Archive | February 23rd, 2016

10 Reasons Why Ending the Draft Helps End War

By David Swanson 

The military draft has not been used in the United States since 1973, but the machinery has remained in place (costing the federal government about $25 million a year). Males over 18 have been required to register for the draft since 1940 (except between 1975 and 1980) and still are today, with no option to register as conscientious objectors or to choose peaceful productive public service. Some in Congress have been making “enlightened” feminist noises about forcing young women to register as well. In most states young men who get driver’s licenses are automatically registered for the draft without their permission (and virtually all of those states’ governments claim that automatically registering people to vote would just not be realistic). When you apply for financial aid for college, if you’re male, you probably won’t get it until after a mandatory check to see if you’re registered for the draft.

A new bill in Congress would abolish the draft, and a petition in support of it has gained a good deal of traction. But a significant contingent among those who sincerely want peace vehemently opposes ending the draft, and in fact favors drafting young people into war starting tomorrow. Since coming out as a supporter of the new legislation, I’ve encountered far more support than opposition. But the opposition has been intense and sizable. I’ve been called naive, ignorant, ahistorical, and desirous of slaughtering poor boys to protect the elite children I supposedly care exclusively about.

Mr. Moderator, may I have a thirty-second rebuttal, as the distinguished demagogue addressed me directly?

We’re all familiar with the argument behind peace activists’ demand for the draft, the argument that Congressman Charles Rangel made when proposing to start up a draft some years back. U.S. wars, while killing almost exclusively innocent foreigners, also kill and injure and traumatize thousands of U.S. troops drawn disproportionately from among those lacking viable educational and career alternatives. A fair draft, rather than a poverty draft, would send — if not modern-day Donald Trumps, Dick Cheneys, George W. Bushes, or Bill Clintons — at least some offspring of relatively powerful people to war. And that would create opposition, and that opposition would end the war. That’s the argument in a nutshell. Let me offer 10 reasons why I think this is sincere but misguided.

  1. History doesn’t bear it out. The drafts in the U.S. civil war (both sides), the two world wars, and the war on Korea did not end those wars, despite being much larger and in some cases fairer than the draft during the American war on Vietnam. Those drafts were despised and protested, but they took lives; they did not save lives. The very idea of a draft was widely considered an outrageous assault on basic rights and liberties even before any of these drafts. In fact, a draft proposal was successfully argued down in Congress by denouncing it as unconstitutional, despite the fact that the guy who had actually written most of the Constitution was also the president who was proposing to create the draft. Said Congressman Daniel Webster on the House floor at the time (1814): “The administration asserts the right to fill the ranks of the regular army by compulsion…Is this, sir, consistent with the character of a free government? Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No, sir, indeed it is not…Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war, in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it? Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest rights of personal liberty?” When the draft came to be accepted as an emergency wartime measure during the civil and first world wars, it never would have been tolerated during peacetime. (And it’s still not anywhere to be found in the Constitution.) Only since 1940 (and under a new law in ’48), when FDR was still working on manipulating the United States into World War II, and during the subsequent 75 years of permanent wartime has “selective service” registration gone on uninterrupted for decades. The draft machine is part of a culture of war that makes kindergarteners pledge allegiance to a flag and 18-year-old males sign up to express their willingness to go off and kill people as part of some unspecified future government project. The government already knows your Social Security number, sex, and age. The purpose of draft registration is in great part war normalization.
  1. People bled for this. When voting rights are threatened, when elections are corrupted, and even when we are admonished to hold our noses and vote for one or another of the god-awful candidates regularly placed before us, what are we reminded of? People bled for this. People risked their lives and lost their lives. People faced fire hoses and dogs. People went to jail. That’s right. And that’s why we should continue the struggle for fair and open and verifiable elections. But what do you think people did for the right not to be drafted into war? They risked their lives and lost their lives. They were hung up by their wrists. They were starved and beaten and poisoned. Eugene Debs, hero of Senator Bernie Sanders, went to prison for speaking against the draft. What would Debs make of the idea of peace activists supporting a draft in order to stir up more peace activism? I doubt he’d be able to speak through his tears.
  1. Millions dead is a cure worse than the disease. I am very well convinced that the peace movement shortened and ended the war on Vietnam, not to mention removing a president from office, helping to pass other progressive legislation, educating the public, communicating to the world that there was decency hiding in the United States, and — oh, by the way — ending the draft. And I have zero doubt that the draft had helped to build the peace movement. But the draft did not contribute to ending the war before that war had done far more damage than has any war since. We can cheer for the draft ending the war, but four million Vietnamese lay dead, along with Laotians, Cambodians, and over 50,000 U.S. troops. And as the war ended, the dying continued. Many more U.S. troops came home and killed themselves than had died in the war. Children are still born deformed by Agent Orange and other poisons used. Children are still ripped apart by explosives left behind. If you add up numerous wars in numerous nations, the United States has inflicted death and suffering on the Middle East to equal or surpass that in Vietnam, but none of the wars has used anything like as many U.S. troops as were used in Vietnam. If the U.S. government had wanted a draft and believed it could get away with starting one, it would have. If anything, the lack of a draft has restrained the killing. The U.S. military would add a draft to its existing billion-dollar recruitment efforts, not replace one with the other. And the far greater concentration of wealth and power now than in 1973 pretty well assures that the children of the super-elite would not be conscripted.
  1. Don’t underestimate support for a draft. The United States has a much greater population than do most countries of people who say they are ready to support wars and even of people who say they would be willing to fight a war. Forty-four percent of U.S. Americans now tell Gallup polling that they “would” fight in a war. Why aren’t they now fighting in one? That’s an excellent question, but one answer could be: Because there’s no draft. What if millions of young men in this country, having grown up in a culture absolutely saturated in militarism, are told it’s their duty to join a war? You saw how many joined without a draft between September 12, 2001, and 2003. Is combining those misguided motivations with a direct order from the “commander in chief” (whom many civilians already refer to in those terms) really what we want to experiment with? To protect the world from war?!
  1. The supposedly non-existent peace movement is quite real. Yes, of course, all movements were bigger in the 1960s and they did a great deal of good, and I’d willingly die to bring back that level of positive engagement. But the notion that there has been no peace movement without the draft is false. The strongest peace movement the United States has seen was probably that of the 1920s and 1930s. The peace movements since 1973 have restrained the nukes, resisted the wars, and moved many in the United States further along the path toward supporting war abolition. Public pressure blocked the United Nations from supporting recent wars, including the 2003 attack on Iraq, and made supporting that war such a badge of shame that it has kept Hillary Clinton out of the White House at least once so far. It also resulted in concern in 2013 among members of Congress that if they backed the bombing of Syria they’d been seen as having backed “another Iraq.” Public pressure was critical in upholding a nuclear agreement with Iran last year. There are many ways to build the movement. You can elect a Republican president and easily multiply the ranks of the peace movement 100-fold the next day. But should you? You can play on people’s bigotry and depict opposition to a particular war or weapons system as nationalistic and macho, part of preparation for other better wars. But should you? You can draft millions of young men off to war and probably see some new resisters materialize. But should you? Have we really given making the honest case for ending war on moral, economic, humanitarian, environmental, and civil liberties grounds a fair try?
  1. Doesn’t Joe Biden’s son count? I too would love to see a bill passed requiring that congress members and presidents deploy to the front lines of any war they support. But in a society gone mad enough for war, even steps in that direction wouldn’t end the war making. It appears the U.S. military killed the Vice President’s son through reckless disregard for its own cannon fodder. Will the Vice President even mention it, much less make a move to end the endless warmaking? Don’t hold your breath. U.S. Presidents and Senators used to be proud to send their offspring off to die. If Wall Street can out-do the gilded age, so can the servants of the military industrial complex.
  1. We build a movement to end war by building a movement to end war. The surest way we have of reducing and then ending militarism, and the racism and materialism with which it is interwoven, is to work for the end of war. By seeking to make wars bloody enough for the aggressor that he stops aggressing, we would essentially be moving in the same direction as we already have by turning public opinion against wars in which U.S. troops die. I understand that there might be more concern over wealthier troops and greater numbers of troops. But if you can open people’s eyes to the lives of gays and lesbians and transgendered people, if you can open people’s hearts to the injustices facing African Americans murdered by police, if you can bring people to care about the other species dying off from human pollution, surely you can also bring them even further along than they’ve already come in caring about the lives of U.S. troops not in their families — and perhaps even about the lives of the non-Americans who make up the vast majority of those killed by U.S. warmaking. One result of the progress already made toward caring about U.S. deaths has been greater use of robotic drones. We need to be building opposition to war because it is the mass murder of beautiful human beings who are not in the United States and could never be drafted by the United States. A war in which no Americans die is just as much a horror as one in which they do. That understanding will end war.
  1. The right movement advances us in the right direction. Pushing to end the draft will expose those who favor it and increase opposition to their war mongering. It will involve young people, including young men who do not want to register for the draft and young women who do not want to be required to start doing so. A movement is headed in the right direction if even a compromise is progress. A compromise with a movement demanding a draft would be a small draft. That would almost certainly not work any of the magic intended, but would increase the killing. A compromise with a movement to end the draft might be the ability to register for non-military service or as a conscientious objector. That would be a step forward. We might develop out of that new models of heroism and sacrifice, new nonviolent sources of solidarity and meaning, new members of a movement in favor of substituting civilized alternatives for the whole institution of war.
  1. The war mongers want the draft too. It’s not only a certain section of peace activists who want the draft. So do the true war mongers. The selective service tested its systems at the height of the occupation of Iraq, preparing for a draft if needed. Various powerful figures in D.C. have proposed that a draft would be more fair, not because they think the fairness would end the warmaking but because they think the draft would be tolerated. Now, what happens if they decide they really want it? Should it be left available to them? Shouldn’t they at least have to recreate the selective service first, and to do so up against the concerted opposition of a public facing an imminent draft? Imagine if the United States joins the civilized world in making college free. Recruitment will be devastated. The poverty draft will suffer a major blow. The actual draft will look very desirable to the Pentagon. They may try more robots, more hiring of mercenaries, and more promises of citizenship to immigrants. We need to be focused on cutting off those angles, as well as on in fact making college free.
  1. Take away the poverty draft too. The unfairness of the poverty draft is not grounds for a larger unfairness. It needs to be ended too. It needs to be ended by opening up opportunities to everyone, including free quality education, job prospects, life prospects. Isn’t the proper solution to troops being stop-lossed not adding more troops but waging less war? When we end the poverty draft and the actual draft, when we actually deny the military the troops it needs to wage war, and when we create a culture that views murder as wrong even when engaged in on a large scale and even when all the deaths are foreign, then we’ll actually get rid of war, not just acquire the ability to stop each war 4 million deaths into it.

