Archive | May 20th, 2017

Getting Assange: The Untold Story

NOVANEWS
 

Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”.

Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.

This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden.

“It’s a laughing stock,” said James Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it up as they go along”.

It may have seemed that way, but there was always serious purpose. In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch” foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally.

The “mission” was to destroy the “trust” that was WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim.

Image result for wikileaks

Perhaps this was understandable. WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians and the contempt for sovereignty and international law.

These disclosures are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistle blowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal”.

In 2012, the Obama campaign boasted on its website that Obama had prosecuted more whistle blowers in his first term than all other US presidents combined. Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had publicly pronounced her guilty.

Few serious observers doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate awaits him. According to documents released by Edward Snowden, he is on a “Manhunt target list”. Threats of his kidnapping and assassination became almost political and media currency in the US following then Vice-President Joe Biden‘s preposterous slur that the WikiLeaks founder was a “cyber-terrorist”.

Hillary Clinton, the destroyer of Libya and, as WikiLeaks revealed last year, the secret supporter and personal beneficiary of forces underwriting ISIS, proposed her own expedient solution: “Can’t we just drone this guy.”

According to Australian diplomatic cables, Washington’s bid to get Assange is “unprecedented in scale and nature”. In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret grand jury has sought for almost seven years to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted. This is not easy.

The First Amendment protects publishers, journalists and whistle blowers, whether it is the editor of the New York Times or the editor of WikiLeaks. The very notion of free speech is described as America’s “ founding virtue” or, as Thomas Jefferson called it, “our currency”.

Faced with this hurdle, the US Justice Department has contrived charges of “espionage”, “conspiracy to commit espionage”, “conversion” (theft of government property), “computer fraud and abuse” (computer hacking) and general “conspiracy”. The favoured Espionage Act, which was meant to deter pacifists and conscientious objectors during World War One, has provisions for life imprisonment and the death penalty.

Image result for sweden assangeAssange’s ability to defend himself in such a Kafkaesque world has been severely limited by the US declaring his case a state secret. In 2015, a federal court in Washington blocked the release of all information about the “national security” investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was “active and ongoing” and would harm the “pending prosecution” of Assange. The judge, Barbara J. Rothstein, said it was necessary to show “appropriate deference to the executive in matters of national security”. This is a kangaroo court.

For Assange, his trial has been trial by media. On August 20, 2010, when the Swedish police opened a “rape investigation”, they coordinated it, unlawfully, with the Stockholm tabloids. The front pages said Assange had been accused of the “rape of two women”. The word “rape” can have a very different legal meaning in Sweden than in Britain; a pernicious false reality became the news that went round the world.

Less than 24 hours later, the Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, took over the investigation. She wasted no time in cancelling the arrest warrant, saying,

“I don’t believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” Four days later, she dismissed the rape investigation altogether, saying, “There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever.”

Enter Claes Borgstrom, a highly contentious figure in the Social Democratic Party then standing as a candidate in Sweden’s imminent general election. Within days of the chief prosecutor’s dismissal of the case, Borgstrom, a lawyer, announced to the media that he was representing the two women and had sought a different prosecutor in Gothenberg. This was Marianne Ny, whom Borgstrom knew well, personally and politically.

On 30 August, Assange attended a police station in Stockholm voluntarily and answered the questions put to him. He understood that was the end of the matter. Two days later, Ny announced she was re-opening the case.

At a press conference, Borgstrom was asked by a Swedish reporter why the case was proceeding when it had already been dismissed. The reporter cited one of the women as saying she had not been raped. He replied, “Ah, but she is not a lawyer.”

On the day that Marianne Ny reactivated the case, the head of Sweden’s military intelligence service – which has the acronym MUST — publicly denounced WikiLeaks in an article entitled “WikiLeaks [is] a threat to our soldiers [under US command in Afghanistan]”.

Both the Swedish prime minister and foreign minister attacked Assange, who had been charged with no crime. Assange was warned that the Swedish intelligence service, SAPO, had been told by its US counterparts that US-Sweden intelligence-sharing arrangements would be “cut off” if Sweden sheltered him.

For five weeks, Assange waited in Sweden for the renewed “rape investigation” to take its course. The Guardian was then on the brink of publishing the Iraq “War Logs”, based on WikiLeaks’ disclosures, which Assange was to oversee in London.

Image result for marianne ny

Finally, he was allowed him to leave. As soon as he had left, Marianne Ny issued a European Arrest Warrant and an Interpol “red alert” normally used for terrorists and dangerous criminals.

Assange attended a police station in London, was duly arrested and spent ten days in Wandsworth Prison, in solitary confinement. Released on £340,000 bail, he was electronically tagged, required to report to police daily and placed under virtual house arrest while his case began its long journey to the Supreme Court.

He still had not been charged with any offence. His lawyers repeated his offer to be questioned in London, by video or personally, pointing out that Marianne Ny had given him permission to leave Sweden. They suggested a special facility at Scotland Yard commonly used by the Swedish and other European authorities for that purpose. She refused.

For almost seven years, while Sweden has questioned forty-four people in the UK in connection with police investigations, Ny refused to question Assange and so advance her case.

Writing in the Swedish press, a former Swedish prosecutor, Rolf Hillegren, accused Ny of losing all impartiality. He described her personal investment in the case as “abnormal” and demanded she be replaced.

Assange asked the Swedish authorities for a guarantee that he would not be “rendered” to the US if he was extradited to Sweden. This was refused. In December 2010, The Independent revealed that the two governments had discussed his onward extradition to the US.

Contrary to its reputation as a bastion of liberal enlightenment, Sweden has drawn so close to Washington that it has allowed secret CIA “renditions” – including the illegal deportation of refugees. The rendition and subsequent torture of two Egyptian political refugees in 2001 was condemned by the UN Committee against Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch; the complicity and duplicity of the Swedish state are documented in successful civil litigation and in WikiLeaks cables.

“Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England,” wrote Al Burke, editor of the online Nordic News Network, an authority on the multiple twists and dangers that faced Assange, “clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights. There is every reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights.”

The war on Assange now intensified. Marianne Ny refused to allow his Swedish lawyers, and the Swedish courts, access to hundreds of SMS messages that the police had extracted from the phone of one of the two women involved in the “rape” allegations.

Ny said she was not legally required to reveal this critical evidence until a formal charge was laid and she had questioned him. Then, why wouldn’t she question him? Catch-22.

When she announced last week that she was dropping the Assange case, she made no mention of the evidence that would destroy it. One of the SMS messages makes clear that one of the women did not want any charges brought against Assange, “but the police were keen on getting a hold on him”. She was “shocked” when they arrested him because she only “wanted him to take [an HIV] test”. She “did not want to accuse JA of anything” and “it was the police who made up the charges”. In a witness statement, she is quoted as saying that she had been “railroaded by police and others around her”.

Neither woman claimed she had been raped. Indeed, both denied they were raped and one of them has since tweeted, “I have not been raped.” The women were manipulated by police – whatever their lawyers might say now. Certainly, they, too, are the victims of this sinister saga.

Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote:

“The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction… The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?”

Assange’s choice was stark: extradition to a country that had refused to say whether or not it would send him on to the US, or to seek what seemed his last opportunity for refuge and safety.

Supported by most of Latin America, the government of tiny Ecuador granted him refugee status on the basis of documented evidence that he faced the prospect of cruel and unusual punishment in the US; that this threat violated his basic human rights; and that his own government in Australia had abandoned him and colluded with Washington.

The Labor government of the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, had even threatened to take away his Australian passport – until it was pointed out to her that this would be unlawful.

The renowned human rights lawyer, Gareth Peirce, who represents Assange in London, wrote to the then Australian foreign minister, Kevin Rudd:

“Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”

It was not until she contacted the Australian High Commission in London that Peirce received a response, which answered none of the pressing points she raised. In a meeting I attended with her, the Australian Consul-General, Ken Pascoe, made the astonishing claim that he knew “only what I read in the newspapers” about the details of the case.

In 2011, in Sydney, I spent several hours with a conservative Member of Australia’s Federal Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull. We discussed the threats to Assange and their wider implications for freedom of speech and justice, and why Australia was obliged to stand by him. Turnbull then had a reputation as a free speech advocate. He is now the Prime Minister of Australia.

I gave him Gareth Peirce’s letter about the threat to Assange’s rights and life. He said the situation was clearly appalling and promised to take it up with the Gillard government. Only his silence followed.

For almost seven years, this epic miscarriage of justice has been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. There are few precedents. Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife. That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, and to the principle of free speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious. I would call it anti-journalism.

Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.

The previous editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years”. Yet no attempt was made to protect the Guardian’s provider and source. Instead, the “scoop” became part of a marketing plan to raise the newspaper’s cover price.

With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous”. They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh”.

Journalism students might well study this period to understand the most ubiquitous source of “fake news” — as from within a media self-ordained with a false respectability and as an extension of the authority and power it courts and protects.

The presumption of innocence was not a consideration in Kirsty Wark’s memorable live-on-air interrogation in 2010.

“Why don’t you just apologise to the women?” she demanded of Assange, followed by: “Do we have your word of honour that you won’t abscond?”

On the BBC’s Today programme, John Humphrys bellowed:

“Are you a sexual predator?”

Assange replied that the suggestion was ridiculous, to which Humphrys demanded to know how many women he had slept with.

“Would even Fox News have descended to that level?” wondered the American historian William Blum. “I wish Assange had been raised in the streets of Brooklyn, as I was. He then would have known precisely how to reply to such a question: ‘You mean including your mother?’”

Last week, on BBC World News, on the day Sweden announced it was dropping the case, I was interviewed by Greta Guru-Murthy, who seemed to have little knowledge of the Assange case. She persisted in referring to the “charges” against him. She accused him of putting Trump in the White House; and she drew my attention to the “fact” that “leaders around the world” had condemned him. Among these “leaders” she included Trump’s CIA director. I asked her, “Are you a journalist?”.

The injustice meted out to Assange is one of the reasons Parliament reformed the Extradition Act in 2014.

“His case has been won lock, stock and barrel,” Gareth Peirce told me, “these changes in the law mean that the UK now recognises as correct everything that was argued in his case. Yet he does not benefit.”

In other words, he would have won his case in the British courts and would not have been forced to take refuge.

Ecuador’s decision to protect Assange in 2012 was immensely brave. Even though the granting of asylum is a humanitarian act, and the power to do so is enjoyed by all states under international law, both Sweden and the United Kingdom refused to recognise the legitimacy of Ecuador’s decision.

Ecuador’s embassy in London was placed under police siege and its government abused. When William Hague’s Foreign Office threatened to violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, warning that it would remove the diplomatic inviolability of the embassy and send the police in to get Assange, outrage across the world forced the government to back down.

During one night, police appeared at the windows of the embassy in an obvious attempt to intimidate Assange and his protectors.

Image result for assange asylum in ecuadorSince then, Assange has been confined to a small room without sunlight. He has been ill from time to time and refused safe passage to the diagnostic facilities of hospital. Yet, his resilience and dark humour remain quite remarkable in the circumstances. When asked how he put up with the confinement, he replied, “Sure beats a supermax.”

It is not over, but it is unravelling. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention – the tribunal that adjudicates and decides whether governments comply with their human rights obligations – last year ruled that Assange had been detained unlawfully by Britain and Sweden. This
is international law at its apex.

Both Britain and Sweden participated in the 16-month long UN investigation and submitted evidence and defended their position before the tribunal. In previous cases ruled upon by the Working Group – Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma, imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia, detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian in Iran – both Britain and Sweden gave full support to the tribunal. The difference now is that Assange’s persecution endures in the heart of London.

The Metropolitan Police say they still intend to arrest Assange for bail infringement should he leave the embassy. What then? A few months in prison while the US delivers its extradition request to the British courts?

If the British Government allows this to happen it will, in the eyes of the world, be shamed comprehensively and historically as an accessory to the crime of a war waged by rampant power against justice and freedom, and all of us.

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Is Uncle Sam Funding the Islamic State?

NOVANEWS

Where Does ISIS Get All Those Tanks, Weapons And Shiny New Toyota Trucks?

U.S. Treasury Dept. wonders

 
ISIS Toyotas

First published in November 2015, Is Uncle Sam funding the Islamic State?

Toyota trucks aren’t all ISIS has managed to buy, capture or scavenge from us. In June, CNBC reported that so far we’ve accidentally furnished the Islamic State with at least $219.7 million worth of weapons, vehicles and other military supplies and gear — and that’s just the stuff we know about.

Yikes! Those evil, marauding terrorists from ISIS are still at large, but fear not: ISIS can’t escape from the U.S. and our allies for long. And when we get ’em, we’re going to kick their cartoonist/woman/gay/Christian-hating Jihadi butts from here until Sunday.

There’s just one problem. If we’re at war with ISIS, why do we keep supplying them with tanks, weapons, Humvees and shiny new Toyota trucks?  CNN reports:

“They’re hard to miss. Packed with ISIS fighters and heavy weapons, Toyota pickup trucks and SUV’s are featured prominently in ISIS propaganda videos.”

According to ABC, the U.S. Treasury Dept.’s Terror Financing unit has finally taken notice of the endless parades of shiny, new Toyota trucks starring in ISIS’s propaganda videos, and they’ve launched an investigation. Toyota’s U.S. spokesman Ed Lewis told reporters this is part of a larger inquiry into supply chains and capital flows in the Middle East. Lewis promised Toyota’s full cooperation, and assures us that they’d never sell to terrorists.

“Toyota has a strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities, and we have procedures and contractual commitments in place to help prevent our products from being diverted for unauthorized military use.”

Whew. What a relief.

Toyota trucks: The jihadists’ truck of choice.

CNN tracked down Jonathan Schanzer — who used to track terrorist finances for the U.S. Treasury Dept. and who’s now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies — to find out more. Schanzer explained that rugged outdoorsmen and off-roaders aren’t the only ones who love their Toyota trucks:

“Toyotas is the truck that Jihadists choose for when they want to go to war. It’s the same thing with Kalashnikovs [Russian automatic rifles more commonly known in the U.S. as AK-47s].”

And how to these ISIS terrorists get their hands on these bad boys? Schanzer suspects they just boldly walk into the car dealerships and pay cash!

