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Friday, June 23, 2017

Thailand: US-Backed “Activists” Freely Allowed to Complain About “No Freedom”




Documenting foreign-funded sedition in Thailand is key to understanding how US set stage for regime change in Libya, Ukraine, and attempted to do so in Syria.

Global Research, June 23, 2017
Land Destroyer Report



Thailand’s English newspaper, The Nation, in a recent article titled, “Students stage protest to free ‘Pai Daodin’” included a short video of the protest showing a handful of students blocking a particularly busy elevated walkway in central Bangkok as they read their message in English.

One “activist” exclaimed:


We will never stop until we are free!

She repeatedly demanded “freedom” and condemned what she repeatedly called a “dictatorship” apparently oblivious of the paradoxical fact that she and her fellow protesters were clearly “free” to disrupt hundreds of people attempting to use the walkway and go about their business during the brief political protest.
They were not arrested despite violating laws regarding political gatherings and despite the fact that they represent a political opposition (often referred to as “red shirts”) that has, since 2006, resorted to extreme violence including mass murder, terrorism, citywide arson, assassinations, two attempts at armed insurrection in 2009 and again in 2010, the brutalization and murder of nearly 30 protesters between 2013-2014 who opposed a government led by their political allies, as well as censorship and intimidation of their critics.


More recently, a man radicalized by the very sort of propaganda repeated by these “student activists” was arrested after carrying out a string of bombings around Bangkok that left scores of innocent people maimed.

One of his targets included a hospital.

Despite this, and the Western media characterizing Thailand’s current government as a “dictatorship” in need of change, agitators like those featured in the above video have been repeatedly allowed to carry on with their antics despite the dangerous nature of the opposition they represent – with any arrest being followed only by a brief detainment before promptly being allowed to return back to agitating.

This process has led many agitators to resort to increasingly criminal behavior in order to be detained longer and thus portray themselves as “political prisoners” eagerly defended by Western governments and their collections of foreign-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).


The “Dao Din” group is one of several foreign-funded fronts attempting to replicate in Thailand the US and European-funded sedition that has divided and destroyed nations like Libya, Syria, and Ukraine.

Likely in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, agitators identical in hypocrisy and irony were tolerated by each nation’s respective governments until critical mass was reached and foreign-backed armed insurrection overthrew or attempted to overthrow each in turn.

Documenting this process in Thailand where successful armed insurrection is much more unlikely, helps geopolitical analysts understand how the US set the stage – and is setting the stage – elsewhere in pursuit of regime change and the construction of obedient client states.

All images in article are from the author except the featured image which is from PopularResistance.org.


The original source of this article is Land Destroyer Report
Copyright © Tony Cartalucci, Land Destroyer Report, 2017




http://www.globalresearch.ca/thailand-us-backed-activists-freely-allowed-to-complain-about-no-freedom/5595823



Counter Information published this article following the Creative Commons rule. If you don't want your article to appear in this blog email me and I will remove it asap.

US Foreign Policy, Global Hegemony, “Soft Power” and the Geopolitics of Eurasia




By Vladislav B. Sotirović
 Global Research, June 23, 2017


“If the Nuremberg Laws were applied, then every post-war American President would have been hanged” – Noam Chomsky

Eurasia

Henry Kissinger, one of the fundamental figures in creating and maintaining the US policy of global hegemonism during the Cold War[1], was quite clear and precise in his overviewing the issue of the American geopolitical position, national goals and foreign policy. His remarks can be summarized in the following points:
The US is an island off the shores of the large landmass of Eurasia.
The resources and population of Eurasia far exceed the resources and population of the US.
Any domination by any single state from Eurasia (either from the European or the Asian part) is a critical danger for the American geopolitical and geoeconomic aims as well as national interest regardless during or after the time of the Cold War.
A mortal danger for the US is formation of any political-military coalitions between the Euroasian great powers (primarily between the USSR/Russia and China) as such coalition would have a real capacity to outstrip both the US economy and military.
The US strategic global geopolitical interest is to thwart creation of such Eurasian coalition (the USSR/Russia-China).[2]

In fact, H. Kissinger recognized two fundamental facts in dealing with global geopolitics:


1) Eurasia is of crucial global geopolitical importance; and

2) Russia is a Heartland of Eurasia.[3] Therefore, to have a control over Russia means to have a control over Eurasia and to control Eurasia means to control the rest of the world. For that reason, the US struggle against the communist USSR during the Cold War or Putin’s Russia today is nothing else than a formal pretext for a realization of the basic US geopolitical task from the global perspective: to have a control over the Heartland of Eurasia. Subsequently, any kind of independent and/or stronger Russia is not acceptable solution for the American policymakers.

A Nature of the US

In order to properly understand the post-Cold War global hegemony foreign policy by the US Administration, it is necessary to realize the very nature of the US as a state. Basically, the US foreign policy of global hegemony is shaped by two most important internal processes which exist from the very beginning of the US independence and statehood (declared in 1776):


1. A mass consumerist mentality of her citizens that is deeply permeated throughout American (sub)culture;

2. Corresponding policy of maintaining world’s military supremacy for the sake to ensure privileged possession of the global goods, energy, natural resources and credit. For example, there are 800 US military bases across the globe and one of the biggest of them is located in Kosovo (Bondsteel) – one of the richest regions in Europe according to its reserves of the natural resources (at least 500 billion $US).[4]

The American strategy of global hegemony after the WWII was not only to compete the Soviet military power and political influence but it was and is much more important to establish such world that is going mandatory to be hospitable for the growth of the US economy. Therefore, the American military-political global dominance was ideologically justified by anti-communism and the US alleged leading role in defending the “free world”. However, after the end of the European communism, dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and dismemberment of the USSR, Washington simply justified a continuation of its Cold War policy of global hegemony by defending Europe (and probably the rest of the world) from the “Russian aggression”. A “free world” was identified with a full acceptance of the American values, norms, political and economic systems and (sub)culture. According to such geopolitical project, all of those governments who rejected to “dance according to the American playing” became proclaimed as the enemies of “free world” threatened to be bombed and occupied (like the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999). Nevertheless, the fundamental allegory of the American promotion of independence and democracy (the basic components of “free world”) is that this country is not either really independent (being the West Bank of Israel from 1948 onward) nor fully democratic (not being even among the first 30 democratic states in the world).