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Russian intelligence report on Turkey’s current assistance to Daesh

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Recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters, facilitation of their cross-border movement into Syria and the supply of weapons to the terrorist groups active there

Reportedly, representatives of ISIL — with help from the Turkish intelligence services — have established an extensive network in Antalya for the recruitment of individuals who have arrived in Turkey from the post-Soviet States, to enable their participation in the Syrian conflict and possible transfer to Russia.

The group of recruiters consists of a Kyrgyzstan national named Abdullah; a native of Adygea named Azmet; a native of Tatarstan named Elnar; a Russian Federation national named Ilyas; an Azerbaijan national named Adil Aliev; and a native of Karachay-Cherkessia named Nizam. They are led by a Russian Federation national, Ruslan Rastyamovich Khaibullov (also known as Baris Abdul or by the pseudonym “The Teacher”), born on 1 April 1978 in Tatarstan. He lives with his family in Antalya. He has a Turkish permanent residence permit.

Recruitment takes place with the knowledge of the temporary detention centre administration. If a detainee agrees to accept Islam and engage in terrorist activity, the recruiters promise to “do a deal” with the Turkish law enforcement agencies and offer, free of charge, the services of a Turkish lawyer, Tahir Tosolar. Sultan Kekhursaev, a Chechen who is a Turkish national, has also made visits for the same purpose to detention centres where foreigners are held.

In September 2015 a group of more than 1,000 ISIL fighters who had come from countries in Europe and Central Asia were taken from Turkey to Syria through the border crossing at Alikaila (Gaziantep).

The routes for the movement of fighters pass very close to the Turkish-Syrian border through Antakya, Reyhanlı, Topaz, Şanlıurfa and Hatay.

In March 2014 the head of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Mr. H. Fidan, coordinated the transfer of a large ISIL unit headed by Mahdi al-Kharati, a Libyan national [1]. The fighters were taken by sea from Libya to Syria through the Barsai crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Since late December 2015, with the assistance of the Turkish intelligence services, arrangements have been made for an air route for moving ISIL fighters from Syria through Turkey to Yemen using Turkish military air transport. An alternative means of transporting fighters is by sea to the Yemeni port of Aden.

Russian Federation nationals who maintain contact with representatives of the security, police and administrative authorities in a number of Turkish cities, including Istanbul, are involved in recruitment through Turkish madrasas.

It is well known that wounded ISIL fighters are being provided with places to rest and receive treatment in areas of Turkey bordering Syria. At least 700 fighters were recuperating in Gaziantep in 2014.

Reportedly, beginning in 2015, Turkish intelligence services assisted in the removal from Antalya to Eskişehir of what was termed a “Tatar Village”, which houses ethnic Tatar fighters and accomplices of the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusrah who are natives of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Mordovia. Some of them are dual Russian-Turkish nationals.

One of the people actively involved in the Village is Timur Maunirovich Bichurin, a Russian national born on 15 December 1969 who is a native of Kazan and since January 2014 has been acting as an accomplice, helping Islamists fighting in Syria.

In December 2014, Turkish intelligence services helped to set up camps in Turkey, particularly in Hatay Province, to gather illegal migrants and provide training in preparation for the dispatch of extremist gangs to Syria. In January 2015, the Turkish MIT was involved in the operation to merge three terrorist bands, Osman Gazi, Omer bin Abdulaziz and Omer Mukhtar, into a group called the Sultan Abdulhamid Brigade, of which Omer Abdullah was appointed commander. The members of this group are trained in a camp in Bayır-Bucak in Turkey under the leadership of instructors from special operations units of the Turkish Armed Forces general command and MIT personnel. The activities of the Sultan Abdulhamid Brigade are coordinated with the activities of Jabhat al-Nusrah fighters in the north of the Syrian province of Latakia.

It is well known that on 21 September 2015, in the Syrian town of Tell Rifaat, representatives of the Syrian opposition who had received military training at a camp in Kırşehir in Turkey had delivered weapons to Jabhat al-Nusrah fighters.

Deliveries of weapons to terrorist groups in Syria are reportedly still taking place, profiting from the facilities of Turkish-based foundations İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH — Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief), İmkander and Öncü Nesil İnsani Yardım Derneği.

Supplies of various forms of weapons, military equipment and ammunition are arriving from abroad via the Turkish port of İskenderun. Military equipment and supplies are transported from there through Hatay Province (Öncüpinar border crossing) to Aleppo and Idlib in Syria using vehicles belonging to IHH, İmkander and Öncü Nesil with the following Turkish registrations: 33 SU 317, 06 DY 7807, 33 SU 540, 33 SU 960, 42 GL 074 and 31 R 5487. Within Syria, the weapons and ammunition are distributed to Turkmen gangs and Jabhat al-Nusrah units.

On 15 September 2014, representatives of IHH brought supplies of weapons and medicines from Bursa through the Ceylanpınar border crossing (Reyhanlı district) by vehicle into Syria for ISIL groups. This shipment was followed and escorted through Turkey by a vehicle carrying MIT personnel.

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How Turkey supports the jihadists

by Thierry Meyssan

Russia questioned the future of Turkey when it delivered to the Security Council an intelligence report concerning Turkey’s activities in support of jihadists. The document includes about ten revelations which implicate the activities of the MIT. The problem is that each of the operations listed refers back to operations in which the same actors worked with the United States or their allies against Russia. This information adds to that which is already available concerning the personal connections between President Erdoğan and the Al-Qaïda banker, and the information about Erdoğan’s son and the illegal use of the oil stolen by Daesh.

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Russia delivered to the members of the UN Security Council an intelligence report concerning the activities of Turkey which support the jihadists operating in Syria [1]. The document lists about ten facts, each one of which violates one or several Council Resolutions.

By doing so, Russia puts the Council, and, by extension, several other inter-governmental organisations, face to face with their responsibilities. By law, the Council should ask for corresponding proof of these assertions and pressure Turkey for explanations. In the event that Turkey should be found guilty, the Council would have to decide which sanctions should be adopted under chapter VII of the Charter, in other words, by resorting to force. From their side, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation would have to exclude this gangster-state from their ranks, while the European Union would have to halt Turkey’s negotiations for membership.

However, a close examination of the Russian intelligence report reveals that the alleged infringements are susceptible to open a number of other case files implicating other powers. Consequently it is unlikely that this report will be discussed publicly, but that the future of Turkey will be negotiated behind closed doors.

The case of Mahdi Al-Harati

Born in Libya in 1973, Mahdi al-Harati emigrated to Ireland and founded a family there.

In May 2010, he was aboard the Mavi Marmara, the flagship for the « Freedom Flotilla », organised by the Turkish non-governmental organisation IHH to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. The ships were attacked on the high seas by the Israëli army, provoking an international scandal. The passengers were kidnapped by Tsahal, imprisoned in Israël, and then finally liberated [2]. Then Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, paid a visit to a hospital to comfort the wounded militants. His cabinet issued a photograph showing one of the militants kissing him as if Erdoğan was his father. He was described as being Turko-Irish, and named El Mehdi El Hamid El Hamdi – but in reality, he was the Libyo-Irish Mahdi al-Harati.

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In July 2011, al-Harati’s house in Rathkeale (Ireland) was burgled. His companion, Eftaima al-Najar, alerted the police and told them that the thieves had taken costly Egyptian and Libyan jewellery and 200,000 Euros in 500-Euro notes. Contacted by telephone, Mahdi al-Harati confirmed to the police that he had recently met with authorities from Qatar, France and the USA, and claimed that he had received this sum from the CIA to help in the overthrow of Mouamar el-Kadhafi [3]. However, he recanted these original declarations when the Libyan Resistance took control of the affair [4].

In July and August 2011, he commanded the Tripoli Brigade – of which his brother-in-law, Hosam al-Najjair, was also a member. The Tripoli Brigade was a unit of Al-Qaïda supervised by French legionnaires and tasked by NATO with taking the Hotel Rixos [5]. Officially, the hotel was the international Press centre, but NATO had been informed by the hotel’s Turkish builder that it included a furnished basement accessible to the exterior, where several members of the Kadhafi family and the leaders of the Jamahiriya were hiding. For several days, al-Harati fought with the French against the soldiers of Khamis Kadhafi [6]

In September 2011, NATO named him as the assistant to Abdelhakim Belhaj, the historical chief of Al-Qaïda, who had become the « military governor of Tripoli ». He resigned this post on the 11th October, allegedly due to a difference with Belhaj [7]

Nonetheless, in November 2011, at Abdelhakim Belhaj’s side, he commanded a group of between 600 and 1,500 Al-Qaïda jihadists in Libya – formerly known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – who were registered as refugees and transported by sea to Turkey under the responsibiliy of Ian Martin, the ex-General Secretary of the Fabian Society and Amnesty International, who had become Ban Ki-moon’s special representative.

