Selected articles (March 12, 2020)

PDF-Version: selected 12.3.2020


Selected articles (March 12, 2020)




Julian Assange must be supported

By Ben Hillier

March 12, 2020

“[…] Chelsea Manning had her sentence commuted in early 2017, but has spent the best part of a year in a federal prison in Virginia for refusing to testify against Assange. United Nations special rapporteur Nils Melzer calls her detention “an open-ended, progressively severe measure of coercion fulfilling all the constitutive elements of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Assange, also a victim of torture according to the UN rapporteur, is in Belmarsh prison in London. During the first week of his extradition hearing, he was confined to a glass box at the back of the court and restricted from interacting with his lawyers.

If the U.S. government eventually succeeds in its attempt to have him extradited, it won’t be simply Assange’s loss. It will be a major victory for U.S. imperialism–a promise that anyone getting in its way will ultimately pay the price. The proceedings will resume on 18 May. To read a day-by-day summary of the case, or to find out more, visit”



Defend Wikileaks



Chelsea Manning Hospitalized After Reported Suicide Attempt

By Stephen Lendman

March 12, 2020




In a Europe Closed Down by the Coronavirus the EU Opens its Doors to the US Army. Could the Defender become the Invader of Europe?

By Manlio Dinucci

March 12, 2020

„The Ministers for Defence of the 27 countries of the EU, 22 of which are also members of NATO, met on 4 and 5 March in Zagreb, Croatia. The central theme of the meeting (in which Lorenzo Guerini of the Democratic Party represented Italy) was not to seek a response to the Coronavirus crisis which is jamming up civil mobility, but how best to develop « military mobility ». The decisive test is the Defender Europe 20 exercise, scheduled for April and May. The General Secretary of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who took part in the EU meeting, défines it as « the largest deployment of US forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War ». […]“



NATO and COVID-19: a Parasitical Disease in Europe

By Finian Cunningham

March 12, 2020

„[…] Even before the coronavirus problem emerged in China earlier this year, the NATO war games in Europe (and elsewhere) have been a cause for much criticism. The geopolitical tensions that this U.S.-led militarism is engendering towards Russia and China have been deplored. Moscow has denounced the Defender-Europe 20 event as a “rehearsal for war” which is completely disconnected from reality. The inveterate Cold War ideology that drives NATO is imposing insecurity and risk of war on Europe in a way that makes a mockery of NATO claims about being dedicated to “security and defense”.

The reckless risk-taking with regard to inflaming a coronavirus pandemic is typical of NATO’s obsolete purpose. Like the disease itself, NATO is a parasite on host nations draining vital public resources. This organization should be “self-isolating”… 30 years too late.“



We Oppose the Defender 2020 NATO War Rehearsals on Russia’s Border


„The major „Defender 2020“ military exercise currently taking place on the western border of your country, with the participation of Germany and led by the United States, is reason enough for us to address this letter to you.

We see this huge war exercise as an act of irresponsible provocation, straining relationships between our countries and increasing already existing tensions.

75 years after the liberation of Europe from fascism and the victorious end of the war by the Red Army, German soldiers are again standing at the Russian border. At the same time, memories of horrendeous Nazi crimes will be particularly present in people’s minds during the commemorative events and victory celebrations to the east of the line of this military exercise.

We are aware of the great sacrifices made by your people, the peoples of the Soviet Union in their fight against German fascism. Let us not forget that 27 million citizens of the Soviet Union fell victim to this war of predation and to the annihilation and unimaginable cruelty started and caused by fascist Germany.

It is important to us to let you know that we reject war. We condemn military provocations like this military exercise on your country’s western border. We are also opposing any new attempts to rewrite World War II history. We see this as an attempt to justify current aggressive policies against the Russian Federation.

In our city, but also everywhere in the country, especially along the transport routes that were made available to the maneuver, groups and initiatives are formed that network with each other. They are working to resist the military exercise and inform our fellow citizens about the confrontational politics of the NATO countries.

We see Russia as our neighbor. We want to live in peace with you. That is what we stand for.“




How black swans are shaping planet panic

By Pepe Escobar

March 11, 2020

“Is the planet under the spell of a pair of black swans – a Wall Street meltdown, caused by an alleged oil war between Russia and the House of Saud, plus the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 – leading to an all-out “cross-asset pandemonium” as billed by Nomura?

