Trish Schuh / Counterpunch – 2005-11-26 10:56:39
(November 18, 2005 ) — Another slam dunk forgery is being used to convict Syria. The United Nations’ Detlev Mehlis inquiry into the murder of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafiq Hairri depends on a central witness, Zuhir Ibn Mohamed Said Saddik, who has faced accusations of being a swindler and embezzler.
Der Spiegel exposed Saddik’s brags of “becoming a millionaire” from his testimony to the Mehlis Commission. Saddik was referred to the Mehlis Commission by Syrian regime critic Rifaat Assad, the uncle of current Syrian President Bashar Assad. Rifaat has been lobbying the Bush administration to become the president of Syria in the event his nephew Bashar is ousted.
The record of the UN’s investigator Mehlis does not inspire faith in his credibility. As Senior Public Prosecutor in the German Attorney General’s office, Mehlis investigated the 1986 LaBelle Discotheque bombing in Berlin. Relying on alleged National Security Agency intercepts of coded messages between Tripoli and Libyan suspects in Germany (later revealed by former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky as false telex signals generated by Mossad itself), Mehlis provided the ‘irrefutable proof’ of Libya’s guilt that then justified Ronald Reagan’s bombing of Libya.
In the case of the accusations against Syria, Mehlis’s case revolves around a series of questionable phone conversations and intersecting calling card numbers allegedly dialled by the perpetrators. It contains no definitive forensics on the car bomb explosives used.
Outside investigators have said it could have been RDX plastique, not TNT as Mehlis suggested in his report. The German Mercedes manufacturers were also perplexed at how Hariri’s vehicle, reinforced by the heaviest steel-titanium alloy, was “melted by the force of the explosion,” after-effects usually associated with high density DU munitions.
The car bomb vehicle (stolen in Japan and never fully traced) was possibly driven by a suicide bomber, whose identity is still unknown. Mehlis’s report then states: “Another only slightly less likely possibility is that of a remotely controlled device.”
Mehlis conclusions on the case , due on December 15 could justify an attack on Syria, using the Hariri assassination as justification. But from Beirut to Damascus, the “Arab Spring” was a neocon forgery designed to destabilize the Levant and redraw the map of the middle east.
Near the Mohammad Al Amin Mosque of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in Beirut, I interviewed a founder of the Martyrs’ Square tent city and asked about US-Israeli sponsorship of the ‘Independence Intifadah’. Surrounded by red and white Lebanese flags, soldier Michael Sweiden of the Lebanese Forces emphasized he was Christian Lebanese.
“We love Israel”, he told me. “Israel helps us. Israel is like our mother.”
Years before its role in the so-called “Cedar Revolution” (a moniker coined by US Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, a signatory to the Project for a New American Century), Israel awarded citizenship and grants of up to $10,000 to South Lebanon Army soldiers who collaborated with the Israeli Defense Forces during Lebanon’s civil war.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed, “Senior officials at Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office were in touch with Lebanese leaders even before the current crisis.” Backed by American and Israeli neocons, a Christian Lebanese Likud is proxying Israel’s second invasion.
One example is the Lebanese Foundation for Peace, a self-styled “Government of Lebanon in Exile in Jerusalem” founded by former Lebanese Forces’ military intelligence officer Nagi Najjar. Najjar, a CIA consultant, testified not so long ago in support of Ariel Sharon’s “complete innocence” in the Sabra and Shatila affair against charges by Human Rights Watch and regional governments.
Najjar has also paired with Mossad agent Yossef Bodansky while lobbying the US congress to intervene in Hezbollah-dominated south Lebanon. His NGO, The Lebanese Foundation for Peace, endorsed the AIPAC-sponsored sanctions against Syria, known as the Syria Accountability / Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003. On his LFP website featuring an Israeli flag, Najjar’s “government in exile” issued an official declaration; “We, the people of Free Lebanon, thank Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom for the campaign launched by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Afffairs aimed at ousting Syria from occupying Lebanon.”
