Archive | March 6th, 2015

US General: Iranian Presence In Iraq Could Be Beneficial

NOVANEWS
The official’s statement comes as Iraqi forces closed in on Tikrit Tuesday on the second day of Baghdad’s largest operation yet against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.
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Iran ArmedMembers of the Iran’s army march during an annual military parade marking the 34th anniversary of outset of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, in front of the mausoleum of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini just outside Tehran, Iran, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014.

Iran’s role in an Iraqi military offensive to recapture Tikrit could be positive as long as it does not fuel sectarian divisions in the country, the US military’s top officer said Tuesday.

The official’s statement comes as Iraqi forces closed in on Tikrit Tuesday on the second day of Baghdad’s largest operation yet against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators that Iran’s military assistance to Shia pro-government volunteering fighters was nothing new but was carried out in a more open manner this week as Iraqi forces pushed to retake Tikrit from ISIS jihadists.

Iranian military commander Qassem Suleimani, who has helped coordinate Baghdad’s counter-attacks against ISIS since it seized much of northern Iraq in June, was overseeing at least part of the operation, witnesses told Reuters.

With him were two Iraqi paramilitary leaders: the leader of the Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilization, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, and Hadi al-Amiri who leads the Badr Organization, a powerful volunteering group.

“(Suleimani) was standing on top of a hill pointing with his hands towards the areas where Islamic State are still operating,” said a witness who was accompanying security forces near Albu Rayash, a village about 55 kilometers (35 miles) from Tikrit, captured from ISIS two days ago.

Suleimani’s presence on the front line highlights neighboring Iran’s influence over the Shia fighters who have been key to containing ISIS in Iraq.

“This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support,” Dempsey said, which came “in the form of artillery” and other aid.

“Frankly, it would only be a problem if it resulted in sectarianism,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

US commanders rarely discuss Iran’s activities in Iraq in public, stressing that Washington does not coordinate with Tehran’s military in any way — even though the two foes see ISIS as a common enemy.

In an assault launched Monday, officials in Baghdad say a 30,000-strong force has been mobilized to take back Tikrit.

Dempsey said Shia fighters — which are armed by Tehran — account for about two-thirds of the force while Iraqi government army troops make up the remainder.

If the Iraqi army and allied fighters “perform in a credible way” and defeat the jihadists in Tikrit, “then it will in the main have been a positive thing in terms of the counter-ISIL campaign,” Dempsey said, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.

At the same hearing, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged Iraq did not ask for military support from Washington for the Tikrit operation, the largest assault so far by Baghdad against ISIS.

Carter said he shared Dempsey’s concerns about sectarian divisions erupting and that Washington was closely monitoring the conduct of the campaign.

“I hope sectarianism does not show its ugly head,” Carter said.

The head of US Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, said the American military was not surprised by the Iraqi army’s offensive on Tikrit or Iran’s role because American surveillance aircraft picked up preparations beforehand.

Austin, who oversees the US-led air war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, said “we have good overhead imagery and those types of things.”

“So, you know, the activity in Tikrit was no surprise,” the general said. “I saw this coming many days leading up to this. It was a logical progression of what they’ve been doing in the east of the country.”

The expansion of jihadist groups in Iraq raises questions about the effectiveness of the US anti-terrorism campaign since 2001.

The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 using the pretext of “fighting terrorism” and claiming that then-dictator Saddam Hussein owned weapons of mass destruction.

The US invasion that supposedly aimed to eliminate al-Qaeda in Iraq — a group that didn’t exist in the country until after the invasion — ended up serving as a recruitment tool for jihadist groups and increasing sectarian strife within the country. The war aimed to “free Iraqis” but instead killed at least half a million Iraqis and left the country in total turmoil.

Iraqi forces advance towards Tikrit

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces closed in on Tikrit Tuesday, their progress slowed by jihadist snipers and booby traps, on the second day of Baghdad’s largest operation yet against ISIS.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the jihadists who have held Tikrit since June 2014 have been resorting to guerrilla tactics to disrupt the government’s advance.

“They are using urban warfare and snipers, so we are advancing in a cautious and delicate way, and we need more time,” a lieutenant general on the ground told AFP.

Iraqi forces are moving on Tikrit from three directions. On the southern flank of the offensive, army and police officials said government forces had surrounded and sealed off al-Dour, but had not yet launched an assault on the town, a source in military operations command said.

“We are close to al-Dour, but Daesh is still in the center,” the senior officer said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Another large contingent drives from the east and yo the north, they captured a village close to Tikrit, the army said. Units were also moving from a variety of other directions, with military sources saying the plan was to encircle and besiege ISIS fighters in Tikrit.

The jihadist group announced in a radio bulletin Tuesday that a US national from its ranks had carried out a suicide attack against Iraqi forces near Samarra, the other main city in Salahuddin province. The attacker was referred to by his nom de guerre, Abu Dawud al-Amriki.

