Middle Eastern Christians in dire straits – but the West doesn’t want to know

Middle Eastern Christians in dire straits – but the West doesn’t want to know
Since the nineties it has been apparent even in secular company that persecution of Christians was rampant in some countries. Yet beyond lip service, there is no international effort to change this disastrous situation.

More Christians died for their faith in the past century alone than in the history of Christianity to that point  – chiefly at the hands of atheist regimes (mainly in the past) and Salafist militants like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and others (now). The destabilization of the Middle East over the past two decades has had a devastating impact on the region’s native Christian population. In Iraq, a population that numbered more than a million in the 1990s dwindled to less than a third of that in the wake of the US-led invasion and removal of the secular government of Saddam Hussein. In Syria, under threat since 2011 by Salafist groups armed and funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other countries – the US shamefully included – Christians seemed to be facing a similar fate.

But lately there have been grounds for hope. Christmas is particularly joyful this year in Syria. Aleppo, Homs, and other cities liberated from years of oppression by jihadists had reason to celebrate – and the freedom to do so – care of the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Air Force. Mosul in Iraq was cleared of ISIS fighters by US-led coalition. God willing, 2018 will see the freeing of other areas still under terrorist control.

Even when peace returns to Syria and Iraq, there will still be a formidable task of rebuilding. Earlier this year the US Agency for International Development made a point of announcing it would bypass United Nations agencies in order to “create high-quality, effective, and efficient partnerships” to help return members of “minorities” and “diverse religious and ethnic groups” to their homes across Iraq. Evidently, even under President Donald Trump official US government agencies are loath to explicitly refer to the faith, though commendably Vice President Mike Pence did do so when addressing a Christian conference.

The Russian government – which for years has spoken out against Christian genocide in the Middle East – has pledged its assistance in the rebuilding of Syrian churches, with the participation of the Orthodox Church and religious organizations. But why shouldn’t the governments of other countries pitch in too, not just for generic reconstruction or aid to displaced persons but specifically to help maintain Christians in the region where Christianity was born?

Apart from a few notable exceptions like Pence and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Western governments are still squeamish when talking about persecution of Christianity, which by far is the most widely persecuted religion on earth. But why? The State Department has no trouble at all saying “Muslim” when referring to, for example, Myanmar today or to Bosnia and Kosovo in the past. For example, when speaking in support of Kosovan independence, US Congressional leaders openly spoke of promoting a “US-Muslim partnership” and lauding the fact that “the United States leads the way for the creation of a predominantly Muslim country in the very heart of Europe.”

Would the same officials ever call for a US-Christian partnership or for Washington to play midwife to the birth of a predominantly Christian state – anywhere? Of course not.

To their credit, the governments of majority Muslim countries are not at all embarrassed to stick up for members of their own faith. In particular, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (the OIC), a group of 57 mostly Muslim-majority countries, bills itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world.” Despite intra-Islamic conflicts – notably the Sunni-Shiite divide between Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively – the OIC is vocal in promoting a unified Muslim perspective on issues where there is a broad consensus.

For example, the OIC issued a strong statement denouncing US President Donald Trump’s declaration that the United States considers Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital. The OIC’s information chief also took a position on the internal affairs of traditionally Christian European countries, to the effect that mass Muslim migration is really doing Europe a big favor.

Where is the comparable Christian voice? After all, there are more majority-Christian countries (about 120) than majority-Muslim (about 50). There are approximately 2.5 billion people who identify as Christians, versus 1.8 billion Muslims.There are about 30 countries where Christianity or a particular church has a leading status defined in law, or where a church’s preeminence is customary, like the status of Orthodoxy in Russia or Roman Catholicism in Ireland, as opposed to about 20 where Islam is legally established. The flags of about 20 countries include specifically Islamic symbols, such the crescent moon. In contrast, about 30 national flags carry a depiction of the Christian cross, with an additional dozen or so if naval ensigns are counted, for example the Saint Andrew’s cross on the flags of the Russian and Belgian fleets, and the Saint George’s cross on the ensigns of India, Italy, South Africa, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and others whose civil flags do not display a cross.

