French "Investigation" in Syria Neither Impartial nor Independent

April 28, 2017 New Eastern Outlook

After any crime, regardless of scale, a swift, impartial and independent investigation is required if any accountability at all is desired. The French government, in the wake of an alleged "chemical weapons attack" near Syria's northern city of Idlib, has claimed that it is “committed to ensuring that the perpetrators of this heinous attack are held accountable.”

The LA Times in an article titled, "Syrian chemical attack bears Assad's signature, France says," would report:
A six-page report by French intelligence services claims the nerve agent came from hidden stockpiles of chemical weapons that Damascus was supposed to have destroyed under an U.S.- and Russian-brokered deal in 2013.
Were it the case that France was seriously committed to holding the perpetrators of the alleged attack accountable, the French government would need to call for an impartial, independent investigation into the attack, and as soon as possible. Instead, it decided to carry out its own "investigation," ensuring neither impartiality nor independence, and by consequence, achieving no accountability.

Neither Impartial nor Independent  

France is one of several nations directly involved in a multi-year US-led effort to violently overthrow the Syrian government.

Terrorist organizations fighting in and along Syria's borders have, for 6 years now, brandished the black, green, white and red colonial flag of French-occupied Syria.

France itself has admittedly supplied militant groups fighting the Syrian government with financial, military and political support with many prominent members of the so-called residing within French territory, leading political efforts to overthrow the Syrian government remotely.

Afghanistan Mazar-e Sharif Attack: US-Backed Regime Suffers Another Setback

April 25, 2017 New Eastern Outlook 

It was just recently that the United States deployed its GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon against alleged tunnels belonging to the Islamic State terrorist organization in Afghanistan. The strike was meant to project US strength amid an increasingly challenged and contracting "international order."

However, striking a terrorist organization's tunnel complex in a country the organization did not even exist in until after the US established a presence there over 16 years ago, does not seem to project "strength" at all, but rather weakness, or perhaps even conspiracy.

The growing complexity of the Afghan conflict and America's mired presence there also fails to project the sort of "strength" Washington appears intent on demonstrating worldwide.

And if the use of a GBU-43/B weapon was meant to project "strength" to America's enemies, the message failed to reach Afghanistan's Taliban, who has consistently challenged, confounded and even reversed American objectives in the Central Asian state for over a decade and a half.

Over 100 Afghan soldiers have recently perished in an attack allegedly carried out by the Taliban, following the wake of the GBU-43/B's deployment. The BBC in an article titled, "Afghan casualties in Taliban Mazar-e Sharif attack pass 100," would report:
More than 100 Afghan soldiers were killed or wounded in a Taliban attack on an army base on Friday, the defence ministry has confirmed. 

Fighting lasted for several hours near the city of Mazar-e Sharif in northern Balkh province.
The BBC would also report that:
The raid shows the Taliban can plan and carry out complex attacks. The militants said four of the attackers had served as soldiers for a long time and had knowledge of every corner of the base.
The BBC would also note that the Taliban have made much more significant gains elsewhere, including taking back an entire district:
Also in March the Taliban said they had captured the crucial south Afghan district of Sangin after a year-long battle. 
The attack along with other activities of the Taliban, then, bears the hallmarks of a deeply rooted resistance against both the US occupation and the US-backed regime and the military forces propped up to protect it both in Kabul and across the country. That the base targeted by the recent attack also reportedly garrisoned German troops is also significant. The prospect of ending such attacks or securing any sort of "victory" over the Taliban and the local tribes allied to it is as unlikely now as a US victory was in Vietnam during the 1970's.

Thailand: Crushing Localism Threatens National, Regional Stability

April 22, 2017 New Eastern Outlook 

Street vendors of all kinds are facing a complete ban of their livelihood across Bangkok, the capital of Southeast Asia's Thailand. While it may appear to be a minor move falling in line with many other nations within the "developed world," the significance of it both to Bangkok, Thailand, and the rest of Asia in socioeconomic terms is indeed, major.

Just like the "developed" nations the new ban seeks to emulate, it is driven not by a genuine desire to clear sidewalks, beautify the city, or enhance consumer health and safety.

Cui Bono? Not for Safety or Health

Instead, it is driven by larger corporations both foreign and domestic, and in particular, agricultural giant Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) which is connected to the massive and ever-expanding network of 7-Eleven convenience stores and Lotus retailers dotting every corner and crevice in both Bangkok and beyond.

