Archive | April 26th, 2015

Sex, Drugs, and Dead Soldiers: What U.S. Africa Command Doesn’t Want You To Know

Six people lay lifeless in the filthy brown water. Three of the dead were American commandos.
Soldiers of the East Africa Response Force (EARF), a Djibouti-based joint team assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, depart from a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules in Juba, South Sudan. Soldiers of the East Africa Response Force (EARF), a Djibouti-based joint team assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, depart from a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules in Juba, South Sudan.

Three of the dead were American commandos.  The driver, a captain nicknamed “Whiskey Dan,” was the leader of a shadowy team of operatives never profiled in the media and rarely mentioned even in government publications.  One of the passengers was from an even more secretive unit whose work is often integral to Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which conducts clandestine kill-and-capture missions overseas.  Three of the others weren’t military personnel at all or even Americans.  They were Moroccan women alternately described as barmaids or “prostitutes.”

The six deaths followed an April 2012 all-night bar crawl through Mali’s capital, Bamako, according to a formerly classified report by U.S. Army criminal investigators. From dinner and drinks at a bar called Bla-Bla to more drinks at La Terrasse to yet more at Club XS and nightcaps at Club Plaza, it was a rollicking swim through free-flowing vodka. And vodka and Red Bull. And vodka and orange juice. And vanilla pomegranate vodka. And Chivas Regal.  And Jack Daniels.  And Corona beer. And Castel beer. And don’t forget B-52s, a drink generally made with Kahlúa, Grand Marnier, and Bailey’s Irish Cream. The bar tab at Club Plaza alone was the equivalent of $350 in U.S. dollars.

At about 5 a.m. on April 20th, the six piled into that Land Cruiser, with Captain Dan Utley behind the wheel, to head for another hotspot: Bamako By Night. About eight minutes later, Utley called a woman on his cell phone to ask if she was angry. He said he’d circle back and pick her up, but she told him not to bother. Utley then handed the phone to Maria Laol, one of the Moroccan women. “Don’t be upset.  We’ll come back and get you,” she said. The woman on the other end of the call then heard screaming before the line went dead.

A Command With Something to Hide

In the years since, U.S. Africa Command or AFRICOM, which is responsible for military operations on that continent, has remained remarkably silent about this shadowy incident in a country that had recently seen its democratically elected president deposed in a coup led by an American-trained officer, a country with which the U.S. had suspended military relations a month earlier. It was, to say the least, strange. But it wasn’t the first time U.S. military personnel died under murky circumstances in Africa, nor the first (or last) time the specter of untoward behavior led to a criminal investigation. In fact, as American military operations have ramped up across Africa, reaching a record 674 missions in 2014, reports of excessive drinking, sex with prostitutes, drug use, sexual assaults, and other forms of violence by AFRICOM personnel have escalated, even though many of them have been kept under wraps for weeks or months, sometimes even for years.

“Our military is built on a reputation of enduring core values that are at the heart of our character,” Major (then Brigadier) General Wayne Grigsby Jr., the former chief of AFRICOM’s subordinate command, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), wrote in an address to troops last year.  “Part of belonging to this elite team is living by our core values and professionalism every day. Incorporating those values into everything we do is called our profession of arms.”

But legal documents, Pentagon reports, and criminal investigation files, many of them obtained by TomDispatch through dozens of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and never before revealed, demonstrate that AFRICOM personnel have all too regularly behaved in ways at odds with those “core values.”  The squeaky clean image the command projects through news releases, official testimony before Congress, and mainstream media articles — often by cherry-picked journalists who are granted access to otherwise unavailable personnel and locales — doesn’t hold up to inspection.

“As a citizen and soldier, I appreciate how important it is to have an informed public that helps to provide accountable governance and is also important in the preservation of the trust between a military and a society and nation it serves,” AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez said at a press conference last year.  Checking out these revelations of misdeeds with AFRICOM’S media office to determine just how representative they are, however, has proven impossible.

I made several hundred attempts to contact the command for comment and clarification while this article was being researched and written, but was consistently rebuffed.  Dozens of phone calls to public affairs personnel went unanswered and scores of email requests were ignored.  At one point, I called AFRICOM media chief Benjamin Benson 32 times on a single business day from a phone that identified me by name.  It rang and rang.  He never picked up.  I then placed a call from a different number so my identity would not be apparent.  He answered on the second ring.  After I identified myself, he claimed the connection was bad and the line went dead.  Follow-up calls from the second number followed the same pattern — a behavior repeated day after day for weeks on end.

This strategy, of course, mirrored the command’s consistent efforts to keep embarrassing incidents quiet, concealing many of them and acknowledging others only with the sparest of reports.  The command, for example, issued a five-sentence press release regarding those deaths in Bamako.  They provided neither the names of the Americans nor the identities of the “three civilians” who perished with them.  They failed to mention that the men were with the Special Operations forces, noting only that the deceased were “U.S. military members.”  For months after the crash, the Pentagon kept secret the name of Master Sergeant Trevor Bast, a communications technician with the Intelligence and Security Command (whose personnel often work closely with JSOC) — until the information was pried out by the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock.

“It must be noted that the activities of U.S. military forces in Mali have been very public,” Colonel Tom Davis of AFRICOM told TomDispatch in the wake of the deaths, without explaining why the commandos were still in the country a month after the United States had suspended military relations with Mali’s government.  In the years since, the command has released no additional information about the episode.

True to form, AFRICOM’s Benjamin Benson failed to respond to requests for comment and clarification, but according to the final report on the incident by Army criminal investigators (obtained by TomDispatch through a FOIA request), the deaths of Utley, Bast, Sergeant First Class Marciano Myrthil, and the three women “were accidental, however [Captain] Utley’s actions were negligent resulting in the passengers’ deaths.”  A final review by a staff judge advocate from Special Operations Command Africa found that there was probable cause to conclude Utley was guilty of negligent homicide.

AFRICOM’s Sex Crimes

The criminal investigation of the incident in Mali touched upon relationships between U.S. military personnel and African “females.”  Indeed, the U.S. military has many regulations regarding romantic attachments and sexual activity.  AFRICOM personnel have not always adhered to such strictures and, in the course of my reporting, I asked Benson if the command has had a problem with sexual misconduct.  He never responded.

In recent years, allegations of widespread sex crimes have dogged the U.S. military.  A Pentagon survey estimated that 26,000 members of the armed forces were sexually assaulted in 2012, though just one in 10 of those victimsreported the assaults.  In 2013, the number of personnel reporting such incidents jumped by 50% to 5,518 and last year reached nearly 6,000.  Given the gross underreporting of sexual assaults, it’s impossible to know how many of these crimes involved AFRICOM personnel, but documents examined by TomDispatch suggests a problem does indeed exist.

In August 2011, for example, a Marine with Joint Enabling Capabilities Command assigned to AFRICOM was staying at a hotel in Germany, the site of the command’s headquarters.  He began making random room-to-room calls that were eventually traced.  According to court martial documents examined by TomDispatch, the recipient of one of them said the “subject matter of the phone call essentially dealt with a solicitation for a sexual tryst.”