The Tikrit battle will have a major impact on plans to move further north and recapture Mosul, the largest city under ISIS rule. If the offensive stalls, it will complicate and delay a move on Mosul but a quick victory would give Baghdad momentum.

Iraqi security forces, backed by Kurdish troops, pro-government volunteering fighters, and tribesmen on the ground have managed to regain some ground from ISIS and push them back from around Baghdad, the Kurdish north, and the eastern province of Diyala. But they have held most of their strongholds in Salahuddin and taken new territory in the western province of Anbar.

Italy renews its support for Iraq KRG

Italy’s foreign minister confirmed his support on Tuesday for the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government and the central Iraqi government in their fight against ISIS.

“The situation in the region is still complicated despite the significant achievements of the peshmerga forces,” Paolo Gentiloni said in Rome during a joint press conference with Necirvan Barzani, the PM of Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government.

The Italian minister said that more than two million people have been internally displaced in Iraq due to terror inflicted by ISIS as 1.5 million of them live in the Iraqi KRG.

Gentiloni added that Italy carried out an assistance program valued at about €12 million for those refugees and pledged further Italian military and humanitarian aid to the Kurdish Regional Government.

“This war that we are fighting does not just concern the Kurdish people, but all countries and humanity,” Barzani said during the same press conference, as he thanked Italian PM Matteo Renzi for his visit to the region, which took place on Monday.

In late August, Italy, along with Germany, Britain and France, announced that they were giving arm to Iraqi Kurdish security forces in the fight against ISIS militants in northern Iraq, in close coordination with the Baghdad central government.

Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said Italy had earmarked light automatic weapons and ammunition used by the Italian armed forces, as well as arms made in the former Soviet Union and seized at sea during the 1990s Balkan wars, to be sent to Iraq.

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15 Facts About The NSA’s Domestic Spying Program

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As Snowden considers returning to the US if he can get a fair trial in a federal courtroom, it might be time to review some basic facts about the domestic surveillance program that very likely is aware you are reading this article right now.

NSA

The NSA has a blanket order to spy on your domestic phone calls. It collects information about the date and time of numbers dialed and the length of call. There is no evidence that it is currently storing recordings of the phone calls, though it is widely suspected to be occurring.

Under this blanket order, the NSA collects data on 3 billion phone calls per day.

Calls by US citizens that begin or end outside of the United States are subject to recording and monitoring without a warrant.

Emails to or from overseas accounts are also stored and/or read by the US secret police. It is unclear if simply being transferred through an overseas server makes the email eligible for collection.

Banking transfers that cross international lines are subject to monitoring without a warrant.

The NSA pays closer attention to your social media profile than your obsessed ex. It combines social media data with GPS locations and builds profiles about your activities.

In 2008, the agency maintained over 150 data processing sites scattered around the globe to sort through the massive amount of data.

Disconnecting from the web does not stop the NSA. The agency has developed technologies that use radio and wifi to access computers that aren’t even online.

The NSA collects over 200 million text messages per day.

The NSA maintains a database that links email addresses and phone numbers to the names of US citizens.

The XKeyscore Program captures and stores 40 billion internet records per month. The NSA has your browser history.

All iPhones, Droids, and Blackberry phones are hacked by the NSA. They have your selfies.

The NSA only has charter to operate internationally, but is allowed to turn your data of to domestic law enforcement.

This NSA massive surveillance network has never stopped a terrorist attack or led to an arrest.

There is no real oversight of the NSA’s spying capabilities.

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Saudi Arabia Tries To Keep ISIS From Recruiting Its Youth

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Saudis largely do not support ISIS, but the fraction who do pose a serious threat.

Saudi Arabia

A professor at the religiously conservative Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University recently asked a class of about 80 students if they personally knew someone who had joined the Islamic State (IS), the radical jihadi movement now terrorizing the Middle East.

To his surprise, 10 students raised their hands. Under his probing, they each described a similar pattern: For about a month, the friend or relative continued to eat and sleep at home, but “disappeared from his normal life….cut his social connections and became more religious,” recalled the professor, who asked not to be named. Then one day, the person disappeared.

Students related how some young men had sold their cars to pay for their plane ticket from Saudi Arabia to Turkey and then the underground network to spirit them through Turkey into IS-held territory in Syria. While support for IS among Saudi youth is relatively low, it is enough to have officials deeply concerned. One poll last year found that only 5 percent of Saudis sympathize.

But that’s enough to cause big problems.

“There is enough support in the population for Da’esh to make life difficult for the government,” said one middle-aged Saudi who also asked not to be named, referring to the IS by its Arabic acronym.

Young people are drawn to it, he added, “because it does what it says it is going to do” and by declaring an Islamic caliphate, “it is reviving the glory days of Islam.”

And Saudi officials fear that IS’s ideological attraction to Saudi youth will grow if it prolongs its hold over large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq that it has declared an Islamic caliphate.

“This is the challenge,” said Ministry of Interior spokesman Gen. Mansour Al Turki. “The more these people have time to develop their propaganda, it will increase with time the number of people who will be inspired” to join.

