US Envoy Threatens to Assassinate New Quds Force Commander

“If Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” U.S. envoy Brian Hook told the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat.

The U.S. envoy to Iran Brian Hook has threatened Iran's Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani with the same fate as his predecessor, Qassem Soleimani, if he followed the latter's path.

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AccordIng to the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Hook and the rest of the Trump administration will not tolerate Soleimani's approach any further. The U.S. representative said the Trump administration will take similar action against Ghaani if seeks to replicate Soleimani's approach. 

“If Ghaani follows the same path of killing Americans then he will meet the same fate,” U.S. envoy Brian Hook told the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat.

He said in the interview in Davos, Switzerland that Trump had long made it clear “that any attack on Americans or American interests would be met with a decisive response.

The U.S. military assassinated Qassem Soleimani using a drone near the Baghdad Airport on January 3rd. Soleimani's death was said to be in response to his plans to allegedly attack the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. 

In retaliation for the Soleimani assassination, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards fired 22 missiles at the U.S. forces in Iraq on January 8th. The U.S. initially denied any casualties; however, a report leaked shortly after claiming as many as 11 U.S. soldiers were wounded.

Following the death of Soleimani, General Esmail Ghaani was named the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force. He was considered Soleimani's number two and a close confidant of the late Quds Force commander. 

 

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US recognition of Guaido proves stance against Venezuela

Caracas, Jan 7 (Prensa Latina) The recognition by the United States of the parallel swearing-in ceremony of Juan Guaido as National Assembly President, proves yet again that Venezuela cannot expect anything from that government, the Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Diosdado Cabello, stated.

During a special broadcast of his radio program Con El Mazo Dando, Cabello reviewed what happened on Sunday at the National Assembly (in contempt), and noted that Washington will seek any pretext not to recognize the parliamentary elections to be held this year.

He warned that it is necessary to be prepared, as the White House will not approve any process that does not respond to its interests.

'This is the scenario that they always seek, to promote chaos to justify an intervention. There were expressions full of hatred from the lawmakers of Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) and especially their wish for a drone to come,' Cabello noted.

He stressed that 'imperialism and its opposition lackeys have only one way of acting, under the law of the strongest without either principles or values.' Regarding the election of the new leadership of the Parliament, held prior to Guaido's parallel act, Cabello said that it was a defeat for imperialism, as the White House's candidate failed to secure the votes necessary to be elected and his own political force turned its back on him.

He added that the divisions at the core of the Venezuelan right wing are a blow for the United States and its allies.

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Internet and the dirty U.S. war on Cuba

Funds allocated by the U.S. government to promote regime change in Cuba are euphemistically camouflaged as "pro-democracy programs" to finance mercenary groups, scholarships to train young Cubans as fake leaders, and a dirty Internet war.

One of the most widespread falsehoods disseminated about Cuba is to present the Cuban Revolution as an enemy of the Internet. This lie is based on distortions of our condemnation of U.S. strategies using telecommunications in its anti-Cuban efforts, while the fact is hidden that Wall Street does everything it can to limit our people’s access to those technologies.

Our e-mails, tweets, online presentations and Facebook posts contribute to the massive volume of data generated every day on the Internet. Today, analysts can construct models capable of predicting political preferences, sexual orientation, etc, all from the information that users themselves provide on social networks.

It has been documented that the Political Action Group (GAP) which is part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Center, carries out projects that include the creation of communications and Internet access structures in countries or regions targeted for aggression.

In Bolivia, more than 68,000 fake Twitter accounts were created in the days leading up to the coup of November, 2019. Meanwhile, Iran suffered a wave of violence, during which the same tactic used in Bolivia was repeated: armed groups, perfectly coordinated, used the technique of "swarming" to communicate, organizing actions with text messages establishing meeting points for attacks. The aggression came to a halt when the government shut down the Internet and wireless networks, as occurred during the 2009 elections, in what became known as the Green Wave.

In February of 2018, the so-called Cuba Internet Task Force was created, following instructions outlined in a Presidential memorandum on national security, released June 16, 2017. The website Razones de Cuba has documented that the CIA’s Political Action Group and institutions on the task force have highly qualified specialists who, based on models previously developed through Big Data, sent sector-specific messages to Cubans.

In June of 2019, a Twitter storm supposedly organized by Cuban users, called on our telecommunications company Etecsa to lower Internet prices. The same source reveals that an attempt was made to present this as an initiative by students, computer engineers, etc, but the alleged activists actually lived in Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia. Another attempt at manipulation occurred in connection with the Constitutional Referendum, using the hashtag #YoVotoNo on Twitter.

Linked with counterrevolutionary sites and networks, thousands of false accounts flooded the island with their message, prefabricated commentators conducted "analyses" of the "Cuban situation," using well studied resources, seeking to emotionally mobilize previously identified audiences, via humor, indignation, and surprise.

The recent campaigns to discredit revolutionary artists, and the cowardly defacing of monuments to José Martí, are part of this war, with its digital correlate, that seeks to create the conditions for a "Green Wave" on the island.