A numerous US military interventions after 1945, as an instrument for the realization of the geopolitical project of global hegemony, however, very much undermined the very meaning of democracy and leading at the same time to large-scale human rights abuses.The concept of Pax Americana is having as its crucial strategy to maintain cheap supplies of raw materials and especially of the cheap supply of oil as the crucial energetic source for the US consumerism economy. Therefore, immediately after the WWII the basic US strategy became to establish the American hegemony in the oil-rich countries in the region of the Middle East supporting there all kinds of non-democratic and even dictatorial regimes who expressed political loyalty to Washington as the regimes of Iran (Persia) from the CIA/M16-sponsored coup in 1953[5] up to the Islamic Revolution in 1978−1979, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and above all of Saudi Arabia.

The Middle East and the “Resource War”

The beginning of this process of making the regional client states started in 1945 when the US President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a strategic partnership with Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud who was a founder of the modern Saudi royal family and ruling dynasty.

The deal was that the US will protect the dynasty, which is from the beginning supporting the fundamentalist Wahhabi brand of the Sunni Islam,from all inner and outer enemies for the exchange of the US privileged access to the Saudi oil.[6] Iran was the second country of importance for the US regional “oil policy” where the fundamental American influence was established in 1953 when the CIA-M16 backed coup against democratically elected PM Mohammad Mossadegh brought to power in fact the Western oil companies.[7]

Therefore, it is not of any surprise that the Iranian Revolution was ideologically and politically an amalgamation of the Islamic Shiite theocracy and very strong anti-Americanism. The US hegemonic design to prevent any hostility actor to gain any foothold in geostrategically and energetically extremely important region of the Middle East was clearly formulated in the 1980 “Carter Doctrine”. One of the fundamental reasons for formulating such doctrine was, of course, protection of the existence of the Zionist Israel and its policy of ethnic cleansing of the domestic Palestinians. Therefore, the US policy to project military power into the region of the Middle East became increased substantially followed by abnormal militarization of Israel.


President Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz Meeting on the USS Quincy, February 14, 1945. (Source: SUSRIS)

In the years of R. Reagan’s Administration, the US transformed Afghani Taliban’s into its sponsored movement and created long-time partnership with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for the maintaining Islamist mujahedeen Taliban military capabilities against the Soviet army in Afghanistan but at the same time and opening possibilities for the emergence of different anti-Western jihadist military groups like al-Qaeda of Saudi Osama bin Laden who will turn back their arms against their sponsors once the Soviet army left Afghanistan. Therefore, the regional militant anti-Western Islamism in different forms that emerged after the Cold War did not arise suddenly out of the framework of the US imperialistic and hegemonic geopolitical ambitions in the Middle East.

A new phase of US policy in the Middle East came into force in 1990−1991 with the First Gulf War that was fought from the US point of view (like and the Second Gulf War in 2003 that resulted in the military occupation of Iraq) for the geopolitical maintenance of the ideology of economic security that was just wrapped into the propaganda of the 2001 G. W. Bush’s doctrine of the “War on Terror”.

In essence, the US Administration fought the First Gulf War for the sake to prevent possible post-Cold War challenges to its hyperpower in global politics in the face of “… the world’s effective policeman”.[8] G. W. Bush’s Government skilfully exploited the atmosphere of fear of the further terror attacks in the US society after the terrorist attack of 9/11 that was most probably self-constructed US-Israeli action in which al-Qaeda just played a role of executors in front of the TV cameras. Subsequently, the most hawkish faces around the US President had fantastic reason to start the realization of a long-prepared project of the US world’s supremacy, unilateral actions and non-limited use of the military capacity of the Pentagon.

After the US-led coalition’s invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, that was extremely important for having direct control over the production and distribution of the Afghan heroin on the global market (one road goes via the US colony of Kosovo) and for founding a geostrategic base for the invasion of Iran (the main enemy to Israel after 1979), the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (fully sponsored by the US Administration of R. Reagan in the war against Iran in the 1980s) became a highest priority of Washington’s foreign policy of establishing a global empire. The Pentagon calculated that a new Iraqi colonial regime would transform its country into the US base of military operations in the very centre of the region of the Middle East – a region which is of the fundamental geostrategic global importance with huge reserves of oil and natural gas. Therefore, the region would be in total control by the US with its military bases in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iraq followed by strong Israeli and Turkish armies.

Another fact is that the US is still the most oil-dependent economy in the world with a biggest mechanized war machine which consumes enormous market and therefore Washington’s goal was and is to prevent any global supply disruptions and/or price fluctuations. For the reason that the demand for the oil consumption was constantly growing on the world’s level and that global oil reserves became of extreme importance for the global strategic power in the recent future, the US Administration decided after the Cold War to transform whole region of the Middle East into its own courtyard for political and economic exploitation. The realization of the plan was going smoothly up to 2014 when Moscow finally decided to crucially defend Syria from the American policy of global banditry, at the same year when the Western Russophobic DrangnachOsten policy was finally stopped in the Euromaidan’s Ukraine.