Another NGO of the Lebanese Likud is the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon. Its President, Ziad Abdel Nour is the son of wealthy Lebanese Minister of Parliament Khalil Abdel Nour. USCFL partners with designated “democratizers” such as the American Enterprise Institute (created by Lebanese-American William Baroody, Sr.), Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Republican Jewish Coalition, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Middle East Forum, the Hudson Institute and kindred pro-Israel lobbies.
The USCFL hails former Lebanese president Amin Gemayel for signing a peace deal with Israel in 1983. (According to the UAE’s late president Sheik Zayed bin sultan Al Nahyan, Saddam Hussein agreed to leave Iraq before the war in 2003 to halt the invasion. But Amin Gemayel, the mediator between Saddam and the US administration, wrongly informed the US that Hussein had rejected all offers of exile).
Abdel Nour’s other links include the World Lebanese Organization, which advocates Israel’s re-occupation of south Lebanon. In 2000, he and neocon Daniel Pipes composed the policy paper “Ending Syria’s Occupation of Lebanon: the US Role” and together co-author the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. The bulletin is a project of the neocon Middle East Forum and is a frequent resource for American intelligence agencies. On November 2, 2005 Abdel Nour updated me on the Syrian crisis by phone.
Another slam dunk forgery is being used to convict Syria. The United Nations’ Detlev Mehlis inquiry into the murder of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafiq Hairri depends on a central witness, Zuhir Ibn Mohamed Said Saddik, who has faced accusations of being a swindler and embezzler.
Schuh: What is the future of Syria, of President Bashar Al Assad’s situation?
Nour: Both the Syrian and Lebanese regimes will be changed- whether they like it or not- whether it’s going to be a military coup or something else… and we are working on it. We know already exactly who’s going to be the replacements. We’re working on it with the Bush administration. This is a Nazi regime of 30 years, killing ministers, presidents and stuff like that.
They must be removed. These guys who came to power, who rule by power, can only be removed by power. This is Machiavelli’s power game. That’s how it is. This is how geopolitics — the war games, power games — work. I know inside out how it works, because I come from a family of politicians for the last 60 years. Look, I have access to the top classified information from the CIA from all over the world. They call me, I advise them. I know exactly what’s going on. And this will happen.
Q: So would they remove the entire Assad family?
A: Why not? Who is Bashar Al Assad?
Q: I didn’t see forensic proof in the Mehlis report that would legally convict Assad of Hariri’s death in a court of law.
A: I don’t give a damn. I don’t give a damn, frankly. This Bashar Al Assad-Emil Lahoud regime is going to go whether it’s true or not. When we went to Iraq whether there were weapons of mass destruction or not, the key is — we won. And Saddam is out! Whatever we want, will happen. Iran? We will not let Iran become a nuclear power. We’ll find a way, we’ll find an excuse- to get rid of Iran. And I don’t care what the excuse is. There is no room for rogue states in the world. Whether we lie about it, or invent something, or we don’t… I don’t care. The end justifies the means. What’s right? Might is right, might is right. That’s it. Might is right.
Q: You sound just like Saddam. Those were his rules too.
A: So Saddam wanted to prove to the whole world he was strong? Well, we’re stronger- he’s out! He’s finished. And Iran’s going to be finished and every single Arab regime that’s like this will be finished. Because there is no room for us capitalists and multinationalists in the world to operate with regimes like this. Its all about money. And power. And wealth… and democracy has to be spread around the world.
Those who want to espouse globalization are going to make a lot of money, be happy, their families will be happy. And those who aren’t going to play this game are going to be crushed, whether they like it or not! This is how we rule. And this is how it’s going to be as long as you have people who think like me.
Q: When will this regime change take place?
A: Within 6 months, in both Lebanon and Syria.
Q: Some names of replacements?
A: It is classified. There are going to be replacements and we know who they are, but I cannot mention the names.
Q: Will this be done peacefully?
A: It doesn’t matter. The end justifies the means. I don’t care about how it’s done. The important thing is that it is done. I don’t rule out force. I’m not against force. If it’s an option, it will be an option.
Q: But if it’s just trading Syrian control for American or Israeli control?
