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Pentagon Accused of Destroying Civilian Bridges in Syria, Killing Civilians in Afghanistan

September 30th, 2016 - by admin

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & John Davison and Michelle Nichols / Reuters & Pamela Constable / The Washington Post – 2016-09-30 22:34:06

Syria: US Destroyed Eastern Bridges in Attack on Infrastructure

One of the two bridges over Euphrates River in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr that the US-led coalition destroyed on September 28, 2016.

Syria: US Destroyed Eastern Bridges in Attack on Infrastructure
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 29, 2016) — The Syrian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement today condemning the US-led coalition for bombing and destroying a pair of bridges in the eastern Deir Ezzor Province, saying they amount to an attack on Syria’s economic infrastructure.

Two bridges spanning the Euphrates River were bombed on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, rendering both unusable. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that the warplanes that attacked the bridges were from the US coalition.

The Observatory warned that that destruction of the bridges both dramatically impede humanitarian aid deliveries into the area, and would hamper the movement of civilians trying to flee combat areas in the province, which is mostly controlled by ISIS.

The Deir Ezzor Province is the same site where US warplanes accidentally attacked a Syrian Army base earlier this month, killing scores of Syrian troops and allowing ISIS forces to quickly overrun the base and take it over.


Syria Slams US Coalition for Destruction of Bridges in East
John Davison and Michelle Nichols / Reuters

BEIRUT (September 29, 2016) – The Syrian government on Thursday criticised the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State for destroying two bridges on the Euphrates river this week in areas the jihadists hold in the east of the country.

Monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes most probably from the coalition hit the two bridges in Deir al-Zor province on Tuesday and Wednesday, making them unusable.

The attacks “confirm the so-called international coalition’s intent to bomb and destroy Syrian infrastructure and economic and social establishments through repeated aggressive acts,” state TV quoted the foreign ministry as saying. Syria’s ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari said the bridges had been used by hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The Observatory said putting the bridges out of action would impede aid deliveries to areas in need and hamper movement of civilians.

The United States has been leading a campaign against Islamic State in Syria’s east, supporting Arab and Kurdish fighters on the ground with air strikes.


Allies Criticize US Airstrikes Hitting Wrong Targets in Somalia, Afghanistan
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 29, 2016) — With more and more US airstrikes not only failing to hit their announced targets but actually hitting the wrong people, the Obama Administration is having growing criticism and questioning about their policies, with the UN warning the US to adhere to its obligations under international humanitarian law.

The UN warning came in the wake of a deadly US airstrike in Nangarhar, which the Pentagon announced killed a bunch of ISIS fighters, but which government officials later revealed actually killed at least 15 civilians and wounded 12 others. The Afghan government is already investigating and the UN is calling for an independent inquiry beyond that.

Somalia’s government, such as it is, also wants a good explanation for a US airstrike yesterday in the semi-autonomous Galmudug region, which once again, Pentagon officials bragged about as a “self-defense” strike that killed a bunch of al-Shabaab fighters, but which Somalia later confirmed killed 22 Somali soldiers.

That incident, according to officials in Galmudug, appears to have been the result of officials in rival Puntland, another autonomous region, calling in the strike and telling the US that the targets were Shabaab. The US appears not only to have launched the strike without checking with Galmudugi officials, but also publicly took credit for it before they bothered to find out who they actually killed.


UN Officials Criticize Fatal US Airstrike in Afghanistan
Pamela Constable / The Washington Post

KABUL (September 29, 2016) — United Nations officials Thursday condemned an airstrike by an unmanned US military aircraft a day earlier that they said killed 15 civilians and wounded at least 12 in the insurgent-plagued eastern Afghan province of Nangahar. They called for a complete investigation.

The early morning attack targeted a residential compound in the volatile Achin district, near the border of Pakistan, which US military officials said they believed was being used by fighters for the Islamic State militant group, widely known in Afghanistan as Daesh.

However, local leaders and legislators said the victims were all civilians, including children and a teacher, who had gathered at a guesthouse to welcome home a tribal leader who had just returned from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. All were said to have been sleeping when the strike hit.

Afghan police said the strike had targeted Islamic State loyalists, and UN officials quoted government sources as reporting that several Taliban or Daesh militants also had been killed.

In a statement Thursday, officials of the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan called for Afghan and foreign military forces to launch a “prompt, independent, impartial” and effective investigation. They also stressed “the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.”