From this point of view, the doctrine of “War on Terror” is crucially bound up with the American attempts to establish geostrategic dominance in extremely petrol-rich region of the Middle East for both oil consumption and prevention of rising power of China to be significantly infiltrated into the region which has to be reserved mainly for the supplying of the US economy. Essentially, the US proclaimed “War on Terror” is nothing else but profit driven the “Resource War”.[9]

Pax Americana and the “Wars of Humanitarian Intervention”

President B. Obama’s Administration continued the same G. W. Bush’s imperialistic policy of “Resource War” just embracing a more multilateral style of diplomacy and going slowly out of the big ground wars and direct invasions of sovereign states. Nevertheless, he practiced vigorous use of the American military machinery to attack those whom the Pentagon perceived to be mostly hostile to the US hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East but also in the East Africa and the South Asia. The strategy included expanded use of “kill/capture teams” operated by the US military Joint Special Operations Command, drone strikes executed by both the CIA and the US army. B. Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize regardless to the very fact that during his presidency there was no a single day of peace. It is calculated that Obama the Bomber dropped during his 8 years of presidency (two terms) a bomb every 20 minutes. For instance, only up to February 2012,


“…the Obama’s Administration has carried out at least 239 covert drone strikes, more than five times the 44 approved under George W. Bush. And after promising to make counter-terrorism operations more transparent and rein in executive power, Obama has arguably done the opposite, maintaining secrecy and expanding presidential authority”.[10]

The US aggressive, time to time brutal and humanless foreign policy of militarism and globalization of war for the sake of Pax Americana can be understood only within the full context of the nature of capitalism and logic of capital itself.[11] An integral part of the US foreign policy of global hegemony is the implementation of bilateral agreements with other states to prevent the US soldiers from extradition to the International Criminal Court. In order to force certain countries to conclude such agreement, the US Government is threatening them to withdraw its military and other forms of support if they would not be willing to sign the agreement. Many states accepted such deal like Israel, Romania or East-Timor[12] and therefore legitimised the US Army to legally violate basic human rights and rules of war.

On the other hand, the US authority is using military means for interventions formally for the humanitarian purposes or for protections of human rights. However, that is just a moral excuse for the realization of the American foreign policy’s goals it was clear in many cases but the most obvious one was in 1999 with the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for the formal sake to protect Kosovo Albanian human and minority rights.

Nevertheless, the prohibition of the use of force by the international law, as it is clearly formulated, for instance, in the UN Charter Article 2, Paragraph 4, is as well as extended to the so-called “humanitarian intervention” that refers to the unilateral threat or use of armed force by any state against another to protect the life and liberty of nationals of the latter from acts by their own governments.[13]

However, there is only one possibility, according to international law, to use the force, including and in the cases of “humanitarian interventions“: it has to be accepted by the UN Security Council. In other words, only if the SC UN according to the UN Charter Articles 39−42 decides that the human rights violations in some country pose a treat to the international peace and regional security and that the measures of a military interventions are necessary, a military intervention against the other state (or its regime) is sanctioned by the international law and community. However, as a matter of fact, the US authority never received such permission for any of its “humanitarian interventions” what practically means that the US Government is de facto above the international law and community.


The bombing of Belgrade on March 24, 1999. (Source: Sputnik)

The US “Wars of Humanitarian Intervention” in overwhelming majority of cases are based on politically motivated “false flags” produced by the intelligence service (the CIA) information backed by the global mainstream medias’ “fake news” at the same time. The Western academic writings even by the most prestigious world’s universities and publishing houses, unfortunately, are directly supporting such imperialistic wars by giving unproved and false “academic” feedback as it is, for instance, the case with the publication Understanding Global Security by a Senior Lecturer Peter Hough at Middlesex University and published by Routledge. The publication suggests, for instance, that the NATO “humanitarian intervention” in 1999 against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was to “Protect Kosovar Albanians from Serb massacres”,[14] regardless the fact that the only reason for such NATO aggression was to establish proper political conditions for Kosovo independence from Serbia, transformation of the region into the American political and economic colony and continuation of the historical Albanian ethnic cleansing of the local Serbs and non-Albanians.[15]

A Soft Power as a Method

The use of a Soft Power is another method implied by Washington in dealing with the world politics and international relations. The method refers to the capability of state (or any other actor in global politics) to influence other states, governments or actors to do what the influencer wants but through persuasion, not force or direct threats. In principle, a Soft Power attracts or co-opts members of government, politicians or citizens by different means including, for instance, bribing, financial donations, offering certain benefits, education, financing political parties, organizing public seminars, etc., but it does not directly force them to do what is required. In this respect, the formal NGOs can play very important role in promulgation of a Soft Power method of the American global imperialism like New York-based Soros Foundation and its Central European University in Budapest. The method is covering a wide scope of areas like culture, values, ideas, politics, national identity, history, rights, etc., representing in essence different but in many cases not lesser forms of influence if compared to the method of a Hard Power which implies much more direct and essentially coercive measures (like ultimatums, economic sanctions or threats of use of the military force). Therefore, a Soft Power method is an another way of achieving the goals by involving persuasion and encouragement usually, but not necessarily, rooted in shared norms, values or/and beliefs.

In general, the method of a Soft Power relies on two instuments:
Persuation – the ability to convince someone by real or false arguments.
An ability to attract the people by all possible means.

Banditry as a “Business as Usual”

The ruling US Neo-Con establishment started to push the American foreign policy towards the US domination over Eurasia already from the second half of the 1990s that simply meant a geopolitical struggle with Russia. The Kosovo War in 1999 became the fist direct challenge to Russia’s national dignity and geopolitical interests in the region. The architects of the US “Eurasia’s imperialism” understood quite well that a broader Middle East (including and the Balkans and the North Africa) was at the heart of the Eurasian problem from different points of view: geopolitical, ideological, economic and strategic.

Therefore, both Gulf Wars and the Kosovo War and the Afghan War in between were fought primarily in order to demonstrate the US strong intention to absolutely dominate over a Greater Middle East in the post-Cold War era. The Second Gulf War in 2003 was a war of showing to the rest of the world that the US foreign policy of the open banditry is going to be a “business as usual” which had to be silently accepted by the international community. For the matter of fact, it was quite clear that Iraq in 2003 could not develop any kind of effective weapons of mass destruction including and any kind of the ABC weapons due to the effective UN economic and other sanctions against S. Hussein’s Government. Furthermore, in 1991 Iraq already was seriously defeated that it could not think for a longer period of time even about just revitalizing of its regular army which became weakened even after the Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s. In general, after the First Gulf War in 1991, there was no any serious threat to the US interests in the Persian Gulf region and therefore even did not exist a real reason for the Pentagon to keep up the US presence there.

