rights Defenders and their awards.

    1. In the early 1980s, U.S. President Ronald Reagan launched a covert war to destroy the fledgling Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. It was brutal: Paramilitary war, CIA attacks, economic blockade, and more.

      It would wreak havoc on the country, killing tens of thousands and ravaging the economy. But an international solidarity movement stood up in response. And the Reagan government’s hubris, and drive to fuel its war on Nicaragua, would break U.S. laws and lead to a shocking scandal in Washington: Iran Contra.

      In this episode, host Michael Fox walks back into the 1980s, to the U.S. response to revolution in Nicaragua and to the international solidarity that pushed back.

      This is Part 2 of Episode 10.

      Under the Shadow is an investigative narrative podcast series that walks back in time, telling the story of the past by visiting momentous places in the present.

      In each episode, host Michael Fox takes us to a location where something historic happened — a landmark of revolutionary struggle or foreign intervention. Today, it might look like a random street corner, a church, a mall, a monument, or a museum. But every place he takes us was once the site of history-making events that shook countries, impacted lives, and left deep marks on the world.

      Hosted by Latin America-based journalist Michael Fox.

      This podcast is produced in partnership between The Real News Network and NACLA.

      Guests:

      Edited by Heather Gies.
      Sound design by Gustavo Türck.
      Theme music by Monte Perdido and Michael Fox.

      Permanent links

      • Follow and support journalist Michael Fox or Under the Shadow at https://www.patreon.com/mfox. You can also see pictures and listen to full clips of Michael Fox’s music for this episode.

      Additional links/info

      • Monte Perdido’s new album Ofrenda is now out. You can listen to the full album on SpotifyDeezerApple MusicYouTube or wherever you listen to music.
      • Other music from Blue Dot Sessions.
      • For declassified documents on the U.S. Contra war on Nicaragua and the Iran Contra affair, you can visit Peter Kornbluh’s National Security Archives here and here.
      • Brian Wilson’s memoir, Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson, is available here. His interview on Democracy Now! is here.
      • Eline van Ommen’s book, Nicaragua Must Survive: Sandinista Revolutionary Diplomacy in the Global Cold War (University of California Press, 2023), is available here.
      • William Robinson’s book, A Faustian Bargain: U.S. Intervention In The Nicaraguan Elections And American Foreign Policy In The Post-cold War Era about the U.S. role in Nicaragua’s 1990 election is available here.
      • For the 2007 documentary American Sandinista, you can visit the website of director Jason Blalockjasonblalock.com
      • Here are links to the 1980 documentaries about Nicaragua’s literacy campaign that I mentioned in part 1: La Salida and La Llegada.
      • For a deeper analysis of opposing views on role of the U.S. government today in Nicaragua I recommend the following resources:
      • This pair of NACLA articles from professor William Robinson, offers an opposing view, underscoring that “Washington’s principal concern in Nicaragua is not getting rid of Ortega but preserving the interests of transnational capital.”

      Transcript

      The following is a rushed transcript and may contain errors. A proofread version will be made available as soon as possible.

      Hi, I’m your host, Michael Fox. First, before we get started, let me say that today is the continuation of episode 10 about the Nicaragua Revolution. If you haven’t heard the first part, I recommend you go back and listen to that Now. Also, many portions of today’s episode deal with harsh themes from the US War on Nicaragua in the 1980s, including killings, war and terror attacks. If you’re sensitive to these things or you’re in the room with small children, you might want to consider another time to listen. Okay, here’s the show.

      I’m standing on the shore of this old Fisherman’s Village, Pacific Ocean, Northwestern Nicaragua. In the evening time, in the early morning, these guys roll the boats in and out using these big long wooden rods that they helped to get them on shore. It’s dark sand in a volcanic. The waves are breaking. There’s about a dozen surfers out in the water. Many of them are from Brazil and the US actually folks that came here years ago fell in love with the surf here, bought homes on the side of the stay. There’s a little surf hostile on the beach, kind of right behind me. Also behind me is this little kind of palapa where woman sells fish and beers and food on the beach. But other than that, it’s not developed. It’s dirt roads, but really nice, really nice. It’s called here and it’s just a couple miles from Pu Sandino. Of course, Sandino Sandino. He was the Freedom Fighter who led the fight against the US Marines when Nicarag was occupied in the 1910s and twenties. And the reason I’m here is not for the nice break or the ocean, which is beautiful, but because this spot, this Port Guer Sandino was the scene of major, major pushback by the United States during the 1980s.

      Remember just a few years before the sand and East insurgency had overthrown a brutal US backed dictator, but amid the Cold War crusade against the supposed threat of communism in central America, the United States set out to do all it could to destabilize the new government. The US government trained counter-revolutionaries launched economic sanctions, imposed an embargo, and the CIA and the US government was openly attacking ports up and down the Pacific and the Caribbean side of Nicaragua. And this one got mined, attacked several times, including the refinery, which is just a couple miles down the road from here.

      That was in the fall of 1983. The CIA trained commandos and then supervised raids from speedboats targeting major Adavan ports. As part of the strategy to undermine the Sand Anisa government, they damaged port facilities in Puerto Sandino. They also attacked oil and pipeline operations. A White House official confirmed that CIA agents supervise the attack. Let’s make the bastards sweat. CIA director William Casey reportedly told his chief of operations for Latin America about the sabotage campaign. Early the next year, 1984, the CIA began laying underwater mines at Nicaraguan ports. In the following months, at least eight ships from numerous countries were damaged by the mines, including a Soviet freighter and a Dutch dredger. The actions caused an uproar both in Nicaragua and abroad.

      While the mining of Nicaragua Harbors has caused a huge political furor in the United States, antisa gorilla sources here in Costa Rica feel vindicated because of the tactical effectiveness of the mining.

      This wasn’t a new strategy. So if we think about what the United States government did to Chile under ae and that infamous quote from Nixon where he talks about make the economy scream, I think that was one of the strategies that the Reagan administration used against Nicaragua.

      That is Alex Venia.

      I am an associate professor of history at Arizona State University.

      We heard from him in the first part of this episode. He’s an expert on this period of US intervention in Central America and in particular Nicaragua in the 1980s.

      So by mining the port, by controlling and preventing economic activity from flowing in or flowing out of the country, I mean Nicarag says knew pretty early on that there was some sort of covert actual, well, a covert economic war and an actual overt war at the borders happening against him, and they knew who was waging it.

      The attacks on Nicaragua ports were just the tip of the iceberg.

      The Reagan administration has spent over $80 million funding the Contra’s gorilla attacks inside Nicaragua. The question center on who the Contras are targeting, it has become some, say, a dirty war.

      The tactics are what we call terrorist tactics. They are not military tactics

      That ands so much more in a minute.

      This is under the shadow, an investigative narrative podcast series that walks back in time to tell the story of the past by visiting momentous places in the present. This podcast is a co-production in partnership with The Real News, Anne Nala. I’m your host, Michael Fox, longtime radio reporter, editor, journalist, the producer and host of the podcast Brazil On Fire. I’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years in Latin America. I’ve seen firsthand the role of the US government abroad and most often sadly, it is not for the better invasions, coups, sanctions, support for authoritarian regimes politically and economically. The United States has cast a long shadow over Latin America for the past 200 years. In each episode in this series, I’ll take you to a location where something historic happened, a landmark of revolutionary struggle or foreign intervention. Today, it might look like a random street corner, a church, a mall, a monument, or a museum. But every place I’m going to bring you was once the site of history making events that shook countries impacted lives and left deep marks on the world will try to discover what lingers of that history today. So in the first part of this episode, we looked at the Sand Anisa Revolution against dictator Anastasio samosa and the rollout of US plans to destabilize the new government. In this part two, we dive deep into the CIA’s contra war on Nicaragua, the economic embargo and the Iran Contra scandal, but also the international Solidarity movement that stood up in response.

      This is under the shadow season one Central America, episode 10, part two 1980s, Nicaragua Contra War. So while the CIA is mining ports, the contras are wreaking havoc on the countryside. Those were the counter-revolutionaries armed and trained in Honduras and sent to destabilize the scent in the government.

      We talked about the Contra’s war on Nicaragua and their terror campaign on the civilian population in the first part of this episode. It had a tremendous toll in the country. They killed thousands of innocent people. They destroyed crops and industrial production. They forced the sand Anisa government to divert as much as 50% of its national budget to fighting the war that meant less money for social programs, health and education, food production, and the promises of the revolution. William Robinson is a professor of sociology and Latin American studies at uc, Santa Barbara. He lived in Nicaragua throughout the 1980s. We heard from him often in the first part of this episode. There’s a rapid

      Militarization of the whole country. You now see the army and the young kids in their military uniforms. Everyone had their AK 47 and their militia training. But you now see this incredible militarization and it undermines the ability of the revolution to transform things. The strategy was to grind down the economy, to make it impossible for the revolution to improve people’s lives and to eventually force the population to turn its back on the revolution just in the name of survival. So that was a war of attrition. The term that was thrown around by us strategists, military and political strategists back then was low intensity warfare. It’s been called quite a number of things in recent decades, but that was what they called it then and what we called it. It was the war of attrition and it was very successful.

      The San Anta government instituted a draft to more effectively combat the US backed Contras. It was not popular,

      And what that meant is that a significant portion of the population, which wasn’t totally Gungho San Anisa, but wasn’t counter-revolutionary either through their baggin, not necessarily with the counter-revolution, but against the Sandinistas or sent their kids abroad. And that really also helped to undermined the social base of the revolution.

