Saturday, November 16, 2019

Why Thailand is Buying Russian Helicopters

November 17, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Beginning in 2011, the Kingdom of Thailand began replacing aging US helicopters not with newer US-built models, but with Russian and Italian systems instead.

This includes Russian Mi-17 medium twin-turbine transport helicopters and several AgustaWestland AW149's and AW139's (for transporting VIPs).

According to a January 2019 article in Jane's 360:
The RTA [Royal Thai Army] already operates five Mi-17V-5 platforms. In March 2008 the service ordered the first three such rotorcraft from Russia, which were delivered in March 2011, followed by the remaining two in November 2015 under a contract signed in July 2014. 

The article also noted that 2 more have recently arrived in Thailand, bringing the total number up to 7:
The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has received two more Russian-made Mil Mi-17V-5 ‘Hip-H’ medium transport helicopters, an RTA source told Jane’s on 8 January.
Russia's embassy in Bangkok would note during the delivery of several Mi-17's in 2015 that:
This model of the famous Russian MI-17 helicopter can be used not only for transportation purposes but also in combat circumstances as well as for civil needs, in particular for rescue operations and forest fire extinguishing.
Indeed, far from just new toys resulting from a military spending spree as US-backed opposition figures in Thailand claim, Russian-built Mi-17s have already been seen in action, most notably during the spectacular cave rescue incident last year where 12 children and their football coach made it out of flooded caves alive.

Mi-17's could be seen bringing in heavy equipment and other supplies to aid in search and rescue operations, just as Russian representatives had promised they could. The rescued children were also in fact flown to safety on Thailand's Mi-17's.

While these initial 7 Mi-17's sound insignificant, it should be noted that Thailand operates only 12 US-built UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. While it has a much larger number of much older US-built UH-1 and UH-212 Huey helicopters (78 and 51 respectively) only 20 UH-1's are being modernised along with 48 UH-212's.

Interestingly enough, the resources needed to upgrade Thailand's aging US helicopter fleet was so extensive it prompted Thai policymakers to look into and eventually decide to begin transitioning over to Russia's Mi-17, using funds from the upgrade programme to do so.

Monday, November 11, 2019

EXPOSED: US Lobbyists Behind Thai "Opposition"

November 11, 2019 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Documents have surfaced exposing US corporate lobbying behind one of Thailand's supposed "pro-democracy" opposition parties, Future Forward Party (FFP).

Future Forward, headed by union-busting nepotist billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, was revealed to be aided by US-based corporate lobbying firm, APCO Worldwide.

Who are These Lobbyists? 

APCO Worldwide, in turn, is directed by representatives of not only the US government itself, but some of the largest and most corrupt US corporations. These include Alcoa, Xerox, Dow, Cargill, Standard Charted Bank, Boeing, GE, Procter & Gamble, Morgan Chase, Nike, Starbucks, NBC, CNN and Goldman Sachs.

In addition to representatives of weapon manufacturers, banks, corporate media and abusive agricultural giants, there are also intelligence officers, former US ambassadors and various government officials working mainly for Republican presidents (Ronald Reagan and George Bush) serving on APCO's international advisory council.

This is despite APCO's deliberately dishonest attempts to pose as a liberal/progressive organisation.

The disturbing convergence of overreaching, abusive special interests represented by APCO's advisory council is in fact a reoccuring theme across US lobbying firms, many of which are just as inclined to function as "handlers" of foreign political figures as they are hired lobbyists for them.

Thailand-based English newspaper The Nation in its article, "Govt to probe Thanathorn’s hiring of US lobbyists," would report:
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said today (September 27) the government will probe the leader of Future Forward Party Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit for hiring American lobbyists under contract to allegedly discredit the Thai government through political activities.
Thanathorn and FFP's defence is that the hiring was "in line with US law," apparently disinterested in how his activities may have been "out of line with Thai law," Thanathorn being a member of parliament in Thailand, not the US.

Considering who APCO really represents and the immense conflict of interest that arises, a serious question of who Thanathorn really works for must be asked.

Of lesser importance, perhaps, is the questioning of Thanathorn's self-proclaimed "popularity." If his "popularity" is simply the result of a billionaire hiring lobbyists, yet another facet of Thanathorn's fraudulent political activity is revealed.