Al Turki said 2,275 residents had left the kingdom to join extremist groups in Syria since 2011. Of those, 635 had come home, leaving 1,640 still with those groups — or dead.

IS, whose brutality has shocked Muslims and non-Muslims alike, has declared Saudi Arabia a prime target and aims to win control of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. That is very unlikely, analysts say, but the group has made itself felt in the kingdom in recent months, especially since Riyadh joined the international coalition fighting IS.

It has been responsible for several isolated incidents, including shootings of foreigners and the murder of at least seven Shia worshippers in Al Ahsa last November, as well as an attack on a Saudi border post along its northern border with Iraq that left three Saudi guards dead, according to official statements and media reports.

But it has not mounted major, multi-pronged operations like the explosions and hostage-takings organized by al Qaeda in 2003-2006 that killed scores.

“That shows that the government still has this threat under control,” said one Saudi journalist.

Still, officials do not disregard IS’s potential, said the spokesman Al Turki.

“IS is more of a threat than al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [because] it’s better organized, it has established a base and is teaching children to be terrorists,” he said. “They are better trained. I would not be surprised one day to see [IS members] flying an air force jet because they appear to be formed of people with a military background.”

In addition, as many Saudis noted in recent interviews, the Islamic State is more sophisticated than al Qaeda in its social media recruiting efforts. Its videos are slicker and its presence stronger on messaging sites popular with youths like Twitter.

IS’s appearance in the past year has forced the Saudi government to adopt tougher methods against alleged terrorists. A royal decree in February 2014 made it illegal for citizens to join conflicts abroad without official permission, setting a mandatory minimum of three years in prison for violating the order.

Even those IS recruits who return home to Saudi Arabia voluntarily are no longer are given the option of entering the government’s militant rehabilitation program.

“Before the royal decree we used to handle them through the rehabilitation program in coordination with the family,” said Al Turki. “But now they go to jail.”

This change is exacerbating a long-time problem for the government, which is that Saudi prisons are full of political prisoners who may be getting more radical in jail.

Among the 392 people arrested in 2014 for alleged terrorist-linked activities, most were Saudis and many of those were attempting to establish IS support networks in the kingdom, according to Al Turki.

Of those, 97 had previously been through the government’s militant rehabilitation program, he added.

The 2014 royal decree that banned joining jihads outside the kingdom slowed but did not stop the outward flow. Of the 2,275 who have left since 2011, 355 departed after the decree.

An ideological — not a military — threat

Saudi Arabia’s dilemma is that IS’s underlying ideological foundation is the same as that of Wahhabism, the dominant strain of Salafi Islam promoted by the Saudi state. That foundation is a literalist reading of Islam’s scriptures that is intolerant of other faiths, and a desire to live exactly as the earliest Muslims did.

The big difference is that Wahhabism officially preaches obedience to the reigning Islamic ruler, whose permission is required for jihad and ordained corporal punishments. By contrast, Islamic State declares jihad to be an individual duty for every Muslim and it uses extreme violence, including beheadings and mass executions, as an everyday weapon against those who do not follow its strict interpretation of Islam.

“These people are giving the impression that they are creating an Islamic state, which is a trap to delude and recruit young Muslims,” said the spokesman Al Turki.

Young religious Saudis are susceptible to IS’s message that Saudi Arabia, one of the most religiously conservative governments in the world, is un-Islamic because, for example, it allows women on Saudi television and permits females to study overseas on scholarships.

As a result, some Saudis have concluded that confronting the Islamic State’s appeal requires giving religious authorities more leeway and a higher profile. They were therefore happy to see public overtures to the kingdom’s conservative religious establishment made by King Salman, who ascended throne after the Jan. 23 death of King Abdullah.

“There is a general belief that King Abdullah did not succeed to fight the fanatics because he tried by liberal ways,” said Abdullah Al Shammari, a political columnist for Al Youm newspaper. “The only way is to fight them is by religion…by Islam. Now, the danger will be less because King Salman will fight Islamic State by the Quran, by the ulema [religious authorities], by religion.”

Other Saudis are wary of the new king’s approach because they fear that more influence for the ultraconservative religious establishment is not what Saudi needs now for national development, particularly as it relates to women.

Salman also met with Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh al Sisi on Sunday in Riyadh to discuss regional issues, undoubtedly including how to confront IS which has declared some areas of Egypt to be part of its caliphate.

Last year the late King Abdullah chided his clerical establishment for its “laziness” and silence because it was so reticent to condemn IS and its atrocities. There is a tendency among clerical ranks to restrain from criticizing IS because it is seen as promoting majority Sunni interests against those of the minority Shia.

Although Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh and other senior clerics have condemned IS, some Saudi religious scholars say the government and its religious allies are not doing enough to counter its message.

Sheikh Adel Al Kalbani, a relatively progressive-minded Wahhabi cleric, said in an interview at his Riyadh mosque that the terrorist group is making the same mistake as some other Salafi Muslims, which is “living the past in the present.”