The US Neo-Con’s right-wing hawks became enough influential in the Clinton’s and later the Bush’s Administrations to decide to compel Kissinger’s goal of continued US domination over a Greater Middle East as in their mind the First Gulf War was a failure war for the reason that the American unchallenged dominance over the region was not established. Such foreign policy shift in the Clinton’s Administration became led by a Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her mentor a Polish born Zbigniew (Zbig) Brzezinski who was a US National Security Advisor in the J. Carter’s Administration and above all an ardent Russophobe. Therefore, the US imperialism started and completed three wars in the area of a Greater Middle East during the Clinton’s and the Bush’s Administrations from 1999 to 2003: the Kosovo War in 1999, the Afghan War in 2001 and the Second Gulf War in 2003. However, the Arab Spring in 2011 and especially the Russian military intervention in Syria from 2014 onward clearly have shown that the area of the Middle East is still not an exclusive American colonial domain.

Conclusion

To conclude, from the very beginning of the existence of the USA in 1776 warfare was, is and probably is going to be an integral par of American life. 16] This very fact is a direct product and consequence of the nature of the economic system of the US and a consumerism mentality of its citizens. The effects on the world’s security and global peace are obvious.


“God created war so that Americans would learn geography” –Mark Twain

Notes

[1] Henry Kissinger was a National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under the US Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He also advised many other American Presidents on the US foreign policy and global politics. He was one of the most responsible persons for the CIA-organized military putsch in Chile in 1973 and for the US involvement and atrocities committed in Vietnam. Nevertheless, H. Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Prize and Medal of Liberty, among other awards. He is one of the most notorious symbols of the US gangster-style foreign policy.

[2] John Rees, Imperialism and Resistance, London−New York: Routledge, 2006, 18. On this issue, see more in: Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy, New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1994; Henry Kissinger, Does America Need a Foreign Policy? Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century, New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2001; Henry Kissinger, World Order, New York: Penguin Books, 2015.

[3] Срђан Перишић, Нова геополитика Русије, Београд: Медија центар „Одбрана“, 2015. 

[4] Кавкаски Албанци лажни Илири, Београд: Пешић и синови, 2007.

[5] James C. Van Hook (ed.), Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952−1954: Iran, 1951−1954, Washington: United States Government Publishing Office, 2017.

[6] Michael Klare, „Bush-Cheney Energy Strategy: Procuring the Rest of the World’s Oil“, Foreign Policy in Focus, 2004: www.fpif.org.

[7] On the CIA’s „dirty wars“, see (Douglas Valentine, The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, INC, 2017).

[8] John Rees, Imperialism and Resistance, London−New York: Routledge, 2006, 17.

[9] Michael Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism” in the Wake of 9/11, Second edition, Montréal, Canada: Center for Research on Globalization, 2005.

[10] David Rhode, “The Obama Doctrine: How the President’s Drone War is backfiring”, Foreign Policy, 2012-02-27: http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/02/27/the-obama-doctrine/.

[11] On the US globalization of war phenomena, see in (Michael Chossudovsky, The Globalization of War: America’s ‘Long War’ against Humanity, Montréal, Canada: Center for Research on Globalization, 2015).

[12] Peter R. Baehr, Monique Castermans-Holleman, The Role of Human Rights in Foreign Policy, Third edition, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, 21.

[13] ArieBloed, Peter van Dijk (eds.), Essays on Human Rights in the Helsinki Process, Dordrecht: MartinusNijhoff, 1985, 34−35. 

[14] Peter Hough, Understanding Global Security, 2nd Edition, London−New York: Routledge, 2008, 127.

[15] Hannes Hofbauer, Eksperiment Kosovo: Povratakkolonijalizma, Beograd: Albatros Plus, 2009.

[16] On this issue, see (Paul Atwood, War and Empire: The American Way of Life, London: Pluto Press, 2010).

Featured image: credits to the owner


The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Vladislav B. Sotirović, Global Research, 2017


http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-foreign-policy-global-hegemony-soft-power-and-the-geopolitics-of-eurasia/5595652

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US Demands “Much Greater” Chinese Pressure on North Korea, or Else




Global Research, June 23, 2017


In what amounted to a barely disguised threat, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday declared that China had to “exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure” on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, if it “wants to prevent a further escalation in the region.”

In other words, if Beijing fails to rein in the Pyongyang regime, the US could resort to military measures.

Tillerson’s remarks followed a top-level meeting in Washington between him and US Defence Secretary James Mattis and their Chinese counterparts—China’s foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s joint staff department.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Source: Investopedia)

Tillerson called on China to make greater efforts to halt “illicit” revenue streams to North Korea that allegedly help fund Pyongyang’s military programs. Just last week, he told a congressional committee the Trump administration was “at a stage” where “we are going to have to … start taking secondary sanctions”—that is, penalise countries and corporations that engage in economic activities with North Korea.

Unilateral “secondary sanctions” imposed by the US would, above all, fall on Chinese companies. China is, by far, North Korea’s largest trading partner. US officials and the media have repeatedly accused Beijing of failing to do enough to choke off trade and finance with the Pyongyang regime. Any penalties against Chinese individuals or entities would quickly sour relations between the US and China.

Just before the talks, US President Donald Trump signaled that time was running out for China to force North Korea to bow to US demands.


“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi [Jinping] and China,” he tweeted on Tuesday, “it has not worked out.”

While Tillerson’s remarks indicate the US continues to pressure China for action against North Korea, Trump’s tweet is a warning that the US will resort to other measures—including military action—if there are no results.

Asked about Trump’s tweet, Defence Secretary Mattis told the joint press conference with Tillerson:


“What you’re seeing I think is the American people’s frustration with a regime that provokes and provokes and provokes and basically plays outside the rules, plays fast and loose with the truth.”

Otto Warmbier (Source: Click On Detroit)

Mattis denounced Pyongyang in particular for the death of Otto Wambier—the American student imprisoned in North Korea who died on Monday after being flown back to the US last week. The Trump administration is considering a ban to prevent Americans from visiting Pyongyang. Three other US citizens are currently jailed in North Korea.

The comments of Mattis and Tillerson suggest that relations with China could deteriorate rapidly, especially if North Korea conducts another nuclear test or a long-range missile launch. In comments to CNN, unnamed US officials claimed this week that satellite imagery showed new activity at North Korea’s underground nuclear test site and suggested that a sixth nuclear detonation could be imminent.

