Thursday, March 29, 2012

Romancing The MEK: America’s Love Affair With Terrorists

Rudy Giuliani, the 2008 Republican Presidential candidate and the former New York Mayor has publicly stated that the United States should use a terrorist group to launch a military attack on Iran’s civilian infrastructure – the nuclear power plants.   Giuliani is not alone in his support of the Mujahedin-e Khalq terrorist cult (MEK, also known by other acronyms such as MKO, NCRI).  Many prominent voices have put their weight behind the terrorist group. 

America has had a long-standing love affair with terrorists.  Support for terrorist groups and governments has been part and parcel of American policy.   According to William Odom,  President Reagan’s former NSA Director, terrorism is a tactic with the United States having a long record of supporting terrorists[see pdf] [i].   But what is unique and  novel about romancing the MEK is the political elite’s brazen public display of support for the group, and the shameless  prostitution of their services for a fee.    

This must be a rude awakening for the American public.  After hundreds of thousands of lives lost,  trillions of dollars spent on waging a war on terror --“fighting them over there so they don’t come over here”, what has come home with the body bags and the debt is the realization that “they”, the terrorists ARE here -  and they  have out politicians in their pockets.  
Many citizens fail to understand America of present day.   They have a hard time reconciling “fighting there”, and the government establishing the Unites States as a battleground.  They have difficulty understanding prominent politicians receiving payments from a group listed on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), while a provision of the defense authorization bill  would grant the military the authority to detain and hold anyone indefinitely, or to assassinate any individual suspected of having ties to al Qaeda[ii] -- a terrorist group who according to Hillary Clinton was funded and armed by the US (CNN see clip). 
Incomprehensible as the actions of these distinguished MEK supporters may be, it may well be that they take comfort in the fact that it is the MEK that is buying their lip service and not vice versa.   Perhaps they would rather line their pockets instead of asking where the money comes from.     But the question does bear asking. 
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the approximate number of the MEK terrorist cult is estimated at a few thousand members,  3-4,000 of whom live in Camp Ashraf, Iraq.   While the MEK residents of Camp Ashraf greatly benefit from American hospitality, including being chauffeured around by American soldiers, it is unlikely that they would be major contributors to their American supporters.    
Who then, provides the funding for the solicitation of America’s political elite? 
The MEK has long had the support of the United States and policy makers (History Commons), although recently, after the most recent assassination of yet another Iranian scientist, U.S. officials disclosed to NBC  that the  MEK terrorist group was “financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.    With American tax payers forking out billions of dollars a year to Israel,  buying the services of American politicians by the MEK gives new meaning to the words money-laundering and prostitution. 

[i] Odom, William, "American Hegemony: How to Use It, How to Lose It" (2007)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Azerbaijan: The High Cost of Protection

A 2009 U.S. embassy political dispatch compared Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to a mafia crime boss.   An apt comparison given that Aliyev and the Azeri political elite have been living under the protection of the Capo CriminiIsrael.    The protection does not come cheap; and the manufacture of the recent lie -- the arrest of 22 Azerbaijani citizen allegedly “trained in Iran” to carry out terrorist acts against the U.S. and Israel, is the latest protection payment.  

Capo Crimini’s  protection is noteworthy.   Aliyev, a corrupt dictator who came to power through election fraud in 2003, managed to make his rounds in Washington in 2006, including a private meeting with President Bush, thanks to the full weight of the Israeli lobby in Washington.  The promotion of the Azeri cause in Washington by the Israeli lobby (which included lobbying against Armenians), reinforced the notion that  “the way to Washington leads through Jerusalem [i] while benefitting various players -  to the detriment of some others.   
Although much of Israel’s oil comes from Azerbaijan, Israel was more interested in the control of the oil.  With this in mind, despite the fact that oil companies in the Caspian region favored the much shorter and cheaper oil pipeline that would transit Iran, Israel relentlessly pushed for the alternate, more expensive and impractical Baku-Tblisi-Cehan pipeline which pipeline had over 1000 miles of it going through mountainous territory bypassing Russia and Armenia.   This expensive venture also served to send the message to Turkey that alliance with Israel pays off. 
Lord Browne, former chief executive of BP, was quoted as saying that the whole scheme was launched in the interest of Israel[ii].   Brenda Shafffer who was instrumental in promoting the pipeline,  put it this way: “There's growing demand in Asia. If Israel is clever about it, it could market this not only commercially but also politically in a way that could improve regional security and stability." (JTA, NY, Oct 21, 2005).      Shaffer is also of the opinion that Caspian oil (specifically non-OPEC members Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan) makes Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel nervous because they do not coordinate their policies with the cartel.