Islamic State is “implementing the rules of the past or the traditions of the past in the present, while they should implement what the Quran and what the hadith [the collected sayings of Prophet Muhammad] say in the present, taking the original principles and leaving the details,” Kalbani said.

A true Salafi interpretation, he added, “is in the middle, not too strict and not too lenient. It is a middle religion.”

Kalbani said he sees a lot of support for IS on sites like Twitter, though it is not possible to know how much comes from inside the kingdom. But he fears that its attraction will increase among Saudi youth if the clerical authorities do not become more active in the ideological fight against it.

“The problem is with the [clerics],” he said, because they “don’t explain things in detail. They usually talk in generalities. And they need to speak up more frequently especially to explain things to the young people…We should have intensive programs and discussions about Da’esh and discuss with people what is right and wrong.”

Kalbani continued, “Outside people are not the problem; it’s the inside people. When people inside Saudi Arabia are convinced by Da’esh ideas, that will harm Saudi Arabia. If we don’t talk to young people, probably Da’esh is going to be a problem.”

 

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Is This Really The First Time Syrian Rebels Have Been Aided By The US?

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Turkey and the U.S. struck a deal last month to train and equip “moderate rebel forces” in Syria. A number of media outlets are hailing this as a first for the Obama administration, yet there’s evidence proving otherwise.
Image result for Free Syrian Army fighter PHOTO

Free Syrian Army fighter,

On Friday, Rear Adm. John Kirby stated that the United States would begin training moderate Syrian rebels in Turkey to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria.

Speaking during a press briefing at the Pentagon, Kirby explained that the goal of the program is to intended enable those forces to “defend their communities, protect their own neighbors, and then go on the offense against ISIL [the U.S. government’s preferred term for ISIS].”

The Pentagon press secretary emphasized that the rebel training is to fight extremists, not the Syrian government. Kirby stated, “The Syria component of this campaign is an anti-ISIL component. That’s the focus, not about the Assad regime.”

A deal was signed by Turkey and the U.S. on Feb. 19 to train and equip moderate rebel forces in Syria. While numerous media outlets have reported that this is the first time the Obama administration has implemented support for the rebels, such reporting flies in the face of the facts.

Background of U.S. involvement in Syria

Free Syrian ArmyA Free Syrian Army fighter takes position close to a military base, near Azaz, Syria, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012.  Photo: Manu Brabo/AP

The first evidence of the American military training opposition fighters in Syria was recorded on March 6, 2012, in an email thread released by WikiLeaks as part of The Global Intelligence Files.

An email by Reva Bhalla, an employee at the private intelligence firm Stratfor, revealed that special operations forces (SOF) were already on the ground in the region by December 2011 — nine months after the civil war had officially started. Bhalla, who had spoken with a United States Air Force (USAF) strategic studies group at the Pentagon, wrote on Dec. 6, 2011, “After a couple hours of talking, they said without saying that SOF teams (presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce [reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces.”

Bhalla made it sound as if the deployment of special operations forces in the region was in reaction to the unfolding crisis, and that the U.S. military was still trying to figure what to do. “There is still a very low level of understanding of what is actually at stake in Syria, what’s the strategic interest there, the Turkish role, the Iranian role, etc.,” she wrote.

She also made it seem as if the U.S. didn’t have much of an opposition force to work with, noting, “One Air Force intel guy (US) said very carefully that there isn’t much of a Free Syrian Army to train right now.”

Bhalla explained that the SOF were in the region to get information about the activities of the Syrian army, and presumably other opposition fighters.

As to their future role, Bhalla wrote that the USAF intelligence officers believed that the hypothetical function of the SOF teams would be “to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, [and] elicit collapse from within.”

However, she explained, it did not appear as if the SOF had started any of those activities. “They have been told to prepare contingencies and be ready to act within 2-3 months,” she wrote, “but they still stress that this is all being done as contingency planning, not as a move toward escalation.”

Then, in June 2012, The New York Times published a report which highlighted interactions between the U.S. and rebel fighters entering Syria via Turkey. Eric Schmitt reported: “A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.”

“The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”

Schmitt explained that the CIA was involved to keep weapons away from al-Qaida-linked fighters.

Laura Rozen reported in July 2012 that a U.S.-based organization, the Syrian Support Group, had been issued a rare waiver by the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control to provide financial, logistical, and communications support to the Free Syrian Army. The Syrian Support Group employed Brian Sayers, a former NATO adviser. It ultimately shut down in August 2014.

In March 2013, it was reported that the U.S. was training moderate rebels in Jordan to serve as a bulwark against extremists fighting in the country and to take over in case of governmental collapse. The focus of the operation was Syrian army officers who had defected.

In September 2013, NPR’s Tom Bowman said in an interview that “weapons are starting to move into Syria, small arms, assault rifles, machine guns.” He added that it was part of “a covert CIA program.”