Or, as German analyst Peter Spengler suggests, whatever the averted climax in the Strait of Hormuz has not brought about so far “might now come through market forces”? […]”



Oil Price War

By Sarah Ladislaw

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

March 9, 2020

Last week, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with a grouping of other countries, including Russia, that have for the last three years formed something known as the OPEC Alliance, or OPEC+, tried to reach an agreement to cut additional oil supply from the market in response to the coronavirus-induced oil price decline. It didn’t work. […]”




Turkey’s Failed Gamble in Syria

By Conn M. Hallinan

March 11, 2020

„Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest gamble in Syria’s civil war appears to have come up snake eyes. Instead of halting the Damascus government’s siege of the last rebel held province, Idlib, Turkey has backed off, and Ankara’s Syrian adventure is fueling growing domestic resistance to the powerful autocrat. […]“



Erdogan loses the battle, but the war is far from over

By The Saker

March 5, 2020

 „[…] For the time being, what we see is the first phase of the Turkey-Syria war ending and for the next couple of weeks we shall see a transition into some other phase which will probably be one in which, surprise surprise, the Turks fail to remove all the Takfiri nutcases from Idlib which will then give Syria and Russia a legal reason to take direct action again.  In theory, at least, Erdogan could decide to pour the Turkish armed forces across the border, but the closer they will get to Khmeimim and/or Tartus, the more dangerous the stakes for Turkey and for Erdogan personally. […]“



Additional Protocol to the Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in the Idlib De-Escalation Area

March 6, 2020



Exclusive: OPCW whistleblowers confront leadership’s attacks, cover-up of Douma deception

By Aaron Mate

March 5, 2020

„Two whistleblowing inspectors at the center of an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) cover-up scandal are demanding that their suppressed findings get a fair, transparent, and scientific hearing. In formal letters to the OPCW Director-General, the two veteran officials also refuted the OPCW’s leadership’s efforts to impugn their credibility. […]“



Syria war update: Turkey’s Erdogan seeks to re-establish Ottoman Empire

March 3, 2020

„Red Lines host Anya Parampil speaks with Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran about the war in Syria. Marandi recently returned from Syria, where he had the chance to travel the Damascus-Aleppo Highway and other territories newly liberated by the Syrian army. Anya also asks Marandi about the spread of coronavirus in Iran.“




By Elijah J. Magnier

March 9, 2020

For the first time in its official existence in 1985, Lebanon’s Hezbollah has now clashed on the battlefield with the Turkish army, one of NATO’s strongest. The face-to-face clash between Hezbollah and the Turkish military took place in the rural area of Idlib where dozens of Turkish service members lost their lives while fighting side-by-side with jihadists and foreign fighters of different nationalities, including al-Qaeda members. The Turkish-NATO army used similar weapons and tactics to Israel. They surprised Hezbollah by using armed drones and precision bombing behind the frontline, killing nine militants and wounding 65 in one single attack. So many Hezbollah militants were killed in one place due to the collapse of the entire building they gathered under, located behind the main battlefield line. […]“ 




Strategic Remix for the Middle East

By Alastair Crooke

March 9, 2020

„[…] So to the bottom line: Strategically, Turkey has lost its game of ‘chicken’ in Syria, and may be about to experience an economic implosion – to be mitigated only by its preparedness, or not – to kowtow to Moscow and Beijing’s demands. Iran will survive – the Shi’a have a long experience of hardship – and Iran is too important-to-fail, for either China or Russia. The Lebanese, Iraqi and Jordanian oligarchs and Zaim (sectarian leaderships) were on the ‘critical list’, even before the Corona economic effects hit them, anew. They cannot reform, and refuse to adapt. Discontent will get worse, and protests generated by the virus-effects will proliferate – just as discontent in South Korea and Japan over Covid-19 already has been directed towards their leaders.

But the Gulf States, already politically undercut by the ‘new Sykes-Picot’ type humiliation on which Trump insists under his ‘deal of the century’ ultimatum – and caught between the rock of Washington’s Iran policy and the ‘hard place’ of the Iranian push-back – will suffer economically in ways for which neither its leaders, nor its stipendiary populations, are prepared. Oil in the mid $40s (WTI), and a paralysed tourist industry for as long as Covid-19 takes, represents a new ‘shock’ worse than the September Aramco vulnerability ‘shock’.