About a week after he began making the calls, the Marine, who had previously been a consultant for the CIA, began chatting up a boy in the hotel lounge.  After learning that the youngster was 14 years old, “the conversation turned to oral sex with men and the appellant asked [the teen] if he had ever been interested in oral sex with men.  He also told [the teen] that if the appellant or any of his male friends were aroused, they would have oral sex with one another,” according to legal documents.  The boy attempted to change the subject, but the Marine moved closer to him, began “rubbing his [own] crotch area through his shorts,” and continued to talk to him “in graphic detail about sexual matters and techniques” before the youngster left the lounge.  The Marine was later court-martialed for his actions and convicted of making a false official statement, as well as “engaging in indecent liberty with a child” — that is, engaging in an act meant to arouse or gratify sexual desire while in a child’s presence.

That same year, according to a Pentagon report, a noncommissioned officer committed a sexual assault on a female subordinate at an unnamed U.S. base in Djibouti (presumably Camp Lemonnier, the headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa).  “Subject grabbed victim’s head and forced her to continue having sexual intercourse with him,” the report says.  He received a nonjudicial punishment including a reduction in rank, a fine of half-pay for two months, 45 days of restriction, and 45 days of extra duty.  The latter two punishments were later suspended and the perpetrator was, at the time the report was prepared, “being processed for administrative separation.”

At an “unknown location” in Djibouti in 2011, an enlisted woman reported being raped by a fellow service member “while on watch.”  According to a synopsis prepared by the Department of Defense, that man “was not charged with any criminal violations in reference to the rape allegation against him. Victim pled guilty to failure to obey a lawful order and false official statement.”

In a third case in Djibouti, an enlisted woman reported opening the door to her quarters only to be attacked.  An unknown assailant “placed his left hand over her mouth and placed his right hand under her shirt and began to slide it up the side of her body.”  All leads were later deemed exhausted and no suspect was identified.  According to Air Force documents obtained byTomDispatch, allegations also surfaced concerning an assault with intent to commit rape in Morocco, a forcible sodomy in Ethiopia, and possession of child pornography in Djibouti, all in 2012.

On July 22nd of that year, a group of Americans traveled to a private party in Djibouti attended by U.S. Ambassador Geeta Pasi and Major General Ralph Baker, the commander of a counterterrorism force in the Horn of Africa.  Baker drank heavily, according to an AFRICOM senior policy adviser who sat with him in the backseat of a sport utility vehicle on the return trip to Camp Lemonnier.  While two military personnel, one of them an agent of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), sat just a few feet away, Baker “forced his hand between [the adviser’s] legs and attempted to touch her vagina against her will,” according to a classified criminal investigation file obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

“I grabbed his hand and held it on the seat to try to prevent him from putting his hand deeper between my legs,” she told an investigator. “He responded by smiling at me and saying, ‘Cat got your tongue?’ I was appalled about what he was doing to me and did not know what to say.”  She later reported the offense via the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Hotline.  According to a report in the Washington Post, “Baker was given an administrative punishment at the time of the incident as well as a letter of reprimand — usually a career-ending punishment.”  Demoted in rank to brigadier general, he was allowed to quietly retire in September 2013.

A Pentagon report on sexual assault lists allegations of three incidents in Djibouti in 2013 — one act of “abusive sexual contact” and two reports of “wrongful sexual contact.”  The report also details a case in which a member of the U.S. military reported that she and a group of friends had been out eating and drinking at a local establishment.  Upon returning to her quarters at the base, one of her male companions asked to enter her room and she gave him permission.  He then began to kiss her neck and shoulders.  When she resisted, according to the report, “he grabbed her shorts and began to kiss and lick her vagina.”  That man was later charged with rape, abusive sexual contact, and wrongful sexual contact.  He was tried and acquitted.

The Pentagon has yet to issue its 2014 report on sexual assaults and AFRICOM has failed to release any statistics on its own, but given that military personnel fail to report most sexual crimes, whatever numbers may emerge will undoubtedly be drastic undercounts.

Sex, Drugs, and Guns

On the morning of April 10, 2010, a Navy investigator walked through the door of room 3092 at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort in Mombasa, Kenya.  Two empty wine bottles sat in the trash can.  Another was on the floor.  There were remnants of feminine hygiene products on the bathroom countertop, Axe body spray in an armoire, unopened condoms on a table, and inside a desk drawer, a tan powder that he took to be “an illicit narcotic,” all of this according to an official report by that NCIS agent obtained byTomDispatch through the Freedom of Information Act.

Three days before, on April 7th, Sergeant Roberto Diaz-Boria of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard had been staying in this room.  On leave from Manda Bay, Kenya — home of Camp Simba, a hush-hush military outpost in Africa — he had come to Mombasa to kick back.  That night, along with a brother-in-arms, he ended up at Causerina, a nearby bar that locals said was a hotspot for drugs and prostitution.  Diaz-Boria left Causerina with a “female companion,” according to official documents, paid the requisite fee for such guests at the hotel, and took her to his room.  By morning, he was dead.

A news story released soon after by Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa stated that Diaz-Boria had died while “stationed” in Mombasa.  The cause of death, the article noted, was “under investigation.”  CJTF-HOA failed to respond to a request for additional information about the case, but an Army investigation later determined that the sergeant “accidentally died of multiple drug toxicity after drinking alcohol and using cocaine and heroin.”  Where he obtained the drugs was never determined, but according to the summary of an interview with an NCIS agent, a close friend in his infantry unit did say that there were “rumors within the battalion about the easy access to very potent illegal narcotics in Manda Bay, Kenya.”

Kenya is hardly an anomaly.  Criminal inquiries regarding illicit drug use also took place in Ethiopia in 2012 and Burkina Faso in 2013, while another investigation into distribution was conducted in Cameroon that same year, according to Air Force records obtained by TomDispatch.  AFRICOM did not respond to questions concerning any of these investigations.

In late 2012, when I asked what U.S. personnel were up to in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, AFRICOM spokesman Eric Elliott replied that troops were “supporting humanitarian activities in the area.”  Indeed, official documents and other sources indicate U.S. personnel have been carrying out aid activities in the region for years.  But that wasn’t all they were doing.

The Lonely Planet guide says that the Samrat Hotel provides the best digs in town, with a “classy lobby” and “a good nightclub and restaurant.”  The one drawback: “stiff mattresses.”  That apparently didn’t affect the activities of at least nine of 19 U.S. military personnel from the 775th Engineer Detachment of the Tennessee Army National Guard.  After an unidentified “local national female” was seen emerging from a “secured communications room” in the hotel, a preliminary investigation was launched and found “military members of the unit allegedly routinely solicited prostitutes in the lobby of the hotel and later brought the prostitutes back to their assigned rooms or to the secured communications room,” according to documents obtained via FOIA request.  A later report by Army agents determined that personnel from the 775th Engineer Detachment and the 415th Civil Affairs Battalion “individually engaged in sexual acts in exchange for money” at the hotel between July 1 and July 22, 2013.  In the room of a staff sergeant, investigators also found what appeared to be khat, a popular local narcotic that offers a hyperactive high marked by aggressiveness that ultimately leaves the user in a glassy-eyed daze.

