YEAR IN REVIEW: 2017 Top Ten Conspiracies

Patrick Henningsen and Shawn Helton
21st Century Wire
Once again, we’ve arrived at our New Years Eve wrap-up of some of the most compelling and conspiratorial stories of the year. Like in years past, 2017 presented a polarizing political landscape, further exposing the current establishment paradigm. Unlike the establishment gatekeepers, when we use the word ‘conspiracy’ here, we are talking about a real crime scene. Whether it was the ousting of thousands of western-backed terrorists in Iraq and Syria or a string of ‘known wolf’ attacks amplified by made-to-order media agitprop, or the heavily manufactured Russia-gate narrative relentlessly pushed by mainstream outlets and Deep State actors – it seemed there was no shortage of topsy-turvy stagecraft designed to mislead and confuse the masses at a time when the real world is undergoing some significant geopolitical realignments.
As was the case in 2016, there were many high-profile incidents and individual stories which didn’t make our annual compendium (but they are worth mentioning) – like the ‘red herring’ laced New Year’s Eve mass shooting at Turkey’s Reina nightclub that kicked off 2017 in classic Daily Shooterfashion, along with other dubious events like Fort Lauderdale’s FBI-known shooter and subsequent CNN media circus. On the political front, it was a banner year for astroturfing starting with ‘The Resistance’ which spent most of the first 3 months of the year demanding Trump’s impeachment before he had served 100 days in office. As part of these efforts, we saw Hollywood and the Democratic Party’s choreographed women’s march backed by political agitator and perennial globalist George Soros, as well as MoveOn.org and Soros-backed protests which followed Trump’s highly controversial immigration ban, and contentious resignations by key members of the Trump White House, followed by Antifa’s US ‘riot tour’ which culminated the Charlottesville riots in Virginia followed by a series of ‘social justice’ protests over Confederate statues, followed by more extremist left-wing ‘antifascists’ foot-soldiers like ‘black bloc’ throwing molotov cocktails for kicks. And that only scratches the surface of what transpired in 2017.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 31, 2017.

Military & Political Trends Of 2017 That Will Shape 2018

Via Southfront.org,
2017 presented the world with a number of crises, among which were the continued wars in the Middle Ease and the spread of terrorism, the humanitarian crises in Africa and Asia, the rising military tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and the militarization of both the South China Sea and eastern Europe. Throughout the past year regional and global powers have repeatedly been on the verge of open military conflict, any of which may yet still lead to large regional wars.
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In the Middle East the war on ISIS, the Iran nuclear deal, the crisis in Lebanon, and Israeli-Arab tensions took center stage.
By the end of the year, the self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS had fully collapsed in both Syria and Iraq. Thanks to the efforts of the alliance between Syria, Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, along with the Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition, this group was driven out from almost all of the areas it had held in the two countries. ISIS has lost control of such strategic locations as Mosul, al-Qaim, Raqqah, al-Tabqah, Deir Ezzor, al-Mayadin, al-Bukamal, as-Sukhna, Deir Hafer, Maskanah, and al-Resafa.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/30/2017.

Will War Cancel Trump’s Triumphs?

Asked what he did during the French Revolution, Abbe Sieyes replied, ‘I survived.’
Donald Trump can make the same boast.
No other political figure has so dominated our discourse. And none, not Joe McCarthy in his heyday in the early ’50s, nor Richard Nixon in Watergate, received such intensive and intemperate coverage and commentary as has our 45th president.
Whatever one may think of Trump, he is a leader and a fighter, not a quitter. How many politicians could have sustained the beatings Trump has taken, and remained as cocky and confident?
And looking back on what may fairly be called The Year of Trump, his achievements have surprised even some of his enemies.
With the U. S. military given a freer hand by Trump, a U. S.-led coalition helped expel ISIS from its twin capitals of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, driving it back into a desert enclave on the Iraq-Syria border. The caliphate is dead, and the caliph nowhere to be found.
The economy, with the boot of Barack Obama off its neck, has been growing at 3 percent. The stock market has soared to record highs. Unemployment is down to 4 percent. And Trump and Congress just passed the largest tax cut since Ronald Reagan.
With deregulation, which conservative Republicans preached to deaf ears in the Bush I and Bush II eras, Trump and those he has put into positions of power have exceeded expectations.
Pipelines Obama blocked have been approved. Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge has been opened to exploratory drilling. We have exited a Paris climate accord that favored China over the U. S.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

Mission Accomplished Redux: Theresa May’s Claim of ‘Victory Over ISIS’ Doesn’t Square with Reality

