Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Last Obama Stronghold In Libya About to Fall

by Oui Sun Jan 19th, 2020 at 01:37:45 PM EST

It is well known that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton favoured the coalition of Turkey, Qatar and Morsi of Egypt for rapprochement to Iran. This proved to be a too daring policy and was shut out of the air by Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Emirates and most important the opposition Republicans in Congress.

After removing Colonel Gaddafi from power in Libya, the struggle for the nation and its fossil fuels supplies began. The dozens of tribes in Libya sought new alliances. A protected CIA asset from Alexandria, Virginia, returned from exile to set up a militia centred around Benghazi and the oil infrastructure on the coast. Haftar eliminated strongmen competition and his influence grew supported by the Sunni Arab states.

    Khalifa Hifter was once a top military officer for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, but after a disastrous military adventure in Chad in the late 1980s, Hifter [also spelled Haftar, Hefter] switched to the anti-Gadhafi opposition. In the early 1990s, he moved to suburban Virginia, where he established a life but maintained ties to anti-Gadhafi groups.


    According to a State Department summary of the meeting ...

    The episode and others like it, the officials said, reflect a Libyan culture rife with corruption, kickbacks, strong-arm tactics and political patronage since the United States reopened trade with Colonel Qaddafi's government in 2004. As American and international oil companies, telecommunications firms and contractors moved into the Libyan market, they discovered that Colonel Qaddafi or his loyalists often sought to extract millions of dollars in "signing bonuses" and "consultancy contracts" -- or insisted that the strongman's sons get a piece of the action through shotgun partnerships. [Source: McClatchy and Business Insider]

The Morocco Agreement of 2015 was ratified by a unanimous decision of the UN Security Council. It established to GNA government in Tripoli and lasted until the end of 2016 with the loss of Democrats to the Republicans of Trump.

The GNA was supported by Morocco, Tunisia, Italy, Greece and the global powers. After the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt, strongman Gen. Sisi turned to the Sunni States of the Gulf for funding and economic recovery. The Suez Canal was widened for higher proceeds of shipping and initiatives were started for industrial zones offering a great number of jobs.

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The EU28 Is Dead - Long Live the New EU3!

by Oui Fri Jan 17th, 2020 at 12:08:29 PM EST

We have all become Anglo-Saxons now.

UK must get post-Brexit 'defence privileges', says German minister | The Guardian |

The European Union should offer Britain "privileged third-party status" in defence and foreign policy cooperation after Brexit, the German defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has said in a speech in London.

She said that such status should include access to projects such as Future Combat Air System, the Franco-German stealth jet programme.

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Impeachment gets real

by ARGeezer Fri Jan 17th, 2020 at 08:46:26 AM EST

Until yesterday it seemed likely that the best possible outcome of Trump's impeachment would be that the evidence would be presented and widely known and that this might make his reelection less likely. That the Senate would convict seemed very unlikely. The question was whether the Senate would even hear from witnesses, other than those already deposed by the House Intelligence Commitee.

The two part interview of Lev Parnas by Rachael Maddow, aired Wednesday and Thursday night has had impact. Parnas revealed that Jay Sekulow from the White House Office of Counsel, who was presented as one of  President Trump's Trump's defenders in the Senate proceeding, had reluctantly directed Parnas in some of his endeavors for Rudy Guiliani in Ukraine. This likely presents a conflict of interest for Sekulow. This is likely a problem for Trump, as he wants an attorney he can trust - a mouthpiece.

Parnas also stated that John Dowd, formerly a legal adviser to Trump in the Mueller probe, had tried to convince him to be a fall guy when he came to 'help' Parnas after Parnas was arrested in the fall. Parnas fired him on the spot. Parnas claimed that his motive for going public while under federal indictment was that he feared what William Barr, Attorney General, and Barr's Justice Department might do to him more than he feared conviction under existing charges. Parnas also implicated Barr in the Ukraine affair.

Already, three Republican Senators, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, have indicated that they favor calling additional witnesses. Even if there are no more Republican Senators forthcoming, this might result in a tie vote which Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts could break, possibly in favor of additional witnesses. John Cornyn of Texas has noted that the Senate is the jury and should not be deciding how the trial is conducted. Michael Bennett of Colorado has been critical of Trump over withholding funds illegally, per the General Accounting Office memo, and in violation of his oath to faithfully execute the laws of the nation.