      Meanwhile, the United States was also unleashing a campaign of psychological warfare on the Nicaraguan people spreading fear, tension and terror.

      There’s this spy plane, it actually doesn’t drop bombs. It goes way too high in the sky. You can’t see it and it breaks the sound barrier. So for about a month straight, they would fly overhead every day and maybe they were taking photographs, but we analyzed at the time those of us trying to, they were analysts of us strategy analyzed that they wanted the whole population to have this to be a permanent state of tension and anxiety. I am going to tell you, my son was born in September 2nd, 1984, and these overhead flights started shortly afterwards and we were about to send him to be raised by his grandmother who was living in Mexico because we thought any day there would be an invasion.

      Keep in mind that this was about a year after the US invaded the tiny Caribbean island of Granada in 1983, as that country’s revolution imploded.

      But the point here is we lived round the clock with this tension, right, this fear and this tension, and that was part of the psychological warfare.

      But if the Reagan government was doing all it could to undermine the Sanda Revolution,

      Nicaragua,

      There was also an international grassroots movement standing up for Nicaragua and pushing back on the United States. Nicaragua was an inspiration around the world. Like I mentioned in the last episode in 1979, the Sandinistas rid the country of a four decade long dictatorship. They rolled out literacy, vaccination and health campaigns. They built roads in sugar mills and created a ministry of culture with the goal of democratizing art. Poet priest, Ernesto led the effort. Solidarity activists from the United States supported the revolution at home and abroad. Thousands visited the country on tours of solidarity with the revolution were brigades that helped harvest crops on state run and cooperative farms. Nala itself, which co-produces this podcast series led several delegations throughout the 1980s. Alex Cox was among those who visited the country on a solidarity tour, a film by Alex Cox. He’s the British film director who would later go on to make the movie Walker about the US filibuster who invaded and took over Nicaragua in the mid 18 hundreds

      Walker. It is the God-given right of the American people to dominate the Western Hemisphere.

      We looked at that in depth in episode eight. You

      Go and travel around and you see the farm cooperative and you meet the representatives of the political parties, et cetera. So we went on one of those trips and it was very interesting. I really enjoyed it.

      He was there during the November, 1984 general election, which saw Sand Anisa leader Daniel Ortega win a landslide victory with more than two thirds of the vote. Turnout was over 75%. The Sandinistas hoped a clear electoral victory with the participation of hundreds of international observers would encourage the United States to set aside its war on the country.

      It was tremendously positive and very enthusiastic. The vast majority of the people whom I met supported the revolution and supported the sand ANDAs. And then over the four years that I was there going back and forth, it did change because the Contra war enacted such a heavy toll that everybody had a family member who had been killed or impacted or forced to leave their farm because of the American financed terrorism of the Contras

      Historian Alex Venia.

      There’s a huge anti Reagan Sunday Mista march in Managua. I think it must be from 83 or 84, and I remember seeing a documentary about this, and there’s a banner at the forefront of this march where it says Reagan son of a bitch. And I think that’s how we can think about Ronald Reagan and what he did, not just in Nicaragua but Central America. This is one of the darkest, if not the darkest period of Latin American history when it comes to genocide, political violence and just mass death. And Ronald Reagan was behind a lot of

      It. People in United States knew it and responded, but

      Then the grassroots side is you had the emergence of the sanctuary movement that emerges not too far from me here in Phoenix in Tucson with the Presbyterian minister in church that start to create an underground railroad for central American refugees who are fleeing the violence that the US is generating in their home country. And you have hundreds of thousands of Americans who are marching on the streets and become part of the Central American solidarity movie.

      As many as 80,000 people across the United States signed a pledge of resistance promising to commit civil disobedience. If the United States invaded Nicaragua and people were already putting their bodies on the line against the US support for the Contras, there were hunger strikes, others blocked weapons shipments. Many went to jail. Vietnam veteran Brian Wilson lost both legs while participating in a nonviolent protest on the railroad tracks outside of a US weapons depot in California. The train ran him over.

      We found out later that the train crew that day had been ordered not to stop the train, which was an unprecedented, basically an illegal order.

      That’s him speaking to Amy Goodman’s democracy now in 2011 after the release of his memoir, blood on the Tracks.

      This is what happens to people of course all over the world who obstruct the Yankee Mad train that’s trying to repress people who want to have self-determination or what have you. So it was just another part of the US policy coming home very personally to me, viscerally. The day I woke up, 9,000 people showed up at the tracks and ripped up 300 feet of the tracks and stacked up the railroad ties in a very interesting sculpture. And from that day on for 28 consecutive months, there was a permanent occupation in the tracks of sometimes 200 people with tents blocking every train and every truck, 2100 people arrested. Three people had their arms broken by the police.

      We must have peace in Central America. That’s

      Alina Van Oman is a historian at the University of Leeds. She says it’s hard to underscore just how big the solidarity movement grew to be in the United States, how important it was for Nicaragua and vice versa.

      It’s easy to forget because you haven’t lifted, but I think it was very, very present in local council meetings. There were debates about the Minister revolution and United States foreign policy. This was something that student unions talked about. This was posters everywhere. It’s more left-leaning. City councils established relationships with Nicaragua towns was kind of an alternative foreign policy route.

      Some of the people who traveled to Nicaragua also put their lives on the line.

      Often other Americans would go down there and serve as human shields to protect. They thought that if you have foreigners on the border areas that the contrasts wouldn’t attack the population, DEA population there because foreigners were around,

      But the contras did not hold back.

      The electricity is coming out of here, out of the powerhouse, up to the transformers on the pole and going into the 10 kilometers of distribution line.

      That’s the voice of 27-year-old US engineer Ben Linder. He was in Nicaragua as a volunteer, helping to build a small hydroelectric dam to provide electricity for a poor community in the countryside. But on April 28th, 1987, Ben Linder was killed alongside two Nicaraguans in a contra ambush. The 2007 documentary, American Sanda looks back at the US citizens who came to Nicaragua in the 1980s to support the revolution, including Ben. Ben was seated with his notebook says one eyewitness in the documentary, and it was at that moment that a hand grenade took his life. It was something that we never understood why they killed him, says SA friend of Linder’s who worked with him on the hydroelectric project. Of course, it was people from our country, but they were sent and supported by the United States and they never understood what he was trying to do here for us. For the Nicaraguans. The following year, the Contra shot and wounded New York, Reverend Lucius Walker during a terror attack on civilians, Reverend Walker was in Nicaragua leading a religious study delegation. I knew Reverend Walker. He was an incredible man. He passed away in 2010, but he spoke about the attack on his life in Nicaragua in the late 1990s on a local New York TV network.

      Two people in that boat attack were killed. 29 were wounded, and I was able to see firsthand an example of terrorism, promoted, organized, paid for, directed by my own government, and as I lay on the boat wounded from that gunshot wound, I realized that the bullet which came within four inches of shattering my spine was paid for by my own tax money. And it shaped in me a resolve to not simply acquiesce and go away quietly, but to renew our efforts to fight against the foreign policy of our own government that would kill innocent civilians around the

      Corner.

      Reverend Walker responded to that moment by founding pastors for peace. Over the last 35 years, the group has carried thousands of tons of aid to countries like Nicaragua, Cuba, and elsewhere that face punishing US policies and crippling economic sanctions. Meanwhile, as the United States was attacking Nicaragua, other countries were standing up, including Cuba and the Soviet Union, which strengthened their ties with the sista government in the face of us. Aggression. Throughout the 1980s, the San Anisa government was clear that all these ties of solidarity were an important lifeline, particularly as the war dragged on and the financial crisis deepened. This is the essence of Alina Van Oman’s 2023 book. Nicaragua must Survive Sand Anisa Revolutionary Diplomacy in the Global Cold War.

      I’ll argue that the Sandinista has used revolutionary diplomacy and transnational connections as a means to keep the revolution alive and making sure it survived in the phase of this kind of international aggression, but also obviously the kind of domestic discontent that was growing.

      She says the Sanda government not only built international connections at the grassroots level, but also cultivated ties with leaders around the world and in particular in Europe. There she says political leaders were concerned about the spread of communism, but they feared that Reagan’s war on central America could have disastrous consequences, not just for Central America but across the planet. The name of Alina’s book Nicaragua Must Survive is actually a nod to a creative international response from the Sandinistas to US aggression.

      In 1985, there was this rag campaign called Rag Must Survive as well or Nicarag, and that was one of the biggest transnational fundraising campaigns of the FSLM that they organized basically to keep their economy going in the aftermath of the US embargo and basically to prevent the country from collapsing

      The US embargo. If the contra war and the CIA actions weren’t bad enough on the heels of the ESA 1984 electoral victory, the US government decides to turn up the heat even more.

      Our objectives will not be attained by goodwill and noble aspirations alone.