“I think they’re buying them, probably, through formal channels. They’re probably going right into the dealerships and purchasing them, and not identifying as ISIS. Who would?”

Oh, and although Toyotas are the Jihadist’s truck of choice, they won’t object to a Ford or two. We’d love to see the look on this U.S. plumber’s face after seeing what Schanzer suspects ISIS picked up at an auction. As if to thumb their noses at us, they didn’t even bother to remove the former owner’s information from the front passenger side’s door.

Schanzer adds ISIS’s avid Toyota truck acquisition is just one example of how ISIS operates like “a combination of a mafia gang and a major corporation.” In other words, like a major corporation.

Here’s the video with CNN’s report.

ISIS also has tons of U.S. weapons, vehicles and other military gear.

Toyota trucks aren’t all ISIS has managed to buy, capture or scavenge from us. In June, CNBC reported that so far we’ve accidentally furnished the Islamic State with at least $219.7 million worth of weapons, vehicles and other military supplies and gear — and that’s just the stuff we know about.

Based on various reports, CNBC came up with the following laundry list of supplies the U.S. has so kindly provided to ISIS so far.

  • 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles at $70,000 each: $16 million
  • 40 M1A1 Abram tanks at $4.3 million each: $172 million
  • 52 M198 Howitzer mobile gun systems at $527,337 each: $2.7 million
  • 74,000 Army machine guns at $4,000 each: $29 million

TOTAL: $219.7 MILLION in military weapons, vehicles, and other supplies and gear for ISIS.

How does the Islamic State get hold of all these U.S. weapons? We deliver them, either directly or through the tattered remnants of Iraq’s military. Jeremy Salt, a political analyst in Ankara, Turkey, gives RT.Com quite the scathing earful:

“Do you think the Islamic State’s advance would have been so successful without access to this U.S. military hardware by mistake, by default? Let me just briefly revise the history of American blunder over the past couple of years with regard to weapons ending up in the hands of Islamic State.”

Salt then reminded us of our nation’s major blunders for supplying weapons to ISIS for the past couple of years.

  • Accidental air-dropping of weapons and supplies intended for the Syrian Kurds into Islamic State territory.
  • This didn’t just happen once, it happened several times.
  • Weapons and supplies seized by ISIS during the falls of Mosul (Iraq), Ramadi (Iraq), AND Palmyra (Syria).

Salt doesn’t even bother explaining how the George W. Bush administration created ISIS by invading Iraq on false pretenses and chasing off all those heavily armed and well-trained Baathist soldiers. But he does ask how it’s even possible that U.S. intelligence and the military — both of which are among the most sophisticated in the world — could have possibly NOT seen what was coming.

What Salt says here about ISIS’s routing of Palmyra also applies to the sack of Mosul and Ramadi.

“Are we seriously to believe the United States couldn’t see them coming? Didn’t see those pickup trucks racing across the Syrian Desert? When they create massive plumes of dust, for one thing? Then they get to Palmyra, and they take over the city.”

Salt has a point. How could we have possibly missed miles of vehicles chock-full of masked ISIS militants waving guns and black flags while churning up choking clouds of desert dust visible from miles around? It’s almost as though we’ve ignored all this on purpose.

As for President Barack Obama, he’s made some smart moves. But how can he slam the brakes on a runaway crazy train that’s been lurching headlong for decades? After all, Reagan’s the one who armed and trained Al Qaeda back when they fought the former USSR as the Mujahideen resistance fighters. Also, we helped Saddam Hussein take power in Iraq in 1963, and Hussein was on the CIA’s payroll since at least 1959. And then we overthrew him and allowed the region to devolve into chaos because George W. Bush isn’t into “nation building.”

Here’s the video with the news report from RT on ISIS’s acquisition of U.S. military supplies, weapons, gear and vehicles.

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9/11 ANALYSIS: From Ronald Reagan and the Soviet-Afghan War to George W Bush and September 11, 2001

NOVANEWS
 

This article first published in September 2010 summarizes earlier writings by the author on 9/11 and the role of Al Qaeda in US foreign policy. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism”, Global Research, 2005

“The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings….The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books,..”, (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)

“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the [Islamic] Jihad.” (Pervez  Hoodbhoy, Peace Research, 1 May 2005)

“Bin Laden recruited 4,000 volunteers from his own country and developed close relations with the most radical mujahideen leaders. He also worked closely with the CIA, … Since September 11, [2001] CIA officials have been claiming they had no direct link to bin Laden.” (Phil Gasper, International Socialist Review, November-December 2001)

Highlights

-Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman, was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihad. He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp.

-The architects of the covert operation in support of “Islamic fundamentalism” launched during the Reagan presidency played a key role in launching the “Global War on Terrorism” in the wake of 9/11.

– President Ronald Reagan met the leaders of the Islamic Jihad at the White House in 1985

-Under the Reagan adminstration, US foreign policy evolved towards the unconditional support and endorsement of the Islamic “freedom fighters”. In today’s World, the “freedom fighters” are labelled “Islamic terrorists”.

-In the Pashtun language, the word “Taliban” means “Students”, or graduates of the madrasahs (places of learning or coranic schools) set up by the Wahhabi missions from Saudi Arabia, with the support of the CIA.

-Education in Afghanistan in the years preceding the Soviet-Afghan war was largely secular. The US covert education destroyed secular education. The number of  CIA sponsored religious schools (madrasahs) increased from 2,500 in 1980 to over 39,000.

The Soviet-Afghan war was part of a CIA covert agenda initiated during the Carter administration, which consisted  in actively supporting and financing the Islamic brigades, later known as Al Qaeda.

The Pakistani military regime played from the outset in the late 1970s, a key role in the US sponsored military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan. In the post-Cold war era, this central role of Pakistan in US intelligence operations was extended to the broader Central Asia- Middle East region. From the outset of the Soviet Afghan war in 1979, Pakistan under military rule actively supported the Islamic brigades. In close liaison with the CIA, Pakistan’s military intelligence, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), became a powerful organization, a parallel government, wielding tremendous power and influence.

America’s covert war in Afghanistan, using Pakistan as a launch pad, was initiated during the Carter administration prior to the Soviet “invasion”:

“According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.” (Former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, 15-21 January 1998)

In the published memoirs of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who held the position of  deputy CIA Director at the height of the Soviet Afghan war, US intelligence was directly involved from the outset, prior to the Soviet invasion, in channeling aid to the Islamic brigades.

Robert Gates

With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of U.S. military aid, the Pakistani ISI had developed into a “parallel structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of government”. (Dipankar Banerjee, “Possible Connection of ISI With Drug Industry”, India Abroad, 2 December 1994). The ISI had a staff composed of military and intelligence officers, bureaucrats, undercover agents and informers, estimated at 150,000. (Ibid)

Meanwhile, CIA operations had also reinforced the Pakistani military regime led by General Zia Ul Haq:

“Relations between the CIA and the ISI had grown increasingly warm following [General] Zia’s ouster of Bhutto and the advent of the military regime. … During most of the Afghan war, Pakistan was more aggressively anti-Soviet than even the United States. Soon after the Soviet military invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Zia [ul Haq] sent his ISI chief to destabilize the Soviet Central Asian states. The CIA only agreed to this plan in October 1984.” (Ibid)

The ISI operating virtually as an affiliate of the CIA, played a central role in channeling support to Islamic paramilitary groups in Afghanistan and subsequently in the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union.

Acting on behalf of the CIA, the ISI was also involved in the recruitment and training of the Mujahideen. In the ten year period from 1982 to 1992, some 35,000 Muslims from 43 Islamic countries were recruited to fight in the Afghan jihad. The madrassas in Pakistan, financed by Saudi charities, were also set up with  US support with a view to “inculcating Islamic values”. “The camps became virtual universities for future Islamic radicalism,” (Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban). Guerilla training under CIA-ISI auspices included targeted assassinations and car bomb attacks.

“Weapons’ shipments “were sent by the Pakistani army and the ISI to rebel camps in the North West Frontier Province near the Afghanistan border. The governor of the province is Lieutenant General Fazle Haq, who [according to Alfred McCoy] . allowed “hundreds of heroin refineries to set up in his province.” Beginning around 1982, Pakistani army trucks carrying CIA weapons from Karachi often pick up heroin in Haq’s province and return loaded with heroin. They are protected from police search by ISI papers.”(1982-1989: US Turns Blind Eye to BCCI and Pakistani Government Involvement in Heroin Trade See also McCoy, 2003, p. 477) .


Front row, from left: Major Gen. Hamid Gul, director general of Pakistan’s
Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Willian Webster; Deputy Director for Operations Clair George; an ISI colonel; and senior CIA official,
Milt Bearden at a mujahedeen training camp in North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan in 1987.
(source RAWA)

Osama Bin Laden

Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman, was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihad. He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp.

During the Reagan administration, Osama, who belonged to the wealthy Saudi Bin Laden family was put in charge of raising money for the Islamic brigades. Numerous charities and foundations were created. The operation was coordinated by Saudi intelligence, headed by  Prince Turki al-Faisal, in close liaison with the CIA. The money derived from the various charities were used to finance the recruitment of Mujahieen volunteers. Al Qaeda, the base in Arabic was a data bank of volunteers who had enlisted to fight in the Afghan jihad. That data base was initially held by Osama bin Laden.

The Reagan Administration supports “Islamic Fundamentalism”

Pakistan’s ISI was used as a “go-between”. CIA covert support to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan operated indirectly through the Pakistani ISI, –i.e. the CIA did not channel its support directly to the Mujahideen. In other words, for these covert operations to be “successful”, Washington was careful not to reveal the ultimate objective of the “jihad”, which consisted in destroying the Soviet Union.

In December 1984, the Sharia Law (Islamic jurisprudence) was established in Pakistan following a rigged referendum launched by President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Barely a few months later, in March 1985, President Ronald Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive 166 (NSDD 166), which  authorized  “stepped-up covert military aid to the Mujahideen” as well a support to religious indoctrination.

The imposition of The Sharia in Pakistan and the promotion of “radical Islam” was a deliberate US policy serving American geopolitical interests in South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.  Many present-day  “Islamic fundamentalist organizations” in the Middle East and Central Asia, were directly or indirectly the product of US covert support and financing, often channeled through foundations from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Missions from the Wahhabi sect of conservative Islam in Saudi Arabia were put in charge of running the CIA sponsored madrassas in Northern Pakistan.

Under NSDD 166, a series of covert CIA-ISI operations  was launched.

The US supplied weapons to the Islamic brigades through the ISI. CIA and ISI officials would meet at ISI headquarters in Rawalpindi to coordinate US support to the Mujahideen. Under NSDD 166, the procurement of US weapons to the Islamic insurgents increased from 10,000 tons of arms and ammunition in 1983 to 65,000 tons annually by 1987.  “In addition to arms, training, extensive military equipment including military satellite maps and state-of-the-art communications equipment” (University Wire, 7 May 2002).


Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)

VIDEO (30 Sec.)

With William Casey as director of the CIA, NSDD 166 was described as the largest covert operation in US history:

The U.S. supplied support package had three essential components-organization and logistics, military technology, and ideological support for sustaining and encouraging the Afghan resistance….

U.S. counterinsurgency experts worked closely with the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in organizing Mujahideen groups and in planning operations inside Afghanistan.

… But the most important contribution of the U.S. was to … bring in men and material from around the Arab world and beyond. The most hardened and ideologically dedicated men were sought on the logic that they would be the best fighters. Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the Jihad. (Pervez  Hoodbhoy, Afghanistan and the Genesis of the Global Jihad, Peace Research, 1 May 2005)

Religious Indoctrination

Under NSDD 166, US assistance to the Islamic brigades channeled through Pakistan was not limited to bona fide military aid. Washington also supported and financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the process of religious indoctrination, largely to secure the demise of secular institutions:

… the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.

The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books,..

The White House defends the religious content, saying that Islamic principles permeate Afghan culture and that the books “are fully in compliance with U.S. law and policy.” Legal experts, however, question whether the books violate a constitutional ban on using tax dollars to promote religion.

… AID officials said in interviews that they left the Islamic materials intact because they feared Afghan educators would reject books lacking a strong dose of Muslim thought. The agency removed its logo and any mention of the U.S. government from the religious texts, AID spokeswoman Kathryn Stratos said.

“It’s not AID’s policy to support religious instruction,” Stratos said. “But we went ahead with this project because the primary purpose . . . is to educate children, which is predominantly a secular activity.”

… Published in the dominant Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtun, the textbooks were developed in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the University of Nebraska -Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies. The agency spent $ 51 million on the university’s education programs in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1994.” (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)

The Role of the NeoCons

There is continuity. The architects of the covert operation in support of “Islamic fundamentalism” launched during the Reagan presidency played a key role in launching the “Global War on Terrorism” in the wake of 9/11.

Several of the NeoCons of the Bush Junior Administration  were high ranking officials during the Reagan presidency.

Richard Armitage, was Deputy Secretary of State during George W. Bush’s first term (2001-2004). He played a central key role in post 9/11 negotiations with Pakistan leading up to the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. During the Reagan era, he held the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. In this capacity, he played a key role in the implementation of NSDD 163 while also ensuring liaison with the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus.

Richard L. Armitage
Richard Armitage

Meanwhile, Paul Wolfowitz was at the State Department in charge of  a  foreign policy team composed, among others, of Lewis Libby, Francis Fukuyama and Zalmay Khalilzad.

Wolfowitz’s group was also involved in laying the conceptual groundwork of US covert support to Islamic parties and organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Paul Wolfowitz

Paul Wolfowitz

Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, who now serves the Obama administration, was also involved in setting the groundwork for CIA covert operations. He was appointed Deputy Director for Intelligence by Ronald Reagan in 1982, and Deputy Director of the CIA in 1986, a position which he held until 1989. Gates played a key role in the formulation of NSDD 163, which established a consistent framework for promoting Islamic fundamentalism and channeling covert support to the Islamic brigades. He was also involved in the Iran Contra scandal. .

The Iran Contra Operation

Richard Gates, Colin Powell and Richard Armitage, among others, were also involved  in the Iran-Contra operation.