Once arrived in Turkey, the jihadists were transferred by bus into Syria, under MIT escort (Turkish secret services). They settled in Jabal al-Zouia where, on behalf of France, they created the Free Syrian Army (FSA). For almost two months, Abdelhakim Belhaj and Mahdi al-Harati received all the Western journalists who passed through Turkey in order to cover the event, in what they transformed into a « Potemkin village » [8]. The cabinet of Prime Minister Erdoğan put them in contact with “passers” who transported them by motor-bike to Jabal al-Zouia. There they saw with their own eyes thousands of people demonstrating « against the dictatorship of Bachar el-Assad and for democracy ». Bedazzled, the Western Press concluded that a revolution was under way, at least until a journalist from the Spanish daily ABC, Daniel Iriarte, noticed that the majority of the demonstrators were not Syrian, and only obeyed their Libyan commanders, Abdelhakim Belhaj and Mahdi al-Harati [9]. However, the spectacle of the Falcons of the Levant Brigade (Suqour al-Sham Brigade) had its effect. The myth of a Free Syrian Army composed of « deserters from the Syrian Arab Army » was born, and the journalists who fed the fire will never admit that they had been tricked.

In September 2012, Mahdi al-Harati returned to Libya for medical reasons, after having formed, with his brother-in-law, a new jihadist group – Liwa al-Umma (the Ummah Brigade) [10].

In March 2014, Mahdi al-Harati escorted a new group of Libyan jihadists who travelled to Turkey by sea. According to the Russian intelligence report, the group was taken over by the régime’s number 2, Hakan Fidan, the head of the MIT (secret services), who had just re-assimilated his functions. The group joined Daesh via the frontier post at Barsai. This decision was consecutive to the meeting organised in Washington by the US National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, with the heads of the secret services from the Gulf states and Turkey, with a view to handing over the continuation of the war against Syria, in order to maintain the pretence of not using Al-Qaïda and Daesh [11].

In August 2014, Mahdi al-Harati was « elected » Mayor of Tripoli with the support of Qatar, Sudan and Turkey. He is dependent on the government of Tripoli, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and rejects the government of Tobruk, which is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Mahdi al-Harati’s career path attests to the links between Al-Qaïda in Libya, the Free Syrian Army, Daesh and the Muslim Brotherhood, which destroys the theory of a democratic revolution in Syria. It also reveals the support offered to this network by the United States, France and Turkey.

The transfer of Daesh combatants from Syria to Yemen

The intelligence report reveals that the Turkish secret services organised the transfer of Daesh combatants from Syria to Yemen. Some were transported by plane, and others by boat to Aden.

This accusation had already been made, on the 27th October 2015, by the spokesman for the Syrian Arab Army, General Ali Mayhub. According to him, at least 500 Daesh jihadists had been assisted by the Turkish MIT for their journey to Yemen. They had been transported by two planes from Turkish Airlines, one from Qatar Airways and one from the Emirates. Once arrived in Aden, the jihadists were divided into three groups- the first group travelled to the Bab el-Mandeb straits, the second to Marib, and the third group was sent to Saudi Arabia.

This information, which had been widely developed by the pro-Syrian Arab media, was ignored by the Western Press. Yemeni General Sharaf Luqman, spokesman for the military faithful to ex-President Saleh, confirmed the Syrian accusation and added that the jihadists had been welcomed by mercenaries from Blackwater-Academi.

The transfer of Daesh combatants from one theatre to another attests to the coordination of operations in Syria and Yemen. It implicates Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Blackwater-Academi.

The « Tatar village »

The Russian intelligence report also evokes the case of the « Tatar village », a Tatar ethnic group initially based in Antalya, then moved further north by the MIT to Eskişehir. Although the report specifies that it includes Al-Qaïda combatants and that it helps Islamist combatants in Syria, it does not explain why this group was moved farther away from Syria, nor what its activities were.

The Tatars are the second Russian minority, and very few of them adhere to the jihadist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood or Hizb-ut-Tahrir.
- However, in March 2012, Arab islamists from Tatarstan attacked an exhibition concerning Syria – « The Cradle of Civilisation » – at the museum in Kazan. A little later, on the 5th August 2012, a group of jihadists, both Arabs and Tatars, met secretly in Kazan – also present were representatives from Al-Qaïda.
- In December 2013, a group of pan-Turkish Tatar jihadists from the Azatlyk (Freedom) movement, left the Syrian theatre to travel back to Ukraine and assume the organisation of security on Maidan Square while waiting for the coup d’Etat ; meanwhile other militants from the same organisation demonstrated in Kazan.
- On the 1st August 2015, a Tatar World Congress was organised in Ankara, with the support and participation of the Ukrainian and Turkish governments. Its President was the famous Cold War CIA agent Moustafa Djemilev. Its members decided to create an « International Muslim Brigade » to « free » Crimea. Djemilev was immediately received officially by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [12]. The Brigade disposes of an installation in Kherson (Ukraine). It organised several sabotage operations in Crimea, including a huge electricity blackout (triggered from Ukraine), and then, unable to enter Russia en masse, moved to reinforce Ukranian troops in Donbass.

If the UN Security Council were to look into the question of the « Tatar village », they could not fail to notice that the United States, Turkey and Ukraine were sponsoring Tatar jihadists in Syria, Crimea and Tatarstan, including members of Al-Qaïda and Daesh.

The Turkmen of the Sultan Abdulhamid Brigade

Although Turkey never lifted a finger to help the Iraqi Turkmen massacred by Daesh, it relied on the support of Syrian Turkmen against the Syrian Arab Republic. They were organised by the « Grey Wolves », a paramilitary political party, historically linked to NATO secret services in their fight against communism (the « Gladio » network). They were, for example, the group that organised the attempted assassination of Pope Jean-Paul II, in 1981 [13]. The Grey Wolves are present in Europe, and are particularly involved with the Belgian social-democrats and the Dutch socialists. They have set up European coordination, working from Frankfurt. In reality, they are not a party in themselves, but form the paramilitary branch of the Nationalist Movement Party, MHP (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi).

The Turkmen Brigades and the MIT organised the pillage of the factories in Aleppo. Turkish experts came to dismantle the machine-tools which were shipped to Turkey,where they were re-assembled. Simultaneously, they occupied the frontier with Turkey, where the MIT set up and supervised the jihadist training camps.

In November 2015, it was the star of the Syrian Turkmen, Turkish citizen Alparslan Çelik – member of the Grey Wolves and one of the commanders of the Sultan Abdoulhamid Brigade – who gave the order to kill the two Sukoï-24 pilots who had just been shot down by the Turkish aviation, assisted by a Saudi AWACS. One of the pilots was in fact executed.

In 1995, the Grey Wolves had organised, with the Turko-US real estate company Celebiler Isaat (who finance Hillary Clinton’s electoral campaigns), a vast recruitment drive for 10,000 jihadists to go and fight in Chechnya. A training base was installed in the university city of Top Kopa in Istanbul. One of the sons of General Djokhar Doudaïev directed the transfer from Turkey via Azerbaïdjan with the MIT.

The Russian intelligence report reveals that the MIT created the Sultan Abdoulhamid Brigade – which unites the main Turkmen militia – and that it trained its members on the base at Bayır-Bucak, under the direction of instructors from the special intervention forces of the Turkish Army and agents from the MIT. It specifies that the Turkmen Brigade collaborates with Al-Qaïda.

Any more serious research would lead the Security Council to re-open old criminal files and note the links between the Sultan Abdoulhamid Brigade, the Grey Wolves, Turkey, the United States and Al-Qaïda.

The IHH and İmkander

The Russian intelligence report reveals the role of three Turkish humanitarian NGOs in the delivery of weapons to the jihadists – IHH, İmkander and Öncü Nesil. The final declaration of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which met in Munich on the 11th and 12th February, seems to validate this accusation since it stipulates that from now on, the United States and Russia will verify that humanitarian convoys only transport humanitarian materials. Until now, the government and the Press in Damascus have continued to accuse these NGOs of supporting the jihadists, but no-one listened. In September 2012, a cargo chartered by the IHH transported weapons to Syria on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood [14].

I am only aware of the first two organisations mentioned.

The IHH is an association founded and led by the Turkish Prosperity Party (Refah) of Necmettin Erbakan, but without statutary or organic links with him. It was first of all registered in Germany, at Fribourg-en-Brisgau in 1992, under the name Internationale Humanitäre Hilfe (IHH), then in Istanbul in 1995, under the name İnsani Yardım Vakfı. As its new acronym was İYV and not IHH, it preceded its name with İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri, which in Turkish means « Human Rights and Freedoms ». Under the cover of humanitarian aid to the Muslims of Bosnia and Afghanistan, it supplied them with weapons, in accord with NATO strategy. After that, it lent military support to the Islamic Emirate of Ichkeria (Chechnya) [15]. In 2006, it organised a monumental funeral, without the body but with the presence of tens of thousands of militants, at the Fatih mosque in Istanbul, for the Chechen jihadist Chamil Bassaïev, who had just been killed by the Russian Forces after the massacre he had commanded at the school in Beslan [16].

The IHH acquired world renown by organising, with the AKP, (successor to Refah) the « Freedom Flottilla », which was intended to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza by breaking the Israeli embargo, once again with White House approval, in a US attempt to humiliate Israëli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Amongst the passengers was Mahdi al-Harati, mentioned above. The UN Commission presided by Geoffrey Palmer attests to the fact that, contrary to the allegations, the flotilla was not transporting any humanitarian cargo. This leads to the conclusion that the IHH knew that it would never arrive in Gaza, and thus begs the question of what the true aims of the expedition may have been.

