TBR News July 11, 2017

Jul 11 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., July 11, 2017:”The United States is not run by a strong leader but by committees. The results are like the camel which is a horse designed by a Congressional committee. There are economic control groups, political control groups, bureaucratic control groups all pushing and pulling for the success of their individual needs. There is no coherent diplomatic program evident in the United States with one group strongly desiring war with everyone and other groups opposed to this. Overpopulation, radical climate changes, global reduction in food supplies and underemployment are all contributory factors in the sharp rise in global violence and unless, and until, the irritants are dealt with, the violence will continue to mount. And no committee or oligarchy can deal with these problems and in the end, they will be swept away when an angry and frustrated public bares it teeth and charges.”

Table of Contents

  • Diplomacy needed now
  • After G20: A look at left-wing radicalism in Europe
  • Iraqi Forces Recapture Mosul Where They Suffered Their Heaviest Defeat
  • Syrian Observatory says has ‘confirmed information’ that Islamic State chief killed
  • Blogger discredits claim Amelia Earhart was taken prisoner by Japan
  • Cheap missiles threaten Navy’s billion pound warships, think tank warns
  • U.S. missile hits test target as North Korea tension rises
  • ‘We need more Earths’: Controversial author’s dire warning as world’s population heads for 11bn mark
  • Ambassador Nikki Haley vs. President Trump
  • The European Motor Sputters to Life
  • The early flowering and later withering of Communism in the United States
  • Who opposes the Iranian regime and why?

 Diplomacy needed now

July 7, 2017

by John Glaser


In Trump’s White House, diplomacy takes a back seat to military confrontation. And by back seat, I mean the chair has been unhinged and kicked out the rear exit of the bus.

International politics is a tough, anarchic, honor-driven world that incentivizes leaders to use force to resolve disputes instead of negotiate with their adversaries. Military action is associated with strength and shrewdness, whereas negotiations bear the pall of weakness and naivety.

But diplomacy is precisely what today’s most pressing international disputes need. It is cheap, humane and typically produces far more stable results than war.

In Syria and Iraq, Trump has given carte blanche to the military to devise policy and use force. This has resulted, unsurprisingly, in an increasingly militarized approach to the conflict, a more than 20 percent increase in the number of bombs dropped, and a multiplying number of opportunities for dangerous escalation of war with the Assad regime and its backers, Iran and Russia.

Meanwhile, not a single word has been offered in support of the Russia-led Syrian peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, or even the U.N.-sponsored talks in Geneva. Encouraging any kind of negotiation appears nowhere on the Trump agenda.

Now, the Islamic State’s days are numbered. The extremist group is beset on all sides by enemies. It’s being bombed and attacked by the United States, Kurdish militias, Iranian forces, Russia, and the Assad regime. It has lost territory, manpower and resources. But none of this will resolve the fundamental problems plaguing Iraq and Syria.

Only negotiations can produce a sustainable solution that ends the violence and creates a lasting political agreement. That may mean tolerating some ugly arrangements, like the continuation of the Assad regime’s rule, or greater Russian and Iranian influence in Syria. But the alternative is just more war and death and suffering.

On North Korea, Washington’s approach is similarly militarized. Trump seems to have abandoned trying to get China to use its leverage over the North to halt Pyongyang’s saber rattling and nuclear weapons tests. Instead, the president has emphasized ostentatious shows of force off the North Korean coast and vague threats of military action. Revamping negotiations is apparently off the table.

Contrary to the dominant thinking in Washington, D.C., the coercive tactics the United States uses against North Korea have little utility. For decades, Washington has blended economic sanctions with military encirclement and routine threats of preventive war. The result is a bolder, more defiant, nuclear-armed North Korea.

Trump initially had the right instinct, saying once during the campaign that he wouldn’t hesitate to talk with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. That policy seems to have been abandoned, partly due to the widespread conception of the North Korean regime as dangerous, untrustworthy and irrational.

Even if all that were true, it wouldn’t make sanctions and military confrontation better options than negotiating. Conservative estimates of the human costs of war on the Korean peninsula predict up to a million deaths, and that’s if it doesn’t go nuclear. Short of war, the hawkish approach only pushes Pyongyang to greater rigidity and antagonism.

But more to the point, negotiations can actually work. The U.S.-North Korean deal worked out by the Clinton administration in 1994, called the Agreed Framework, worked pretty well until 2002 when George W. Bush designated North Korea part of the “Axis of Evil,” and Pyongyang dropped out of the agreement to pursue a nuclear deterrent in earnest.

To this day, North Korea insists it will make concessions on its nuclear weapons program if the United States first signs a peace treaty to end its “hostile policy.” Promising not to attack could easily turn the temperature down. Pledging further to lift sanctions and help provide the North with nuclear energy in exchange for limitations on its weapons development could be the right set of incentives to reach a lasting agreement with Pyongyang.

Barack Obama, as both a candidate and president, caught flak for saying his administration would talk to Iran “without preconditions.” In the end, this openness to peaceful negotiation resulted in Iran agreeing to submit itself to the most restrictive non-proliferation agreement in the world and effectively took the U.S. and Iran off the path to war.

The Trump administration, by contrast, has denigrated the Iran nuclear deal, actively confronted Iranian-backed forces fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and even made whispers about regime change. This approach is wildly effective in bolstering the hardliners in Iran and in bogging the United States down in an increasingly unstable Middle East, but not much else.

Diplomacy is hard. It requires political leaders to resist the temptation to appear tough by refusing to negotiate with evil. It requires compromise in the service of peace. It may not work, but given the alternative — increasing belligerence and war — it’s certainly worth a try.

John Glaser is associate director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.


After G20: A look at left-wing radicalism in Europe

The recent violence in Hamburg, some of which was perpetrated by people who traveled there from across Europe, has thrown the spotlight on the extreme left. DW looks at the basics of a very complex phenomenon.

July 10, 2017

by Jefferson Chase


How many left-wing extremists are there in Europe?

It is difficult to name exact figures since far more research has been done about extremism on the political right than on the left. As the mayhem in Hamburg showed, there is a radical left-wing network in Europe whose activities are at least somewhat coordinated. But Europol says it doesn’t have any reliable estimates of the numbers of people involved.

