EIR Daily Alert Service, FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2018

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2018

Volume 5, Number 74

EIR Daily Alert Service

P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390


British False Flag Provocations Put War Danger at ‘Red Alert’ Level

April 12 (EIRNS)—In the latest events promoting confrontation against Russia, British Prime Minister Theresa May today convened her Cabinet, to confer on what No. 10 Downing Street later said was the “need to take action” against Syria, because it is “highly likely” that Damascus used chemical weapons on its people. In fact, this charge is a blatant false flag operation, and one of a series.

Go back to the Skripal affair last month, in which it was asserted by May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that Russia tried to poison former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. When that fell apart, as the British chemical weapons lab Porton Down, and now the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons today, decided that there are no grounds to confirm Russia made the substance, then the British kicked off the April 10 charge that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in East Ghouta, Syria, and the Russians are to be blamed.

Reviewing these and other developments, Helga Zepp-LaRouche said today in her weekly Schiller Institute webcast, that, “I think it’s really important that people see the continuity … of these lies, which are designed to be a war preparation for a war against Russia. There is no other explanation possible.”

Zepp-LaRouche gave a short history of the British policy of using lies in recent times, with horrible consequences, using examples presented by a German jurist. She said, “There is a German judge whose name is Peter Vonnahme, who was a judge in a Bavarian court until 2007; and he pointed to the fact that there is a continuity in all of these provocations, with the obvious aim of regime-change in Russia.  And then he points to the fact, asking, have people forgotten the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which led to the Vietnam War?  Or the case of the so-called babies ripped out of the incubators in Kuwait, which led to the pretext to attack Iraq [in 1990]? Or the ‘yellowcake’ case in the case of Niger, where Saddam Hussein supposedly bought yellowcake uranium, which was another pretext for a war against Iraq [2003]?  Or the so-called ‘Operation Horseshoe’ incident, which led to the Kosovo intervention [1999]?

“Now, all these things were orchestrated and fabricated, and I think we must have a discussion, who is doing that? It’s not enough that Tony Blair apologized for the Iraq war—I mean, these wars have cost millions of people their lives! And I think it is high time that these people are being called to justice, because this is just too much, and has been going on for too long.”

Zepp-LaRouche, stressing that, “We are in a very dangerous situation, which could get out of control in no time,” reiterated that people should do everything possible to roll back the insane push for confrontation and war. She said, “It is very important that we build a movement to improve relations among nations, to create a New Paradigm, to have absolute condemnation of this war danger, and establish a decent relationship with Russia, China and among all nations on this planet, which is absolutely possible…”


Theresa May Might Not Have the Votes in Parliament for Strike Against Syria

April 12 (EIRNS)—British Prime Minister Theresa May held an emergency meeting of her Cabinet this evening to discuss the alleged chemical attack in Syria. If May’s government chose to intervene, she might not have enough votes in Parliament to support her, leading to speculation that she might try to bypass a Parliamentary vote. Within her own Cabinet, there are MPs who had voted against intervention in 2013, such as Steve Baker, David Davis and Tracey Crouch.

Former Conservative Party Chancellor of the Exchequer Ken Clarke called for a parliamentary vote on any military action, telling BBC Radio 4’s “World at One”: “In a modern, parliamentary democracy, I think you have got to have parliamentary approval if you have a planned, policy decision to launch a military attack of any significant size. To say that Parliament is just sidelined before you take such a serious decision is a very retrograde step. It makes parliamentary accountability fairly pathetic.”

The Labour Party might activate its “whip,” demanding all members vote down intervention. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was quoted by the Guardian that “Parliament should always be given a say on military action” and warned against the threat that air strikes could escalate into a “hot war” between the U.S. and Russia. The Guardian also reports that Corbyn had requested a security briefing as leader of the opposition, on Privy Council terms.

Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable insisted, “The government must present the objectives of any proposed action to Parliament. A unilateral response by any country, outside of a wider strategy, without allies, is not the way forward.”  He said he could back action if May had a coherent plan and were working with international partners. “The use of chemical weapons is a clear red line, and there must be consequences for crossing it. Britain is an outward-facing nation, willing to play our part in upholding international law,” he opined.

Italian Parliamentary Majority Opposes Syria War

April 12 (EIRNS)—The center-right coalition (Lega, Forza Italia and Fratelli d’Italia) and the M5S, which together have a parliamentary majority, have spoken out against a military intervention in Syria and called on acting Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni to prevent the threatened attack. But Gentiloni, as well as his Democratic Party, have stated their support for the “allies.”