The ban is in fact another salvo fired by special interests at Thailand's considerable "informal economy." Bloomberg in its article, "Thailand's Unemployment Rate is a Ridiculously Low 0.6%. Here's Why," would report that:
The informal sector of the Thai economy, comprising anyone who's not covered by formal work arrangements, accounted for more than 64 percent of the total workforce in 2013. It includes street vendors and taxi-motorbike drivers, the self-employed and those operating in gray areas of the economy. They are largely counted as employed.
And as technology further empowers the self-employed and is already disrupting economic monopolies in the "developed world,"  such trends in a nation like Thailand with a sizable informal economy already stand to transform Bangkok into a regional, even global "grey market capital" and model for economic alternatives, start-ups, and other disruptive economic models springing up elsewhere around the world.

While rational leaders within Thailand's government have seen this as an immense opportunity, investing in start-ups, small businesses, the leveraging of technology to empower independent entrepreneurs, other interests appear threatened by the prospect of an economy shifting decisively in favor of independent business owners who are increasingly able to compete against established monopolies across multiple industries.

While the actual number of users employing disruptive technology to compete against established business monopolies is small at the moment, as solutions are employed into markets, Thailand's substantial informal economy is likely to adopt them as well.

CP Group's Vision for the Future

For CP executives and investors, they envision a monopoly over Thai agriculture, food, beverages, retail, telecom, and other sectors. With the prospect of street vendors being swept from Bangkok's roads, CP's network of convenience stores would remain one of the remaining competitors, open 24 hours a day, and providing all the amenities currently provided for by street vendors.

It is a formula of perpetual growth at the expense of all else that has given rise corporations currently populating lists of Wall Street and London's richest.

However, perpetual growth shares many of the same characteristics of a natural tropism - oblivious to the future, its surroundings, or its impact on either. It simply grows until it depletes its own energy or the resources around it, then dies.

Afghanistan: Why Did the US Deploy its Largest Non-Nuclear Ordnance?

April 19, 2017 New Eastern Outlook 

Sixteen years onward and the US is no closer to its alleged goal of creating a stable Afghanistan free of terrorist organizations using its territory to stage attacks  regionally and globally. Thousands of US troops still remain in Afghanistan, attempting to prop up the disorganized, immensely corrupt regime Washington installed and maintains in the nation's capital of Kabul. Entire provinces of the nation remain under the control of groups opposed to both the regime in Kabul and its American sponsors.  

Furthermore, Afghanistan's neighbors, including Russia, China and Iran, have attempted to broker a peace between Afghanistan's various factions, undermining America's divide and conquer strategy.

More recently, the US announced that it had deployed its largest non-nuclear ordnance in an operation it claims was targeting terrorists of the Islamic State organization.

The New York Times in an article titled, "U.S. Drops ‘Mother of All Bombs’ on ISIS Caves in Afghanistan," claims that:
The United States dropped the “mother of all bombs” — the most powerful conventional bomb in the American arsenal — on an Islamic State cave complex in Afghanistan on Thursday, the Pentagon said, unleashing a weapon so massive that it had to be dropped from the rear of a cargo plane. 

The strike was the first combat use of what is formally named the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast. President Trump has bestowed additional authority on the Pentagon in his first months in office, which the military has argued will help it defeat the Islamic State more speedily. Mr. Trump did not say whether he had personally approved Thursday’s mission.
However, the narrative propagated by both the US media and the government that the US is attempting to "defeat the Islamic State more speedily" is fundamentally flawed.

It was the US, by its own admission, that sought the creation of a "Salafist principality" in eastern Syria, precisely where the Islamic State now resides. It was also admitted by the United States that its closest allies in the Persian Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, constitute state sponsors of the Islamic State.

A genuine effort to defeat the Islamic State would require then, to first identify and eliminate the source of the terrorist organization's funding and fighting capacity. The US has demonstrably failed to do either, and instead continues using the terrorist organization as a pretext to maintain a global military presence to "fight" the group perpetually. Its military presence also coincidentally allows the US to continue confronting and undermining competitors seeking to establish an alternative, multipolar world order.

What Does the use of MOAB Mean for US Foreign Policy? 

At face value, the use of such an immense ordnance by the US so many years after it began its military operations in Afghanistan in 2001, would appear to be a sign of desperation. That sixteen years onward, the US is still mired in combat operations fighting against multiplying terrorist threats including the Islamic State which previously did not exist in Afghanistan, indicates an absolute and total failure of US foreign policy in Central Asia.

Syria: Watching the Jordanian Border

April 14, 2017 New Eastern Outlook 

While focus regarding the Syrian conflict has shifted almost exclusively to recent US cruise missile strikes, what the strikes are designed to lay the groundwork for holds much larger implications. Particular attention should be focused on US forces operating both within Syrian territory and along Syria's borders.