In its latest report on the defense of the country’s constitution, the German Interior Ministry estimates that in 2016, Germany (total population 81.4 million) had 28,500 left-wing extremists, of whom 8,500 were considered violent. Far-left radicalism exists across Europe, and countries like Italy, Greece and Sweden have radical left-wing subcultures that are at least as prominent as Germany’s. There has been significant left-wing street violence in relatively well-heeled places like Zurich and Bern in Switzerland as well.

Is far-left violence on the rise?

Indications say yes. Europol’s most recent EU terrorism report noted a “sharp increase” in left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks from 2015 to 2016, although it also determined that the “operational capabilities of the groups remained low.” That tallies with figures from the German Interior Ministry, which found that the number of violent left-wing extremists in the country increased by ten percent last year, although the recorded acts of left-wing violence went down. Expect the figures for in Germany in 2017 to rise because of the violence surrounding the G20 summit.

It’s also worth noting that not all types of far-left extremists are considered equally violent. Europol concluded that “anarchist groups and individuals tended to be more violent than those belonging to left-wing extremist movements.”

How many different types of left-wing extremists are there?

There is a bewildering variety of far-left groups operating in Europe, but experts tend to distinguish broadly between three categories: communists who adhere to the teachings of Marx and Lenin, anarchists, and so-called “autonomous” radicals who tend to be connected with squats like the Rote Flora in Hamburg or Copenhagen’s famous Christiana. Germany’s Interior Ministry says that the number of communists is decreasing slightly while the other two groups are growing. The ministry also holds “autonomous” radicals responsible for the majority of the violence.

Some left-wing radical movements define themselves through their opposition to, and their acts of self-defense against, radical right-wing groups. These include Sweden’s Revolutionary Front and Greece’s Conspiracy of the Fire Cells.

What unites left-wing radicals, according to the German Interior Ministry, is “the rejection of the capitalist system as a whole.” The ministry adds that far-left radicals define capitalism not just as an economic system, narrowly understood, but as a whole complex of things including social inequity, the “destruction” of living space in cities, war, right-wing extremism, racism and environmental destruction.

But those participating in the violence in Hamburg may have been so-called “riot tourists,” interested only in destruction for destruction’s sake. An informal poll of protestors by the German edition of Vice magazine, just before the summit, found that the majority were unfamiliar with the most basic facts concerning the G20 as institution.

What sorts of crimes do leftist radicals commit?

Everything from homicide to graffiti. Conspiracy of Fire Cell members, for instance, are suspected of having murdered two followers of Greece’s right-wing extremist association, Golden Dawn, in 2013. The group also claimed responsibility this year for sending a letter bomb to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Sweden’s Revolutionary Front has posted videos on the Internet of masked attackers using an ax to destroy what they claimed was the home of a right-wing radical.

Not all radical left-wing violence is that dramatic, of course. But Europol writes: “In Germany, anarchist extremists carried out numerous arson attacks in 2016, mainly targeting police and private vehicles on the streets. Belgium experienced similar problems with arson attacks on cars and cell-phone masts. In Greece and Italy, anarchists are believed to be behind a number of incendiary attacks on vehicles and property, as well as on banks.”

And the German ministry has concluded that left-wing radicals are growing increasingly violent. The ministry found: “In the past few years the acceptance and intensity of violence in the far-left scene has noticeably increased. This is especially true of violence against police and political enemies (particularly real or imagined right-wing extremists.)

Left-wing violence is overwhelmingly concentrated in cities and very often accompanies events like the G20. “Left-wing and anarchist extremists continued to take advantage of lawful demonstrations to launch violent attacks against governmental property and law enforcement,” Europol says. An example is the “No Border Camp” demonstrations in Thessaloniki, Greece, where radical leftists clashed violently with police.

What is the likely fallout from the G20 violence?

The most immediate effect is that people in Germany, and elsewhere in Europe, are far more sensitized to the potential for radical left-wing violence than they were before July 7. Politicians from both of Germany’s biggest parties, the conservatives and the Social Democrats, have called for the creation of a European-wide list of violent left-wing extremists.

But Europol says that the mechanism for compiling such a list already exists. The law enforcement agency’s Dolphin project allows for the exchange of information about all serious political crimes, both right- and left-wing in nature, that affect EU member states.


Iraqi Forces Recapture Mosul Where They Suffered Their Heaviest Defeat

July 9, 2017

by Patrick Cockburn

The Unz Review

Iraq is declaring victory over Isis in Mosul as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, wearing black military uniform, arrived in the city to congratulate his soldiers at the end of an epic nine-month-long battle.

Elite Iraqi government forces raised the country’s flag on the banks of the Tigris River this morning, though Isis snipers are still shooting from the last buildings they hold in the Old City.

The magnitude of the victory won by the Iraqi government and its armed forces, three years after they suffered a catastrophic defeat in Mosul, is not in doubt.

A few thousand lightly equipped Isis fighters astonished the world by routing in four days an Iraqi garrison of at least 20,000 men equipped with tanks and helicopters. The recapture of Mosul now is revenge for the earlier humiliation.

The devastation in the city is huge: the closer one gets to the fighting in the centre, the greater the signs of destruction from air strikes. Wherever Isis made a stand, Iraqi forces called in the US-led coalition to use its massive firepower to turn whole blocks into heaps of rubble and smashed masonry.

A volunteer medical worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said that on bad days “some 200 to 300 people with injuries had turned at my medical centre. I hear stories of many families dying, trapped in basements where they had been sheltering from the bombs.”

Isis gunmen have slaughtered civilians trying to escape from areas they held.

Jasim, 33, a driver living behind Isis lines in the Old City, died when an Isis sniper shot him in the back as he tried to cross the Tigris over a half-destroyed bridge.

Two months ago, he was in touch with The Independent by phone after he had been wounded in the leg by a coalition drone attack.

“After a while, I felt a severe pain on my leg, and after few moments I realised I was injured,” he said. “I partly walked and partly crawled to a small temporary clinic nearby, but they could not treat my leg properly.”

Abdulkareem, 43, a construction worker and resident of the al-Maydan district, where Isis is making its last stand, spoke to The Independent last week about the dangers facing him and his family.

“We can hear the roar of the bombing and the mortar fire,” he said. “But we don’t know whether it is the Iraqi army, the coalition air strikes or Daesh [Isis].”

