Archive | March 23rd, 2017

Keeping The “Counter-terrorism” Myth And The Islamic State Alive

Mideast Islamic State Syrian Stronghold

Joint Syrian-Russian-Iranian operations against foreign-funded and armed militant groups across Syrian territory have incrementally dismantled and frustrated the fighting capacity of groups including the so-called Islamic State, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, and a myriad of other fronts coordinated and arrayed from abroad against Damascus.

With the Russian intervention in late 2015, considerable air power was applied to these militant fronts’ logistical lines extending beyond Syria’s borders. As the supplies were cut, Syrian forces and their allies were able to isolate and eliminate one stronghold after another.

Now, many of these groups face defeat within Syria, prompting their foreign sponsors into two courses of action – posing as the forces responsible for their defeat as the US and Turkey are attempting to do amid their respective, illegal incursions into Syrian territory, and creating a narrative to serve as cover for the evacuation and harboring of these militant groups elsewhere for future use.

Terrorist Organizations are Empire’s Modern Mercenaries 

Just before and since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, Anglo-American interests have cultivated militant groups across its territory to divide and conquer the entire region – contributing toward Washington and London’s greater global hegemonic ambitions.

The terrorist organization known as Al Qaeda, created in part from the shattered remains of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood defeated by Hafez Al Assad in the 1980’s, would be deployed next to Afghanistan after their foreign-backed bid to overthrow the Syrian government failed.

Since then, Al Qaeda has participated in NATO operations in the Balkans, across the Middle East and North Africa, and even as far as Asia. The group operates as both a casus belli for Western intervention globally, and as a proxy force able to wage war against governments Western military forces are unable to confront directly as was the case in Libya and currently in Syria.

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Al Qaeda and its various subsidiaries and affiliates – including the Islamic State – also serve in an auxiliary capacity such as in Yemen where they hold territory taken by mechanized forces from Persian Gulf invaders.

While Western narratives attempt to portray these militant fronts as independent terrorist organizations operating beyond both international law and the reach of superior Western military and intelligence capabilities, in reality, this narrative is cover for what is obvious state sponsored proxy terrorism and militancy.

The United States has all but admitted its role in the creation of these organizations as well as their ongoing role in their perpetuation. The use of US allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to launder money, weapons, training, and other forms of political and material support through has also been extensively documented.

Keeping the Myth and the Islamic State Alive

RAND Corporation representatives recently penned an editorial in Fortune titled, Why A Dying Islamic State Could Be An Even Bigger Threat To America,” in which they attempt to explain how, despite the Islamic State losing its territorial holdings in Syria and Iraq, the organization will continue to operate and pose as a menace to global security.

In reality, the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and other fronts will continue to persist for one sole reason – the immense multinational state sponsorship they receive from the United States, NATO, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The Fortune editorial claims:

The liberation of Mosul and Raqqa are important initial steps in diminishing the threat from the Islamic State. Without an actual state, the Islamic State will likely lose a substantial amount of its appeal. Without a secure territorial base to operate from, it may have a harder time organizing external attacks. Yet the Islamic State, like al Qaeda before it, will continue to metastasize and seek to spread its influence once it loses its home base.

The RAND authors also claim:

If the Islamic State is to be defeated and stay defeated, military measures will need to be combined with economic, technical, and political assistance designed to improve state and local capacity. Popular grievances that have given rise to extremist movements need to be better addressed. These are not steps the United States should take alone, but Washington should lead in assembling and guiding donor coalitions working with each of the affected countries. 

However, it is difficult to believe that self-proclaimed professional policymakers and experts failed to consider the source of the Islamic State’s fighting capacity – its extensive state sponsorship. No mention is made of this in the editorial, nor is any mention of this made by US, NATO, or GCC politicians, military planners, analysts, or other policymakers. It is an open secret guarded carefully with repetitive editorials and news pieces like the aforementioned RAND piece in Fortune.

With US-NATO-GCC plans frustrated in Syria by a formidable military coalition, the special interests driving this axis will inevitably seek to deploy their proxy forces where such coalitions cannot reach. Current efforts to divide and disrupt socioeconomic and political stability across all of Asia would be served well by the inclusion of veteran terrorists and militants escaping from Syrian-Russian-Iranian forces in the Middle East.

Defiant nations in Southeast Asia in particular, may find local political brush fires turned into infernos with the inclusion of the Islamic State’s shifting ranks. In Myanmar, US-Saudi backed militants are already attempting to expand violence surrounding the Rohingya crisis, likely in an attempt to create a pretext for a permanent US military presence in the country aimed at further driving a wedge between Myanmar and neighboring China.

In Thailand, inflaming its lengthy southern insurgency by transforming it from a political struggle into the same sort of intentionally sectarian and destructive conflict that has consumed Libya and Syria could help Washington rein in Bangkok. A similar strategy is likely already under way in the Philippines.

Seeing through the myth, and exposing the true nature of the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations as proxy forces serving multinational special interests, is the most important, and perhaps only way of protecting against the use of such groups to geopolitically coerce, divide, and destroy nations.

Building formidable coalitions both on the battlefield and in information space is also essential in confronting and overcoming such tactics. Attempting to capitulate to Western narratives in fear of alienating public opinion does not eliminate the treat of militant fronts entering into and destroying a nation – in fact – it only further emboldens such efforts. Nations like Libya which attempted to appease Western interests by joining the so-called “War on Terror” no longer exist as functioning states.

In the coming months, as pressure grows on Western proxies operating in Syria and Iraq, editorials like that featured in Fortune will multiply. It is important to expose what the West attempts to portray as inevitable retreat conducted solely by terrorist organizations as the Western-enabled evacuation and redeployment it truly is.

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Democrats Trade Places on War and McCarthyism

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Exclusive: The anti-Russia hysteria gripping the Democratic Party marks a “trading places” moment as the Democrats embrace the New Cold War and the New McCarthyism, flipping the script on Republicans, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Caught up in the frenzy to delegitimize Donald Trump by blaming his victory on Russian meddling, national Democrats are finishing the transformation of their party from one that was relatively supportive of peace to one pushing for war, including a confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

This “trading places” moment was obvious in watching the belligerent tone of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Monday as they impugned the patriotism of any Trump adviser who may have communicated with anyone connected to Russia.

Ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, acknowledged that there was no hard evidence of any Trump-Russia cabal, but he pressed ahead with what he called “circumstantial evidence of collusion,” a kind of guilt-by-association conspiracy theory that made him look like a mild-mannered version of Joe McCarthy.

Schiff cited by name a number of Trump’s aides and associates who – as The New York Times reported – were “believed to have some kind of contact or communications with Russians.” These Americans, whose patriotism was being questioned, included foreign policy adviser Carter Page, Trump’s second campaign manager Paul Manafort, political adviser Roger Stone and Trump’s first national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

In a 15-minute opening statement, Schiff summed up his circumstantial case by asking: “Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated.”

As an investigative journalist who has covered (and uncovered) national security scandals for several decades, I would never accuse people of something as serious as betraying their country based on nothing more than coincidences that, who knows, might not be coincidental.

Before we published anything on such topics, the news organizations that I worked for required multiple layers of information from a variety of sources including insiders who could describe what had happened and why. Such stories included Nicaraguan Contra cocaine smuggling, Oliver North’s secret Contra supply operation, and the Reagan campaign’s undermining of President Carter’s Iran-hostage negotiations in 1980.