Normalizing the use of stand-off weapons like cruise missiles makes it easier and more likely that similar attacks will unfold in the near future - particularly if Syria and its allies fail to demonstrate a significant deterrence against future attacks.

The use of stand-off weapons by the United States and the routine use of airstrikes by US allies including Israel within Syrian territory will likely open the door to wider and more direct military intervention against the Syrian government.

Punitive strikes will shift incrementally to a concerted effort to dismantle Syria's fighting capacity, inviting either US proxies to overthrow the Syrian government, or for US forces to do so directly - or likely a combination of both.

Preparing for just such an escalation are not only US forces continuously expanding the scale and scope of their presence in eastern Syria and NATO-member Turkey's forces in northern Syria, but also a US-led proxy army being staged in and operated from, for years now, in Jordan.

Jordan: The Other "Turkey" 

It was from Jordan that a rumored column of US armored vehicles recently entered Syrian territory. CNN, in an article titled, "Coalition and Syrian opposition forces repel ISIS attack," would report that:
Anti-ISIS coalition troops and allied Syrian opposition forces have repelled an attack by the terrorist group on a joint base in southern Syria, according to the coalition. 

The US-led coalition said ISIS initiated a complex attack on Saturday at the At Tanf Garrison on the Syrian-Jordanian border using a vehicle-borne IED, and 20-30 fighters followed with a ground assault and suicide vests.
CNN would also report that:
Some American forces were at the base at the time of the assault, the official said.
Additionally, for years, US policymakers and media platforms have discussed both potential plans for staging an invading force in Jordan, as well as ongoing efforts to stand up a proxy force in Jordan before moving it into Syrian territory.

In 2015, the Guardian in an article titled, "US begins training Syrian rebels in Jordan to become anti-Isis force," would report:
Jordanian officials told reporters on Thursday that coalition forces have begun training prescreened rebels at a site inside the Middle Eastern kingdom. Training locations are also expected to begin operation in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
A 2016 article by the Washington Post titled, "Revamped U.S. training program, with new goals, has trained fewer than 100 Syrians so far," would report:
U.S. military officials are considering ways to ramp up training of Syrian fighters against the Islamic State as the Pentagon moves cautiously forward with a revamped program to create an effective local ground force.
The series of setbacks hindering the creation of an "opposition army" from scratch, and even setbacks in training and effectively utilizing existing militant and terrorist groups may be why the US has also sought to create its own large and growing military presence in Jordan.

In 2013, the Heritage Foundation would publish an article titled, "Hagel Announces Deployment of U.S. Troops to Jordan in Response to Worsening Syria Crisis," claiming:

Although initially tasked with playing a support role in assisting Jordan in developing contingency plans for mitigating the destabilizing spillover effects of Syria’s civil war, the troops could “potentially form a joint task force for military operations, if ordered.” The headquarters staff will lay the foundation for a formal U.S. military presence that could grow to 20,000 troops or more, if the Obama Administration activates contingency plans for a major U.S. military intervention.
According to most estimates from across the Western media, approximately 1,000-2,000 US service members are currently stationed in Jordan. Expanding that number to 20,000 or more would surely be noticed by Syrian, Russian, and Iranian intelligence agencies. Likewise, the creation and deployment of a full-scale invasion force created by America's Persian Gulf allies or NATO-member Turkey would likewise be noticed long before having a chance to storm Syrian territory.

Abuse of "Rights Advocacy" Continues in Thailand

March 29, 2017 New Eastern Outlook

Recently, Thailand-based media platform, Voice TV, faced a seven day ban after violating licencing agreements and multiple counts of misconduct. Various articles, including those published by local English-language newspaper, The Nation, would portray the incident as a crackdown on "freedom of expression" and "media freedom." 

In its article, "Voice TV ban ‘an attack on media freedom’," The Nation would claim:
In a joint statement signed by the Thai Journalists Association and Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, they said the order violated media freedom and could harm all media outlets.

It was unfair to ban the whole station as only some programmes and anchors violated the junta’s orders, they said in a statement. Many other staff were not involved but had been affected by the decision, it said.

While Voice TV has had programmes banned several times since the military coup in 2014, suspension of a station’s operating licence is very rare.
Omitted from this, and other reports, however, is the fact that both Voice TV and organisations like the Thai Journalists Association serve foreign interests, with Voice TV being owned and operated by the family of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, currently a convicted criminal and fugitive hiding abroad and enjoying political and material support from both the United States and European governments.