A History of US Lobbying for US-backed Opposition  

Thanathorn's predecessor, billionaire and now fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra, is likewise buttressed by significant US lobbying. Since his ouster in 2006, Thaksin has received lobbying services from Edelman, Baker Botts, Barbour Griffith & Rogers, Kobre & Kim and Amsterdam & Peroff.

Through Edelman, Thaksin received backing from Kenneth Adelman who concurrently served on the of Freedom House board of trustees (.pdf) whose reports predictably cast Thailand in a negative light for its military's removal of Thaksin from power. Freedom House's parent organisation, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), still to this day funds various anti-government fronts in Thailand.

Such fronts have since supplied Thanathorn's Future Forward Party with founding members including Nalutporn Krairiksh who still concurrently works at NED-funded media platform, Prachatai.

Thaksin's ties to George Bush Jr. and his eagerness to serve US interests during his time in power from 2001-2006 (e.g. sending Thai troops to Iraq, hosting CIA rendition facilities, attempts to pass a US-Thai FTA without parliamentary approval) makes it no surprise that Baker Botts would later lobby for Thaksin. Baker Botts was founded by James Baker, former Chief of Staff and Secretary of State under George Bush as well as Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan.

This massive lobbying manifested far beyond the token fees Thaksin was documented to have paid each firm. The entirety of US, European, Canadian and Australian media has been turned against Thailand ever since.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

AFP Dedicates Half an Article Justifying Hong Kong Assassination Attempt

November 6, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - Hong Kong legislator Junius Ho narrowly escaped assassination when an opposition member attempted to drive a knife into his chest after luring him in for a selfie, RT would report.

RT's article would mention briefly in one paragraph that Junius Ho has been outspoken about ongoing unrest in Hong Kong.

Compare this to AFP's article, "Pro-Beijing politician stabbed in Hong Kong," which dedicates more than half its article to detailing Junius Ho's alleged misdeeds in what can only be interpreted as an attempt to justify the otherwise indefensible act of terrorism.

AFP even divides its article in half with the heading, "- Controversial figure -."

The article then claims:
Alongside Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam and police chief Stephen Lo, Ho has become one of the most loathed establishment figures among democracy protesters. 

He has long been one of the most stridently pro-Beijing politicians in the city.
AFP continues - attempting to paint Junius Ho in the least flattering manner possible - indirectly suggesting that perhaps he even deserved it. AFP also attempts to cite growing violence on both sides as if to suggest attempted assassinations are merely the next logical step in ongoing unrest.

Omitted from AFP's article is that fact that leaders organizing protests are confirmed to be funded, backed, and directed by the US government with many leaders literally travelling to Washington D.C. to openly lobby for and receive aid from the US.

Among them are Joshua Wong, Martin Lee, Benny Tai, and Nathan Law. One - Johnson Yeung Ching-yin - is literally a US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) fellow whose profile can be found on NED's official website.

Nations Have a Right to Defend Themselves Against Foreign Attack - Whatever the Form  

Foreign-sponsored sedition - including through the use of terrorism - justifies the targeted nation and its people in defending themselves through whatever means are necessary.

If AFP wanted to make excuses for violence - it could have done so on behalf of China including Hong Kong residents opposed to the ongoing unrest and seeking to restore order and stability to their streets, businesses, homes, and public infrastructure.

No one has the right to use violence to advance their political agenda. But people do have the right to defend themselves against those who try.

US-backed mobs have targeted businesses, infrastructure including trains they've tried to repeatedly derail - endangering hundreds of innocent lives - as well as having targeted residents and politicians themselves with violence for opposing the unrest.

Just as Western propagandists - including AFP - have done elsewhere around the globe - they are deliberately defending, spinning, or omitting violence initiated by the opposition - and portraying the response of security forces and local residents attempting to fight back as "aggression."

AFP to dedicate half its article on the attempted assassination of Junius Ho attempting to explain why he is "one of the most loathed establishment figures among democracy protesters" is nothing short of appalling propaganda and even an oblique sign of approval for the attack.

Exposing and undermining this propaganda at every turn not only prevents this from being effective in regards to Hong Kong - but disarms a dishonest Western corporate media from using this same trick in the many other nations either already under similar attacks - or next in line.

Follow Tony Cartalucci on VK here.