US military officials confirmed Wednesday that they had conducted a “counterterrorism airstrike” in that area and were investigating reports of Afghan casualties. They did not release details but said they were “reviewing all materials related to the strike.”

In a statement, the US officials said they take “all allegations of civilian casualties very seriously” but added that “Daesh is killing innocent Afghan men, women, and children. They continue to put innocent lives at risk by deliberately surrounding themselves with civilians and dressing in female attire.”

They said they would work with Afghan officials to determine whether there was “need for further investigation.” They also noted that Daesh has been active in Nangahar since 2015, particularly in Achin, and that it uses the area to “train, equip, disseminate propaganda, and expand their control over innocent Afghans.”

US military forces have been working closely with Afghan security forces to drive Daesh from the area. A US airstrike in July killed the senior Daesh leader in the region.

Pamela Constable is The Post‘s bureau chief in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She previously served as a South Asia bureau chief and most recently covered immigration in the Washington area for several years.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Military Is Building a $100 Million Drone Base in Africa

September 30th, 2016 - by admin

Nick Turse / The Intercept – 2016-09-30 22:25:07

https://theintercept.com/2016/09/29/u-s-military-is-building-a-100-million-drone-base-in-africa/

US Military Is Building a $100 Million Drone Base in Africa
Nick Turse / The Intercept

NIGER (September 29, 2016) — From high above, Agadez almost blends into the cocoa-colored wasteland that surrounds it. Only when you descend farther can you make out a city that curves around an airfield before fading into the desert.

Once a nexus for camel caravans hauling tea and salt across the Sahara, Agadez is now a West African paradise for people smugglers and a way station for refugees and migrants intent on reaching Europe’s shores by any means necessary.

Africans fleeing unrest and poverty are not, however, the only foreigners making their way to this town in the center of Niger. US military documents reveal new information about an American drone base under construction on the outskirts of the city.

The long-planned project — considered the most important US military construction effort in Africa, according to formerly secret files obtained by The Intercept through the Freedom of Information Act — is slated to cost $100 million, and is just one of a number of recent American military initiatives in the impoverished nation.

The base is the latest sign, experts say, of an ever-increasing emphasis on counter-terror operations in the north and west of the continent. As the only country in the region willing to allow a US base for MQ-9 Reapers — a newer, larger, and potentially more lethal model than the venerable Predator drone — Niger has positioned itself to be the key regional hub for US military operations, with Agadez serving as the premier outpost for launching intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions against a plethora of terror groups.

For years, the US operated from an air base in Niamey, Niger’s capital, but in early 2014, Capt. Rick Cook, then chief of US Africa Command’s Engineer Division, mentioned the potential for a new “semi-permanent . . . base-like facility” in Niger. That September, the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock exposed plans to base drones at Agadez.

Within days, the US Embassy in Niamey announced that AFRICOM was, indeed, “assessing the possibility of establishing a temporary, expeditionary contingency support location” there. The outpost, according to the communique, “presents an attractive option from which to base ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) assets given its proximity to the threats in the region and the complexity of operating with the vast distance of African geography.”

Air Force documents submitted to Congress in 2015 note that the US “negotiated an agreement with the government of Niger to allow for the construction of a new runway and all associated pavements, facilities, and infrastructure adjacent to the Niger Armed Force’s Base Aerienne 201 (Airbase 201) south of the city of Agadez.”

When the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016 was introduced last April, embedded in it was a $50 million request for the construction of an “airfield and base camp at Agadez, Niger . . . to support operations in western Africa.” When President Obama signed the defense bill, that sum was authorized.

Reporting by The Intercept found the true cost to be double that sum. In addition to the $50 million to “construct Air Base 201,” another $38 million in operation and maintenance (O&M) funds was slated to be spent “to support troop labor and ancillary equipment,” according to a second set of undated, heavily redacted, formerly secret documents obtained from US Africa Command by The Intercept.

But the $38 million O&M price tag — for expenses like fuel and troops’ per diem — has already jumped to $50 million, according to new figures provided by the Pentagon, while sustainment costs are now projected at $12.8 million per year.

The files obtained by The Intercept attest to the importance of Agadez for future missions by drones, also known as remotely piloted aircraft or RPAs. “The top MILCON [military construction] project for USAFRICOM is located in Agadez, Niger to construct a C-17 and MQ-9 capable airfield,” reads a 2015 planning document.

“RPA presence in NW Africa supports operations against seven [Department of State]-designated foreign terrorist organizations. Moving operations to Agadez aligns persistent ISR to current and emerging threats over Niger and Chad, supports French regionalization and extends range to cover Libya and Nigeria.”