The controversial Helms-Burton Act of 1996 established the obligation to fund these destabilization programs. The figure has varied under different U.S. administration since then, but the average allocation is close to 20 million dollars annually.

These funds to promote regime change in Cuba, are euphemistically camouflaged as "pro-democracy programs," which finance mercenary groups, scholarships to train young Cubans as fake leaders, and the dirty Internet war

Specifically, the Task Force, activated two years ago, given the importance of digital platforms, seems to be a defensive action by a government that has run out of ammunition in its rhetoric about how Cuban authorities deny the population access to technology, and is using this form of aggression, as illegal and interventionist as Radio and TV Martí. These are the risks for our insertion into the cyber world, but the Revolution will continue to prepare its citizens to detect these maneuvers, while expanding access to this new scenario for its social base.

Cuba: Foreign Ministry strongly condemns US bombing in Iraq

Havana December (RHC)-- Cuba rejected on Friday the attack, ordered by US President Donald Trump, against the airport of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, which resulted in several deaths.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rogríguez wrote onTwitter that the island strongly condemns the airstrike and the use of missiles for selective assassination.

The Foreign Affairs Minister stressed that this action represents a severe escalation in the Middle East region where a conflict could break out with incalculable consequences for international peace and security.

The Pentagon confirmed that the attack was aimed at annihilating top Iranian military leader, General Qasem Soleimani, who has great prestige in countries of the region for commanding actions against terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State.

His assassination provoked strong rejection in the governments of Iraq and Iran and massive protests, especially in Tehran.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
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Cuba ranks high in sustainable development, says British newspaper

Cuba is the most sustainably developed country in the world, according to a report quoted by Morning Star British daily.

According to the article, Cuba outperforms advanced capitalist countries including Britain and the United States, which has subjected the island to a punitive six-decades-long economic blockade.

The Sustainable Development Index (SDI), designed by anthropologist and author Dr Jason Hickel, calculates its results by dividing a nation’s “human development” score, obtained by looking at statistics on life expectancy, health and education, by its “ecological overshoot,” the extent to which the per capita carbon footprint exceeds Earth’s natural limits.

Countries with strong human development and a lower environmental impact score highly, but countries with poorer life expectancies and literacy rates as well as those which exceed ecological limits are marked down.

Based on the most recent figures, from 2015, Cuba is top with a score of 0.859, while Venezuela is 12th and Argentina 18th.

The SDI was created to update the Human Development Index (HDI), developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq and used by the United Nations Development Programme to produce its annual reports since 1990.

The HDI considers life expectancy, education and gross national income per capita, but ignores environmental degradation caused by the economic growth of top performers such as Britain and the US.

“These countries are major contributors to climate change and other forms of ecological breakdown, which disproportionately affects the poorer countries of the global South, where climate change is already causing hunger rates to rise,” Mr Hickel said.

“In this sense, the HDI promotes a model of development that is empirically incompatible with ecology and which embodies a fundamental contradiction: achieving high development according to HDI means driving de-development elsewhere in the world. For a development indicator that purports to be universal, such a contradiction is indefensible.”

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Invincible weapon? Russia’s advanced HYPERSONIC GLIDER Avangard now in military service

The advanced Russian nuclear hypersonic glider entered combat service on Friday with the first regiment of Avangard-armed missiles now operational, the defense minister reported.

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, who reported the development to President Putin on Friday, said Avangard deployment was “a signatory event for the country and the armed forces.”

The Russian military armed legacy silo-based UR-100N ICBMs, also known as the Stiletto, with the cutting-edge warheads meant to penetrate heavy anti-ballistic missile defenses.

Russia’s Avangard hypersonic glider final test launch...

The glider is one of several weapons systems meant to boost Russian nuclear deterrence, which were announced by President Vladimir Putin last year. The build-up is meant to counter Washington’s development of ABM technologies, which Russia sees as a national threat.

The Russian president believes Russia’s nuclear forces need to be strong enough to dissuade any temptation that US military strategists may have to deliver a pre-emptive strike against Russia during a possible crisis. The missile regiment is reportedly deployed in the Orenburg region.

Avangard has reportedly been in development since at least the mid-1980s, with first tests coming sometime around 2004. The specifications and even the appearance of the top-secret weapon remain classified. Russian officials said it can maintain controlled flight through the atmosphere at speeds of up to Mach 20.

Unconfirmed reports claim that the nuclear device it can deliver may be as powerful as 2 megatons, which would be considered overkill for traditional modern nuclear warheads.

Also on rt.com World’s end at their fingertips: Russian troops in charge of ground-launched ICBMs celebrate 60th anniversary

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U.S. builds military base in oil fields of Syria

Damascus, December 25 (RHC)-- The United States is building a large military base within the al-Omar oil field, in the province of Deir Ezzor, in Syria, local media reported.