The anti-war camp is differentiated: whereas the center-right rejects the allegations against the Syrian government, the M5S claims there is a “proxy war” in Syria between the Russian-backed and the U.S.-backed forces.

Most outspoken was center-right leader Matteo Salvini, who said: “I call on Prime Minister Gentiloni for a clear Italian position against any new and disastrous military intervention in Syria. I do not want economic motivations, power considerations, or the use of chemical weapons, never proven and never found in the past, to unleash a conflict that can become very dangerous.”

In a video posted to Facebook, Salvini went further: “It is not normal for Donald Trump, whom I esteem, to tweet as if it were normal that ‘the missiles are coming,’ as if we were talking about roast chicken and pommes frites. Bombs and missiles are seldom intelligent and seldom solve problems.”

Earlier, Salvini had posted an article from the publication Analisi Difesa, titled “Syria: Fake News on Chemical Weapons To Create a Casus Belli?” and tweeted: “Fake news to drop more bombs? No more war, thank you!”

Economist and freshman Sen. Alberto Bagnai, in his first speech in the Senate, recalled the “iconic” image of Colin Powell presenting phony evidence to the UN, and Tony Blair apologizing for the Iraq War.  Bagnai stressed “the need to know and accurately check the facts” before taking any decision. “The risk of an escalation is very serious and I wonder in this scenario, what role is being played by the European Union….

“If we think back to the case of Libya, how did our European Brotherhood help us? We had the feeling that they betrayed us, and we had the evidence that the disruption of geopolitical balances … produced a humanitarian catastrophe which strongly affected the lives of Italians.” Bagnai asked the government to report to Parliament “what information they have, and especially, what is the government doing in international fora to promote an investigation to cast light on what really happened” in Douma?

Prime Minister Gentiloni, on his side, echoed the line that “it is not the first time” that Syrian President Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons. “The images of dead children cannot leave us indifferent.” Italy, like Germany, will not participate in a military attack but, like Germany, will supply logistical support.

Germany Will Not Participate in Any Military Action in Syria

April 12 (EIRNS)—Addressing a press conference in Berlin today following her meeting with the Danish Premier Lars Løkke Rasmussen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters: “Germany will not take part in possible—there have not been any decisions yet, I want to stress that—military action,” RT reported. Merkel, however, did not want to break away from those who are voicing support for a strike against Syria, saying, “but we support everything that is being done to show that the use of chemical weapons is not acceptable.” She stated that the West has demonstrated “tremendous” unity on Syria.

It is not known on what evidence she claimed that some of the Syrian chemical arsenal had survived the destruction of stockpiles back in 2014, although the OPCW oversaw the destruction of the stockpiles. “We must now acknowledge that it is obvious that the destruction [of chemical weapons] was not completely carried out,” she insisted, alleging that there is “strong evidence” that Damascus used chemical weaponry.

Retired Bundeswehr General Kujat Criticizes Merkel’s Lack of Moderation on Syria

April 12 (EIRNS)—Former Bundeswehr Chief of Staff Gen. Harald Kujat (ret.), who was also chairman of NATO’s Military Committee before retiring in 2005, has been critical of the German government in recent media interviews. Kujat’s opinion is that U.S. President Donald Trump, having “announced” an attack, cannot backtrack. However, his Defense Secretary Mattis and others in the administration are moderate, and their influence can be seen in the later White House statements that all options are on the table.

“I am disappointed with the behavior of the German Chancellor. It is expected that in such a situation the German government should exert influence to moderate the behavior” of others, Kujat said. He warned against a confrontation “on the basis of a presumption,” regarding the alleged Douma chemical attack. “The U.S.A. is our closest ally. It cannot be that we let it draw us into a confrontation and only hope that Russia would react with moderation and not shoot down the cruise missiles,” Kujat said.

OPCW Confirms Neither It nor Porton Down Knows the Source of Skripal Poison

April 12 (EIRNS)—The Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued its report today on the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, based on examinations of blood samples and recovered traces of poison “with full chain of custody,” conducted up through March 23. The OPCW reports says its findings “confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury,” and that the toxin was “of an extraordinary degree of purity.”