In short, there is certainly a sufficient global “constituency” for a hypothetical Christian Counterpart for the OIC. (For the purposes of discussion, let’s call it the Organisation of Christian Cooperation,” or the OCC.) A future OCC should not only welcome all majority Christian countries but others where Christians are numerically or socially significant. For example, while South Korea is only about one-third Christian, Christians form a solid majority of that country’s citizens participating in organized religion. About thirty countries in sub-Saharan Africa would be obvious OCC Member State candidates, as would virtually all of Latin America. China and India, where Christian minorities outnumber the total populations of many majority-Christian countries, should be welcomed as Members or Observers.

A good place for global intergovernmental Christian cooperation to start might be with the collaboration between the world’s two biggest confessions, Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. This involves not only church-to-church contacts (symbolized by the 2016 meeting in Cuba of Pope Francis and Russian Patriarch Kirill) but state-to-state activity (symbolized by meetings between Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 and 2015). Keep in mind that in addition to his spiritual role the Roman pontiff is the ruler of the Holy See – a sovereign, independent state with an active, worldwide diplomatic mission.

Syria and the plight of Middle Eastern Christians were very much on the agenda of the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who in August 2017 met with both Putin and Kirill in Moscow. According to Claire Giangravè of the Roman Catholic publication, Crux, there was a lot of agreement between the two sides:

“Already in late 2013, Francis was largely responsible for helping to head off an anti-Assad Western offensive in Syria, after news broke that the government [supposedly] had used chemical weapons against its rebelling populace.

“This was not done casually by the Vatican, as Catholic voices on the ground had shown support for the Assad regime, which seems to them less dangerous than an unknown and unpredictable alternative. Putin, from his side, has been a strong critic of efforts to impose democratic [sic] states in the Middle East and views the Syrian president as the only hope for stabilization in the crucial region.”

Reports Crux from Rome“As the leadership role of the United States in the Middle East falters, Russia has reiterated its commitment to bringing peace and stability to the region – and safeguarding its Christian communities and heritage.” If the Vatican and Russia can come to a common position on supporting Christians in the Middle East, perhaps it can point to a way for other countries also to get actively involved. Despite recent fears that Christianity was doomed to extinction in the region – most drastically in Iraq – the approaching defeat of the jihadists in Syria may be grounds for optimism.

After all, Christmas is the season of hope!

Jim Jatras for RT.

Jim Jatras is a former US diplomat (with service in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs during the Reagan administration) and was for many years a senior foreign policy adviser to the US Senate Republican leadership.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

‘I ran for a day and a night’: Yazidi girls share blood-curdling stories of ISIS slavery

A woman who spent three years as an ISIS slave and a girl who was only five when taken are among the lucky few to have returned home, while hundreds of Yazidi girls remain in captivity. RT spoke to them about the ordeal.

Samiyah was pregnant when Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants descended on her village in 2014. After three bitter years of slavery in the former IS Syrian stronghold of Deir ez-Zor she managed to break free and was finally brought home a mere three weeks ago.

RT’s Murad Gazdiev traveled to the northern Iraqi district of Dohuk, where the former captive lives with her mother. She told him of her despair when IS ransacked the village, capturing her husband and almost all of her family. To escape her fate, she chose to take poison. Though it proved not enough to kill her, it was fatal to her unborn child.

“I was left alone with my mother. So I took poison, I decided it was better to die. When they caught me, I thought that since my family, my husband and my house were gone, it would be better to die,”she told Murad.

Soon, Samiyah joined some 3,000 Yazidi women and girls, turned into forced laborers and subjected to daily rape. Seeing the Yazidis as devil-worshippers, their IS captors treated the girls as commodities.

“The men would offer us as gifts. In the evenings, they would get together and trade the women, and have their fun with us,” Samiyah recalls.