That same month, the U.S. was also reported to be working with Saudi Arabia to siphon weapons to Syrian rebels. Anne Barnard of The New York Times wrote: “For months, Saudi Arabia has been quietly funneling arms, including anti-tank missiles, to Free Syrian Army groups through Jordan, working covertly with American and British intelligence and Arab governments that do not want their support publicly known, according to rebel groups operating in southern Syria.”

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Meet Richard Jones, An American Citizen Fighting ISIS In Syria

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An Atlanta native says an article on ISIS raping women and selling them into sex slavery inspired him to join the fight against the militant group in Syria. “I didn’t know if I would be successful here,” he tells MintPress, “but I knew I would hate myself for not trying.”
By Sheren Khalel
Matthew Vickery 
Image result for Richard Jones (right), stands with YPG official (left) near Syria/Turkish border in Ras al Ayn, Syria PHOTO
Richard Jones (right), stands with YPG official (left) near Syria/Turkish border in Ras al Ayn, Syria.

At a military complex in the Kurdish Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn, Richard Jones, an American citizen, stands guard with a Kalashnikov assault rifle at the ready.

Jones has been in Syria for two months, volunteering to fight with the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants. He’s one of roughly two dozen Western fighters that have left behind the comforts of home to fight in the world’s most deadly conflict.

At the barracks in Syria’s al-Hasakah province, also termed Rojava by the majority Kurdish population, MintPress News met Jones and asked him what drove him to leave his home state of Georgia and make his way out to the battlefields of Syria.

MintPress News (MPN): Thanks for meeting us Richard, tell us a little about yourself.

Richard Jones (RJ): I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. I’m 29 years old and have been in Syria for two months now. I have some military experience, some time with the National Guard, and two to three years with the Georgia State Defense Force.

MPN: We’re here in the north of Syria. You’re thousands of miles away from home. Can you explain why exactly you decided to leave home and join the YPG?

RJ: Actually, it was a really personal reason. I guess for everybody it is. When I read about what ISIS did, what ISIS did to the women in Sinjar, how they were raped, how they were sold into sex slavery — I read one article, from a Kurdish woman who was in a brothel, who sent a message to some other Kurds that knew where the brothel was, and she asked for them to bomb it because she had already been raped 30 times and it wasn’t even mid-day yet, and that many of the women had already killed themselves that morning. I knew I couldn’t just stand by and do nothing.

MPN: So you read that article, what happened next?

RJ: It was in late October that I read that article, and as soon as I read it I knew I was going to go. I started selling off certain things that I was able to use to create some funds for myself, and then started to put some of my personal affairs in order. After three weeks I then purchased my tickets to Iraq, and then after that I spent the rest of the time to gain the rest of the money that I thought I would need to purchase body armor and weapons, if needed, and other expenses.

MPN: Did you have any second thoughts?

RJ: No. Once I read that article it just stuck with me. I didn’t know if I would be successful here, but I knew I would hate myself for not trying.

MPN: You mentioned before you are ex-U.S. military?

RJ: Before I came to the location I’m at now, [the YPG] were very interested in my shooting skills. I was an expert marksman with the U.S. Army in both the M16 and M4 platforms and the M9 platform on the pistol. I had also done a lot of competitive shooting ever since I was 13, and so I have some NRA classifications.

[Writer’s note: Most of the Western men who have joined the YPG in Syria have military experience from their home countries, but few actually see frontline battle. Senior YPG officials tell MintPress that they are indeed hesitant to use foreigners on the frontline. Instead, it’s believed that foreigners’ greatest role with the YPG is one of solidarity and morale among the force. Although some are utilized in frontline fighting, most Westerners are used for security roles. Realizing that, Jones says he would like to take up a role in training Kurdish YPG fighters.]

MPN: Do the YPG have you and the other Western fighters out on the frontline at all?

RJ: They [the YPG] seemed a little bit reluctant to put the Western fighters on the frontline, so I made an arrangement with the general who I spoke with, that I could help their fighters more if I was on the front and saw how they fight, then I could spend my time operating on the front and then training their other soldiers and shooters of how to better utilize their skills at the front. But ultimately my goal is to be at the front. I have heard of other Westerners taking other roles, however, without specifically seeing them do so, I don’t want to add to any rumor mills or anything like that. So as far as what I’ve seen, from my limited experience, I know some [Western fighters] have been at the frontline, in more of a support role than in an actual frontline fighting role. I do want to help the YPG, but more than anything I want to stop and kill ISIS.

MPN: If you can’t go to the frontlines, then you want to train other YPG fighters?

RJ: I’m trying to discuss this with them, [the YPG] wanted me to go to their sniper school and help train some of their shooters. I moved here [Ras al-Ayn], and I was supposed to move on to a new location, but since then they’ve had me doing more personal security issues … force protection for VIPs and such … such as providing static security at checkpoints, of mobile security in convoys.

MPN: So, what in your mind is the role of a Western fighter here?