It does not name the agent as Novichok, nor make any findings as to where it may have been produced. The findings of the U.K.’s Porton Down Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, which the OPCW states it is confirming, also did not include any evidence or conclusions as to where the agent was produced.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson lied boldly that the OPCW finding “gives conclusive proof” of his charges that Russia poisoned the Skripals, trying to seize on the absence of a sentence from the OPCW like that from Porton Down, “We did not find evidence of the origin of the agent.” The OPCW, however, is clearly confirming in its entirety, the Porton Down lab’s finding. That finding embarrassed Johnson and forced the Foreign and Colonial Office to delete his posted false statements claiming the Porton Down scientists were the source of his blaming Russia.

Meantime, Yulia Skripal was discharged from Salisbury District Hospital yesterday. On April 11, speaking outside the facility, Medical Director Christine Blanshard described her recovery, and said that, “Her father has also made good progress. On Friday [April 6] I announced he was no longer in a critical condition. Although he is recovering more slowly than Yulia, we hope that he too will be able to leave hospital in due course.”


General Mattis Tells Congress, U.S. Still Looking for Evidence of Douma Chemical Attack

April 12 (EIRNS)—Reflecting the intense fight ongoing over U.S. policy towards Syria following the British-instigated “chemical weapons attack” provocation there, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told a House Armed Forces Committee hearing this morning that the U.S. does not have evidence yet on supposed chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria.

“I believe there was a chemical attack, and we are looking for the actual evidence,” General Mattis told the Congressmen. “We’re still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies. We’re still working on this.”

He elaborated that “there have been a number of these attacks. In many cases, you know, we don’t have troops, we’re not engaged on the ground there, so I cannot tell you that we had evidence, even though we had a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin were used.”

Mattis also said a military strike against Syria “is not yet in the offing.” He reported that the National Security Council would be meeting in the afternoon to give the President options for action. In his view, the U.S. role is to defeat ISIS, not to engage in the civil war itself, and the U.S. remains “committed to ending that war through the Geneva process through the UN-orchestrated effort.”

While he charged Moscow with complicity in Syria’s alleged retention of a chemical weapons stockpile, Mattis cautioned that “on a strategic level, [the issue is] how do we keep this from escalating out of control, if you get my drift on that.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Warns ‘Regime Change Wars Have Failed’

April 12 (EIRNS)—In a tweet yesterday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), warned against military intervention in Syria, writing that “our unfortunate and brutal history of waging regime change wars has failed. Interventions in Iraq and Libya caused death, destruction, and human suffering. We have neglected our own communities. Military action should be the last resort, not our first.”

Rep. Gabbard has also issued an open letter to President Donald Trump, calling on him to “resist the loud calls of war and instead wield the power of the Presidency to help bring peace to the people of Syria, their devastated country and the region.” She has requested that the letter be mass-circulated for signature gathering.

U.S. International Law Experts: Strike on Syria Would Be Nuremberg War Crime

April 12 (EIRNS)—Seven international law experts issued a statement yesterday warning that any military strikes by the U.S. and its allies against Syria, “unless conducted in self-defense or with United Nations Security Council approval,” would violate international law, “and amounts to the crime of aggression: the supreme international crime which carries with it the evil of every other international crime, as noted by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946….

“Accordingly, we urge the United States and its allies to refrain from illegal conduct against Syria,” the lawyers wrote. They note that the United States’ arming of insurgents to overthrow the current government of Syria, is already “illegal under international law,” and add: “our point is a simple one: the only way to resolve the Syrian crisis is through commitment to well-settled principles of international legal norms.”

Signers are former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark; former National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn; Inder Comar, Executive Director of Just Atonement (a legal NGO involved in suing Bush, Cheney, et al. for their illegal aggressive war against Iraq); Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers; Dr. Curtis F.J. Doebbler, the UN Representative of International-Lawyers.org;  Abdeen Jabara, Co-Founder of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; and Associate Law Professor Dr. Ryan Alford. The statement was published yesterday by ConsortiumNews.

State Department Knows Jihadis Have Chemical Weapons Terror Capability in Syria

April 12 (EIRNS)—Belying the repeated lie that “only Bashar Assad has chemical weapons” in Syria, the U.S. State Department added French national Joe Asperman to its list of global terrorists on March 22, on the grounds that he is a chemical weapons expert for ISIS operating in Syria. Little is known about Asperman, and the State Department has provided no further details than those contained in the original announcement, which stated:

“French national Joe Asperman is a senior chemical weapons expert for ISIS. Asperman oversaw chemical operations production within Syria for ISIS and the deployment of these chemical weapons at the battlefront.” Asperman was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in order to deny him “the resources he needs to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks,” the State Department announcement stated.

