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Finian Cunningham

Europe Revolts Against Russian Sanctions

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From ministerial offices to barricades on the streets, Europe is in open revolt against anti-Russian sanctions which have cost workers and businesses millions of jobs and earnings. Granted, the contentious issues are wider than anti-Russian sanctions. However, the latter are entwined with growing popular discontent across the EU.

Germany’s vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is among the latest high-profile politicians to have come out against the sanctions stand-off between the European Union and Russia.

At stake is not just a crisis in the economy, of which the anti-Russian sanctions are symptomatic. It is further manifesting in a political crisis that is challenging the very legitimacy of EU governments and the bloc’s institutional existence. The issue is not so much about merely trying to normalize EU-Russian relations. But rather more about preserving the EU from an existential public backlash against anti-democratic and discredited authorities.
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America – the Most Frightened Nation on Earth

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America is exceptional alright. It is the most frightened nation on Earth, subjected to hysterical propaganda over decades warning about foreign enemies and ideologies. No wonder its supposed democratic freedom is in so appallingly bad shape, when the preponderant population is imprisoned by their rulers in a virtual cage of fear.

Paradoxically, though, the dissonance of supposed freedom could not be more abysmal. At a press conference at the Cannes film festival last week American screen actor George Clooney digressed from his latest movie to talk about Republican presidential contender Donald Trump. Clooney, who is well known for his liberal brand of US politics and a big supporter of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, predicted that rightwing business tycoon Trump would not win the forthcoming November presidential contest.

Clooney dismissed Trump as a demagogue sowing fear and divisive tensions along racial and xenophobic lines. Which is fair enough. Of interest here is not so much the actor’s views on Trump’s chances of political success. Rather, it is Clooney’s premise that Americans would not succumb to reactionary fear peddling.
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Smelling EU fear, Turkey Moves in for $6.6bn Kill

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When the Ankara government carried out a brutal media crackdown at the weekend and then saw minimal Western protest as a result, President Erdogan knew he had the upper-hand – to leverage the refugee crisis.

It seems more than strange that, only three days before a high-profile summit was to take place between European Union leaders and Turkey on Europe’s refugee crisis, the Ankara authorities carried out an audacious assault on democratic rights.

The violent police seizure of Turkey’s biggest opposition newspaper, Zaman, and its immediate cowing into a tame pro-government publication represents the most brazen authoritarian move to date by the ruling AK party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish opposition politicians denounced the full-frontal assault on independent media as tantamount to a coup d’état by Erdogan.

But the Western response to the draconian display of state power was more muted than ever. There was hardly any Western media coverage of the Zaman seizure. Both Washington and the EU merely issued perfunctory statements of“concern,” and breathlessly urged Ankara to respect “free speech” and “core European values.”
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Terror in Turkey: Is Erdogan Playing Washington?

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A massive apparent terror attack in Turkey’s capital comes at a crucial time just when the Erdogan government is trying to woo Washington’s support for its military intervention in Syria.

The Turkish capital Ankara on Wednesday was hit with a deadly car bomb outside its military headquarters. Reports put the dead at 28 with more than 60 injured in what appears to have been a highly sophisticated attack during evening rush hour.

The powerful blast went off just as two buses ferrying military personnel stopped at traffic lights outside the army headquarters at a busy intersection which is also near ministerial and parliament buildings. This part of the capital is normally kept under tight security.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has accused forces linked with the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia of the terrorist attack.

The Turkish military have been shelling YPG units across the border in northern Syria. Erdogan and Davutoglu had issued several statements prior to the Wednesday bombing in Ankara denouncing the YPG as “terrorists” owing to their links to separatist Kurdish militants in Turkey belonging to the PKK.
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Washington's 'Plan B' in Syria: Renewed Military Intervention to Oust Assad?

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US top diplomat John Kerry appeared to offer cooperation during lengthy talks in Moscow this week with President Vladimir Putin. Kerry said that US policy was not trying to isolate Russia, neither was it seeking regime change in Syria.

Rhetoric aside, Kerry’s expressions of goodwill simply do not cut it.

During a walkabout in Moscow, the US Secretary of State chanced on a little Christmas shopping, with Kerry buying a Babushka stacking doll among other souvenirs. The iconic Russian doll containing six shelled figurines could serve as a metaphor for Washington’s elusive rhetoric.

Following his three-hour discussion with Putin, Kerry said: “While we don’t see eye to eye on every aspect of Syria, we see Syria fundamentally similarly.”

US government-owned media outlet Voice of America added: “He [Kerry] said the US and Russia identify the same challenges and dangers, and want the same outcomes [in Syria].”

That, to put it bluntly, is simply not true. Washington and Moscow do not see Syria fundamentally similarly nor want the same outcomes.
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Western Complicity in Yemen Genocide Met With Media Silence

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In the latest atrocity in Yemen, Saudi warplanes bombed a residential area, killing at least 65 people. Most of the victims are reported to be civilians from the Salah district of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city.

The apparent war crime committed has tragically become an almost daily occurrence during five months of relentless aerial bombardment of Yemen by a Western-backed coalition of foreign powers.

In recent days, there were similar air strikes on civilian centers in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida and the northern province of Saada. In the Hodeida strike, which killed several dock workers, the British charity Save the Children said it believed the attack was a deliberate bid by the Saudis to sabotage aid supplies to the civilian population.

Surely, this should be front page news, with CNN, the BBC and France 24, among other big Western media outlets, splashing it as their top story. The onus is on them because their governments are implicated in grave crimes. However, there has been no news coverage of the tragic events. Aside from some brief, vague reports of a generalized humanitarian crisis, there has been a wall of silence as to how the Western-backed Saudi-led coalition is pulverizing Yemeni civilians and creating the crisis. That suggests a deliberate blackout by Western media.
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