RJ: I think there is no singular role, each person comes here with a certain set of skills. Unfortunately some people come here with a certain set of skills that are not useful, and I believe that some people honestly should really consider not coming. Some people will end up being more of a burden than they will be of assistance. However, there are many people that can come and be of great assistance, and there have been many people before me who have come and provided great assistance and a lot of those you will never know about because they are not able to do interviews. However, the YPG can learn a lot and really utilize the Westerners if they desire, but not all have to be in a combat role. Everything from their media center to medical training, all of those would be extraordinary useful to the YPG. Every Westerner that comes needs to be a fighter, but also have other skills that can assist.

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U.N. Member States Accused of Cherry-Picking Human Rights

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“One Government will thoroughly support women’s human rights and those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, but will balk at any suggestion that those rights be extended to migrants of irregular status. Another State may observe scrupulously the right to education, but will brutally stamp out opposing political views.” — United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
Spain UN Human RightsA demonstrator marches with his mouth covered and carries a placard that reads: “Censorship” during a protest against Spanish Citizens Security Law in Madrid, Spain. United Nations human rights experts on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 urged Spainís Senate to reject two proposed bills, saying they threaten fundamental rights and freedoms.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has criticised member states for ‘cherry-picking’ human rights – advocating some and openly violating others – perhaps to suit their own national or political interests.

Despite ratifying the U.N. charter reaffirming their faith in fundamental human rights, there are some member states who, “with alarming regularity”, are disregarding and violating human rights, “sometimes to a shocking degree,” he said.

Addressing the opening session of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC) Monday, Zeid faulted member states for claiming “exceptional circumstances” for their convoluted decisions.

“They pick and choose between rights,” he pointed out, without identifying any member state by name.

“One Government will thoroughly support women’s human rights and those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, but will balk at any suggestion that those rights be extended to migrants of irregular status.

“Another State may observe scrupulously the right to education, but will brutally stamp out opposing political views,” he noted.  “A third State will comprehensively violate the political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights of its people, while vigorously defending the ideals of human rights before its peers.”

Asked for her response, Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) told IPS, “Prince Zeid has hit the nail on the head.”

If every government that professed a commitment to human rights followed through consistently, she added, “we’d have a much different – and better – world.”

In an ironic twist apparently proving Zeid’s contention, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lashed out at the “appalling human rights record” of several nations, blasting Syria and North Korea while singling out human rights violations in Crimea and by separatists in Ukraine.

But he did not condemn the devastation caused by Israel’s 50-day aerial bombardments of Palestinians in Gaza last year nor the rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas.

The death toll in the Gaza bombings was 1,976 Palestinians, including 1,417 civilians and 459 children, according to figures released by the United Nations, compared with the killing of 66 Israelis, including two soldiers.

The Palestinians have accused Israel of war crimes and are pushing for action by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague: a move strongly opposed by the United States.

Kerry told the HRC the United States believes that it can continue to make progress and help the U.N. body fulfill its mandate to make the world a better and safer place.

“But for that to happen, we have to get serious about addressing roadblocks to our own progress. And the most obvious roadblock, I have to say to you, is self-inflicted,” he said.

“I’m talking, of course, about HRC’s deeply concerning record on Israel,” Kerry added.

“No one in this room can deny that there is an unbalanced focus on one democratic country,” he said, as he openly advocated the cause of Israel, one of the closest political and military allies of the United States.

And no other nation, he said, has an entire agenda item set aside to deal with it. Year after year, there are five or six separate resolutions on Israel, he told delegates.

This year, he said, there was a resolution sponsored by Syrian President Bashar al Assad concerning the Golan (which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war).

“How, I ask, is that a sensible priority at the very moment when refugees from Syria are flooding into the Golan to escape Assad’s murderous rule and receive treatment from Israeli physicians in Israeli hospitals?”

Kerry referred to the Council’s “obsession” with Israel, which, he argued, “actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organisation.”

Zeid told the HRC the only real measure of a Government’s worth is not its place in the “solemn ballet of grand diplomacy” but the “extent to which it is sensitive to the needs – and protects the rights – of its nationals and other people who fall under its jurisdiction, or over whom it has physical control.”

Some policy-makers persuade themselves that their circumstances are exceptional, creating a wholly new reality unforeseen by the law, Zeid said, adding that such logic is abundant around the world today.

“I arrest arbitrarily and torture because a new type of war justifies it. I spy on my citizens because the fight against terrorism requires it. I don’t want new immigrants, or I discriminate against minorities, because our communal identity is being threatened now as never before. I kill without any form of due process, because if I do not, others will kill me,” he noted.

“And so it goes, on and on, as we spiral into aggregating crises,” Zeid declared.

Posted in Human RightsComments Off on U.N. Member States Accused of Cherry-Picking Human Rights

Wake Up UK: £10,000? MARK SIMMONDS, PAY IT BACK.