A few days later, an air strike hit his house. Friends said he was badly injured.

Away from the present battle zone in Mosul, many districts are deserted and only passable because bulldozers have cut a path through the debris.

In a side street in the al-Thawra district, where some buildings were destroyed, a crowd of people, mostly women in black robes which covered their faces as well their bodies, were this weekend frantically trying to obtain food baskets donated by an Iraqi charity.

“These women are from Daesh families, so I don’t have much sympathy for them,” said Saad Amr, a volunteer worker from Mosul who had once been jailed by Isis for six months in 2014.

“I suffered every torture aside from rape,” he recalled, adding that men from Isis families had been taken to Baghdad for investigation, but evidence of their crimes is difficult to obtain so most would be freed. The prospect made him edgy.

Asked about popular attitudes in Mosul towards Isis, Saad, who works part-time for an Iraqi radio station, said that three years ago in June 2014, when Isis captured Mosul, “some 85 per cent of people supported them because the Iraqi government forces had mistreated us so badly. The figure later fell to 50 per cent because of Isis atrocities and is now about 15 per cent.”

Ahmed, Saad’s brother who lives in East Mosul, said later that he was nervous because so many former Isis militants were walking about the city after shaving off their beards.

In a medical facility in a converted shop in al-Thawra, a wounded Isis fighter who had been hit in the face by shrapnel from a mortar round, was lying in a bed attached to a drip feed.

“You cannot talk to him because he is still under investigation,” warned a uniformed guard. A further 30 Isis suspects were being held in a mosque nearby, though these are more likely to have been administrative staff rather than fighters.

Saad said that the behaviour of Iraqi combat troops, particularly the Counter-Terrorism Service, also known as the Golden Division, towards civilians was excellent and “the soldiers often give their rations to hungry people”. He was more dubious about how incoming Iraqi army troops and police would act towards local people.

The Iraqi government victory is very real, but it also has its limitations. The weakness of the Iraqi forces is that they depend on three elite units, notably the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), the Emergency Response Division and the Federal Police, backed up by the devastating air power of the US-led coalition.

The CTS combat units, perhaps less than 3,000 men, have been the cutting edge of the military offensive in Mosul and have suffered some 40 per cent casualties.

This shortage of effective military units may make it difficult for Baghdad to consolidate its victory. This became clear during our five-hour drive to Mosul from the Kurdish capital of Irbil 60 miles away to the east, as we tried to find a road where the innumerable checkpoints would let us get through.

Driving across the Nineveh Plan east of Mosul, a land of ruined and abandoned towns and villages, most of the checkpoints were manned by Hashd al-Shaabi, the Shia group much feared by the Sunni Arabs of Mosul.

We crossed the Tigris by a pontoon bridge near Hamam al-Alil. Here there are camps for some 100,000 displaced people from Mosul. A few days earlier some 160 Isis fighters had staged a surprise counter-attack in Qayara district, killing soldiers and police along with two Iraqi journalists.

Travelling north towards Mosul, the police posts would not at first permit us to pass, so we circled round the city to the west travelling on a winding track through rocky scrubland where there were a few impoverished hamlets in which the houses were little more than huts and from which their inhabitants had fled.

For half a dozen miles not far from Mosul, there were no Iraqi security forces and we became nervous that US planes or drones might mistake our two vehicles for an Isis suicide bombing mission and attack us. We turned back to the main road and finally persuaded a police post to let us to use the road running past Mosul airport and a row of bombed out factories.

Our journey showed that the Iraqi government may have the won the nine-month struggle for Mosul – the battle of Stalingrad was only five and a half months long – but the war is not quite over. Isis may be able to regroup as it did before in 2007-11. Out in the vast desolate deserts of western Iraq and eastern Syria, its fighters can still hide and plan their revenge.


Syrian Observatory says has ‘confirmed information’ that Islamic State chief killed

July 11, 2017


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters on Tuesday that it had “confirmed information” that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed.

Russia’s defense ministry said it may have killed Baghdadi when one of its air strikes hit a gathering of Islamic State commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa, but Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials have been skeptical.

Reuters could not independently verify Baghdadi’s death.

Baghdadi’s death, which has been frequently reported since he declared a caliphate from a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, is one of the biggest blows yet to the jihadist group, which is trying to defend shrinking territory in Syria and Iraq.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Eric Knecht)


Blogger discredits claim Amelia Earhart was taken prisoner by Japan

Documentary claimed photo showed aviator on Japanese-held Marshall Islands in 1937, but image was found in book published two years earlier

July 11, 2017

by Justin McCurry in Tokyo and Jamiles Lartey in New York

The Guardian

Claims made in a US documentary that the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart crash-landed on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean and was taken prisoner by the Japanese appear to have been proved false by a photograph unearthed in a travel book.

The History Channel documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, which aired in the US on Sunday, made the claim that the American and her navigator, Fred Noonan, ended up in Japanese custody based on a photograph discovered in the US national archives that purported to show them standing at a harbour on one of the islands.

The film said the image “may hold the key to solving one of history’s all-time greatest mysteries” and suggested it disproved the widely accepted theory that Earhart and Noonan disappeared over the western Pacific on 2 July 1937 near the end of their attempt at a history-making flight around the world.

But serious doubts now surround the film’s premise after a Tokyo-based blogger unearthed the same photograph in the archives of the National Diet Library, Japan’s national library.

The image was part of a Japanese-language travelogue about the South Seas that was published almost two years before Earhart disappeared. Page 113 states the book was published in Japanese-held Palau on 10 October 1935.

The caption beneath the image makes no mention of the identities of the people in the photograph. It describes maritime activity at the harbour on Jabor in the Jaluit atoll – the headquarters for Japan’s administration of the Marshall Islands between the first world war and its defeat in the second world war.

The caption notes that monthly races between schooners belonging to local tribal leaders and other vessels turned the port into a “bustling spectacle”.

Kota Yamano, a military history blogger who unearthed the Japanese photograph, said it took him just 30 minutes to effectively debunk the documentary’s central claim.

“I have never believed the theory that Earhart was captured by the Japanese military, so I decided to find out for myself,” Yamano told the Guardian. “I was sure that the same photo must be on record in Japan.”