The strategic map, it is a-shifting.“




IAEA Director General Calls on Iran to Cooperate Immediately and Fully

By Nicole Jawerth, IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication

March 9, 2020

„[…] “The Agency sought access to two of the locations. Iran has not provided access to these locations and has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify the Agency’s questions. This is adversely affecting the Agency’s ability to clarify and resolve these questions and to provide credible assurance of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. I call on Iran to cooperate immediately and fully with the Agency, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by the Agency.”[…] “The Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continue,” Mr Grossi added. […]“



Iran and the NPT: Safeguards at stake

By Mark Hibbs, Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

March 6,2020

This commentary follows the author’s recent ELN policy brief Iran on the Boil in the IAEA Boardroom: Russia, the West, and NPT Obligations.

During the week of 9th March, member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have an opportunity to de-escalate rising international tension over Iran’s refusal to provide the IAEA information about its nuclear activities. Whether they succeed may depend on the agency’s Board of Governors (BOG) transcending polarisation that in 2019 factored in BOG debate and that has again broken out on the eve of the March conclave. […]“



The Iran nuclear deal is facing a new threat

By Peter Jenkins

March 11, 2020

„[…] At the heart of these and other criteria is the issue of gravity. The Board will want to weigh this, as well as weighing the likely consequences of a report to the Security Council.

Paradoxically, the situation is a reminder of the value to the international community of Iran continuing to cooperate with the IAEA to the extent provided in the JCPOA. If Israel and the United States succeed in provoking Iran into abandoning the JCPOA and withdrawing from the NPT, the consequent loss of access to current and future Iranian nuclear activities will dwarf any possible gain from delving deeper into the military dimension of Iran’s pre-2004 nuclear program.“



As the IAEA hardens its stance on Iran, hawks will clamor for further confrontation

By Shireen Hunter

March 11, 2020

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is reportedly planning to rebuke Iran for its lack of cooperation with the Agency and for refusing to provide access to sites related to its nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the sites in question in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, calling them “Iran’s Secret Atomic Warehouse.”  Netanyahu claimed that Israel had obtained information about these sites — including a trove of documents that purportedly contain information on nuclear weapons design — through secret operations. […]“



Iran’s FM urges removal of unilateral US sanctions to help fight against virus epidemic


March 12, 2020

Through its draconian measures, the US is trying to bring Iran’s aviation activities to a halt by denying its aviation sector navigation equipment and software, Zarif said.

Most recently, American companies have also been stonewalling Iran’s access to the information technology tools that would help it confront the virus, he noted.

Zarif also released a list of medical equipment that Iran urgently needs in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak, saying that although “Iranian care personnel are courageously battling #COVID19 on frontlines, their efforts are stymied by vast shortages caused by restrictions on our people’s access to medicine/equipment” […]“



Coronavirus: Iran requests $5bn IMF loan to fight disease, as cases reach 10,075

Tehran confirms that it has recorded 1,075 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours across Iran

By MEE and agencies

March 12, 2020

„[…] Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Iran’s central bank had made the request for a $5bn loan after the IMF said it was making funds available for countries affected by COVID-19 via its Rapid Financial Instrument. […]“



Amid coronavirus outbreak, Trump-aligned pressure group pushes to stop medicine sales to Iran

March 5, 2020

By Eli Clifton

Despite a massive coronavirus-related public health crisis, an anti-Iran pressure group with close ties to the Trump administration is urging major pharmaceutical companies to “end their Iran business,” focusing on companies with special licenses — most often under a broadly defined “humanitarian exemption” — to conduct trade with Iran.[…]“



Politicization of a national crisis: The new face of Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign on Iran

By Younes Zangiabadi

March 6, 2020

„[…] Psychological operation (PSYOP) is a form of information war that is defined as “planned operations to convey selected information to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals,” which is often achieved through creation of dissidence and disaffection within their ranks and society. There are three key reasons that the U.S. government has recently chosen to capitalize on PSYOP in the case of Iran among other foreign policy tools. […]“

„[…] The Iranian authorities also fully understand that they cannot afford to merely disconnect the whole population from the internet every time they face a national crisis. They have to address the legitimate demands of the Iranian people and understand that the current legitimacy crisis in Iran allows the country to be an easy target for foreign funded information war.

Whether it is coronavirus or any other national crisis, Washington will not miss its chance to play politics with Tehran. Thus, Iranian leaders need to rebuild trust with their people and relax securitization of Iranian society if they want to thwart the Trump administration’s well-organized information warfare against the country.“



Holistic Evaluation of Assassination of General Sardar Suleimani – What Next for USA, for Iran, for the Region?

Tehran Times

March 6, 2020

Robert David Steele, a former Marine Corps infantry officer and CIA spy as well as an activist for Open Source Everything Engineering (OSEE), contributes regularly to Tehran Times. […]“