A sworn statement by a medic who served in Dire Dawa that month — obtained by TomDispatch in a separate FOIA request — paints a picture of a debauched atmosphere of partying, local “girlfriends,” and a variety of sex acts.  “Originally, before we departed to Ethiopia, I grabbed around 70 condoms.  However, I was told that was not going to be enough,” said the medic, noting that it was his job to carry medical supplies.  Instead, he brought 200. He confessed to obtaining a prostitute through the bartender at the Samrat Hotel and admitted to engaging in sex acts with another woman who, he said, later revealed herself to be a prostitute.  He paid her the equivalent of $60.  Another service member showed him pictures of a “local national in his bed in his hotel room,” the medic told the NCIS agent.  He continued:

“I know this girl is a prostitute because I pulled her from the club previously.  The name of the club was ‘The Pom-Pom’… I had hooked up with this girl before [redacted name] so when he showed me the photo I recognized the girl.  [Redacted name] stated how she had a nice booty and was good in bed… I want to say that [redacted name] told me he paid about 1,000 Birr (roughly $30 US dollars), but I can’t recall exactly.”

Army investigation documents obtained by TomDispatch also indicate similar extracurricular activities by members of the 607th Air Control Squadron and the 422nd Communications Squadron in neighboring Djibouti.  An inquiry by Army criminal investigators determined that there was probable cause to believe three noncommissioned officers “committed the offense of patronizing a prostitute” at an “off-base residence” in June 2013.

AFRICOM failed to respond to repeated requests for comment on or to provide further information about members of the command engaging in illicit sex.  It was similarly nonresponsive when it came to criminal inquests into allegations of arson in South Africa, larceny in Burkina Faso, graft in Algeria, and drunk and disorderly conduct in Nigeria, among other alleged crimes.  The command has kept quiet about violent incidents as well.

On April 19, 2013, for instance, something went terribly wrong in Manda Bay, Kenya.  A specialist with the Kentucky Army National Guard, deployed at Camp Simba and reportedly upset by a posting he saw on Facebook, got drunk on bourbon whiskey — more than a fifth of Jim Beam, according to witnesses — stole a 9mm pistol, and shot a superior officer.  He would also point the pistol at a staff sergeant and a master sergeant and then barricade himself in his barracks room.  A member of the Army’s Special Forces serving at the base told an NCIS agent what he saw when the soldier emerged from his quarters:

“He had a gun in his hand and he was waving it around with the barrel level.  He was saying something to the effect of ‘Fuck you!’ or something like that.  I heard the [redacted] say something like ‘put the gun down!’ a couple of times and then the [redacted] shot at the subject 2-3 times with his handgun.”

The drunken soldier was hit once in the leg and later surrendered.  An investigation determined that the specialist had probably committed a host of offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including wrongful appropriation of government property, failure to obey an order, and aggravated assault, although a charge of attempted murder was deemed “unfounded.” The incident, detailed in previously classified documents, was never made public.

General Malfeasance

AFRICOM has certainly had its troubles, starting at the top, since it began overseeing the U.S. military pivot to Africa.  Its first chief, General William “Kip” Ward, who led the fledgling command from 2007 until 2011, was demoted after a 2012 investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office found he had committed a raft of misdeeds, such as using taxpayer-funded military aircraft for personal travel and spending lavishly on hotels.

During an 11-day trip to Washington, for example, he billed the government $129,000 in expenses for his wife, 13 employees, and himself, but conducted official business on just two of those days.  According to the Inspector General’s report, Ward also had AFRICOM personnel ferry his wife around and run errands for the two of them, including shopping for “candy and baby items, picking up flowers and books, delivering snacks, and acquiring tickets to sporting events.”  He even accepted “complimentary meals and Broadway show tickets” from a “prohibited source with multiple [Department of Defense] contracts.”

Ward was ordered to repay the government $82,000 and busted down from four stars to three, which will cost him about $30,000 yearly in retirement pay.  He’ll now only receive $208,802 annually.  An AFRICOM webpagedevoted to the highlights of Ward’s career mentions nothing of his transgressions, demotion, or punishment.  The only clue to all of this is his official photo.  In it, he’s sporting four stars while his bio states that “Ward retired at the rank of Lieutenant General in November 2012.”

Ward’s wasteful ways became major news, but the story of his malfeasance has been the exception.  For every SUV that plunged off a bridge or general who was busted down for misbehavior, how many other AFRICOM sexual assaults, shootings, and prostitution scandals remain unknown?

For years, as U.S. military personnel moved into Africa in ever-increasing numbers, AFRICOM has effectively downplayed, disguised, or covered-up almost every aspect of its operations, from the locations of its troop deployments to those of its expanding string of outposts.  Not surprisingly, it’s done the same when it comes to misdeeds by members of the command and continues to ignore questions surrounding crimes and alleged misconduct by its personnel, refusing even to answer emails or phone calls about them.  With taxpayer money covering the salaries of lawbreakers and the men and women who investigate them, with America’s sons dying after drink and drug binges and its daughters assaulted and sexually abused while deployed, the American people deserve answers when it comes to the conduct of U.S. forces in Africa.  Personally, I remain eager to hear AFRICOM’s side of the story, should Benjamin Benson ever be in the mood to return my calls.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Sex, Drugs, and Dead Soldiers: What U.S. Africa Command Doesn’t Want You To Know

Zio-Wahhabi-led air strikes hit Yemeni capital

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

A man rides a motorcycle past a headquarters of the Houthi group, which was destroyed after an air strike by a Saudi-led coalition, in Saada. ─ Reuters
A man rides a motorcycle past a headquarters of the Houthi group, which was destroyed after an air strike by a Zio-Wahhabi-led coalition, in Saada. ─ Reuters

At least five air strikes hit military sites and an area near the presidential palace compound in the Yemeni capital Sanaa at dawn on Sunday while warships pounded an area near the port of the southern city of Aden, residents said.

The bombings were the first raids on Sanaa since I$raHell Zio-Wahhabi-led alliance said last week it was scaling back a campaign against Houthi militias, which control Sanaa and have powerful allies in Yemen’s factionalised armed forces.

“The explosions were so big they shook the house, waking us and our kids up. Life has really become unbearable in this city,” a Sanaa resident who gave his name as Jamal told Reuters.

Read: Zio-Wahhabi -led coalition launches fresh strikes; fighting erupts in Yemen

Eyewitnesses in Aden said foreign warships pounded Houthi armed positions around the city’s main commercial port and dockyard, the first time the port area has been shelled, residents said.

Aden residents reported heavy clashes between local armed militia and Houthi fighters backed up by army units, and sources in the militia said they were retaliating for the first time with tank and Katyusha rocket fire against the Houthi advance.

In the southern province of Dalea, the militiamen said they had fought for hours to retake several rural districts with the help of Zio-Wahhabi-led air strikes, in fighting which left around 25 of the Houthi forces and six of their own men dead.

Zio-Wahhabi regime, the world’s top oil exporter and arch regional adversary of Iran, is concerned about possible security threats posed by the Houthis’ advance across Yemen since last September.

It launched a month-long campaign of air raids against the group that has halted its battlefield progress but has yet to reverse their dominant position in the country or force them to return to peace talks.

Read: Clashes, air strikes leave over 90 dead in southern Yemen

Zio-Wahhabi air strikes embolden armed opposition forces

They may be a sign that more than a month of Zio-Wahhabi-led air strikes against Houthi forces have emboldened armed opposition groups.

Read: Yemen rebels demand complete end to Zio-Wahhabi attacks, seek talks

New UN envoy to kickstart peace talks

A new United Nations envoy was looking to kickstart peace talks in Yemen as battles raged Sunday between rebels and pro-CIA agent Hadi forces a month after the launch of Zio-Wahhabi-led air strikes.