Yamano ran an online search using the keyword “Jaluit atoll” and a decade-long timeframe starting in 1930.

“The photo was the 10th item that came up,” he said. “I was really happy when I saw it. I find it strange that the documentary makers didn’t confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared. That’s the first thing they should have done.”

Yamano’s Twitter post fuelled social media discussion of the possible cause of Earhart’s disappearance and criticism of the History Channel documentary.

The photograph shows a woman with her back to the camera, whom the film suggests is Earhart, alongside a man – purportedly Noonan – whose face is visible, with other people standing on a dock on Jaluit atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Earhart and Noonan were last seen taking off in her twin-engine Lockheed Electra on 2 July 1937, from Papua New Guinea en route to Howland Island, about 2,500 miles away.

The documentary, hosted by former FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry, also alleges a cover-up, claiming that the US government knew of her whereabouts but did nothing to rescue her.

The film cites facial-recognition and other forensic testing that confirmed the photograph’s authenticity, and concluded that the two figures in question were likely to be Earhart and Noonan.

The film describes Earhart as “a world-famous aviator who got caught up in an international dispute, was abandoned by her own government, and made the ultimate sacrifice”.

Henry said: “She may very well be the first casualty of world war two.”

The picture “clearly indicates that Earhart was captured by the Japanese”, said retired US treasury agent Les Kinney, who unearthed the image in the US national archives in 2012.

The version of the photo Kinney found in the US archives is undated, but he has said he believes it was taken in July 1937 – a theory now disproved by the image from Japanese archives.

The Marshall Island theory, which the photograph is alleged to support, has been around since at least the 1960s and was fuelled by accounts from Marshall Islanders, who claimed they watched the aircraft land and saw Earhart and Noonan in Japanese custody.

The History Channel website said “new evidence” suggests that Earhart died in Japanese custody on the island of Saipan. Wally Earhart, Amelia’s cousin, has said – without offering evidence – that she died of dysentery and other illnesses, while Noonan was beheaded by the Japanese.

Conspiracy theories have abounded for decades, since no trace of Earhart, Noonan or their plane has ever been confirmed.

Other experts have cast doubt on the documentary’s photos claims. Ric Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, said there was no evidence that the person in the photograph was Earhart.

Gillespie believes Earhart died as a castaway on the island of Nikumaroro, Kiribati, where a partial skeleton was discovered in 1940. “There is such an appetite for anything related to Amelia Earhart that even something this ridiculous will get everybody talking about it,” said Gillespie, author of Finding Amelia.

“This is just a picture of a wharf at Jaluit [in the Marshall Islands], with a bunch of people,” Gillespie said. “It’s just silly. And this is coming from a guy who has spent the last 28 years doing genuine research into the Earhart disappearance and led 11 expeditions into the South Pacific.”

Matthew B Holly, a military expert, told Agence France-Presse the photo appeared to have been taken about a decade earlier than the date given by the History Channel.

“From the Marshallese visual background, lack of Japanese flags flying on any vessels but one, and the age configuration of the steam-driven steel vessels, the photo is closer to the late 1920s or early 1930s, not anywhere near 1937,” he said.


Cheap missiles threaten Navy’s billion pound warships, think tank warns

July 11, 2017

by Ben Farmer,  Defence Correspondent

The Telegraph/UK

Britain’s costly warships and aircraft are at risk from potential enemies because of rapid advances in their missile and surveillance technology, a respected think tank has warned.

Technological leaps by rivals such as Russia and China have eroded the military dominance once taken for granted by the West, the paper from the Royal United Services Institute says.

The report singles out Chinese and Russian long range missiles “which threaten large land, maritime and air platforms” and could knock out satellite-based communications and positioning systems that Western militaries have become reliant on.

The report warns that “missiles costing (much) less than half a million pounds a unit could at least disable a British aircraft carrier that costs more than £3 billion. Indeed, a salvo of ten such missiles would cost less than $5 million.”

The report goes on: “China and Russia appear to have focused many (but not all) their efforts on being able to put at risk the key Western assets that are large, few in number and expensive.”

The Royal Navy has said its new carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be well defended from missile attack by its destroyer and frigate escort.

But the report says that “the advancing capabilities of potential adversaries of the UK should be a genuine concern”.

The report echoes Pentagon calls for a new technological revolution to again give Western militaries an edge against rivals.

However it points out that Britain has dramatically scaled back spending on finding defence technology of the future.

The research budget has fallen by 27 per cent since 2003 and the development budget has fallen by more than half.

The report said: “The weight of evidence in the public domain supports the view that Russia and China have developed the surveillance and precision strike capabilities to put at serious risk Western surface ships, large military aircraft and arguably any land system, even the most heavily armoured.”

The West can no longer rely on its space-based communications either. China has spent years developing anti-satellite missiles.

“There are some fears that China would launch a mass attack on US satellites as the initial step in a major war,” the report warns.


U.S. missile hits test target as North Korea tension rises

July 11, 2017

by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali


Washington-The United States said on Tuesday it shot down a simulated, incoming intermediate-range ballistic missile similar the ones being developed by countries like North Korea, in a new test of the nation’s defenses.

Planned months ago, the U.S. missile defense test over the Pacific Ocean has gained significance after North Korea’s July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile heightened concerns about the threat from Pyongyang.

The test was the first-ever of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system against an incoming IRBM, which experts say is a faster and more difficult target to hit than shorter-range missiles.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said the IRBM was designed to behave similarly to the kinds of missiles that could threaten the United States.

“The successful demonstration of THAAD against an IRBM-range missile threat bolsters the country’s defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries,” the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.

The United States has deployed THAAD to Guam and South Korea to help guard against threats from North Korea. A ground-based missile defense system, THAAD is designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

In the latest test, a THAAD in Kodiak, Alaska, intercepted a ballistic missile target that was air-launched from a C-17 aircraft flying north of Hawaii, the Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.

This success leaves THAAD with a 100 percent track record for all 14 intercept attempts since flight testing began just over a decade ago.

Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), the prime contractor for the THAAD system, said it could intercept incoming missiles both inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

The United States deployed THAAD to South Korea this year to guard against North Korea’s shorter-range missiles. That has drawn fierce criticism from China, which says the system’s powerful radar can probe deep into its territory.