A: I have — we have — absolutely no problem with heavy US involvement in Lebanon. On an economic level, military level, political level, security level… whatever it is. Israel is the 51st state of the United States. Let Lebanon be the 52nd state. And if the Arabs don’t like it, tough luck.
US-Israeli intervention in Lebanon has a long history. In 1950’s Beirut, The US oil companies and the CIA paid bribes to Maronite Catholic President Camille Chamoun to buy allegiance against Lebanese Muslims, and the pan-Arab threat of Nasser.
In his book. Ropes of Sand, CIA case officer William Crane Eveland revealed, “Throughout the elections, I traveled regularly to the presidential palace with a briefcase full of Lebanese pounds, then returned late at night to the embassy with an empty twin case” to be refilled again with more CIA funds. Journalist Said Aburish recalled, “The convergence of interest between the Camille Chamoun government and CIA agents produced a bizarre atmosphere which altered Beirut’s character. It became a CIA city…” frequented by such covert operatives as Kermit Roosevelt (who organized the Iranian coup against Mohammed Mossadeq). Soon the Israelis joined in, supplying weapons to Chamoun’s son Dany, an arms trader. Dany’s weapons sales to Maronite gangs created a precedent for the country’s civil war militias. ( See Aburish’s A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite, 1997)
A more recent US-Israeli role commenced in mid-November, 2004. A demonstration was called by former Christian General Michel Aoun. (Aoun testified to the US Congress in 2003, and Congress favors him as a post-Assad Lebanese president).
US diplomats coached a vanguard of unwitting Lebanese youth in CIA “Triple U” techniques (uncontrollable urban unrest). Opposition sources revealed that a downtown rally of 3000 mostly Christian student activists protesting “Syrians Out!” had been organized by the US Embassy in Beirut.
The Associated Press reported on November 19, 2004, “One demonstrator appealed to the US president, holding a placard that read: ‘Bush help us save Lebanon.’ Another dressed up as Osama bin Laden but with the words “Syrian Terror” on his chest. He held a toy gun to the head of a protester who was wrapped in the Lebanese flag…”
Lebanese riot police allowed this unprecedented pre-Cedar rehearsal without arrests because of a deal worked out beforehand with US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman. Feltman, closely linked to Ariel Sharon and Karl Rove, is an associate of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans that created the false evidence and “mushroom cloud” intelligence used to justify attacks on Iraq. This 2004 rehearsal demonstration was answered by a counter protest of 300,000 on November 30 against UN Resolution 1559.
When the stage show opened for real after Rafiq Hariri’s death, America’s Wag the Flag performance was camera-ready. Janes.com exposed that the flashy demonstrations and rallies were being engineered by one of Lebanon’s top advertising agencies and the London-based Saatchi & Saatchi.
Michael Nakfour of the corporate events management company, Independence 05 – Civil Society, helped manage the Freedom Square tent city by distributing food, flags, supplies and theatrical effects, prompting American Enterprise Institute scholar Hedieh Mirahmadi to marvel; “Who would imagine one could find posters, in downtown Beirut, with the picture of President Bush in between American and Lebanese flags?” (NY Sun, 3/18/05)
Reporter Mary Wakefield, of The Spectator was also surprised. “Only 1,000 or so people? ..it felt less like a national protest than a pop concert. Bouncers in black bomber jackets wore laminated Independence ’05 cards round their necks, screens to the left and right of the platform reflected the crowd… To the left of the main speaker, a man in a black flying suit with blonde highlights, mirrored Oakley sunglasses and an earpiece seemed to be conducting the crowd. Sometimes he’d wave his arms to increase the shouting, sometimes, with a gesture he’d silence them… ‘Out Syria! Out Syria! Out Syria!’ Production assistants with clipboards busied themselves around trucks full of monitors and amplifiers…. The truth is that the Cedar Revolution has been presented and planned in just the same way as Ukraine’s Orange revolution and, before it, the Rose revolution in Georgia. But just because it is in American interests doesn’t mean it’s an American production.” (“A Revolution Made for TV” 3/12/05)
Why not? The New York Post: “US intelligence sources told The Post that the CIA and European intelligence services are quietly giving money and logistical support to organizers of the anti-Syrian protests to ramp up pressure on Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to completely quit Lebanon. Sources said the secret program is similar to previous support of pro-democracy movements in Georgia and Ukraine, which also led to peaceful demonstrations.” (3/8/05).
