Volume 5, Number 97
EIR Daily Alert Service
P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390
· Helga Zepp-LaRouche Urges Diplomacy for Peace and Development, in Wake of Gaza Killings
· North Korea Cancels South Korea Meeting, Due to U.S.-South Korea Military Exercises
· Israelis Killed at Least 60 at Gaza Border Protest; Extreme Danger in Southwest Asia
· Astana Meeting Reasserts Commitment to Syrian Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity
· Gareth Porter: Claims of ‘Secret Iranian Nuclear Program’ Are Based on Mossad Forgeries
· Treasury Adds Fuel to Fire in Middle East; Imposes New Sanctions Against Iran
· Italy Government Negotiations Might Fail on Budget Issue
· Is the European Central Bank Preparing a European Debt Crisis?
· China Expert: Italy’s Next Prime Minister Must Look to China
· China and Trinidad To Cooperate on Belt and Road
· Defendant’s Court Filing Adds to Mueller’s Russiagate Problems
· NASA Will Test a Helicopter on Mars
Helga Zepp-LaRouche Urges Diplomacy for Peace and Development, in Wake of Gaza Killings
May 15 (EIRNS)—The death toll from the Israeli violent assault on Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border May 14 now stands at 61 people killed, with 2,700 wounded, nearly half of them from live fire. This occurred on the same day as the ceremonial opening of the new U.S. embassy, moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in what was known to be a provocation, given the history of the region.
The lines of conflict were originally drawn in blood in Southwest Asia by British geopolitical interventions a century ago, to create arbitrary borders and continuing strife. Now today, they are still at it, given the London-centered opposition to the global development drive associated with the new “Silk Road” initiative, and the potential for collaboration among the “Four Powers”—China, Russia, India and the United States, to end imperial geopolitics once and for all.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute, today called for emergency action in accord with a New Paradigm of foreign relations, for peace and economic development. She stressed that the danger of escalation to all-out war is great.
Zepp-LaRouche said, speaking to associates, “I just want to say that this situation in the Middle East is really dangerous. I think we must also demand absolutely, that an investigation must occur into what happened—because what seems to have happened, is that there were these demonstrations. First of all, to put the U.S. embassy into Jerusalem had a predictable result, given the historic claims by both sides on Jerusalem, and unfortunately this has happened now. But when there were demonstrations against this in the Gaza, the Israeli armed forces were shooting at people, killing 60 and wounding over 2,000. This is an atrocity.
“And obviously, the situation is super-tense, and could explode completely. So I think this is very unfortunate. This is really bad, but the approach must be to have all sides recognize that this could be the fuse to a really large war, if not the large war. Because if this leads to an Israeli-Hezbollah-Hamas escalation, then we could quickly go up all the way.
“So I think this is really something which shows you how close the world is, still at the abyss, or Armageddon, for that matter. People should really realize, we need a change in the way that politics is done, to a New Paradigm, if the world is to be saved. And I just think it’s really a very serious situation, and we should make it an increased call, that we have to have a change in policy, where the Four Powers work together on all of these matters, because then these kinds of destabilizations couldn’t happen.”
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
North Korea Cancels South Korea Meeting, Due to U.S.-South Korea Military Exercises
May 15 (EIRNS)—North Korea canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea scheduled for May 16 due to an ongoing U.S.-South Korean air force exercise. “This exercise targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” said Pyongyang’s official news agency KCNA, according to Yonhap. “The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities.”
The annual exercise, dubbed “Max Thunder,” kicked off on May 11 and is scheduled to run for two weeks. According to a report posted last week by the South Korean KBS broadcaster, the exercise will involve 100 aircraft, including eight F-22 stealth fighters; an unspecified number of B-52 bombers, and South Korean F-15K fighters.
Israelis Killed at Least 60 at Gaza Border Protest; Extreme Danger in Southwest Asia
May 15 (EIRNS)—The death toll from the Israeli assault on Palestinian protesters yesterday at the Gaza border is now 60, with reports of more than 2,700 people wounded, 1,360 of them by gunfire. Of the wounded, 130 are in serious or critical condition. Hospital facilities have been completely overwhelmed. Egypt has pledged to provide aid. Today, as funerals take place, demonstrators are again out at the Gaza border, and many other points throughout the region.
Today is known as “Catastrophe Day”—or “Nakba”—referring to the date 70 years ago, when Israel was formed by the dispossession of Arab lands in British Palestine. Now over 5 million Palestinians are confined to shrinking territories, in terrible conditions, and with the provocation of the U.S. opening its Embassy in Jerusalem yesterday. After yesterday’s carnage, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for three days of mourning.
Emergency meetings have been called by major institutions, including the Arab League which will meet May 16.