On the 2nd January 2014, the Turkish police – who had just questioned the sons of three Ministers and the director of a major bank concerning money laundering – intercepted a truck-load of arms from the IHH destined for Syrian jihadists [17]. Following that, the police searched the head office of the IHH. In his offices, it interrogated Halis B., suspected of being the leader of Al-Qaïda in Turkey, and İbrahim Ş., second in command of that organisation for the Near East [18]. The government managed to remove the police officers and free the suspects.

İmkander (in Turkish “Fraternity”, by reference to the Muslim Brotherhood) is another « humanitarian » association, created in 2009 in Istanbul. It specialised in aid to the Chechens and the defence of the jihadists in the Caucasus. It organised a media campaign in Turkey when the representative of Dokou Oumarov (the self-proclaimed « Emir of the Caucasus »), Berg-Khazh Musaev (known as Emir Khamzat), was assassinated in Istanbul. At the time, the FSB considered that it was at war with any states which gave military support to the jihadists, and did not hesitate to kill them in those countries (like Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in Qatar, and Umar Israilov in Austria). İmkander organised vast funeral services at the Fatih mosque in Istanbul.

On the 12th and 13th May 2012, with the support of the Istanbul city hall, İmkander organised an international congress – in the tradition of the CIA congresses during the Cold War – in order to support the independentists in the Caucasus. At the end of the meeting, the Congress of the Caucasian People was created as a permanent body, recognising the unique authority of the Emir of the Caucasus, Dokou Oumarov. The delgates accused the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation of having carried out the genocide of the Caucasian people. In a video, Emir Dokou Oumarov called for all the People of the Caucasus to join the jihad. Russia reacted strongly [19].

In 2013, Russie asked the Security Council 1267/1989 Committee to place İmkander on the list of organisations linked with al-Qaïda. The United Kingdom, France and Luxembourg opposed this. [20]. Indeed, while İmkander claims to lend political support to Al-Qaïda in the Caucasus, according to the Western powers, Russia has not supplied sufficient proof of its participation in military operations.

Thes two NGOs are directly implicated – in arms trafficking for IHH, and in political support for İmkander. They dispose of the support of the AKP, the party created by Président Erdoğan to replace Refah which was outlawed by the Constitutional Court.

What can be done with the Russian intelligence report ?

It is unlikely that the Security Council will study the Russian intelligence report. Questions concerning the role of the secret services are generally treated in secret. In any case, the United States will have to make clear what they intend to do with their ally Turkey, which has been caught violating Council Resolutions.

This information adds to that already available concerning the personal ties between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Yasin al-Qadi, the banker for Al-Qaïda [21], and the role of Erdoğan’s son, Bilal, concerning the commerce of oil stolen by Daesh [22].

There is no doubt that the Turkish ranting about a possible military invasion of Syria is simply intended as a diversion. In any event, if war were to break out between Turkey and Russia, this report would deprive Ankara of the support of NATO (article 5 of the United Nations Charter).


[1] “Russian intelligence report on Turkey’s current assistance to Daesh”,Voltaire Network, 18 February 2016.

[2] “Freedom Flotilla: The detail that escaped Netanyahu”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 8 June 2010.

[3] “Tinker raiders, Soldier, Spy”, Sunday World, November 7, 2011.

[4] “Dublin man denies receiving funds from US to assist overthrow of Gadafy”, Mary Fitzgerald, Irish Times, November 22, 2011.

[5] “Irish Libyans join rebels trying to oust Gadafy”, Paulo Nunes Dos Santos, Irish Times, August 13, 2011.

[6] According to the orders of his mission, which had been determined during a secret meeting of NATO in Naples attended by Alain Juppé, Mahdi Al-Harati was supposed to profit from the confusion at the Rixos to assassinate me.

[7] “How Al Qaeda men came to power in Libya”, by Thierry Meyssan,Voltaire Network, 7 September 2011.

[8] In the 18th century, the Russian Minister Grigori Potemkine ordered the construction of luxurious cardboard facades in order to hide the poverty of the villages during a visit by the Empress Catherine II to Crimea. Since then, the expression « Potemkin village » has been used to describe the creation of a fictitious entity for propaganda purposes.

[9] “Libyan Islamists go to Syria to “help” the revolution”, by Daniel Iriarte,ABC (Spain) , Voltaire Network, 22 December 2011.

[10] “Irish Syrian fighters pass on lessons of revolution”, Mary Fitzgerald,Irish Times, August 1, 2012.

[11] “Spymasters gather to discuss Syria”, David Ignatius, Washington Post, February 19, 2014.

[12] « L’Ukraine et la Turquie créent une Brigade internationale islamique contre la Russie », par Thierry Meyssan, Réseau Voltaire, 12 août 2015.

[13] This was an attempy to force the Holy See to abandon Ostpolitk, which Cardinal State Secretary Agostino Casaroli was pursuing with the same goals as Willy Brandt.

[14] “Brotherhood ‘buying influence with arms’”, Sheera Frenkel, The Times, September 14, 2012.

[15] «The role of Islamic charities in international terrorist recruitment and financing», Evan F. Kohlmann, Danish Institute for International Studies, 2006.

[16] “Turkey pays homage to Basayev”, IHH, July 14, 2006.

[17] “Turkish police seizes truckful of weapons bound for Syria”, Translation Alizée Ville, Voltaire Network, 6 January 2014.

[18] “Turkish court accuses IHH of having ties to Al-Qaeda”, Translation Alizée Ville, Voltaire Network, 20 January 2014.

[19] «De “la Conférence Internationale sur le Caucase” à Istanbul», in «Le briefing d’A.K. Loukachevitch, porte-parole du Ministère des Affaires étrangères de la Russie, le 18 mai 2012».

[20] “Commentaire du Département de l’Information et de la Presse du Ministère des Affaires étrangères de la Russie sur une demande russe adressée au Comité des sanctions du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU contre Al-Qaïda”, Ministère des Affaires étrangères de la Fédération de Russie, 12 septembre 2013.

[21] “Erdoğan received Al-Qaeda’s banker in secret”, Translation Alizée Ville; “Al-Qaeda, NATO’s Timeless Tool”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Al-Watan (Syria) , Voltaire Network, 6 January 2014.

[22] “The role of the Erdoğan family within Daesh”; “Russia shows proof of petrol trafficking by Daesh via Turkey”, by Valentin Vasilescu, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 5 August and 3 December 2015.

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Ethiopia: Unity in opposition

Oromo students' protest

By Graham Peebles

Division and fear are the age-old tools of tyrants; unity and peaceful coordinated action the most powerful weapons against

Frightened and downtrodden for so long, there are positive signs that the Ethiopian people are beginning to come together – peacefully uniting in their anger at the ruling party: – the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The EPRDF heads a paranoid,  brutal regime that suppresses the people, is guilty of wide-ranging human rights violations, and has systematically encouraged ethnic divisions and rivalries.

Anti-government protests have been growing over the last few years, and in recent months large-scale demonstrations have taken place throughout the region of Oromia as well as in Gondar, where university students have been demonstrating, demanding, academic rights, freedom, democracy and justice.

Tribal groups, particularly the peoples of Amhara and Oromia (the largest ethnic group – accounting for 35 per cent of the population), have come together: thousands have been marching, running, sitting, shouting and screaming.

Government slays peaceful protestors

The EPRDF’s response to the demonstrators’ democratic gall has been crudely predictable: branding protestors “anti-peace forces” and terrorists, then shooting, arresting and imprisoning them.

According to Human Rights Watch, security forces have killed at least 140 people, but independent broadcaster ESAT news estimate the number to be over 200. The government, which human rights groups say authorised the police and military to use “excessive force, including… live ammunition against protesters, among them children as young as 12”, has so far admitted 22 fatalities.

ESAT reports that at least 1,500 have been injured and to date over 5,000 arrested in Oromia alone, including Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromia’s largest legally registered political party, and his son. Senior members of the OFC, as well as members of other opposition parties and their families, have also been imprisoned. Scores more people are harassed, their homes searched. Acting on behalf of an unaccountable government, security forces are on a mission of wanton destruction of human lives and properties”.

State plan cancelled by protest

The under-reported protests in Gondar, in the Amhara region, were triggered by two separate but related issues:  government cession of an expanse of fertile land – up to 1,600 square kilometres, to Sudan under new demarcation proposals, and the widespread belief that state forces are responsible for a mass killing that took place in November 2015 against the people of Qimant. Leaders of The Gondar Union Association told ESAT news they believed the murders were “committed by Tigray People’s Liberation Front [government] cadres, who then blamed it on the Amhara people to incite violence among the two groups.”

In Oromia, where protests throughout the region began in April 2014, it was the government’s plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, onto agricultural land: hundreds of smallholders would have been displaced, villages destroyed, livelihoods shattered. Following months of demonstrations the government has announced that the plan is to be scrapped. The official statement virtually dismissed the protestors’ opposition, claiming it was “based on a simple misunderstanding” created by a “lack of transparency”.

Activists reacted with derision to the government’s condescension, and vowed to continue protesting until their longstanding grievances against political exclusion are addressed. Sit-ins and peaceful demonstrations have continued in various locations across Oromo, evoking more violence from the ruling party’s henchmen.

Oromo rage

The Oromo people see the government’s violence as part of a systematic attempt to oppress and marginalise them. As Amnesty International states in its report, Because I am Oromo, “thousands of Oromo people have been subjected to unlawful killings, torture and enforced disappearance”. People without any political affiliation are arrested on suspicion that they do not support the government – “between 2011 and 2014, at least 5,000 Oromos have been arrested”. Amnesty asserts that recent regime violence was “the latest and bloodiest in a long pattern of suppression”. This description of government intimidation and brutality will sound familiar to most Ethiopians.