I suspect that the dam has broken and that many more may sign on to having a full and fair impeachment trial. This inherently brings into play the ambitions of some Senators to be the next Republican Presidential Nominee. First Trump has to go. In situations like this Senators find safety in numbers - herd instinct. It looks like the herd is getting spooked.

Interesting times. Stay tuned.

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The narcissism of minor differences

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jan 14th, 2020 at 08:46:08 PM EST

An Taoiseach Leo Varadker has called a general election in Ireland for February 8th. - in the immediate wake of Brexit actually happening at the end of January and the devolved institutions being restored in N. Ireland following an agreement between the N. Ireland parties and the British and Irish governments.

The timing is significant for a number of reasons. Fine Gael's slim Dail majority had become increasingly precarious as the "confidence and supply" agreement with Fianna Fail had faltered and as various independent and other TD's threatened to withdraw their support. A no-confidence motion in Health Minister Simon Harris could well have been carried and would have further high-lighted the governments greatest failing while in office.

Leo Varadker and deputy prime Minister (Tanaiste) Simon Coveney are widely seen as having done a good job on Brexit and so it was in their interest to hold the election while Brexit was still high on the news and political agenda. When the two governments and the N. Ireland parties finally agreed to the restoration of the N. I. Assembly and Executive after a 3 year hiatus, another important item on the Government's to do list was ticked off.

That said, a win for Leo Varadker and Fine Gael is anything but a done deal. Fine Gael have led the government for almost exactly nine years since 2011 and it is rare for any Irish government to win 3 elections in a row. There is considerable yearning for change in the country, despite full employment, the economy growing at c. 5% p.a., and the government actually running a surplus. Failures in public housing, healthcare, and transport policy have sapped the electorate's patience and homelessness, rapid housing rent increases, hospital waiting lists and impossible commuting times are likely to figure prominently in the campaign.

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Environment Anarchists

by Oui Mon Jan 13th, 2020 at 08:38:32 PM EST

Of course ... domestic terror!

Revealed: US listed climate activist group as 'extremists' alongside mass killers | The Guardian |

A group of US environmental activists engaged in non-violent civil disobedience targeting the oil industry have been listed in internal Department of Homeland Security documents as "extremists" and some of its members listed alongside white nationalists and mass killers.

The group have been dubbed the Valve Turners, after closing the valves on pipelines in four states carrying crude oil from Canada's tar sands on 11 October 2016 which accounted for about 15% of US daily consumption. It was described as the largest coordinated action of its kind and for a few hours the oil stopped flowing.

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Reagan and (Dis)Honor - USS Vincennes 290 Killed

by Oui Mon Jan 13th, 2020 at 09:55:31 AM EST

During the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1989

'Guerrilla Warfare At Sea': Persian Gulf, 1987-88


The U.S. Navy had been operating out of Manama, Bahrain, since 1948. From a nominal presence of five ships, the U.S. flotilla was expanded to a peak of 27 ships and 16,800 personnel assigned to the Joint Middle East Task Force (later to become the 5th Fleet in 1995) in early 1988. American warships sailed the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea. Carrier battle groups rotated duty in the Arabian Sea.

Among the specialized naval units deployed were explosive ordnance disposal detachments, a team of specially trained bottle-nosed dolphins and special warfare outfits. Platoons from five SEAL teams and 23 detachments from a half dozen Special Boat Units served during the convoy operations. Several Contingency Marine Air-Ground Task Forces also saw duty in the Gulf.

Navy carrier units formed the backbone of air support. But the Air Force provided E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System planes, which routinely flew 24-hour surveillance patrols. Strategic Air Command sent KC-10 and KC-135 tankers.

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A Final Warning

by Oui Fri Jan 10th, 2020 at 08:59:56 PM EST

How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler | Smithsonian |

Reports on the rise of fascism in Europe were not the American media's finest hour

How to cover the rise of a political leader who's left a paper trail of anti-constitutionalism, racism and the encouragement of violence? Does the press take the position that its subject acts outside the norms of society? Or does it take the position that someone who wins a fair election is by definition "normal," because his leadership reflects the will of the people?