The UN Security Council met this morning, at the behest of Kuwait, whose representatives circulated a resolution calling for an investigation of the May 14 massacre. But the United States blocked the resolution. China and others backed initiation of an investigation, stressing that the violence must be replaced by talks. Russia reiterated that its offer remains in force, to mediate between the Palestinians and Israel. Russia said that the “quartet” process of negotiation should be resumed, because, despite its deficiencies, it is enshrined in UN Security Council mandates.
There are reliable reports that contingents of U.S. Marines are now deployed for protection at U.S. Embassy sites in Turkey and Jordan, as well as the new Embassy in Jerusalem, and in other capitals throughout the region.
Both the White House and the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued statements with similar formulations in support of the Israeli claim that the May 14 violence was entirely the fault of Hamas, the militant group which governs Gaza. Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters at a May 14 briefing, “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas.” He said, “Israel has the right to defend itself.” British Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt called the loss of life “tragic,” and expressed concern about the large volume of live fire employed by the Israeli security forces. However, he made the same point as Shah, saying: “It is deplorable that extremist elements may have been seeking to exploit these protests for their own violent purposes,” Burt said. “We will not waver from our support for Israel’s right to defend its borders.”
The draft UN Security Council resolution that was blocked, states, according to AFP today: “The Security Council expresses its outrage and sorrow at the killing of Palestinian civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest.” Further, “The Security Council calls for an independent and transparent investigation into these actions to ensure accountability.” The text additionally addresses the matter of Jerusalem being asserted as the capital of Israel. It states, that any decisions and actions “which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect”—a reference to the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The Arab League tomorrow will take up this matter. The League’s Permanent Committee on Human Rights issued a statement calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate “the crimes of the Israeli occupation” against Palestinians. “Israel is an oppressive and murderous entity and its politicians and officers must be taken to the International Criminal Court,” Ahmad Shamout, the committee’s chairman, said in a statement referring to yesterday’s killings. Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit condemned the “massacres” of Palestinians, which he said resemble “war crimes.” In a statement he called on the international community to “protect the Palestinian people, who have chosen the path of peaceful struggle and have been confronted with brutality, violence and murder.”
Astana Meeting Reasserts Commitment to Syrian Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity
May 15 (EIRNS)—The ninth meeting of the Astana format of talks on Syria concluded today, with a joint statement issued by the Russian, Iranian and Turkish representatives, reaffirming their commitment to the sovereignty of Syria and to settling the conflict in that country. The next Astana format meeting will be held in Sochi, Russia in July 2018.
Aside from the representatives of Russia, Iran, and Turkey—the three guarantor governments—UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura was also in attendance, along with an observer delegation from Jordan. The armed opposition from Syria attended, headed by Ahmad Toma. According to Kazakhstan’s Kazinform news service, Toma told the plenary session that Astana is the only place where the Syrian opposition wants to hold negotiations and will not go to another venue. The U.S. sent no representation to today’s Astana meeting.
The joint statement today, posted on Russia’s Foreign Ministry website, says that Russia, Iran and Turkey, acting as guarantors of the settlement process, reaffirmed “their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria.”
They also “Emphasized the importance of the implementation of the Memorandum on the creation of the de-escalation areas in the Syrian Arab Republic of 4 May 2017” and other agreements reached since the beginning of the Astana process. The governments “underlined the key role” of the de-escalation zones in stabilizing the situation in Syria and stressed the need to ensure humanitarian access for all Syrians and to help create the conditions for the safe return of refugees and displaced persons to their original communities.” Among other things, the statement also reaffirmed the determination of all three governments to eliminate what remains of all terrorist groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda and related groups from Syria.
Gareth Porter: Claims of ‘Secret Iranian Nuclear Program’ Are Based on Mossad Forgeries
May 15 (EIRNS)—Investigative journalist Gareth Porter, in a May 14 article published by the American Conservative, reviews the public evidence that the claims that Iran has had a nuclear weapons program in the past is all based on fraudulent documentation crafted by the Mossad and laundered through the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK/MKO). This is clearly a response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s April 30 show-and-tell, in which he repeated over and over again that “Iran lied,” while presenting nothing new that proves that Iran is actually in violation of anything.
Porter writes that even supporters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran nuclear agreement is known, have fallen into the Israeli disinformation trap when they argue that the “evidence” Netanyahu presented is actually a reason for the U.S. to remain. “But a far more effective counter would have been the truth—that the long-accepted accusation about Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program is the product of an elaborate disinformation operation based on documents forged by Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency,” Porter writes.