For breaking those stories, we still took enormous heat from Republicans, some Democrats who wanted to show how bipartisan they were, and many establishment-protecting journalists, but the stories contained strong evidence that misconduct occurred – and we were highly circumspect in how the allegations were framed.

Going Whole-Hog

By contrast, national Democrats, some super-hawk Republicans and the establishment media are going whole-hog on these vague suspicions of contacts between some Russians and some Americans who have provided some help or advice to Trump.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting room at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, at the outset of a bilateral meeting on July 14, 2016. [State Department Photo]

Given the paucity of evidence – both regarding the claims that Russia hacked Democratic emails and slipped them to WikiLeaks, and the allegations that somehow Trump’s advisers colluded in that process – it would appear that what is happening is a political maneuver to damage Trump politically and possibly remove him from office.But those machinations require the Democratic Party’s continued demonization of Russia and implicitly put the Democrats on the side of escalating New Cold War tensions, such as military support for the  fiercely anti-Russian regime in Ukraine which seized power in a 2014 U.S.-backed putsch overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

One of the attack lines that Democrats have used against Trump is that his people toned down language in the Republican platform about shipping arms to the Ukrainian military, which includes battalions of neo-Nazi fighters and has killed thousands of ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the east in what is officially called an Anti-Terrorism Operation (or ATO).

The Democratic Party leaders have fully bought into the slanted Western narrative justifying the violent overthrow of Yanukovych. They also have ignored the human rights of Ukraine’s ethnic Russian minorities, which voted overwhelmingly in Crimea and the Donbass to secede from post-coup Ukraine. The more complex reality is simply summed up as a “Russian invasion.”

Key Democrats also have pressed for escalation of the U.S. military attacks inside Syria to force “regime change” on Bashar al-Assad’s secular government even if that risks another military confrontation with Russia and a victory by Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists.

In short, the national Democratic Party is turning itself into the more extreme war party. It’s not that the Republicans have become all that dovish; it’s just that the Democrats have become all that hawkish. The significance of this change can hardly be overstated.

Questioning War

Since late in the Vietnam War, the Democrats have acted as the more restrained of the two major parties on issues of war, with the Republicans associated with tough-guy rhetoric and higher military spending. By contrast, Democrats generally were more hesitant to rush into foreign wars and confrontations (although they were far from pacifists).

Daniel Ellsberg on the cover of Time after leaking the Pentagon Papers

Especially after the revelations of the Pentagon Papers in the 1971 revealing the government deceptions used to pull the American people into the Vietnam War, Democrats questioned shady rationalizations for other wars.

Some Democratic skepticism continued into the 1980s as President Ronald Reagan was modernizing U.S. propaganda techniques to whitewash the gross human rights crimes of right-wing regimes in Central America and to blacken the reputations of Nicaragua’s Sandinistas and other leftists.

The Democratic resolve against war propaganda began to crack by the mid-to-late 1980s – around Reagan’s Grenada invasion and George H.W. Bush’s attack on Panama. By then, the Republicans had enjoyed nearly two decades of bashing the Democrats as “weak on defense” – from George McGovern to Jimmy Carter to Walter Mondale to Michael Dukakis.

But the Democratic Party’s resistance to dubious war rationalizations collapsed in 1991 over George H.W. Bush’s Persian Gulf War, in which the President rebuffed less violent solutions(even ones favored by the U.S. military) to assure a dramatic ground-war victory after which Bush declared, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.”

Fearful of being labeled disloyal to “the troops” and “weak,” national Democrats scrambled to show their readiness to kill. In 1992, Gov. Bill Clinton left the campaign trail to return to Arkansas to oversee the execution of the mentally impaired Ricky Ray Rector.

During his presidency, Clinton deployed so-called “smart power” aggressively, including maintaining harsh sanctions on Iraq even as they led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. He also intervened in the Yugoslavian civil war by bombing civilian targets in Belgrade including the lethal destruction of the Serb TV station for the supposed offense of broadcasting “propaganda.”

After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, many leading congressional Democrats – including presidential hopefuls John Kerry, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton – voted to authorize President George W. Bush to invade Iraq. Though they offered various excuses (especially after the Iraq War went badly), the obvious real reason was their fear of being labeled “soft” in Republican attack ads.

The American public’s revulsion over the Iraq War and the resulting casualties contributed to Barack Obama’s election. But he, too, moved to protect his political flanks by staffing his young administration with hawks, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. (and later CIA Director) David Petraeus. Despite receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama also became comfortable with continuing Bush’s wars and starting some of his own, such as the bombing war against Libya and the violent subversion of Syria.

By nominating Hillary Clinton in 2016, the Democratic Party completed its transformation into the Party of War. Clinton not only ran as an unapologetic hawk in the Democratic primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders – urging, for instance, a direct U.S. military invasion of Syria to create “no fly zones” – but positioned herself as a harsh critic of Trump’s hopes to reduce hostilities with Russia, deeming the Republican nominee Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”

Ironically, Trump’s shocking victory served to solidify the Democratic Party’s interest in pushing for a military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. After all, baiting Trump over his alleged “softness” toward Russia has become the centerpiece of Democratic hopes for somehow ousting Trump or at least crippling his presidency. Any efforts by Trump to ease those tensions will be cited as prima facie evidence that he is Putin’s “Manchurian candidate.”

Being Joe McCarthy

National Democrats and their media supporters don’t even seem troubled by the parallels between their smears of Americans for alleged contacts with Russians and Sen. Joe McCarthy’s guilt-by-association hearings of the early Cold War. Every link to Russia – no matter how tenuous or disconnected from Trump’s election – is trumpeted by Democrats and across the mainstream news media.

Lawyer Roy Cohn (right) with Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

But it’s not even clear that this promotion of the New Cold War and the New McCarthyism will redound to the Democrats’ political advantage. Clinton apparently thought that her embrace of a neoconservative foreign policy would bring in many “moderate” Republicans opposed to Trump’s criticism of the Bush-Obama wars, but exit polls showed Republicans largely rallying to their party’s nominee.

Meanwhile, there were many anti-war Democrats who have become deeply uncomfortable with the party’s new hawkish persona. In the 2016 election, some peace Democrats voted for third parties or didn’t vote at all for president, although it’s difficult to assess how instrumental those defections were in costing Clinton the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

More broadly, the Democratic obsession with Russia and the hopes for somehow exploiting those investigations in order to oust Trump have distracted the party from a necessary autopsy into why the Democrats have lost so much ground over the past decade.

While many Democratic leaders and activists are sliding into full-scale conspiracy-mode over the Russia-Trump story, they are not looking at the party’s many mistakes and failings, such as:

–Why did party leaders push so hard to run an unpopular establishment candidate in a strongly anti-establishment year? Was it the fact that many are beholden to the Clinton cash machine?

–How can Democrats justify the undemocratic use of “super-delegates” to make many rank-and-file voters feel that the process is rigged in favor of the establishment’s choice?

–What can the Democratic Party do to reengage with many working-class voters, especially downwardly mobile whites, to stop the defection of this former Democratic base to Trump’s populism?

–Do national Democrats understand how out of touch they are with the future as they insist that the United States must remain the sole military superpower in a uni-polar world when the world is rapidly shifting toward a multi-polar reality?