      On May 1st, 1985, Reagan declares Nicaragua a threat to national security and imposes a trade embargo or blockade on the country. The measure bans all imports and exports to and from Nicaragua and prohibits Nicaragua planes and boats from entering US ports. The United States had long been a top trading partner of Nicaragua. Despite sand Anisa efforts to increase trade with other countries, the embargo still hit hard, costing an estimated $50 million a year. Some parts for US manufactured goods became virtually impossible to acquire. In other words, when something broke down, it was hard to fix it. Factories stood idle while waiting for replacement parts similar US trade embargoes have long caused suffering. Most famously in Cuba and more recently in Venezuela, where I’ve reported on the impacts firsthand, the tactics have not changed nor have the goals in Nicaragua in the years after the start of the embargo, the economy shutters, inflation soars the blockade coupled with the war wreaks havoc on the economy. We’re waiting in line. There are no products. One middle-aged woman tells the camera in a documentary from the late 1980s, we’re dying of hunger and our money is worthless. It’s all worthless. She says,

      Our land is so fertile here. We should not be going hungry, says a man. But in the United States, they send dollars, so we kill each other, responds an elderly woman and then they take everything we have. William Robinson,

      You have to understand how difficult it was just to get eggs. There was shortages of everything. There’s shortages of toilet paper. There was shortages of all the basic food stuffs. Half of your day was struggling in the streets to figure out how you’re going to get food that night. How are you going if you ran out of gas, propane gas, there wasn’t necessarily, you can’t just run down to the store and get your gas tank filled up. You had to spend a day or two days negotiating and figuring out how you’re going to even get some more propane gas.

      Meanwhile, in the United States, this was happening.

      We hold these hearings because in the course of the conduct of the nation’s business, something went wrong. Seriously wrong

      That in a minute.

      Hey everyone, Maximilian Alvarez here, editor in chief of the Real News Network. We’re going to get you right back to the program in a sec, I promise. But really quick, I just wanted to remind y’all that the Real News is an independent viewer and listener supported grassroots media network. We don’t take corporate cash, we don’t have ads, and we never ever put our reporting behind paywalls, but we cannot continue to do this work without your support. It takes a lot of time, energy, and money to produce powerful, unique, and journalistically rigorous shows like Under the Shadow. So if you want more vital storytelling and reporting like this, we need you to become a supporter of The Real News now. Just head over to the real news.com/donate and donate today. It really makes a difference. Also, if you’re enjoying under the shadow, then you will definitely want to follow Nala. The North American Congress on Latin America, nala’s reporting and analysis goes beyond the headlines to help you understand what’s happening in Latin America and the Caribbean from a progressive perspective. Visit nla.org to learn more. That’s NA c.org. Alright, thanks for listening back to the show.

      I ran contra at the time. It was the biggest scandal to hit the US presidency since Richard Nixon’s Watergate the decade before, and I want to walk through it all because it’s complicated, but it’s also so important. Peter Koble is a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, but

      I really do think of us as forensic historians exhuming the Buried Secrets of State.

      The archive has done tremendous work on Iran Contra since the late 1980s. It has a treasure trove of declassified documents. Many are shocking. They paint a clear uncensored picture of the scandal and the US terror campaign in the region. National Security Archive staff have produced a number of books on the topic one, which Peter co-edited. I’ll include the links to them in the show notes.

      And you had an obsession with overthrowing the sun and government rolling back the Nicaragua Revolution that led directly to the Iran Contra scandal, which was at the time, and people have forgotten this, the most significant constitutional crisis for the US government. The Reagan administration had violated the basic sacrosanct foundation of the separation of powers, the power of the purse and Congress constitutionally controlled the power of the person. The Reagan administration basically circumvented that, lied about it and decided to fund its own foreign policy operations without Congress’s authority. Indeed going around Congress’s denial of authority for that covert paramilitary war to continue

      Be in order. Joint meeting will come, joint meeting will come to water.

      Remember that in 1983 and 1985, the US Congress explicitly prohibited the Reagan administration from providing financial support to the Contras. They did it anyway. Here’s how it went. In 1985, top officials in the Reagan administration began secretly selling weapons to Iran routed through Israel. It was illegal. The US government had imposed an arms embargo against Iran and designated the country a state sponsor of terrorism. Iran was desperate for weapons because it was at war with Iraq. The White House justified the armed shipments as part of an operation to free seven US hostages being held in Lebanon by Hezbollah, a militant group with ties to Iran. Alex Venia,

      What are they doing with the money that they’re making off these arm sales? Well, they’re funneling that money to pay for the contrast because officially the US government and the Reagan administration and his National Security Council White House could not give money to the contrasts. So they’re using these illicit economic gains from having sold weapons and missiles to the Iranians and transferring that to the contrasts. They’re also hitting up the SUL Brune. They’re hitting up this worldwide anti-communist network to also give them money so they can continue financing the contrasts to continue financing the atrocities that they’re committing in Ian fashion. In Nicaragua,

      October 5th, 1986, the San Anisa government shoots down a US cargo plane carrying weapons to the Contras former US Marine. Eugene SFUs is the sole survivor. He’s captured an interviewed by a US reporter.

      I feel I’m a prisoner of politics right now. Our government doing so many things and this government fighting back and I’m a boat in between stuck in the waves.

      Hassan Fuss has admitted the plane. He parachuted from carried military supplies to rebels trying to overthrow the government here. He said Pilot William Cooper who died in the crash, talked of high level sponsors.

      When an individual comes across and says, this is coming right out the main room that was said, that was said, what did that mean to you? I was coming right out of the White House.

      Hassan Fuss was tried and sentenced to prison in Nicaragua for terrorism, though he was pardoned and released a month later. Meanwhile, a Lebanese magazine fully breaks the Iran Contra story following a leak by a senior official of Iran’s Islamic revolutionary guard.

      And that blows up by 85 86 in the form of what now we remember as the Iran conscious scandal, which then leads to this infamous TV appearance by Ronald Reagan, which he says, I mean he lies to the American people. And to this day, I tell my students the fact that he wasn’t impeached for this. It is quite amazing that it did not happen.

      The charge has been made that the United States has shipped weapons to Iran as ransom payment for the release of American hostages in Lebanon, that the United States undercut its allies and secretly violated American policy against trafficking with terrorists. Those charges are utterly false.

      That was November 13th, 1986. Reagan’s approval rating tanks 20 points five months later he backpedals saying he still believes nothing was done wrong, but that the facts show differently. In May, 1987, the Iran Contra hearings begin on Capitol Hill.

      These hearings this morning and for the days to follow will examine what happens when the trust, which is the lubricant of our system, is breached by high officials of our government.

      The hearings last until August all summer long and they were a big thing. I was 10 at the time living on the outskirts of Washington dc but I remember them. I had a family member who studied law and he came into attend the trial. CNN covered it around the clock and it was the top story many nights in the evening News,

      Colonel North please rise

      Much of the congressional proceedings focused on one man, Colonel Oliver or Ollie North. That’s him being sworn in at the hearings. He wears a green military uniform with medals on his left chest. He’s clean shaven, short hair parted on the side. He’s a Vietnam vet and a US National Security Council staff member. He was the guy who basically ran the Iran Contra operation out of the White House. And as I mentioned in the first episode of this podcast, he was also the guy that my civics teacher wanted to bring into our class In the early 1990s, north was found to have shredded or hid important documents, but

      When he has to testify before Congress, he was kind of like the star of the show. He was great at deflecting, at lying, at presenting himself as a true believer, as a guy who without saying that he engaged in criminal activity, he pretty much said that we are right and we are using this for a noble cause, which is an amorphously defined freedom or democracy.

      Journalist Bill Moyers would later interview Senator John Kerry, then a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for an expose on the scandal.

      They were willing to literally put the constitution at risk because they believed somehow there was a higher order of things that the ends do in fact justify are justified by the means.

      Criminal trials dragged on against Oliver North and roughly a dozen other top officials in the Reagan administration, including national security advisors and members of the CIA and military. As we’ll see a little later, their outcomes be a sign of as independent counsel Lawrence Walsh put it, how powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office without consequences. Meanwhile, in Nicaragua the war, the inflation and the economic misery continued.

      The

      War was brutal. Says Marvin Ortega Rodriguez, a member of the Sandinistas who would go on to serve as Nicaragua ambassador to Brazil and Panama between 1961 and 1979, it’s estimated that approximately 60,000 people may have died in combat fighting to overthrow samosa and between 1980 and 1990, another 60,000 fell. He says every day you had more deaths, a daily violent bloodletting. He says when you go to cemeteries, their whole areas with graves painted red and black sand, Anisa colors, so many kids fell fighting and many people began to migrate to the United States. It’s estimated that 240,000 people arrived to the US at that time. We have traditionally low migration to the US at that time. It grew. He says, meanwhile, the United States rolled out a new form of foreign intervention. William Robinson did some of the first reporting on this in the early nineties.

      The 1990 elections are approaching the US massively begins internal political intervention in a new way spends millions of dollars. I think the figure I put in my 1992 book, a Faustian Bargain is a total of $25 million for a small country is incredible of funding all of this opposition, political opposition, which is going to organize and unite around a single slate, single candidate for the 1990 elections. So this new form of political intervention where you finance and organize a trade union, student groups, peasant groups, civic groups, political parties, and then unite, unite them all in a united front that was inaugurated that strategy in Nicaragua and then of course throughout the 1990s, and again, right up till date, that’s a strategy used around the world. Now

      Much of that funding came through the National Endowment for Democracy or NED, which was founded in 1983 to essentially do openly what the CIA used to do covertly,

      But it’s not just limited to the NED, there was all kinds of political funding. The NED was the spearhead and then of course there was the covert CIA political funding also continued.

      William Robinson says the 1990 election was technically free and fair, but in reality the vote was held under a gun.

