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Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Western Media Discuss Options To Attack Ian

February 7, 2012 Leave a comment

According to some reports, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated that Israel will strike at Iran sometime between April and June of this year. The Pentagon declined to officially comment, and Israeli leaders are silent as well. The Western media, however, were happy to sink their teeth in the story. Many publications are convinced that both Israelis and Americans may strike at Iran. Read more…

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Middle East – Nothing Will Ever Be The Same…

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The fall of dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia shows that the U.S. can no longer keep the power scheme it set up for over three decades. Powerless to act directly with the military, the U.S. tries to articulate transitions that change the form of domination, but keep its essence. The Army chose Mubarak’s resignation because it realized that his presence had united the opposition. They hope that without him, they might co-opt the opposition sectors to a moderate coalition – with El Baradei, the Muslim Brotherhood, with the support of the U.S. and Europe.

The Middle East has become a pillar of the foreign policy of the North American empire for two good reasons : the strategic need for safe and cheap oil supplies to the U.S., Europe and Japan, and protection for Israel – key U.S. ally in the region, surrounded by Arab countries.

Hence the rise of Arab nationalism has become one of the most frightening ghosts to the U.S. in the world. On the one hand, the nationalisation of oil by nationalist governments directly affects the interests of oil giants – North American or European – and the propagation of anti-imperialist, nationalist ideology – Gamal Abdel Nasser was the leading exponent – as well as the Palestinian question.

The contemporary history of the Middle East centers on the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 as its most important reference. The union of Arab governments allowed the recovering of the claim of the Palestinian state, which was answered by Israel with the invasion of new territories – including Egypt – with the direct military support of the U.S.A.

A new conflict began in 1973, now accompanied by the politics of OPEC to increase oil prices. From that moment, the West sought to overcome its dependence on oil or it would attempt the dividing of the Arab world. This second possibility triumphed, with the Iraq-Iran war, encouraged and armed by the U.S., which struck two countries with nationalist governments, who became mutually neutralized in a bloody confrontation. As a by-product of war, Iraq felt entitled to invade Kuwait – with tacit U.S. approval – which was taken as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq and the definitive settlement of U.S. troops in the very center of the richest oil region in the world.

The U.S. managed to divide the Arab world and has, on one hand the most reactionary regimes – led by monarchies, beginning with Saudi Arabia, which holds the largest oil reserves in the world, and the other moderate governments like Egypt and Jordan. The greatest North American achievement was the co-optation of Anwar El Sadat, Nasser’s successor, who surprisingly normalized relations with Israel – the first regime in the region to do so – paving the way for the creation of a moderate, pro-North American bloc in the region, which is characterized by the resumption of relations with Israel – and therefore the recognition of Israel – and virtually abandoning the Palestinian question. This also became a moderating force in OPEC, in the interests of the western powers.

Egypt as a country has the region’s largest population, with large oil production. The country also once had the biggest nationalist leader of the entire region, Nasser. Now it has become crucial as a political pawn of the U.S. in the region. Not coincidentally, Egypt became the second largest country to get U.S. military aid in the world after Israel and ahead of Colombia.

This neutralization of the Arab world, by appointment of governments and the U.S. military presence in the heart of the region – updated with the invasion of Iraq – was in itself an essential element of North American politics in the world and the guarantee of oil supplies to supplement the declining oil production in the U.S.A. and all oil supplies to Europe and Japan

That is what is at stake now, after the fall of dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. Impotent to act directly with their military, the U.S. tries to articulate transitions that change the form of domination, but maintains its essence. The Army preferred Mubarak’s resignation, because they realized that his presence had united the opposition. They hope that without him, they might co-opt the opposition sectors into a moderate coalition – with El Baradei, the Muslim Brotherhood, and with the support of the U.S. and Europe – that can make constitutional reforms, but control the succession process in the elections of September, managing to demobilise the popular movement before it can forge new leadership.

Independence could be extended to other countries in the region – of which Algeria, Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia are strong candidates. The fall of the dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia demonstrates that the U.S. can no longer maintain the scheme of power that they did for over three decades. The least that can be expected is political instability in the region, until other coalitions of power can be organised, whose character will colour the new period which the Middle East is set to enter.

Middle East: nothing will ever be the same

Sweden rats out Russia’s internet to US, now for Assange

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment

As Sweden battles for the extradition of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks cables on the country’s close co-operation with the US are provoking a public backlash.

­The text revealed Washington’s push to influence Swedish wiretapping laws so communication passing through the Scandinavian country can be intercepted. Now Sweden is bugged and wiretapped – at the behest of the US.

The Swedish intelligence service, the FRA, has the power to monitor and intercept all internet traffic in the country. And thanks to leaked US State Department cables, we now know the controversial law was adopted after pressure from Washington. And the security services were deliberately kept out of the process to reassure Swedes there was no “funny business”.