Yet, rather than come up with new strategies to address the future, Democratic leaders would rather pretend that Putin is at fault for the Trump presidency and hope that the U.S. intelligence community – with its fearsome surveillance powers – can come up with enough evidence to justify Trump’s impeachment.

Then, of course, the Democrats would be stuck with President Mike Pence, a more traditional Religious Right Republican whose first step on foreign policy would be to turn it over to neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, a move that would likely mean a new wave of “regime change” wars.

At such a point, that might put the Democrats and Republicans in sync as two equally warmongering parties, but what good that would do for the American people and the world is hard to fathom.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Neocon” and “Democrats Are Now the Aggressive War Party.]

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Far-Right Brighton Labour Councillor resigns from Labour Party

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Far-Right Brighton Labour Councillor resigns from Labour Party citing ‘anti-Semitism’ as his excuse
Cllr. Inkpin-Leissner refuses to stand for re-election as Brighton councillor
Inkpin deserts the sinking ship that is the current Labour Administration of Brighton & Hove Council

I was first alerted to the resignation of Councillor Michael Inkpin-Leissner when I was visiting the site of the McCarthyite Zionist Campaign for Anti-Semitism.  There is, as many of you will be aware a petition calling on the Charity Commission to deregister this political organisation which is almost certainly funded by the Israeli state.

Inkpin-Leissner is a councillor for the ward where the unemployed centre, which I founded, used to be based.  It is a very deprived ward of Brighton and the New Labour politics of Inkpin have done nothing to help regenerate it, quite the contrary.  Inkpin is and remains a supporter of the New Labour Brighton and Hove Council which is led by Progress supporter Warren Morgan, who was behind the suspension of the District Labour Party in July last year.

I have posted a response on Inkpin’s facebook page though I doubt it will stay up too long!  Inkpin describes himself as an ‘armed forces champion’ – in other words a militarist who will support any amount of imperialist wars using his fake concern for individual soldiers as his prop to lean upon.  As I make clear below, anyone seriously concerned with members of the armed forces would be campaigning against imperialist wars abroad, but that would go against his New Labour politics.

As is to be expected of such a person, Inkpin won’t be resigning citing ‘a lot of local residents with diverse political opinions’ who voted for him.  Of course he forgets to say that they voted for him as a Labour candidate and if he is so confident of their support then why not see at a by-election?

Statement in Response to that of Cllr. Michael Inkpin-Leissner

Your statement says nothing at all. There is no content worthy of the name. This is shallowness beyond measure and an indication of the vacuity of what is left of New Labour.
It might be quite strange to you but New Labour’s continental equivalents have not been a shining success. In the Netherlands last week a massive defeat for the Blairite Labour Party. In France the Socialist Party under Hollande is in melt down. In Germany, as you say, it is Die Linke, which is the flame for the Left. You offer nothing but the continuation of a system, yes capitalism, which plunders and despoils.
 
Your concern about ‘anti-Semitism’ is touching and entirely misplaced. Anti-semitism is a marginal prejudice in this society. Unlike you I am Jewish and having lived my childhood in non-Jewish working class areas of Britain I can testify that I never experienced it. Nor have I ever experienced it on the Left or in the Labour Party.
How the far-Right Zionist Campaign for Anti-Semitism sees Inkpin’s resignation
Please do not use Jewish people as an excuse for your own far-Right political leanings. The lesson of the holocaust is that all forms of racism are wrong and should be fought. Your New Labour friends pioneered Islamaphobia in this country and demonised Muslims.
 
With your war in Iraq and Afghanistan you brought terrorism, which we have seen today, onto the streets of Britain. What you called ‘monsters’ were summoned into being by the monstrous wars that you and your ilk supported.
 
What you and others mean by ‘anti-Semitism’ is opposition to Zionism and the Israeli state. A state which only recently demolished an Arab/Bedouin village Umm al Hiran, in Israel proper, in order to make way for a Jewish town. It would be futile to describe the system of military oppression on the West Bank, the shackliing and torture of children, the house demolitions etc. because you after all supported the continuing war crime that began with the invasion of Iraq.
 
It is incidentally no accident that in the USA, with the advent of Trump and his white supremacist friends in Breitbart and the alt-RIght, that anti-Semitism has indeed increased exponentially. That was why my anti-Zionist friends in Jewish Voices for Peace and other Jewish leftists picketed the meeting in November last year where Steve Bannon, Trump’s new Strategic Advisor and former CEO of Breitbart was due to speak. In the end hundreds of anti-racist Jews prevented him speaking. Whose was the meeting he had been invited to? The Zionist Organisation of America! It is no accident that whereas the Israeli government is happy to condemn ‘anti-Semitism’ in Britain it has failed to say a word about the very real anti-Semitism of Trump’s administration. Zionism and anti-Semitism are and always were merely different sides of the same coin.
 
It is a pity that you, being German, should use your guilt complex as a way of expiating Israel’s racist crimes. Some of see in what Israel does a continuation of the Nazi regime. In Israel, as under the 1935 Nuremburg Laws, a Jew cannot marry a non-Jew. Or perhaps demolishing a non-Jewish house to make way for a Jewish home is your idea of penance?
 
You speak of your ‘never ending support for members of the British Armed Forces’. It is no surprise that cheap jingoism and militarism is your political refuge. Patriotism always was the refuge of the political scoundrel. If your support was at all sincere you would have opposed Blair’s wars of imperialism and the war that we are currently supporting against the people of Yemen.
 
The British army does not have a proud record – be it in Ireland, India Kenya or indeed Iraq, where it carried out the world’s first ever bombing of civilians in 1920. When members of the armed forces have done their duty they are left, in many cases, to live in poverty, in prison or to die on the streets. That is what your ‘support’ for the armed forces really amounts to. The resources used for war could, of course be used to peaceful activities but that would defeat your whole political purpose.
 
I suspect that neither the Labour Party nor your own electors will regret your resignation but if you had the courage of your convictions then you would restand in your ward and give all those ‘ local residents with diverse political opinions’ a chance to decide whether to support you now that you have dispensed with the political party that enabled you to be elected in the first place!
 
I shall put this on other sites in case this doesn’t stay up too long.
 
Please find here my personal statement regarding my resignation from the Labour Party:
When I joint the Labour Party it was a natural choice for me as a Social Democrat from Germany. Labour was a proud pro European Movement.
The current Leadership of the Labour Party seems to have forgotten that. The lukewarm stance to defend the European Nationals by the Parliamentary Labour Group ( I applaud the Lords on this occasion) made me feel more and more uncomfortable to be a part of the Labour Party.
When I joined the Labour Party it was a centre-left Party like the German SPD.
Now it has been taken over by left-wingers and the Momentum extremists, who are working to build an axis with former German Communists “Die Linke”.

As a German, and you will understand, I can never support this and never will compromise my stance against any form of antisemitism. Unfortunately the position of the Labour Party, though there are strong personalities standing up against antisemitism, seems to be not really sincere anymore, proven by the lackluster investigation of Baroness Chakrabarti. I have lost my faith in Labour fighting Antisemitism and for Europe.