While it was the “master-plan” for Addis Ababa that brought thousands onto the streets, anger and discontent has been fermenting throughout the country for years. This was compounded by restrictions on fundamental freedoms, andhuman rights violationsmany of which can only be described as state terrorism.

Power hungry

The EPRDF have been in power for 25 long and, for many people, painful years. The ruling party was formed from the four armed groups that seized power in May 1991, including the now dominant Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Despite the theatre of national “elections” being staged every five years since 1995, the EPRDF has never been elected. Last year’s sham saw them take all 547 parliamentary seats. In order to convince a suspicious, if largely indifferent, watching world (the European Union refused to send a team of observers to legitimise proceedings), one might have expected a token seat or two for an opposition party, but the government decided they could steal every one and get away with it.

The Tigrean ethnic group makes up a mere 6 per cent of the country’s 95 million population, but the TPLF (or Weyane as they are commonly called) and their cohorts dominate the government, the upper ranks of the military, the judiciary and, according to Genocide Watch, intend “to internally colonise the country” – a claim that the ethnic Somalis living in the Ogaden region, as well as the people of Amhara and Oromia, all of whom are subjected to appalling levels of persecution, would agree with.

Undemocratic, repressive regime

The government claims to adhere to democracy, but says the introduction of democratic principles will take time. Outsiders (such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the EU) “don’t understand” the country. Thus Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pretends: Ethiopia “is a fledgling democracy – a house in the making”.

Well, it is not a house being built on any recognisable democratic foundations: human rights, civil society, justice and freedom, for example. Indeed, there is no evidence of democracy, actual or potential, on the government’s part in Ethiopia. On the contrary, despite a liberally-worded constitution, the ruling party tramples on human rights, uses violence and fear to suppress the people and governs in a highly centralised manner. Opposition parties are ignored, their leaders often imprisoned or forced to live abroad. The government,Amnesty International states, routinely uses “arbitrary arrest and detention, often without charge, to suppress suggestions of dissent in many parts of the country”.

The judiciary is a puppet, as is the “investigative branch of the police”, Amnesty records, making it impossible “to receive a fair hearing in politically-motivated trials”, or any other case for that matter. Federal and regional security services operate with “near total impunity” and are “responsible for violations throughout the country, including… the use of excessive force, torture and extrajudicial executions”.

There is no media freedom; virtually all press, television and radio outlets are state-owned, as is the sole telecommunications company – allowing unfettered surveillance of the internet. The only independent broadcaster is internationally-based ESAT; the government routinely jams its satellite signals, and employee family members who live in Ethiopia are persecuted, imprisoned, their homes ransacked.

Journalists who challenge the government are intimidated, arrested or forced abroad. Ethiopia is the fourth most censored country in the world (after Eritrea, North Korea and Saudi Arabia), according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and “the third worst jailer of journalists on the African continent”. The widely criticised and conveniently vague “2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation” – used to silence journalists – and “the Charities and Societies Proclamation” make up the government’s principal legislative weapons of suppression, which are wielded without restraint.

The 99 per cent

The vast majority of Ethiopian people, at home and abroad, are desperate for change, freedom, justice and adherence to human rights – liberties for which the EPRDF has total contempt. Its primary concern is manifestly holding onto power, generating wealth for itself and its cohorts, and ensuring no space for political debate, dissent or democratic development.

Without a functioning electoral system or independent media, and given the government’s hostility to open dialogue with opposition parties and community activists, there are only two options available for the discontented majority. One is an armed uprising against the EPRDF – and there are many loud voices advocating this. The other, the more positive alternative, is peaceful, consistent, well-organised activism, building on the huge demonstrations in Oromia and Gondar, uniting the people and driving an unstoppable momentum for change.

Ethiopia is a richly diverse country, composed of dozens of tribal groups speaking a variety of languages and dialects. Traditions and cultures may vary, but the needs and aspirations of the people are the same, as are their grievances and fears. Tolerance and understanding of differences, cooperation and shared objectives could build a powerful coalition, establishing a platform for true democracy to take root in a country that has never known it.

People can only be trapped under a cloak of suppression for so long, eventually they must and will rise up. Throughout the world there is a movement for change: for freedom, justice and participatory democracy, in which the 99 per cent have a voice. The recent demonstrations in Ethiopia show that the people are at last beginning to unite and are part of this collective cry.

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Mohammad Al-Qeeq: Freedom or Martyrdom

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph
At the time Palestinian journalist, Mohammad Al-Qeeq, is dying before our eyes, Israel shows us that not only is it unable to follow basic human dignity and medical ethics guidelines but it’s also concealing facts in its dark dungeons. There are currently 6,900 Palestinians in Israel’s prisons, where they are exposed to systematic ill-treatment, beatings and torture. 650 are imprisoned without charge, without trial and without release date. 450 of them are children, including the youngest Palestinian prisoner,12 years old Dema Al-Wawi who was arrested on February 9, 2016, interrogated without the presence of her parents or lawyer.
الطفلة ديما
Mohammad Al-Qeeq is a 33 year old married man and a father to two young children who works as a TV reporter for the Saudi news channel “Almajd.”  According to his wife, Fyaha Shalash, her husband was kidnapped during a midnight raid to their home in Ramallah by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on November 21, 2015.  He was blindfolded and taken to an interrogation center and was not allowed to make contact with his family or lawyer for 20 days.
Four days later he went on an open ended hunger strike to protest to protest his administrative detention — an Israeli policy that allows Palestinians to be held without charge or trial indefinitely.
As I write this today, Mohammad is on his 91st day of his hunger strike and he is facing a severe medical crisis. Former Palestinian prisoner, Mohammed Kana’aneh, stated recently that Al-Qeeq was experiencing severe respiratory and, severe chest pains and difficulty breathing. Both Israeli and Palestinian doctors said Al-Qeeq is near death. He has requested to see his wife and children on Friday the19th of February.
As stated now, Israel said, his administrative detention has been suspended but not lifted and denied a petition to move him into a Palestinian hospital, claiming he would be a risk to the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) should they try to rearrest him once he get better. Meanwhile his wife, children and brothers are denied the right to visit him under the false pretense they are security risk to the state of Israel.
Israel claims to be holding Mohammad Al-Qeeq based on secret evidence. Al-Qeeq and his family insisted he was kidnapped to silence his right to free speech and from practicing his profession as a journalist. Neither Mohammad nor his lawyer have access to the charges against him, which are kept in classified files by Israeli forces.  Now Israeli is using this dirty and ugly tactic of secret evidence against Palestinians which was once used by the Nazis against Jews.
Mohammad’s wife, Fayha Shalash  has taken the leading role in the campaign to free her husband by using social media to communicate with Palestinians, Israelis and the rest of the world. Fayha uses video messages very effectively to convey her messages and has since generated an international attention and support to the plight of her husband. She told supporters gathered in Lebanon that her husband promised to continue with his hunger strike until he either gets his freedom or martyrdom and she will have no plans of accepting condolences or hold a memorial service should her husband die in captivity.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords between Palestinians and Israelis, the Palestinian Authority assumed civilian and security responsibility to the city of Ramallah, which was designated as “Area A” under the agreement. Ramalla is  located 6 miles north of Jerusalem and Israel has no jurisdiction over the city, thus makes the arrest of Mohammad Al-Qeeq as an illegal act by Israel and a violation of the Oslo agreement that Israel signed. This is no different than the Mexican army crossing the border into the city of El Paso, Texas and arrest a United State citizen. Can you imagine the outrage?
                            Demonstrators  in front  of the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels on 17 February, demanding that the EU takes action on the case of Mohammad Al-Qeeq,
Even though this case has received attention worldwide and protesters took the street in  Berlin, Paris, London, Belfast, Melan, New York, Brussels, Luxemburg, Lebanon and Israel. Now Amnesty International has called upon Israel to urgently facilitate the transfer of Mohammad Al-Qeek to Ramalla hospital, the Palestinian Authority has until now shamelessly remained tight lipped.
However, when PA president Mahmoud Abbas and his deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash were called upon by Israel to intercede in behalf of Israeli spy held in Cuba on espionage charges since 2009, both of them rushed into action. As a result, Alan Gross, a 64 years old Jewish American spy who was serving 15 years sentence was released. Below is one of several leaked letters to the press by the office of Al-Habbash, which show how these  officials bend backward to accommodate Israel and US citizens. The name Gearshon Baskin is an Israeli researcher and close associate of PM Netanyahu.
Inline image
Last but not least, Mohammad Al-Qeeq is not asking his jailer or the Israeli occupation for mercy, leniency or asylum, he is asking for his rights to be respected and protected. As he previously said, he wants to live with honor rather than live with humiliation and he is willing to use his body and life as his only defense until freedom or martyrdom. Just like ” give me liberty or give me death ” were the words from speech by Patrick Henry to urge American colonies to revolt against England.

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US dominates global weapons sale amid increasing imports



Press TV 

The United States has expanded its weapons business, increasing its global arms sales amid rising imports by Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

According to a new study published Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the volume of international transfers of major weapons, including sales and donations, was 14 percent higher in 2011-2015 than over the five previous years, with the US and Russia doing most of the exporting.

The biggest importers were India, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The report pointed to the Saudi-led war on Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been seeking to reinstate the country’s fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and undermine the Yemeni Ansarullah movement.

“A coalition of Arab states is putting mainly US- and European-sourced advanced arms into use in Yemen,” senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman said in the report.