Armitage was in close liaison with Colonel Oliver North. His deputy and chief anti-terrorist official Noel Koch was part of the team set up by Oliver North.

Of significance, the Iran-Contra operation was also tied into the process of channeling covert support to the Islamic brigades in Afghanistan. The Iran Contra scheme served several related foreign policy:

1) Procurement of weapons to Iran thereby feeding the Iraq-Iran war,

2) Support to the Nicaraguan Contras,

3) Support to the Islamic brigades in Afghanistan, channeled via Pakistan’s ISI.

Following the delivery of the TOW anti-tank missiles to Iran, the proceeds of these sales were deposited in numbered bank accounts and the money was used to finance the Nicaraguan Contras. and the Mujahideen:

“The Washington Post reported that profits from the Iran arms sales were deposited in one CIA-managed account into which the U.S. and Saudi Arabia had placed $250 million apiece. That money was disbursed not only to the contras in Central America but to the rebels fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.” (US News & World Report, 15 December 1986).

Although Lieutenant General Colin Powell, was not directly involved in the arms’ transfer negotiations, which had been entrusted to Oliver North, he was among “at least five men within the Pentagon who knew arms were being transferred to the CIA.” (The Record, 29 December 1986).  In this regard, Powell was directly instrumental in giving the “green light” to lower-level officials in blatant violation of Congressional procedures. According to the New York Times, Colin Powell took the decision (at the level of military procurement), to allow the delivery of weapons to Iran:

“Hurriedly, one of the men closest to Secretary of Defense Weinberger, Maj. Gen. Colin Powell, bypassed the written ”focal point system” procedures and ordered the Defense Logistics Agency [responsible for procurement] to turn over the first of 2,008 TOW missiles to the CIA., which acted as cutout for delivery to Iran” (New York Times, 16 February 1987)

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was also implicated in the Iran-Contra Affair.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

The history of the drug trade in Central Asia is intimately related to the CIA’s covert operations. Prior to the Soviet-Afghan war, opium production in Afghanistan and Pakistan was directed to small regional markets. There was no local production of heroin. (Alfred McCoy, Drug Fallout: the CIA’s Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade. The Progressive, 1 August 1997).

Alfred McCoy’s study confirms that within two years of the onslaught of the CIA operation in Afghanistan, “the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world’s top heroin producer.” (Ibid) Various Islamic paramilitary groups and organizations were created. The proceeds of the Afghan drug trade, which was protected by the CIA, were used to finance the various insurgencies:

“Under CIA and Pakistani protection, Pakistan military and Afghan resistance opened heroin labs on the Afghan and Pakistani border. According to The Washington Post of May 1990, among the leading heroin manufacturers were Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan leader who received about half of the covert arms that the U.S. shipped to Pakistan. Although there were complaints about Hekmatyar’s brutality and drug trafficking within the ranks of the Afghan resistance of the day, the CIA maintained an uncritical alliance and supported him without reservation or restraint.

Once the heroin left these labs in Pakistan’s northwest frontier, the Sicilian Mafia imported the drugs into the U.S., where they soon captured sixty percent of the U.S. heroin market. That is to say, sixty percent of the U.S. heroin supply came indirectly from a CIA operation. During the decade of this operation, the 1980s, the substantial DEA contingent in Islamabad made no arrests and participated in no seizures, allowing the syndicates a de facto free hand to export heroin. By contrast, a lone Norwegian detective, following a heroin deal from Oslo to Karachi, mounted an investigation that put a powerful Pakistani banker known as President Zia’s surrogate son behind bars. The DEA in Islamabad got nobody, did nothing, stayed away.

Former CIA operatives have admitted that this operation led to an expansion of the Pakistan-Afghanistan heroin trade. In 1995 the former CIA Director of this Afghan operation, Mr. Charles Cogan, admitted sacrificing the drug war to fight the Cold War. “Our main mission was to do as much damage to the Soviets. We didn’t really have the resources or the time to devote to an investigation of the drug trade,” he told Australian television. “I don’t think that we need to apologize for this. Every situation has its fallout. There was fallout in terms of drugs, yes, but the main objective was accomplished. The Soviets left Afghanistan.” (Alfred McCoy, Testimony before the Special Seminar focusing on allegations linking CIA secret operations and drug trafficking-convened February 13, 1997, by Rep. John Conyers, Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus)

Lucrative Narcotics Trade in the Post Cold War Era

The drug trade has continued unabated during the post Cold war years. Afghanistan became the major supplier of heroin to Western markets, in fact almost the sole supplier: more than 90 percent of the heroin sold Worldwide originates in Afghanistan. This lucrative contraband is tied into Pakistani politics and the militarization of the Pakistani State. It also has a direct bearing on the structure of the Pakistani economy and its banking and financial institutions, which from the outset of the Golden Crescent drug trade have been involved in extensive money laundering operations, which are protected by the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus:

According to the US State Department  International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (2006) (quoted in Daily Times, 2 March 2006),

“Pakistani criminal networks play a central role in the transshipment of narcotics and smuggled goods from Afghanistan to international markets. Pakistan is a major drug-transit country. The proceeds of narcotics trafficking and funding for terrorist activities are often laundered by means of the alternative system called hawala. … .

“Repeatedly, a network of private unregulated charities has also emerged as a significant source of illicit funds for international terrorist networks,” the report pointed out. … “

The hawala system and the charities are but the tip of the iceberg. According to the State Department report, “the State Bank of Pakistan has frozen more twenty years] a meager $10.5 million “belonging to 12 entities and individuals linked to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda or the Taliban”. What the report fails to mention is that the bulk of the proceeds of the Afghan drug trade are laundered in bona fide Western banking institutions.

The Taliban Repress the Drug Trade

A major and unexpected turnaround in the CIA sponsored drug trade occurred in 2000.

The Taliban government which came to power in 1996 with Washington’s support, implemented in 2000-2001 a far-reaching opium eradication program with the support of the United Nations which served to undermine a multibillion dollar trade. (For further details see, Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, 2005).

In 2001 prior to the US-led invasion, opium production under the Taliban eradication program declined by more than 90 percent.

In the immediate wake of the US led invasion, the Bush administration ordered that the opium harvest not be destroyed on the fabricated pretext that this would undermine the military government of Pervez Musharraf.

“Several sources inside Capitol Hill noted that the CIA opposes the destruction of the Afghan opium supply because to do so might destabilize the Pakistani government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. According to these sources, Pakistani intelligence had threatened to overthrow President Musharraf if the crops were destroyed. …

‘If they [the CIA] are in fact opposing the destruction of the Afghan opium trade, it’ll only serve to perpetuate the belief that the CIA is an agency devoid of morals; off on their own program rather than that of our constitutionally elected government’” .(NewsMax.com, 28 March 2002)

Since the US led invasion, opium production has increased 33 fold from 185 tons in 2001 under the Taliban to 6100 tons in 2006. Cultivated areas have increased 21 fold since the 2001 US-led invasion. (Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 6 January 2006)

In 2007, Afghanistan supplied approximately 93% of the global supply of heroin. The proceeds (in terms of retail value) of the Afghanistan drug trade are estimated (2006) to be in excess of 190 billion dollars a year, representing a significant fraction of the global trade in narcotics.(Ibid)

The proceeds of this lucrative multibillion dollar contraband are deposited in Western banks. Almost the totality of the revenues accrue to corporate interests and criminal syndicates outside Afghanistan.

The laundering of drug money constitutes a multibillion dollar activity, which continues to be protected by the CIA and the ISI. In the wake of the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan.

In retrospect, one of the major objectives of the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was to restore the drug trade.

The militarization of Pakistan serves powerful political, financial and criminal interests underlying the drug trade. US foreign policy tends to support these powerful interests. The CIA continues to protect the Golden Crescent narcotics trade. Despite his commitment to eradicating the drug trade, opium production under the regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has skyrocketed.

The Assassination of General Zia Ul-Haq

In August 1988, President Zia was killed in an air crash together with US Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel and several of Pakistan’s top generals. The circumstances of the air crash remain shrouded in mystery.

Following Zia’s death, parliamentary elections were held and Benazir Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister in December 1988. She was subsequently  removed from office by Zia’s successor, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the grounds of alleged corruption. In 1993, she was re-elected and was again removed from office in 1996 on the orders of President Farooq Leghari.

Continuity has been maintained throughout. Under the short-lived post-Zia  elected governments of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, the central role of the military-intelligence establishment and its links to Washington were never challenged.

Both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif served US foreign policy interests. While in power, both democratically elected leaders, nonetheless supported the continuity of military rule.  As prime minister from 1993 to 1996, Benazir Bhutto “advocated a conciliatory policy toward Islamists, especially the Taliban in Afghanistan” which were being supported by Pakistan’s ISI (See F. William Engdahl, Global Research, January 2008)

Benazir Bhutto’s successor as Prime Minister,  Mia Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) was deposed in 1999 in a US supported coup d’Etat led by General Pervez Musharraf.

The 1999 coup was instigated by General Pervez Musharaf, with the support of the Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Mahmoud Ahmad, who was subsequently appointed to the key position of head of military intelligence (ISI).

From the outset of the Bush administration in 2001, General Ahmad developed close ties not only with his US counterpart CIA director George Tenet, but also with key members of the US government including Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, not to mention Porter Goss, who at the time was Chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence. Ironically, Mahmoud Ahmad is also known, according to a September 2001 FBI report, for his suspected role in supporting and financing the alleged 9/11 terrorists as well as his links to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “war on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005) 

Concluding Remarks 

These various “terrorist” organizations were created as a result of CIA support. They are not the product of religion. The project to establish “a pan-Islamic Caliphate” is part of a carefully devised intelligence operation.

CIA support to Al Qaeda was not in any way curtailed at the end of the Cold War. In fact quite the opposite. The earlier pattern of covert support took on a global thrust and became increasingly sophisticated.

The “Global War on Terrorism” is a complex and intricate intelligence construct. The covert support provided to “Islamic extremist groups” is part of an imperial agenda. It purports to weaken and eventually destroy secular and civilian governmental institutions, while also contributing to vilifying Islam. It is an instrument of colonization which seeks to undermine sovereign nation-states and transform countries into territories.

For the intelligence operation to be successful, however, the various Islamic organizations created and trained by the CIA must remain unaware of the role they are performing on the geopolitical chessboard, on behalf of Washington.

Over the years, these organizations have indeed acquired a certain degree of autonomy and independence, in relation to their US-Pakistani sponsors. That appearance of “independence”, however, is crucial; it is an integral part of the covert intelligence operation. According to former CIA agent Milton Beardman the Mujahideen were invariably unaware of the role they were performing on behalf of Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): “neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help”. (Weekend Sunday (NPR); Eric Weiner, Ted Clark; 16 August 1998).

“Motivated by nationalism and religious fervor, the Islamic warriors were unaware that they were fighting the Soviet Army on behalf of Uncle Sam. While there were contacts at the upper levels of the intelligence hierarchy, Islamic rebel leaders in theatre had no contacts with Washington or the CIA.” (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Chapter 2).

The fabrication of “terrorism” –including covert support to terrorists– is required to provide legitimacy to the “war on terrorism”.

The various fundamentalist and paramilitary groups involved in US sponsored “terrorist” activities are “intelligence assets”. In the wake of 9/11, their  designated function as “intelligence assets” is  to perform their role as credible “enemies of America”.

Under the Bush administration, the CIA continued to support (via Pakistan’s ISI) several Pakistani based Islamic groups. The ISI is known to support Jamaat a-Islami, which is also present in South East Asia, Lashkar-e-Tayya­ba, Jehad a-Kashmiri, Hizbul-Mujahidin and  Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The Islamic groups created by the CIA are also intended to rally public support in Muslim countries. The underlying objective is to create divisions within national societies throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, while also triggering sectarian strife within Islam, ultimately with a view to curbing the development of a broad based secular mass resistance, which would challenge US imperial ambitions.

This function of an outside enemy is also an essential part of war propaganda required to galvanize Western public opinion. Without an enemy, a war cannot be fought.  US foreign policy needs to fabricate an enemy, to justify its various military interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia. An enemy is required to justify a military agenda, which consists in ” going after Al Qaeda”. The fabrication and vilification of the enemy are required to justify military action.

The existence of an outside enemy sustains the illusion that the “war on terrorism” is real. It justifies and presents military intervention as a humanitarian operation based on the right to self-defense. It upholds the illusion of a “conflict of civilizations”. The underlying purpose ultimately is to conceal the real economic and strategic objectives behind the broader Middle East Central Asian war.

Historically, Pakistan has played a central role in “war on terrorism”. Pakistan constitutes from Washington’s standpoint a geopolitical hub. It borders onto Afghanistan and Iran. It has played a crucial role in the conduct of US and allied military operations in Afghanistan as well as in the context of the Pentagon’s war plans in relation to Iran.


AMERICA’S “WAR ON TERRORISM”

by Michel Chossudovsky

ISBN 0-9737147-1-9  (2005)

387 pages.

Global Research Online Price: US$14.00  (Retail $19.95)

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

In this new and expanded edition of Michel Chossudovsky’s 2002 best seller, the author blows away the smokescreen put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an attack on America by “Islamic terrorists”.  Through meticulous research, the author uncovers a military-intelligence ploy behind the September 11 attacks, and the cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.

The expanded edition, which includes twelve new chapters focuses on the use of 9/11 as a pretext for the invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, the militarisation of justice and law enforcement and the repeal of democracy.

According to Chossudovsky, the  “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

September 11, 2001 provides a justification for waging a war without borders. Washington’s agenda consists in extending the frontiers of the American Empire to facilitate complete U.S. corporate control, while installing within America the institutions of the Homeland Security State.

Chossudovsky peels back layers of rhetoric to reveal a complex web of deceit aimed at luring the American people and the rest of the world into accepting a military solution which threatens the future of humanity.

 

“Millions of people have been misled regarding the causes and consequences of September 11.

When people across the US and around the World find out that Al Qaeda is not an outside enemy but a creation of US foreign policy and the CIA, the legitimacy of the bipartisan war agenda will tumble like a deck of cards.”

Across the land, the image of an “outside enemy” is instilled in the consciousness of Americans. Al Qaeda is threatening America and the world. The repeal of democracy under the Patriot legislation is portrayed as a means to providing “domestic security” and upholding civil liberties.