      The United States placed a gun to the head of the Nicaragua and said, well now you see what we have done throughout the 1980s. We’ve destroyed your lives, we’ve shattered your hopes. We’ve made it impossible for any meaningful transformation in favor of you poor majority. And now if you want any respite, you are going to vote for this opposition that we’ve cobbled together for

      Alex Nia. There was no mistaking the message from Washington in the lead up to the elections

      By the time we get to was the elections in 1990. The US and the people that kept sending out Nicaragua were very clear either, do you guys want more war, vote for this Anas, do you want the end of war vote for Violeta Chamorro? And people were like tens of thousands of people had died in the country war. People were tired of war. And the surprising thing is the FSLM lost the election, but they accepted the loss, right? So that’s also, it went against this 10 years of propaganda that the Reagan administration and then George HW Bush had launched against the

      Opposition candidate Viol defeats President Daniel Ortega with almost 55% of the vote. It was a crushing defeat for SMO, but also a victory for Nicaragua democracy. It was the first time the government passed from one president to another peacefully through elections. The Sandinistas were also clear that the United States was not the only one to blame for their electoral laws. Marvin Ortega Rodriguez says at a conference at the University of Caras, Thomas Bo, one of the historic leaders of the FSLN was asked what led to San Anis mo’s electoral defeat? He said, we lost humility, we lost our modesty, we got cocky, we felt powerful, and we isolated ourselves from the people. William Robinson,

      The FSLM. The Sandinistas also made a lot of mistakes. We cannot glorify everything real human beings in struggle. Real mistakes made real abuses of power. The thing about the US Counter-revolutionary strategy, it was very intelligent in the sense that it knew how to exploit the mistakes made by the Sandinistas and how to coax them to make more and more mistakes. I just didn’t want to leave that out of the story here. One, because it has to be told, but secondly, because then those mistakes become part of the US strategy.

      One of those mistakes happened early on in mesquite indigenous communities along the Caribbean coast in December, 1981, the Sanda government resettled thousands of community members far from their homes. It was one example of a national revolutionary project that did not factor in indigenous autonomy and it fueled an ongoing latent historical conflict in Nicaragua that would broil between the government and these communities and more specifically the region’s two main indigenous resistance organizations. The United States took advantage. A 1986 report from us solidarity groups wrote that quote from time to time both received support from the US government’s covert war on Nicaragua. Some members of the communities joined the ranks of the Contras. The Sanda government tried to make things right in the end, it began peace negotiations. In 1987, the Nicaragua legislature approved autonomy for the mosquito people and their region, including the right to their traditional lands. Communities that had been resettled were allowed to return home.

      Given the clear mandate for peace and democracy, there is no reason at all for further military activity from any quarter

      Following the San ANDA’s defeat from the 1990 presidential election, president George HW Bush announced that the US was happy with the results and that he would lift the embargo and provide $300 million in new economic aid for the country. Nico’s new president Violeta Chamorro rolled out a pro US economic package.

      So what that represented was that the new government would definitively do away with the San Eastern Revolution, but would also inaugurate the neoliberal structural adjustment. The restoration not just of full capitalism but neoliberal capitalism in Nicaragua. With that political triumph, it will privatize everything that had been public. It will not just politically restore the old oli gargy back to power, but economically restore the strength of the Nicaragua bourgeoisie at a time when Nicaragua was going to integrate into these new circuits of global capitalism. And so that’s what this opposition and its triumph represented,

      But there was resistance, protests and strikes against the privatizations and austerity. Meanwhile, in the United States, the Iran conscious scandal trials languished,

      Did you or did you not shred documents that reflected presidential approval of the diversion

      In the trial against Oliver North. For instance, defense lawyers raised legal challenges over the release of classified information to hold up the trial and block the release of key information. The 14 charges against him were dropped down to a handful. He was eventually convicted of three counts, including aiding and ab embedding in the obstruction of a congressional inquiry and ordering the destruction of documents. But those convictions were vacated by a DC court in 1990 and then dismissed the following year.

      10 more people were also convicted, including national security advisors, John Poindexter and Robert McFarland and Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, who we heard about in the Honduras episode. Other top White House officials and members of the CIA and military were also convicted, but almost all were pardoned by outgoing President George HW Bush in 1992. He also pardoned former defense secretary Casper Weinberger before the case against him went to trial. You might remember that Bush ran the CIA in the 1970s before becoming Reagan’s vice president and eventually winning the presidency himself in 1988 during the Iran Contra scandal. Bush said he had no knowledge of the dealings.

      Weinberger’s notes contain evidence of a conspiracy among the highest ranking. Reagan administration officials,

      Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh, who led the investigation into the criminal conduct of the Reagan administration. Officials responded to Bush’s pardon before the press.

      President Bush’s pardon of Casper Weinberger and other Iran Contra defendants undermines the principle that no man is above the law. The Iran Contra coverup has continued for more than six years. It has now been completed with the pardon of Casper Weinberg,

      Alex Ignia.

      There’s a lot of controversial findings that should have resulted in more people being sent away and the fact that it wasn’t allows it to continue, right? So a lot of these things have never gone away. A failure to actually prosecute this and find out what totally happened, led to the reign of impunity and for it to become an even more systemic feature of us and empire, particularly in the global south.

      There was another lawsuit the United States ignored. Remember the CIA mining of the ports that I talked about in the start of today’s episode? Well, in the mid eighties, Nicaragua brought the United States to the International Court of Justice for violating international law by supporting the Contras and Mining Nicaragua’s Harbors. The ICJ is a branch of the United Nations and it’s the only international court that adjudicates disputes between countries, so it’s a big thing.

      Thank you, your Honor. Your honors have asked us to address

      This was the court that later heard the high profile genocide case against former Yugoslavian leader Slovic and

      The case before the court is an opportunity to break this vicious cycle.

      More recently, it’s the court that heard the case of Nicaragua against Germany for failing to prevent genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. But back in 1986, the court ruled in favor of Nicaragua. It ruled that the US had violated international law, violated the sovereignty of Nicaragua and used force against the country. It ordered the United States to make reparations to Nicaragua for all injury caused to the country. The United States just ignored it. Alex Ignia,

      They actually win the case. And what does the United States do? Well, they just say whatever the ICC or whatever the international court was, they don’t have an army. They can’t do anything to

      Us. This is not the first time nor the last that the United States would ignore international law. There’s someone I met during my most recent trip to Nicaragua in early 2024 that really brought the full impact of the US Contra war home for me. His name is Jose Francisco Artola.

      So I was near the border with Honduras, stopped for the night at a community recreation area. Jose was working as a janitor in the overnight guard. He was cleaning out the pool with one of those long nets. He wore a plaid shirt, boots, unlaced, a warm smile. What most struck me were his legs. He walked by kind of shuffling, limping from one to the other. His feet were turned inward. It’s called S or Club Foot. It’s a fairly common birth defect. About one in a thousand babies in the United States have it, and although almost no one in my life knows this, I was one of those babies. I was born with Club Foot two, Jose could have been me. The difference was I was born at a hospital in the United States, Northern Virginia, outskirts of dc. The doctors recognized the problem and took action. The solution isn’t really that hard. If you act quick, my legs were put into little casts for a few months. Apparently in more severe cases, patients may need additional casts, braces, or even surgery, but the birth defect is totally curable. Growing up, I played almost every sport there was. I run several days a week when I have time. You would never guess I was born with Clubfoot.

      Jose did not have this opportunity because he was born in the late 1980s in a Nicaragua that was under the weight of a US imposed economic and military war says when he was born, he was sent home with his family and that was that his father never took much of an interest in trying to find help for his legs. He says when he turned 18, he went to see a doctor, but at that point the doctor said there was nothing they could do. I was born in the most powerful country in the world, and he was born in the country that the United States was taking aim at. And this is just one small example of the US policies on Nicaragua in the 1980s that continue to take a toll. Ironically, Jose told me his dream today was to get to the United States. As I’ve mentioned throughout this series, that is the end result of US actions in Latin America, be it Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, or Venezuela today driving generation after generation of migrants in refugees toward the very place that caused the bulk of the hardships in their countries, the United States. I’ll be honest, I walked away from my conversation with Jose and had a really hard time composing myself. Who gets to live, who gets to die, who gets medical treatment, and who gets to go in search of the so-called American Dream? None of it should depend on a roll of the dice for where you’re born or the swipe of a pen in Washington.

      Interestingly, if Jose were born in Nicaragua today, he would probably be able to get treatment. In 2012, the country rolled out a national program to provide care similar to what I got for kids born with Clubfoot. And in fact, there’ve been many improvements in Nicaragua over the years.

      Before I arrived in Nicaragua last year, I wasn’t sure what to expect. News reports painted the image of a country in shambles when I visited. It was my first time there in 20 years, and I’ll be honest, I was surprised. The highways are better paved and more developed than almost anywhere else in Mexico and Central America. Healthcare and education are still free. Two decades ago when I was there, parts of the capital Managua were still rubble and dirt roads. Today the whole waterfront and downtown has been completely revamped with parks, museums, and a little waterpark that costs only a buck and a half to get in. Energy runs around the clock. That is not the way it was a couple of decades ago. Colleen Littlejohn is an economist and a solidarity activist who’s lived and worked in NUA since the 1980s.

      In 2006, there were 12 hour cuts in the energy every single day. I mean, it was really desperate.

      Not anymore. In the late two thousands, Colleen worked with the World Bank to bring in development projects like renewable energy.

      I remember bringing the vice president of the World Bank once. It must’ve been about 2007 or eight to see the first wind tower and it was on the ground. It hadn’t even been. I said, it is hard to show you a lot of things, but it’s happening. I said, you come back and now there’s hundreds if not thousands. It’s like 15% of the total electricity in the country, and we always talked in the eighties. In so movement, the threat of a good example

      More than three quarters of Nicaraguan energy today is from renewable sources.

