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The Trump Administration’s Sanction Syndrome Against Russia and Iran; Tuesday, August 28, 2018: Why It Is Likely To Fail. KGNU Radio. Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, 6-7 pm (Mountain States Time)1390 AM. 88.5 FM

August 27, 2018

The Trump Administration’s Sanction Syndrome Against Russia and Iran; Tuesday, August 28, 2018: Why It Is Likely To Fail. KGNU Radio. Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, 6-7 pm (Mountain States Time)1390 AM. 88.5 FM. Hosted by Jim Nelson. Streaming at www.kgnu.org 

As the 2018 mid term elections approach, with Republican candidates in trouble throughout the country, in a desperate effort to “appear strong,” using economic pressure at its disposal (sanctions, trade wars) the Trump Administration has stepped up its threats to China, Russia, Iran and now even long-standing U.S. strategic ally, Turkey.

With the usual support of international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund sanctions have proven to be an effective (if cruel) form of political intimidation. Kazerooni and I will argue that while these economic pressures have worked in the past, and while they are likely to inflict some damage on the targeted countries, that they are not likely to produce similar results today for a variety of reasons…suggesting that When it comes to the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Iran in particular), that Washington is running out of options.

Tune in.

(Image – Red Rose – National Flower of Iran)

The Western Fires, Climate Change and Emphysema

August 26, 2018

Smoke from Western forest fires polluting the air around Ft. Collins. Photo taken from Horse Tooth Reservoir above the city, looking out east. August 24, 2018

 

1.

For our 43rd anniversary, Nancy and I spent three days in, of all places, Ft. Collins, Colorado. Usually this time of year we head for the hills, high up in the Rockies and spend at least a part of our time mushrooming hunting or hiking.

We decided against it this year, mostly on account of the forest fires that have ravaged the state – and the West in general this late spring and summer.

It’s been going on all summer. Here’s an article from more than three weeks ago, August 2, 2018, “That Smoke You See In Colorado Is From California Wildfires.” The article added that “The smoke from that fire and others burning in Oregon, Nevada and Utah, as well as some small local fires here in Colorado, is impacting air quality and visibility and is expected to continue this way through the rest of Thursday afternoon and evening.”

Now we are three weeks later and the smoke is still here, permeating the environment. I can smell it most days, including today. Read more…

Backpacks for Beit Ummar: Consider Contributing.

August 21, 2018

Beit Ummar Backpacks.

Dear Friends…

About a year ago, a group of us came together to form what is called “The Center for Freedom and Justice-Colorado.” We are now beginning our second year. CFJ-Colorado is essentially a support group for a civic organization in Beit Ummar, West Bank, Palestine.

Beit Ummar is located in what is called “Area C” on the West Bank, an area completely under the control and domination of the Israeli military, known as the Israeli Defense Force. This is the area that is hit the hardest by the Israeli occupation. It experiences almost nightly raids, it has a higher number and percentage of young people in Israeli prisons than any other town in the West Bank.

Our little Colorado group is raising funds for backpacks (book bags) for kids for this academic year.

Both Nancy and I are involved in this project. We are hoping you will consider giving financial support and help us raise the funds for the backpacks.

To contribute:

Click on the link to contribute. It is a typical “Go Fund Me” arrangement.

https://www.gofundme.com/backpacks-for-beit-ummar?member=629424

If you prefer to mail checks you can do so. Please mail cash and checks to 1727 E. 25th Ave, Denver, CO 80205. Please make checks out to CFJ Colorado

For more in formation on Beit Ummar and our campaign:

The children of Beit Ummar live in an impoverished community where 60 percent of the adult population is unemployed. The village is under military occupation and is surrounded by six Israeli settlements.  More than 100 children from Beit Ummar are incarcerated in Israeli jails. Children face the horror of night-time military raids on their homes and a constant fear that they or members of their families will be taken away or their houses demolished.  The trauma of these children cannot be adequately described.

The Center for Freedom and Justice in Palestine has launched a campaign in the U.S. to provide the children in Beit Ummar and surrounding villages with school backpacks –  a symbol of dignity and to show they are not alone in the world.  Please give some hope to these children and donate what you can.

 

The location of the school bag project would be Southern Hebron Hills including Beit Ummar, Jala, Sorouf, Aroob Refugee Camp, Algaba’a, and Bethlehem area as well.

The total children we hope to reach is 300 Child.

The amount of one school bag is 30 NIS = $8

The amount of one school bag supplies is 15 NIS = $4

The total for one school bag with its supply is 50 NIS = $12.00

The target number of children is 300 X $12.00 is $3600.00

Administration cost including transportation would be $100 total.

Project total cost is $3700.00

To learn more about the situation in Beit Ummar please visit our Facebook Page at Center for Freedom and Justice – Colorado. You can also visit the Center For Freedom and Justice’s Facebook page or their website.