These are the questions that confronted the U.S. press after the ascendance of fascist leaders in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Ukraine Plane Crash - East-West Conspiracies

by Oui Thu Jan 9th, 2020 at 08:27:17 PM EST



I had written a few posts about Ukraine flight -- CFM56 engine failures --  

Early this morning in a Dutch newspaper I read of a suspicion that missile debris was found on the crash site. It was linked to a Ukrainian expert Oleksiy Danilev who leads a team of investigators and on their way to Tehran. In search who this person was, I found out the following:

Zelensky appoints Danilov as Secretary of National Defense Council

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky appointed Oleksiy Danilov as Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC), having previously dismissed him from the office of NSDC Deputy Secretary. The respective decrees were published on the official website of the president.

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Icon Che Guevara Replaced by Qassam Soleimani

by Oui Wed Jan 8th, 2020 at 07:30:22 PM EST

Trump created a hero for the Muslim Shia community - a legend is born.  

Assassination elevates Soleimani as icon of resistance | France24 |

Portraits of Qasem Soleimani have been carried aloft in rallies from Gaza to Yemen, raising the prospect that his violent death will elevate him as an icon of anti-American resistance.

The powerful Iranian commander, who was buried on Wednesday, was hailed as a "living martyr" in the Islamic republic for his military and strategic exploits that included halting the Islamic State group as it rampaged across Iraq and Syria.

Soleimani spearheaded Iran's Middle East operations as head of the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, masterminding Shiite proxy militias, and some Sunni allies, in a career that saw President Donald Trump brand him a "monster".

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More Spanish repression

by IdiotSavant Mon Jan 6th, 2020 at 10:59:24 PM EST

Back in December, the European Court of Justice ruled that jailed Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras was a Member of the European Parliament and therefore had immunity from prosecution. In a democratic state under the rule of law, he would have been immediately released from prison (and compensated for his illegal detention), as his "conviction" occurred after his election. Instead, Spain continued to detain him. And now, Spain's Central Electoral Commission has declared that he is no longer an MEP, on the basis of that purported conviction.

But it doesn't stop there. The Central Electoral Commission has also purported to unseat Catalan President Quim Torra, using anti-terrorist law, and in explicit violation of Catalonia's statute of autonomy (which places that power solely in the hands of the Catalan Parliament). The Catalan Parliament isn't going to accept this, and is going to assert its rights, which will set it up for another direct collision with the Spanish judiciary.

In both cases, the message is clear: elected Catalans will not be allowed to advocate for independence, no matter what the law says. Hopefully, higher levels of the Spanish judiciary will correct these decisions. If not, the European courts will. But its just another example of Spanish repression, and another reminder that if Catalans want to be free of it, they need to be free of Spain.

(And meanwhile, Spain's parliament is debating a new government, on which the abstention of the Catalan Republican Left is vital. They've extracted promises of direct government-to-government negotiations on independence, with a public vote in Catalonia on the outcome, and they've made it clear that they will pull the plug and topple the government if those promises aren't kept. But with repression continuing, and political prisoners still in jail, its an awful risk for the ERC, and they may be punished by their voters for it).

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Iran Hostilities: Retaliation Missiles Launched [Update]

by Oui Mon Jan 6th, 2020 at 03:13:32 PM EST

The cowboy diplomacy that has been part of the Republican foreign policy "strategy" will put a strain on the US-EU relations and all other alliances with America. There is really no surprise in the events culminating in war talk and military attacks just short of a declaration of war between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. After shredding the JCPOA treaty, the US has returned to its 40 years of war on Iran with the harshest of economic sanctions.

Where President George W. Bush was moderated by just a few wiser guys than he himself was, although VP Dick Cheney, surrounded by a Neocon cabal, took the reins more than once. The invasion and occupation of Iraq was a ugly turning point for the well being in ME and a tricky balance between Sunni and Shia in the region. Two autocrats with great influence in the region, Egypt's president Mubarak and the Saudi Wahhabist ruler King Abdullah both strongly opposed the impending war. They clearly warned it would open a Pandora's Box with an uncertain outcome. They were right, the Shia majority would lead in the aftermath and once democratisering would gain a foothold, would be linked to its powerful neighbor Iran.

The Neocons had always set their sight on neighbouring states of Israel, so Lebanon, Libya and Syria would follow.