After reviewing the long history of Israeli disinformation against Iran, dating back to 2004, Porter concludes: “The historical impact of the Israelis getting U.S. national security, political, and media elites to accept that these fabrications represented genuine evidence of Iran’s nuclear duplicity can hardly be understated. It has unquestionably been one of history’s most successful—and longest running—disinformation campaigns. But it worked without a hitch, because of the readiness of those elites to believe without question anything that was consistent with their perceived interests in continued enmity toward Iran.”
Treasury Adds Fuel to Fire in Middle East; Imposes New Sanctions Against Iran
May 15 (EIRNS)—The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions today against the Governor of Iran’s Central Bank, Valiollah Seif and the Assistant Director of the central bank’s International Department, Ali Tarzali, along with the chairman and CEO of an Iraqi bank (Aras Habib of Al-Bilad Islamic Bank) and Hezbollah’s Muhammad Qasir, designating them all Specially Designated Global Terrorists. The charge is that the four “covertly funded millions of dollars on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hezbollah.”
The Treasury Department statement on the sanctions states that the sanctions do not extend to the Central Bank of Iran, per se, but it quotes Secretary Steve Mnuchin arrogantly stating that “the United States will not permit Iran’s increasingly brazen abuse of the international financial system.” The effect of the sanctions is extended internationally, through the infamous secondary sanctions, which target any foreign financial institution which handles transactions by the people named.
Treasury advised also that there will more sanctions to come, writing that as a consequence of President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, “the United States government will re-impose sanctions that extend to certain transactions with the Central Bank of Iran, including sanctions on the purchase or acquisition of U.S. dollars banknotes by the government of Iran. Furthermore, on November 5, 2018, additional sanctions will be re-imposed on persons knowingly engaging in certain significant transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.”
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Italy Government Negotiations Might Fail on Budget Issue
May 15 (EIRNS)—Negotiations between the Lega and the M5S suffered a setback yesterday, as differences emerged on key economic issues. Thus, both parties demanded more time from State President Sergio Mattarella. Negotiations are resuming today, and again, all options are open.
Lega head Matteo Salvini made it clear yesterday: “On some key issues—for instance, infrastructure of this country—there are different views.” Another key issue is the EU constraints on budget policy: “Either I succeed in building a government that puts into question outside conditionalities with the EU, or this will remain a dream,” Salvini said, referring to the need to fulfill electoral promises such as basic income, pensions, and the tax cuts included in the coalition program.
“A government is possible if it can accomplish things: If we realize that we are not able to do them, we don’t even start. A sensitive issue, but in our view an unavoidable one on which there must be an agreement, is the new position of Italy in the EU: This is not a bogeyman government, but Italians voted for us to bring the right to work back to the forefront; the defense of agriculture, of fishing, of ‘made in Italy’; to unblock the capability to spend money which is blocked by outside conditionalities,” Salvini said yesterday.
Two members of Lega’s delegation, Sen. Gianmarco Centinaio and Deputy Claudio Borghi, confirmed that the disagreement with the Five Star Movement is a “more aggressive” budget policy.
On cue, EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis urged Italy to reduce its debt yesterday. “It’s very clear that in current times of economic growth Italy needs to put its debt on a downwards trajectory,” Dombrovskis said at an event organized by Politico in Brussels. “It is clear that the approach to building the new government and towards financial stability must be to stay on the current course, gradually reducing the deficit and public debt.” he said.
Is the European Central Bank Preparing a European Debt Crisis?
May 15 (EIRNS)—Banque de France Governor and European Central Bank board member François Villeroy de Galhau said May 14 that the ECB might soon stop its asset purchases program (APP). “The time when our net asset purchases will end is approaching,” he said at a conference of the Bank of France.
The ECB has stated the purchases will continue through September, but the central bank will not delay exiting quantitative easing to help states in the Eurozone deal with their debt problems, Villeroy said in a clear reference to Italy.
Will the ECB do that? ECB purchases involve not only sovereign bonds, but also corporate bonds. The latter are much more illiquid, and a termination of the APP program would unleash a chain reaction of corporate insolvencies. Does the ECB want that?
Possibly not. But the threat of ending the APP can be an effective blackmail tool against “reluctant” government, such as a Lega-M5S government might be. It worked to destroy the Berlusconi-Tremonti government in 2011. An Italian financial analyst forecasts such a scenario in September, with an orchestrated Italian bond crisis and a “bail-in” solution being imposed on Italy, especially if a “populist” government is formed.
NEW WORLD ECONOMIC ORDER
China Expert: Italy’s Next Prime Minister Must Look to China
May 15 (EIRNS)—Italy’s China expert Prof. Michele Geraci is suddenly all over the media, after his name was among those circulated as possible Prime Minister on May 13. This morning he was interviewed from Beijing by the Raitre morning political talk show, where he confirmed that he is in regular contact with “colleagues” in the Lega delegation which is negotiating a government coalition with the Five Star Movement (M5S).