On the streets of Beirut, one ‘grassroots’ project, “Pulse of Freedom,” inadvertently exposed its U.S. origins by utilizing uniquely American street theater tactics. Then in a slip, reminiscent of Baghdad’s Firdos Square when US troops covered Saddam’s statue with the Stars and Stripes, or when the Republic of Georgia’s military band played the US national anthem instead of its own during the Rose Revolution, “Pulse of Freedom” portrayed Lebanon’s national Monument of Sovereignty as the Statue of Liberty.
Spirit of America, the NGO that created “Pulse of Freedom” provided protesters with a billboard-sized electronic ‘Freedom Clock’ for ‘Freedom Square’ to “countdown to freedom.” Spirit of America’s tax deductible donations helped maintain the tent city’s food, shelter and other basic necessities “so that the demonstrators can keep pressure on for political change and world attention on the struggle for Lebanese independence”.
Spirit of America also spawned a plethora of revolution bloggers, foremost among them Tech Central Station columnist Michael Totten whose boss was Spirit of America’s founder Jim Hake.
A registered charity, Spirit of America exemplifies the regime change industry. Advised by US Ambassador Mark Palmer, Vice Chairman of the Board of Freedom House, and co-founder of the National Endowment for Democracy, Palmer served as speech-writer to three US Presidents and six Secretaries of State.
He also helped the US government destabilize Slobodan Milosevic and Muammar Qaddafi. Capitalizing on his color revolution skills, Palmer wrote “Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators Without Firing a Shot.”
Another Spirit of America governor is Lt General Mike DeLong, Deputy Commander, US Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. DeLong manages a budget of $8.2 billion and “conceived and implemented the Global War on Terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
As top Deputy to former General Tommy Franks, DeLong’s listed expertise at places such as the Army War College, the Department of Defense and the Amphibious Warfare School included Artillery, military intelligence, coup détats, supporting democracy. DeLong in his autobiography Inside Centcom alleged “Syria had been shipping military supplies, including night vision goggles to Iraq.” The New York Times and Washington Post later revealed that these data had been fabricated “smoking gun” evidence.
Charles Duelfer of the UN Iraq Survey Group also confirmed that WMD charges had been “exaggerated” by now-US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, when he was Under-Secretary for Arms Control in 2002.
Lebanese history professor Habib Malik, affiliated with the Middle East Forum, defended the anti-Syria protesters to journalist-in-residence Claudia Rosett of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies as being “utterly spontaneous and coercion-free.” (NY Sun, 3/11/05)
But an American Hezbollah expert in Beirut, Dr. Judith Harik, informed this writer that the pro-Syria crowds were misrepresented in the media. “As you are hearing, the Bush administration is labeling the opposition “the people” and everyone else as Hezbollah terrorists.
Tomorrow’s [March 8, 2005] demonstration will include Sunnis, Druze of the Arslan faction, Christians of all the leftist nationalist parties and the entire south and Bekaa, along with Orthodox Christian areas of Mt. Lebanon. Again the Bush administration is misleading the public by ‘mistakenly’ lauding a loud minority that supports its middle east policy.”
Each side eventually held a mass demonstration numbered in the hundreds of thousands, prompting a truce. But the US-Israeli machine declared war. Using language formerly reserved for Yasser Arafat, Bush parroted Ariel Sharon. “Syria is an obstacle to peace” and an “obstacle to change”. Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) advised, “Syria — put two nukes on ’em”; Jerusalem Post: “Israel hails Bush’s Islamist attacks”; Jewish Forward; “US promises Israel to tackle Hezbollah.”
A deck of ‘Most Wanted’ playing cards appeared, a technique used by the Israeli newspaper Maariv to target Palestinians, and later used against the Iraqi Baath Party.