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Revered Martyrs? Holy Hell!

by ARGeezer Sun Jan 5th, 2020 at 02:46:40 AM EST

We have seen Qassem Soleimani refered to here and in the US media as a 'revered martyr'. It is understandable that he might be revered and seen as a martyr in Iran and by Shia Iraqis, but there is no reason for US media to repeat that framing for US audiences. Soleimani was a brilliant strategist but no more to be revered than any pedophile prelate, prostitute politician or US general. I am struck by the smirk that is so often on his face, especially when basking in the approval of the Supreme Leader. He is more aptly compared to the IRA strategists behind the London bombings in the 20th century. Repeating the  characterization of 'revered martyr' both reinforces Iranian propaganda and simultaneously makes US journalists using it look  ridiculous and/or or suspect to a good portion of the US population.

The claim that Soleimani almost single-handedly saved Shia Islam is surely hyperbolie. Shia have been persecuted by Suni since the death of Ali, but yet they survive and flourish. They have well earned their reputation for being a persecuted minority. But now they are the ones doing the persecuting in Iran. Shia are in control there and have dealt harshly with many of the ethnic minorities that had served the Persian Empire. They won't even allow Baha'i children in Iran to attend school. Many Iranian ex-pats I knew in LA were minorities, Jews, Baha'i, Kurds, etc. The Persian empire under the Shahs was a much friendlier place for ethnic and religious minorities. Now Iran 'enjoys' Shia triumphalism.

None of this is intended to justify the sorry way in which Western powers from the Crusades to British and French Imperialism, the legacy of which was assumed by the US, has treated Suni and Shia alike nor to pick sides between them. Saudi Whabi and Salafi in general are a match in fanaticism for anything Shia Islam has to offer. It is still the Middle Ages in the Middle East.  

Ironically, Soliemani in death may accomplish what he could not in life - the removal of the USA from the Middle East. But that will be mostly attributable to Trump. Trump acted without thinking through the situation and mostly out of his sense of needing to look good. But he has no long term plan other than to leave the Mid East. It is almost fitting that the foolish misadventure of Bush 43 and of Trump will likely be bookends to the period of intense involvement in Iraq and Syria. This will be a sad development for all those in the region who hoped for a more secular government, but Republicans and Trump in particular do not believe in 'nation building'.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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United States of America Declared a Bandit State

by Oui Sat Jan 4th, 2020 at 10:16:10 AM EST

Europe and nations across the globe should express their disgust with the acts of banditry and bullying of the President . There should be no room for acts of fascism humanity had hoped to have left behind the genocides of the 20th century that tore up society. The lone action of the world's most powerful nation in terms of the economy and military, should be a shining example, not the acts crossing International Law and the Geneva Conventions. Friends of America or no friends of human kind by keeping silent or going through the motions of criticism without sanctioning barbaric acts.

Ever since the attacks of 9/11, the U.S. and allied nations have torn up existing laws in order to get the "bad guys". By doing so, terrorism across the globe has flourished and increased a tenfold with over a million deaths of innocent civilians: fathers, mothers and children. This got to stop NOW before the community f nations are dragged into an all consuming nuclear stand-off or a Third World War.

Planet Earth is in jeopardy, destruction will be complete once the Middle East explodes into a war of aggression. Members of U.S. Congress are a representation of the American people and are in many ways more hawkish on foreign policy than the President himself ... a perpetuum motion of destruction lies ahead of us. Democracy as was intended by the Founding Fathers has floundered for decades ... the Trump campaign won over the Electoral College but the popular vote was for the candidate of the Democrats Hillary Clinton by over three million votes.

More below the fold ...

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

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Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani Martyred In Baghdad

by Oui Fri Jan 3rd, 2020 at 05:32:58 AM EST

Yesterday's call by an American former Intelligence officer ...

Former intelligence officer calls on US to murder Iraq's PMU leader

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Social-Democrats and Leftists Need to Fight Back

by Oui Thu Jan 2nd, 2020 at 07:44:12 PM EST

Smearing of progressives has become part of a new doctrine by populist rightwing politicians, media and the twitter rage. As the election results begin to shift due to social media bots and pressure groups, we should not only take notice but fight against the libel campaign. I've written about this phenomena in modern society for many years now. I must conclude that the propaganda has gone mainstream and needs to be halted. After the surprise win by Trump with alt-right support, The New York Times hired a new crowd of populist, rightwing proponents for the quick news cycle to feed the Trump supporters.