Earlier this month Moscow and Beijing, in a joint statement, called on Washington to immediately halt deployment of THAAD in South Korea.

The statement said Washington was using North Korea as a pretext to expand its military infrastructure in Asia and risked upsetting the strategic balance of power in the region.

THAAD’s success rate in testing is far higher than the one for America’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, which is designed to shoot down an ICBM headed for the U.S. mainland.

That GMD system has only a 55 percent success rate over the life of the program. But advocates say the technology has improved dramatically in recent years.

The GMD system successfully shot down an incoming, simulated North Korean ICBM in a test in May.

That led the Pentagon to upgrade its assessment of the United States’ ability to defend against a small number of ICBMs, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

The Missile Defense Agency told Congress in June that it planned to deliver 52 more THAAD interceptors to U.S. Army between October 2017 and September 2018, bringing total deliveries to 210 since May 2011.

(Writing by Susan Heavey and Phil Stewart; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Von Ahn)

 ‘We need more Earths’: Controversial author’s dire warning as world’s population heads for 11bn mark

July 11, 2017


On July 11, 1987, eight-pound baby boy Matej Gaspar was born to a couple in Yugoslavia. As commonplace as the event might have seemed at first, its significance was quickly recognized by the United Nations.

It marked the ‘Day of the Five Billion’, the official day the Earth’s population reached that milestone.

Then-UN Secretary General Javier Perez even visited the Zagreb hospital himself to hold baby Matej, and said: “For the first time in our history, we are able to support five billion people. For the first time we can say with confidence that we have the ability to support those who will come after.”

Two decades earlier, controversial American biologist Paul R Ehrlich made the opposite point in ‘The Population Bomb’, a book that made dire predictions about humanity’s ability to feed future generations.

In 1968, he wrote that mankind was on the cusp of breeding itself into oblivion and there was little that could stop a “substantial increase” in the world death rate. He predicted that the children of the 70s and 80s would bear witness to an epoch of famines where “hundreds of millions will starve to death” and, like ancient human civilizations, our numbers were accumulating to the point of an “ecocatastrophe.”

Now, on the 30th anniversary of the ‘Day of the Five Billion’, Ehrlich admits his population predictions were not accurate. In fact, since the release of Ehrlich’s book, every year but one (1992-1993) has seen the world’s crude death rate decrease.

While death rates have not ballooned in general terms, Ehrlich’s questions around sustainable living are similar to the ones being asked today.

Humans are living longer, meaning there is a greater demand for resources. Urban planning is reaching a critical phase and consumption control is the backbone to global treaties like the Paris Agreement.

“Any scientist who writes in 1968 and still believes they’d write the same book on the same topic in 2017 is not much of a scientist,” Erhlich told RT.com.

“I put too much dependence, for instance, on agricultural economists who did not predict how fast the ‘green revolution’ would take. There’s lots of things I’d do differently in the book.

“But the basic story has never been criticized scientifically,” he added. “To [sustain] the number of people we have today at the standards of living we have today… for 50 to 100 years, you’d need one and a half Earths.”

Ehrlich, who once stated how sterilization could be implemented as a form of population control, believes that if the whole world were to consume energy and food at a similar rate to North America – Europe just about lags behind in terms of food wastage – the human race would need to find “four or five more Earths” for survival.

“Every scientist I know thinks there are too many people on the planet and we’re consuming too much and we’re destroying our life support systems by killing off other organisms on the planet,” Ehrlich said. “We’re basically sawing off the limb we are sitting on and the big concern now is can you soften the collapse.”

UN forecast

Last month, the UN released its own population forecast predicting an annual population increase of 83 million people. Over the course of the next 13 years, the global population will grow from 7.6 to 8.6 billion and to 9.8 billion by 2050.

Despite projected decreases in fertility rates in countries with high birth rates, it’s estimated that the population could hit over 11 billion by the start of the 22nd century. Overall, there is just a 27 percent chance the planet’s population will stabilize.

John Wilmoth, Director of the UN Population Division, does not see high population growth as a sign of civilization’s collapse. Rather he views it a “victory over premature death.”

Wilmoth told RT.com that “very little” can actually be done to reduce the total size of the human population, but the key to averting any eco-disaster is changing consumption patterns.

“I really believe that the human population faces major sustainability issues whether we have four billion, seven billion or 11 billion people on this planet. Four billion people would be very capable of messing up this planet, especially if you had four billion people consuming like North Americans or Europeans,” he said.

“A sustainable future for the world has to involve an emphasis on behavioral changes, much more than on reducing the number of people living on the planet.”

Among other things, the UN’s sustainable development goals are concern with ending world hunger. But Wilmoth said the problem is distribution rather than an inability to feed growing numbers.

“The problems tend to be associated with issues surrounding peace and conflict. It’s ultimately political instability that is the cause of much hunger and malnutrition in the world today. It’s not an inability to grow the food, it’s an inability to get the food to those who are in need,” Wilmoth said.

He suggested that limiting family size, like the Chinese government’s former one-child policy, cannot be the answer to ensuring a more sustainable future.

“When you start talking about changing the number of people who are living on this planet, you’re talking about going into people’s bedrooms and interfering with the most private and intimate decisions that people make,” Wilmoth explained.

“To fundamentally change [population] trends would require actions that are just unconscionable – either releasing germs into the population so that a lot of people become sick and die, or forced sterilization of men and women.”


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The ethologist John B. Calhoun coined the term “behavioral sink” to describe the collapse in behavior which resulted from overcrowding. Over a number of years, Calhoun conducted over-population experiments on Norway rats (in 1958–1962) and mice (in 1968–1972). Calhoun coined the term “behavioral sink” in his February 1, 1962 report in an article titled Population Density and Social Pathology in the Scientific American weekly newspaper on the rat experiment. Calhoun’s work became used as an animal model of societal collapse, and his study has become a touchstone of urban sociology and psychology in general.