The Houthi rebels, who have overrun large parts of the country and forced CIA agent Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee abroad, have demanded an end to the air strikes as a condition for UN-sponsored talks.

The United Nations on Saturday confirmed Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as the new special envoy to Yemen, replacing Moroccan Jamal Benomar, who resigned last week following what diplomats described as sharp criticism of his performance by Gulf countries.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed “will work closely with the members of the United Nations Security Council, the Gulf Cooperation Council, governments in the region and other partners, as well as the United Nations country team for Yemen,” a UN statement said.

Former Wahhabi puppet Ali Abdullah Saleh, who still holds sway over army units allied with the rebels, late Friday urged the Houthis to heed UN demands to withdraw from territory they have seized.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also called on anti-government forces to enter into political dialogue to end a conflict that the United Nations says has killed more than 1,000 people since late March.

The fighting has raised fears that Yemen could become a front in a proxy war between Gulf monarchies and Iran.

Read: Yemen’s ex-Wahhabi puppet urges allies to implement UN decisions

Posted in Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Zio-Wahhabi-led air strikes hit Yemeni capital

100 Years Ago Today, the Armenian Genocide Began


The Armenian Genocide Memorial in the city of Tsitsernakaberd. Ethnic Armenians worldwide are marking the 100th anniversary of a genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks that claimed the lives of about 1.2 million Armenians from 1915 to 1918. The Turkish government continues to dispute that a genocide happened.

Genocide haunts the 20th century. The Holocaust, the German attempt to exterminate the Jews, comes immediately to mind — though similar policies against the Roma, gays, and others are less well known. The genocide in Rwanda, where the world watched the massacre of the Tutsi by the Hutu and did nothing, and the Srebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims by Serbs are fresh in our memory.

In 1948 the United Nations defined genocide as a crime against humanity subject to prosecution. The word “genocide” itself, is of recent vintage as history goes. It was coined by the lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1943/4.  He had the Armenian massacre, the intentional killing of up to 1.5 Armenians by the Turkish government during the First World War, very much in mind.

The Armenian genocide is the genocide that the perpetrators, the Turkish government, will not admit to one hundred years later, and the genocide that has never been condemned by major powers (one hesitates to use the word “great”). The U.S. and U.K., down to today, refuse, presumably because Turkey is a NATO ally — though that has not, to our credit, prevented Canada.

Though the bloody hand of realpolitik rules, it has not stopped the descendants of surviving Armenians, an Armenian diaspora, from continuing to seek truth and reconciliation — and that has become the inspirational part of this saddest of stories.

The act of genocide precedes its naming. The refusal to acknowledge the act is as old as human history itself. In North America Indigenous peoples were massacred and starved and moved about to clear the land for European settlers. It’s hard to imagine anything worse than the ethnic cleansing of a continent (not admitted to by any of its white settler governments) but a just published book by Pat Shipman from the prestigious Harvard University Press, which is titled The Invaders, has the grisly and revealing subtitle of How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction; who of us is willing to officially admit to that?

The Turkish Ottoman empire was long standing, with its origins in a Sunni Islamist state founded in 1299. One of the world’s great empires in its time, it was now collapsing. It got caught up in the First World War and entered it on the side of Germany and in opposition to its longstanding enemy, the Christian state of Tsarist Russia. The Ottomans, including its minority of Armenian subjects who were Christians rather than Muslim, fought hard, but in 1915 were decisively defeated in a battle with the Russians from which less than one-quarter of Ottoman troops survived.

The trauma of this defeat was to lead to the genocide. It helps to explain this terrible crime against humanity but, to underline the obvious, it cannot justify it.

Armenian leaders had called for acceptance of the call-up of its people by Ottoman leaders, but the latter now wanted them to call on Armenians in Russia to rise up against the Tsar, which they were not prepared to do. The Ottoman government claimed, without evidence, that Armenians fighting for the Ottomans were passing information to Russian Armenian troops.

The Turkish leadership of the empire and of the war — the Young Turks (a name that risks making them sound like good guys though a bit pushy) — an evolving group of authoritarian centralizers and militarists who had replaced the Sultan as ruler – chose to brand the Armenians as disloyal, guilty of betrayal, traitors, separatists.

Armenian soldiers under Ottoman command were segregated, disarmed and murdered. Civilian Armenians, beginning with the men, were slaughtered in their communities which the Armenians had long occupied; women and children were deported by long marches across deserts to today’s Iraq and Syria which few survived. This was deplored at the time by many people, including Germans with whom the Turks were allied, but no government condemned the Turkish government.

Historians respected for their scholarship agree — to quote one of the best, David Stevenson, in his most recent book on the First World War, Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy — that what the Turkish authorities did was “certainly a centrally planned campaign” which was “genocidal.”

The rounding up and murder of over 200 Armenian intellectuals and cultural leaders in Constantinople (now Istanbul) on April 24 1915 is seen as the beginning of the genocide, and that day is now Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. The ethnic cleansing, including the deportation of Assyrians and Greeks, continued until 1922.

Count it as collateral damage from the First World War. The New York Times recently said “The genocide was the greatest atrocity of the Great War.” The problem with war is that it opens up wide the door to a sewer of horrors. It is estimated that the number of Armenian victims of the genocide exceeded the total number of British Empire soldiers who were killed in the war. How many Canadians know that?

The geo-politics of recent centuries, if you will permit of such pretensions, is one of the complex interplay among empire and nation. The Ottoman empire was in terminal decline, unable to survive in war against Russia, Britain and France. The imperial centre in Turkey was resolved to solidify its base on its terms, to retreat from empire to nation while hardening the nation.

The core of the new Turkey was Anatolia and it had to be “cleansed” of its numerous Armenians who had been there for centuries. In a world of rampant nationalisms, Armenian nationalism, to give Armenians a voice, does not surprise, nor should its sometimes provocative expression. The Turkish government chose to use “necessary measures” to silence it.

As Donald Bloxham documents in his appropriately sub-titled, book The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians, all of this happened in the context of constant meddling by the Great Powers, some of which was invited by the Armenians. Bloxham thinks that this added to the chaos and hatreds that Turkish leaders took advantage of to launch the genocide. He likewise argues, as do most commentators, that there was no pre-war plan to commit genocide, though the refusal of Turkish authorities to open their archives does not permit of certainty.

The nationalism of the Turkish leaders was one of extreme authoritarian ethnic nationalism. They wanted capitalist modernization but they wanted the capitalists to be Turks and not Armenians who, though mostly peasants, had a considerable merchant class. Rather than come to terms with Armenian rights to self-determination, and to cease trying to “Turkify” the Armenians, it annihilated them. The larger nationalism crushed the smaller, that being too often a problem with nationalism.

As there must be, there is hope. Here is Raffi Khatchadourian in Tuesday’s New Yorker after a recent visit to Turkey:

“Haltingly, and with difficulty, well beneath the upper strata of government in Ankara, a reckoning with history is edging forward in Turkey.”

“In a way that feels new and genuine, one can now map the direction of progress.”

Posted in WorldComments Off on 100 Years Ago Today, the Armenian Genocide Began

Canadian Judge Grants Freedom to Omar Khadr, Once Held as Child at Gitmo


The Canadian government, which news outlets note ‘has consistently opposed any effort to free the one-time child soldier,’ said it would appeal the decision.