      See, the FSLN won again in 2006. Daniel Ortega has been in power since. That is the elephant in the room here, and I want to touch on this for a second because depending on who you speak with, Ortega’s government is either an authoritarian dictatorship or carrying on the revolutionary legacy of the Sandinistas, and the reality is complicated. On the one hand, a substantial portion of the population is still as committed to the FSLN and CMO as it’s ever been. That’s clear. At concerts in Managua like this or on the streets, red and black send Anisa flags waving people selling Chera Hugo Chavez or Carlos Fonseca t-shirts. There’s this deep visceral connection with the past and pride in the revolution. They point to those tremendous steps forward in terms of development that I’ve mentioned as accomplishments of the present. But on the other hand, there have been government abuses, political prisoners, opposition candidates. In civil society organizations silenced hundreds of anti-government activists, academics and journalists have been forced into exile citizenship stripped for many. There’s an underlying sense of fear that they may be accused of being counter-revolutionaries,

      Viola’s protest.

      Much of this stems from the violence of 2018. Some people call that a dictatorship cracked down on democracy. Others say it was an attempted us back coup. And the truth is, there were huge peaceful protests. The government used excessive force. Protesters were killed, and violent opposition groups held the country hostage. They used terror tactics and killed innocent people. The fight over Nicaragua is vicious and it is complicated and generally onlookers abroad have lined up on one side or the other.

      It is so thick on so many levels.

      That’s Graham Russell. You’ve heard from him before in this series. He’s been involved in Central America work since the 1980s. He’s the founder and director of the Canadian Group Rights Action, which supports local communities in Guatemala and Honduras, often facing mining and resource extraction on their lands. And I think he has a really good analysis about why progressive solidarity activists and academics are so divided over Nicaragua.

      And I think it is actually been a very successful story of propaganda and demonization, and none of this is a defense of every single thing Ortega has ever done or his wife or even the government itself, but it’s sort of like a repetitive playbook.

      Graham says, there are many cases where we’ve seen divisions over countries in Latin America that are trying to step out from under the shadow of the United States, Cuba under Fidel, Venezuela under Chavez, and now Maduro Morales in Bolivia, risid in Haiti, and of course Ortega in Nicaragua.

      These are the cases that create sort of real fissures in the So-called more progressive sectors, and I think the fault line is imperialism alive and well today. And does imperialism colonialism and settler colonialism, does it characterize everything that’s going from the past? Does it characterize everything that’s going on today?

      This is important. This entire podcast looks at the history and legacy of US imperialism and intervention in the region. Graham’s point is this. Can you see and criticize policies and actions of the Nicaraguan government today as disconnected from the 200 years of US intervention and the ongoing role of the United States, or do you take into account all of that? This for Graham is the guiding question, and I think that’s a helpful analysis.

      This is not reducing all of Nicaragua’s ills to the US or Canada or the OAS or whatever, not at all. It’s always a local to national to global issue. But in the measure that any North American government, official, mainstream media, alternative media, donor, funder, whoever in the measure that we do not fundamentally address at all times, what is the role of our government’s past and present? What is the role of our company’s past and present? What is the role of the OAS dominated by the US past and present? What is the role of the World Bank in the Inter-American Development Bank, past and present, dominated by the US in the measure that we do not address all of these at the same time that we’re throwing stones at Ortega individually or particular policies of his government, then we are participating in censorship. We are absolutely covering up our contribution to the role, to the issues, and it becomes morally and ethically really complicated because that’s our responsibility.

      Now, look, Graham’s not trying to say that everything that happens in Nicaragua today is because of the United States, but he’s saying that we forget the United States. We can’t leave it out of the equation. Its role historically and its role today. As I’ve mentioned so often in this podcast, the past is never far behind, particularly when that past caused so much harm, so much bloodshed across the region in Nicaragua, the legacy of the Contra War and the brutal US sanctions that destroyed the nation. Well, they left wounds, deep wounds, and they have an impact on the present and on current policies.

      They do not want to be under the boot of the us. That in my view, is their great crime. And it is absolutely independent of whether Ortega has committed this crime or not. Whether he and his wife have scored extra money or not, or stolen extra money or not. Because what’s going on in Nicaragua, as in Guatemala, as in Honduras, as in Salvador, they should be assessed and judged on their government programs for the wellbeing of the majority of their populations. And they’re all living under the shadow of the us. They’ve all been under the boot of the us, and that is a heavy boot

      In the lead up to the 2018 violence. The US funneled millions of dollars into opposition groups through USAID and NED US officials have consistently condemned Nicaragua and they even blocked it from attending the Summit of the Americas in 2022.

      Now, none of this compares to the US onslaught of the 1980s, but it shows that the United States hasn’t taken its finger off the trigger. And here’s the thing, the US frames all of this as denouncing Nicaragua in the name of democracy and human rights, but the United States doesn’t really care about those things as we have seen throughout this podcast. Remember Honduras Post 2009, we talked about it at length in episode seven, the US openly embraced fraudulent elections and a violent narco dictatorship and said nothing. Why? Because the leaders of the coup government were open for business Washington allies. Meanwhile, the United States has levied sanctions on Nicaragua

      And welcome our top story of this hour. The United States has imposed an entry ban on Nicaragua and President Daniel Ortega, his vice president wife and his government.

      Now, this is not the crippling economic embargo of the 1980s. In fact, the US remains Nicaragua’s top trading partner. The sanctions are focused on top officials of the Ortega government as well as gold companies, Nicaragua’s top export. But even the most minor sanctions are illegal in international law and they have an impact. And some of this stuff has been rolled out just in the last couple of weeks. Bills are even moving through Congress in Washington to try and remove the country from the Central American Free trade agreement. Block loans prohibit US investment in Nicaragua and ban us imports of Nicaragua beef and coffee. Solidarity activists visited Capitol Hill in mid-May to ask their congressional representatives not to proceed with the bills.

      As people in the United States, we have a responsibility to stop our government from these retaliatory and illegal actions that it’s taking to try to harm the people, particularly the most vulnerable of Nicaragua. It’s atrocious and we don’t support

      It. The timing of these steps in Washington is not by accident. They come in the wake of Nicaragua taking Germany to the International Court of Justice for aiding in genocide by continuing to supply weapons to Israel for its onslaught against Palestinians in Gaza.

      Don’t punish the countries in the world that support Gaza.

      And speaking of Gaza, you may have noticed there is this tremendous Palestine solidarity movement rippling over the United States and the world

      Have all the

      Power across college campuses nationwide. Another tense day, as more universities crack down on pro-Palestinian protests ahead of graduations.

      The pro-Palestine protests on college campuses in the United States have been compared to the anti-war movement of the 1960s. But there’s another forebearer as well. Nicaragua Solidarity, 1980s. I asked Professor William Robinson about this when we spoke recently. He almost had to cancel our interview because of the actions taking place at his university, uc, Santa Barbara, and literally right now, there are occupations on your campus. Is Palestine, is this like the Nicaragua of

      2020? You hit the nail the head. Yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Thank you so much for bringing us there, because right now, worldwide, the eyes are on Palestine. It’s the first genocide of the 21st century, and so much is at stake and the people of the world and us, both revolutionaries, but simply humanity, people that just love humanity and want to protect it are saying this is the frontline of the defense of humanity. Worldwide Palestine right now is what Nicaragua was in the 1980s is what Vietnam was in the 1960s. So much is at stake in the defense of Palestinian lives right now.

      So much that is all for this episode of Under the Shadow. Next time we head to Costa Rica because it was at this very site that the then President symbolically knocked off a chip of the barracks and he declared the end of the Costa Rican army in the military to a country without a standing army, to the attempts for peace in the region and the US attempts to undermine the movement for change in Central America, even there. That is next on Under The Shadow.

      Just a few things to say before I go. First, I’ve added links to the National Security Archives, the documentary American Sanda, Elena Van Oman’s book, Nicaragua Must Survive, and other sources I’ve mentioned in this episode. You can find all that in the show notes. Second, the new album for my band, Monte Perdido is finally out on Spotify or wherever you stream music. It was just released a week ago. It’s called Renda Offering. We wrote it for our former guitarist, Pedro Benet, who died in a free diving accident in Mexico 10 years ago. It includes the theme songs to both Under The Shadow and My 2022 Podcast, Brazil on Fire. The song you’re hearing right now is the third song on the album A. The link is also in the show notes. Please check it out, like it, follow it, and share it with a friend. Finally, if you like what you hear, please check out my Patreon page, patreon.com/m OX. I’m constantly updating it with exclusive music, photos, interviews, and background of all these episodes. You can also support my work there. Become a monthly sustainer or sign up to stay abreast of all. The latest on this podcast and my other reporting across Latin America. Under the Shadow is a co-production in partnership with The Real News and Nala. The theme music is by my band Monte Perdido. This is Michael Fox. Many thanks. See you next time.

      This post was originally published on The Real News Network.

    2. Unfavourable weather conditions, technical malfunction, sabotage: the crash of the Bell 212 helicopter with the president of Iran Ebrahim Raisi on board continues to be a focal point of discussion on the Middle East agenda. But what is the reality of what happened? And is a theory of US involvement legitimate?

      Raisi: what we know so far

      The preliminary report issued by the general staff of the Iranian Armed Forces which was supposed to clarify the circumstances of the tragic event, did not put an end to the speculations.

      Although the document explicitly states that no impact of bullets or other striking elements was found on the remains of the aircraft, the idea that the presidential helicopter was sabotaged remains on the list of the possible explanations.