“The U.S. is equipping the base to serve as the command headquarters for the international coalition's operations,” the Syria Now portal reported.  Besides fortifying the field with logistic and military reinforcements, the U.S. Army is building airstrips for its helicopters, which will be used to monitor oil wells from the air.

According to Syrian analysts, Washington is working to find a mechanism that makes it easier to extract as much Syrian oil as quickly as possible.  To do so, the U.S. is moving electrical equipment to put the electricity network into operation at the oil fields, which would allow it to begin to exploit them.

The meme reads: "The U.S. and its allies continue to misinform the international community about the situation in Syria. This hinders the process of returning Syrian citizens to their homeland."  Previously, the U.S. government withdrew its soldiers from 11 military bases in Syria and concentrated them in the oil fields located in Remelan.

The al-Omar base will replace the base that existed at the Lafarge Cement Factory, from which U.S. troops withdrew in November.

On December 20th, the Acting Charge de-Affairs of Syria’s permanent mission to the United Nations, Louay Fallouh, asked Washington to end the theft of oil and gas resources belonging to the Syrian state and to withdraw its forces from the Arab country.

The Syrian ambassador also rejected the draft resolution for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHOA) on his country's current situation, as it does not address the alleged humanitarian objectives mentioned in its content. 

Edited by Ed Newman

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US taking over from IS & Al-Nusra Front by seizing Syrian oil at behest of 'money lobbies' – Assad

Powerful lobbies are behind the US rush for Syria's natural resources, and the Americans are carrying on where Islamist groups left off by "stealing and selling" them, President Bashir Assad has said.

In October, Donald Trump made headlines by ordering all US troops out of Syria, leaving the devastated country to anyone who wants "to come in and fight." But weeks later, he backtracked on the decision, bluntly stating that troops would remain to "protect" Syrian oil fields east of the Euphrates.

Also on rt.com ‘Others may want to come in and fight’: Trump calls withdrawal of remaining US troops from northern Syria ‘very smart’...

In a comprehensive interview with China's Phoenix, Assad commented on Trump's swift transition from the mild non-interventionism that he championed before the troop withdrawal, to the outright oil-driven expansionism that resembled the 2003 Iraq War.

'Lobbies in charge of US policies'

It's not the government in the classical sense that drives US endeavors in Syria but "the money lobbies, whether in the form of oil, weapons, banks, or others," Assad explained.

American lobbies are "in charge of the policies" of the country, which "is not governed by principles, but rather by the interests of those companies," he said.

If they have an interest in occupying the oil wells, stealing and selling them one way or another, then this state and this regime will act in favor of these companies, regardless of international law and regardless of American law. 

Those in the White House and on Capitol Hill aren't shy about breaching the US' own laws for the sake of these corporations "because if they don't make them happy, the president might be impeached," Assad said, referring to the previous historical experience of his country.

Therefore, it doesn't matter for Syria who is in charge in the White House since the US president's hands are cuffed by corporate, not state, interests.

There're 'thousands,' not hundreds, of US troops on Syrian soil

The Pentagon has retained around 800 troops to "guard" Syrian oil facilities, along with Kurdish-led forces, but the figure has artificially been decreased and did not include "individuals fighting with the American army," Assad believes.

The American regime relies significantly in its wars on private firms like Blackwater in Iraq and others. So, even if they had a few hundred American soldiers in Syria, they still also have thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of civilians working for such companies and fighting in Syria.

Regardless of how many US troops are present in Syria, they seem to be setting up for a long-haul deployment. Previously, it was reported that they were building two new military bases in Deir ez-Zor, the province where the majority of Syrian oil assets are concentrated.

READ MORE: ‘We are coming’: Chilling Blackwater ad triggers fears of Trump seeking to privatize Mideast wars

Such compounds are situated near the border with Turkey, and Syria's northern neighbor plays a role in the affair, Assad suggested.  

Crude smuggled from Syria is sold to Turkey

The oil trade has always been a mainstay of the Syrian economy, although their crude reserves pale in comparison to those of the Gulf monarchies. In 2018, Syria had an estimated 2.5 billion barrels of oil reserves, compared with Saudi Arabia's 297 billion, Iran's 155 billion, and Iraq's 147 billion barrels, according to OPEC. 

Also on rt.com US ‘pullout’ from Syria looking more like permanent occupation with 800 troops reportedly tasked to ‘protect’ oil...

Still, they were of great utility to anyone controlling them. Syrian oil wells were used by Jabhat Al-Nusra and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), Assad noted. As IS was largely defeated in most parts of Syria, the US is obviously filling the blank space left by the retreating terrorists that capitalized on selling Syrian crude.

Before the Americans, in the early days Jabhat Al-Nusra used these wells; after Daesh came and drove out Al-Nusra – or rather when it merged with Al-Nusra and they all became Daesh – it also stole and sold oil. Where? It used to sell it through Turkey. Now America is the one stealing oil and selling it to Turkey.

Also on rt.com ISIS oil trucks cross into Turkey every day, captured terrorist admits

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