IS brutality against the Yazidis was recognized as genocide by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, investigating human rights abuses in the protracted conflict.

Samiyah fled during one of the bombings, breaking the window of her sealed cell. She said she ran for “a day and a night” before a local family sheltered her and told her where the Kurdish YPG units were. She threw herself on the mercy of the YPG as soon as she reached them, and within two weeks she had made her way home.

Inas is now nine years old, and her mother found herself in a state of utter despair when all her family members either perished or went missing, including her then 5-year-old daughter.

“It was indescribable for me. Life turned into endless suffering, tears, and hunger. I couldn’t do anything but cry,” she told RT.
Nevertheless, she did not give up hope of finding her child. She posted the girl’s photo on Facebook, and everything changed overnight when someone contacted her relatives, reporting having seen Inas.

In order to reunite with her daughter, she first had to collect $10,000, a ransom demanded by the human traffickers.

“The seller was in Turkey, but said he would deliver her to Baghdad. We paid over 10,000 dollars,” she told RT. After four years away from her mother, Inas did not at first recognize her. The child seems happy, but it will undoubtedly take her some time yet to adjust to a normal life after all that she has been through.

Courtesy: RT

Fighters from US-backed SDF describe unimpeded ISIS exodus from Raqqa on their watch

Fighters from US-backed SDF describe unimpeded ISIS exodus from Raqqa on their watch
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have provided RT’s Ruptly video service with footage confirming reports of a hundreds-strong Islamic State convoy leaving its former stronghold, Raqqa, completely unimpeded.

RT’s Ruptly video news agency has spoken with SDF fighters in Syria, who confirmed for the first time that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants freely left Raqqa in what was previously described by a BBC investigative report as an IS “exodus.” The SDF fighters were on watch when they witnessed and filmed heavy trucks, buses and cars carrying IS militants from the liberated city.

“We saw them with our own eyes. I was on shift at the grain containers turnabout when IS were leaving. There were many of them, we were not afraid of them,” one SDF fighter told Ruptly in late November. He showed the footage featuring the convoy on his mobile phone, saying that he had recorded it and kept it.

“I saw IS, they left with locomotives and buses, they took their luggage and headed towards Rumelan,” another SDF fighter said. “They carried on till Deir [ez-Zor]. I don’t know where they headed to after that, whether to Abu-Kamal or to Mayadeen, they took that road.”

He added there were about 1,000 injured IS fighters and about 2,000 who seemed unhurt.

In November, the BBC reported that a “secret deal” between the US and British-led coalition and the Kurdish forces allowed hundreds of IS terrorists to leave Raqqa peacefully in a long convoy comprised of up to 50 trucks, more than a dozen buses and around 100 other vehicles. Initially neither the coalition nor the Kurdish forces admitted their part in giving free passage to the terrorists. However, Col Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, later said the deal was never a secret, confirming Washington accepted the agreement.

The Syrian city of Raqqa, once the de facto IS capital, came under the control of the SDF on October 20, following four months of airstrikes, artillery shelling and heavy urban fighting. What was left of the city was described by international journalists as “hell on Earth” due to the scale of destruction. With some 80 percent of the city destroyed, Raqqa remains a heavily-mined “ghost town.”

“Raqqa’s fate calls to mind that of Dresden in 1945, leveled by the US-British bombings,” the Russian Defense Ministry said following the US-spearheaded “liberation,” referring to the notorious World War II air campaign, during which American and British bombers obliterated the center of the German city, killing some 25,000 civilians.

Courtesy: RT

West should boast about its ‘decisive victories’ in Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya, not Syria – Zakharova

West should boast about its ‘decisive victories’ in Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya, not Syria – Zakharova
The US-led coalition should brag about its ‘accomplishments’ in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, instead of over exaggerating its own role in Syria while diminishing Moscow’s achievements in the victory over IS terrorists, Russia’s foreign ministry has said.