Justice Department Buckles, Shows Congress the FBI’s Russiagate Trigger Memo

April 12 (EIRNS)—Less than 24 hours after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) threatened impeachment against top Department of Justice officials for ignoring Congressional subpoenas, the Department of Justice provided House Intelligence Committee members access to the FBI’s “Electronic Communication” (“EC”) used to justify the opening of the Russian “collusion” investigation.

After seeing the largely unredacted memo yesterday afternoon, Nunes issued a statement thanking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his cooperation, “after numerous unfulfilled requests” for the EC. Although names of the “foreign government,” “foreign official,” etc. in the document were still redacted, Nunes said the version he and House Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy were shown “contained the information necessary to advance the Committee’s ongoing investigation of the Department of Justice and FBI.” Nunes took care to remind Rosenstein, however, that the House subpoenas for other material going back to August 2017 “remain in force.”

According to the Washington Examiner’s DOJ source, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, and all members of the Committee were also allowed access to the document.


U.S. Sanctions on Russia Are Having Intended and Unintended Consequences

April 12 (EIRNS)—A crisis on the global markets for aluminum is resulting from the U.S. Treasury sanctions announced April 6 against Russian “oligarchs,” in particular against Oleg Deripaska’s United Company Rusal. The aluminum price on world markets had risen more than 13% this week as of the end of Wednesday, according to Bloomberg. Rusal had accounted for 6% of all aluminum exports worldwide.

The potential insolvency squeeze on the company is intense. The company is likely to default on a Eurobond in May, according to Reuters April 10, because nearly all of its overseas debt is denominated in dollars, and the sanctions prevent it from acquiring dollars. Rio Tinto and Glencore are “reviewing” and/or cutting their delivery contracts with Rusal (Glencore on April 11 declared force majeure on contracts for 50,000 metric tons) and withdrawing from its board of directors.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group has revoked approved status for registration Rusal’s metal for delivery against its aluminum futures contracts, according to a notice on its website. The larger London Metals Exchange (LME), one-third of whose aluminum stockpiles come from Rusal, also will not accept its aluminum for sales through LME.

Colin Hamilton, head of metals at the large metal trader BMO Capital Markets Ltd., told Bloomberg, “We can’t make it without Rusal. We need Rusal material.” According to Oliver Nugent, commodities strategist at ING Bank NV, “The LME suspension of fresh Rusal production certainly makes it far less appealing even for non-U.S. entities to purchase. It definitely adds to the theory that this is a real loss of supply to the world market.” Nugent said the world aluminum market already has a supply deficit (this is due to low U.S. production). Prices may “rise to a level that encourages aluminum exports from China.”

Thus, the United States may have to increase aluminum imports, just hit with a 10% tariff, because of sanctions on Russia.

Meanwhile the ruble has dropped by 12% and the CDS spread on Russian sovereign debt (specifically, 5-year bonds) has jumped in two weeks from 104 to 162, meaning $162/year in premiums required to buy insurance against default of a $10,000 bond.  Rusal employs 170,000 people in Russia. TASS reported April 11 that Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said the government does not intend to nationalize or even buy a share of Rusal, nor to purchase more aluminum for national reserves, but will provide liquidity aid to the group.

Surprise, Surprise: The ECB Admits It’s Possible To Exit from Euro

April 12 (EIRNS)—In a European Parliament hearing, ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio admitted the possibility for a member state to leave the Eurozone, thus contradicting ECB President Mario Draghi’s hysterical claim that the euro is “irreversible.” The terms of discussion pivot on imputed financial demands on central banks of eurozone member nations.

Answering a question on Target2 balances, Constancio said that Target2 is an accounting system internal to the Eurosystem of central banks. If central banks in the Eurozone had a common balance sheet, we would not see any Target2 accounting, he said.

Thus, there is no need to “balance” Target 2 imbalances as long as a country stays in the Eurozone. However, “If a member country leaves the euro, then that country’s central bank would assume the responsibility” of balancing Target2 obligations. This is not problematic, Constancio explained, as “all central banks in the Eurozone have a positive balance sheet, and therefore they have the capacity to make payments.”