As the new year approaches, some will look back on 2017 as the year the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS) was finally defeated on the battlefield. Unfortunately, certain western political leaders have been quick to try and claim credit for a ‘win’ which is not really theirs. This recent attempt to put on airs by the British PM is certainly reminiscent of one of the most grievous political flops in living memory.
From an ‘optics’ perspective, nothing could be more regrettable than US President George W. Bush’s anti-climatic ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincolnon May 1, 2003. As turns out, his celebration was about seven years premature. But the opportunity for grand-standing was there and it’s hard to find a politician today that wouldn’t balk at a chance for an iconic photo-op, especially in the run-up to an election year. Like so many stage-managed public relations stunts performed by Washington in those days, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.
That didn’t stop British Prime Minister Theresa May from trying out her own rendition of the Bush classic.
Last week, May spoke to her troops at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, which was the staging ground for ‘Operation Shader’ (the operational code name given to the UK contribution in the fight against ISIS), which is said to have successfully targeted ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The UK was one of 68 nations which formed the lofty ‘Global Coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,’ as part of the Combined Joint Task Force assembled in ‘Operation Inherent Resolve.’
Prime Minister May stated:

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 27, 2017.

26/12/17: U.S. Wars Budgets: More Lessons Never Learned

An interesting report on the official accounts for war-related spending in the U. S. is available here: Which is, of course, a massive under-estimate of the full cost of 2001-2017 wars to the U. S. taxpayers.
It is worth remembering that war-related expenditures are outside discretionary budgetary allocations (follow links here: And you can read more here: The problem, as I repeatedly pointed out, is that no one can tell us what exactly – aside from misery, failed states, collapsed economies, piles of dead bodies etc – did these expenditures achieve, or for that matter what did all the adventurous entanglements the U. S. got into in recent year deliver? In Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Syria, in Pakistan and Sudan, in Ukraine, in Somalia and Egypt. The sole bright spot on the U. S. ‘policy horizon’ is Kurdistan. But the problem is, the U. S. has been quietly undermining its main ally in the Syria-Iraq-Turkey sub-region in recent years. In South China Seas, Beijing is fully running the show, as multi-billion U. S. hardware bobbles up and down the waves to no effect. In North Korea, a villain with a bucket of uranium is in charge, and Iran is standing strong. In its historical backyard of Latin America, the U. S. is now confronting growing Chinese influence, while losing allies.

This post was published at True Economics on Tuesday, December 26, 2017.

Iraqi Christmas Bells Ring Again in Liberated Mosul, Iraq

For many years now, Christians in Iraq have been living in constant fear of bomb attacks, murder and abduction – at the hands of both ISIS and al Qaeda, exacting brutal attacks on Christians, Yazidis, Shias and other religious minorities in Iraq. ISIS and al Qaeda have declared all Christians in the Middle East as ‘legitimate targets’ for violent attacks and execution. In addition to this, AP reported that since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, at least half of Iraq’s Christian population had fled the country to escape attacks by militants. For a long time now, there’s been little to feel hopeful about, until now.

One factor that has sustained terrorists enclaves in the region has been the fact that Saudi Arabian and GCC-backed Sunni wahhabi terrorists of ISIS and al Qaeda have managed to procure US weapons, as well as acquiring Israeli weapons in order to carry out organized criminal and terrorists activity.
Thanks to the hard-fought victories against ISIS on the ground by Iraqi Security Forces and the People’s Mobilization Units (PMU) aka the Hash’d Al-Shaabi, this Christmas has seen one of the first periods of respite in many years, whereby churches are being repaired and are opening again.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 25, 2017.

What Happened to Protest Art?