Ahead of yesterday’s talks in Washington, US State Department officials indicated that Mattis and Tillerson would press their Chinese counterparts not only on North Korea, but a range of other sensitive issues, including the South China Sea and the so-called war on terrorism.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, Susan Thornton, told Voice of America that “all parties should freeze any construction or militarisation of features” in the South China Sea—a comment directed especially at China. Last month, the US navy carried out another provocative “freedom of navigation” operation, sending a guided missile destroyer within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit claimed by China around one of its islets.

Trade and economic issues were excluded from yesterday’s US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue but remained just below the surface. During last year’s presidential election campaign, Trump repeatedly denounced China’s trade policies and threatened punitive trade war measures. In seeking Beijing’s assistance to pressure Pyongyang, Trump suggested the US could make concessions on trade.

Having tweeted that Chinese efforts have “not worked out,” the implicit threat is that the US could ramp up the pressure on China over trade.


“What Trump is saying is, I don’t need you on North Korea now, and therefore maybe we should have it out on these other issues, like trade,” analyst John Delury told the New York Times.

China is reluctant to impose new sanctions that will cripple North Korea’s economy and provoke a political crisis that could be exploited by the US and its allies. At yesterday’s talks, Chinese officials reiterated Beijing’s call for renewed negotiations based on a freeze by Pyongyang on its nuclear and missile tests and a freeze by Washington on its joint military exercises in South Korea. The US has flatly rejected the proposal.

Above all, the threat of US military strikes against North Korea hangs over Asia. Earlier this week, the Pentagon again sent two B-1 strategic bombers on a mission over the Korean Peninsula in a provocative show of force. The US Navy has two aircraft carrier strike groups stationed in the area, with another on its way.

Any US military action against North Korea threatens to trigger an all-out conflict on the Korean Peninsula that could draw in other powers, including China, with devastating consequences. The Trump administration’s recklessness is underscored by the fact that it is engaged in an escalating confrontation in Syria that threatens to provoke a clash with Russia and Iran, even as it is ramping up tensions in North East Asia.

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The original source of this article is World Socialist Web Site



http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-demands-much-greater-chinese-pressure-on-north-korea-or-else/5595884


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Smoking Gun Proof that Russia Hacked the Entire World




Political Satire


Global Research, June 23, 2017
Washington's Blog 22 June 2017


As shown below, the allegations that Russia has been hacking the entire world have been thoroughly vetted and verified.

Germany

Germany’s intelligence agency accused Russia of deploying cyberattacks to destabilize the government!

(But German intelligence agencies later found no evidence of Russian interference.)

And last December, German security officials said that Russia hacked secret German communications and provided them to Wikileaks (English translation).

(But German officials later concluded that the communications were likely leaked from an insider within the German parliament, the Bundestag (English translation)).

France

The Washington Post, New York Times (and here), Reuters, Politico, Register and many other mainstream publications claimed that the Russians hacked the French election, just like they hacked the U.S. election.

The head of the NSA claimed that the NSA watched the Russians hack the French elections:



(But the French government later said there was no trace of Russian hacking.)

Qatar

CNN reported that U.S. officials suspected that Russia had hacked Qatar’s state news agency, causing a rift with Saudi Arabia.

(But the Qatari government later said it wasn’t Russia.)

America

The Washington Post published a story claiming that Russian hackers penetrated the US power grid through a utility in Vermont.

(The Post subsequently admitted that – according to officials close to the investigation – “the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility”, that the incident only involved a laptop not connected to the electrical grid, and there may not even have been malware at all on this laptop.)


When a treasure trove of secret NSA tools were revealed, Russian hackers were blamed.

(But it turns out that it was probably a leak by an NSA insider.)

And of course the evidence that the Russians hacked Democratic party emails and leaked them to Wikileaks – and otherwise stole the election away from Clinton – is extremely strong. After all, the mainstream press has said so.

(Maybe not so much …)

So you see? It’s been proven that Russia has hacked the world …

</sarc>

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The original source of this article is Washington's Blog


http://www.globalresearch.ca/smoking-gun-proof-that-russia-hacked-the-entire-world/5595907


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Calling All Muslims: It’s Time for an Anti-imperialist Secular Awareness





Global Research, June 23, 2017


Ghada´s SoapBox 20 June 2017


Given that June 20 is World Refugee Day I want to take the opportunity to share some observations and opinions that may ruffle some feathers, but urgently need to be stated, especially by Muslim immigrants in the west. [1]

Part I. An Encounter With a Syrian Refugee

The other day I met a Syrian refugee family that had recently come to Canada. They moved next door to some friends of mine and I said hello to them in Arabic when I saw them sitting on the porch. The wife, a bubbly hijabi woman named Amira who is around my age, was overjoyed to meet someone that spoke Arabic and quickly struck up a conversation with me.

In a matter of minutes I learned that the family had left their small Syrian village three years ago for neighbouring Lebanon and lived there till they were approved to come to Canada as refugees, just three months ago. I also quickly learned that Amira and her husband, like many Syrian refugees, are ardent haters of Bashar Al Assad and critics of secular culture. Amira told me (in Arabic) that, while it was hard for her to leave her family back home, it my be fate that they ended up in Canada so that they can “spread the Muslim faith.” Uh oh…

To a secular Muslim—or, more appropriately, someone that can be described as culturally Muslim, since I was raised by Muslim parents in a Muslim immigrant household but do not practice religion—this set off some alarm bells. This woman left a secular Muslim country—yes, for all the supposed concern over radical Islam, the west is currently trying to destroy a secular Muslim country, with a very open and tolerant mixed society—for asylum in a western secular country and hopes to spread her religious beliefs here? Is that what we’re dealing with, Muslim missionaries? Amira seemed excited about the prospects of spreading the faith and told me that she felt Canadians were far more accepting of Muslims, and receptive to Islam, than Christian Arabs in Lebanon. She also offered to give me “religious advice” in exchange for English lessons in the future.