On Saturday, the US-led Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) dismissed the Russian defense ministry announcement earlier this week, which proclaimed the liberation of Syria from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), with only “some spots of resistance” remaining across the war-torn country. Brushing aside Russia’s achievements in Syria, a CJTF-OIR representative told Sputnik that terrorists continue to operate in the Deir ez-Zor province.

“The US-led coalition, not the Russian Federation or Syrian Regime, is the only force that has made meaningful progress against [Daesh/ISIS],” the spokesman told the news agency.

Just before that announcement, French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, also refused to acknowledge Moscow’s role in defeating IS, instead, accusing Russia of “appropriating” the US-led coalition victory.

“I sometimes find it a little surprising that Russia appropriates the victory against Daesh,” Le Drian told the BFMTV channel, adding, that the demise of IS came “thanks to the actions of the coalition.”

Earlier Wednesday, President Donald Trump praised himself and Secretary of Defense James Mattis for their achievements in bringing IS to its knees. “He’s knocked the hell out of them,” Trump boasted during a cabinet meeting. “Of course, I made it possible by what I let you do, right?” Trump lightheartedly asked Mattis.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, took note of the statements which significantly downplayed Moscow’s role, and ‘advised’ Western politicians to focus on their perceived successes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, where over the years, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, infrastructure destroyed and vast numbers left in ruins.

US claims full credit for any ‘meaningful’ anti- fight in  https://on.rt.com/8udm 

US claims full credit for any ‘meaningful’ anti-ISIS fight, denies hampering Russia’s Syria op — RT…

Washington has rejected Russia’s contribution in eradicating ISIS in Syria, claiming that only the US-led coalition has made meaningful progress

rt.com

“Our Western partners have been saying in the recent days that it was not Russia but them, the coalition, who defeated Islamic State in Syria,” Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page, especially calling out the Le Drian statement. “Dear Sirs, stop it! Your successes are in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. You should be proud of them,”she sarcastically pointed out.

Russia’s defense ministry also found it “strange” hearing from the French foreign minister that Moscow has somehow “awarded” itself the victory over ISIS.

“The defeat of IS in Syria is first of all result of actions by the Syrian leadership and governmental forces,” the ministry said. “With the support of the Russian Air Force, the Syrian armed forces liberated from IS terrorists hundreds of settlements and returned under control of the legitimate leadership practically the entire territory of the country.”

Russia began providing military support to Syria following an official request from Damascus in 2015 to prevent the terrorists from completely overrunning the country. Russia’s help allowed the Syrian Arab Army to turn the tide and liberate large swathes of the country previously occupied by the jihadists. Smashing the blockade of Deir ez-Zor, the terrorists last stronghold in eastern Syria, represented a turning point in this year’s campaign against the terrorists, ultimately leading to their demise.

The US coalition, meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry stated, was only able to accomplish a so-called ‘liberation’ of Raqqa, with that ‘victory’ coming through a complete destruction of the city. The coalition also impeded Syrian government forces, conducting direct air strikes on their positions in Deir ez-Zor, the ministry said.

“In three years of its presence in Syria, the coalition only recently achieved its first ‘result’ in the fight against Daesh by destroying Raqqa along with civilians,” the ministry said“That is why, if there is any positive role of the international coalition in defeating Daesh in Syria, it is only that it did not manage to destroy other Syrian cities with its carpet bombing, like it did with Raqqa.”

Courtesy: RT

Trump, Mattis turn military loose on ISIS, leaving terror caliphate in tatters

Hundreds of ISIS fighters had just been chased out of a northern Syrian city and were fleeing through the desert in long convoys, presenting an easy target to U.S. A-10 “warthogs.”

But the orders to bomb the black-clad jihadists never came, and the terrorists melted into their caliphate — living to fight another day. The events came in August 2016, even as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was vowing on the campaign trail to let generals in his administration crush the organization that, under President Obama, had grown from the “jayvee team” to the world’s most feared terrorist organization.

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U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft said the Trump administration has put a strong leadership team in place  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tracy McKithern)

“I will…quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS,” Trump, who would name legendary Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, promised. “We will not have to listen to the politicians who are losing the war on terrorism.”