The 9/11 Commission Report destroys the historical record of US covert support to international terrorism, while creating the illusion that America and “Western Civilization” are threatened. In turn, the various terrorist warnings and code orange alerts have created, across America, an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Posted in USAComments Off on 9/11 ANALYSIS: From Ronald Reagan and the Soviet-Afghan War to George W Bush and September 11, 2001

International Campaign Is Criminalizing Criticism of ‘Israel’ As ‘Anti-Semitism’

For two decades, some Israeli officials and Israel partisans have worked to embed a new, Israel-focused definition of antisemitism in institutions around the world, from international bodies and national governments to small college campuses in heartland America. This effort is now snowballing rapidly. As a result, advocacy for Palestinian rights is well on the way to being curtailed and even criminalized as “hate.”

As the world has witnessed the oppression and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, many people have risen in protest. In response, the Israeli government and certain of its advocates have conducted a campaign to crack down on this activism, running roughshod over civil liberties (and the English language) in the process.

The mechanism of this crackdown is the redefinition of “antisemitism”[1] to include criticism of Israel, and the insertion of this definition into the bodies of law of various countries.

Where most people would consider “antisemitism” to mean bigotry against Jewish people (and rightly consider it abhorrent), for two decades a campaign has been underway to replace that definition with an Israel-centric definition. That definition can then be used to block speech and activism in support of Palestinian human rights as “hate.” Various groups are applying this definition in law enforcement evaluations of possible crimes.

Proponents of this Israel-centric definition have promoted it step by step in various arenas, from the U.S. State Department and European governments to local governments around the U.S. and universities.

While this effort has taken place over the last two decades, it is snowballing rapidly at this time. The definition is increasingly being used to curtail free speech and academic freedom, as well as political activism.

Furthermore, such politicizing of an important word may reduce its effectiveness when real antisemitism occurs, doing a disservice to victims of true bigotry.

As of this writing, the U.S. Congress has endorsed the distorted definition, the governments of the UK and Austria have officially adopted it (in December and April, respectively), various U.S. State legislatures are considering it, and numerous universities are using it to delineate permissible discourse. Many representatives and heads of other states around the world have embraced the new meaning, even if they have yet to officially implement it.

This article will examine the often interconnected, incremental actions that got us where we are, the current state of affairs, and the public relations and lobbying efforts that are promoting this twisting of the definition of “antisemitism” — often under cover of misleadingly named “anti-racism” movements.

Claims of “Antisemitism” Used to Silence Support for Palestinians

For many years, numerous respected organizations have documented Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, including killing of Palestinian civilians, abuse of Palestinian children, torture of Palestinian prisoners, confiscation of Palestinian land, and other cases of systematic violence and oppression. Detailed reports have been compiled by Defense for Children International, the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, Foreign Service Journal, Physicians for Human rights, Christian Aid, Human Rights Watch, the National Lawyers Guild, Israel’s Public Committee Against Torture, Israel’s B’Tselem and others.

Israel long claimed that its 1948 creation was on “a land without a people for a people without a land,” and many people may still believe this founding myth. The fact is, however, that the land was originally inhabited by an indigenous population that was approximately 80 percent Muslim, 15 percent Christian, and a little under 5 percent Jewish. The Jewish State of Israel was created through the ejection of approximately three-quarters of a million people.

Over the decades since Israel’s founding in 1948, accusations of antisemitism have been leveled against many people who criticized Israeli actions. Indeed, the accusation was used effectively to silence very prominent critics.[2]

However, for most of that time, the meaning of the term itself was not in question. The standard definitionwas, in Google’s terms, “hostility to or prejudice against Jews.”[3] Around the turn of this century, though, certain advocates began promoting official and even legal definitions of antisemitism that included various kinds of criticism of Israel.

Conflating Criticism of Israel with Antisemitism

Unsurprisingly, the new definitions appear to have originated from within the Israeli government, or at least with an Israeli government official.

Natan Sharansky, Israeli minister, in 2003: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.” Sharansky’s formulation formed the basis for the new Israel-centric definitions adopted around the world.

The definitions adhere to a pattern set by a man named Natan Sharansky, who was Israel’s Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs and chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Sharansky founded a Global Forum against Anti-Semitism in 2003, stating:

“The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.”

But Sharansky apparently didn’t mean a counteroffensive against just anti-Jewish bigotry, but an offensive against criticism of Israel. The following year he wrote a position paper that declared:

“Whereas classical anti-Semitism is aimed at the Jewish people or the Jewish religion, ‘new anti-Semitism’ is aimed at the Jewish state.”

Sharansky’s paper laid out what he called the “3-D Test of Anti-Semitism.” Sharansky applied the term “antisemitic” to criticism of Israel in three cases. First, he argued that statements that “demonize” Israel are antisemitic — by being, in his mind, unfairly harsh. (Some of those allegedly guilty of “demonizing” Israel are Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Human Rights Watch, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, French President François Mitterrand, and others.)

Second, Sharansky declared that it’s antisemitic to apply a “double standard” to Israel — in other words, to criticize Israel for actions that other states may also take. However, if one could never criticize, protest or boycott abuses without calling out every single other similar abuse, no one would ever be able to exercise political dissent at all.

Finally, Sharansky said it’s antisemitic to “delegitimize” Israel, or dispute its “right to exist” (a standard Israeli talking point for many years). In fact, insisting Israel has the “right” to exist amounts to saying it had the right to expel Muslim and Christian Palestinians in order to found a religiously exclusive state. (See “What ‘Israel’s right to exist’ means to Palestinians,” by John Whitbeck, published in the Christian Science Monitor.)[4]

Sharansky’s outline provided the pattern for a European agency to create a new definition of antisemitism the next year, 2005 — a definition that would then be adopted by a succession of organizations and governments, including the U.S. State Department.

There is a back story to how this all came about.

This European agency itself was founded and run by a man with important connections to Israel. It was called “The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia,” under the Council of the European Union. A Frenchman named Jean Kahn had convinced European heads of state to create it in 1997.

Jean Kahn (R) with French President Francois Mitterand. Kahn initiated the creation of the European Monitoring Centre, which released an Israel-centric “working” definition of antisemitism.

Kahn had been a President of the European Jewish Congress, elected in a plenary session in Israel, and said the Congress “would demonstrate its solidarity with Israel” and that he hoped European countries would “coordinate their legislation outlawing racism, anti-Semitism or any form of exclusion.”

Kahn was chairman of the Monitoring Centre’s management board and called the “personification” of the agency. Within three years, the Centre issued a position paper calling for the definition of anti-Semitic offenses to be “improved.”

A few years later, Israeli professor Dina Porat took up the effort to create a new definition. Working with her were Kenneth Stern and Rabbi Andrew “Andy” Baker of the American Jewish Committee. Stern reports that when the Monitoring Centre’s then head, Beate Winkler, had failed to deliver the desired definition, Andy Baker “smartly developed a working relationship with her.” Stern and others[5] then created a draft for the Monitoring Centre to use.

Israeli Dina Porat, Kenneth Stern, Rabbi Andrew Baker worked to draft what became the European Monitoring Centre definition of antisemitism.

In 2005 the agency issued its “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism,” largely based on that draft. It included an array of negative statements about Israel as examples of antisemitic offenses. While standard dictionary definitions of antisemitism didn’t even mention Israel, fully half of the newly devised Monitoring Centre definition referred to Israel.

Once the Monitoring Centre had created its expanded definition, certain Israel partisans used it to promote similar definitions elsewhere. And while the Monitoring Centre itself continued to term it only a “working” definition and its replacement organization eventually withdrew the definition, in other countries and agencies the expanded definition became official.

In addition, quite frighteningly, proponents pushed successfully to begin applying the Israel-centric definition to law enforcement.

In the United States

The same year Sharansky created his “3-D” antisemitism test — a year after he founded the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism — the U.S. Congress passed a law establishing exceptional government monitoring of antisemitism. The law created a special State Department envoy and office for this monitoring, over objections of the State Department itself.

The law, called the “Global Anti-Semitism Review Act,” included a line that subverted its meaning by enshrining a new definition of antisemitism aligned with Sharansky’s:

“Anti-Semitism has at times taken the form of vilification of Zionism, the Jewish national movement, and incitement against Israel.”

The bill was introduced in April 2004. That June, a Congressional hearing was conducted about how to combat antisemitism. A major witness was Israeli minister Sharansky. In his testimony Sharansky proposed his “3-D” Israel-connected definition for anti-Semitism.[6]

State Department officials objected to the proposed legislation, saying the new office was unnecessary and would be a “bureaucratic nuisance” that would actually hinder the Department’s ongoing work. A State Department press release opposing the new office described the many actions that State was already taking against antisemitism.

Despite this opposition, the Senate bill acquired 24 cosponsors representing both parties, including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Diane Feinstein, Russ Feingold, Sam Brownback, Saxby Chambliss and Ted Stevens. Similar bills (here and here) were introduced in the House of Representatives, acquiring 35 cosponsors, again including both Republican and Democratic leaders. The legislation passed easily and quickly became law.

Gregg Rickman, first U.S. antisemitism envoy, later worked for AIPAC.

The first Special Envoy, Gregg Rickman, endorsed the European Monitoring Centre’s Working Definition in 2008. Rickman’s report called it a “useful framework” for identifying and understanding antisemitism. After Rickman left the State Department, he went to work for the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the major Israel advocacy organization that lobbies Congress.

The next Special Envoy, Hannah Rosenthal, took this campaign a major step forward: In 2010 the office officially adopted the European Monitoring Centre’s definition.

Rosenthal was extremely proud of having achieved this “breakthrough” definition. She began making use of it quickly, establishing a 90-minute course on the new antisemitism at the Foreign Service Institute, the training school for diplomats.

“We have now a definition we can train people on,” she told the Times of Israel, “and we’ve been very aggressive in training foreign service officers.”

Hannah Rosenthal adopted the “breakthrough” Israel related definition and promptly used it in training U.S. diplomats.

Rosenthal announced that with the new definition including criticism of Israel, their reporting on antisemitism improved “300 percent,” even though, she said, that didn’t mean that antisemitism had actually increased in all the countries monitored.

The gloves were off. Now fully half of the official U.S. State Department definition of antisemitism had gone beyond the normal meaning of the world to focus on Israel.

Applying the New Definition to U.S. Citizens

The State Department uses the new definition to monitor activities overseas. But once the State Department definition was in place, efforts began to use it to crack down on political and academic discourse and activism within the U.S.

This past December (2016) the U.S. Senate passed a law to apply the State Department’s definition (i.e. the Sharansky-Stern-Rosenthal definition) of antisemitism to the Education Department, for use in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes.

A companion bill for the House is supported by AIPAC, the ADL, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

South Carolina’s House of Representatives recently passed legislation under which the State Department’s definition “would be used in probes of possible anti-Semitism at state colleges and universities.” The state senate will consider this in 2018. If passed, it will mean that the state will now probe criticism of Israel on state campuses.

Similar bills are being considered in Virginia and Tennessee.

Such efforts are also ongoing in California. In December Democrat Brad Sherman called on the California Secretary of Education to “expand its definition to include certain forms of anti-Israel behavior.” Pro-Israel organizations such as the Amcha Initiative have also been pushing the state legislature for several years to officially adopt the State Department definition. So far these have been defeated but continue to be promoted.

U.S. Campuses

A parallel effort has been occurring on U.S. campuses. In 2003 Sharansky said that college campuses were “one of the most important battlefields” for Israel.

In 2015 University of California President Janet Napolitano (head of 10 campuses) publicly supported adopting the state department definition, after 57 rabbis sent a letter to her and the University Board of Regents promoting the definition.

Student councils or other groups at various universities have passed resolutions adopting the State Department definition, which can then be used to block campus events about Palestine.

An ongoing campaign to ensure Israel partisans become influential in student government has supported these efforts. This campaign was announced by an AIPAC leader in 2010:

“We’re going to make certain that pro-Israel students take over the student government,” he said. “That is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.” (Video here.)

Resolutions referencing the Israel-centric definitions have now been passed by student governments at UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, East Carolina UniversityIndiana University, Ohio’s Capital University, Ohio’s Kent State, Orange County’s Chapman University, San Diego State University, and other campuses around the country.[7]

An example of these resolutions is the 2015 bill at Indiana University. The resolution denounced anti-Semitism

“as defined by the United States State Department” and stated that the student government would not fund antisemitic activities or activities that “undermine the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.”

It also said that IUSA executives and Congress members would undergo diversity training on anti-Semitism.

According to the student newspaper, the bill was written by Rebekah Molasky, a fellow with the international pro-Israel organization Stand With Us. After the resolution was passed,

“the bill’s sponsors and outside supporters hugged and high-fived before gathering in the hallway to take a picture to commemorate the moment.”

As evidenced above, such resolutions can now be used to censor student events. The UC San Diego resolution largely replicated the Indiana format, announcing that the student government will not support activities that “promote anti-Semitism” under the new definition, including “denying Israel the right to exist.” Stand With Us applauded the resolution.

In 2012, an organization called the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law was founded and immediately began promoting the new definition. Within a year it launched an initiative to establish student chapters at law schools throughout the U.S. to advance “the organization’s mandate to combat campus anti-Semitism through legal means.” The Center helped push the South Carolina legislation. It is one of numerous organizations promoting the new definition.

(Incidentally, former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis was a leader in the world Zionist movement and worked in public and covert ways to promote it — see here.)

“Thought Policing”

A number of analysts have pointed out some of the many significant flaws with such legislation.

Anthony L. Fisher at Reason.com writes of Congress’s December law applying the State Department definition to the Education Department:

“It gives the federal government the authority to investigate ideas, thoughts, and political positions as violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Fisher continues:

“By specifically using the broad language of a 2010 State Department memo attempting to define anti-Semitism, the Senate bill wades into thought policing.”

Attorney Liz Jackson wrote in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times:

“Anyone who values the constitutional right to express political dissent should worry about this development.”

NY Times columnist Bret Stephens says Jewish Americans should “do all we can to assure the survival of the Jewish State.