Source: Hijab Style

While Canada is a multi-cultural country that prides itself on religious tolerance and diversity, as a secular or non-religious person, I should also be tolerated and respected, and not subjected to religious peer pressure or attempts to make me “more religious.” During my conversation with the newly arrived Amira, I was asked why I do not wear the hijab (Muslim headscarf), if I practice Ramadan fasting and if my husband was a Muslim. While she was very friendly about it, the conversation quickly digressed into a religious guilt trip and interrogation. This is something I have experienced many times from “deeply religious” and rather prying Muslims that are “concerned for my soul” for one reason or another. As she talked, I could see her looking me up and down with a judging smirk, as if to evaluate my holiness, or lack there of.

I do not tolerate religious sermons from my own family members, even when I am visiting family over seas. And I should not have to experience it from a complete stranger that has been here for mere months, and is my age if not younger. Now before any apolitical liberals or fake lefties—who fail to see the connections between certain segments of the Syrian refugee population and western sponsored political Islam and Wahhabism—accuse me of being Islamophobic let me remind you that a) I am Muslim and b) I would not tolerate religious lecturing or “shaming” from someone of any other faith as well.

While some might assume that Amira felt comfortable lecturing me in this way because I am Arab and Muslim, and, that she likely would not submit non-Arabs and non- Muslims to the same pressure and religious guilt trip, let me remind you that she specifically told me that she believes that she was destined to end up in Canada so that she “can spread the faith.” While all Syrian refugees probably do not think this, the fact that even some do, is worrisome in a secular country such as Canada. Practicing one’s faith is one thing, pushing it on others is another thing altogether. While non-Arab or non-Muslim Canadians may be too afraid or polite to say this, I believe that I have a responsibility to say it as a secular Muslim.

And so do other secular, non-religious, cultural or “moderate” Muslims. We have a responsibility to speak out against the radicalization that is occurring in the Arab and Muslim world—which has been largely sponsored by the imperial west and its allies in the region like Israel and Saudi Arabia—and the ease with which overly religious people are able to encroach on the public and private lives and views of non-religious or secular types. [2] I should note that I do not like the word (or prefix) “moderate” because it implies that the majority of Muslims are non-moderate or fanatical. While Muslim radicalization has indeed increased and while Arab secularism has practically vanished—phenomena driven partly by the imperial geopolitical aims and objectives of certain states—not all Muslims are fanatical, radical or even practicing, for that matter.

And those Muslims that are secular, “moderate” or wary of religious radicalization have a responsibility to speak out against it. More importantly, we must speak out about the causes of this radicalization. Part two of this article explores some of those causes.

Part II. The End of Arab Secularism and the Rise of Radicalization


In order to understand the increase in outward religiosity and religious radicalization that has been occurring in the Arab/Muslim world for decades, a critical and historical understanding of geopolitics and western imperialism/Empire is necessary. Without it, we are simply criticizing the symptoms of a much deeper and extremely nuanced problem. Western imperialism is not the only radicalizing factor in the region. There are other internal factors at play, which may or may not be linked to western imperialism. For the purposes of this article I focus mainly on the former.

As I have noted elsewhere, the Muslim/Arab World was once secular and “modern.” It is well known that “from the 1950s to perhaps even the 1980s, the strongest political trends in the Arab world were secular.” [3] This trend shifted for several reasons; a major one being that the west—and the US in particular—started to pursue a full fledged agenda to radicalize Muslims, aligning and allying itself with Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism, which is a Saudi interpretation of Islam; and a very fundamentalist and archaic one.



Former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (Source: Pinterest)

Before Saudi Arabia and the US fully joined forces in radicalizing the region, there was the bygone era of Arab secularism. “That world can be glimpsed in old newsreels from the Arab cities of the 1950s and 1960s. The cities of the post-war period – Cairo, Beirut and Damascus, Baghdad and Aden – look much the same as many developing countries of the time: American-built cars, European-style suits, a certain easy mingling of men and women.” [Ibid.] It was also the era of the secular pan-Arab Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasserism and secular pan-Arabism are far too broad and nuanced a topic to cover here.

For now, I simply want to point out that Nasser’s attitude towards political Islam and Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood reflects much of the public Arab sentiment around religion at that time: That religion and religious practice is a personal matter than cannot and should not be dictated publicly.

A well-known antidote that demonstrates this point comes from a speech given by Gamel Abdel Nasser in the years after the Muslim Brotherhood was suspected of attempting to assassinate him. In that speech, which is available online, Nasser recounts a meeting with the Brotherhood’s leader in 1953 wherein he asked to Abdel Nasser to make the wearing of the hijab or tarha (as Egyptians call it) mandatory in Egypt. Nasser tells the crowd that he told the MB leader that wearing the hijab is a personal matter and choice. He also tells the Muslim Brotherhood leader time that he knows that the has a daughter studying medicine, and she doesn’t wear the hijab:

“Why haven’t you made her wear the hijab?”

Nasser asks, before delivering a now famous punchline:

“If you cannot make one girl – who is your own daughter – wear the hijab…how do you expect me to make 10 million women wear the hijab, all by myself?”

The crowd roars and laughs in approval.





As Faisal Al Yafai explains, Nasser’s joke reflects the worldview of Egyptians, especially educated middle and upper class Egyptians, back in the 1950s:

“that it was ridiculous that the wearing of the hijab could be enshrined in law.”

As Yaifa explains, Egyptians


“…considered the proper role of religion to be private, outside the realm of government and politics. Nasser himself explicitly declared the same thing.”

He continues,

“Contrast that with today’s Egypt, and indeed the wider Arab world, and it is clear how much has changed in just half a century” [Ibid.] 

Yafai maintains that Nasser’s punchline–millions of women wearing the hijab–has become Egypt’s reality and that secularism as a worldview has disappeared in the Arab world. Yafai’s explored only at the internal or Arab causes for this change, failing to even mention western meddling and external influences. Still, he is correct that the once secular Arab and Muslim world has changed tremendously in the last half century. In my opinion, it is a change for the worse.