These plans were made possible thanks to the aftermath of September 11.    9/11 changed everything – as a leading Azeri foreign policy specialist opined: "But the situation changed after Sept. 11, with American presence in Central Asia, Georgia and Azerbaijan," he explains. "Our being under the shadow of America means Russia and Iran will not meddle. We are able to be more courageous." (Greene, Richard AllenJewish Telegraphic AgencyNew York:Apr 29, 2002.  p. 4
More courageous, perhaps but the newfound courage lacks rationale and the needs of the people of Azerbaijan have been neglected.  Asim Mollazadeh, first Chairperson of the Party for Democratic Reforms prominent Azeri opposition candidate,  states that Azerbaijan receives only 10 percent of oil loyalties.   He argues that with 42 percent of the country living below poverty lines, the oil income does not trickle down[iii].    A heavy price to pay for Washington to feign welcome to  the Azeri dictator. 
In 2002, JTA reported that Israel's ambassador to Azerbaijan had a favorite local joke: "Are you Jewish? No, I just look intelligent."  (JTA Apr 29, 2002).    Insulting as the joke may be, inarguably, actions which  alienate the Russians, compete with Saudis, and magically pull “22 Iran-linked terrorists” out of a hat do not  ‘look intelligent’.     

[i] Netty C. Gross; “The Azeri Triangle”, The Jerusalem Post, July 10, 2006, p. 24
[ii] Cited by Andrew l. Killgore, “Ideology Trumps Economic Efficiency, as The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Opens”, The Washington Report on Middle East Affair, Aug 2005, Vol. 24, iss. 6, p.32
[iii] Netty C. Gross; “The Azeri Triangle”

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Israel-US Relations: Blockhead and the Judge?

An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.   -   Buddha
America’s relations with Israel has always been explained by politicians on both sides as ‘friendship’.   Today, more than any other time in the course of their  ‘friendship’, this relationship brings to mind the story of “Blockhead and the Judge”.

According to English folklore, Blockhead complained to the Judge of being annoyed with flies.  The Judge granted Blockhead permission to strike them wherever he saw them.  Observing a big fly  on the judge's nose, Blockhead delivered a powerful blow with his fist, smashing the fly – and the Judge’s nose. 

Israel, annoyed at Iran’s refusal to abrogate its rights granted under international law and treaties, and for resisting injustice, has demanded that the United States not only impose crippling sanctions on Iran, but place an embargo on Iran’s crude oil.  America’s compliance with such irrational and harsh demands has in turn raised the prospect of retaliation which could halt the flow of oil from the Strait of Hormuz, depriving the world of an estimated 35% of its total oil needs. 

As Ted Koppel  wrote rather candidly in the New York Times (February 24, 2006)  “Keeping oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz has been the bedrock of American foreign policy for more than half a century."[i]  In complying with Israel’s wishes,  not only has America acted contrary to its long-standing foreign policy, violated international treaties, but it has also inflicted harm on its national interest by creating a shortage which has sent gas prices skyrocketing setting back the economy.  

A March, 2012 Gallup Poll is indicative of the dire effects of this decision on the US economy.  The poll shows that 85% of Americans want the President and Congress to “take immediate actions to try to control the rising price of gas."  Ironically, it is the President and Congress, hedged on by Israel and its lobbies in the U.S. that have caused the gas price increase.   

A simple equation determines the price of oil: supply and demand  (granted, at times other variables factor in such as speculators, specifically at times of political crisis, and oil refinery related issues, bearing in mind that much of the oil  refineries in America and elsewhere are Israeli owned – see footnote[1]).  There is ample empirical evidence pointing to price increases whenever  oil supplies are disrupted.  