The Target2 question was raised by German and Dutch members of the European Parliament, reflecting a media campaign in those two countries describing Target2 imbalances as evidence that the “virtuous” northern European countries subsidize “lazy” southern Europeans.

Target2 arises from ECB purchases of assets, including sovereign bonds, from banks and corporations in the Eurozone. The transactions are accounted for in the national denomination of the assets, in the balance among all central banks of the Eurosystem. Thus, for instance, the Bundesbank has the highest positive balance of euros (+€914 billions), and Italy has the highest negative balance (−€444 billions).


Modi-Putin Phone Call Covered ‘Strategic Partnership’; Russia To Join India’s Shipbuilding

April 12 (EIRNS)—As the international crises centering around the alleged chemical attack in Syria and the U.S.-China trade tiff have drawn people’s attention worldwide, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday to discuss the development of the “exclusive strategic partnership” between Russia and India. They agreed to maintain contacts in the future, the Kremlin reported yesterday.

The Hindustan Times reported that India’s national security advisor Ajit Doval, a close confidant of Modi’s, will travel to Russia later this week to reassure Moscow that the ties between the two countries are important to India, and that they remain key defense, security and nuclear partners. Doval will meet Russian National Security Advisor Nikolai Patrushev. “The visit is aimed at reassuring them that India places highest importance on the relationship with Russia, a time-tested strategic partner,” an anonymous Indian official on told the Hindustan Times today.

Doval’s trip follows Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Moscow last week. During her trip, Russia and India came to agreements on joint shipbuilding in India, thus boosting Modi’s “Make in India” initiative. To begin with, Russia has invited India to jointly design and build a new, diesel-electric submarine on the basis of project Amur-1650, said Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Drozhzhov today. “Russia has an alternative proposal for the Indian partners. It is not another project for the production of military technologies under license, but joint design and development of the submarine and its subsequent construction at Indian shipyards in accordance with the initiative Make in India,” he explained, reported TASS.

Drozhzhov also told TASS that India is considering building Russian Project 11356 frigates at one of its shipyards, and talks are underway. “The experience of interaction in this sphere is very extensive. I hope that the Indian side will take all efforts jointly with Russia to maximally expedite the process of building ships at an Indian shipyard,” he said, without giving any details. In 2016, an inter-governmental agreement was signed on building Project 11356 missile-carrying warships for India at shipyards of both countries, TASS wrote.


India and China To Boost Energy Cooperation

April 12 (EIRNS)—Speaking at the concluding conference of the International Energy Forum (IEF), India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, “cooperation among oil-consuming nations is warranted in view of oil-producing countries charging [an] ‘Asian premium’ from India, China and others for supplying petroleum,” Press Trust of India reported.  The April 10-12 IEF was hosted by India, and co-hosted by South Korea and China.

When reporters asked about India joining hands with China to resolve the “Asian premium” issue, he said: “We have assigned this responsibility to [Indian Oil Corp.] IOC Chairman Sanjiv Singh, and from their side, the Chairman of China National Petroleum Corp. will work on the issue. More cooperation is expected. In some areas both of us (India and China) are working together. In some parts of Africa, CNPC and OVL (India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd) are natural partners,” he said. Li Fanrong, Deputy Administrator of China’s National Energy Administration, said the two nations can work together in energy as both consumers and as energy producers.

On April 11, inaugurating the conference, Indian Premier Narendra Modi had passed on a subtle message, on behalf of major importing nations, to the oil cartel OPEC, against artificially distorting prices. He also said that “responsible pricing is the key in today’s world as efforts should be made to provide affordable energy to all.”

Kucinich Campaign Calls for Re-Regulating Electric Utilities, Keeping Nuclear Plants

April 12 (EIRNS)—Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D), who is running for Governor of Ohio, has come out calling for re-regulation of the electric utility industry in his state. No supporter of nuclear energy, he nevertheless proposes re-regulation to prevent the closure of the state’s two nuclear plants, because in a deregulated market, they can’t “compete.”

Shutting down the nuclear plants would increase costs to the consumer and increase emissions, he says. “Ohio’s economy cannot absorb the shock of taking existing nuclear utilities offline in a deregulated market,” he says, although he calls for an extended phase-out of nuclear.

This is the first call for re-regulating the electric utility industry by a prominent U.S. political figure.

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