In the 1962 study, Calhoun described the behavior as follows:

“ Many [female rats] were unable to carry pregnancy to full term or to survive delivery of their litters if they did. An even greater number, after successfully giving birth, fell short in their maternal functions. Among the males the behavior disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge to eat, drink and move about only when other members of the community were asleep. The social organization of the animals showed equal disruption. …

The common source of these disturbances became most dramatically apparent in the populations of our first series of three experiments, in which we observed the development of what we called a behavioral sink. The animals would crowd together in greatest number in one of the four interconnecting pens in which the colony was maintained. As many as 60 of the 80 rats in each experimental population would assemble in one pen during periods of feeding. Individual rats would rarely eat except in the company of other rats. As a result extreme population densities developed in the pen adopted for eating, leaving the others with sparse populations.

… In the experiments in which the behavioral sink developed, infant mortality ran as high as 96 percent among the most disoriented groups in the population.


Ambassador Nikki Haley vs. President Trump

July 11, 2017

by Daniel McAdams


Donald Trump came to the White House with a reputation as a top notch businessman. He built an international real estate empire and is worth billions. He then went into reality television, where his signature line as he dismissed incompetent potential employees was, “you’re fired!”

On Friday, President Trump held a long-awaited face-to-face meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The meeting was scheduled to be a brief, 30 minute meet and greet, but turned into a two-plus hour substantive session producing a ceasefire agreement for parts of Syria and a plan to continue working together in the future. After the extended session, which was cordial by all accounts, President Trump said the meeting was “tremendous.”

President Trump indicated that the issue of Russian interference in the US elections came up in conversation and that Putin vehemently denied it. It obviously was not a make or break issue in the conversation. President Trump’s latest statement on the issue is that “we don’t know for sure” who was behind any meddling.

Later on Friday, President Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said of the Syria agreement that, “I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria.”

On Sunday, President Trump Tweeted in praise of the Syria ceasefire agreement, adding that, “now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”

It suddenly appeared that the current reprise of a vintage 1950s US/Soviet face-off in relations had turned the corner back to sanity. Perhaps we will be pulling back from the edge of WWIII with thermonuclear weapons!

Then President Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations, the notorious neocon Nikki Haley, showed up on the weekend talk shows.

To CNN’s Dana Bash, she directly contradicted her boss, Donald Trump, and undermined his official position regarding Russian involvement in the US election.

Said Ambassador Haley of Trump’s meeting with Putin:

One, he wanted to basically look him in the eye, let him know that, yes, we know you meddled in our elections. Yes, we know you did it, cut it out. And I think President Putin did exactly what we thought he would do, which is deny it. This is Russia trying to save face. And they can’t. They can’t. Everybody knows that Russia meddled in our elections.

As The Hill correctly pointed out, “Haley’s description runs counter to the versions offered by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Trump himself.”

But Hurricane Haley was not finished. She poured ice water on President Trump’s agreement with President Putin to work together on cyber-security, telling CNN, “[w]e can’t trust Russia, and we won’t ever trust Russia. But you keep those that you don’t trust closer so that you can always keep an eye on them and keep them in check.”

It is absolutely clear that hyper-neocon Nikki Haley has gone rogue and is actively undermining the foreign policy of her boss and President, Donald Trump. From her embarrassing, foaming-at-the-mouth tirades in the UN Security Council to this latest bizarre effort to sabotage President Trump’s first attempt to fulfill his campaign pledge to find a way to get along better with Russia, President Trump’s own Ambassador has become the biggest enemy of his foreign policy.

Surely the President – who as an enormously successful businessman has hired and fired thousands – can see the damage she is doing to his Administration by actively undermining his foreign policy.

President Trump needs to reprise his signature television line. He needs to pick up the phone, ask for Nikki, and shout “you’re FIRED!” into the telephone.

The European Motor Sputters to Life

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron hope to reinvigorate the Franco-German partnership. Yet even as military cooperation moves forward, the two countries are still far apart on eurozone reforms.

July 10, 2017

by Peter Müller and Christian Reiermann


When Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron talk about their relationship, it’s easy to get the impression that they are a pair of lovers. “There’s a bit of magic in every new beginning,” warbled the German chancellor during Macron’s visit to Berlin. The French president, for his part, wasn’t at a loss for ardor when he went before the press with Merkel at the end of the last EU summit. “When France and Germany speak with one voice, Europe makes headway,” he gushed.

It’s hardly surprising that Brussels no longer speaks of two people when the pair comes up in conversation. “Mercron” or “Emmangela” is how the two are now referred to in the European Union capital, names that reflect the hope that Merkel and Macron, the German chancellor and French president, will re-start the German-French EU motor and finally bring the bloc forward. And the current situation is propitious: The election of Donald Trump in the United States and the ongoing political disaster unfolding in Britain has recently reminded many Europeans of just how important the EU really is.

On Thursday in Paris, on the eve of Bastille Day, the two leaders, along with members of their cabinets, are set to introduce the first concrete initiatives, hoping to demonstrate the vigor of their partnership. The problem, though, is that as soon as the proposals become too concrete, the problems begin to become visible. Particularly when it comes to reforming the eurozone, there are hurdles aplenty.

Unclarified Details

That became apparent last Tuesday when a working group of Finance Ministry experts from the two countries met to discuss the project in Paris. Both sides currently have limitations on their flexibility. The representatives from the new French government first have to work their way into their new positions while the Germans don’t feel they have completely free rein because of the upcoming parliamentary elections in September.

The result was just a repetition of what the two sides have been saying for years. Whereas Germany continues to insist on a recipe of strict austerity and increased competitiveness for Southern Europe’s debt-ridden countries, France is demanding that the focus on austerity be abandoned. The French position is hardly surprising given that France is among those countries that frequently falls afoul of Stability and Growth Pact rules. Plus, Germany’s trade surplus and Berlin’s demand that the European Central Bank should operate free of political considerations continue to be viewed with skepticism in Paris, despite the leadership change.

Macron has proposed creating the position of eurozone finance minister and establishing an investment budget for the currency union. But the way things stand now, the meeting this week will not reach a decision on the ideas, even if Merkel broadly approves of them. Too many details remain unclarified. What exactly would a eurozone finance minister be responsible for? And how would such a position be compatible with the rights of eurozone members to control their own national budgets?

Uniform Corporate Tax Rates

The Germans want other large eurozone member states to be brought into the discussions, in part because Franco-German solos have not always been welcomed in the past by the rest of the currency union. But the Berlin demand also has the advantage that it delays the debates over Macron’s proposals until after Germany’s Sept. 24 general election. The Thursday meeting in Paris, though, is at least expected to produce a roadmap for further talks on the deepening of eurozone cooperation.