In September 1975, The Grateful Dead released what was to become its highest chart-topping album for the next twelve years, Blues for Allah. In an interview at the time, the group’s lyricist, Robert Hunter, described the album’s title song as ‘a requiem for King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, a progressive, democratically-inclined ruler (and incidentally a fan of the Grateful Dead) whose assassination in 1975 shocked us personally.’ Hunter went on to note proudly that the lyrics of the album, inspired as it was as much by Bach as by Eastern influences, were printed in Arabic on the back of album.
This remarkable, trance-like title track referenced Biblical prophecy, Ozymanides, and A Thousand and One Nights. But most of all, it brought attention to the death of one of the Middle East’s then-universally acknowledged enlightened rulers who disdained excess displays of wealth and who opened the first schools for female students in the country. The construction of this vast, progressive-rock tone-poem is a straight line of discursive guitar themes later superimposed by poignant, haunting vocals. It includes two sections, ‘Sand Castles and Glass Camels’ and ‘Unusual Occurrences in the Desert’, in which powerful political statements were woven into the artistry. ‘What good is spilling blood?/It will not change a thing’, observes one line; another is a plea for a resolution of Muslim/Jewish conflict: ‘Let us meet as Friends/the Flower of Islam/the Fruit of Abraham’. Prophesizing the geopolitics of the region, the song grimly warns: ‘The ships of state sail on mirage/and drown in sand.’
Such compelling protest art could have been written today in view of the interminable geopolitical situation in the Mideast. Yet, it hasn’t been, and it won’t be. We are bereft of any near equivalent; the integrating instinct of music, politics and passion nowhere present, nowhere promoted. Certainly, there is no shortage of ‘unusual occurrences in the desert’ – or anywhere else for that matter – to inspire truly creative works of radical brilliance. Yet none of that kind of meaningful protest that defined the eras of the late sixties and the entirety of the seventies is to be found in our current rock/popular music groups. Why? How have we missed this? Where were the songs to protest the 2003 invasion of Iraq? Where are the poignant ballads against the spread of terror or the failures of the so-called ‘War on Terror’? The sixteen-year occupation of Afghanistan? The high rates of American soldier-suicides? Consider the power-lyrics of Vietnam-era anti-war works by such groups as Buffalo Springfield or as found in Joan Baez’s ‘Where Are You Now, My Son?’ (‘Yours was the righteous gun/where are you now, my son?’). Why are we incapable of this? Where are the artists of impact and deep intelligence to make sense of a world in which the irrational is the new and newer normal? Must we only be satisfied with Pearl Jam performing a bland cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Master of War’? Are we just to accept that these talented groups cannot come up with meaningful statements of their own?

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 25, 2017.

23/12/17: Bloomberg View on Asymmetric Military Budgets: Russia v U.S.

I have written before about asymmetric conflicts and power balances in the context, among other bilateral comparatives, the U. S.-Russia military spending: And the latest budgetary appropriations from the U. S. for 2018 are suggesting that Washington has a serious problem learning any lessons – whether these are lessons from being punched around repeatedly in the Afghanistan, or being derailed in Iraq, being made irrelevant in Syria and so on.

This post was published at True Economics on Saturday, December 23, 2017.

What Will Drive The Next Oil Price Crash?

Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via OilPrice.com,
As we roll into 2018, analysts and investors are more optimistic that the oil market will further tighten next year and support higher oil prices, but rising U. S. shale production will likely cap any significant price gains.
On the demand side, expectations are that global economic growth will support solid oil demand growth.
On the supply side, Venezuela’s dire situation, possible new sanctions on Iran, and increased tension in the Middle East mostly with the Saudi-Iran issues and the Iraq-Kurdistan standoff may take more barrels off the market than OPEC and friends plan, and send geopolitical jitters through the oil market.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.

The search for pure ideals in politics

Al Gore was pure. George W Bush was a monster. John Kerry was pure. Bush was still a monster. John McCain and Mitt Romney were monsters. Barack Obama was pure. Trump is pure. Hillary is a monster. Round and round it goes.
Reverse the labels, turn them upside down, inside out, and you arrive at the same dead-end alley at midnight: none of the big-time pols are pure. Far from it.
Yesterday I posted my article on some of the upsides and downsides of Trump. Today, let’s take just a brief small peek at Obama.
Obama was close to purity, ‘though some of his policies may have been wrong headed.’ Really?
The leftist Guardian (1/9/17): ‘In 2016, US special [military] operators could be found in 70% of the world’s nations, 138 countries – a staggering jump of 130% since the days of the Bush administration.’
‘…in 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs. This means that every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.’
‘As drone-warrior-in-chief, he [Obama] spread the use of drones outside the declared battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, mainly to Pakistan and Yemen. Obama authorized over 10 times more drone strikes than George W Bush, and automatically painted all males of military age in these regions as combatants, making them fair game for remote controlled killing.’
The champ of bombing. But ‘pure.’

This post was published at Jon Rappoport on December 18, 2017.