On the other side of the debate is New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, formerly Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor and before that editor of an Israeli newspaper. Stephens, extremely hawkish on Israel, writes and speaks fervently against the movement to boycott Israel (BDS) and what he says is antisemitism on US campuses and elsewhere. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, he claimed that

“anti-Semitism is the disease of the Arab world.”

In 2014 Stephens spoke at the Tikvah Fund, a philanthropic foundation committed to supporting the “Jewish people and the Jewish State,” opining that it would be a scandal if Jewish people failed “to do all we can to assure the survival of the Jewish State.”

U.S. and European Lawmakers Pressure Governments to Ban Criticism of Israel

During all this time, parallel efforts to promote the new definition continued in Europe.

In 2009 an organization called the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA) took up the effort to spread the expanded definition. The group says it brings together parliamentarians from “around the world” to fight antisemitism and lists a steering committee of six European and U.S. legislators.

The group held a conference in London in 2009 at which it issued a “London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism,” which was signed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other heads of state and legislators. This declaration called on governments to use the European Monitoring Centre’s definition and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.”

It was couched in “anti-racism” terms, but when we look at the declaration’s recommendations combined with its definition of antisemitism, one thing becomes clear: In the declaration, numerous lawmakers of the Western world called on world governments to restrict political dissent.

Specifically, they called on governments to outlaw certain forms of criticism of Israel, including calls to boycott Israel; to regulate criticism of Israel in the media; to monitor criticism of Israel online and elsewhere; and to prosecute critics of Israel under “hate crimes” legislation.

Among numerous other demands, the lawmakers declared that governments:

  • “must expand the use of the EUMC [Monitoring Centre] ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’” including “as a basis for training material for use by Criminal Justice Agencies;”
  • should “isolate political actors” who “target the State of Israel;”
  • “should legislate ‘incitement to hatred’ offences and empower law enforcement agencies to convict;”
  • “should … establish inquiry scrutiny panels;”
  • “should utilise the EUMC [Monitoring Centre] ‘Working Definition of antisemitism’ to inform media standards;”
  • “should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of antisemitic programmes” (keeping in mind here that the declaration’s definition of “antisemitic” includes various criticism of Israel);
  • “should use domestic ‘hate crime’, ‘incitement to hatred’ and other legislation … to prosecute ‘Hate on the Internet’ where racist and antisemitic content is hosted, published and written” (again keeping in mind what is defined as “antisemitic”);
  • and that “education authorities should … protect students and staff from illegal antisemitic discourse and a hostile environment in whatever form it takes including calls for boycotts.”

In 2015 the European Commission created a special position to coordinate work on combating antisemitism and appointed German national Katharina von Schnurbein to the post. Schnurbein proceeded to promote the use of the Israel-centric definition.[8]

UK and Austria Adopt Definition

 In December 2016, the UK announced it would formally adopt the Israel-centric definition. It was quickly followed by Austria, which adopted the definition in April 2017. The Austrian justice minister had previously announced that the new definition would be used in the training of new judges and prosecutors.

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the adoption of the Israel-centric definition at a Conservative Friends of Israel event.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement during a talk before 800 guests at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual lunch.

UPI reported:

“The British police are already using this definition[9], which can now also be used by other groups, such as municipal councils and universities. The definition is not a law, but provides a formal interpretation of an illegal act that can serve as a guideline for criminal proceedings.”

Shortly afterward the UK’s higher education minister sent a letter informing universities that the government had adopted the IHRA definition and directing them to utilize it.

(The London council quickly followed suit with its own adoption of the definition, and other cities have now done the same. In May the Israel-Britain Alliance (IBA) began asking candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they would support the new definition.)

A number of groups objected to the definition, arguing that the definition “deliberately equates criticism of Israel with hatred of Jews.”

Opponents said it was

“vigorously promoted by pro-Israel lobbyists to local authorities, universities, Labour movement organisations and other public bodies.”

They stated that after its adoption there had been “an increase in bannings and restrictions imposed on pro-Palestinian activities, especially on campuses.” Some of the cancellations cited the IHRA definition. Oxford Professor Stephen Sedley wrote in the London Review of Books that the IHRA definition gives “respectability and encouragement to forms of intolerance which are themselves contrary to law.”

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, recipient of the President’s Medal of the British Operational Research Society and Chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, said there were many examples of the definition creating a “chilling effect” on institutions’ willingness to permit lawful political activity, “even when the definition was not specifically cited.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which represents all of Europe, Eurasia, the U.S., and Canada — a billion people — was also pushed to adopt the definition at its December 2016 conference.

The American Jewish Committee, which has offices in Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Rome, and Warsaw, reported that it had “met with senior European government officials to encourage OSCE adoption of the definition.” However, adoption of the definition has so far been blocked by one member: Russia.

AJC’s Rabbi Andrew “Andy” Baker helped create and disseminate the new definition throughout Europe, Eurasia, the U.S., and Canada.

AJC leader Rabbi Andrew Baker wrote that the AJC would now work “to foster its greater use by the individual states of the OSCE and members of the European Union.”

Inter-Parliamentary Coalition’s American Representatives

Two American Congressmen are among the six-member steering committee of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CCA).

One is Florida Congressman Ted Deutch. Deutch’s Congressional website highlights his support for Israel as well as his work against antisemitism.

According to the site, Deutch

“works closely with his colleagues in the House and Senate to… pass resolutions strongly opposing manifestations of anti-Semitism at home in South Florida, across the United States, and around the world.”

Florida Congressman Ted Deutch The website reports:

“Congressman Ted Deutch is a passionate supporter of Israel whose advocacy for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship stretches back to his youth. Ted spent his summers at Zionist summer camp, worked as a student activist in high school and college, and served in leadership roles on several local and national Jewish organizations throughout his professional career. Today, Ted serves as Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s influential Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, where he continues to champion Israel’s security during a time of great volatility in the Middle East.”

Florida Congressman Ted Deutch has pushed the use of the Israel-centric definition to curtail academic freedom and campus political dissent within the United States. Deutch’s website declares him “a passionate supporter of Israel whose advocacy for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship stretches back to his youth.”

Deutch is also a member of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats. His ICCA bio announces that he plans to use this position “to continue to publicly condemn anti-Semitism.”

Deutch receives considerable funding from the pro-Israel lobby.

In March Deutch led a bipartisan letter to Trump “Urging Forceful Action on Anti-Semitism.” It demanded ‘a comprehensive, inter-agency strategy that called for the Justice Department to investigate “anti-Semitic crimes” and “ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith, member of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition, brought Sharansky to testify before Congress about his new definition.

Deutch was one of two Congresspeople who introduced the December law to apply the State Department definition to education.

The other U.S. Congressman on the steering committee of the ICCA is Republican Chris Smith of New Jersey. Smith is also a senior member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. According to the website Open Secrets, a large proportion of his campaign donations are also from pro-Israel sources.

Natan Sharansky twice testified at hearings Smith chaired. In a speech at an event honoring Smith for his work against antisemitism, Smith remembered that Sharansky had

 “proposed what he called a simple test to help us distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism. He called it the three Ds: Demonization, double standard, and de-legitimization.”

Spreading the New Definition Under Cover of “Anti-Racism” Movement

UK universities have seen repression of pro-Palestinian activism on an epic scale. In 2007 the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) adopted the new antisemitism definition at its national conference, when pro-Israel students introduced a motion entitled “AntiRacism: Challenging Racism on Campus and in Our Communities.” Some student unions at various UK universities then did the same.

This was a particularly ironic name for a pro-Israel motion, given that many people around the world consider Israel’s founding ideology, political Zionism, racist. In fact, in 1975 the UN General Assembly specifically passed a resolution that “Zionism is a form of racism.”

(The resolution was revoked In 1991, but not because the world body had changed its mind. In that year President Bush was pushing for the Madrid Peace Conference, which he hoped would end the “Arab-Israeli” conflict. When Israel said it would only participate in the conference if the UN revoked the resolution, the U.S. pressured member states to do just this.)

Through the years numerous entities have affirmed that Zionism is a type of racism, including conferences in South Africa and a recent UN commission which reported that Israel was practicing apartheid. (This report was then removed by the UN Director General, after Israeli and U.S. pressure.)

The UK student actions exemplify a trend that has pervaded this movement since the beginning: Efforts to shut down pro-Palestinian activism, curtail free speech and police thought both online and off are repeatedly packaged as “anti-racism” and sometimes “anti-fascism.”[10]

Campaign for New Definition Overcomes Hiccups

Taken together, these steps towards redefining “antisemitism” to include criticism of Israel, and then ban it, are effectively (and increasingly rapidly) producing significant results in terms of actual regulation and even law enforcement. Nevertheless, there apparently has been some resistance to the change.

In 2013, the successor organization to the European Monitoring Centre (called the European Fundamental Rights Agency) quietly dropped the working definition from its website. Without any public announcement, the definition was simply no longer on its site. When questioned about this, the agency’s director simply said that the organization had “no mandate to develop its own definitions.”

Proponents of the definition were outraged. Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center complained that the agency’s “disowning of its own definition is astounding” and that “those who fight antisemitism have lost an important weapon.” (The Wiesenthal Center is a global organization that declares it “stands with Israel” with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, Paris, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem.)

However, the fact that the Monitoring Centre had never officially adopted the definition, and that its successor organization now had apparently discarded it, seems to have been ignored by those who had adopted it.

The U.S. State Department continues to use the discarded version. The only difference is that the PDF that gave its Monitoring Centre origins has been removed from State’s website.

The World Jewish Congress convention 2014, chaired by David de Rothschild, urged “all countries to adopt a binding definition of anti-Semitic crimes” based on the Israel-centric definition.

The following year, the World Jewish Congress, which represents Jewish umbrella bodies in 100 countries, called on “all countries to adopt a binding definition of anti-Semitic crimes based on the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism developed by the former European Union Monitoring Commission (EUMC) and used in a number of states’ law enforcement agencies.”

IHRA Picks Up the Ball

Other groups stepped into the vacuum and kept the definition alive. In 2016 The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) adopted the definition.

The IHRA consists of 31 Member Countries, ten Observer Countries, and seven international partner organizations. Its chair announced that the IHRA’s goal was to inspire “other international fora” to also adopt “a legally binding working definition.” It’s working: Britain and Austria almost immediately followed suit.

The U.S. Brandeis Center applauded the move, saying that “because the IHRA has adopted it, the definition has now officially been given the international status that it was previously lacking.”

The Brandeis Center reported that this was the

“culmination of a process initiated by Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, two years ago, with help from others including Ira Forman and Nicholas Dean of the U.S. Department of State.”

Ira Forman, antisemitism envoy under Obama and formerly of AIPAC, played a pivotal role in the IHRA adoption of the new definition.

Forman was the State Department Special Anti-Semitism Envoy under Obama, reportedly led Obama’s reelection campaign in the Jewish community, had worked for Bill Clinton, and had served as Political Director and Legislative Liaison for AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying organization. Nicholas Dean had been the State Department Special Envoy for the Holocaust.

The New York Jewish Week reported that Forman and Dean “played a pivotal role in diplomatic efforts that led to the recent adoption by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance of a Working Definition of Anti-Semitism.”

“This is the first-ever formal international definition of anti-Semitism, and a potentially crucial tool for forcing governments and international agencies to confront and take action against it,” the article continued.

Pressure On State Department to Continue Extra Monitoring

Among much budget slashing proposed by President Donald Trump were cuts to the State Department that would have ended funding for the antisemitism monitoring office and special envoy (though State Department monitoring of antisemitism would continue even after the cuts).

Various organizations are lobbying to keep the office and envoy, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a U.S. organization whose mission is to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people” but which in effect seems to serve as an American extension of the most right-wing elements of Israel’s government. It has a long and infamous history of attacking critics of Israeli policy as “antisemites” and also uses an Israel-centric definition of antisemitism.

The ADL and allies pointed to a rash of bomb threats against Jewish institutions to strengthen their argument that this exceptional office must be funded. A letter with over a hundred signatories was sent to Trump demanding that he keep the dedicated State Department position, a bipartisan letter in support of retaining that special monitor was circulated in Congress, and over 100 Holocaust memorial groups and scholars urged Trump to keep the office.

As this political fight has raged, the ADL, which has a budget of over $56 million, sent out press releases to national and local media around the country reporting that antisemitic incidents have soared. The release was repeated almost verbatim in numerous national media and in individual states (as a random example, a Massachusetts headline declared: “Report: Anti-Semitism on the rise in Massachusetts.”)

However, it is impossible to know how many of the antisemitic incidents reported by the ADL were actually related to criticism of Israel, because the ADL didn’t release the data on which these results were based.

In addition, the ADL’s reported spike includes a spate of threats called in to Jewish organizations, schools and community centers that, thankfully, were hoaxes. The vast majority of threats (reportedly to over 2,000 institutions) apparently were perpetrated by an 18-year-old Jewish Israeli who reportedly suffers from medical and mental problems. (This alleged perpetrator is also accused of trying to extort a US Senator, threatening the children of a US official, and a range of other crimes.)

Israeli man arrested for over 2,000 bomb threats.

Another individual, an American in the U.S., apparently perpetrated eight hoax bomb threats in a bizarre campaign to get his former girlfriend in trouble.

A Jewish News Service article says the threats by the Israeli teen made up a significant percentage of the ADL’s spike and reported:

“The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) decision to count an Israeli teenager’s alleged recent bomb hoaxes as ‘anti-Semitic incidents’ is prompting criticism from some Jewish community officials.”

An ADL official admitted that the audit is an approximation, saying “the science on it is currently being written.” A regional ADL director said that “this is not a poll or a scientific study,” but rather “an effort to get a sense of ‘what’s going on in people’s hearts.’”

Regarding hard data, the report said that anti-Semitic assaults across the nation had “decreased by about 36 percent.”

The ADL blames various groups for antisemitism, pointing the finger at people of color with claims that Hispanic Americans and African Americans are “the most anti-Semitic cohorts,” at “white supremacists” and at Trump’s election — but not at the Israeli teen responsible for 2,000+ hoax threats that terrorized Jewish institutions, nor at its own distorted, Israel-connected definition.[11]

Claims of increased antisemitism are cited repeatedly in calls for the U.S. government to maintain funding for the special State Department monitoring.

Former US Ambassador to UN Samantha Power tweeted that the entire Trump administration should focus on antisemitism.