The Pentagon is tight-lipped about the outpost, however.

“Due to operational security considerations, we don’t release details on numbers of personnel or specific missions or locations, including information regarding the Nigerien military air base located in Agadez,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza told The Intercept in an email, stressing that drones are not yet flying from the outpost. However, the declassified documents say construction will be completed next year.

The documents offer further details, including plans for a 1,830-meter paved asphalt runway capable of supporting C-17 cargo aircraft and “miscellaneous light and medium load aircraft”; a 17,458-square-meter parking apron and taxiway for “light load ISR aircraft”; and the installation of “three 140′ x 140′ relocatable fabric tension aircraft hangars”; as well as all the standard infrastructure for troops, including “force protection” measures like barriers, fences, and an “Entry Control Point.”

While AFRICOM failed to respond to requests for information about the projects, a May 2016 satellite photo of the site provides a status report. “The image shows that the main runway . . . has been repaved,” said Dan Gettinger, the co-founder and co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College and author of a guide to identifying drone bases from satellite imagery.

“Near the runway there’s a structure that appears to be a future hangar, though it’s still under construction. There’s also a new dirt road that runs a fair distance from the runway to a US base that’s enclosed with a perimeter wall and there are a number of shelters there for personnel as well as a command center. All the things that you’d expect on a base.”

According to the documents, Niger was the “only country in NW Africa willing to allow basing of MQ-9s,” the larger, newer cousins of the Predator drone. The documents went on to note: “President expressed willingness to support armed RPAs.”

The US military activity in Niger is not isolated. “There’s a trend toward greater engagement and a more permanent presence in West Africa — the Maghreb and the Sahel,” noted Adam Moore of the department of geography at the University of California in Los Angeles and the co-author of an academic study of the US military’s presence in Africa.

Since 9/11, in fact, the United States has poured vast amounts of military aid into the region. In 2002, for example, the State Department launched a counterterrorism program — known as the Pan-Sahel Initiative, which later became the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) — to assist the militaries of Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

Between 2009 and 2013 alone, the US allocated $288 million in TSCTP funding, according to a 2014 report by the Government Accountability Office. Niger was one of the top three recipients, netting more than $30 million.

US special operations forces regularly train with Niger’s army and the US has transferred millions of dollars’ worth of planes, trucks, and other gear to that impoverished nation. In a 2015 report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, Lauren Ploch Blanchard of the Congressional Research Service noted that since 2006 Niger had received more than $82 million in assistance through the Department of Defense’s Global Train and Equip program.

“In close coordination with partner militaries in West Africa, including Niger, USAFRICOM supports a range of security and capacity building efforts in the greater Sahelian region,” Baldanza told The Intercept. “These efforts support US diplomatic and national security objectives and are designed to strengthen relationships with African partners, promote stability and security, and enable our African partners to address their security threats.”

Stability and security have, however, proved elusive. In 2010, for example, a military junta overthrew Niger’s president as he attempted to extend his rule. In fact, all the original members of the Pan-Sahel Initiative have fallen victim to military uprisings.

Chad saw attempted coups in 2006 and 2013, members of Mauritania’s military overthrew the government in 2005 and again in 2008, and a US-trained military officer toppled the democratically elected president of Mali in 2012.

The region, relatively free of transnational terror threats in 2001, is now beset by regular attacks from Boko Haram, a once-tiny, nonviolent, Islamist sect from Nigeria that has since pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and threatens the stability of not only its homeland but also Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. And Boko Haram is just one of 17 militant groups now menacing the region, according to the Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

Drones have long been integral to US efforts in Niger. In 2012, according to the files obtained by The Intercept, Niger agreed to host US drones in Niamey, the capital, on the condition that operations would eventually be shifted to a more remote military base in Agadez.

In February 2013, the US began flying Predator drones out of the capital. Later in the spring, an AFRICOM spokesperson revealed that US air operations there were providing “support for intelligence collection with French forces conducting operations in Mali and with other partners in the region.”

The Air Force recently announced plans to upgrade shower and latrine facilities at Niamey “to serve a steady state of 200 to 250 personnel a day.”

“The US shares that base with France,” said Gettinger. The base in Niamey, he explained, “is strategically important simply because to the north there’s Mali and the threat posed by al Qaeda-linked groups, including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb . . . .

“To the south you have Nigeria and Boko Haram, so there’s lots of demand for ISR capabilities.” At Agadez, he noted, the US doesn’t need to share facilities with the French military or commercial aircraft. And it is, he said, “more strategically located than Niamey.”