SYRIA: US War Crime in Jabal Al Tharda, Deir Ezzor and the Implausible Denials

On 17 September 2016 a carefully planned US-led air raid on Jabal al Tharda (Mount Tharda), overlooking Deir Ezzor airport, slaughtered over 100 Syrian soldiers and delivered control of the mountain to DAESH / ISIS. After that surprise attack, the terrorist group held the mountain for almost a year, but did not manage to take the airport or the entire city. US-led forces admitted the attack but claimed it was all a ‘mistake’. However uncontested facts, eye witness accounts and critical circumstances show that was a lie. This article sets out the evidence of this crime, in context of Washington’s historical use of mercenaries for covert actions, linked to the doctrine of ‘plausible deniability’.
Syrian eyewitness accounts from Deir Ezzor deepen and confirm this simple fact: the US-led air raid on Syrian forces at Jabal al Tharda on 17 September 2016 was no ‘mistake’ but a well-planned and effective intervention on behalf of the terrorist group ISIS (DAESH in Arabic). After days of careful surveillance a devastating missile attack followed by machine gunning of the remaining Syrian soldiers helped ISIS take control of the strategic mountain, that same day.
Mercenary forces – like ISIS and the other jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria – were a staple of US intervention during the early decades of the cold war, deployed in more than 25 conflicts, such as those of the Congo, Angola and Nicaragua. Whatever their claimed aims and ideologies, they allowed for the ‘multiplication’ of US power and were associated with the doctrine of ‘plausible deniability’, where the ‘formal’ denial of the mastermind role in covert operations minimised damage to domestic public opinion and international relations (Voss 2016: 37-40).

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 17, 2017.

Abduct, Imprison, Repeat: Israel’s Brutal System of Occupation, False Imprisonment of Palestinians

By now, western audiences are familiar with shocking photos of horrific ‘routine’ torture which has taken place at various U. S. military bases and detention centers in places Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Why many westerners will express outrage over these images and condemn such practices, few have been brave enough to acknowledge that Palestinians have endured similar or worse treatment inside Israeli prisons and ‘interrogation centres’ since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Moreover, the institutionalized racism which is pervasive throughout the Israeli government and society would normally trigger outrage in the international community, but for some reason (likely its relationship with the US).
How long will moral crusaders in the west remain gagged over Israel’s treatment of the native Palestinian population?
Simply put, the levels of systematic abuse by a thuggish Israeli security apparatus is shocking…

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 16, 2017.

Weapons Went From The CIA To ISIS In Less Than Two Months, New Study Reveals

Mainstream media in 2013: “Conspiracy Theorists!” Mainstream media in 2017: “ISIS Got a Powerful Missile the CIA Bought!” Years late to the party, mainstream media outlets like USA Today, Reuters, and Buzzfeed are just out with “breaking” and “exclusive” stories detailing how a vast arsenal of weapons sent to Syria by the CIA in cooperation with US allies fuelled the rapid growth of ISIS. Buzzfeed’s story entitled, Blowback: ISIS Got A Powerful Missile The CIA Secretly Bought In Bulgaria, begins by referencing “a new report on how ISIS built its arsenal highlights how the US purchased munitions, intended for Syrian rebels, that ended up in the hands of the terrorist group.”
The original study that Buzzfeed and other media are referencing comes from a UK-based independent weapons research organization called Conflict Armament Research (CAR) which has had a team of weapons and munitions experts on the ground in the Middle East for years examining arms and equipment recovered from ISIS and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Using serial numbers, crate shipping markings, and all available forensics data, the CAR experts began finding that as early as 2013 to 2014 much of the Islamic State’s advanced weapons systems as well as small arms were clearly sourced to the United States and the West.
‘Supplies of materiel into the Syrian conflict from foreign parties – notably the United States and Saudi Arabia – have indirectly allowed IS to obtain substantial quantities of anti-armor ammunition,’ states the CAR report. ‘These weapons include anti-tank guided weapons and several varieties of rocket with tandem warheads, which are designed to defeat modern reactive armor.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

Mapping World War In Syria & Iraq

Via GEFIRA,
For some time now Syria and Iraq have been a place where interests of many players are clashing. The region is being devastated by civil war or a war by proxy, fought by a number of participants, where the borderline between friend and foe is sharp or vague as the case may be.
The military sorties, airstrikes and other activities are taking place on a day-to-day basis. Conflicting pieces of information that can be gleaned from a variety of sources may reflect both the factual status or the propaganda of the powers that be, hidden behind the media outlets. It is not easy to see the forest for the trees, to filter valuable data in this informational noise. Still, our readers deserve to be informed. With all this in mind, the Gefira team has made an effort to present the current situation in Syria and Iraq in an accessible graphic and textual way according to the best of our ability.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 14, 2017.

Is Jihad Festering In America?

Authored by A Z Mohamed via The Gatestone Institute,
Saudi influence on American administrations, and relationships between senior officials in both countries, is behind Washington’s ignoring Riyadh’s “well-established… involvement in supporting terrorism and terrorist groups.” – Report by the Institute for Gulf Affairs (IGA), released on June 1. The IGA report, covering the three-year period since then and including extremely serious charges against both Saudi Arabia and previous U. S. administration and security officials, indicates the urgency with which the current administration needs to treat the issue and act upon it. A new investigative report reveals that hundreds of Saudi and Kuwaiti nationals residing in the United States — some with dual citizenship, and most students subsisting on government scholarships — have joined ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq during the past three years.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.