Palestinians can have human rights when they start winning Nobel Prizes -- Bret Stephens | Mondoweiss - Dec. 29, 2019 |

There is a big controversy unfolding over Bret Stephens's latest column, in which he says that the secret of Jewish genius is that Jews are more imaginative moral thinkers than anyone else. Even Fox News is saying that it is racist, and quoting Sen. Brian Schatz saying that the column crossed a line.

Stephens's argument is that Jews are not just smarter by IQ data, but they think differently. Jewish intelligence is "so often matched by such bracing originality and high-minded purpose."

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Happy New Year to one and all

by Frank Schnittger Tue Dec 31st, 2019 at 07:25:56 PM EST

For many people 2019 was a year to forget and the decade of the 2010's wasn't much better. What were your highs and lows, funniest moments, and greatest achievements or regrets?

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East-West Schism: Destruction Process Inside Europe

by Oui Sun Dec 29th, 2019 at 10:40:27 AM EST

I had not been aware of this manifesto by the European Parliament ... putting the final nail in revisionism of the events leading up to Nazi Germany invading and conquering most of continental Europe and the Second World War. It were the Communists and the Soviet Union that need to undergo a modern Nuremburg Trial for war crimes during Stalin's reign.

I'm aware of a long campaign to propagandize the evils of Russia and white-wash the role played by the Allied Nations. Russia and Putin weren't invited to commemorate the soldiers who fell on D-Day in Normandy as other leaders were proud to be seen as victors in the defeat of Nazi Germany. There has been a revival in commemorating the end of that Great War. Instead, Europe should be celebrating the fact that we have lived in an age without a major outbreak of hostilities. We should be thankful to the founding of the EEC of six nations and the expansion of the European Union on the principles of Four Freedoms.

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Book Report: Minitel, Welcome to the Internet

by asdf Sat Dec 28th, 2019 at 10:28:45 PM EST

I have been reading this book by Julien Mailland and Kevin Driscoll about France's Minitel system, which is universally unknown to Americans. Europeans will know that it was a system with basic terminals installed in homes and kiosks and businesses that allowed digital communication and services comparable to what we now know as the Internet. It was operational from 1983 to 2007, peaking in 1993.

The book gives a high level overview of the technical architecture, but not much in the way of details. The focus is on the social aspects of the system: how it was used and the impact on society as a result.

Also there is quite a bit of discussion about the implications of having a centrally managed and government regulated communication platform as compared to the Internet's decentralized and lightly regulated setup. One wonders whether the Internet's freedom will be its downfall: a serious breach of a national banking system or voting system or infrastructure system may induce a government clampdown on the current free-for-all.

The book is one of a series of "platform studies" from The MIT Press. I would rate it as a 7/10 because of the missing technical detail.


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UN Extends Dag Hammarskjold Investigation

by Oui Sat Dec 28th, 2019 at 03:03:36 PM EST

One if the many great mysteries ... could be resolved by opening intelligence dossiers of South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.

UN extends probe into mysterieus 1961 death of Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold | France24 |

Home comforts

by Frank Schnittger Thu Dec 26th, 2019 at 01:11:47 PM EST

House clad in 120MM insulation and with new ventilation grills visible near the apex of the roof.

The last 6 months have been a crazy busy time for me and my family as we have a new baby in the house and are (hopefully) moving towards the end of a major home renovation. My eldest daughter, her partner and new baby have been forced to move into the family home by Dublin's crazy house prices and it has given us the opportunity to have a major rethink about how the family home should function.

I could no longer justify having a detached house largely to myself, and so their move is very welcome from my point of view. They have injected a new energy into the house and increased our ambition for what the house can achieve. A government deep-retrofit scheme has enabled us to improve its energy rating from a very average (for a 1980's house) D rating to A1 - the highest possible, and it is now apparently one of the ten most energy efficient older houses in Ireland.

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News and Views

 December 2019

by Colman - Dec 11, 383 comments

Your take on this month's news

 End of Year (and possibly times) thread

by Colman - Dec 11, 77 comments

What could possibly go wrong?

Occasional Series
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Top Diaries

Impeachment gets real

by ARGeezer - Jan 17

A Final Warning

by Oui - Jan 10

Environment Anarchists

by Oui - Jan 13

More Spanish repression

by IdiotSavant - Jan 6