I know, fellow councillors made it clear that I should ignore these temporary issues and focus on local politics. But I have to strongly disagree. As a Labour Member in the public eye I was connected to what the current leadership says and stands for. This is why I have to walk away from this party. In my two remaining years as independent councillor I shall focus on my local support and activities in my ward. Some of you will state that I should resign as a Councillor. I disagree on this as not only Labour supporters voted for me but a lot of local residents with diverse political opinions. I shall honour my obligations to them. I was elected to support a Labour Administration.

Where agreed I shall support the current administration under Warren Morgan’s leadership. As we know from the Budget debate the Greens are politically reliable unreliable and the Tories are… well the Tories.

Of course there was already the usual political procedure. GMB, Unite and Corbyn supporters as well as Tories and Greens demanded my complete resignation. Sorry to disappoint you. This city has a stable and reliable administration. I will not support any change to that. Brighton and Hove deserves better than blind ideology from the very Corbynite/Green left or the Bombastic Boris Mayhem right.

I can’t express my gratitude for so many messages of support: members of the Jewish community and other faith groups, members of different political parties, fellow councillors from all over the country.

Now what’s next: I finally can speak free on what annoyed me most as resident in my ward and elsewhere: The abuse of the HMO system, the chaos on Lewes road,my neighbourhood, a lot of other local issues and my never ending support for members of the British Armed Forces, Veterans, their families and carers.

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Spreading the Gospel: Asian leaders wary of Saudi religious diplomacy

King Salman in Asia

By James M. Dorsey

Critics in the Maldives likely sighed relief when Saudi King Salman this week postponed his visit because of an outbreak of flu. The flu is, however, unlikely to halt a planned massive Saudi investment or the impact on Maldives society of the kingdom’s religion-driven public diplomacy.

Big ticket investments and countering political violence dominated the headlines of the king’s tour of Asia, together with the extravagance of his travel – an entourage of at least 1,000, 459 tonnes of luggage, a golden electric elevator for the monarch to descend from his private plane, and a specially built toilet for his visit to a Jakarta mosque.

Yet, religion often was an elephant in the room on most stops on King Salman’s trip, which took him to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, China and Japan and was supposed to also include the Maldives.

Fostering sectarianism and intolerance

All countries on the king’s intinerary feel the impact of a more than four-decade long Saudi soft power effort to spread Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism in a bid to counter the potential appeal of Iran, whose regime came to power in a popular revolt and which, in contrast to the autocratic kingdom, recognises some degree of popular sovereignty.

The Saudi effort, the single largest public diplomacy campaign in history, has fostered across the Muslim world greater conservatism, anti-Shia and anti-Ahmadi sectarianism, intolerance, and a roll back of basic freedoms through, among other things, tough anti-blasphemy laws.

To be sure, the Saudi campaign is one of several initiatives by Eurasian powers to assert influence across a swath of land stretching from Turkey to China. Yet, it is the one with the largest war chest, except for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

The Saudi campaign moreover focuses on changing societies rather than exclusively on economics and security as in the case of China or Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union. Other powers build their efforts on ethnic or historic kinship as Turkey does with its neo-Ottomanism or India by forging closer ties to its diaspora.

In some countries, such as Malaysia and Brunei, whose rulers seek legitimacy through greater public piety and association with Islam, Saudi religious diplomacy is a welcome contribution. In his role as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, a reference to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, King Salman bestowed with his visit religious legitimacy on his hosts.

Saudi Arabia’s public diplomacy may also be boosted by mounting repression in Egypt that threatens foreign students at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, long the citadel of Islamic learning. Al-Azhar is often viewed as an antidote to the ultra-conservatism of Saudi religious education. Repression in Egypt could, however, drive students to Saudi institutions instead.

Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, Malaysia’s minister of higher education, told reporters in February that his ministry was no longer giving scholarships for study in Egypt. An estimated 11,000 Malaysians study in the North African country. “Right now, the situation in Egypt has not fully settled down, our embassy there is still monitoring the security situation there,” Mr Idris said.

Creating a breeding ground for extremism

The risks involved in an embrace of Saudi-inspired Sunni ultra-conservatism are never far. Decades of Saudi funding often creates an environment that is not inherently violent in and of itself but enables breeding grounds for more militant interpretations of the faith that target not only local environments, but also the kingdom itself.

In a recent commentary on King Salman’s visit, Malaysian scholar Norshahril Saat said:

Saudi oil money has been changing the religious make-up of Malaysians since the 1970s, but more direct penetration of Saudis in the religious sphere may change the outlook of ordinary Malaysians further.

Malaysia detained at least seven suspects in advance of King Salman’s arrival who allegedly were planning to attack the monarch. Two months earlier, police opened an investigation into a Saudi-backed university in Selangor, the International University of Al-Madinah, after two of its students were detained on suspicion of being militants.

Established in 2006, the university’s religious teachings have long been suspected by authorities of promoting extremism. The university has denied the allegations. But a top Malaysian counterterrorism official, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, said that efforts to persuade the university to change its syllabi had so far come to naught.

Polite rejection

While symbolism may have worked in favour of the rulers of Malaysia and Brunei, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo, President of a country that prides itself on its tolerant version of Islam, appears to have subtly turned the tables on King Salman. In an effort to portray himself as the leader of all Indonesian Muslims and to counter growing ultra-conservative influence, Mr Widodo employed Javanese cultural concepts of tolerance and dialogue.

Symbolism was evident in differing welcomes of the king in Java and Bali. Nude statues that dot the botanic gardens at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, about 40 kilometres outside of Jakarta, were covered with potted plants to avoid offending the Saudis. Predominantly Hindu Bali decided to do nothing of the sort.

In meetings with major Indonesian Islamic organisations, including Nahdlatul Ulama, a 91-year-old traditionalist movement that has opposition to Wahhabism, the ultra-conservative strand of Islam that legitimises the rule of the Sauds, written into its DNA, King Salman said Indonesia and his country had agreed to promote a more moderate version of the faith.

“It’s all sublime messaging and imaging. Jokowi played Salman beautifully. Masterful his use of Javanese culture. The Saudi’s just don’t know yet,” said Leonard Sebastian, a leading Indonesia expert at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

Remoulding ultra-conservatism

To be sure, King Salman’s predecessor, King Abdullah, already started cautiously reaching out to other strands of Islam as well as other faiths. Moreover, Vision 2030, the plan to diversify the Saudi economy and upgrade the kingdom’s autocracy, seeks to deprive ultra-conservatism in Saudi Arabia of its rough edges and bring it more in line with the 21st century.

It also seeks to counter its militant ideological offspring, including jihadism, by promoting an interpretation of Islam that dictates unconditional obedience to the ruler. The problem is that more than four decades of Saudi support has created a family of worldviews that leads their own lives, no longer are dependent on Saudi funding, and includes activist segments critical of the Al Sauds as well as their own rulers.

It is not clear to what degree the ideological reforms King Salman’s son and deputy crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, is introducing in the kingdom trickle down to Saudi-funded institutions elsewhere. Saudi Arabia said during King Salman’s visit that it would be opening two new campuses in Makassar and Medan of its Jakarta-based Islamic and Arabic College of Indonesia (LIPIA), a branch of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh.

The Saudis “have had a good run of propagating their world view to the people of the Maldives and they’ve done that for the last three decades. They’ve now, I think, come to the view that they have enough sympathy to get a foothold.” (Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed.)

Mounting concern about growing ultra-conservatism in China’s troubled north-western Xinjiang province, home to the Uyghurs, ethnic Turks who stubbornly seek to preserve their culture and identity as well as among the Hui, a wholly integrated Muslim community, could complicate relations with Saudi Arabia.