Although facing banality and hostility by both the moderator and the politicians and economists in the studio, Geraci managed to say, “The first thing the next Italian Prime Minister, whoever it is, should do when he wakes up every day is to look at what China is doing.” Italy should “face challenges and seize opportunities” from Chinese policies, Geraci said, warning Italy not to ignore the fact that China has had a 9% annual growth for the last 40 years, and multiplied the income of its 1.3 billion population by 100 times.
China and Trinidad To Cooperate on Belt and Road
May 15 (EIRNS)—Meeting in Beijing yesterday, Trinidadian Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and Chinese Premier and State Councillor Li Keqiang penned a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cooperation in the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the components of the Belt and Road Initiative. China’s National Reform and Development Commission issued a press release on the signing ceremony Global Times reported. Three other MOUs were signed on cooperation in health and medicine, human resources development, and economic and technical cooperation
Pointing out that Trinidad and Tobago is China’s largest trade partner in the English-speaking Caribbean, Li underscored that China is willing “to link the Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of Trinidad and Tobago” to enhance cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, construction, energy, finance, connectivity and agriculture, among others. More broadly, Xinhua reported, Li emphasized that China, the Caribbean and Ibero-American nations “are all developing countries and they provide opportunities for each other.”
Today, Dr. Rowley met with President Xi Jinping who reiterated that China stands ready to strengthen cooperation with Trinidad and Tobago to “help promote its socio-economic development” following the principle of “shared growth through discussion and collaboration.” Dr. Rowley told Xi that as early as 1806, the first Chinese arrived in Trinidad and Tobago and that in this new era, his government is anxious to “participate in the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi, expand trade and investment cooperation as well as cultural exchanges, to help boost the development of relations among China, the Caribbean and Ibero-American countries.”
In Beijing, Rowley’s delegation visited the China Communications Construction Co., Ltd. to discuss a possible partnership in the construction of the La Brea Drydock, as well as possibilities for foreign direct investment in Trinidad and Tobago.
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Defendant’s Court Filing Adds to Mueller’s Russiagate Problems
May 15 (EIRNS)—Concord Management and Consulting, one of the three Russian companies and 13 individuals indicted last February by Robert Mueller for allegedly interfering in U.S. elections, called the Special Counsel’s bluff last week by pleading not guilty and demanding a trial, which Mueller never expected.
Yesterday, lawyers for the accused company upped the ante, filing a motion with the court seeking discovery of the information used by Mueller’s team to get that indictment. They argue that the information contained in the prosecutor’s legal instructions to the grand jury will prove to the Court that the case is a fraud and should be thrown out.
Concord’s filing deliciously rips into the entire set-up.
Never before has the Department of Justice issued such an indictment for “an alleged conspiracy by a foreign corporation to ‘interfere’ in a Presidential election by allegedly funding free speech,” lawyers Eric Dubelier and Katherine Seikaly wrote. “The obvious reason for this is that no such crime exists in the federal criminal code.”
But now, they continue, “the Deputy Attorney General … has rejected the history and integrity of the DOJ, and instead licensed a Special Counsel who for all practical political purposes cannot be fired, to indict a case that has absolutely nothing to do with any links or coordination between any candidate and the Russian Government. The reason is obvious, and is political: to justify his own existence, the Special Counsel has to indict a Russian—any Russian.”
A footnote by the defense lawyers mocks the clumsy procedure, recalling the Humphrey Bogart movie “Casablanca,” in which Rick/Bogart’s ally Captain Renault bellows, “Round up the usual suspects!”
The defendants’ motion says the charges were based on allegations that Concord Management “engaged in the make-believe crime of conspiring to ‘interfere’ in a U.S. election….”
A status hearing on the case will be held May 16.
SCIENCE & INFRASTRUCTURE
NASA Will Test a Helicopter on Mars
May 15 (EIRNS)—NASA announced May 11 that its Mars 2020 lander will carry a small helicopter, weighing less than four pounds, to the Red Planet. It will be the first heavier-than-air craft to fly on Mars, and its design took engineers four years to test, redesign to reduce the weight, and get it ready to fly.
Because the atmosphere of Mars is only 1% the density of Earth’s, it is similar to the air at 100,000 feet altitude on Earth. In order to stay aloft in such thin air, the helicopter blades will whirl around at almost 3,000 revolutions per minute, or about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth. Over five planned flights, the distance will reach a few hundred yards, and up to 90 seconds of flight time. It will also be able to hover.
Aeronautical engineers have been itching to fly a craft on Mars for years. The cover of the November-December 1985 issue of Fusion magazine shows an artist’s conception by Christopher Sloan, depicting a plane coming in for a landing on Mars.