Slightly more concrete details are expected for another joint project. The two sides intend to present a new plan for uniform corporate tax rates in Europe. European officials have long been frustrated by the practice followed by many European companies of moving their profits to those countries with the lowest tax rates while their home countries are left with nothing.

Germany and France would now like to consolidate the assessment criteria used for calculating corporate tax. To do so, however, they must reach agreement on a huge number of benchmarks, such as rules governing the valuation and write-off of machines, to name one example. Achieving consensus is likely to take months of detail-oriented work, which has been assigned to a joint working group of experts.

The two sides would also like to involve the European Investment Bank (EIB) in joint projects. With the bank’s help, Emmangela would like to establish a new credit program for mid- and small-sized companies to support them in the process of digitalization. The plan calls for the EIB to establish a guarantee covering 80 percent of the loans issued by commercial banks, with both Germany and France making 75 million euros available. The resulting 150 million euros is expected to be enough to cover what is expected to be a low number of defaults. In total, the program would be able to secure a credit volume of up to 2.5 billion euros with internal calculations estimating that up to 30,000 companies in Germany and France would benefit. The new instrument is seen as a kind of pilot project that other countries could join later on.

Removing Hurdles on Defense Cooperation

The most detailed element of future Franco-German relations is military cooperation. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart have made significant progress – despite the recent revolving door at the French Defense Ministry. The convergence is taking place as part of so-called “Permanent Structured Cooperation” or PESCO, which refers to the process whereby those EU countries who wish to work more closely together can do so.

The hope is to test out the process for the first time on military issues, an area where the 28 EU member states waste millions each year due to a lack of coordination, particularly when it comes to purchasing new weapons systems. Brexit combined with the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. have acted as a catalyst when it comes to European defense cooperation.

The last significant hurdle is to be removed in Paris on Thursday. France had long been insisting that a key priority of military cooperation should be the battlefield effectiveness of the resulting force whereas the Germans are eager to include as many countries as possible. Now, both wishes are to be fulfilled: The cooperation, European Council President Donald Tusk said in June, is to be “ambitious and inclusive.”

Those interested in joining PESCO must commit themselves to five clearly outlined admission criteria, such as improved coordination of military procurement and constant defense spending increases. The plan also calls for more countries to participate in financing the EU Battlegroups. Formed a decade ago, there has been little appetite for actually deploying them in part because those countries supplying troops to the Battlegroups have thus far had to bear the costs on their own.

Welcome Help from Berlin

With such undertakings, Europe aims to become a more effective global player, as EU heads of state and government formulated it following their June summit. “We are working toward a European army that can integrate independent national militaries in such a way that they can participate in joint missions,” says German Defense Minister von der Leyen. “The security situation requires us to have a strong and operational defense union.” The German government expects that 20 or more EU countries will ultimately participate. Spain, Italy and the Netherlands have already reviewed the plans and the hope is that EU leaders will grant their approval in December.

The Paris meeting on Thursday is also set to provide details on the provision of support for African militaries that have joined together to fight terrorism in the Sahel. Already, the German military supports the EU mission in Mali with around 150 soldiers, but the plan calls for additional assistance to be provided to the new G5 Sahel, an alliance including Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Germany has already begun delivering computers for the alliance’s headquarters in Mauritania with the plan calling for additional support training troops in Niger and elsewhere. “We are expanding,” say government sources. The African terror mission already has Macron’s support. Paris has long been complaining that France is left alone when it comes to dangerous missions in Africa. Help from Berlin is most welcome.


The early flowering and later withering of Communism in the United States

July 11, 2017

by Harry von Johnston PhD

There is no question whatsoever that during the Roosevelt administration, many radical leftists joined his New Deal and their ill-conceived and abrasive activities infuriated many Americans. In a democracy, such behavior can usually be curbed if it becomes too prevalent. However, during the Roosevelt era, the President was battling the Great Depression, which suddenly flared up again in 1938, and his skillful presentation of right-wing dictatorships in Germany, Italy and Japan were viewed as potential threats to America. These two factors, economic and ideological, helped keep Roosevelt in office. Although, after his own dictatorial attempt to control the Supreme Court failed in Congress in 1936, his popularity in the polls was steadily shrinking.

After Roosevelt actively aided and abetted the United States’ entry in the war, his tenure in the White House was secure until the war was over. Those historians who praise Roosevelt as a great man, claim that he, indeed, schemed to involve America in global war but did so because Germany and Japan were planning to invade the continental United States. However, post-war searches of captured German and Japanese state archives have not produced a shred of evidence in support of this invasion theory, and it ranks with the more recent gross fiction of the George W.  Bush Administration’s WMD fabrications used to justify an attack on Iraq.

Throughout his entire life, Roosevelt was dominated by his mother who was possessed of exceptionally strong personal prejudices. She ran her only child like a Swiss railroad. On her annual European trips, Mrs. Roosevelt preferred to mingle with correct British society and found her hotel stays in Germany abhorrent. Mrs. Roosevelt was anti-Semitic and her deep hatred of Germans was instilled in her son from an early age. She constantly referred to black Americans as “niggers,” and so her prejudice became his prejudice, also.

The flowering of leftist views in Washington left many Americans furious but because of the President’s general popularity, America was powerless to vote him out of office. This continuing frustration produced a flood of savage anti-Roosevelt commentary and a heightened detestation of the shrill importunings of the extreme left governmental appointees.

When Roosevelt died suddenly in 1945, his successor Harry Truman was viewed as an unknown entity. Truman, who was no fan of Stalin or his ideology, acted cautiously to remove the New Deal activists from power. This earned Truman unpopularity with some factions of the media and especially the American motion picture industry, which was a strong supporter of left-wing causes.

The conversation between Müller and his CIA interviewers took place just before the Presidential elections of 1948. The mainstream American media, still very much anti-Roosevelt, was loudly predicting Truman’s defeat at the hands of the colorless Thomas Dewey.

There was the belief in conservative circles of the U.S. government that Dewey would be a better man than Truman, and that he would give the order for a general cleansing of the Rooseveltian stables. Truman, as a Democrat, may have been anti-communist, but he was still compelled to seek the support of his party. Of course, he had to walk with great care, lest he lose his political support from the party machinery.