Canadian-born Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father, a senior al Qaeda member who apprenticed the boy to a group of bomb makers who opened fire when U.S. troops came to their compound. Khadr was captured in the firefight, during which he was blinded in one eye and shot twice. (Photo:

At long last, a Canadian judge has granted bail to Omar Khadr, who was just 15 years old when he was shot and captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002, and who subsequently became the youngest detainee in Guantanamo Bay prison.

According to the Toronto Star, Alberta Justice June Ross released her 23-page verdict Friday, a month after Khadr, now 28, appeared in an Edmonton court appealing for bail while his Guantanamo conviction is being challenged in a Washington, D.C. court.

The Canadian government, which Reuters notes “has consistently opposed any effort to free the one-time child soldier,” said it would appeal the decision.

Commenting after the decision, one of Khadr’s attorneys Nathan Whitling said, “Omar is fortunate to be back in Canada where we have real courts and real laws.”

And Maher Arar, a fellow Canadian whose case also galvanized human rights groups worldwide, tweeted of the verdict:

Sent as a teenager from the detention center at Bagram U.S. air base in Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay naval base in 2002, Khadr has said he was severely mistreated at both facilities.

According to Reuters: “Khadr claims that during at least 142 interrogations in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, he was beaten, chained in painful positions, forced to urinate on himself, terrorized by barking dogs, subjected to flashing lights and sleep deprivation and threatened with rape.”

In 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to killing an American soldier while he was a young teenager as part of a deal that allowed him to avoid a war crimes trial. He later recanted the admission. The plea agreement also made it possible for him to be moved from Guantanamo to a Canadian prison in 2012.

Upon his transfer to Canada, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) legal director Baher Azmy said in a statement:

Khadr never should have been brought to Guantanamo. He was a child of fifteen at the time he was captured, and his subsequent detention and prosecution for purported war crimes was unlawful, as was his torture by U.S. officials.

Like several other boys held at Guantanamo, some as young as twelve years old, Khadr lost much of his childhood. Canada should not perpetuate the abuse he endured in one of the world’s most notorious prisons. Instead, Canada should release him immediately and provide him with appropriate counseling, education, and assistance in transitioning to a normal life.

Khadr’s lawyers have said that at his appeal in the United States, “the defense will argue that Khadr is not guilty of a war crime, and only made his admissions under extreme duress,” CBC News reports.

The Canadian Press has a full timeline of Khadr’s legal saga. The conditions of Khadr’s release will be set May 5, 2015.

Posted in CanadaComments Off on Canadian Judge Grants Freedom to Omar Khadr, Once Held as Child at Gitmo

Saudi Arabia’s War On Yemen Is Also A British War



Saudi soldiers fire artillery toward three armed vehicles approaching the Saudi border with Yemen in Jazan, Saudi Arabia, Monday, April 20, 2015. The Saudi air campaign in Yemen, now in its fourth week, has strong support from the government of the United Kingdom. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Saudi soldiers fire artillery toward three armed vehicles approaching the Saudi border with Yemen in Jazan, Saudi Arabia, Monday, April 20, 2015. The Saudi air campaign in Yemen, now in its fourth week, has strong support from the government of the United Kingdom. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

On Monday, March 23, 2015, three days before the Saudi led air force began its bombing of the Republic of Yemen, the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond was in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, meeting with his host’s foreign secretary, Prince Saud al-Faisal.

In their joint press conference after their meeting, the British foreign Secretary declared that “no one wanted to see military action in Yemen.” This was echoed by his Saudi counterpart who stressed the need for a “peaceful solution” to the situation in Yemen.

The situation in Yemen changed dramatically when a Northern militia group, Ansar Allah (“Houthis”), took control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a in September 2014. After four months of intermittent agreements, resignations and re-appointments, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-approved President of Yemen, Abd ar-Rubbuh Mansour Hadi eventually fled the capital and sought refuge in Yemen’s second city, Aden.

Hitherto, the Houthis seemed content with their presence in the Northern areas of the country, but suicide bombings in two mosques in Sana’a on Friday, March 20, seemed to have triggered a change in the equation. Furthermore, with Hadi in Aden, the GCC countries led the move to close their embassies in Sana’a and operate out of their consulates in Aden. This move was clearly aimed at isolating the Houthis. Caught in the middle of all this is the Southern Yemeni movement for independence, the Hirak, which has been active since 2007.

Although Yemen has been united since 1990, there have always been groupings in the South who never came to terms with this unification. This ultimately culminated in a civil war between the North and South in 1994 which led to a Northern victory largely because the North used returned jihadis (Arab-Afghans) from the Afghanistan war against the Soviet Union in the 1980’s. Ironically, Hadi also supported the North in this civil war.

No sooner had the Saudi-led GCC bombing campaign began than Mr. Hammond was briefing reporters on from Washington that Great Britain supports the Saudi military intervention, “in every practical way short of engaging in combat.”

He confirmed that the British are “not directly” (my emphasis) involved. However, this could change because the UK has a “long-standing relationship with the Saudi armed forces, particularly the Royal Saudi Air Force.”

He acknowledged that the Saudis were bombing Yemen with British built aircraft and the British have “significant infrastructure supporting the Saudi air force.”

Within the space of five days the British foreign secretary sojourned from advocating military restraint to declaring Great Britain was shoulder-to-shoulder with the Saudi theocratic dictatorship’s aggression against Yemen under the pretext of restoring the so-called “legitimate” President of Yemen, Hadi — who by now had escaped the fighting in Aden and fled to Riyadh.

Also on March 27, the Times of London editorialised that it was important for the United States to support the Saudi offensive because it needed “to reassure the Sunni world that it is not selling out to the Iranian regime, then it must be firm in its support of the Saudi offensive.”

The Guardian too, in its editorial, several days later claimed that it is the USA-Iranian rapprochement which is bearing heavily on the new King of Saudi Arabia’s decision to bomb Yemen:

Sunni anxiety over the possibility of an Iran-US rapprochement has prompted the new Saudi King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud — whose dynasty casts itself as the historic protector of Sunni faith — to assert greater regional clout, through military action in Yemen.

Since when did the al-Saud dynasty cast itself as the historic protectors of the Sunni faith, the Guardian does not elaborate, but it may have been since the British Empire stumbled across the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud in the Arabian desert in need of British weapons just over a hundred years ago.

This is clearly the UK’s latest intervention in Yemen but this time it is allowing the venal Saudi theocratic state to ostensibly take the lead — whereas in the past, British military operations in Yemen were far more imperially audacious. For example, in North Yemen in the 1960’s it was the British which co-ordinated Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Shah’s Iran in utilising indigenous so-called “Yemeni royalists” against Egyptian backed republicans after the latter had overthrown the then medieval dictator, the Imam Muhammad al-Badr. The purpose of that intervention (or “deniable undercover operation” as one writer categorises it) [i] was to stretch President of Egypt Gamal Abd al-Nasser’s military resources and. in the words of one British imperialist, to give him a “bloody nose.” [ii]

It was here in the mountains of North Yemen that the British revivied and re-introduced the use of mercenaries in the modern world after a 200 year absence. One could argue that there would never have been a Blackwater, Aegis Defence or any other mercenary company operating today had it not been for British involvement in North Yemen in the 1960’s.