Postscript to “Is Saudi Arabia Preparing To Invade Qatar?” Fourteen Months Later

August 2, 2018

Postscript. August 2, 2018

At the time I wrote this piece “Will Saudi Arabia Invade Qatar“, last June, it very much appeared that indeed Saudi Arabia along with its regional partner in crime, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), were prepared to invade Qatar to seize its lucrative natural gas assets and its $320 billion sovereign wealth fund to help prop up Saudi’s own flagging reserves. Preparations were well underway. Saudi anti-Qatari rhetoric had been whipped up, troop build ups were in place. But then it didn’t happen and soon the invasion threat seemed to dissipate, although the Saudi-U.A.E. economic blockade of Qatar continues.

I wondered if I had been wrong in the first place – ie, that the threat was to intimidate Qatar to fall in line, to distance itself from Iran and return to the Wahhabist fold or, whether something took place behind the scenes that staid the Saudi hand at the last  moment. An article that appeared at “The Intercept” by Alex Emmons yesterday gave ample credence to what transpired “behind the scenes,” staying the Saudi military hand. Read more…

Ethiopia and the American Geo-Politics in the Horn of Africa – Fifth of a Series.

July 29, 2018

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. 

1. Ethiopia Needs a Face-lift. The United States needs a more stable, militarily capable ally in the Horn of Africa.

Although it is not clear that President Donald Trump even knows where Ethiopia is on a map of Africa, or that it is in Africa – as it qualifies in his vulgar language as one of the world’s “shit hole’ countries – his administration, that is the Defense Department and what is left of the State Department – have been actively engaged in the American version of geo-political social engineering there. Why should he? After all there are no Trump Towers in Addis Ababa.

The Washington Administration  is trying to reshape the Ethiopian political landscape in order to give it a new, more democratic gloss after 26 years of supporting what was one of Africa’s most repressive governments in exchange for its doing Washington’s dirty work in Ethiopia. If Ethiopia’s image is being polished up, the underlying power relations of “the new Ethiopia” will remain unchanged.

Putting make-up on the corpse that has been Ethiopia since 1991  means playing down Washington’s unflinching support for its dictatorship whose military and security forces it has financed, armed and trained. It means playing down embarrassments like the Obama Administration’s claim that the 2015 elections in which the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) won 100% of the vote was “democratic”, the U.S. creation and training of Ethiopian death squads, the Agazi units, the 2007 Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, etc. Read more…

Ethiopia and the Iran Factor: Fourth in a Series.

July 27, 2018

1. Ethiopia and The Iranian Factor. What is “the Iran Factor?”

What is most intriguing about the media hype extolling the change in prime ministers in Ethiopia and the fledgling reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea is what is left out of the news. There is very little in the news – virtually nothing – about what hasn’t changed in Ethiopia (like essentially everything other than the new prime minister). While there was a reconfiguration at the top – cosmetic or real yet to be determined – in Ethiopia, no such juggling can be observed with Eritrean leadership, one of the most closed and repressive in Africa. While Ethiopia and Eritrea have “made nice” to each other for the first time in decades – more than likely as a result of threats and possible bribes of one kind or another from Washington – Ethiopian troops have yet to withdraw from the contested town of Badme as promised according to the Algiers Agreement of 2000.

But the biggest omission is elsewhere: the general failure of the U.S. (and European) media to report the long standing security and military relations between Washington and Addis Ababa. Without some understanding of the basic dynamics of these relations, one cannot understand what is behind Washington’s pressure for change in Ethiopia. Bottom line: fear of what I have dubbed “the Iran Factor.” (the security and military arrangements will follow in another blog entry). Read more…

Ethiopians Celebrate the Collapse of Hailimariam Desalegn Dictatorship: Unfortunately There Are No Messiahs – 3

July 27, 2018

1. Ethiopia’s “Savior” Headed To Washington

Despite all indications to the contrary, many people look to some kind of modern day messiah, savior, to lead them out of misery and oppression. Unfortunately, messiah’s don’t come very frequently and when they do in Africa (a la Lumumba, Thomas Sankara), they have a long history of being assassinated or, if they survive, being compromised (a la Senghor, Sadat, Dos Santos). At best they represent, bring together in one person, the aspirations, the collective values of a people; at worst, they degenerate into demagogues whose promises soon deteriorate into the mud, controlled largely by outside forces and the thinnest of thin social strata in their own country.

Over the next few days, Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed (1), will visit the United States. From the announcements I have been able to see, his first stop will be Washington DC, site of the largest Ethiopian Community in the United States. He’ll meet with the community as well as with officials in the Trump Administration before returning home to Addis Ababa.

The celebrations of Ethiopia’s U.S. diaspora community coincide with the Abiy Ahmed’s upcoming visit to the United States. He’ll also visit Minneapolis and Los Angeles to connect to other large Ethiopian communities. His appointment – he wasn’t elected – as prime minister by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has ignited hope for badly needed change both in Ethiopia and among the Ethiopia diaspora, including the 500,000 strong community in the United States. Read more…