The Iranian revolution and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war is estimated to have cost the US a total of $355 billion in higher oil prices (T. Stauffer, 2003)[ii].   The oil strikes leading up to the 1978-79 Iranian revolution reduced Iranian oil production by 3.8 million barrels per day for 3 months.  Although outside production increased by 1.8 million barrels to make up for the loss, the net loss to the world was 150 million barrels of oil, this fact alone had a  compounding result which resulted in a net loss to U.S. economy of an estimated billions of dollars in 1979 and 1980 (Deese & Nye 1981)[iii].   It is crucial to note that in this period China was a net exporter oil and became a net importer in 1993.   

Ignoring such statistics, they have placed an oil embargo which without a doubt will have far graver repercussions than those periods.  This dire situation is of no concern to the Israelis – thanks to America having “their back”.  The burden is America’s  due  to the  renewable 1975 15-year Memorandum of Understanding it signed with Israel which costs American taxpayers billions of dollars a year in oil subsidies.   

Point  (b) of Annex to the MoU  stipulates:   
“If the oil Israel needs to meet all of its normal requirements for domestic consumption is unavailable for purchase in circumstances where quantitative restrictions through embargo or otherwise also prevent the United States from procuring oil to meet its normal requirements, the [iv]United States Government will promptly make oil available for purchase by Israel in accordance with the International Energy Agency conservation and allocation formula, as applied by the United States Government, in order to meet Israel's essential requirements. If Israel is unable to secure the necessary means to transport such oil to Israel, the United States Government will make every effort to help Israel secure the necessary means of transport.”

The 85%  Americans who demand “immediate action” from Congress and the President,  should remind the government of the 2008 research developed by economists Dean DeRosa and Gary Hufbauer which makes a clear case for the United States to lift sanctions on Iran, arguing that the this would drop the world price of oil by 10 percent, translating into an annual savings of $38-76 billion for the United States.     

As Americans are being crushed under the weight of sanctions and oil embargo, in demanding action from the government, they should bear in mind that Israel is no friend, and Iran is no fly.

[1] Some recent examples of Israeli oil refinery takeovers include a 2006 takeover - Alon USA Energy Inc. gained a foothold in California 's lucrative gasoline market Monday, announcing plans to buy Paramount Petroleum Corp. and Edgington Oil Co.” (Alon Buys 2 Refiners in State: Elizabeth DouglassLos Angeles TimesLos Angeles, Calif.:May 2, 2006.  p. C.8,
2008- Alon Israel Oil had multiple transactions resulting in acquisition of 100,000 shares of stock. The company now owns 36.07 million shares of stock directly” (US Fed News Service, Including US State News. Washington, D.C.: Sep 3, 2008).

[i] Cited in “Resource Wars”,  William K Tabb.  Monthly Review.  New York:Jan 2007.  Vol. 58,  Iss. 8,  p. 32-42
[ii] Thomas R. Stauffer, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003, pages 20-23
[iii] Deese, David A. and Joseph S. Nye, ed. Energy and Security. Cambridge: Balllinger Publishing Co.: 1981.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Can Russia Save the Day?

"You are my creator, but I am your master—obey!" So said the Monster to its creator Frankenstein[1].   As with the monster and its creator, we witness once again Israel telling America to obey – to start yet another war of choice and massacre Iranians.

For over six decades, Israel has demanded full obedience from the United State.  Every  U.S. president, pressured by the pro-Israel lobbies in the United States and the Congressional members whose primary loyalty is to Israel at the expense of America’s national interest,  have been forced to comply with the ever-increasing bellicose Israeli demands.   No wonder Benjamin Netanyahu imagines himself unstoppable.

Netanyahu, one of the most dangerous Israeli leaders, is demanding another war so that he may continue the aggressive usurpation of Palestinian and Arab lands uninterrupted by public opinion and disregard for international laws.  The thuggish Netanyahu came to Washington to demand surrender from its puppet master, America, like every other Israeli politician before him.   He demands sacrifice from Americans in the firm belief  that all sacrifice is justified having witnessed his own brother Yonatan Netanyahu get killed in a 1976 Israeli false flag operation in Entebbe, Uganda.