The report also said US arms went to more than 90 countries.

The United States has sold or donated major arms to a diverse range of recipients across the globe, the report said.

“As regional conflicts and tensions continue to mount, the USA remains the leading global arms supplier by a significant margin,” said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.

“The USA has sold or donated major arms to at least 96 states in the past five years, and the US arms industry has large outstanding export orders,” including for over 600 F-35 combat aircraft, said Fleurant.

The biggest chunk of US major arms, 41 percent, went into Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East.

Now Scott Bennett, former US Army psychological warfare officer, says the trend does not come as a surprise “because it indicates a pattern that we’ve long seen, but has really quickened since the September 11th wars were initiated by the United States.”

Bennett told Press TV on Monday that the US governments “simply followed a policy of igniting fires around the world and then selling the equipment to put them out.”

Meanwhile, the latest report adds that Russia remains in second place on the SIPRI exporters list, with its share of the total up three points to 25 percent, though the levels dropped in 2014 and 2015 — coinciding with Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.

India took the largest chunk of Russian weaponry, AFP reported.

While the flows of weapons to Africa, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East all increased between 2006-10 and 2011-15, there had been a sharp fall in the flow to Europe and a minor decrease in the volume heading to the Americas, according to SIPRI.

The overall transfer of arms has been upwards this century after a relative drop in the previous 20 years.

China leapfrogged both France and Germany over the past five years to become the third-largest source of major arms globally, with an 88-percent rise in exports. Most of the Chinese weapons went to other Asian countries, with Pakistan the main recipient.

India remains by far the biggest importer of major arms, accounting for 14 percent of the total; twice as much as second-placed Saudi Arabia and three times as much as China.

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Pentagon mercenaries: Blackwater, Al-Qaeda… what’s in a name?

Image result for Blackwater CARTOON
By Finian Cunningham 

CIA-linked private “security” companies are fighting in Yemen for the US-backed Saudi military campaign. Al-Qaeda-affiliated mercenaries are also being deployed. Melding private firms with terror outfits should not surprise. It’s all part of illegal war making.

Western news media scarcely report on the conflict in Yemen, let alone the heavy deployment of Western mercenaries in the fighting there. In the occasional Western report on Al-Qaeda and related terror groups in Yemen, it is usually in the context of intermittent drone strikes carried out by the US, or with the narrative that these militants are “taking advantage” of the chaos “to expand” their presence in the Arabian Peninsula, as reported here by the Washington Post.

This bifurcated Western media view of Yemen belies a more accurate and meaningful perspective, which is that the US-backed Saudi bombing campaign is actually coordinated with an on-the-ground military force that comprises regular troops, private security firms and Al-Qaeda type mercenaries redeployed from Syria.

There can be little doubt in Syria – despite Western denials – that the so-called Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)) jihadists and related Al-Qaeda brigades in Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Fateh, Ahrar ash-Sham and so on, have been infiltrated, weaponized and deployed for the objective of regime-change by the US and its allies. If that is true for Syria, then it is also true for Yemen. Indeed, the covert connection becomes even more apparent in Yemen.

Last November, the New York Times confirmed what many Yemeni sources had long been saying. That the US-backed Saudi military coalition trying to defeat a popular uprising was relying on mercenaries supplied by private security firms tightly associated with the Pentagon and the CIA.

The mercenaries were recruited by companies linked to Erik Prince, the former US Special Forces commando-turned businessman, who set up Blackwater Worldwide. The latter and its re-branded incarnations, Xe Services and Academi, remain a top private security contractor for the Pentagon, despite employees being convicted for massacring civilians while on duty in Iraq in 2007. In 2010, for example, the Obama administration awarded the contractor more than $200 million in security and CIA work.

Erik Prince, who is based primarily in Virginia where he runs other military training centers, set up a mercenary hub in the United Arab Emirates five years ago with full support from the royal rulers of the oil-rich state. The UAE Company took the name Reflex Responses or R2. The NY Times reported that some 400 mercenaries were dispatched from the Emirates’ training camps to take up assignment in Yemen. Hundreds more are being trained up back in the UAE for the same deployment.

This is just one stream of several “soldiers of fortune” going into Yemen to fight against the uprising led by Houthi rebels, who are in alliance with remnants of the national army. That insurgency succeeded in kicking out the US and Saudi-backed president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in early 2015. Hadi has been described as a foreign puppet, who presided over a corrupt regime of cronyism and vicious repression.

Since last March, the Saudis and other Persian Gulf Arab states have been bombing Yemen on a daily basis in order to overthrow the Houthi-led rebellion and reinstall the exiled Hadi.

Washington and Britain have supplied warplanes and missiles, as well as logistics, in the Saudi-led campaign, which has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. The involvement of Blackwater-type mercenaries – closely associated with the Pentagon – can also be seen as another form of American contribution to the Saudi-led campaign.

The mercenaries sent from the UAE to Yemen are fighting alongside other mercenaries that the Saudis have reportedly enlisted from Sudan, Eritrea and Morocco. Most are former soldiers, who are paid up to $1,000 a week while serving in Yemen. Many of the Blackwater-connected fighters from the UAE are recruited from Latin America: El Salvador, Panama and primarily Colombia, which is considered to have good experience in counter-insurgency combat.

Also among the mercenaries are American, British, French and Australian nationals. They are reportedly deployed in formations along with regular troops from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE.

In recent months, the Houthi rebels (also known as Ansarullah) and their allies from the Yemeni army – who formed a united front called the Popular Committees – have inflicted heavy casualties on the US-Saudi coalition. Hundreds of troops have been reportedlykilled in gun battles in the Yemeni provinces of Marib, in the east, and Taiz, to the west. The rebels’ use of Tochka ballistic missiles has had particularly devastating results.

So much so that it is reported that the Blackwater-affiliated mercenaries have “abandoned the Taiz front” after suffering heavy casualties over the last two months. “Most of the Blackwater operatives killed in Yemen were believed to be from Colombia and Argentina; however, there were also casualties from the United States, Australia and France,” Masdar News reports.

Into this murky mix are added extremist Sunni militants who have been dispatched to Yemen from Syria. They can be said to be closely related, if not fully integrated, with Al-Qaeda or IS in that they profess allegiance to a “caliphate” based on a fundamentalist Wahhabi, or Takfiri, ideology.

These militants began arriving in Yemen in large numbers within weeks of Russia’s military intervention in Syria beginning at the end of September, according to Yemeni Army spokesman Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman. Russian air power immediately began inflicting severe losses on the extremists there. Senior Yemeni military sources said that hundreds of IS-affiliated fighters were flown into Yemen’s southern port city of Aden onboard commercial aircraft belonging to Turkey, Qatar and the UAE.

Soon after the militants arrived, Aden residents said the city had descended into a reign of terror. The integrated relationship with the US-Saudi coalition can be deduced from the fact that Aden has served as a key forwarding military base for the coalition. Indeed, it was claimed by Yemen military sources that the newly arrived Takfiri militants were thence dispatched to the front lines in Taiz and Marib, where the Pentagon-affiliated mercenaries and Saudi troops were also assigned.

It is true that the Pentagon at times wages war on Al-Qaeda-related terrorists. The US airstrike in Libya on Friday, which killed some 40 IS operatives at an alleged training camp, is being trumpeted by Washington as a major blow against terrorism. And in Yemen since 2011, the CIA and Pentagon have killed many Al-Qaeda cadres in drone strikes, with the group’s leader being reportedly assassinated last June in a US operation.

Nevertheless, as the broader US-Saudi campaign in Yemen illustrates, the outsourcing of military services to private mercenaries in conjunction with terrorist militia is evidently an arm of covert force for Washington.

This is consistent with how the same groups have been deployed in Syria for the purpose of regime change there.

The blurring of lines between regular military, private security contractors with plush offices in Virginia and Abu Dhabi, and out-and-out terror groups is also appropriate. Given the nature of the illegal wars being waged, it all boils down to state-sponsored terrorism in the end.


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Are We 7 Days From ‘World War III’? If So, How and Why Have We Come To This…?



Russian officials have warned that a new ‘world war’ is in danger of being set off in Syria, partly in response to the actions and maneuvers of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks. But if World War III is an imminent possibility, why? And why would it not be stopped?

As previously highlighted, a primarily Turkish and Saudi push to get into Syria has been accelerated by the gains made by Assad and Russia in recent weeks. Raqqa’s days as the Islamic State’s ‘capital’ are probably over – which might be why ISIS/Daesh members, including leaders, have been flooding instead into Libya, which is – thanks to NATO – no longer under the protection of Gaddafi or even a national government.

There will soon be a race to take control of ISIS’s territory, with a likely Saudi/Turkey-fronted push to take control of much of eastern Syria (along with major oil fields), including Raqqa, and possibly to establish a Sunni state, while President Assad and the Syrian Army will try to secure that same territory as part of a unified Syria. Whether a unified Syria can even be salvaged anymore from the utter mess that has been unleashed onto the country for five years is debatable; but Assad has made it clear he intends to recapture the entire country.

This suggests an inevitable clash between dual interests and forces once ISIS is obliterated in Raqqa – or perhaps even before that.

As Moon of Alabama puts it, ‘The race to Raqqa is on. Syria and its allies are competing with the U.S. and its allies to snatch east Syria from the Islamic State’.

This already-unfolding plan to Balkanise Iraq and Syria – with other countries possibly to follow – and create a number of smaller states in their place is a longstanding one, probably with some basis in the Zionist/Yinon Plan. The last time the Middle East was drastically carved up and reconfigured was in the First World War, a hundred years ago. Perhaps fittingly, there is now spiraling talk of a Third World War in various (even mainstream) publications and even from the mouths of various officials of various governments. It might take a Third World War scenario for this forced reconfiguration of borders and spheres of influence to be brought about, as the different powers involved – Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States – all seek to remake the region according to their own interests, and many of those interests are of course incompatible.