ISIS CURSED, MOCKED IN MOSUL, WHERE OLD CITY REMAINS A HAUNTED WASTELAND

Just over a year later, ISIS has been routed from Iraq and Syria with an ease and speed that’s surprised even the men and women who carried out the mission. Experts say it’s a prime example of a campaign promise kept. President Trump scrapped his predecessor’s rules of engagement, which critics say hamstrung the military, and let battlefield decisions be made by the generals in the theater, and not bureaucrats in Washington.

“I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.”

– U.S. Marine Col. Seth Folsom

At its peak, ISIS held land in Iraq and Syria that equaled the size of West Virginia, ruled over as many as 8 million people, controlled oilfields and refineries, agriculture, smuggling routes and vast arsenals. It ran a brutal, oppressive government, even printing its own currency.

OIR_FOLSOM

Lt. Col. Seth Folsom credits the cooperation between Iraqi Security Forces and the U.S-led coalition for the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq.  (Courtesy U.S Army)

The terror organization now controls just 3 percent of Iraq and less than 5 percent of Syria. Its self-styled “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to be injured and holed up somewhere along the lawless border of Syria and Iraq.

ISIS remains a danger, as members who once ruled cities and villages like a quasi-government now live secretly among civilian populations in the region, in Europe and possibly in the U.S. These cells will likely present a terrorist threat for years. In addition, the terrorist organization is attempting to regroup in places such as the Philippines, Libya and the Sinai Peninsula.

But the military’s job — to take back the land ISIS claimed as its caliphate and liberate cities like Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria, as well as countless smaller cities and villages, is largely done. And it has taken less than a year.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis waits to greet Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, upon his arrival at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Mattis, a US Marine Corps general, said there would be no White House micromanaging on his watch  (Associated Press)

“The leadership team that is in place right now has certainly enabled us to succeed,” Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, the ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, told Fox News. “I couldn’t ask for a better leadership team to work for, to enable the military to do what it does best.”

President Trump gave a free hand to Mattis, who in May stressed military commanders were no longer being slowed by Washington “decision cycles,” or by the White House micromanaging that existed President Obama. As a result of the new approach, the fall of ISIS in Iraq came even more swiftly than hardened U.S. military leaders expected.

“It moved more quickly than at least I had anticipated,” Croft said. “We and the Iraqi Security Forces were able to hunt down and target ISIS leadership, target their command and control.”

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U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Robert Sofge said the military now has a clear mandate  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cole Erickson)

IRAQI KURDS STILL LOVE US DESPITE ITS OPPOSITION TO KURDISH INDEPENDENCE, SAYS KURDISH LEADER

After the battle to liberate Mosul – ISIS’ Iraqi headquarters – was completed in July — the U.S.-led coalition retook Tel Afar in August, Hawija in early October and Rawa in Anbar province in November.

Marine Col. Seth Folsom, who oversaw fighting in Al Qaim near the Syrian border, agreed. He wasn’t expecting his part of the campaign against ISIS to get going until next spring and figured even then, it would then “take six months or more.”

Instead, ISIS was routed in Al Qaim in just a few days.

mosul

Mosul, and several other cities liberated by ISIS, were largely destroyed in the fighting.  (Fox News/Hollie McKay)

“We really had one mandate and that was enable the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat ISIS militarily here in Anbar. I feel that we have achieved that mission,” Folsom said. “I never felt constrained. In a lot of ways, I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.”

Brig. Gen. Robert “G-Man” Sofge, the top U.S. Marine in Iraq, told Fox News his commanders have “enjoyed not having to deal with too many distractions and there was no question about what the mission here in Iraq was.”

OIR_

Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool was skeptical of Trump at first, but says success on the ground has been swift  (Fox News/Hollie McKay )

“We were able to focus on what our job was without distraction and I think that goes a long way in what we are trying to accomplish here,” he said.