      However, officials, even Iranians themselves, take great effort to abstain from any statements that could encourage the supporters of this theory.

      Perhaps, former Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif came the closest to a real accusation: he said that the US is responsible for the crash, but only in the sense that Iran is subjected to US sanctions prohibiting sale of aircraft and technologies.

      Judging by Zarif’s words, even in their accusations directed to the US Iranian officials actually consider technical malfunction of a decades old helicopter to be the reason of the incident.

      Amazingly, Western officials, experts, and media don’t voice any substantial objections. Spokesman of the State Department Matthew Miller stated that Iran often uses its aircraft well beyond the lifespan due to the punitive measures against the country. Washington does not plan to cancel the sanctions, he added.

      Miller’s remarks were followed by multiple articles in the US media. The technical malfunction theory was embraced and promoted by the Washington Post, Forbes, Bloomberg, and other publications. Bell Tech corporation, the manufacturer of the crashed helicopter, insisted it had no working relations with Iran as well.

      It is the technical malfunction theory, that has apparently become the main lead, solid? We’ll try to look into it by working with the available data.

      Technical malfunction? Weather?

      On 19 May, Ebrahim Raisi and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliev took part in an inauguration of a dam on the Araks river at the Iran-Azerbaijan border. After the ceremony Raisi, foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and Tebriz imam Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem set for Tebriz.

      All of them went aboard of the same Bell 212, although there were three aircrafts available. They flew over a mountainous region of the Iranian Eastern Azerbaijan province. Two helicopters arrived safely to their destination, but the president’s aircraft lost radio contact.

      After hours of search and rescue operation that was joined by Turkish UAVs and specialists at the request of the Iranians, the emergency responders located the crash site. All passengers, including imam al-Hashem, who had previously managed to respond to a number of phone calls, were found dead.

      It should be noted that Raisi initially planned to visit Armenia that day, while Amir-Abdollahian was to inaugurate the dam with Azerbaijan’s Aliev, but the plan had been changed because of diplomatic protocol.

      Poor weather conditions were cited as the initial reason for the crash. Indeed, in the first few hours after the presidential helicopter went off the radar local media reported about an extremely heavy fog in the area.

      Back then it was speculated that the pilot could have failed to evade obstruction due to low visibility or simply made an emergency landing in accordance with safety regulations. Experts on aviation later stressed that the pilot even had the right to refuse to take off in such weather conditions.

      Iran: elements of doubt

      However, Golamhossein Esmaili, presidential chief of staff who was aboard another helicopter, explained to the Iranian media that the weather conditions were actually not so unfavorable as it might have seemed.

      There was no fog. Maybe in the ravines there was fog, but there was no fog on our flight route. Clouds were slightly above the helicopter.

      There were three helicopters flying the same route. Could it mean that none of the pilots believed the fog to be a risk? Or they decided to shrug it off, as well as the regulation that prohibits multiple high-ranking officials from boarding the same aircraft?

      This strange chain of coincidences provided a fertile ground for another theory: the president of Iran was assassinated and became a victim of an internal power struggle. Turkish experts point out that Raisi was believed to eventually succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the supreme ruler. After his demise, the list of contestants is down to Khamenei’s son Mojtaba and the speaker of parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

      Casting internal conflicts aside, it could be that Raisi’s death was orchestrated by external actors.

      Israel and the US

      Both Israel and the US are in confrontation with Iran. They are also allies with Azerbaijan, providing them with motive as well as capability to strike out at the Iranian leader.

      At this point it would be premature to accuse Israel. After the recent escalation between Tel-Aviv and Tehran they reached a fragile balance, one that Israel is keen to secure as it continues its military operation in the Gaza Strip. ‘

      This is why the Israeli media just hours after the first reports of the helicopter disappearance hurriedly announced that Israel is not responsible for the incident. Or, perhaps, it was not a statement of denial, but a hint: we didn’t do it, but we know who did.

      The US chose another tactic: instead of denials they came up with a fully-fledged theory – technical malfunction – which returns us to the cynical statement by Matthew Miller: yes, the helicopter of the Iranian president crashed because of US sanctions, but the Iranians are to blame.

      Could it be that Washington bears not circumstantial but rather direct responsibility for the incident?

      Iran-Raisi crash: we won’t know yet

      There are some arguments in favour of this theory: US special services could have easily reached out to the aircraft manufacturer to establish weak points of the helicopter and select an appropriate way to attack them.

      The conclusion about the absence of bullet impact made by the Iranian general staff adds to the possibility that the helicopter was sabotage by other means to cover the tracks.

      What were these means, and who used them – this is what the investigation must establish.

      Featured image via CEPA

      By Hakan Demir

      This post was originally published on Canary.

    3. Iranian hip-hop artist Toomaj Salehi, Uyghur poet and activist Tahir Hamut Izgil, and Venezuelan pianist and recording artist Gabriela Montero.

      On 22 May 2024) The Human Rights Foundation announced the recipients of the 2024 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent: Iranian hip-hop artist Toomaj Salehi, Uyghur poet and activist Tahir Hamut Izgil, and Venezuelan pianist and recording artist Gabriela Montero.

      “Their work stands as a testament to extraordinary bravery and ingenuity,” HRF Founder Thor Halvorssen said. This year’s laureates will be recognized during a ceremony on Tuesday, June 4, at the 2024 Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) in Oslo, Norway. Montero will be performing the European and Scandinavian premiere of “Canaima: A Quintet for Piano and Strings” at the Oslo Konserthus.
      The Havel Prize ceremony will also be broadcast live at oslofreedomforum.com.

      Toomaj Salehi is an Iranian hip-hop artist known for lyrics protesting the Iranian regime and calling for human rights. In September 2022, at the height of the nationwide “Women, Life, Freedom” protests, Salehi released several songs supporting women’s rights. One song, “Divination,” with the lyrics, “Someone’s crime was that her hair was flowing in the wind. Someone’s crime is that he or she was brave and…outspoken,” grew in popularity and was sung throughout the protests. Salehi was first arrested in October 2022 and was released on bail in November 2023 after the Iranian Supreme Court overturned his charges of “corruption on Earth,” “propaganda against the system,” “collaboration with a hostile government,” “inciting people to murder and riot,” and “insulting the leadership.” On November 27, 2023, he posted a YouTube video describing the torture and forced confession he experienced during his detention. Three days later, armed plain-clothes agents abducted Salehi. He was subsequently charged in two trials. On April 24, the Isfahan Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death.

      Tahir Hamut Izgil is a prominent Uyghur poet, filmmaker, and activist. He is known for his avant-garde poetry, written in Uyghur and influenced by Uyghur life. Originally from Kashgar, Izgil led the 1989 student movement at the Central Nationalities Institute in Beijing. In the late 1990s, he was arrested on charges related to the possession of sensitive literature, leading to a three-year sentence in forced labor camps. He is among the few Uyghur intellectuals who successfully escaped the region in 2017.Izgil’s new memoir, “Waiting to Be Arrested at Night: A Uyghur Poet’s Memoir of China’s Genocide,” documents his journey living in and escaping the Uyghur Region, sharing a rare testimony of the Uyghur genocide with the broader world. His book has been listed as one of the “50 notable works of nonfiction” by The Washington Post and as one of the “10 0 Must-Read Books of 2023” by Time Magazine

      Gabriela Montero is a Grammy Award-winning Venezuelan pianist and recording artist. Celebrated for her exceptional musicality and ability to improvise, Montero has garnered critical acclaim and a devoted following on the world stage. Montero’s recent highlights include her first orchestral composition, “Ex Patria,” a tone poem that grew from the human rights struggle in Montero’s native Venezuela. The piece powerfully illustrates and protests Venezuela’s descent into lawlessness, corruption, and violence, winning her first Latin Grammy® for Best Classical Album.Montero is a committed human rights advocate, using her gifts of composition and improvisation as tools of creative dissent. In 2015, she was named an Honorary Consul by Amnesty International. Montero was awarded the 2012 Rockefeller Award for her contribution to the arts and was a featured performer at Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Inauguration. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/15/venezuelan-pianist-gabriela-montero-wins-the-2018-beethoven-prize/]

      For more on this Havel Prize and its laureates, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/438F3F5D-2CC8-914C-E104-CE20A25F0726

      https://mailchi.mp/hrf.org/announcing-the-2024-havel-prize-laureates?e=f80cec329e

      This post was originally published on Hans Thoolen on Human Rights Defenders and their awards.


    4. This content originally appeared on Human Rights Watch and was authored by Human Rights Watch.

      This post was originally published on Radio Free.

    5. Initial investigation by rescue group finds ageing aircraft either did not have transponder fitted or had it turned off

      The helicopter that crashed killing the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, and the foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, either did not have a transponder fitted or had it turned off, according to an initial investigation by the Turkish rescue group that found the wreckage.

      The Turkish transport minister, Abdulkadir Uraloğlu, told reporters that on hearing news of the crash, Turkish authorities had checked for a signal from the helicopter’s transponder that broadcasts height and location information. “But unfortunately, [we think] most likely the transponder system was turned off or that the helicopter did not have one,” he said.

      Continue reading…

      This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.


    6. This content originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and was authored by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

      This post was originally published on Radio Free.

    7. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian were killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash along with several other officials and crew. Wreckage of the helicopter was found early Monday in a mountainous region of the country’s northwest following an overnight search in blizzard conditions. Raisi was returning from inaugurating a new dam built jointly with Azerbaijan…

      Source

      This post was originally published on Latest – Truthout.