This entire foreign-orchestrated enterprise to destroy Syria has already had an enormous cost in lives, created millions of refugees, destroyed entire towns and cities, utterly wrecked Syria, destabilised the Middle East and started to destabilise Europe. But the same foreign conspirators who’ve financed and backed the conflict all these years appear unwilling to allow the conflict to end without accomplishing their various objectives.


Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journalwrites,Any person who relies on Western media has no accurate idea of what is happening in Syria… the insane neoconservatives who control Western foreign policy and their Turkish and Saudi Arabian vassalsmight be preparing the end of the world‘. Roberts continues, ‘If a US/Turkish/Saudi force were to arrive first in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor, Syria would be dismembered. The Russians can get there first by dropping in paratroopers. In other words, what the insane neoconservatives are doing is giving the Russian government a big incentive to introduce Russian ground troops into the conflict. Once those troops are there, you can safely bet that the insane neoconservatives will cause conflict between them and US/Turkish forces. A wider war will have begun from which neither side can back down’.

A number of analysts have said for some years already that the War in Syria was the gateway to a global conflict; I also made much the same point in regard to the 2011 intervention in Libya, recognising NATO’s war on Gaddafi as a major maneuver to pave the way for a global conflict. I wrote then; ‘To some this strategy might seem to not make sense; but to those who understand that the Global Powers are orchestrating both a ‘Clash of Civilisations’ and a Third World War for the purposes of forging a new global order, it makes perfect sense. Understand that we have been meticulously maneuvered towards an apocalyptic-style ‘Clash of Civilisations’ scenario in which every possible religious or cultural sectarianism is being amplified and played upon, first in the Middle East and Africa and then in Europe and America too’.

Most are in agreement that we are probably closer to that World War scenario now than at any prior point.

Hal Turner, who claims to have been a National Security Intelligence Asset with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, insisted – as of February 11th – that “We are 18 days away from World War 3”.

Though his statements are of course only a speculation, he elaborates – supposedly based on inside information – that ‘Russia now faces being over-run in Syria starting 18 days from now. The ONLY possible way they can stop 350,000 ground troops backed by 20,000 tanks, is to use tactical nukes. Their formal policy is to do exactly that. Hence, tactical (Battlefield) nuclear weapons will be used. There’s no way to avoid it because it is the only possible defense against 350,000 ground troops and 20,000 tanks coming across the border’. He continues to paint a horrifically bleak picture. ‘As the artillery-fired nuclear shells start detonating, they will spread radiation into Jordan or Iraq – whichever nation is the entry point for the mass of troops. Wind will carry that radiation deep into those countries’.

The point being that any such Russian counter-offensive against this prospective Syrian invasion would presumablygive the United States and its allies the justification both for going into Syria and for retaliating against Russia and Iran. Hal Turner’s scenario might not be the one that plays out – and his insistence on 18 days might also not be necessary – but the idea of US retalliation against Russia should Russia attack either American ally Saudi Arabia or NATO-member Turkey may essentially be sound.

One wonders if all of this has been planned out far in advance. Consider all those NATO military drills all over Europe last year, as well as in Northern America, and consider all the deployment of NATO personnel and military hardware all around Europe and right onto Russia’s doorstep, all of which has been occurring for some time now. Consider all of the extraordinary propaganda warfare that’s been played out against Putin and Russia, right up to the BBC broadcasting a documentary-style programme just weeks ago that explored an entirely fictional Russian invasion of Latvia and how Britain would respond to a Russian nuclear strike on London.

The curiously overt threat of ground troops recently made by Saudi officials could be a maneuver to draw the United States into committing its own forces to Syria. This might be why the proposal was carefully phrased to suggest the framework of a US-led coalition. It is also possible this is all a pantomime being played out and that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are being used as a catalyst for allowing the United States and other Western powers to send troops into Syria, where they will come into conflict with Russian and Iranian troops. Again, a clash with Russia could also be why NATO spent much of last year moving troops into position around Europe and carrying out large-scale drills and mobilisations, mostly designed – one suspects – to either intimidate or provoke Russia (see here for a list of those exercises and deployments). Russia too had been conducting its own war games, including in partnership with China.

Telegraph report meanwhile reveals that “more than 1,600 British troops will head to the Middle East to practise an Iraq invasion-scale operation for the first time in more than a decade”. But although a deployment to Jordan would suggest a focus on Syria, The Telegraph suggests an alternative motive. ‘Exercise Shamal Storm could be a dry run for one day having to send a large armoured force of British troops to Eastern Europe if there was ever a Russian confrontation with NATO‘, sources have said.


The highly dubious conflict in Ukraine may in fact have been intended all along as a way not only to draw in Russia militarily but to establish a trigger for conflict in Europe.

Meanwhile open conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia would give the United States and Israel the justification for taking military action against Iran – something Israel has been calling for for a very long time (and something that Israeli and Saudi officials are known to have discussed). Bear in mind too that President Obama doesn’t have long left in office and whoever it is that steps into the Oval Office might follow a much more drastic course of action than Obama would. For the record, the criminal Hilary Clinton has already stated her willingness to go to war with Iran.

And Russia’s direct involvement in Syria massively increases the potential for the conflict to extend far beyond Syria and the region should a Turkey or Saudi-led coalition violate Syrian sovereignty or should the United States or NATO be compelled to come to the aid of its Saudi or Turkish allies. An attack on NATO-member Turkey could, in theory, demand retalliation from the mutual defense organisation and its other members, potentially drawing most of the Western world into the conflict.

Saudi troops setting foot in Syria is a catastrophe waiting to happen, given the highly chaotic and volatile equation. Even if the Saudi troops *were* there primarily to fight ISIS/Daesh, there remains a substantial possibility of Saudi personnel coming into direct conflict with Hezbollah fighters or Iranian soldiers. And then, there in Syria, the sectarian conflict between the two powers could escalate to dangerous proportions. Although Iran and the Saudis have been engaged in highly destructive proxy warfare already, via their respective militias in Syria (as well as in the War in Yemen), this misadventure could lead to *direct confrontation*.

Perhaps that’s the point.

According to Oubai Shabandar, a former US Department of Defense official, ‘Shia foreign fighters that are being flown into Syria would view an Arab coalition in northern Syria as a direct threat because the Shia extremist forces that are fighting on the Aleppo front are direct clients of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, so essentially they are of the same strain as the Houthi forces in Yemen’.


Perhaps there is an intention to finish this proxy warfare and set off an open sectarian war. Perhaps that is the only way to resolve this pathetic conflict. If we were to regard Syria, Iraq, Yemen and even the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s as all being elements of the Saudi/Iran-Sunni/Shia proxy warfare, then the death-toll and the level of destruction wrought by this conflict has already been many times in excess of what might occur in a more traditional conflict directly between two powers.

If so, it would fulfill those old predictions that some conspiracy theorists are so fond of – that the Third World War would be triggered by a deliberately agitated sectarian conflict in the Middle East.

But the eruption of the so-called Sunni/Shia sectarian rift into open conflict would not only draw othernations into the conflict – it would also give the various powers carte blanche to pursue their own agendas militarily and try to accomplish longstanding goals that would be unattainable during peace-time.

This means Turkey pursuing a war on the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, it means Iran trying to expand its own sphere of influence and control just as the Saudis will. It means the United States and NATO mobilising against Russia. It means Israel making its final, violent push to fully expel the Palestinians from their territory and also means Israel pursuing the elimination of Iran, Hezbollah, and the degradation of Syria and Lebanon. And that would just be the beginning, not even factoring in what might unfold in the Far East with China, Japan, North Korea, etc.

We should ask ourselves, for that matter, why last year Japan suddenly moved to allow for the possibility of Japanese military combat for the first time in 70 years (since the Second World War) – this was a massive, massive decision that was made against the wishes of the majority of the Japanese population.


Should something akin to a world war now be on the near-horizon, government officials and mainstream media might try to sell it to us as something that is ‘unavoidable’ or unfolding organically due to conflicting interests.

There seems to be very little that was ‘unavoidable’ about this conflict, however, given that the Iraq, Libya and Syria crises were quite deliberately brought about by well-planned international plots, and that the so-called ‘New Cold War’ paradigm between Russia and the West has seemed entirely manufactured, almost to the extent of being a simple foreign policy *desire* from Washington. All of these situations were entirely avoidable and exist only because certain powers and agencies have conspired to bring them about.

A new world war to shake-up the present global order and establish a new one, just as the first two world wars did.


Hal Turner’s view on why a war on this scale is inevitable is simply; ‘The reason this is going to take place is simple: The government in the US, and those in Europe, need a DIVERSION to shift the public’s attention away from the coming economic collapse’.

An economic collapse, combined with spiraling mistrust in government and widespread dissatisfaction, could trigger massive unrest across the board and threaten the positions of various governments or institutions. Therefore escalating the Middle East conflict to World War III proportions could be the current Establishment’s best way to divert that crisis. It would also spare the Neo-Con-centered Establishment, the Zionist machine, along with other elites like the Saudi and Qatari royal families, the danger of facing War Crimes tribunals over Gaza, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, etc.

A particularly interesting view of the First World War, which was raging a hundred years ago at this time, is that the war was in fact organised by the aristocracies and the ruling classes of the various European nations in order to wipe out an enormous amount of the young male population *to prevent them from domestic uprising or revolution*.