Sofge said criticism that loosening rules of engagement put civilians at risk is “absolutely not true.”

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Col. Ryan Dillon. Combined Joint Task Force – Inherent Resolve Spokesman  (Photo by CJTFOIR)

“We used precision strikes, and completely in accordance with international standards,” he said. “We didn’t lower that standard, not one little bit. But we were able to exercise that precision capability without distraction and I think the results speak for themselves.”

The U.S.-led coalition said this week the Coalition Civilian Casualty Assessment Team has added 30 new staffers to travel throughout the region. It said military leaders continue to “hold themselves accountable for actions that may have caused unintentional injury or death to civilians.”

The coalition also said dozens of reports of civilian casualties have been determined to be “non-credible,” and just .35 percent of the almost 57,000 separate engagement carried out between August 2014 and October 2017 resulted in a credible report of a civilian casualty.

In addition to air support, the U.S.-led strategy also includes training and equipping Iraqi troops on the ground.

While the Trump administration’s success is often underplayed in the U.S. media, it is obvious on the ground in Iraq, according to a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, Yahya Rasool.

“I was not optimistic when Trump first came to the office,” Rasool said. “But after a while I started to see a new approach, the way the U.S. was dealing with arming and training. I saw how the coalition forces were all moving faster to help the Iraq side more than before. There seemed to be a lot of support, under Obama we did not get this.”

FILE - This file image made from video posted on a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears to be still alive, a top U.S. military commander said Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, contradicting Russia’s claims that it probably killed the top counterterror target months ago.(Militant video via AP, File)

Al-Baghdadi, who once ruled a caliphate the size of California, is now inn hiding and likely badly injured

Despite the victories on the battlefield, U.S. officials cautioned much work remains to be done.

“ISIS is very adaptive,” noted Col. Ryan Dillon, the U.S.-led coalition spokesman. “We are already seeing smaller cells and pockets that take more of an insurgent guerrilla type approach as opposed to an Islamic army or conventional type force. So we have got to be prepared for that.”

He said as a result the coalition is “adjusting some training efforts” so the Iraqi forces — upwards of 150,000 have already undergone training — are equipped to address such threats and ensure long-term stability.

Folsom said “the worst thing we could do” is not finish the job.

“If a country becomes a failed state, if it becomes a lawless region, you begin to set the conditions for what happened in the years before 9/11,” he said. “In those ungoverned spaces where we don’t know what is going on, that is where those seeds of extremism begin to blossom.”

Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay

Courtesy: Fox News

McMaster speaks to Trump’s tweets, North Korea and Middle East peace

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says neither the American people nor U.S. allies should question the stability of the Trump administration amid his predecessor Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and rumors Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is stepping down.

“No, I don’t think our allies need any reassurance,” McMaster told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “In fact, what we’re doing is continuing to work with them on all the key challenges we face today — from North Korea, to the defeat of ISIS across the Greater Middle East — the ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, too.”

McMaster reiterated that President Trump’s main priority is to protect American interests at home and abroad.

Tillerson will continue to be a part of that effort, McMaster said.

“I’m not aware of any plan at all” for Tillerson to resign, he said.

Wallace also asked McMaster about the president’s recent retweets of online posts linked to “Britain First,” a far-right group in the United Kingdom.

Last week, Trump retweeted a video that purported to show Muslim immigrants committing acts of violence. Those depicted in the footage reportedly were European-born.

Wallace noted that many British leaders – including Prime Minister Theresa May – voiced outrage at Trump, saying the president had “got it wrong” and risked needlessly stirring racial and ethnic discord.

“General, why did President Trump send out those videos?” Wallace asked.

“Well, President Trump is the best judge of why he did that,” McMaster said. “I know it was his intention to highlight the importance of creating safe and secure environments for our citizens — to make sure that we have the right laws in place, enforcement mechanisms in place.”

Wallace then suggested that between the Britain First retweets and Trump’s support for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the president might be tossing away any hope of achieving Middle East peace during his presidency.