    8. Ruthless prosecutor behind thousands of executions who rose through the theocratic ranks to become the president of Iran

      The career of Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, who has been killed in a helicopter crash aged 63, was defined by violent events. His initiation into politics was triggered by the 1979 Iranian revolution, one of the most cataclysmic and epoch-shaping events of the late 20th century, which unfolded with headline-grabbing drama as Raisi was just turning 18.

      Given the heady fervour of that revolutionary period, with daily mass street demonstrations eventually leading to the toppling of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the country’s once seemingly invincible western-allied monarch, followed by the return from exile of the messianic cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to ecstatic acclaim, it is perhaps no surprise that a militant, impressionable young activist was sucked into the political system that took shape in the aftermath, was moulded by it – and later participated in some of its more unsavoury actions.

      Continue reading…

      This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

    9. Seg1 tritaandcrash

      Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian were killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash along with several other officials and crew. Wreckage of the helicopter was found early Monday in a mountainous region of the country’s northwest following an overnight search in blizzard conditions. Raisi was returning from inaugurating a new dam built jointly with Azerbaijan along the two countries’ border. Raisi, 63, was elected in 2021 in a vote that saw the lowest-percentage turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history after major opposition candidates were disqualified from taking part. Analyst Trita Parsi says the president’s death will have little impact on the Islamic Republic’s policies, including barring dissident candidates from running for office. “Now the regime is going to have to try to whip up and mobilize voters and excitement for an election within 50 days,” he says. “And it has to make a decision: Is it actually going to allow other candidates to stand, or is it going to continue on the path that it has set out for itself in which these elections increasingly become rather meaningless in terms of actual democratic value?”


      This content originally appeared on Democracy Now! and was authored by Democracy Now!.

      This post was originally published on Radio Free.

    10. Hunger strikes at detention centres as asylum seekers get ‘no answers’ from Home Office and fear removal on Gatwick or Heathrow flights

      Protests and hunger strikes among asylum seekers held in detention centres in preparation for deportation to Rwanda are increasing, the Guardian has learned.

      Approximately 55 detainees, including Afghans, Iranians and Kurds, are believed to have staged a 10-hour peaceful protest in the exercise yard at Brook House immigration removal centre, near Gatwick airport from 6pm Tuesday until 4am Wednesday.

      Continue reading…

      This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

    11. Making a rare appearance at an international defence show, the Iranian Ministry of Defence is showcasing a wide variety of weapons, ranging from long-range cruise missiles through ground-based air defence systems to UAVs. In the last category, there are models of two Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) platforms. They are both equipped for ISR and […]

      The post Iran Displays Large Range of Weapons at DSA appeared first on Asian Military Review.

      This post was originally published on Asian Military Review.

    12. Authoritarian governments are extending their pursuit of critics far beyond their borders

      Forty-five years ago, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was killed in London with a poison-tipped umbrella as he made his way home from work. The horrifying case transfixed the British public.

      So transnational repression is not new, including on British shores. But unless its target is unusually high-profile, or it uses startling tactics such as those employed by Markov’s killers – or in the attempt to assassinate Sergei Skripal – much of it passes with minimal attention.

      Continue reading…

      This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.

    13. Washington, D.C., April 30, 2024—Iranian authorities must immediately release journalist Parisa Salehi from prison and cease jailing members of the press for doing their jobs by reporting on events of public interest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday. 

      On January 24, Judge Asef Al-Hosseini, in Branch one of Karaj Revolutionary Court, sentenced Parisa Salehi, an economics reporter for the state-run financial newspaper Donya-e-Eqtesad, to one year in prison, a two-year ban on leaving the country, two years of internal exile, and a two-year ban on social media use, after convicting her on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” in connection with her reporting, though no specific report was mentioned at the time, according to her post on X, formerly Twitter, and a report by Iran International.

      Salehi’s prison sentence was later reduced by an appeals court to five months, but the other sentences were upheld, according to news reports

      On April 21, Salehi received a summons requiring her to surrender  to prison authorities within five days, the exiled-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported.

      “Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist Parisa Salehi and cease the practice of arbitrarily locking up members of the press without revealing any credible information about their alleged charges,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “The lack of transparency about Salehi’s case risks a chilling effect on newsgathering in the country and questions the judiciary’s due process.” 

      Salehi was arrested on April 28 and was immediately transferred to Karaj’s Kaju’i prison to serve her five-month prison sentence according to a post by her sister Parinaz Salehi on X, formerly Twitter. 

      CPJ’s email to Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York requesting comment on Salehi’s arrest and imprisonment did not receive any reply.


      This content originally appeared on Committee to Protect Journalists and was authored by Committee to Protect Journalists.

      This post was originally published on Radio Free.

    14. In fall 2022, they were on the streets of Tehran facing down Iranian riot police. Chanting “Woman, Life, Freedom,” their voices captured the world’s attention — until their friends were shot, loved ones arrested, and they were forced to run for their lives. Less than two years later, those same protesters now face a very different kind of danger. Having survived waves of domestic repression…

      Source

      This post was originally published on Latest – Truthout.

    15. Tourists visiting Spanish cities like Córdoba, Toledo and Sevilla have the option of whiling away an hour or so at a ‘Museum of the Inquisition’, sometimes known as a ‘Gallery of Torture’. For around three euros, visitors can view an exotic range of devices used to impale, immolate, strangle and dismember human beings in the name of God.

      It’s tempting to reassure ourselves that these are relics of a far-distant past, horrors that could never happen now. But did the Dark Ages ever really end? Noam Chomsky commented:

      ‘Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support. For a good reason – they don’t have wealth, they don’t have power. So they don’t have rights. It’s the way the world works – your rights correspond to your power and your wealth.’

      It is indeed the way the world works. It is also the way the medieval world worked. UK Foreign Secretary, Lord David Cameron (Baron Cameron of Chipping Norton), recently passed judgment on the war in Ukraine at a Washington press conference:

      ‘It is extremely good value for money… Almost half of Russia’s pre-war military equipment has been destroyed without the loss of a single American life. This is an investment in the United States’ security.’

      According even to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, 31,000 Ukrainians have been killed in the conflict. US officials estimate 70,000 dead, while Russia claims to have killed 444,000. Are these deaths ‘good value for money’?

      And what about the 50,000 Russians estimated by the BBC to have died? Do they matter? After all, European civilisation is supposed to be founded on Christ’s teaching that we should love, not just our ‘neighbour’ but our ‘enemy’. On Britain’s Channel 5, BBC stalwart Jeremy Vine offered a different view to Bill, a caller from Manchester:

      ‘Bill, Bill, the brutal reality is, if you put on a uniform for Putin and you go and fight his war, you probably deserve to die, don’t you?’

      Elsewhere, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, commented after Iran retaliated to Israel’s bombing of an Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, killing 16 people, including two senior Iranian generals:

      ‘The attacks on Israel by Iran this weekend were wrong. They risked civilian lives and they escalated the already dangerous tensions in the region. I pray for the peace and security of Israel’s people at this time and I appeal to all parties both for restraint and to act for peace and mutual security.’ (Our emphasis)

      If Christ had done political commentary, he would have declared both the Iranian and Israeli attacks wrong, and he would have prayed ‘for the peace and security’ of the peoples of Israel and Iran, and also Palestine.

      Cameron responded on the same issue:

      ‘[It was] a reckless and dangerous thing for Iran to have done, and I think the whole world can see. All these countries that have somehow wondered, well, you know, what is the true nature of Iran? It’s there in black and white.”

      He was immediately asked: ‘What would Britain do if a hostile nation flattened one of our consulates?’

      Cameron’s tragicomic response:

      ‘Well, we would take, you know, we would take very strong action.’

      Naturally, ‘we’ would do the same or worse, but it’s a grim sign of Iran’s ‘true nature’ when ‘they’ do it. The ‘Evil’ have no right even to defend themselves when attacked by the ‘Good’. Standard medieval thinking.

      ‘Murderous’ And ‘Brutal’ – Tilting The Language

      In idle moments, we sometimes fantasise about opening our own Media Lens Chamber of Propaganda Horrors, a Hall of Media Infamy. It would be a cavernous space packed with examples of devices used to strangle and dismember Truth.

      A special section would be reserved for the sage effusions of BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, who wrote recently of Israel:

      ‘It responded to the murderous Hamas-led attacks of 7 October… and then spent the next six months battering the Gaza Strip.’

      The Hamas attack was ‘murderous’, then, with Israel administering a mere ‘battering’ with its attack that has caused at least 30 times the loss of life. A ‘battering’ is generally bruising but not necessarily fatal. The term is certainly not synonymous with genocide. Is this biased use of language accidental, or systemic?

      Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) commented on their careful study of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal:

      ‘Looking at all attributions, 77% of the time when the word “brutal” was used to describe an actor in the conflict, it referred to Palestinians and their actions. This was 73% of the time at the Times, 78% at the Post and 87% at the Journal. Only 23% of the time was “brutal” used to describe Israel’s actions…’

      The Intercept reported on a leaked memo which revealed that the New York Times had ‘instructed journalists covering Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip to restrict the use of the terms “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” and to “avoid” using the phrase “occupied territory” when describing Palestinian land’. The Intercept added:

      ‘The memo also instructs reporters not to use the word Palestine “except in very rare cases” and to steer clear of the term “refugee camps” to describe areas of Gaza historically settled by displaced Palestinians expelled from other parts of Palestine during previous Israeli–Arab wars. The areas are recognized by the United Nations as refugee camps and house hundreds of thousands of registered refugees.’

