This episode was meant to be in two parts. As I was researching, it was clear there were a ton of stories to breakdown. So I decided to do an overview of many, with rabbit-holes-a-plenty linked to within this article.
The two bureaucratic moves that caught my interest are both positive, if war with Iran is something you wish to avoid.
The EU Commission used a legislative weapon called the “blocking statute”, which in this case forbids EU based companies from complying with the new US sanctions placed on Iran. As insanely authoritarian and dystopian as that is, it does give individual EU companies that wanted to ignore Washington’s orders political and legal cover to do so.
The second act of a legislature came from the US House. Which passed an amendment to this year’s NDAA unanimously stating that the Trump administration has “no legal authorization for war with Iran”. The amendment can be removed in the Senate, where the real war hawks are. The vote is still interesting with a Republican controlled House.
John Bolton’s plans seem to be slowed for another week.
This is where things get weird.
Donald Trump continues to drop in Hail Marys, and it’s starting to look like he has a plan. One that our friend John Bolton is not happy about.
To sum up the drama quickly, let’s start with Mr. Bolton. Two weeks ago now, Bolton provided comment about North Korea, including language about how a deal with North Korea should be in the “Libya model”. This translates into “regime change and violent death of former US-backed dictator”; or Iraq, Libya, and attempted Syria. Don’t forget this is same plan Bolton and his neoconservative allies have for Iran.
Needless to say, North Korea did not take kindly to this suggestion from Bolton. Further tension when the Vice President repeated Bolton’s narrative. Leaving to Trump to back things off, and cancel the summit in the process. A move the media attacks him for, when a month ago they were outraged he set it up in the first place. But I move on.
So the world was ending again, in nuclear flame at Donald Trump’s hand. When out of nowhere, South Korean president Mooon Jae-in returns from North Korea on Saturday and confirms that Kim and North Korea are still “committed to the summit” on June 12. The US followed up by sending officials to the truce-village of Panmunjom, to meet with North Koreans officials. Let’s see how this goes.
Bibi is pushing his luck. While he tries (again) to sell the world on Iranian plans for nuclear domination, the domestic events within Israel or the occupied territories are killing Israeli PR in the West.
The move of the US embassy to Jerusalem is actually taking place, and that has of course raised tensions in the West Bank, its the open brutality at the border fences in Gaza that has pierced the minds of a Western (liberal) audience that usually publicly ignores this topic.
I won’t go into the history of this conflict, but the numbers of injured and dead I think speaks for itself. 62 Palestinians killed, with 3200 injured on May 14th. Included in that were 18 paramedics. One of which did an interview with Electronic Intifada, a Palestinian online media operation that clearly has a bias, but does actual journalism. Lacking more and more no matter the slant you come with.
Long time followers of this conflict understand that Gaza is in its end game, an 11 year blockade, no airspace, coastline control, sparse electricity, the age of the population; these things taken into account, no matter who you blame for them, pushed these protests. The same story plays out. A violent factor is always included on the Palestinian side, which is a “duh” for me at this point. Israel responses with collective punishment, relying on its cover in the political and media realm.
This is getting harder. With stories and imaged getting out more and more, the everyday voter in the Western world is becomes more aware, and in turn the politician who wants that vote will begin voicing opposition to Israeli “tactics”, which is a start.
Haspel has been confirmed for some time, so lets not dwell there. Sam Husseini, a writer with Consortium News, asks an interesting questionregarding the torture that took place during Haspel’s time in Thailand: Was torture the tool to build the Iraq War lie?
Instead of just chalking up the torture of Abu Zubaydah to sadism on Haspel’s part, let’s think for a minute. The tapes of him being waterboarded 83 times in a month are gone. So is the evidence of his head being slammed against the wall. No information was collected from his time there. But what were the questions? Where the tapes destroyed more to cover up the nature of the interrogations then the graphic violence?
Lawrence Wikerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, says that Powell knew the “evidence” he used at the UN was the result of torture. For example, the 2014 Senate torture report makes it known that Ibn Shaykh al-Libi told Egyptian authorities that Saddam had provided Al-Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons assistance. A hilarious story on the face of it. Was he asked this outright? To build on the narrative? al-Libi recanted his statement, after he was sent to America’s buddy Gaddafi. Where Ibn Shaykh al-Libi committed suicide…
The war in Yemen has been a topic on my show since I began to take it seriously. My first episode on the conflict is still my most downloaded. In the future, hopefully, Yemen will be Obama’s war crime.
The Shite Houthis from the north of the country are running out of port cities within their control. The last one they hold is the city of Hodeichh. The Yemeni army, backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States, has taken control of a neighboring town and may soon be in position to take Hodeichh.
Hodeichh is the last port in which humanitarian aid can get to the civilian population in the north of the country. The crisis in Yemen has reached historic heights.
The Yemeni ambassador to UNESCO Ahmad al-Sayyad suggests that Saudi Arabia and the UAE(United Arab Emirates) would strike a deal to divide Yemen. The UAE has been involved with the fight against the Houthis in the south of the country, where the capital and government control was concentrated. The Saudi-backed puppet Hadi, who was forced out of power when the Houthis took the capital and now lives under house arrest in Riyadh, would like very much to be placed back on his throne. But the ambassador makes a good point. What do the Saudis care about Hadi’s feelings? They could give concessions to UAE, with a guarantee for continued help in the north fighting the Houthis and “Iranian influence”.
The Great Syrian Highway
While the war in Syria continues to get more complex and closer to exploding on a global scale, on the ground it the same weird stories all wars have.
I read a story by Moon of Alabama about the M5 Highway. This highway is the economic lifeblood of Syria, connecting Turkey to Jordan, and providing most of the traffic between the Gulf States and Turkey. Parts of it have been under rebel and ISIS control, but if you follow the victories and expansion of territory by the Syrian army over the last year you see that almost all of the highway is back under government control.
The highway hits all Syrian major cites: Aleppo, Homs, Hama, and Damascus. Turkey, Russia, Syria, Jordan, the gulf states all want this highway open and functioning. Talks were held in Kazakhstan on May 14-15 between Turkey, Russia and Iran about Syria. This was the 9th of their kind. No progress was made, but the highway might have been a topic of discussion. If not this time, then in the past. Both parties did confirm that the “integrity of Syria” is still the agreed upon plan, kicking the ball back into the United States’ court, since it continues to occupy a good portion of the east of the country.
The episode link can be found here. The full episode archive can be found on Podomatic and on ITunes.