Likud MK Yuval Steinetz, head of the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee crystallized the priorities: “It’s a clear Israeli interest to end the Assad dynasty and replace Bashar Assad.” Evoking the “absurd Arabs with their Arab conspiracy theories” slur, Geostrategy-Direct headlined: “Is Bashar Assad paranoid or is the US really plotting to undermine him?”
When Israel’s commandeering of US middle east policy became too overt, defter tongues moved to quell the uproar. “Bush Administration Advises Israel to be Quiet on Lebanese Politics,” said the New York Times.
It wasn’t the first reprimand to Israel by some of its own. In November, 2003 Israel’s former head of military intelligence, Major-General Shlomo Gazit publicly warned Sharon against threatening Syria and the Israeli “jab, jab policy orchestrated to incite and humiliate Damascus. It is only going to be a matter of time until the Syrians are unable to hold back and then the big blaze will begin.” But that was Sharon’s intent and he spoke of Iraq as a justification to attack Hezbollah; “it will give us a great pretext. But we’ll hit them in any case.” (Daily Times, 3/4/03)
The Jerusalem Post wrote; “Rumsfeld considers striking Hizbullah to provoke Syria,” and the Pentagon assessed that “the time is coming to oust Assad and the ruling generals by targeting Syria via Lebanon…” Former National Security Council/CIA analyst Flynt Leverett confirmed Rumsfeld’s belief that by instigating the right crisis in Lebanon, regime change could be executed in Syria.
One Rumsfeld project, P20G, or the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group, existed specifically to provoke terrorist attacks that would then justify “counter-attacks”. Neocons such as Douglas Feith and David Wurmser envisioned this graduated destablization as the “constructive instability” of “total war”.
Rumsfeld’s team had already begun discussions with Israeli intelligence about assassinating Lebanese officials — particularly “Hezbollah and their supporters” in 2002, and intelligence operatives were dispatched to Lebanon. (This writer was introduced to at least one Israeli ‘student’ studying Arabic at AUB in Beirut.
He travelled with an American passport, coming to Lebanon “to study ‘the enemy’ to find out how they think.”) The Sunday Times (6/5/05) revealed that Mossad had been using Trojan Horse email surveillance on President Assad’s wife Asma, labelling her family correspondence a “legitimate soft target”.
By January 2005, the Pentagon were preparing for military operations in Lebanon to destroy “insurgency strongholds along the Lebanese-Syrian border”. Simultaneously, Israeli approval for a military operation in Lebanon was given after Hezbollah killed an IDF officer. Political-security cabinet members comprised of PM Sharon, Deputy PM Ehud Olmert, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, and FM Silvan Shalom had authorized the action. (Haaretz, 5/3/05). But then Rafiq Hariri was killed, and the door to Syria swung open.
Syria may become America’s 53rd state, if Farid Ghadry’s NGO, the Reform Party of Syria rushes through that opened door. Ghadry is a Syrian Christian who worked for EG & G, a Department of Defense contractor. EG & G assisted in the development and testing of nuclear weapons and in many of the US military’s top secret atomic projects.
Ghadry’s Reform Party coordinates with the Syrian National Council, and transmits Radio Free Syria from Cyprus and Germany to destabilize Syria. The CIA and Mossad have long used Kurds to target nations in the region. Journalist Jack Anderson wrote in 1972 about Israeli envoys delivering $50,000 a month to Kurdish leader Mullah Mustafa Barzani to destabilize Iraq.
In March 2004, this writer was approached in Damascus by Kurds from Qamishli and Hasaka (one whose brother was arrested in the riots) wanting to “thank Bush for helping us get rid of Assad”.
News accounts later verified that the chaos up north had been orchestrated by the US and Israel, using Turkish and Iraqi Kurds. ‘Protesters’ at the height of the melee even waved posters of President Bush and American flags. The ringleaders were sponsored by the Department of Defense and the US State Department. “Let the Damascus spring flower, and let its flowers bloom,” said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. So sprouted another color catastrophe — Syria’s “Jasmine Revolution”.