China and Saudi Arabia trumpeted their strategic relations during King Salman’s visit, yet Beijing has done little to counter rising Islamophobia in the media and among Chinese officials.

To lay the groundwork for a $10bn investment that would give the kingdom control of an Indian Ocean atoll, Saudi Arabia funded religious institutions in the Maldives and offered scholarships for students to pursue religious studies at its ultra-conservative universities.

The funding has pushed the Maldives, a popular high-end tourist destination, towards greater intolerance and public piety. Public partying, mixed dancing and Western beach garb have become acceptable only within expensive tourist resorts.

The Saudis “have had a good run of propagating their world view to the people of the Maldives and they’ve done that for the last three decades. They’ve now, I think, come to the view that they have enough sympathy to get a foothold,” said former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed.

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“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

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The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War”.

 
"The War is Worth Waging": Afghanistan's Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

Author’s Note

US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than 16 years ago in October 2001. It’s has been a continuous war marked by US military occupation.

The justification is “counterterrorism”.  Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism, allegedly responsible for attacking America on September 11, 2001. 

The war on Afghanistan continues to be heralded as a war of retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks. US troops are still present and deployed in Afghanistan.

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The legal argument used by Washington and NATO to invade and occupy Afghanistan under “the doctrine of collective security” was that the September 11 2001 attacks constituted an undeclared “armed attack” “from abroad” by an unnamed foreign power, namely Afghanistan. 

Yet there were no Afghan fighter planes in the skies of New York on the morning of September 11, 2001. 

This article, first published in June 2010, points to the “real economic reasons”  why US-NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.  

Under the Afghan-US security pact,  established under Obama’s Asian pivot, Washington and its NATO partners have established a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, with military facilities located within proximity of China’s Western frontier.  The pact was intended to allow the US to maintain their nine permanent military bases, strategically located on the borders of  China, Pakistan and Iran as well as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

In recent developments, President Trump in his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of  Congress vowed to “demolish and destroy” terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq as well as in Afghanistan under a fake counter-terrorism mandate.

According to Foreign Affairs, “there are more U.S. military forces deployed there [Afghanistan] than to any other active combat zone” and their mandate is to go after the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS (which are supported covertly by US intelligence). 

There is both a geopolitical as well as an economic agenda in Afghanistan requiring the permanent presence of US troops.

In addition to its vast mineral and gas reserves, Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the World’s supply of opium which is used to produce grade 4 heroin.

US military bases in Afghanistan are also intent upon protecting the multibillion narcotics trade.  Narcotics, at present, constitutes the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy.

The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

“The highest concentration of NATO servicemen in Afghanistan is being accompanied with the highest concentration of opium poppy, ….  That situation causes doubts about the anti-terrorist mission and leads to the conclusion about catastrophic consequences of the eight-year stay [of coalition forces] in Afghanistan,” (Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov, January 2010)

Michel Chossudovsky,  March 25, 2017

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“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War”.

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

October 2010

The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a “Just War”, a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate “Islamic terrorism” and instate Western style democracy.

The economic dimensions of  the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 “counter-terrorism campaign” has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.

The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder,  ”a resource war”.

While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess “previously unknown” and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said… “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)

Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”. “Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car.” At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. “The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. “Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia” (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

“Previously Unknown Deposits” of Minerals in Afghanistan

The Pentagon’s near one trillion dollar “estimate” of previously “unknown deposits” is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate:  “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)

Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan’s mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan’s mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.

The US Administration’s acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth  following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America’s business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).

Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of  vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal,  June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars “estimate” intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study.

More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: “It’s no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas,” (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002):

“Afghanistan has never been anyone’s colony – no foreigner had ever “dug” here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known.

It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.

Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.

However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else – the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).

The war is worth waging. … (Olga Borisova, “Afghanistan – the Emerald Country”, Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)

While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.

The issue of “previously unknown deposits” sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan’s vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World’s most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail:

… Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits … The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly,  Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)

Afghanistan’s Natural Gas

Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control  over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.

Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a “crucial transit corridor”. (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the ‘good and necessary’ war; it’s about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington’s agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.

What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal  and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed “Afghanistan’s ‘explored’ (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5  trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag’s initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf.” (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).

The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan’s natural gas reserves are “substantial”:

“As northern Afghanistan is a ‘southward extension of Central Asia’s highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,’ Afghanistan ‘has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.’ (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, October 24, 2008)

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington’s objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

America’s covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen “Freedom fighters” (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1

Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America’s covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is “Good for Your Health”: Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, Global Research, April 29, 2007)

Towards an Economy of Plunder

The US media, in chorus, has upheld the “recent discovery” of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth as “a solution” to the development of the country’s war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates.

The war on Afghanistan is  a profit driven “resource war”.

Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led “war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country.” (Borisova, op cit).

Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan’s reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.

Note

1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan  has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually.

In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resulting from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism”, Global Research, Montreal, 2005)

ORDER DIRECTLY FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

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America’s “War on Terrorism”

Michel Chossudovsky

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Operation Mosul: A Medieval Massacre

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ISIL terrorists bomb Prophet Jirjis Mosque in Mosul

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described it this way weeks after US-led terror-bombing and Iraqi ground operations began last October – long before the worst horrors ongoing now.

US-orchestrated operations are being conducted under “conditions of absolute information blockade,” Zakharova explained.

Nothing was done to protect, evacuate or otherwise help civilians. They’ve been on their own in harm’s way without humanitarian or any other type aid or consideration for their welfare and safety since last October.

Hundreds of thousands remain trapped in the city. Others getting out risk their lives to do it – as endangered by US terror-bombing as ISIS fighters.

In the battle for Aleppo, Russia and Syria established humanitarian corridors – without aid from the UN or other countries. Great care was taken to avoid civilian casualties, why liberating the city entirely took so long.

Moscow ceased aerial operations in October 2016 to protect civilians, long before the battle for Aleppo was won in late December.

The West and supportive media disgracefully portrayed a heroic Leningrad-type liberation as naked aggression.

They’re largely silent on the rape and destruction of Mosul. What’s reported falsely portrays liberation. Nothing about US terror-bombing mass murder. An orchestrated coverup of reality continues.

No help was provided for desperate city civilians, tapped in harm’s way. In months of fighting, likely thousands were massacred, countless others injured, hundreds of thousands displaced – by indiscriminate US terror-bombing and ground artillery fire.

Western media are complicit by silence with rare exceptions. On March 23, London’s Independent cited local media sources, saying Thursday airstrikes on Mosul caused “230” civilian deaths.

“A correspondent for Rudaw, a Kurdish news agency operating in northern Iraq, said that 137 people – most believed to be civilians – died when a bomb hit a single building in al-Jadida, in the western side of the city on Thursday.”

“Another 100 were killed nearby.  Some of the dead were taking shelter inside the homes,” according to Kurdish journalist Hevidar Ahmed, reporting from the scene of the massacre.

RT reported over 130 civilians massacred overnight in Mosul from US terror-bombing. The death toll could be much higher. Bodies are being pulled from rubble, a slow, arduous task.

According to a local eyewitness,

“(t)he entire neighborhood was fleeing because of missiles that hit, so people had taken refuge here.”