Also in the 1960’s, British imperialists were unsuccessfully facing down a revolutionary war for liberation in South Yemen which finally achieved independence in 1967 after almost 130 years of British colonial rule. However, the British were not finished with South Yemen. In the 1970’s, when British imperialism was waging an anti-revolutionary war in Oman, predominately in the western province of Dhaffar, the British dropped more bombs on South Yemen in the 1970’s than it did in the entire Falklands War in 1982.

Much has been made of the supposed and tenuous relationship between the ‘Ansar Allah’ militia and Iran but nothing, as Hammond acknowledged, of the Saudi Arabian, British supplied weapons currently raining down on Yemen.

British counterinsurgency forces hold a group of Yemenis against a wall at gunpoint, 1967. The current conflict with the Houthis descends from a long history of British imperialism in the region. (Public domain image by العمري / Wikimedia Commons).

English counterinsurgency forces hold a group of Yemenis against a wall at gunpoint, 1967. The current conflict with the Houthis descends from a long history of British imperialism in the region. (Public domain image by العمري / Wikimedia Commons).

The British “long-standing relationship”, Hammond speak so fondly of, with the Saudi military is without doubt a reference to the corrupt so-called al-Yamamah (Dove) arms deals that have furnished billions of pounds sterling to the British military industrial complex. Actually, it would not be far-fetched to argue that without the Saudi Arabian and other GCC country purchase of military hardware there would not be much of a British military industrial complex. Yemen is currently being bombed with the fruits of British-Saudi venality laced by and with the hypocrisy of Prince Charles, the next in line to the British crown.

There are also many absurd scenarios playing out in Yemen at the moment, but I’ll highlight the three major ones.

Firstly, we are witnessing Saudi Arabia, one of the richest countries in the world, bombing Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world. What makes this intervention more gallingly cruel is that Saudi Arabia has literally managed to do next to nothing when Israel’s military pulverized Palestinians over the last half century and more. In the Zionist entity’s latest attack on Gaza, they killed over 2100 Palestinians including over 500 children and over 250 women. Saudi Arabia and the GCC didn’t raise a squeak.

Second is the absurd alliance between the Houthis and ex-President of Yemen, Ali Abdulla Saleh. Saleh dictatorially ruled the country for over 30 years. He is known for plundering the country jointly with the al-Ahmar clan, headed by the late Abdulla al-Ahmar. In 2004, his government began the first of many intermittent wars against the Houthis which lasted over six years. In one of these wars the leader of the current leader of the Houthis was killed. Many find it unfathomable that the Houthis, if they intend to rid the country of corruption and fraud, would align with the former dictator. Their expansion and aggression in Aden is seen in this light. This is why the Houthis are seen as just another Northern militia to be resisted by Southerners.

Finally, there is the absurdity of many, if not most, among the Southern separatist movement, Hirak, cheering on the Saudi military intervention. Obviously, the whole point of the Saudi bombing is to preserve its geo-political interests. It cannot afford to have a movement perceived friendly to Iran ruling its southern neighbour. Yet, many Southerners seem to be translating the Saudi intervention as support for their cause.

All Yemenis, Northerners or Southerners, know that Saudi Arabia has no interest in a secure, democratic and prosperous Yemen. The GCC want a Yemen governed in accordance with its interests and not Yemen’s people. Needless to say all the GCC countries are dictatorships so its very unlikely that allowing Yemeni people a say in their affairs will be highly prioritised during the bombing campaign.

The greatest harbingers of Islamist terrorism in the modern world today is Saudi Arabia, by virtue of the indisputable fact that the Saudi state religion, the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, is the wellspring of al-Qaida and ISIS (Da’esh). The notion that the Saudis have any other interest in Yemen, other than to impose its nihilistic creed on all Yemenis, Northerners and Southerners, is the height of self-delusion.

When Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, the founder and creator of modern Saudi Arabia recaptured Riyadh, the ancestral capital of his clan, in 1902 with weapons supplied by the British imperialists, the residents were treated to a reign of terror unheard of in the Arabian peninsula:

His first merciless act was to terrorise the population by spiking the heads of his enemies and displaying them at the gates of the city. His followers burned 1200 people to death. When conducting a raid, he and his followers were very much in the habit of taking young maidens back to enslave them or make gifts of them to friends. That is how Ibn Saud and his people lived at the turn of the century, before he became king and when he was a mere head of a large tribe. [iii]

Most people are now familiar with such barbaric acts because of the emergence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. And soon, possibly, Yemen.

More so, if the Saudis lead ground troops in a land invasion of Yemen then they will no doubt come into a de facto alliance with al-Qaeda and ISIS, while at the same time utilizing the southern separatist forces. Also, as this would be the first time the Saudis employs its official soldiers, it would not be a surprise if, at the very least, British military advisers or military contractors lead or embed themselves with Saudi battalions. It took British imperialism three years (1936-1939) to teach Zionist forces how to oppress and occupy Palestine. The British establishment is currently tied up with a general election so any actual consideration of ‘direct’ involvement would not materialize until after the election.

In conclusion, if the British=backed Saudi Arabian war on Yemen progresses further, then all Yemenis should expect more barbarism from the House of Saud and expect a massive refugee situation, similar to the ones in Libya and Syria, where gangs and thugs of the Saudi Wahhabi ideology are murderously running rampant not only over people but thousands of years of traditions.


[i] Duff Hart-Davis, The War that Never Was, (London: Arrow Books, 2012), pg.12

[ii] Paul Dresch, A History of Modern Yemen, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) pg. 91

[iii] Said Aburish, “The Rise, corruption and coming fall of the House of Saud,” (London: Bloomsbury, 1994), pg.14


Originally published at Churchill’s Karma.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, UK, YemenComments Off on Saudi Arabia’s War On Yemen Is Also A British War

BOKO HARAM joins Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’


NIGERIAN terrorist group Boko Haram has changed its name to ‘Islamic State in West Africa.’ following its affiliation with Zio-Wahhabi Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).


Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to fellow terrorist group, Zio-Wahhabi (ISIS) in March 2015. ISIS accepted the pledge and encouraged members to extend operations to West Africa. The group is said to have released new photos of its members and announced its new name.

Over the last six years, Boko Haram have killed thousands and kidnapped hundreds in a battle to establish an government in Nigeria.

"Sorry, Moochelle, we are NOT bringing back 'your girls'"

Meanwhile the military said on Thursday it was still advancing in Boko Haram’s last known stronghold, dismissing reports that land mines had forced them to retreat.

A pro-government vigilante and a security source had earlier said troops pulled back from the Sambisa forest after three vigilantes were killed driving over an anti-vehicle mine.

Posted in Africa, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on BOKO HARAM joins Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’




مصدر عسكري: الجيش يعيد انتشاره بمحيط جسر الشغور تجنباً لوقوع ضحايا مدنيينIDLIB:  For those of you who love rats, it is a solemn day of mourning.  Those of you who love rats should not stare too deeply into the abyss because it may very well stare back at you.