The Thai Journalists Association is openly associated with the US State Department, EU, and corporate foundation funded IFEX and the similarly foreign-funded Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), the latter of which also receives funding from convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society foundation.

Across their pages are a myriad of politically-motivated, one-sided and intentionally skewed stories drafted in support of various opposition fronts across Southeast Asia attempting to undermine or overthrow political orders targeted by US and European special interests. IFEX, for example, also published a passionate defence of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a pro-Shianwatra propagandist who published a magazine titled, "The Voice of Taksin," in which regular calls for violence and threats of terrorism were made and even a list of judges who ruled against Shinawatra was posted along with their addresses and family members' names.

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is clearly a criminal who abused and hid behind "free speech" to call for criminal acts that, in 2009 and 2010, were demonstrably carried out at the cost of human lives and millions of dollars worth of property damage. IFEX, instead of mentioning this, portrays him as an activist wrongly imprisoned for simply exercising "free speech."

These very same organisations decrying alleged crackdowns on media freedom remained silent, for instance, during the 2013-2014 street protests organised against Shinawatra's government in which Shinawatra's supporters regularly targeted, maimed and killed unarmed protesters in the streets with assault rifles, hand grenades and 40mm grenade launchers. Twenty would die and many more would be injured, while these supposed "rights advocates" either ignored the escalating violence, or even attempted to justify it.

Also omitted from recent reports regarding Voice TV is the fact that the media platform's owners are the Shinawatras, and Thaksin Shinawatra himself.

Shinawatra while in power between 2001 and 2006 carried out a brutal campaign of violence and intimidation against the media in Thailand. He also oversaw a politically motivated "war on drugs" that left nearly 3,000 people extrajudicially executed in the streets. After being ousted from power in 2006, Shinawatra resorted to street protests, terrorism and targeted assassinations in his bid to seize back power. In 2009 and again in 2010, he would place large mobs in the streets resulting in arson and mass murder.

Syria: Trump's Bush-Obama WMD Remix

April 8, 2017 New Eastern Outlook 

The United States finds its increasingly clumsy, circular foreign policy looping back once again to accusations of "weapons of mass destruction" being inexplicably used against a civilian population, this time in Syria's northern city of Idlib currently serving as the defacto capital of terrorist organizations including various Al Qaeda affiliates, most notably the US State Department designated foreign terrorist organization, al-Nusrah Front.

The allegations have already been used for a rushed US attack on Syrian forces, without any formal investigation or approval from the United Nations.

There are several serious factors being intentionally omitted from this quickly evolving US-driven narrative, including:
  • While the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa serves as the defacto capital of the Islamic State, the northern city of Idlib serves as the defacto capital for all remaining Al Qaeda affiliates in the country;
  • The Syrian government is already winning nationwide using much more effective, conventional tactics and weapon systems. Syria is also under immense scrutiny, thus using chemical weapons would be an egregious tactical, strategic, political and military blunder, serving no purpose besides to incriminate the government and invite US-led foreign intervention;
  • The US has already prepositioned troops in Syria, increasing their number recently and expanding the scope of their operations. It is not a coincidence that they were placed there to exert greater military force against Damascus, and now suddenly have a pretext to do so;
  • The US has a long and sordid history of arraying false accusations against targeted states, specifically regarding the possession or use of chemical weapons and; 
  • Militant groups the US and its allies are currently arming, funding, training and providing aid to, have been caught staging serial chemical weapon attacks or fabricating evidence regarding alleged attacks that never took place.  
US-Backed Groups Already Implicated in Chemical Attacks in Syria 

The allegations of the most recent attack come from the same chorus of US-European backed organizations, fronts and media platforms that have repeatedly made similar accusations over the past six years, none of which have been verified with evidence, and with several instances being exposed as staged by militant groups themselves fighting the Syrian government.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, who exposed plans to use militant groups associated with Al Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government as early as 2007, would publish another report in 2014 titled, "The Red Line and the Rat Line," which would explain:
In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.​ Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.
Hersh would continue by explaining:
Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.
Hersh would also reveal that intelligence assessments from within the US itself noted that militant groups, not the Syrian government, were the most likely culprits behind serial chemical attacks unfolding across Syrian territory:
The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’ 

The Syrian government's use of chemical weapons, when its efforts to restore order across the nation are already successfully being executed using far more effective conventional means, and as it does so under the scrutiny of an "international order" led by the US eager to justify the direct use of US military might against Damascus would be absolutely inexplicable.