“I didn’t know if it was a shelter. I didn’t know we couldn’t go there. My entire family is inside, 27 people. We pulled only one of them out and don’t know about the rest. Yes, he was dead.”

Civilians suffer most in all wars. Contempt for their agony and trauma in Mosul and other US war theaters compounds their desperation.

Surviving is a daily struggle. Many don’t make it. Others are scarred for life.

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Illegal U.S. Occupation Forces in Syria and Iraq: Pentagon Intends Establishing “Interim Zones of Stability”

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terror-usa-war-america-bombs-flag

Addressing members of America’s imperial war coalition in Washington Wednesday, Rex Tillerson said Washington intends establishing “interim zones of stability” in Syria and Iraq – without further elaboration.

US-installed Iraqi puppet leader Haider al-Abadi was pressured to let US forces operate in Iraqi territory.

He’s silent on relentless Pentagon terror-bombing, massacring Mosul civilians, ones escaping saying they fear US warplanes as much as ISIS.

Pentagon special forces and marines in Syria are “invaders,” operating illegally, Bashar al-Assad explained. They’re aiding anti-government terrorists pursue US regime change plans.

No-fly or safe zones in foreign countries are illegal without Security Council authorization – not forthcoming with near certain Russian and likely Chinese veto power. US pressure will likely get Abadi to go along. If not, expect a new puppet leader installed to replace him.

Assad rejects them, earlier saying they won’t protect civilians. Domestic safety is only possible when peace, stability and security are restored. Safe zones imposed by foreign powers are illegal and unrealistic.

Why were Syrians displaced in the first place, he asked? For two reasons, he explained:

— “terrorist acts and support from the outside,” as well as

— “the (US) embargo on Syria,” creating enormous hardships for ordinary people through much of the country.

Syrians will again be safe when terrorism is defeated, the embargo lifted, and illegal sanctions rescinded.

Longstanding US/Israeli plans call for redrawing the Middle East map, including partitioning Iraq and Syria – governments in both countries, Iran and Lebanon replaced by pro-Western puppet regimes.

Turkey wants northern Syria and Iraq annexed. Establishing safe zones in either or both countries would require thousands of troops for enforcement.

Last November, Trump endorsed the idea, deplorably saying

“(b)uild a big, beautiful safe zone, and you have whatever it is so people can live, and they’ll be happier.”

Hillary Clinton earlier urged establishing a no-fly zone, the same scheme she used to launch US-led NATO aggression on Libya.

Russia rejects what Assad and his government oppose. CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel supports safe zones in “areas that have already been secured,” he said.

Nothing is secure in war theaters. Baghdad is repeatedly targeted by car-bombings and other terrorist attacks, taking a horrendous human toll.

Endless US imperial wars rage in Syria, Iraq, the horrendous human toll harming civilians most.

All US wars are based on Big Lies, waged for imperial conquest and dominance, unrelated to humanitarian intervention, liberating oppressed people or democracy building.

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Syrian Government Forces Confront Al Qaeda and ISIS Terrorists ‘Video’

NOVANEWS
 
Free Syrian Army members raise their weapons as they chant "Allahu akbar" during combat training at Sarmada near Idlib province

Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), Anjad al-Sham, Jaish al-Nasr, Jaish al-izzah and the Idlib Free Army continued its rapid advance against government forces in northern Hama. The HTS-led forces seized Balhassin, Arzeh, Talat al-Shiha, Khatab, Maardas, Eskandariah and some other points from government troops, mainly local militiamen from the National Defense Forces (NDF). The militants attacked an important government defense site of Qamhanah and deployed close to the Hama Military Airport and the provincial capital.

The Syrian military responded with deploying reinforcements to the area from other fronts. A large number of Tiger Forces members redeployed there from the eastern countryside of Aleppo. These units were mostly fire support groups equipped with Grad BM-21 multiple rocket launcher systems and howitzers. Some units of the 5th Storming Corps were ordered to move to Hama from the Palmyra area. The Lions of the Desert, a special forces unit belonging to the Air Forces Intelligence Service, will also strengthen the government forces in northern Hama.

In eastern Damascus, government forces led by the Republican Guard and backed up by the Syrian Air Force regained the textile factory from HTS-led forces and attacked militants in the area of the electricity station.

In the province of Aleppo, the Tiger Forces, backed up by warplanes, further advanced against ISIS terrorists near the ISIS-held city of Deir Hafer. Government troops captured Um Adsa, Al-Khalilah, Jafr Mansour, Tell Akoulah, al-Qasr and Lalat Muhammad. The Syrian army’s Tiger Forces and its allies cut off the Deir Hafer-Raqqah road and de-facto encircled the ISIS stronghold. Some ISIS units are still able to flee Deir Hafer via the cross-country northeast of the city, but this is a temporary option. ISIS reportedly has about 400 fighters in the area.

As soon as Deir Hafer is liberated, the crossroad town of al-Mahdum and the Jirah Military Airbase will become the high priority targets for government forces in the province. The militant advance aimed at linking up the Qabun pocket with the Eastern Ghouta lost momentum and now they were pushed to go defensive to save at least some of the gained points. According to pro-government sources, 150 militants were killed in clashes.

Major General Mohammad Hassan Sultan, a commander of the second battalion of the recently formed 5thLegion, has been killed in clashes with ISIS near Palmyra in the province of Homs. Government troops have been conducting advances north, south and west of the ancient city, aiming to secure its countryside. The government advance on the ISIS-controlled town of Arak has not resulted in a success yet.

The Free Syrian Army’s Ahmad Abdo Forces, Faylaq al-Rahman and Jaish al-Islam further developed their advance in eastern Qalamoun, capturing Mihassah, Thaniyat al-Yaridah, Thaniyah Wadhath, the nearby crossroad and few hilltops. Thus, the groups deployed close to the important government-held city of al-Qaryatan liberated by government forces from ISIS in 2016. Participation of Jaish al-Islam in this anti-ISIS advance poses a threat that militants could attack government troops in the area. Earlier this week, Jaish al-Islam declared its support to the HTS-led advance in eastern Damascus.

On March 21, the US-led coalition airdropped hundreds of fighters of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to the area west of Tabqa in a shock attack in order to to cut off the Aleppo-Raqqah road and to capture the ISIS-controlled Tabqa Dam, the town of Tabqa and the Tabqa Airbase. According to CENTCOM, the SDF (predominantly the Kurdish People’s Protection Units) plays a key role in the operation. However, the coalition does not deny the presence of US troops in the area. In other words, the US-led coalition’s ground force had spearheaded the operation.

Since the start of the operation, US-led forces have cut off the Aleppo-Raqqah road and seized the villages of Abu Horaira, Hidaj, Krein, al-Jameen and al-Mushayrifah. If the US-led coalition forces are able to capture Tabqa, it will be a major step in isolating the ISIS stronghold of Raqqah. On the other hand, this move will prevent a possibility of government advance on these strategic sites near the Euphrates.

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The ‘Birth Pangs’ of a New Middle East, Remixed

NOVANEWS
You all remember former US Secretary of State Condi Rice’s notorious 2006 prediction about “birth pangs of a New Middle East.” True to the George “Dubya” Bush/Cheney regime, Condi got it all spectacularly wrong, not only about Lebanon and Israel but also Iraq, Syria and the House of Saud.