Former Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and two Democratic congressional representatives, Reps. Nita Lowey of New York and Deutch of Florida, are among those demanding that Trump appoint a new antisemitism monitor and maintain this office at full strength, even while he cuts other federal spending.

Power tweeted: “Anti-semitism is surging in world. Entire Trump admin needs to focus on it & envoy position must be kept.”

Lowey demanded:

“The president must show he takes the rise of anti-Semitism seriously by immediately appointing a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism and fully staffing the Special Envoy’s office.”

In a May 2017 speech, World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder said,

“Being anti-Israel is being anti-Semitic.” He announced that the congress “is creating a new communications department, or what you might call Hasborah” to counter this new “antisemitism.”

Dissenting Views

Many Jewish writers and activists dispute Lauder’s contention and oppose the campaign to conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israel. An article in Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper points out that “were anti-Zionism a cover for the abuse of individual Jews, individual Jews would not join anti-Zionist groups. Yet many do. Jewish students are well represented in anti-Zionist groups like Students for Justice in Palestine.”

Rabbi Ahron Cohen of Naturei Kartei (“Guardians of the Faith”) writes that “Judaism and Zionism are incompatible and mutually exclusive.” Cohen states that antisemitism is “an illogical bigotry. Anti-Zionism, however, is a perfectly logical opposition, based on very sound reasoning, to a particular idea and aim.”

Cohen argues:

“According to the Torah and Jewish faith, the present Palestinian Arab claim to rule in Palestine is right and just. The Zionist claim is wrong and criminal. Our attitude to Israel is that the whole concept is flawed and illegitimate. So anti-Zionism is certainly not anti-Semitism.”

 Antisemitism?

Recently Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper published a column entitled, “An Israeli Soldier Shot a Palestinian in Front of Her Kids. Where’s Her Compensation?”

The article, by Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, begins:

“For three months, Dia Mansur was certain his mother was dead. He was 15 years old when he saw her collapse in the living room of their home, felled by a bullet fired by an Israel Defense Forces soldier that sliced into her face, tearing it apart. He saw his mother lying on the floor, blood oozing from her mouth…”

Gaza, 2014. Israel’s invasions and shelling of Gaza killed and injured thousands of children and left multitudes homeless.

Levy, citing a report by an Israeli human rights organization, writes that from September 2000 to through February 2017,

“Israel killed 4,868 noncombatant Palestinian civilians, more than one-third of them (1,793) were children and adolescents below the age of 18.” (More info here.)

He continued:

“Thousands of others, who were also not involved in fighting, have been wounded and permanently incapacitated.” (Photos here.)

Shifa Hospital, Gaza, 2014

A few weeks before that report, Ha’aretz published an article that described Israel’s month-long imprisonment of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, one of over 200 Palestinian children taken by Israeli forces in a little over three months. The boy, accused of throwing stones against Israeli soldiers, would have been released from incarceration earlier, except that his impoverished family didn’t have enough money to pay the fine.

In the article, Israeli journalist Amira Haas reported that the boy’s father said that his son “wasn’t how he used to be before he was arrested.”

“He used to joke,” the father said, “and he stopped doing that. He talked a lot, and now he is silent.”

Haas wrote that UNICEF had issued a report four years ago that Israel was “extensively and systematically abusing detained Palestinian children and youth.” Today, she reported,

“The stories of physical violence, threats, painful plastic handcuffs and naked body searches remain almost identical.”

Sadly, every week there are similar stories.

To the multi-billion dollar network of lobbies advocating for conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, those who work to get such information to the American people – whose government gives Israel $10 million per day – are antisemitic.

Many others of all faiths and ethnicities have a different view.

Sixteen years ago I wrote:

“Equating the wrongdoing of Israel with Jewishness is the deepest and most insidious form of anti-Semitism of all.”

It is ironic that it is the Israel lobby that is today doing this equating, and that it has worked to invert the very meaning of antisemitism itself. Rather than denoting only abhorrent behavior, as it once did, today the term is often officially applied to what many consider courageous actions against oppression.

More troubling, still, these lobbying groups are working to outlaw conduct that numerous people (including many Israelis and Jewish Americans) consider morally obligatory.

It seems imperative for Americans who wish for justice and peace in the Middle East, and who oppose Orwellian distortions of language and law, to speak out against this campaign – while we can.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel

*     *     *

Timeline for creating new Israel-centric definition of antisemitism

Following is a timeline of some of the key events in the creation, promotion and adoption of the Israel-focused definition of antisemitism. It provides an outline, but does not include every step of the process, all the key players, or every action.

1991 – Jean Kahn is elected president of the European Jewish Congress at its plenary session in Israel. He announces an ambitious agenda, including demonstrating solidarity with Israel and European countries coordinating legislation to outlaw antisemitism.

1997 – Kahn “convinces 15 heads of state” to create the The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia to focus on “racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.”

2000 – The Monitoring Centre issues a position paper calling for the definition of antisemitic offenses to be “improved.”

2003 – Israel’s minister for diaspora affairs Natan Sharansky founds the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism, stating: “The State of Israel has decided to take the gloves off and implement a coordinated counteroffensive against anti-Semitism.”

2004 – Sharansky, who is also chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, issues a position paper that lays out the “3-D Test of Anti-Semitism:” statements that “demonize” Israel, apply a “double standard” or “delegitimize” Israel are “antisemitic.” These will form the blueprint for new definitions adopted by lobbying organizations and finally governments.

2004 – US Congress passes law establishing special office and envoy in the State Department to monitor antisemitism that includes statements about Israel under this rubric. (Sharansky is witness at Congressional hearing.)

2004 – American Jewish Committee directors Kenneth Stern and Rabbi Andrew “ Andy” Baker work with Israeli professor Dina Porat to draft a new antisemitism definition and push the Monitoring Centre to adopt it, according to Stern. Their draft drew on Sharansky’s 3 D’s.

2005 – Monitoring Centre issues a “Working Definition of Anti-Semitism” that includes Sharansky’s 3 D’s, based on Stern et al’s draft. While standard dictionary definitions of antisemitism didn’t even mention Israel, fully half of the newly devised Monitoring Centre definition referred to Israel.

2007UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) adopts the new antisemitism definition focused on Israel, after pro-Israel students introduce a motion misleadingly entitled “AntiRacism: Challenging Racism on Campus and in Our Communities.” Some student unions at various UK universities then follow suit.

2008 – The first U.S. State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism, Greg Rickman, endorses the Monitoring Centre working definition in State Department report to Congress. (Rickman later went to work for AIPAC.)

2009 – The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (CCA), which brings together parliamentarians from around the world, issues the London Declaration signed by then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others. The Declaration calls on governments to use the Monitoring Centre definition and to outlaw and prosecute such “antisemitism.” US Congressmen Ted Deutch and Chris Smith are members of the CCA’s steering committee.

2010 – Second US State Department Special Envoy on antisemitism Hanna Rosenthal officially adopts European Monitoring Centre definition; this is subsequently referred to as the State Department definition of antisemitism. Rosenthal creates course on antisemitism using this definition to train Foreign Service Officers.

2012Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law is founded and immediately begins promoting the new definition. Within a year it launches an initiative to establish student chapters at law schools throughout the U.S.

2013 – Successor organization to the European Monitoring Centre (called the European Fundamental Rights Agency) quietly drops the working definition from its website. When questioned about this, the agency’s director says the organization had “no mandate to develop its own definitions.” (Groups using the definition continue to use it.)

2014 – Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with help from Ira Forman and Nicholas Dean of the U.S. Department of State, initiates efforts for another agency to adopt and promote the working definition of antisemitism.

2015 – European Commission creates a special position to coordinate work on combating antisemitism, appointing German Katharina von Schnurbein to the post. Schnurbein proceeds to promote use of the Israel-centric definition. 

2015 – Indiana University passes resolution denouncing “anti-Semitism as defined by the United States State Department and will not fund or participate in activities that promote anti-Semitism or that ‘undermine the right of the Jewish people to self-determination.’” University of California Santa Barbara and UCLA also pass such resolutions.

2016 – The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), consisting of 31 Member Countries, adopts the definition; the goal is to inspire others to also adopt “a legally binding working definition.” An analyst writes that the IHRA action is “a potentially crucial tool for forcing governments and international agencies to confront and take action.”

December 2016 – U.S. Senate passes law to apply the State Department’s definition of antisemitism to the Education Department, for use in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes. Now the law defines actions connected to criticism of Israel as “religiously motivated.”

December 2016 – UK announces it will formally adopt the Israel-centric definition–the first country to do so besides Israel. UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the announcement during a talk before 800 guests at the Conservative Friends of Israel’s annual lunch.

December 2016 – Adoption of the definition by the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which had been heavily lobbied by the American Jewish Committee, is blocked by Russia. The AJC then says it will push for individual member states to adopt it.

March 2017 South Carolina House of Representatives passes legislation under which the State Department’s definition “would be used in probes of possible anti-Semitism at state colleges and universities.” The Senate version will be discussed in 2018. Similar bills are being considered in Virginia and Tennessee.

March – May 2017 – Resolutions adopting the Israel-centric definitions are passed by student governments at Ohio’s Capital University and Kent State, California’s San Diego State University and at other campuses around the U.S.

April 2017

  • Austria adopts the definition. (The Austrian justice minister previously announced that the new definition would be used in the training of new judges and prosecutors.)
  • The ADL, which uses Israel-centric definition of antisemitism, announces that antisemitism has risen by 86 percent in 2017, but includes questionable statistics. News organizations throughout the U.S. report the ADL claim.
  • Reports that Trump administration budget cuts might cause special antisemitism envoy position to remain vacant provokes outrage among Israel lobby groups and others. Samantha Power calls for entire Trump administration to focus on antisemitism. Soon, Trump administration says it will fill post.
  • All 100 US Senators send a letter to UN demanding it stop its actions on Israel and connects these to antisemitism.

May 2017 –

  • Israel-Britain Alliance begins asking candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they will support the new definition.

Notes

[1] I’m using the newer, unhyphenated spelling of this word, which seems to be growing in popularity. I feel it is a more appropriate spelling, since the hyphenated version suggests that it refers to all Semites, which is incorrect. The word was created in 1879 specifically to refer to anti-Jewish prejudice.

[2] Former Israeli parliament member Shulamit Aloni explained this in a 2002 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy now. “It’s a trick. ” she said. “We always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel, then we bring up the Holocaust. When in this country people are criticizing Israel, then they are ‘anti-Semitic’.

Aloni noted that the pro-Israel lobby in the United States “is strong, and has a lot of money.” She continued: “Ties between Israel and the American Jewish establishment are very strong … their attitude is ‘Israel, my country right or wrong.’”

“It’s very easy,” she said, “to blame people who criticize certain acts of the Israeli government as ‘anti-Semitic’ and use that claim to justify everything Israel does to the Palestinians.”

Examples abound of critics of Israel silenced in this way. One telling story is that of once-famous journalist Dorothy Thompson, who was virtually erased from history after writing about the Palestinian cause. Read about her here and here.

[3] Dictionaries all agreed on this meaning, with one exception that caused considerable outrage. This was Merriam-Webster’s mammoth unabridged dictionary, which included a second meaning: “opposition to Zionism: sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel.”

When some people discovered this extra, Israel-related meaning in 2004 and raised objections to it, there was a general outcry that the additional meaning was inaccurate and should be removed, including by New York Times columnist and linguistics arbiter Jeffrey Nunberg, who wrote that it “couldn’t be defended.”

Merriam-Webster responded by saying that the extra meaning would “probably be dropped when the company published a new unabridged version in a decade or so.” The company hasn’t published a new version yet, but it seems to have followed through with this decision. The online version of the unabridged dictionary, which says it is updated with the latest words and meanings, makes no mention of Israel or Zionism.

[4] An increasingly common Israeli talking point is the claim that it’s antisemitic to deny the Jewish people their “right to self-determination.” This is disingenuous: Self-determination is the right of people on a land to determine their own political status, not the right of some people to expel others in order to form an exclusive state on confiscated land. In reality, the principle of self-determination would have had the Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of historic Palestine forming a government for all of them, and today would give Palestinians living under Israeli occupation the freedom to determine their own destiny.

[5] Michael Whine, Jeremy Jones, Israeli Roni Stauber, Felice Gaer, Israeli Yehuda Bauer, Michael Berenbaum and Andy Baker, and later on, AJC’s Deidre Berger, previously an NPR reporter.

[6] The other witnesses were representatives of the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations, American Jewish Committee, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Anti-Defamation League, National Conference for Soviet Jewry, B’nai B’rith International, World Jewish Congress, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Shai Franklin, and Jay Lefkowitz of Kirkland & Ellis, LLP.

[7] An organization called Students Supporting Israel (SSI) takes credit for most of these initiatives. Created in 2012 at the University of Minnesota by Israeli Ilan Sinelnikov and his sister, Valeria Chazin, SSI now has chapters on over 40 college campuses around the U.S., at least three high schools, and some campuses in Canada. In 2015 Israel’s Midwest Consulate chose SSI to receive the award for “Outstanding Pro Israel Activism.” Campus Hillels are also frequently involved.

The bill at Chapman University passed but was vetoed. Another vote will probably be proposed in in the fall.

[8] For information on additional Israel-centered campaigns, see the works of Israeli strategist Yehezkel Dror, such as his paper “Foundations of an Israeli Grand Strategy toward the European Union

[9] The AJC’s Andy Baker reported: “It is part of police-training materials in the UK.”

[10] An antifa group in France, for example, reportedly shut down a talk by an anti-Zionist intellectual.

[11] A number of analysts have also suggested that some antisemitism may at times be an (inappropriate) response to Israeli violence and oppression of Palestinians. Yale Chaplain Bruce Shipman pointed out in a letter to the New York Times that an earlier period of reported rising antisemitism in Europe paralleled “the carnage in Gaza over the last five years, not to mention the perpetually stalled peace talks and the continuing occupation of the West Bank.” Israel partisans were outraged and Shipman was soon required to resign.

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The Battle for Raqqah, The Islamic State’s Stronghold ‘Video’

NOVANEWS
 

The city of Raqqah is considered one of the most important Syrian cities. The city is located on the northeast bank of the Euphrates River, at the edge of “Sharqiya Syria”, a term used to describe eastern Syria.