Lending support to his conviction is the American cover-up of US servicemen murdered by Israel.   When the USS Liberty was attacked by Israelis and the servicemen deliberately massacred, the Johnson Administration’s cover-up of the tragic event send a clear message to Israel:  American leaders have your back, even if you murder our citizens.  

However, the  Soviet message to the Israelis and America was different -- as one hopes Russia’s will be.

In January 1970, Israel’s deep penetration raids into Egypt, prompted Nasser to plea to the Soviets for help.  The Soviets sent a warning to President Nixon who dismissed it (thanks to a faulty Israeli intelligence analysis of the Soviet intentions and capabilities). By March, the Soviets had provided Egypt with air defense and Soviet troops equipped with advanced weaponry arrived in Egypt.   In addition to the 10,000 Soviet technicians, Soviet pilots were flying Egyptian planes in combat (Ball ’92).  The firm action taken by the Soviets forced Israel to modify its tactics and stop its deep penetration raids.  

Perhaps it is time for Russia to once again stop this aggressive madness so that balance and sanity may resume.

The Israeli plan to wage war on Iran, will, by necessity, drag in the whole region and make the conflict  global in scope.  But how important is Iran or the other Islamic countries devastated by US-Israel? As Azar Gat, Ezer Weizman professor of National Security at Tel Aviv University opined (Foreign Affairs, July-August 2007), “radical Islam” poses “no significant military threat to the developed world..”  The significant challenge, she contended, emanates from China and Russia operating under “authoritarian capitalist”  poised for a comeback.

This self-serving portrayal  has been coupled with absurd religious zealotry in the same quarters with devastating effect.  Powerful  Jews and Christians (such as AIPAC)  who believe in a "final battle" of  Gog and Magog (Ezekiel (38:1 - 39:29) preceded by a period of violence,  chaos and war,  view Israel’s expansionist agenda and  America’s imperial ambitions through ideologically tainted lenses.    

This mindset was well demonstrated when in October 2007, President Bush remarked that a nuclear Iran would mean World War III, at which time Israeli newscasts on channels 2 and 10 featured Gog and Magog maps of the likely alignment of nations in that potential conflict: on one side were Israel, the United States, Britain, France and Germany; on the other were Iran, Russia, China, Syria and North Korea.   (The current GOP Presidential debate (with the exception of Ron Paul) point to this dangerous mindset).

It comes as no surprise that in 2008, the influential pro-Israel Dennis Ross, had a meeting with the Syrian “opposition group” chief, Anas al-Abdah (see here) to discuss “Syria in-transition” – years before the current uprisings, but without a doubt, a major contributing factor to the current unrest - a policy that continues today. 

While Iran (and Syria) is the direct target of an immediate attack, it is not the ultimate target.   

Russia’s policies have been based on Realpolitik. As such, in the interest of its national interest, Russia must place a premium on preventing an Israeli/US led war with Iran,  and the prelude to such a war – the illegal and immoral “crippling sanctions”.   Although Russia and Iran have had a tainted history in the past, it must be emphasized that preventing the disintegration and upheaval of the countries in the region will serve both nations and strengthen the resistance barrier to the planned global domination, future wars, and help avert the potential for a catastrophic world war.    

Such deterrence is possible under the strength and resolve shown by Vladimir Putin.  Perhaps aware of Putin’s strength prompted America to increase its aid to Russian dissidents.  In 2008, Congress provided an additional $6 million for “human rights defenders and political activists in Russia.”   In line with these tactics, attempts were  made to delegitimize the election  results in Russia and create chaos in order to weaken the nation and its resolve – the usual NED and Freedom House tactic.

There has never been more need for  Russia  to demonstrate its resolve.   As elected president, Mr. Putin would do well to draw his own “red lines” by addressing the UN  Security Council and stating firmly and irrevocably that a preventative/preemptive attack on Iran (or Syria) is illegal, and unacceptable, which will draw reaction from Russia.   Mr. Putin should ask that the United States firmly, openly, and honestly (without giving Israel the green light privately, which the US has done many times) reject the notion that Israel has the ‘right’ to launch such and illegal act.

Perhaps with a show of strength from Russia,  other countries will join in to resist wars of choice, ushering in a new era of renewed hope for the future of humanity and this planet.

[1] There is a common misconception that Frankenstein is the monster; it is in fact the name of the creator.