The Obama administration duly maintained a tradition that we could, light-heartedly, call The Sex Pistols School of Foreign Policy (“no future for you”). That’s perfectly exemplified by unflappable Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in just a few sentences.Zakharova points out how Team Obama “didn’t have a consistent Syrian strategy in entire eight years: one day we bomb it, the next day we don’t, one day we pull out of Syria, the next day we go in.” That’s because “one branch of government did not understand what the other branch was doing.” And in the end “they just went ahead and dropped all Syrian politics without seeing it to its logical end. Then they focused on Aleppo, but not on resolving this situation, but solely on building up hysteria and an information campaign geared exclusively to the elections.”

And that leads us to the adults in the room in the Trump era, the ones that are actually monitoring the birth pangs of the real new Middle East: Russia.

That Iranian base in Latakia

Let’s start with the recent visit by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to President Putin.Bibi hit Moscow infused with biblical wishful thinking, essentially trying to seduce Putin to ditch the strategic partnership with Iran – complete with joining the much advertised, US-led from behind “Arab NATO” anti-Iran, anti-Shiite coalition featuring Israel coupled with the GCC petrodollar racket plus minor associates (Jordan and Morocco).

Bibi is desperate because Iran, with facts on the ground (Iranian and Hezbollah fighters) in partnership with Russian facts in the air, is actually winning the Syria proxy war for Damascus. And whatever happens next, post-Astana negotiations, Tehran will keep a permanent foothold in Syria – much to the ballistic outrage of the NATO-GCC-Israel combo.

A parallel implication is that Israel can’t attack southern Lebanon anymore. Last month, in Tehran, I had the confirmation that Hezbollah has now up to 40,000 fighters stationed and/or monitoring a maze of underground installations ready to defend Lebanon from everything; that’s up to ten times more than in 2006, an invasion that resulted in a humiliating Israeli retreat.

Ther’s nothing that Bibi could have offered Putin – apart from a hazy, unsubstantiated promise to order the powerful Israeli lobby in D.C. to soften hysterical, 24/7 Russia demonization.

Meanwhile, reports emerged that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave the green light for an Iranian naval base in Latakia, close to the Hmeymim airbase used by Russi’s Aerospace Forces. That came after Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of Iran’s General Staff, stressed that the Iranian Navy would soon need bases in Syria and Yemen.

Tehran sent mostly military advisers and instructors to Syria but the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) also contributed with hardcore soldiers.In Tehran, I had the pleasure of meeting Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the top IRGC commander and a supreme tactician/organizer specialized in asymmetrical warfare, his vast experience acquired during the Iran-Iraq war and Hezbollah success in Lebanon in 2006.

That’s like meeting Marine Corps. Gen Joseph Dunford, the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff – but without the pomp and circumstance. A courteous, graceful man, Jafari did not have time to get into details, but other sources confirmed that without his battle-hardened knowledge Damascus by now would have been in big trouble.

What Russia wants in Syria

Then there’s an interview by Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov, former ambassador in Tel Aviv and Cairo, and now also Putin’s special representative in the Middle East, that has, metaphorically, parted the Red Sea all over again.

Bogdanov offered to Arab audiences a concise guide to Russia’s Middle East policy – the absolute opposite of loony US neocon regime change dementia.

He compared the “tens of thousands” of foreign Salafi-jihadi mercenaries at war with Damascus to the Russia-Iran military presence officially request by “the legitimate government.” He dismissed the warped notion of Iran exporting the Islamic revolution (that applied to the early 1980s). He stressed how Moscow wants some sort of US-Iran entente cordiale – with (unlikely) the House of Saud on board. Negotiations could be held in Moscow or elsewhere.

The Kremlin, as Bogdanov expressed it, wants a secular Syria, beyond sectarianism, springing up out of free and fair elections supervised by the UN. Predictably, his words barely masked Moscow’s exasperation with Washington’s obsession in keeping Tehran out of Syrian peace negotiations. And he firmly dismissed the “moderate rebels,” whose only goal is “Assad must go” to stand trial in The Hague (“With this goal, the war can go on forever”).

And then, the clincher: “Russia wants to abide by international legitimacy. We are committed to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of any country, including non-interference in our internal affairs. We respect the democratic process and not color revolutions.”

Team Trump members might entertain the wishful thinking notion that Moscow will ditch Tehran – not only in Syria but in terms of Eurasia integration. Not a chance. Yet tell that to the House of Saud.

The House of Saud spent fortunes investing in Salafi-jihadi provoked regime change in Syria and an unwinnable war on Yemen conducted with US weapons that has generated a massive famine. Moscow might be able, with time, to instill some geopolitical sense into Riyadh. Once again, not a chance. Because the House of Saud is now convinced their best ally is President Trump.Geopolitically cornered, unable to shackle itself off its trademark paranoia, the House of Saud decided to go on the offensive, with King Salman investing in a lavish Asian tour, Beijing included, where he signed a rash of deals, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman – actually The Warrior Prince, responsible for the civilian tragedy in Yemen – courting Trump in Washington.

The resulting spin now rules that Saudi Arabia will be an influential “close consultant” to Trump on Middle East security and economy, including the Palestinian tragedy and the Iran nuclear deal. No Dante circle of hell could have provided a more perfect “birth pangs” recipe for unmitigated disaster in a new Middle East.

All eyes on the Syrian Kurds

Predictably, neither Moscow nor Tehran was invited for the anti-Daesh meeting of 68 nations hosted by Washington next week. Yet another chapter of hardcore information war; for US public opinion, Russia and Iran simply cannot be allowed to be perceived as actually fighting – and winning — a real war on terror.Smash Daesh is a major Trump campaign promise. He won’t do it with several hundred US Marines with their sights on Raqqa – by the way, technically a minor invasion, because Damascus did not request their presence. So it’s back to Plan A, a.k.a. the Syrian Kurds.

First the top US commander in the Middle East, General Joseph Votel, went to Kobane to pledge Pentagon support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Then the Pentagon released its (revised) Trump-ordered strategy to defeat Daesh, which boils down to No Sleep Till Raqqa.

That implies a brand new geopolitical alignment. Team Obama – especially the CIA and the State Department — was hostage to Turkey’s view of the Syrian Kurds as “terrorists.” Not Trump. And not Bogdanov, by the way: “Why Turkey agreed on Iraqi Kurdistan, but does not agree to the Kurdistan in Syria? I think that this is not their business. This is an Iraqi affair and Syrian affair. Syrian people and not the Russian or Turkish state should decide.”

The Pentagon is, to put it mildly, fed up with Ankara. For many reasons: from the non-stop purges (which get rid of strategically placed American assets) to the Turkey-Russia rapprochement, inbuilt in Erdogan’s threat to pivot East for good in case Washington supports the Syrian Kurds and/or does not extradite Fethullah Gulen, accused by Erdogan of being the mastermind of the failed 2016 military coup against him.

So how about the taste of the new blueberry cheesecake in town; Washington, Moscow and Tehran all allied behind the Syrian Kurds.

It’s complicated, of course. In the Astana negotiations, Turkey, Russia and Iran are theoretically on the same side. Yet Tehran backs some sort of Kurdish autonomy in Syria – an anathema for Erdogan, for whom the only acceptable Kurdish autonomy is for his Barzani-controlled friends in Iraqi Kurdistan.