Senator Joseph McCarthy, Republican, of Wisconsin has been described as a madman on the socio-political scene, and depicted as a power-mad politician who accused innocent Americans of communist beliefs or activities. In fact, McCarthy was kept well-informed of facts either known to official Washington or uncovered by various investigative agencies. Much of his information came from senior Catholic church sources in Washington who, in turn, received their information from anonymous, but accurate, official sources.

McCarthy’s statement inaugurating his attacks on American communists, in which he stated that more than 80 known communists worked in the U.S. Department of State, was entirely accurate. McCarthy either did not know, or neglected to mention, that they were identified communists who had been removed from the OSS by Truman in 1945, and were awaiting a graceful departure from government service.

Although Truman and his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, have been depicted by biographers and historians as appalled and disgusted by the activities of McCarthy, neither man made the slightest effort to silence him, even though there was certainly sufficient material to accomplish this. McCarthy, who drank heavily, eventually lost his sources, became incoherent and brought the wrath of the Senate down upon him.

Some ideological historians and journalists have portrayed McCarthy as the sole and discredited voice of anti-communism in America. Such a portrayal, however, is a gross error. Strong anti-communist attitudes were well entrenched in the United States and if McCarthy had not attacked the ultra left, then someone else would have pursued the communists—perhaps with more explosive results.

Who opposes the Iranian regime and why?

Some of these groups are ethnic or religious based and have opposed the regime for decades.

June 7, 2017

by Seth J. Frantzman

Jerusalem Post

As the dust settles after the terror attack targeting two highly symbolic institutions in Iran, the parliament and tomb or Mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, many groups who oppose the regime are taking notice. Some of these groups are ethnic or religious based and have opposed the regime for decades. Some are secular, others religious. What unites them is a loathing for the Ayatollahs and their system of government.

1) Mojahedin-e Khalq

The People’s Mojahedin of Iran, often called MEK, was founded in 1965 and is dominated by the Rajavi family. It combines a unique brand of Marxism and Islamism. Initially supportive of the Iranian revolution in 1979 and the overthrow of the Shah, the group found itself persecuted by the new regime and went underground and into exile. It launched armed attacks on the government beginning in 1981 under the auspices of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. It carried out armed attacks during the Iran-Iraq war, siding with Iraq, and undertook assassinations. This got it labeled a terror organization by the US and in the EU. However after the US invasion of Iraq, as Iranian influence increased in Baghdad, MEK members and their armed camp in Iraq were attacked. The group’s main center of operations in Europe continues to attract support and it has lobbied successfully to be removed from terror lists, arguing it renounced terror. In 2012 the US removed it from its terror list.

2) Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Sunni Jihadists

Since the 1990s when Al-Qaeda emerged as major Sunni jihadist terrorist group, it has set its sights on Iran. Iran suffered terror from Sunni Jihadists before, but in 1998 the Taliban and Al-Qaeda murdered 11 Iranian diplomats in Mazari Sharif in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda plotted other attacks on religious and civilian sites in Iran. Since 2000 the baton has been passed to other jihadist groups such as Jundullah, and Islamic State. The more extreme Sunni Jihadists hate the Iranian regime because it is Shia and ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban has engaged in attacks on Shia minorities in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They also oppose Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Syria.

3) Balochistan

Balochistan, a vast area that spans southeastern Iran and western Pakistan is inhabited mostly by the Baloch minority group which is suppressed in by both countries. There are several million Balochis in Iran and they have opposed the regime in various ways, for instance in the 1980s through the Balochi Autonomist Movement. Some Baloch groups want autonomy or federalism, others are more jihadist in nature. In October 2009 a Sunni Islamist Balochi group called Jundullah attacked Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members in a bombing.  Since 2003 they have killed hundreds in various bombings targeting the regime and civilians.  Other Sunni jihadist groups in the province are also active, including one called Jaish-ul Adl (JAA). In raids in 2015 several Iranian soldiers were killed, as well as several of the militants. Groups such as JAA have carried out numerous attacks which Iran has tried to blame on United States support. Another group called Harakat Ansar Iran is also active. It has killed Basij militia members and bombed a mosque in Chabahar.

4) Kurdish groups

There are around seven million Kurds in Iran living in the east and northeast. Since the 1940s they have been involved in attempts to create a Kurdish state or demand rights within Iran. In 1946 Qazi Muhammad founded the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan or PDKI. They supported the alliance of secular and religious groups that opposed the Shah in 1979 but like most others they soon found themselves suppressed by the new theocracy. In the 1980s the PDKI waged a guerilla war against the regime. Many of their members and leaders, such as Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, were driven into exile and assassinated. In 2016 The PDKI and its current leader Mustafa Hijri announced they would send their peshmerga, including women fighters, back into Iran to combat the IRGC and since then there have been low level clashes. The PDKI partners with other groups through the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CNFI).

Kurdish opposition to the regime also includes the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), a group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party, a leftwing group. It was founded in 1997 and has waged a low level insurgency since 2004. The Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), which has existed since the 1990s, was very active in the war against Islamic State in Iraq. However its men seek to return to Iran to fight the government with the skills they learned on the frontline in Iraq.

5) Women’s rights groups

Since the 1980s women in Iran have been forced to cover their hair and their “modesty” has been policed by religious authorities. During the same period women have attempted in various ways to oppose the regimes policies. Sometimes this takes the form of small acts of protest such as not covering the hair entirely. This has resulted in arrests and harassment. However it has not stopped active social media campaigns such as ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ and attempts to sneak into volleyball matches (from which women are banned).

6) Azeris, Arabs and other minorities

Non-Persian minority groups who face persecution from the regime have banded together under the umbrella of the CNFI to oppose the regimes policies. Their general agenda is a more federal Iran that allows different ethnic groups more rights. The CNFI includes Turkmen, Lurs, Azeris, Kurds, Baloch and others and Arabs from the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz. Numerous other Arab parties, often with the name Ahwaz in the title, either exist abroad or underground in Iran’s Khuzestan province. They have carried out intermittent attacks against the regime. Bahai and Zoroastrian religious minorities have been jailed and suppressed by the regime since the 1980s.





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