Jisr Al-Shughoor:  I am telling all readers with confidence that the assault on Jisr Al-Shughoor has ground to a halt in the face of the Syrian Army’s brilliant defensive deployments in the city.  Rat lie-factories, like that one in England, were cued to announce the fall of the town before it had even been attacked.  This is part of the miserable, and failed,  British propaganda war against the people of Syria.  And now, the truth:

The attack on Idlib City, which resulted in rat control over the evacuated north and center of the provincial capital,  was led by ‘Abdullah Al-Muhaysini.  This attack on Jisr Al-Shughoor was also led by this stinking, unclean rodent-ape and heretic who fancies himself the heir to the legacy of Khaalid Ibn Al-Waleed.  The difference is that the Muslim general who never suffered a defeat or wound in battle differed enormously from the ugly and demented Saudi Arabian child molester who managed to absorb an SAA bullet right in his stomach which contained, in all likelihood, banana peels and insects.  He got hit mortally while leading a pack of rodents from Alqaeda/Nusra in an effort to break the SAA siege of some other fellow rats in the Zhulaytu quarter – of note is that these particular rats came from Turkmenistaan.  All of them were killed by the SAA inside Jisr Al-Shughoor.   As of our last report, Al-Muhaysini is in serious condition and unable to be transported to Turkey where the Seljuk quacks await.


This is the rat and heretic, ‘Abdullah Al-Muhaysini,  after eating his daily kilo of Somali bananas.  He has no idea in this picture where and when the blessed SAA bullet would penetrate his stomach.

This campaign actually started 3 days ago, but, was not expected to involve as many forces as came out of Turk-occupied Hatay.  The goal was to impede the supply lines between Areehaa (government controlled) and Jisr Al-Shughoor (also, government controlled).  In doing this, the hope was to take control over the highway between Latakia and Areehaa.  The attack started out by targeting SAA outposts on high hills at Tal Hamaka, Jannat Al-Quraa, Al-Mintaaf, Al-Sirmaaniyya, Al-Kum, Al-Qaahira and Ghaaniyya, all on the Latakia-Areehaa highway.    Once again, the plan was to cut supply lines for the SAA.

But, on the third day, after the rats had overrun some of the outposts, the SAA counterattacked and restored all of them to government control, especially the one at Hamaka Hill which only required one hour of combat with the help of SAAF and artillery.  This enabled the SAA to advance quickly to Al-Mushayrifa Hill which gives a commanding view over the entire Ghaab area and is west of Hama.  The Ghaab is Syria’s Bekaa Valley.  I’ve driven through it hundreds of times while traveling from Aleppo to the coastal mountains.  Very lush and provincial.

My last report indicates clearly that the assault has failed.  All supply lines are intact and the defenders at Al-Qirmeed Military Base have successfully fended off all attacks by the plague-carrying vultures.   The terrorists websites themselves tell the whole story as they uniformly mourn the deaths of hundreds of their favorite vermin, all taking the Lindblad Loveboat to the Hell they so richly deserve.  One dead foreigner is Muhammad Ma`moon Makki, SUDANESE HOG ARSE CANKER.


رغم الكثافة العددية للإرهابيين الجيش يُفشل قطع خطّ إمداده في ادلبIn conclusion, the attack on Jisr Al-Shughoor flopped.  There is heavy fighting inside the town in areas to the east and north which is where the original assault was concentrated.  As I write,  SAA reinforcements are arriving with new weapons and supplies for the defenders.  Unlike the weather conditions yesterday, which made aerial bombardment difficult, the SAAF is flying numerous sorties today and dropping merciful ordnance right on the heads of these foreign British-and-Turk-supported filth.   Beware of some “friendly” channels like Al-Mayaadeen whose chief war correspondent, Dima Naaseef, is in Damascus – not in the area affected.  That channel, while delivering excellent programming, is not up-to-date on developments in Jisr Al-Shughoor.

Jabal Al-Arba’een:  The rats are trying for the umpteenth time to establish a base at the summit.  The plan appears to be a push to the top from Kafr Laataa to the Al-Fanaar Restaurant, and then, to the Saudi and Al-Ahmar Palaces.  The effort has, so far, failed.

IDLIB:  These areas were in the news yesterday.  I did not have a chance to report on them.  Note their significance to events on the ground today.

Al-Mushayrifa, Tal-Al-A’war, Tal-Al-Sahn:  All these outposts were overrun by Alqaeda on Friday.  Al-Mushayrifa has been retaken by the SAA on Saturday.

Abu Al-Dhuhoor Airbase:  An half-hearted assault on the airbase was repulsed by SAA defenders.  Of the 17 dead rodents, only these were Syrians:

Ismaa’eel ‘Ahmad Al-Haffaar

Muhammad ‘Abdul-Salaam Al-Kurd

Raa`if Jamaal Munayyir

Taftanaaz area:  Some fighting.  No details.

Tallat Al-Ghazaal:  Ditto.  Still in hands of SAA.

Tal Hamaka:  Large numbers of dead rats.  The attack was first repelled, then, was not.  The SAA has retaken the entire area as of Saturday.

SAAF active over these areas:  Bishlamoon, ‘Ayn Al-Sawda, ‘Ayn Al-Baarida.




image:×330.jpg Crossing:  Oh, the rat supporters were hoping and praying for a Syrian Army setback here.  They were announcing a “major” push to retake this important crossing.  But, the attack fizzled out when Turkish troops were warned there would be return-fire this time.  When their officers contacted Adana, they were told to stand down and the whole operation became a Turkey-shoot.   The devil-worshiping rodents were left in a trap no different than the one John F. Kennedy left the CIA-trained anti-Castro insurgents at the Bay of Pigs.  I have reports that the assault on Kasab was planned by Turkish imbeciles pretending to be field commanders.  In any case, nothing came of the attack.  The carcasses remain strewn all over the hillsides, their beards acting as nests for the non-discriminating insects.

Al-Raashoon Village:  About 7 kms from Turk-Occupied Syrian border of Hatay, the Syrian Army backed by militia surrounded a small group of reeking infidel rats and killed all 6.  Wael writes that 3 of them had red hair which is usually a sign of origin in the Caucasus, although it’s never absolute.  Their cargo pockets contained Russian-language and Chechen literature, though.  No names.

Kitf Al-Ghanama Village:  No details about an encounter also nearly 7 kms from the Turk border.  Wael and SANA confirm, however, an SAA assault on moving rat groups here.  This occurred 2 days ago.

Al-Zaytoona Village:  The vermin seem frustrated at the lack of progress on their part. From the very beginning when the Turk apes decided to open a front in the President’s home province, the largely Nusra/Alqaeda organization was never able to stake a claim to much of any property with the exception of Salmaa, an abandoned Kurdish town so stripped of its moveable property that it might as well be rebuilt from scratch.  SAAF helicopters fired rockets at moving rats here in Al-Zaytoona and destroyed 2 vans presumably with their passengers.  No details available.

Ruwaysat Al-Balaata Village:  Skirmishing between militia and Alqaeda rats in the deep hills.

‘Araafeet Village:  Another 7 kms from Hatay.  Rats stopped cold and seen returning to the border with Turkey.

Drooshaan Village:  A large-scale operation started on April 14, 2015 and has resulted in the deaths of 7 Alqaeda leaders from Qatar, Lebanon and  Libya.  The operation is continuing in this area and the MoD has not issued a final communique about the results.


أهم التطورات الميدانية للجيش العربي السوري ليوم الخميسSalmaa:  In conjunction with the operation at Droushaan, the SAA is pounding Nusra positions around the town.  Spotters are reporting great rat-stats but, as you can guess, there is no reasonable opportunity to assess the battle site.