I am not criticizing Arab/Muslim people for wearing the hijab, far from it. I have the utmost respect and tolerance for people’s religious beliefs and practices. I simply want to demonstrate that once upon a time in the Arab/Muslim world, religion was rightly a personal matter and practice, rather than a public expression and pressure. When I hear Syrian refugees like the friendly and chatty Amira tell me that she feels that it is her destiny to spread the Islamic religion in Canada, I interpret that as a public mission rather than a matter of personal religious observance. To me, that is alarming; and it reflects the de-secularization and Islamic radicalization occurring in the Arab world.

The West’s Connection to Islamic Radicalization

The forces of Islamic radicalization are very nuanced and complex. The motives for radicalizing the Arab world are also nuanced and complex. A large part of the motivation is controlling Mid East oil and the oil trade. Much of the radicalization efforts came after the formation of OPEC and the Saudi-US oil alliance, which forced the world to use the US dollar to purchase oil while also securing the pre-eminence of Saudi Arabia and its promotion of Wahhabi, extremist Sunni Islam throughout the region.
Wahhabism is a strict orthodox Sunni Muslim sect founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–92). It advocates a return to the early Islam of the Koran, rejecting later innovations; the sect is still the predominant religious force in Saudi Arabia. The phrase “rejecting later innovations” implies that there were innovations to the orthodox or literal interpretation of Islam and that Muslims were modernizing or becoming less literal in their practice, like most people do with time. While Wahabbism was the predominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, it had not deeply impacted (and infected) the rest of the Muslim world. This is evidenced by the reality—which I spoke of earlier—that the political and public sentiment of the Arab world was largely secular till the early late 1970s and early 1980s.



Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, founder of Wahhabism (Source: Adonis Diaries)

While there are internal factors that contributed to the death of secularism and the rise of a more literal, orthodox and archaic form of religiosity, there is big external factor that cannot be overlooked: the massive oil alliance that was formed between the United Stated and Saudi Arabia after the oil embargo of 1973 (that occurred due to conflicts with Israel). This is when Saudi Arabia buried the hatchet with Israel and the US, and became oil partners and staunch political allies. In exchange for Saudi Arabia only accepting US dollars for oil, giving the US and its currency global economic hegemony, the US allowed and (indirectly) helped the Saudis to spread Wahhabism and radical Sunni Islam (and terrorism) across the Middle East.

Strategically, both the US and Israel benefit from the rise of radical Islam. For Israel, having “radical neighbours” in the region helps legitimize its illegal occupation and actions towards the Palestinians. It also ensures that the Muslims and Arabs will be busy fighting among themselves over sectarian religious issues and conflicts between Sunnis and Shias. The US also benefits from these internal divisions and conflicts. The exploitation and exacerbation of divisions between Sunnis and Shias—the two main Muslim sects—goes a long way towards servicing the imperial agenda of divide and conquer. Moreover, the existence of terrorist groups–that are often created and or aided by the US–allows the US to justify its global war on terror and the billions spent on it.

For the US, the rise of Islamic radicalism and terrorist groups allows these groups to be deployed against secular Muslim countries and leaders that do not play ball with the US and do not accommodate its interests (e.g., Iraq, Libya, Syria). While it has cozied up to and allied with fundamentalist states like Saudi Arabia, the US has simultaneously pursued an agenda of attacking and destabilizing secular Muslim countries and leaders that do not bend to its imperialist demands and agenda (i.e., put their own national interests before that of the US’). These include Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and, presently, Syria’s Bashar Al Assad. But the attack on secular Muslim leaders began even earlier with the joint US-UK 1952 coup against secular Iranian president Mohammed Mossadegh, for instance. He had committed the sin of nationalizing his countries oil and attempting to reclaim it from the UK.

Undermining Russia

Another US motivation for radicalizing Muslims was to undermine communism and the Soviet Union. The US has been arming and backing Islamist radicals and terrorist groups for decades, especially in its efforts to undermine the influence of Russia in the region. As the US admitted in the 1990s, American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahideen—presently known as the Taliban—in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet-Afghan war began in 1979, suggesting that the terrorist group was partly a creation of the US (in collaboration with countries like Pakistan). Ultimately, promoting Islamic extremism and terrorism was one western response to the so-called communist threat (read as the threat to NATO and US power) posed by the Soviet Union. [4]

The same is true today of the US’ indirect support of terrorist groups like ISIS in Syria. As I argue elsewhere,

“an obvious yet unspoken component of the US/NATO campaign in Syria, as well as their efforts in Ukraine, and the so-called Missile Defense Shield in Europe, is to undermine Russia’s ability to not only project power but also to defend itself strategically. These are examples of the West’s attempts to militarily and economically contain Russia.” [Ibid.]

This is something secular anti-imperial Muslims should oppose, not least because Russian and Soviet influence in the region has been a secularizing force (or one that reinforced the already secular politics of post-war Arab countries). Arab countries aligned with Russia after WWII and during the Cold War (and even those that were officially non-aligned) tended towards notions of secularism, anti-foreign interference, and, with the rise of the Soviet Union, socialism. But Arab secularism was not a by-product of Russian influence alone; it is a truly Arab tradition.

“The secular conception of the state that animated both nationalist and pan-Arabist politics was widespread in political life.”

In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there was a deep degree “of popular attachment to a secular state among the political class.” Indeed, “with the exception of Saudi Arabia, no country of the Arab world, from Sudan and Yemen, to Iraq, to Algeria in the Maghreb, was without its secular, nationalist parties.” [5]

But since the 1980s, Saudi Arabia, bolstered by it relations and alliance with the US, has been able to promote Wahabbism in the region. Saudi Arabia has spent millions and billions of dollars propping up and arming Islamist movements and groups in the Arab world; while other Gulf countries, such as (former) Saudi ally Qatar, have been bolstering media outlets that are sympathetic discriminators of extremism and political Islam. These heavily funded entities have been able to influence the culture and population of various Arab/Muslim countries, guiding them even further away from secularism and towards greater and more regressive religiosity.