NOVANEWS

TO: MARK SIMMONDS MP

£10,000? Mark Simmonds, pay it back.
1,384
of 2,000 signatures


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Campaign created by John Ravenscroft Icon-email

Mark Simmonds, you’re my MP. You’ve claimed over £10,000 of taxpayers’ money to promote yourself. You’ve been advertising on boards at football clubs, rugby clubs, and on a local hospital radio show. That £10,000 is coming straight from us, the taxpayers.
Give it back.

Why is this important?

You’re standing down at the next election because, apparently, you ‘can’t afford’ to live on an MP’s £67,000 salary. And despite making over half a million pounds in profit from the sale of your taxpayer funded house, you’re still claiming thousands in expenses.

Such claims are greedy, morally indefensible – and just plain wrong.
I call on you to apologise and give back the money you have used for self-promotion.

Posted in UKComments Off on Wake Up UK: £10,000? MARK SIMMONDS, PAY IT BACK.

LIBYA loses control over important oil fields

NOVANEWS

Image result for The Islamic State’ FLAG

The Zio-Wahhabi Islamic State’s (ISIS) sweeping advance

The man reported to be leading Zio-Wahhabi ISIS in this takeover had been supported by the Zionist, U.S. and NATO.

Zio-Wahhabi ISIS  jihadists have gained a stronger foothold in Libya, seizing new economically vital areas of the country, which has been torn apart following Zionist Obama and Nazi NATO-backed overthrow of Leader Muamar Ghaddafi.

Posted in LibyaComments Off on LIBYA loses control over important oil fields

US Sponsored Death and Destruction in East Ukraine

NOVANEWS

All Buildings in Debaltseve Destroyed by the Occupying Ukrainian Army

Logo of the All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda"

Global Research
According to the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine, no usable buildings survive in the town of Debaltseve, the crucial railroad junction that was long fought over between the occupying Ukrainian army and the town’s residents. 

The OSCE official, Michael Bociurkiw, said on Wednesday March 4th, “The violence must be stopped, as it is developing into a real disaster in some areas. As for Debaltseve, for example, our representatives have said that there was no house left that was not destroyed or damaged by shelling.”

Following, are photos from videos, of the final weeks of the Ukrainian army’s occupation of the town, and of the Army’s final February 18th departure from Debaltseve on February 18th:

First, the resident on the left is crying, and the woman on the right comments:

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Then, during the Ukrainian Army’s departure, these invaders are marched into trucks to be taken back to Ukraine where they came from, and a woman raises a whisk broom to hit one of them, as an expression of her feeling:

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A soldier of the residents, who is standing to her left, gently pulls her back as the whisk broom is hitting the Ukrainian soldier:

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The residents’ soldier is now seen to her right as he pulls her back:

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She tries again and is this time blocked from hitting him:

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The commander of the residents’ soldiers consoles another woman:

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Before the truck arrives to take away the invaders, they’re told to sit down and hear from the people whose lives they’ve destroyed; a woman cries as she speaks to them:

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A commander of the invaders is escorted away to a car, while residents try to attack him:

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The escorts pull them away from him and rush him into the car:

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For comparison, here is the way that the invaders typically deal with the residents’ soldiers they capture:

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He was likely disposed of this way:

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.01.03 PM

Posted in USA, UkraineComments Off on US Sponsored Death and Destruction in East Ukraine

Naziyahu, ‘Censored Voices,’ and the False Narrative of Self-Defense

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Image result for Marjorie Cohn PHOTO
Marjorie Cohn

On March 3rd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an impassioned plea to the US Congress to protect Israel by opposing diplomacy with Iran. Referring to “the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States” which includes “generous military assistance and missile defense,” Netanyahu failed to mention that Israel has an arsenal of 100 or 200 nuclear weapons.  

The Six-Day War 

The day before he delivered that controversial address, Netanyahu expressed similar sentiments to AIPAC, Israel’s powerful U.S. lobby. He reiterated the claim that Israel acted in the 1967 Six-Day War “to defend itself.” The narrative that Israel attacked Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in self-defense, seizing the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula in 1967, has remained largely unquestioned in the public discourse. Israel relies on that narrative to continue occupying those Palestinian lands. And the powerful film “Censored Voices,” which premiered at Sundance in February, does not challenge that narrative.

 But declassified high-level documents from Britain, France, Russia and the United States reveal that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were not going to attack Israel and Israel knew it. In fact, they did not attack Israel. Instead, Israel mounted the first attack in order to decimate the Egyptian army and take the West Bank.

 Censored voices uncensored 

For two weeks following the Six Day War, Amos Oz and Avrahim Shapira visited Israeli kibbutzim and recorded interviews with several Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who had just returned from that war. Largely censored by the Israeli government for many years, those reels have finally been made public. “Censored Voices” features the taped voices of young IDF soldiers, as the aging, former soldiers sit silently beside the tape recorder, listening to their own voices.