Al-Mugheeriyya and Tartiyaah Villages:  Nests were disrupted and destroyed.






sana armyIDLIB:  Don’t let the propagandists fool you. The Idlib Front is going very well for the Syrian military.  When the Nusra barbarians assaulted Idlib City, they committed over 10,000 of their rats, mostly foreigners, to that battle. And now, having taken over the north and central parts of the city, they can hunker  down in their completely abandoned quarters.  They rule nothing and can only pillage the personal property of the citizens they claim they are trying to liberate.  Idlibis are doing well in both Latakia and Hama as people have extended to them a warm welcome and opportunities for work.  All this until the army takes the decision to move into Idlib and delouse it.

Jannat Al-Quraa:  Massive loss to Nusra/Alqaeda.  At the Sirmeen-Qumaynaas Axis, the SAAF flew sorties over a convoy of 3 trucks carrying more than 60 rodents belonging to Alqaeda.  The airstrikes were precise striking each and every vehicle destroying it and killing every rat aboard.   Rat communications proved the lethality of the airstrikes as MI monitored their screams demanding immediate assistance which never came.

‘Ayn Al-Baarida:  A rat assault on a military checkpoint resulted in 51 rat deaths when the vanguard bomb-laden suicide truck detonated early after being struck by a Kornet rocket.  The rodents following the truck were all incinerated.  2 armored vehicles were destroyed along with 3 pickups armed with 23mm converted anti-aircraft cannons.

Al-Qirmeed Army Base near the Tile Factory (Al-Qirmeed):  The SAAF was very active in these skies.  Tens of rats were killed in another failed attempt to assault this base following the same pattern of using a suicide driver in a bomb-laden truck.  It was destroyed and exploded by a single Sukhoi before it approached the base killing many rodents.

The Syrian Army conducted operations in these areas: Fayloon, Jubb Al-Ahmar, Kafr Laataa, Marteen, Bikfaloon Wall, Tal Al-Rummaan, Al-Habeet, Binnish.





b699ce89-9004-48f7-9e7f-18b8e18f9bbc‘Aqaarib Village:  In the rural Al-Salamiyya area, PDC and citizens fought back an assault by ISIS forcing the rodents to escape into the desert area to the east. This occurred on April 9, 2015.

Abu Sayyaad Mountain:  An operation that lasted over 24 hours witnessed the victory of the Syrian Army over Ahraar Al-Shaam.  According to Wael, SAA assessment listed 33 dead and wounded rodents.  I have no names.

Middle Al-Qastal:  SAA engaged in a firefight with Nusra/Alqaeda and killed 8 rodents:

Kifaah ‘Ali Al-‘Ali

Mustafaa Hussayn Bakri

Ghaalib Ibraaheem Hamaadi

The rest were non-Syrians.

Al-‘Ankaawi Village:  2  nests of Alqaeda vipers were invaded by SAA.  3 rats were killed, 7 wounded and 5 vehicles were destroyed.  No names.

In the northwest corner of Idlib at Al-Tanjara, Qulaydeen, Qastoon, the SAA destroyed several nests of Alqaeda rats.  No details.

Abu-Hubaylaat:  Big firefight here with no details.

Sukayk Village:  Nusra/Alqaeda and Ahraar Al-Shaam Al-Islamiyya were annihilated here by SAA infantry backed by armor.  No assessments available.

Umm Mayyaal Village:  On the edge of the eastern desert, rodent communications claim dead carcasses at 41 with many wounded.

Fighting raging in these areas:  Umm Haaratayn, Mawrek (Mork),  Kafr Zaytaa, Mas’ada, Hamaadi ‘Umar, Al-Lataamina, ‘Atshaan, Al-Tanaahij, Al-Tawwaabiyya, Qateeshaa, Al-Ma’damiyya  




Porn Shackles Society More than Patriot Act


During working hours, while his 4-year-old son is at nursery school, Jason Fredric Gilbert closes the door to his small home office — less to keep out the noise than to prevent his mother-in-law from walking in on him while he’s watching pornography.

It’s not as outlandish as it sounds: Watching X-rated films is Gilbert’s day job.

Gilbert, 37, works for an Israeli company that translates and subtitles foreign television shows and movies — including a sizable pornography portfolio — into Hebrew from English. The movies, once titled, are destined for stations offered by the major cable providers Yes and Hot. Domestically produced offerings, which are generally less popular, tend to end up on the website, he said.

“The stuff we get for TV is pretty vanilla,” he said of the foreign X-rated offerings, primarily good-looking women having sex with hard-bodied men. “There’s no kinkiness, no fetishes, no bondage.”

Gilbert, who provides subtitles for about 30 X-rated films a year, calls it “healthy” porn, free from misogynistic or abusive behaviors or story lines — to the extent that pornographic films have story lines.

His job for the Tel Aviv company Trans Titles involves reviewing documents from the company’s translators and matching the dialogue’s Hebrew words to the scenes. Much of the translations follow perfunctory, predictable porn dialogue, he said: “Ooh,” “aah,” “Oh, God, Oh, God,” and “Want to go at it again?”

But smut does present some unique translating challenges. Colleagues often ask for Gilbert’s help in devising Hebrew versions for sexually explicit English idioms. When his creative juices aren’t flowing, Gilbert opts for transliterating the terms.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, once quipped that Israel will have become a normal country when Hebrew-speaking prostitutes and criminals roam the streets. He might have added to that list Zionist pornography subtitlers.

The reason Gilbert and others translate and subtitle porn in the first place is the same as why any foreign film or TV show must be translated and subtitled: Israeli law mandates it.

It’s an honest day’s work, perhaps. But titillating, not so much.

“You just zone out for two, three hours and move on” to the next assignment, he said of the X-rated portion of his job.

Gilbert had aspired to a loftier career, having studied film at Temple University in his native Philadelphia. He’s proud of the 2005 film he directed, “The Coat Room,” set in his hometown, and of a documentary he made in 2011 about his first year of marriage. (Both films are in English.) He’s also proud of his wife, Maya, who works for a technology company, and their son.

He became involved in X-rated films in 2003 after landing a position, a pornographic-film distribution company in Philadelphia. The work involved watching the movies and penning favorable blurbs for the firm’s website.

“I honed my writing, writing reviews for porn films. If you write 30 a day, you have to be creative — and write quickly,” he said.

Gilbert’s parents moved the family to Israel in 1987, when he was 10. He left for America in 1996 to attend college, then returned to Israel in 2007, serving belatedly in the Israeli army, where he produced, directed and edited recruitment films.

After being discharged, Gilbert interviewed at an advertising agency in Tel Aviv. While in the building he noticed another tenant, Trans Titles, and stopped in. He has been employed there ever since.

His pay isn’t so hot: just over minimum wage, Gilbert said. (Minimum wage in Israel is about $1,075 monthly.)

Not all subtitling companies want to take on porn, however, since it can alienate family-friendly clients. Israel’s Elrom, which estimates that it dubs 90 percent of all foreign films shown in the country, dropped pornography from its portfolio three years ago after landing Disney as a client.

Trans Titles executives say pornography makes up only a small portion of the company’s work, and that it allows subtitlers opt out when they feel uncomfortable. But Gilbert isn’t fazed by the X-rated content.

He said he’s long been able to disconnect emotionally from all the filmed sex.

“I’ve seen enough porn for two lifetimes: straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, midget,” he said.

But Gilbert sometimes wonders what the point is.

“I can understand why you’d have a storyline leading to the sex scene,” he said, “but why do you have to subtitle the sex scene? No guy … is going to read the dialogue.”


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