Western Intervention/Destabilization and Migration Patterns

Alongside all of the above there have been decades of foreign intervention, destabilization, and war making in Arab and Muslim world by western powers. One result of this policy of war and destabilization in the region has been the dramatic increase and influx in immigrants and, especially, refugees from the region. Simply put, the west is “forced” to take refugees and immigrants from countries that they create conflicts and destabilization in, in the first place. If we look at the trends in migration by Muslim people to Europe and North America over the last 30 years, a pattern emerges. Many, if not most, Muslim refugees and immigrants have come from countries that NATO and the US have invaded, attacked, destabilized, regime changed or all of the above.

These include countries like Somalia and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s; Iraq and Sudan in early to mid 2000s; and more recently, Libya and Syria. All of these countries have suffered from western meddling and destabilization efforts, which have included the support and propping up of radical Islamist or Salafi regimes. And many of those that fled and are currently fleeing to the west as migrants and refugees are people that may be hostile to the pre-invasion (often secular) governments and may indeed support a very radical or extremist Islamic ideology and practice. This is something we must take into consideration when exploring whether certain migrants and refugees are compatible with secular western culture. This is not Islamophobia. I say this as a secular Muslim immigrant in the west that is well aware that political Islam/Islamism is an Empire serving form of religiosity that may not be compatible with secular society and culture; be it Western or Middle Eastern.

Final Thoughts

One can only hope that as certain secular and/or non-Islamist countries such as Syria (with the help of the Russian military) and Egypt continue to resist and withstand the US-Saudi-Israeli sponsored Islamist offensive against them, and as other countries in the region—such the duplicitous Turkey and the recently changed Qatar—move away from the western-Islamist alliance/agenda and cozy up to Russia, that political Islam will fade, leading to a much needed de-radicalization and of re-secularization of the region. But it will be an uphill battle, since the forces of radicalization are strongly and deeply rooted.

The great irony in all of this is that while the west, and the US in particular, claims to be at war with Islamic terrorism and radical Islam, it is actually directly and indirectly in bed with it. Directly, the US is a major ally and financial beneficiary to and of Saudi Arabia, which has a radical and extremist interpretation and practice of Islam. Indirectly, the US sells weapons to Saudi Arabia and others—that turn around and arm terrorist groups in the region. It also provides clandestine support for various terrorist groups in the region. Such is the case with ISIS in Syria, a “conflict” that is mainly fueled by western interests and the west’s incessant “meddling” in the region.

US support for terrorism (including against the Syrian government) has been noted by numerous independent news media as well as by US congress members, such as former Rep. Cynthia McKinney and current Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. When Rep. Gabbard visited Syria in 2016 she reported that the US was giving support to terrorist groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda and others. [6] It is important to note that most if not all of these murderous terrorist groups claim to be Islamist and deeply religious. Now, of course, no one that commits such horrific acts as these groups do–such as the brutal beheading of a young boy by the US-backed “moderate” terrorist group Nour al-Din Zenky in Syria last year–can be said to be truly holy or god fearing. But the fact that these terrorist groups operate under the banner of political Islam and extremist religious ideology, is reason enough to be wary of political Islam or any form of political (and public) religiosity.

Many—but certainly not all—of the Syrians that fled the country and are now living in Canada and Europe, as refugees, are sympathetic to the radical religious ideology of these lunatic groups. If you are Arab and/or Muslim it is pretty easy to suss out if a person is pro-Wahhabi/Salafi Islam—which is a very extremist and archaic interpretation of Islam—in just a few conversations, since politics and religion invariably come up in conversations with people from the region. Such was the case with my aforementioned conversation. As a secular person living in a secular country I get nervous about extreme forms of public religiosity by people of any faith.

Another strange irony is the undiscerning support for religious extremists—including refugees [7] —by so-called progressives. Many of these progressives do not see a contradiction or tension in supporting things like women’s rights and gay rights while simultaneously fighting for the human rights of certain extremely religious Muslim refugees or migrants, whose orthodox religious views would potentially see them ideologically pitted against women’s rights or gay rights. Lacking nuanced ideological discernment and anti-imperial analysis, so-called progressives’ blanket and apolitical defense of “human rights” does not allow them to see how their genuine concern could be co-opted or exploited for imperial ends. In Egypt and the Arab world in the 1950s and 1960s it was the educated middle class that supported secularism and rejected religious dogma and orthodoxy. Today, ironically, in the west, it is the educated middle class–especially the young identity politics “left” and campus “social justice warriors”–that are advocating and demanding the unequivocal tolerance of, and support for, even the most extreme forms of public religious expression, in a non-religious (i.e., secular) society.

Secular Western states are presently scurrying to accommodate refugees that could potentially have religious extremists, or individuals that are intolerant of secular culture, among them. [Ibid] There is a two-fold irony in this current refugee crisis a) The west created or helped to create the conflicts in the refugees’ home countries in the first place; meaning it helped create the conditions of displacement and b) The west contributed to radicalization in these countries, which may now affect western states as blowback.

I wish to close by stating that there is a marked difference between my critique of radical Muslims and refugees and those that come from racist and Islamophobic sources. In addition to being bigoted, the latter are often also pro-Empire and pro war. On the contrary, mine is an anti-imperialist and anti-war perspective that identifies the dangers of and collaborations between radical Islam, political Islam, and western imperialism.

To all those Muslims that share my position and analysis, it is important to speak up and call for a return to secularism in the Arab/Muslim world; a return to a politics and society that does not promote and exploit religious sectarianism and religious extremism in the service of Empire.

Notes

[1] My Parents immigrated to North America from the MENA region when I was just two years of age.

[2] Everyone is free to believe and practice their faith, and to whatever extent they wish. I simply want to stress that people do not have the right to pressure, guilt or shame those that may not believe or practice the same thing (or to the same extent), and vice versa.









[7] It goes without saying that this is not referring to all Syrian refugees. Most refugees coming from Syria are likely not religiously extreme. There are also many secular (Muslim and Christian) refugees.


Featured image: Ghada´s SoapBox


The original source of this article is Ghada´s SoapBox


Copyright © Ghada Chehade, Ghada´s SoapBox, 2017


http://www.globalresearch.ca/calling-all-muslims-its-time-for-an-anti-imperialist-secular-awareness/5595857


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