Reform Party of Syria’s Farid Ghadry has been a featured speaker at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and is himself a member of AIPAC. When repeated calls to his organization went unanswered, I visited the Washington, DC headquarters of the RFP. Reform Party of Syria is the office of “super-Zionist” lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Middle Gate Ventures, Abramoff’s ‘political advisory company’ partners with RFP. Abramoff is a top Beltway lobbyist now under intensive FBI investigation concerning, among other things, his proposed $9 million fee to get Gabon’s president an Oval Office session with Bush.
As a College Republican in the 1980s, Abramoff founded the International Freedom Foundation, a project linked to the South African Defence Forces. The International Freedom Foundation was the PR branch of sister NGO Strategic Communications, a covert organization charged by former spy Craig Williamson in the Weekly Mail and Guardian for 2/24/95 with being involved with frame-ups, extreme violence and dirty tricks campaigns.
According to the Weekly Standard (12/20/04), one Abramoff venture was his organization of a 1985 global “summit” of underworld thugs. With Citizens for America sponsorship, Contra leaders, guerilla rebels and right wing ‘freedom fighters’ from around the world convened in the African hinterlands to strategize.
During this period, Abramoff’s membership/financial transactions with the secretive Council for National Policy, which included Oliver North and Richard Secord, became a template for how to mask money that still remains partially hidden. (Nizkor Project)
Recently Abramoff’s interventionism has focused on the Middle East. Tomflocco.com reveals that Abramoff’s long-time employer, Greenberg Traurig, partially financed a Homeland Security Government Contract Team trip to Israel for the US House/Senate Armed Services Committee and defense contractor CACI (accused of Abu Ghraib torture).
The delegation reviewed IDF “resistance to interrogation techniques” used in Palestine, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. The Lebanon Daily Star reported that the group visited Beit Horon “the central training camp for the anti-terrorist forces of the Israeli police and border police” and were able to “witness exercises related to anti-terror warfare.” Legislators’ names were not disclosed.
Abramoff also works with the World Zionist Organization and the Christian Coalition to bankroll illegal Israeli settlement activities. According to Israeli prosecutor Talia Sasson they are part of a larger international problem. Some $60 billion worldwide has been illicitly funnelled to Israeli settlements via different foreign donors, quasi-NGOs and secret military accounts.
In one such case, according to Senate testimony and news reports in Newsweek and The New Republic, an Abramoff charity, Capital Athletic Fund, underwrote sniper scopes, camouflage suits, thermal imagers, night vision goggles, hydration tactical tubes, shooting mats and other paramilitary equipment through Greenberg Traurig to right wing settler Shmuel Ben-Zvi. Abramoff wanted to help ultraorthodox settlement Beitar Illit “neutralize terrorists” and wrote to Ben-Zvi; “Thanks brother. If only there were another dozen of you the dirty rats would be finished.”
Apparently angling for cover and a tax deduction, Beitar Illit seminar director Ben-Zvi suggested invoicing the weaponry to the Israeli Defence Forces on ‘Sniper Workshop’ stationery with a sniper logo and letterhead to qualify it as an educational entity. Payments were partially run through “Kollel Ohel Tiferet,” an entity not publicly listed or traceable. Beitar Illit Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus claims never to have heard of it. (Newsweek, 5/2/05)
Abramoff dollars may also have found their way to the Israeli Defense Forces’ Lebanon Border Unit, the civilian SF troops that patrol the Israel-Lebanon border. Yaagal, supposedly disbanded after Israel’s 2000 pullout from south Lebanon, still conducts clandestine reconnaissance, plans ambushes and carries out cross-border incursions into Hezbollah-held areas of south Lebanon. As so often with lobbyist Abramoff’s entities, the tools and trails remain murky.
Indicted AIPAC lobbyist Steven Rosen told the New Yorker; “A lobby is like a night flower: it thrives in the dark and dies in the sun.” But Abramoff’s own words to Ralph Reed in 1983 are even more apropos; “It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistance” with opponents. “Our job is to remove them permanently.” Flowery language for forged freedoms, an “Arab Spring” Machiavelli-style.
Trish Schuh writes about Middle East politics. She can be reached at: email@example.com
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