“No, the president’s not giving up on the Mideast peace agreement at all,” McMaster said.

“There are options involving the move of an embassy at some point in the future, which I think, you know, could be used to gain momentum toward a — toward a peace agreement, and a solution that works both for Israelis and for Palestinians,” McMaster added.

McMaster also addressed North Korea.

Last week, North Korea launched its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile – a provocation to which President Trump replied, “I will only tell you that we will take care of it.”

How exactly would the president “take care of it” given China and Russia’s complicity in propping up the regime, Wallace asked.

“Well, the president’s going to take care of it by, if we have to, doing more ourselves,” McMaster said. “But what we want to do is convince others it is in their interest to do more.

“China, as you know, has taken some unprecedented actions.  And what we’re asking China to do is, not do us or anybody else a favor, but to act in China’s interest.

“There’s a real grave danger to China, to Russia, to all nations, by — you know, from a North Korea that’s armed with nuclear weapons. And of course, you have that direct threat, but you also have the threat of — the potential of Japan, South Korea, others, arming themselves, possibly even with nuclear weapons. That is not in China’s interest; it’s not in Russia’s interest.

“And so, what the president’s saying is, we all need to take care of it. If necessary, the president and the United States will have to take care of it, because he has said he’s not going to allow this murderous, rogue regime to threaten the United States with the most destructive weapons on the planet.”

Courtesy: Fox News

Slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya and the silence of the humanitarian hawks

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya and the silence of the humanitarian hawks
The reports that black Africans are being sold at slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya for as little as $400 is a terrible indictment of the so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’ carried out by NATO to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In March 2011 virtue-signaling Western ‘liberal’ hipsters teamed up with hardcore neocon warmongers to demand action to ‘save’ the Libyan people from the ‘despotic’ leader who had ruled the country since the late 1960s. “Something has to be done!” they cried in unison.

Something was done. Libya was transformed by NATO from the country with the highest Human Development Index in the whole of Africa in 2009 into a lawless hell-hole, with rival governments, warlords and terror groups fighting for control of the country.

Under Gaddafi, Libyans enjoyed free health care and education. Literacy rates went up from around 25 percent to almost 90 percent. A UN Human Rights Council report on Libya from January 2011, in which member states praised welfare provision, can be read here.

It was clear that while there were still areas of concern the country was continuing to make progress on a number of fronts.

In the Daily Telegraph – hardly a paper which could be accused of being an ideological supporter of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – Libya was hailed as one of the top six exotic cruise ship destinations in June 2010.

Cruise ships don’t have Libya on their itineraries today. It’s far too dangerous.

The only surprising thing about the return of slave markets (and it’s worth pointing out that before the CNN report, the UN agency, IOM also reported on their existence in Libya earlier this year) is that anyone should be surprised by it. Human rights and social progress usually go back hundreds of years whenever a NATO ‘humanitarian’ intervention takes place. And that’s not accidental. The ‘interventions,’ which purposely involve heavy bombing of the country’s infrastructure and the subsequent dismantling of the state apparatus are designed to reverse decades of social progress. The ‘failure to plan’ is actually the most important part of the plan, as my fellow OpEdger Dan Glazebrook details in his book Divide and Destroy – The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis.

‘Three countries, three continents: One imperial Western project’ (Op-Edge by @NeilClark66http://on.rt.com/8hbx 

Three countries, three continents: One imperial Western project — RT Op-Edge

A resource-rich, socialist-led, multi-ethnic secular state, with an economic system characterized by a high level of public/social ownership and generous provision of welfare, education and social…

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Libya was targeted, like Yugoslavia and Iraq before it, not because of genuine concerns that ‘another Srebrenica’ was about to take place, (note the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee report of September 2016 held that ‘the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence’) but because it was a resource-rich country with an independently-minded government which operated a predominantly state-owned socialistic economy in a strategically important part of the world.