Syria’s largest dam, the Tabqah Dam is located 40 kilometers west of Raqqah. The dam is one of the most important electricity and water sources in Syria. It was built to generate the hydroelectric power, as well as irrigate lands on both sides of the Euphrates. The town of Tabqah and the nearby Tabqah Military Airport are located directly south of the dam.

Raqqah is linked with the Syrian industrial capital of Aleppo, the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, and the fertile area Hasakah through the M4 Highway. The city’s inhabitants number 220,000, according to the 2004 census. The Raqqah countryside is home to about 100,000 people.

The strategic importance of the city as well as the nearby Tabqah dam turned Raqqah into a target for every faction involved in the war and all of them have attempted to take control of it.

At the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Raqqah was one of the calmest provinces, as it did not witness any significant protests or violence. Sporadic protests by opposition groups did not exceed a hundred protestors at their peak.

Thus, Raqqah and its capital became one of the safest provinces accepting scores of loyalist refugees displaced from the Aleppo, Hasakah, and Deir Ezzor where fierce clashes between pro-government forces and militants took place in 2012.

At the end of 2012, Ahrar Al-Sham with the support of Jabhat al-Nusra (the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda; Now it’s known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) declared its intention to capture the provincial capital of Raqqah and launched a military operation to do this. Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra captured the Jirah Airbase and the important town of Maskanah in the province of Aleppo, and entered into the province of Raqqah. Militants captured Tabqah and the Tabqah Military Airport and captured the city of Raqqah after 3 days of clashes on March 6, 2013.

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The Syrian Army did not organize any real defenses for the city. This led to many questioning the loyalties of the provincial leadership, which seemingly played an integral role in the loss of this strategic province.

Initially, ISIS activities inside the city were aimed at supporting Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra in actions against the besieged Syrian Army military installations in its vicinity. However, later ISIS began own operation in order to recapture Raqqah from Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. ISIS declared a control over Raqqah in January 2014. A majority of Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra militants fled, abandoning the entire city to ISIS. Those who remained either defected to ISIS or were executed.

In the past three years, ISIS was systematically strengthening its presence and influence in Raqqah as it did not face any real danger from other forces involved in the war.

In 2016, following the first liberation of Palmyra, the Syrian Army, backed up by the Russian Aerospace Forces, launched an advance with the goal of recapturing the Tabqah Military Airport and even the city of Raqqah from ISIS. However, government forces did not reach even their first goal and were pushed to retreat after a series of ISIS counter attacks.

The start of the Russian military operation in Syria in 2015 dramatically changed the course of the war and returned an ability to conduct successful operations to the Assad government. The government advance on the Tabqah Military Airport resulted in no gains. Nonetheless, it became clear that if the US-led coalition against ISIS continues ignoring the terrorist group in Syria, the Syrian government and its allies would be able to solve this problem by themselves. [Just for example, in the same year, the Syrian army liberated the city of Aleppo from Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies. This was one of the biggest government victories in this war.] This could become a major diplomatic and PR failure for the US and its regional allies.

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In October 2015, the new brand of the US-backed forces appeared in the war. The establishment of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was declared during a press conference in Hasakah, a town controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG). While the US and the mainstream media claimed that, the SDF was multi-ethnic organization, the YPG and the YPJ, the female equivalent of the YPG, became the core of the group. Understanding this problem, the US-led coalition contributed significant efforts in 2016 and in early 2017 to build an Arab faction in the SDF. However, the Kurdish militias remained the undisputed core of the SDF.

On November 6, 2016, the SDF, backed up by the US-led coalition’s air power and special forces, launched the Operation Euphrates Wrath aimed at expelling ISIS from the province of Raqqah.

Now, the SDF officially includes:

  1. 36,000 YPG fighters
  2. 24,000 YPJ fighters
  3. 20,000 Arab tribal fighters including groups like the Manbij Military Council

Between 10,000 and 20,000 members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) present in the SDF-held area in northern Syria and unofficially participate in SDF military operations. Official representatives of the PYD and the YPG have repeatedly denied this fact because it could negatively impact the US-Turkish relations. An official recognition of this fact will also create a pretext for Ankra to launch a military operation against the SDF. Turkey and a number of other nations describe the PKK as a terrorist group. The Turkish leadership insists that the YPG is just a branch of the PKK.

However, this does not stop Ankara from conducting military strikes on YPG targets along the Turkish-Syrian border. The United States have been pushed to increase its military activity along the border and at a contanct line between the SDF and pro-Turkish militants in the province of Aleppo to prevent a possible full-scale Turkish military operations against the SDF/YPG in northern Syria. Thus, US troops play a role of buffer force between Turkey and the SDF.

The SDF advance in the Raqqah countryside is ongoing amid an immense fire support from the US Coalition’s warplanes, attack helicopters and artillery. The US also expanded few airfields inside Syria. They are used for delivering supplies to the SDF and as forward bases for US attack helicopters. The US, French and Germany special operations forces also play an important role in supporting the SDF on the ground. The US Marine Corps provides an artillery support for SDF operations around Raqqah.

So far, the SDF has been able to outflank Raqqah from the western, eastern and northern directions, to cross the Euphrates and to capture the Tabqah Military Airport, the town of Tabqah and to set a foothold for isolating the ISIS self-proclaimed capital from the southern direction.

From its side, ISIS began preparing for the Battle of Raqqah since the Coalition’s announcement of the Raqqah operation in 2016.

Since the beginning, it became clear that ISIS was not intending to defend numerous villages in the Raqqah countryside. In turn, ISIS implemented a mobile defense approach. ISIS units were retreating under the pressure of the SDF and the US-led coalition from small villages and were counter-attacking relying on technicals and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).

The goal of this strategy was (and is) to deliver a maximum possible damage to the SDF manpower and military equipment instead of attempting to defend small settlements without any strategic value. Tabqah, the Tabqah Military Airbase and the Tabqah dam were the only locations that ISIS had attempted to defend because of their strategic value – controlling these sites, US-backed forces will have a foothold on the southern bank of the Euphrates west of Tabqah.

Inside and around Raqqah, ISIS started setting up a series of fortifications around the city at the end of 2016 by constructing a high berm and a trench that encircles the city in its entirety. Several local sources also reported that the terrorist group had worked on establishing an intricate series of tunnels, trenches, and cement barriers inside Raqqah.

Furthermore, opposition sources reported that ISIS began lacing explosives and planting IEDs in sensitive areas inside and around the city.

At the turn of 2017 following the success of US-backed forces in Raqqah’s western and eastern countryside and the cutting off of the Raqqah-Deir Ezzor highway in addition to the Syrian Army’s resilience in Deir Ezzor, ISIS began relocating its equipment and ammunition to the insides of the city as well as establishing firing points and sniper nests. The terrorist group has been also relocating its most experienced fighters to the city.

According to different sources, in Raqqah ISIS has between 5,000 and 10,000 fighters and its most effective armament including TOW and Fagot missiles smuggled from Idlib. ISIS also has stocked weapons like RPG-29 and OSA M-79 for the Battle of Raqqah. Dozens of tanks and armored vehicles have been deployed inside the city. The group is actively manufacturing various kinds of VBIEDs using their stock of explosives.

A military planning, a motivated infantry and a sophisticated usage of VBIEDs are the key strong sides of ISIS forces.
The current goal of the US-led forces is to seize control of the Raqqah countryside putting an additional pressure on the terrorist group from the northern and western direction. It’s expected that the US-led coalition and its allies on the ground will attempt to repeat the Mosul-like operation. However, there is a difference: US-backed forces could leave an escape route for ISIS members south of Raqqah. This could allow to ease the resistance of ISIS members inside the city. Meanwhile, if this is done, many terrorist group members will be able to remain alive and free in Syria. Some of them could then move to Europe as refugees.

The storm Raqqah will include a heavy bombing campaign by the US-led coalition air force with warplanes, attack helicopters and drones, as well as Marine artillery. The United States will expand their military presence on frontlines against ISIS and deploy more troops and military equipment. Like in Mosul, Washington and the mainstream media will likely deny that US troops are directly engaged in a battle against ISIS in Raqqah. However, without an active US military support, the SDF will be hardly able to retake Raqqah from ISIS in a realistic time.
ISIS will also use the Mosul experience, using well-equipped small groups of fighters, deploying huge numbers of snipers on all streets of the city, and of course the heavy use of VBIED and suicide bombers to attack any gathering of SDF, and to deploy mines and IEDs on all roads.

One of the biggest problems that the SDF will face is a high number of civilians in the city. According to local sources, there are over 250,000 people, including refugees from Deir Ezzor and Iraq, and families of ISIS terrorists in Raqqah.

In general, the battle is expected to last months, and unfortunately, as in Mosul, large numbers of civilians will be killed due to a fighting and the coalition’s bombing campaign. US military officials argue that US-backed forces will start storming Raqqah this summer. Nonetheless, it’s complicated to forecast when the city is retaken from terrorists. Iraqi forces launched their final push towards the ISIS stronghold of Mosul on October 16, 2016 and the city has not been liberated completely so far.

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Tensions between the PYD/YPG and the Turkish government is another factor that impacts and slows down the SDF advance on Raqqah.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish-dominated SDF has announced that the liberated city will be included in the Federation of Northern Syria–Rojava, the YPG/SDF-held area of northern Syria.

This raises a lot of concern in the Syrian government and many pro-government activists question the loyalty of the administration that will rule the city and the people’s desire to join Kurdish federalism, especially after much talk about the racist practices of the Kurdish federal administration in Hasakah and Qamishli against the Arabs. Some speculations even say that if SDF succeeded in controlling the city, it may fail in managing it. However, it is too early to make such far-reaching conclusions.

The liberation of Raqqah is an important part of the broader effort aimed at expelling ISIS terrorists from Syria and Iraq. All sides share this point.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on The Battle for Raqqah, The Islamic State’s Stronghold ‘Video’

US Attack on Syrian Forces, A Criminal Act of War

NOVANEWS

US Attack on Syrian Forces, A Criminal Act of War: Asserting the “Safe Zones”, Perpetuating the War

 

In legal terms, it was both an act of war and criminal. The US military is currently occupying Syrian territory without invitation by the Syrian government and without any form of mandate from the United Nations.

In geostrategic terms, the United States is attempting to assert itself and its geopolitical strategy of establishing and subsequently expanding “safe zones” inside Syrian territory in a bid to topple the Syrian government, then divide and destroy the Syrian state.

Foreign Policy, a clearinghouse for corporate-financier funded think tank policymakers, in an article titled,US Bombs Syria Regime for the First Time,” would admit:

The strike showed American commanders are willing to use force to maintain de facto safe zones in the country’s east, where U.S. forces are training local militias to battle the Islamic State and provide security in liberated regions.

While Foreign Policy’s article confirms US intentions of carving out “safe zones” in Syria, it misleads readers regarding the purpose of doing so.

While it claims that these “safe zones” are intended to host training for “local militias to battle the Islamic State,” US intentions to create such zones stretches back long before the threat of the Islamic State was introduced into the conflict.

US policymakers themselves openly admitted the “safe zones” were meant to both perpetuate the conflict and seek a more long-term process of regime change after initial attempts to stampede the government in Damascus out of power failed in 2011.

A March 2012 Brookings Institution paper titled, Middle East Memo #21: Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” (PDF), proposes the concept of “safe zones” or “safe-havens” not to fight the yet-to-be invented Islamic State, but specifically to assist US-backed regime change. It claims (emphasis added):

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.

A 2015 Brookings paper titled, Deconstructing Syria: Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country  would elaborate on the nature of these zones, not as bases for fighting terrorism – but as a means of incrementally dividing and literally “deconstructing” Syria as a unified nation-state (emphasis added):

The end-game for these zones would not have to be determined in advance. The interim goal might be a confederal Syria, with several highly autonomous zones and a modest (eventual) national government. The confederation would likely require support from an international peacekeeping force, if this arrangement could ever be formalized by accord. But in the short term, the ambitions would be lower—to make these zones defensible and governable, to help provide relief for populations within them, and to train and equip more recruits so that the zones could be stabilized and then gradually expanded.

It would also elaborate regarding the role the Islamic State specifically plays in all of this – not as an enemy to be defeated – but as a pawn to be used against the Syrian government:

The  idea would be to help moderate elements establish reliable safe zones within Syria once they were able. American, as well as Saudi and Turkish and British and Jordanian and other Arab forces would actin support, not only from the air but eventually on the ground via the  presence  of  special  forces  as  well. The  approach would  benefit  from  Syria’s open desert  terrain  which  could  allow  creation  of  buffer  zones  that could  be  monitored  for possible  signs  of  enemy  attack  through  a  combination  of  technologies, patrols,  and other methods that outside special forces could help Syrian local fighters set up.

Were Assad foolish enough to challenge these zones, even if he somehow forced the withdrawal  of  the  outside  special  forces,  he  would  be  likely  to  lose  his  air power  in ensuing  retaliatory  strikes  by  outside  forces,  depriving  his  military  of  one  of its  few advantages over  ISIL. Thus, he would be unlikely to do this.

Here, not only is the focus on tempting the Syrian government into an attack to justify wider direct conflict between US and Syrian forces, Brookings policymakers openly use the prospect of stripping away tools the Syrian government is using to fight the Islamic State as leverage while the US invades and occupies larger stretches of Syrian territory.

The use of the Islamic State as a pawn against the Syrian government should come as no surprise and is hardly a “conspiracy theory.” The US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) itself in 2012 would publish a memo (PDF) detailing specifically what a prescribed “Salafist” (Islamic) “principality” (State) would be used for by the US and its allies:

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran). 

The DIA memo then explains exactly who the supporters powers are – as well as who the principality’s enemies would be:

The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.

America’s strategy in Syria is an admittedly more drawn out process than was used against Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011. All three nations are now destabilized and virtual breeding grounds for terrorism, conflict, instability, and human catastrophe – cautionary examples of Syria’s fate should US foreign policy “succeed” there as well.

With the recent strike, the US proves that it will continue its illegal, unwarranted aggression in Syria until it either topples the Syrian government and succeeds in transforming the nation into yet another failed state amid its growing collection of global military interventions, or until the US is stopped by sufficient deterrence by Syria and its allies in Moscow and Tehran.