In other words, the ruling elites were so fearful of dissatisfaction and desire for change among their populations at this time that they conspired to stage the war to eliminate a large percentage of those who would potentially be revolting *on all sides*. Remember that, as far as Europe was concerned, most of these ruling establishments/families that were at war with each other’s countries were inter-related by blood (particularly Britain and Germany); once the war was over, after four years of horrendous, deeply traumatic fighting, no one was going to have an appetite anymore for revolution or for overthrowing their ‘masters’ (although Russia proved to be an exception).

But is the world maneuvering towards war? Well, if it is, it’s important to understand it would be a completely illegitimate war with no moral basis or foundation; but purely for the preservation of the existing elites and the crumbling criminal systems of national and global control.

It may also be the only way in the long-run to divert any possible domestic revolutions before they gather momentum. Most of these entities and key bodies pushing for the conflict are already exposed War Criminals, financial criminals and worse; NATO itself is already a War Criminal (Libya), while the Ango-American Empire lost all moral footing after Iraq, Israel is being investigated for War Crimes against Gaza in the ICC and the Saudis and the Gulf States stand guilty of funding mass murder in Syria. The march into war would also give nations the ability to suspend all pretense of civil liberties (a direction France appears to already be contemplating) and to act harshly to thwart their own populations.

But more than all of that, the current financial/criminal system might on the brink of collapse; a war may be the best way for the banksters, the politicians and the corporate elite to avoid being lynched by their own citizens.

‘War-Time’ powers would also give the American government and any other state the ability to do all kinds of things, even to their own citizens’ liberties and freedoms. A large-scale war in fact might be the *only* way to save the system in this hyper-information age where anti-Establishment activism and info-exchange is occurring so freely and on so vast a scale and where too many Establishment institutions have lost too much trust and credibility – a large-scale war to shut everything down for a few years or more.

I am reminded of a piece written a year or so ago by Kevin Barrett, who suggested, ‘The Neo-Conservatives are in a panic. Their only hope is to flee forward into ever-bigger wars,” he wrote. “That is why Netanyahu is so desperately lobbying for a war on Iran that would set the Middle East, and perhaps the whole world, on fire. And that is why such neo-conservatives as Victoria Nuland are pushing for a war with Russia that would in all likelihood go nuclear.’ Hecontinued, ‘World War III is the last desperate hope for the Neo-Conservatives and their Likudnik allies. Such a war would usher in martial law, enable the suppression (or at least continued obfuscation) of the truth about 9/11, and save the Neo-Cons from treason trials and Israel from dismantlement.’


So is this the approach to World War III? It might not be. Let’s hope it isn’t. But we’re being brought as close as we’ve ever come to it in my lifetime. And World War I, which was being waged a hundred years ago at this time, was triggered by a lot less.

The suggestion of “18 days” was made over a week ago; if that estimation is accurate (and it probably isn’t), we’d now be 7 days or so away. But the specific date or timing is irrelevant anyway; the fact is that we have been deliberately, callously brought to a point where such a conflict seems inevitable, if not now then in a matter of weeks or months.

What would have, in an ideal world, perhaps prevented all of this from escalating to this point is if the United Nations had any power – if a truly democratic international body had the power to enforce international law, investigate or punish all of the underhanded, covert warfare we’ve seen in recent years, hold War Criminals to account for their actions, prevent illegal wars, and police the arms industry and the military-industrial complexes of this world. In order to do that, the UN would had to have been forced to undergo a reformation – just as Muammar Gaddafi had called for in 2009. “65 wars since 1945 have not been prevented by UN,” he told the assembly.


“How can we be happy about global peace and security if the whole world is controlled only by five countries? The Superpowers have global interests and they used their vetoes to protect those interests,” Gaddafi had complained, as he tore up a piece of paper representing the UN Charter and startled the assembly in New York.

What Gaddafi had called for was a reformed UN that was truly democratic and ruled by its 192 member states and not just the five permanent members of the Security Council. Such a UN would’ve seen Bush, Blair, Haliburton and the Neo-Cons tried as War Criminals after the Iraq War. Such a UN might’ve prevented the Iraq War from even happening; and had the Iraq War not happened, there might not have been any subsequent instability in neighbouring Syria and there might not have been any ‘ISIS’. Such a UN would also have prevented NATO from violating its mandate in destroying Libya; which aside from destroying Libya also impacted massively and directly on the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2011/12.

The escalation now to a Third World War would ironically be the very thing the United Nations was created to prevent. But the UN has been allowed instead to be reduced to basically nothing; just “Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park,” as Gaddafi called it in his bitter 2009 speech, “we makes speeches, we talk, and that’s all.”

Posted in USA, EuropeComments Off on Are We 7 Days From ‘World War III’? If So, How and Why Have We Come To This…?

Breaking down the US-Russia ceasefire plan for Syria

Image result for syria war cartoons

Following Moscow and Washington’s announcement of a joint ceasefire deal for Syria, the war-torn country may be on the verge of the biggest peacemaking breakthrough since fighting broke out there five years ago. Here is how the proposed truce should work:

When does it start?

The ceasefire will become official at midnight Damascus time on Saturday, February 27 (or on Friday at 22:00 GMT). Those who subscribe to the agreement have to publicly declare that they will desist from hostilities by a deadline 12 hours before the ceasefire comes into effect, and inform the White House or the Kremlin.

Who does it apply to?

It is clearer which parties it doesn’t apply to: “‘Daesh’ [Islamic State], ‘Jabhat al-Nusra’ [an al-Qaeda offshoot], or other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council,” according to the Joint Statement. The Syrian government, as well as the oft-mentioned “moderate opposition” factions and the Kurds, will have to take it upon themselves to put down arms – or face consequences.

If the sides agree, what will be expected of them?

Participants are obligated to “cease attacks with any weapons, including rockets, mortars, and anti-tank guided missiles” and “refrain from acquiring or seeking to acquire territory from other parties to the ceasefire.” They must also allow “unhindered and sustained”access to humanitarian assistance missions and employ only “proportional force” in self-defense against those not party to the agreement.

How will the ceasefire function in practice?

Moscow and Washington will “work together to exchange pertinent information,” such as up-to-date maps indicating which sides have agreed to the ceasefire, and where they are located. The parties that are confirmed to have agreed to the ceasefire conditions should no longer come under fire from either side. The firepower is then expected to be concentrated on Islamic State and other jihadists.

How will it be monitored?

A Task Force will be set up, co-chaired by Moscow and Russia, which will “promote compliance and rapidly de-escalate tensions,” serve as an arbiter to “resolve allegations of non-compliance,” and refer “persistent” truce-breakers to senior officials to “determine appropriate action, including the exclusion of such parties from the arrangements of the cessation of hostilities.” A direct hotline will be set up between Moscow and Washington to avoid internal squabbles and improve contact inside the Task Force. The statement also leaves a role for public institutions and journalists in keeping the peace, promising that the ceasefire “will be monitored in an impartial and transparent manner and with broad media coverage.”

Read more:

Ceasefire in Syria to commence at midnight on Feb. 27 – Russia & US

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Breaking down the US-Russia ceasefire plan for Syria

Nigeria: Soldiers committing extrajudicial killings, citizens disappearing after arrest

Image result for Nigeria ARMY CARTOON
American Herald Tribune

It seems that Nigerians have to fear not only the extremist group Boko Haram, but also official soldiers who have proved to carry out extrajudicial killings, where the soldiers act as merciless as insurgents that have been spreading death and destruction in the African country.

According to the Associated Press, farmers and villagers across Nigeria are being arrested upon allegations that they belong to the extremist group Boko haram. The stunning part of the story is that many of these detained people disappear and do not return.

According to the source, Nigerian soldiers detained a teacher and two middle-aged farmers in Duhu village. Some residents, who knew the men, insisted they did not belong to the extremist group, and marched to a nearby military base to demand their release.

The military denied detaining elementary school teacher Habu Bello and farmers Idrisa Dele and Umaru Hammankadi even though several villagers told the news agency they watched as the men were taken away by uniformed soldiers.

“If you have a problem with someone, you can influence the military to pick them up and then you will never hear about them again,” human rights lawyer Sunday Joshua Wugira told AP from his offices in the northeastern city of Yola, where police are investigating the January killings of three brothers from the Fulani tribe.

In one act of terror, AP reported that a teenager said she was captured last year by Boko Haram fighters who attacked her village and killed her father.

“Soldiers arrived to hunt down extremists, but interrogated my three brothers instead. Vigilantes then seized and killed them,” she said.

The girl did not only suffer from Boko Haram’s terror, but even worse from the terror of the Nigerian soldiers as well. The 16-year old girl was kidnapped by Boko Haram at 16 and raped in captivity; she was freed in November when soldiers attacked the extremist camp where she was being held. She tried to return to her home village, but had to flee again because vigilantes threatened to kill her unborn child, calling it a “terrorist baby,” she said.

“I don’t have any figures, but I can confirm to you that there have been a series of complaints about extrajudicial killings,” Duhu district leader Mustapha Sanusi said.

Since 2011, the military has been responsible for the deaths of some 8,000 detainees who were shot, starved or tortured, which counts more than a third of the estimated 20,000 people killed during the 6-year-old insurgency.

The AP report also said that refugees panicked in January when they found the trussed-up body of a refugee with his head bashed in at the Shettima Ali Monguno Teachers Village camp on the outskirts of Maiduguri.

“We now fear more for our safety because we cannot tell who is good or bad among us,” said one young refugee, insisting on anonymity for safety. “Our camp is well fenced and secured, yet one of us was murdered over the night.”

“People are living in fear and believe that at the end of the day they will never get justice,” said lawyer Wugira, who underlined that he has been offering free services yet due to this fear most disappearances go unchallenged.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Nigeria: Soldiers committing extrajudicial killings, citizens disappearing after arrest

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