      The memo was written by Times standards editor Susan Wessling, international editor Philip Pan, and their deputies. A Times newsroom source, who requested anonymity ‘for fear of reprisal’, said:

      ‘I think it’s the kind of thing that looks professional and logical if you have no knowledge of the historical context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But if you do know, it will be clear how apologetic it is to Israel.’

      Our Chamber of Propaganda Horrors might feature this barely believable sentence from a BBC report by Lucy Williamson, which reads like something from the film ‘Dr. Strangelove’:

      ‘If you wanted to map the path to a healthy, functioning Palestinian government, you probably wouldn’t start from here.’

      Probably wouldn’t start from where? From the middle of a six-months genocide, with two million civilians starving, with children literally starving to death, with tens of thousands of children murdered, with Gaza in ruins? It is hard to imagine a more ethically or intellectually tone-deaf observation. The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen added to the sense of surreality:

      ‘The decision not to veto the Ramadan ceasefire resolution is also an attempt by the Americans to push back at accusations that they have enabled Israel’s actions.’

      Is it an ‘accusation’ that the US has supplied billions of dollars of missiles and bombs without which Israel could not conduct its genocide? Is there any conceivable way the US could ever ‘push back at’ that unarguable fact? The Guardian described how the US has worked hard to avoid Congressional oversight:

      ‘The US is reported to have made more than 100 weapons sales to Israel, including thousands of bombs, since the start of the war in Gaza, but the deliveries escaped congressional oversight because each transaction was under the dollar amount requiring approval.

      ‘The Biden administration… has kept up a quiet but substantial flow of munitions to help replace the tens of thousands of bombs Israel has dropped on the tiny coastal strip, making it one of the most intense bombing campaigns in military history.’

      These hidden sales are in addition to the $320m in precision bomb kits sold in November and 14,000 tank shells costing $106m and $147.5m of fuses and other components needed to make 155mm artillery shells in December.

      In response to the latest news of a massive additional supply of arms to Israel, Edward Snowden posted on X:

      ‘ok but you’re definitely gonna hold off on sending like fifteen billion dollars’ worth of weapons to the guys that keep getting caught filling mass graves with kids until an independent international investigation is completed, right?

      ‘…right?’

      Because we no longer live in the Dark Ages, right?

      Waiting For The Hiroshima Bombing Scene

      People are generally not tortured on the rack in Western societies, but are we really any less callous?

      Christopher Nolan’s film ‘Oppenheimer’ has been lauded to the skies. It earned 13 nominations at the Academy Awards, winning seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. It also won five Golden Globe Awards.

      And yet the film is a moral disgrace. It focuses on the life of physicist Robert J. Oppenheimer, and particularly, of course, on his key role in developing the first atomic weapons. The direct results of his efforts were the dropping of nuclear fireballs on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan that killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people.

      These were the first acts of nuclear terrorism, by far the greatest single acts of terrorism the world has ever seen. Although the moral doubts haunting the ‘Manhattan Project’ then and since feature strongly in the film, a portrayal of the hideous impact of Oppenheimer’s invention on civilians is almost completely absent. This single, dignified comment from an elderly Japanese viewer reported by the Guardian says it all:

      ‘“I was waiting for the Hiroshima bombing scene to appear, but it never did,” said Mimaki, 82.’

      Although the BBC sought out the opinion of cinemagoers in Hiroshima, ‘only meters away’ from where the bomb exploded, the film’s shocking moral failure was not mentioned.

      On reflection, our museum might be better called, The Museum Of Media Madness. Thus, the BBC reported on the refusal of event organisers, The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), to ban Israel from the Eurovision Song Contest. The EBU opined:

      ‘We firmly believe that the Eurovision Song Contest is a platform that should always transcend politics, promote togetherness and bring audiences together across the world.’

      The BBC claims to be obsessed with reporting ‘both sides of the story’, but it conveniently forgot to mention that Russia has been banned from the song contest since 2022 for a reason that did not ‘transcend politics’ – its invasion of Ukraine.

      Martin Österdahl, EBU’s executive supervisor for Eurovision, was asked to explain the contradiction. He responded that the two situations were ‘completely different’. True enough – Israel’s crimes in Gaza are much worse even than Russia’s crimes in Ukraine. Österdahl’s casual brush off:

      ‘We are not the arena to solve a Middle East conflict.’

      Media and political voices seeking to challenge the reigning brutality are not burned alive, but they are buried alive in high security prisons like Julian Assange, beaten up on the street like George Galloway, and forced into exile like Edward Snowden. Dissidents may not be pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables in the stocks, but they are pelted with relentless media attacks intended to discredit them.

      In the Guardian, John Crace greeted the news that Galloway had returned to parliament, with a piece titled:

      ‘The Ego has landed: George Galloway basks in his swearing in as MP’

      Crace wrote:

      ‘Wherever he goes, his giant ego is there before him. Like most narcissists, the only fool for whom he makes allowances – for whom he has a total blindspot – is himself.’

      He added:

      ‘… there is a lot about Galloway to dislike. His self-importance is breathtaking. Most MPs suffer from an excess of self-regard, but George is off the scale. It has never crossed his mind that he is not right about everything.’

      Before Galloway’s victory, a Guardian news piece commented:

      ‘“A total, total disaster”: Galloway and Danczuk line up for Rochdale push – Two former Labour MPs are back to haunt the party in what has been called “the most radioactive byelection in living memory”’

      As we have discussed many times, this is the required view, not just of Galloway, but of all dissidents challenging the status quo – they (and we) are all toxic ‘narcissists’. Thus, the BBC observed of Galloway, a ‘political maverick’:

      ‘To his critics and opponents, he is a dangerous egotist, someone who arouses division.’

      What percentage of Tory and Labour MPs under (and including) Sunak and Starmer are not dangerous egotists? Are the thousands of MPs who, decade after decade, line up to vote for US-UK resource wars of aggression of first resort, for action to exacerbate climate collapse, not dangerous egotists?  Of course they are, but they are not labelled that way. The only egotism perceived as ‘dangerous’ by our state-corporate media system is one that threatens biocidal, genocidal and suicidal state-corporate narcissism.

      We have to travel far from the ‘mainstream’ to read a more balanced view of Galloway. Former British ambassador Craig Murray commented:

      ‘I have known George Galloway my entire adult life, although we largely lost touch in the middle bit while I was off diplomating. I know George too well to mistake him for Jesus Christ, but he has been on the right side against appalling wars which the entire political class has cheer-led. His natural gifts of mellifluence and loquacity are unsurpassed, with an added talent for punchy phrase making.

      ‘… But outwith the public gaze George is humorous, kind and self-aware. He has been deeply involved in politics his entire life, and is a great believer in the democratic process as the ultimate way by which the working classes will ultimately take control of the means of production. He is a very old-fashioned and courteous form of socialist.’

      We strongly disagree with Galloway’s views on fossil fuel production and climate change – in fact, he blocked us on X for robustly but politely challenging him on these issues. Nevertheless, it is clear to us that Murray’s view of Galloway is far more reasonable.

      Neon-Lit Dark Age

      In ‘Brave New World Revisited’, Aldous Huxley wrote:

      ‘The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free.’ (Huxley, ‘Brave New World Revisited’, archive.org, 1958, p.109)

      This is certainly true of corporate journalists. Borrowing illiberally from authentically dissident media, a recurring Guardian appeal asks readers to support its heroic defence of Truth. The declared enemy:

      ‘Teams of lawyers from the rich and powerful trying to stop us publishing stories they don’t want you to see.

      ‘Lobby groups with opaque funding who are determined to undermine facts about the climate emergency and other established science.

      ‘Authoritarian states with no regard for the freedom of the press.

      ‘Bad actors spreading disinformation online to undermine democracy.

      ‘But we have something powerful on our side.

      ‘We’ve got you.

      ‘The Guardian is funded by its readers and the only person who decides what we publish is our editor.’

      They have indeed ‘got you’, many of you, and not in a good way. The real threat to truth in our time, quite obviously, is the fact that profit-maximising, ad-dependent corporate media like the Guardian cannot and will not report the truth of a world dominated by giant corporations. The declared aspiration is a sham, a form of niche marketing exploiting the gullible.

      The truth is that ‘mainstream’ media and politics are now captured in a way that is beyond anything we have previously seen. All around the world, political choices have been carefully fixed and filtered to ensure ordinary people are unable to challenge the endless wars, the determination to prioritise profits over climate action at any cost. The job of the corporate media system is to pretend the choices are real, to ensure the walls of the prison remain invisible.

      The only hope in this neon-lit Dark Age is genuinely independent media – the blogs and websites that are now being filtered, shadow-banned, buried and marginalised like never before.

      The post Chamber of Propaganda Horrors first appeared on Dissident Voice.

      This post was originally published on Dissident Voice.

    16. Video evidence shows multiple arrests after regime launched new draconian campaign against women and girls

      Harrowing first-hand accounts of women being dragged from the streets of Iran and detained by security services have emerged as human rights groups say country’s hijab rules have been brutally enforced since the country’s drone strikes on Israel on 13 April.

      A new campaign, called Noor (“light” in Persian), was announced the same day the Iranian regime launched drone attacks against Israel, to crack down on “violations” of the country’s draconian hijab rules, which dictate that all women must cover their heads in public.

      Continue reading…

      This post was originally published on Human rights | The Guardian.