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In Afghanistan, Civilian Casualties Happen by Design, Not by Accident

NOVANEWS

The people of few conflicted countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria hardly seem to get out of bloody wars. Syria, which is battling the regime change, would land into the same bloody fate of Afghanistan if it undergoes this transition. In both cases – before and after the regime change- the natives of these territories should pay the price of the West’s ambitious and hegemonic conspiracies.

Afghanistan’s death toll from the US-led war is placed at 100,000 people. This startling figure sparks the speculation that the US and allies were just watching the people dying over this period. The US-based Brown University’s “Costs of War” study finds that at least 100,000 civilians have lost their lives to the war between 2001 through 2014.

It added to the injury when the year 2015 ended up with record-high human casualities than any single year since 2001. And then at the end of the following year 2016, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) described the causalities “shocking” and “unprecedented”. The rate is set to go up as the US mulls over sending further reinforcements and F-16 fighters jets that suggest fierce war.

The Brown University’s finding seems to be authentic, because it is strongly circulated among Afghan war experts that an average of 20 people die a day in Afghanistan that constitute the estimated number when calculated. On the opposite front, the UNAMA reports the Afghan fatalities about one third of the Brown University’s figure. This UN agency’s compilation of war victims is unfounded and impartial and it amounts to complicity or clemency towards war instigators – by not disclosing the right statistic or just by sufficing to call on warring sides to heed for civilians life.

The Brown University’s study concludes that over 370,000 people have died due to direct war violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan since 2001. It also revealed that the costly war in terms of life and expenditure didn’t result in inclusive, transparent, democratic governments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR), Syrian fatalities caused by war, directly and indirectly, amount to 470,000 people. It states the number is twice the UN’s figure of 250,000 victims collected nearly a year ago. The SCPR’s report estimates that 11.5% of the country’s population has been killed or injured since the crisis erupted in March 2011.

In Afghanistan, civilians are killed for certain causes, and it is not by accident. Last month, ten Taliban suicide infiltrates killed 170 soldiers in a military headquarter in northern Balkh province [the unofficial figure put dead between 300 and 400 soldiers]. The harrowing and murderous Balkh carnage could serve as a best example behind many civilian and military deaths in Afghanistan. In days after the massacre, the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Kabul and informed of a new Washington strategy on the way in a press conference with the top US commander, as a response to the incident.

The carnage apparently became a motive for the likely shift in US’s policy that might be deployment of further US troops, more military hardware and demanding additional NATO forces in Afghanistan. In this context, Australia has already said it is open to sending more soldiers after Berlin signaled reservations.

In a single sentence: it was not the carnage that caused the strategy change, but it was, indeed, the strategy change that caused the carnage.

Afterwards, in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, the US National Intelligence Chief Daniel Coats spoke of a downhill security in Afghanistan through 2018. He said:

“Even if NATO deploys more troops, the political and security situation in Afghanistan will likely get worse”.

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In spite of being the most powerful military in a recent ranking, the US casts the Taliban “unbeatable”. The US officials since long predict each coming year “dangerous” for Afghanistan. But how do they know that?

The other day, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford speaking at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont also followed the track of James Mattis and Daniel Coats and stressed on sending more troops to Afghanistan. While speaking, he hinted at the latest Afghan Army massacre and raised it as basis to lobby the audience. The US never bothers to deliver a statement repeatedly unless the issue is concerned for it.

These high-ranks’ back-to-back rhetoric speech comes as the US is vigilant of measurable Russian support of the Taliban fronts in parts of Afghanistan.

In October 2015, the Taliban militants rushed into the unseen mass-killing of civilians on the streets of northern Kunduz city and converted it into a ghost city. The war analysts believed it was the US’s intrigue to send shockwaves into the Central Asian countries and importantly Russia.

Following the Kunduz attack, Sen. John McCain appeared to say that:

“The Taliban’s strength has been fueled by the Obama Administration’s scheduled troop withdrawal”.

He critically directed the Kunduz attack’s blame to Obama administration’s “untimely” troop drawdown. He wanted the troops to stay behind and only such a tragedy was feasible to push the troop-pullout plan in reverse.

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Even though McCain and others have long sought more troops or continued war on terrorism, Afghanistan loses more inhabitants to the fake war with every year going by.

Even the waves of so-called “terrorists attacks” in Germany, Holland and France last year underscores that these are the conspiracy theories aimed at continuous war in Syria and elsewhere. Many Europeans would still keep faith with the war-mongers’ cooked-up stories and back the US and NATO’s intervention in Syria. The sole purpose of all these planned attacks was and is to demonize the Islamic State or Al-Qaeda and draw a whole support to wage a filthy war against “the nations” where these terrorists operate.

Unrest in Afghanistan is a recipe for more US weapons’ sales to war-exposed countries, viable drug trafficking that generates a profit far beyond measure, unearthing of underground resources worth of several trillion dollars, restraining of the regional military and economic rival powers and so others.

The insurgent groups – be it in Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq depending on the nature of war – have always chanted their slogans against the military forces or the incumbent governments – not civilians. But the wars have instead largely cost the ordinary people’s lives.

In almost every Taliban attack where the NATO and Afghan forces or government officials were targets, quite a few normal people have fallen victim. Typically, in a recent suicide attack on NATO fleet in Kabul, no international servicemen died or injured, but dead were only passersby and passengers of a minivan running behind the convoy.

The terrorist groups have left almost no public establishment un-attacked over this period, from hospitals and TV stations to universities and restaurants have tasted the undue violent killings. In March, Kabul’s Sardar Mohammad Daoud Khan hospital was penetrated by several suicide bombers. Every war front including the Taliban leadership understands the immunity and neutrality of hospitals having no issue with war, but the armed men indifferently set off a killing spree and shot dead every one they came across in the hospital including ailing and elderly people and children.

The militants are, of course, aided and abetted by external and internal elements and this is just a show of distorted reality in Afghanistan used by war architects to hold a foot on the ground. While the terrorist groups have nothing in mind to achieve by slaughtering innocents, it rather give birth to grounds for the West’s presence and drag the fake war well into the future.

This war is stoked or afloat thanks, in most part, to the “kill and then blame” policy. This is well captured in Syria’s Khan Sheikhon chemical attack. First the gas attack that was over-amplified in the world media was fabricated and later the ground was prepared for the US to carry out Tomahawk missile strikes on Syrian Shayrat airbase without finding that the Khan Shaikhon chemical attack was launched from this base.

According to Afghan Human Rights organization, the Afghan war has claimed some 40,000 lives only between 2009 and 2016. Laal Gul an Afghan Human Rights expert says:

 “The Afghan and NATO security officials never disclose a true statistic of victims of an attack”.

It is aimed to simmer down public fury.

In Afghanistan, another excuse for civilian causalities is that the Taliban loyalists bury IEDs or landmines on public avenues allegedly for striking Afghan Army or the NATO’s convoy, but in many instances a civilian vehicle often packed with people has run over the explosives and torn apart. In an extremely disturbing episode, a footage released earlier showed that an old man rushes to the scene where his entire family’s car was blown up by a roadside bomb and desperately looks to women and children’s blood-soaked corpses that litter around the explosion point. Later it features that the man burst into tears as he lifts a lifeless child’s body.

People of Afghanistan are put to suffer this way along the one-and-a-half-decade-long US “war on terror”.

This is while Trump is considering sending more troops to Afghanistan. In 2011, there were 100,000 US soldiers on the ground with almost the same causality rate of present day. Fewer more troops are not up to making a twist in civilian life.

Many years ago, an Afghan journalist who was not named over security reasons learned about a mind blowing fact after contacting a Taliban spokesman and asking about those innocents killed in the Taliban suicide bombing, who replied:

“Those Afghans [other than foreign troops] killed in the blast would go straight to the heaven along with the suicide bomber”.

The intensifying conflict tells that another huge bulk of people is about to perish in the future. The people of Afghanistan and other war-wrecked nations can no longer tolerate such a vortex which is putting them on agony.

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US-led Coalition Airstrike on Syria Government Was Not Accidental

NOVANEWS

On May 18, the moving convoy of the Syrian pro-government forces consisted of militias was hit by a massive airstrike of the U.S.-led international coalition. The accident occurred at the Syrian-Jordanian border near the settlement of At-Tanfa.

As reported by the official representative of the U.S. Central command Josh Jakes, the Pentagon did not have any information about the number of casualties as a result of the airstrike.

It is worth noting that the U.S. has previously hit the pro-government forces in Syria. For example, during Obama’s presidency the Syrian army positions in Deir ez-Zor were attacked by ISIS terrorists right after the United States had launched their own airstrike. According to the US officials that attack was a mistake caused by “the human factor”.

In April the U.S. Navy has already bombed Syria’s Shayrat Air Base, in response allegedly to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack.

So, what’s the true reason of such aggressive actions of the US-led international coalition this time? A number of Syrian military analysts believe that the U.S. Air Force main task was to hamper Syrian pro-government forces and to slow down their further advance towards Deir ez-Zor rather than to ‘protect’ U.S. ‘partners’.

Their actions are motivated by the fact that the Syrian military command is ready for a large-scale military operation to liberate the city from ISIS. Damascus sees the complete liberation of Deir ez-Zor province from the blockade as the restoration of the control over the largest oil fields. This may significantly improve the economic situation in the country.

This Syrian city is also a tasty little deal for the coalition forces. The overwhelming desire of the West to plunge the country into a state of constant chaos is the main reason for the planned seizure of oil rigs.

The Syrian city was samely a kind of dainty bit for the US-led coalition. The irresistible impulse of the West to drive the country into the permanent chaos is the primary reason for the oil derricks seizure.

Furthermore, the air strike was performed amid the ongoing Syrian talks in Geneva. A show of power like that may have targeted at making the talks even more difficult and troublesome as they are.

Apparently, the US-led coalition’s regular strikes on the pro-government troops in Syria testify that Washington intends to continue its double-standard policy towards the Syrian conflict. We remember how they supported the establishing “de-escalation” zones but now their actions indicate the opposite. It is sheer cynicism to strike against those who really fight ISIS terrorists. But this doesn’t come as a surprise either in Syria or in the world.

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US Coalition Airstrikes against Syrian Government Forces ‘Video’

NOVANEWS

 8

Warplanes operating under the US-led coalition carried out airstrikes against a Syrian Arab Army (SAA) convoy advancing along the Al-Tanf-Damascus-Baghdad international road. The airstrikes targeted Syrian forces in Al-Shuhaimi area, 50 km from the town of Al-Tanf located at the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The airstrikes destroyed two battle tanks, and damaged a Shilka vehicle, several pickups and trucks. Six SAA fighters lost their life and 3 were injured.

The US-led coalition said that the airstrikes were “warning shots” against Shiite militias. However, Shiite militias operation at the Al-Tanf road don’t have tanks or Shilka vehicles and there were many pictures and videos showing the presence of elements of the SAA in the area.

The US airstrikes on government forces are a clear signal that Washington are seeking prevent the Syrian government from taking control over the border and to build a buffer zone between Syria and Iraq that could establish an alliance in the near future.

Meanwhile, Jaysh al-Thuwar, a US-backed Free Syrian Army group, claimed that its militants have attacked the SAA and prevented it from approaching the Al-Tanf area. Earlier this week, a representative of Jaysh al-Thuwar, said that the target of the Free Syrian Army and the US-led coalition is to capture the city of Deir Ezzor.

Recently, Jaysh al-Thuwar received 20 technical vehicles as well as some TOW missiles and mortars from the US-led coalition, claiming that it will be used in the battle for capturing Al Bukamal.

From its side, the SAA transferred significant forces from Homs and Damascus to Suweida including tanks and 130 mm artillery pieces. It was also announced that the National Defense Forces in Suweida will participate in the operation.

Government forces, led by the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces, have been advancing against ISIS terrorists in the eastern part of the province of Aleppo. Following the previous advances, the Tiger Forces got control over the villages of Wadi Muwayih, Jub al-Ali, Tal Hasan, Nafiyah, Atirah and Mazyuna. In coming days, government forces will continue their operation against ISIS in the area aiming to isolate the ISIS stronghold of Maskanah.

248 men from the province of Raqqah have received training and joined the US-backed Syrian Democratic Fores (SDF). These fighters will participate in an operation aimed at capturing Raqqa city from ISIS terrorists.

The SDF has also trained more than 50 men from the province of Raqqah as security forces. The task of this force will be to secure the province of Raqqa after capturing it.

Meanwhile, the SDF has the captured villages of Thoul Nail, Hamrat Ghanam, Annadah and Tall Zaidan and advanced on the villages of Hamrat Buwaytiyah and Raqqah as Samra in the Raqqah countryside.

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The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II by John W. Dower

NOVANEWS
Author: John Dower
The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II by John W. Dower

World War II marked the apogee of industrialized “total war.” Great powers savaged one another. Hostilities engulfed the globe. Mobilization extended to virtually every sector of every nation. Air war, including the terror bombing of civilians, emerged as a central strategy of the victorious Anglo-American powers. The devastation was catastrophic almost everywhere, with the notable exception of the United States, which exited the strife unscathed and unmatched in power and influence. The death toll of fighting forces plus civilians worldwide was staggering.

The Violent “American Century” addresses the U.S.-led transformations in war conduct and strategizing that followed 1945—beginning with brutal localized hostilities, proxy wars, and the nuclear terror of the Cold War, and ending with the asymmetrical conflicts of the present day. The military playbook now meshes brute force with a focus on non-state terrorism, counterinsurgency, clandestine operations, a vast web of overseas American military bases, and—most touted of all—a revolutionary new era of computerized “precision” warfare. By contrast to World War II, postwar death and destruction has been comparatively small. By any other measure, it has been appalling—and shows no sign of abating.

The winner of numerous national prizes for his historical writings, including the Pulitzer and the National Book Award, Dower draws heavily on hard data and internal U.S. planning and pronouncements in this concise analysis of war and terror in our time. In doing so, he places U.S. policy and practice firmly within the broader context of global mayhem, havoc, and slaughter since World War II—always with bottom-line attentiveness to the human costs of this legacy of unceasing violence.

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