So it’s up to Moscow to strike a balancing act – trying to explain to Ankara that there’s no other way apart from Syrian Kurd self-administration in a future Syrian federal state. The concept is extremely ambitious; Moscow aims to show East and West how the Syrian Kurds, as a real non-Islamist, secular Syrian actor, are the perfect instrument to fight Daesh and other forms of Salafi-jihadism.

No wonder Saudi Arabia is not impressed; fighting Daesh was never their priority. But what really matters is that Ankara is not convinced.

Erdogan has his total focus on the upcoming referendum that may turn him into a sort of Presidential Sultan. To win decisively he must court Turkish nationalism by all means necessary. At the same time, geopolitically, he cannot go against Russia/Iran and Washington in one go.Only a few weeks ago no one would have imagined the Syrian Kurds harboring potential strategic leverage capable of turning Middle East geopolitics – linked to Asia, Africa and Europe — upside down. China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) – that building frenzy of ports, pipelines, high-speed rail — firmly targets the Southwest Asia passage, from Iran (a key hub) to Saudi Arabia (China’s top oil supplier). Syria is also a future OBOR hub – and for that Syria must be peaceful and free of Salafi-jihadis. In silent, discreet Eurasia integration fashion, China supports what Russia and Iran are deciding.

By now it’s much clearer who’s configuring the birth pagans of a new Middle East. It’s not Israel. It’s not the House of Saud. And it’s not exactly Trump.

 

Posted in Middle East, USAComments Off on The ‘Birth Pangs’ of a New Middle East, Remixed

What America’s Coup in Ukraine Did

NOVANEWS
Armée Ukraine USA

On March 23rd, Gallup headlined “South Sudan, Haiti and Ukraine Lead World in Suffering”and the Ukrainian part of that can unquestionably be laid at the feet of U.S. President Barack Obama, who in February 2014 imposed upon Ukraine a very bloody coup (see it here), which he and his press misrepresented (and still misrepresent) as being (and still represent as having been) a ‘democratic revolution’, but was nothing of the sort, and actually was instead the start of the Ukrainian dictatorship and the hell that has since destroyed that country, and brought the people there into such misery, it’s now by far the worst in Europe, and nearly tied with the worst in the entire world.

America’s criminal ‘news’ media never even reported the coup, nor that in 2011 the Obama regime began planning for a coup in Ukraine, and that by 1 March 2013 they started organizing it inside the U.S. Embassy there, and that they hired members of Ukraine’s two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties, Right Sector and Svoboda (which latter had been called the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine until the CIA advised them to change it to Freedom Party, or “Svoboda” instead), and that in February 2014 they did it (and here’s the 4 February 2014 phone call instructing the U.S. Ambassador whom to place in charge of the new regime when the coup will be completed), under the cover of authentic anti-corruption demonstrations that the Embassy organized on the Maidan Square in Kiev, demonstrations that the criminal U.S. ‘news’ media misrepresented as ‘democracy demonstrations,’ though Ukraine already had democracy (but still lots of corruption, even more than today’s U.S. does, and the pontificating Obama said he was trying to end Ukraine’s corruption — which instead actually soared after his coup there).

The head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor said it was “the most blatant coup in history” but he couldn’t say that to Americans, because he knows that our press is just a mouthpiece for the regime (just like it was during the lead-up to George W. Bush’s equally unprovoked invasion of Iraq — for which America’s ‘news’ media suffered likewise no penalties).

When subsequently accused by neocons for his having said this, his response was “I told the business journal Kommersant that if the US were behind a coup in Kiev, it would have been the most blatant coup in history,” As I pointed out when writing about that rejoinder of his, he had, in fact, made quite clear in his Kommersant interview, that it was, in his view “the most blatant coup in history,” no conditionals on that.

Everybody knows what Obama, and Clinton, and Sarkozy, did to Libya — in their zeal to eliminate yet another nation’s leader who was friendly toward Russia (Muammar Gaddafi), they turned one of the highest-living-standard nations in Africa into a failed state and huge source of refugees (as well as of weapons that the Clinton State Department transferred to the jihadists in Syria to bring down Bashar al-Assad, another ally of Russia) — but the ‘news’ media have continued to hide what Obama (assisted by America’s European allies, especially Poland and Netherlands, and also by America’s apartheid Middle Eastern ally, Israel) did to Ukraine.

I voted for Obama, partly because the insane McCain (“bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”) and the creepy Romney (“Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe”) were denounced by the (duplicitous) Obama for saying such evil things, their aggressive international positions, which continued old Cold-War-era hostilities into the present, even after the Cold War had ended long ago (in 1991) (but only on the Russian side). I since have learned that in today’s American political system, the same aristocracy controls both of our rotten political Parties, and American democracy no longer exists. (And the only scientific study of whether America between the years 1981 and 2002 was democratic found that it was not, and it already confirmed what Jimmy Carter later said on 28 July 2015: “Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members.” But yet our Presidents continue the line, now demonstrably become a myth, of ‘American democracy’, and use it as a sledgehammer against other governments, to ‘justify’ invading (or, in Ukraine’s case, overthrowing via a ‘democratic revolution’) their lands (allies of Russia) such as in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and maybe even soon, Iran.

Here are some of the events and important historical details along the way to Ukraine’s plunge into a worse condition than most African nations:

“Yanukovych’s Removal Was Unconstitutional”

“Obama Definitely Caused The Malaysian Airliner To Be Downed”

“War on Donbass was planned to ignite a major war in Europe.”

“Our ‘Enemies’ In Ukraine Speak”

“Meet Ukraine’s Master Mass-Murderer: Dmitriy Yarosh”

“Ukrainian Soldier Explains Why He Enjoys Killing Russians”

“Russia’s Leader Putin Rejects Ukrainian Separatists’ Aim To Become Part Of Russia”

“Gallup: Ukrainians Loathe the Kiev Government Imposed by Obama”

Please send this article to every friend who is part of the majority that, as a Quinnipiac University poll published on March 22nd reported, “A total of 51 percent of voters say they can trust U.S. intelligence agencies to do what is right ‘almost all of the time’ or ‘most of the time’” (and that level of trust was far higher than for the rotten press and for the rotten politicians), even after the CIA’s rubber-stamping Bush’s lies to invade Iraq, and after the FBI’s shameless performance on Hillary Clinton’s privatized State Department emails even after her smashing their cell-phones with hammers, etc., and all the other official cover-ups, with no American officials even so much as being charged for their rampant crimes against the American public.

Besides: ever since the CIA’s founding, it has had an “Operation Gladio” that specializes in organizing terrorist acts so as for them to be blamed on, first, communist countries when they existed; and, then, after the end of communism, on allies of Russia. Did the American dictatorship begin right after FDR died in 1945? How much longer will these lies succeed?

For the people of Iraq, and of Syria, and of Ukraine, and many such countries, this dictatorship has destroyed their lives. Trusting the ‘intelligence’ services of a dictatorship doesn’t make any sense at all. They’re all working for the aristocracy, the billionaires — not for any public, anywhere; not here, not there, just nowhere. Should the cattle trust the feedlot-operator? Only ignorance can produce trust, under the conditions that actually exist.

So, unless the idea is that ignorance is bliss, pass along the truth, when you find it, because it is very rare — and the system operates to keep it that way.

Posted in Middle East, USAComments Off on What America’s Coup in Ukraine Did


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