Neither Libya, Iraq or Yugoslavia did the bidding of the West’s endless war lobby, which is why they were earmarked for destruction. The chaos which routinely follows a NATO regime change op is a ghastly experience for the locals, who see their living standards plummet and their risk of violent death in a terrorist attack greatly increase, but great for rapacious Western corporations who then move in to the ‘liberated’ country en masse, taking advantage of the lack of a strong central authority.

Of course, this is never mentioned in NATO-friendly media. The role of the Western elites in turning previously functioning welfare states into failed states is missing from most mainstream reports on the countries post ‘liberation.’

In his recent piece for FAIR, journalist Ben Norton noted how reports “overwhelmingly spoke of slavery in Libya as an apolitical and timeless human rights issue, not as a political problem rooted in very recent history.

The dominant narrative is that slave markets have re-emerged in Libya ‘as if by magic,’just like Mr. Benn’s shopkeeper. The country’s ’instability’ is mentioned, but not the cause of that instability, namely the violent overthrow of the country’s government in 2011 and the Western backing of extremist, and in some cases blatantly racist, death squads. Everyone is blamed for the mess except the powerful, protected people and lobbyists who are ultimately responsible.

The French government played a leading role in the destruction of Libya in 2011, yet today the French president, the ‘progressive’ Emmanuel Macron blames ‘Africans’ for the country’s slavery problem. “Who are the traffickers? Ask yourselves – being the African youth – that question. You are unbelievable. Who are the traffickers? They are Africans, my friends. They are Africans.

Macron, like other Western leaders, wants us to see the slavery issue in close-up, and not in long-shot. Because if we do, NATO comes into the picture.

There is similar whitewashing over Iraq and the rise of ISIS. Again, we are supposed to regard the group’s emergence as “just one of those things.” But ISIS was not a force when the secular Baathist Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq; it only grew following his ousting and the chaos which followed the occupiers’ dismantling of the entire state apparatus.

The result of intervening in Libya has been “disappointing at the very least”, says Observer leader, arguing against action in Syria. Balls.

Six-and-a-half years on, it’s revealing to look back at the things the cheerleaders for the ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya were saying in early 2011 and what actually happened as a result of NATO’s 26,500 sorties.

The price of inaction is too high” was the title of one piece by David Aaronovitch in The Times, dated March 18, 2011. “If we don’t bomb Gadaffi’s tanks, Europe is likely to face a wave of refugees and a new generation of jihadis,” was the synopsis.

Guess what? The West’s military alliance did bomb Gaddafi’s tanks (and a lot more besides) and we got “a wave of refugees” of Biblical proportions and “a new generation of jihadis,” including the Manchester Arena bomber, Salman Abedi.

But there’s been no mea culpa from Aaronovitch, nor from his Times colleague Oliver Kamm – who attacked me after I had penned an article in the Daily Express calling for NATO to halt its action.

In the Telegraph, Matthew d’Ancona wrote a piece entitled ‘Libya is Cameron’s chance to exorcise the ghost of Iraq.’

In fact, the experience of Iraq should have led all genuine humanitarians to oppose the NATO assault. In many ways, as John Wight argues here,

Libya was an even worse crime than the invasion of Iraq because it came afterward. There was really no excuse for anyone seeing how the ‘regime change’ operation of 2003 had turned out, supporting a similar venture in North Africa.

Unsurprisingly the politicians and pundits who couldn’t stop talking about Libya in 2011 and the West’s ‘responsibility to protect’ civilians seem less keen to talk about the country today.

Libya and its problems have vanished from the comment pages. It’s the same after every Western ‘intervention’: saturation coverage before and during the ‘liberation,’ bellicose calls from the totally unaccountable neocon/liberal punditocracy for military action to ‘save the people’ from the latest ‘New Hitler,’ and then silence afterwards as the country hurtles back in time to the Dark Ages.

The ‘liberators’ of Libya have moved on to other more important things in 2017, with Russophobia the current obsession. Anything, in fact, to distract us from the disastrous consequences of their actions.

Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Courtesy: RT

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