“Forced to operate under strict data storage and protection laws for Swedish citizens, they [FRA] are concerned that the public may perceive their involvement as an attempt to work around these restrictions by using a foreign intermediary (the United States), thus poisoning any chance for success,” US State Department cable (UNCLAS Stockholm 000704) goes on.

The US interest is clear. Eighty per cent of all the internet traffic from Russia travels through Sweden. And from there, to America.

Swedish MP Christian Engstrom explained the set-up. “It was mentioned by the government representatives that ‘No, the purpose is not to spy on Swedes, it’s to monitor, among other things, Russian transit traffic.’”

But what kind of information are they after?

“I think the information that is made accessible to special services by this law is, of course, sensitive and there are ways it can harm Russia’s political interests,” head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev believes.

The law has been slammed by some as “the most far-reaching eavesdropping plan in Europe,” and prompted widespread protests ahead of its implementation. Cables also suggest the Swedish government was colluding with the US to avoid involving the public at all costs.

“The agreement may have to be presented to Parliament under a vague constitutional requirement for ‘matters of great importance’. If so, the process will take considerably longer and be subject to public scrutiny, something the Government of Sweden will want to avoid. As the Ministry of Justice continues to analyze the proposed text, it is also considering how to craft an arrangement that will avoid the need for parliamentary review,” says US State Department cable (UNCLAS Stockholm 000704).

“There is no parliamentary control of what the FRA does, and of course the public in Sweden has even less control,” Christian Engstrom says. “Much of the pressure comes from the US and the copyright industries, and the Swedish government is more than happy to do whatever these American corporations ask through the American government,” Swedish MP revealed.

Judging from the dates on the leaked cables, while Sweden was debating whether to pass the bill, the Americans were already negotiating with the Swedish authorities on what kind of information they wanted.

“They [the Swedish Ministry of Justice] see your October 23 meeting as an opportunity to seek precise details on the type of information the United States wants and overall aim of the agreement,” the same cable informed.

And it is clear that the US ended up getting what it was after – at least in terms of information on the 80 per cent of Russian internet traffic that passes through Sweden.

“Our intelligence co-operation with Sweden on Russia is excellent,” acknowledged another cable (Stockholm 00000266 002 of 003). “DIA Director Lieutenant-General Burgess will be here next week for exchanges with the Swedes on Russia and other topics.”

Now it is not just information on Russia that the US is after from Sweden. America is reportedly carrying out its own investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the source of all this information about the deal, to see if it can bring espionage charges. If it can, and applies to Sweden for Assange’s extradition, all this close co-operation we have seen may mean his feet will not touch the ground in Stockholm.

Sweden rats out Russia’s internet to US, now for Assange

NATO’s New Headquarters to cost €1 Billion!!!

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment

The price tag on Nato’s giant new headquarters currently under construction is expected to hit €1 billion, the organisation’s secretary general said on Monday (7 february) as he warned of the dangers of not co-ordinating defence budget cuts in Europe.

“The total estimated cost of the new Nato headquarters is about €1 billion euros,” the alliance’s spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, told journalists on the margins of a press briefing by Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

In reply to a question on the cost, Mr Rasmussen said that “the final figure happens to be a bit lower than the original expectation,” as a result of construction prices dropping amid the economic crisis.

The initial price tag for the construction itself was at €650 million, but following the bidding procedure, the Belgian state who hosts the facility managed to lower it by 28 percent, to €460 million. On top of that come other expenses, such as demolition costs, site security, cabling, IT and audiovisual facilities, as well as personnel costs, leading to the total estimate of €1 billion.

During a ground-breaking ceremony in December 2010, Mr Rasmussen had said the new mega-headquarters were needed to accommodate all the delegations and staff, currently hosted in a barrack-style compound that was provisionally offered to Nato by the Belgian state in 1967 when the alliance was kicked out of France.

“Our current building simply cannot cope with the demands that we are placing on it. It is too small, it is too inflexible, and it is inefficient,” Mr Rasmussen said at the inauguration ceremony in December.

Expected to last five years, the construction works will stretch over 250,000 square metres across the street from the current location on the highway between Brussels and the international airport in Zaventem and house some 4,000 people, as well as conference rooms, sport facilities and shops.

The construction was agreed upon in 2004, with progress moving slowly through project tenders, land appropriations and the demolition of a former Belgian military base.

“In terms of location, Nato is somewhat on the outskirts of Brussels, but I think we are very much at the heart of the European debate when it comes to dealing with the effects of the economic crisis on our security,” Mr Rasmussen said in the press conference on Monday.

He again warned against “un-coordinated” budget cuts and urged the 26 members of the alliance to use the Nato forum when deciding which defence programmes to slash. “Over the past two years, European defence spending by Nato’s European member nations has shrunk by some 45 billion dollars – that is the equivalent of Germany’s entire annual defence budget,” Mr Rasmussen noted.

Nato itself is due to decide in June which command bases and local headquarters scattered across Europe to cut in a bid to lower its overall costs.

Nato’s new headquarters to cost €1 billion