 The testimonies documented in the tapes reveal evidence of targeting civilians and summarily executing prisoners, which constitute war crimes. A soldier asks himself, “They’re civilians – should I kill them or not?” He replies, “I didn’t even think about it. Just kill! Kill everyone you see.” Likewise, one voice notes, “Several times we captured guys, positioned them and just killed them.” Another reveals, “In the war, we all became murderers.” Still another says, “Not only did this war not solve the state’s problems, but it complicated them in a way that’ll be very hard to solve.” One soldier likens evacuating Arab villages to what the Nazis did to Jews in Europe. As a soldier watched an Arab man being taken from his home, the soldier states, “I had an abysmal feeling that I was evil.”

 In what proved to be a prescient question, one soldier asks, “Are we doomed to bomb villages every decade for defensive purposes?” Indeed, Israel justifies all of its assaults on Gaza as self-defense, even though Israel invariably attacks first, and kills overwhelming numbers of Palestinians – mostly civilians.  Each time, many fewer Israelis are killed by Palestinian rockets.

 Israel’s false self-defense claim 

 The film begins by showing a map of Israel surrounded by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, with arrows from each country aimed at Israel. The IDF soldiers felt those Arab countries posed an existential threat to Israel. “There was a feeling it would be a Holocaust,” one soldier observed. The Israeli media claimed at the time that Egypt had attacked Israel by land and by air on June 5, 1967. According to British journalist Patrick Seale, “Israel’s preparation of opinion” was “brilliantly managed,” a “remarkable exercise in psychological warfare.”

 In his book, “The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War,” published by Cambridge University Press, Ohio State University law professor John Quigley documents conversations by high government officials in Israel, the United States, Egypt, the Soviet Union, France, and Britain leading up to the Six-Day War. He draws on minutes of British cabinet meetings, a French government publication, U.S. documents in “Foreign Relations of the United States,” and Russian national archives. Those conversations make clear that Israel knew Egypt, Syria and Jordan would not and did not attack Israel, and that Israel initiated the attacks.

 Egypt was the only one of the three Arab countries that had a military of any consequence. Israeli General Yitzhak Rabin told the Israeli cabinet that the Egyptian forces maintained a defensive posture, and Israeli General Meir Amit, head of Mossad (Israeli’s intelligence agency), informed U.S.  Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that Egypt was not poised to attack Israel. Both the United States and the Soviet Union urged Israel not to attack. Nevertheless, Israel’s cabinet voted on June 4 to authorize the IDF to invade Egypt.

“After the cabinet vote,” Quigley writes, “informal discussion turned to ways to make it appear that Israel was not starting a war when in fact that was precisely what it was doing.” Moshe Dayan, who would soon become Israel’s Minister of Defense, ordered military censorship, saying, “For the first twenty-four hours, we have to be the victims.” Dayan admitted in his memoirs, “We had taken the first step in the war with Egypt.” Nevertheless, Israel’s UN Ambassador Gideon Rafael reported to the Security Council that Israel had acted in self-defense.

“The hostilities were attacks by the Israeli air force on multiple Egyptian airfields, aimed at demolishing Egyptian aircraft on the ground,” according to Quigley. On June 5, the CIA told President Lyndon B. Johnson, “Israel fired the first shots today.”

 Article 51 of the UN Charter authorizes states to act in collective self-defense after another member state suffers an armed attack. Although Jordan and Syria responded to the Israeli attacks on Egypt, they – and Egypt – inflicted little damage to Israel. By the afternoon of June 5, Israel “had virtually destroyed the air war capacity of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria,” Quigley notes. “The IDF achieved the ‘utter defeat’ of the Egyptian army on June 7 and 8.”

 The United States empowers Israel

 U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk said that U.S. officials were “angry as hell, when the Israelis launched their surprise offensive.” Yet, Quigley notes, “Israel’s gamble paid off in that the United States would not challenge Israel’s story about how the fighting started. Even though it quickly saw through the story, the White House kept its analysis to itself.”

 Although Security Council resolution 242, passed in 1967, refers to “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calls for “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian territories it acquired in the Six-Day War.

 Israel has abandoned its claim that Egypt attacked first. Yet the international community considers that Israel acted in lawful anticipatory self-defense. Quigley explains how the UN Charter only permits the use of armed force after an armed attack on a UN member state; it does not authorize anticipatory, preventive, or preemptive self-defense.

 “The UN did not condemn Israel in 1967 for its attack on Egypt,” Antonio Cassese of the University of Florence explained. Quigley attributes this to Cold War politics, as the USSR supported Egypt. “For the United States in particular, Israel’s success was a Cold War defeat for the USSR. The United States was hardly prepared to condemn Israel after it performed this service.”

The United States continues to support Israel by sending it $3 billion per year in military aid, even when Israel attacks Gaza with overwhelming firepower, as it did in the summer of 2014, killing 2,100Palestinians (mostly civilians). Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and seven civilians were killed.

If Israel were to mount an attack on Iran, the United States would invariably support Israel against Iran and any Arab country that goes to Iran’s defense. Indeed, Netanyahu intoned to Congress, “may Israel and America always stand together.”

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Naziyahu, ‘Censored Voices,’ and the False Narrative of Self-Defense

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