As UCLA’s Moore puts it: “The recent trajectory of sites and money suggests that Niger is becoming, after Djibouti, the second most important country for US military counterterrorism operations on the continent.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

FBI Hid Orlando Shooter’s Real Motive: Anger over US Killing of Muslim Civilians

September 30th, 2016 - by admin

Carey Wedler / The AntiMedia – 2016-09-30 22:10:11

http://theantimedia.org/orlando-shooter-motive-fbi-try-hide/

Orlando Shooter’s True Motive Finally Revealed,
But Why Did the FBI Try to Hide It?

Carey Wedler / The AntiMedia

(September 28, 2016) — Months after Omar Mateen’s deeply distressing mass shooting spree in Orlando, which took the lives of 49 innocent people, the full transcripts of his phone calls with emergency services and police have been released.

The records of his exchanges with authorities reveal not only his obvious mental instability and inner-turmoil but also provide insight into why the FBI withheld the complete conversations for months.

When the FBI released its heavily redacted snippet of a transcript from Mateen’s 911 call in June, the agency faced widespread outrage for excluding Mateen’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State. Following the outcry, the FBI and the Department of Justice claimed the omission was intended to avoid providing a “publicity platform” to would-be terrorists.

Nevertheless, they said the unreleased transcripts were creating an “an unnecessary distraction” from their Orlando investigation and opted to release the unredacted version of the Orlando shooter’s brief first phone call with a 911 operator.

At that time, the FBI also provided summaries of the subsequent calls Mateen had with police. They even admitted — as a witness to the attacks had more or less testified — that the shooter demanded the United States stop bombing Syria and Iraq.

Though that admission in June was a surprising concession from the bureau, which plays a heavy-handed role in the War on Terror, The Intercept noted in June that the FBI’s summaries were not in line with statements FBI Director James Comey made previously:

“However, based on a previous description of Mateen’s 911 calls given by FBI Director James Comey last week, it appears that the federal investigators continued to withhold details of a second conversation Mateen had with the 911 operator, which was not referred to at all in the government’s timeline.”

The Intercept reported another gap in the FBI’s transcript and summaries, pointing out that Comey had previously acknowledged:
“Mateen had expressed solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, and Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a Floridian who carried out a suicide bombing in Syria in 2014 on behalf of al Qaeda’s representatives there, the Nusra Front.”

This information was not included in the summaries or transcript the FBI released in June, and these omissions cast doubt on the transparency of the agency’s summaries. With the release of the full transcripts last Friday, a better understanding of Mateen’s motives is emerging.

Early in Mateen’s second phone call of the evening, this time with a police negotiator, he made his reasoning clear:
“Can you tell me where you are right now so I can you get some help?” the negotiator asks Mateen.

“No,” Mateen replies. ‘Because you have to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. They are killing a lot of innocent people.
What am I to do here when my people are getting killed over there. You get what I’m saying?”

While this matches up with the FBI’s original descriptions of the calls, Mateen’s resolve on this matter was remarkably persistent. It was a predominant, recurring theme of the phone call, which the FBI failed to emphasize.

After the negotiator says he understands what the Orlando shooter is saying, Mateen again says:
“You need to stop the US air strikes. They need to stop the US air strikes, okay?”

The negotiator tells him he understands, but again, Mateen urges:
“They need to stop the US air strikes. You have to tell the US government to stop bombing. They are killing too many children, they are killing too many women, okay?”

“I understand that,” the negotiator says again. He asks Mateen to tell him “what’s going on.”

“What’s going on is that I feel the pain of the people getting killed in Syria and Iraq and all over the Muslim (unidentified word),” Mateen answers.

Shortly after, he again references the ongoing bombings, this time mentioning America’s collaboration with Russia (it is unclear what collaboration he is referencing as the proposed US-Russia partnership to fight ISIS in Syria was not officially announced until July):

“Well, you need to know that they need to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. The US is collaborating with Russia and they are killing innocent women and children, okay?”

Shortly after, Mateen’s references Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston bombers, as Comey initially admitted in June.

“My homeboy Tamerlan Tsarnaev did his thing on the Boston Marathon, my homeboy (unidentified name) did his thing, okay, so now it’s my turn, okay?” he says.

The Tsarnaev brothers, particularly Tamerlan, were motivated by the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and sought revenge for them. Mateen evidently saw them as models for his own attack.

Mateen, who pledged allegiance to ISIS and their leader, expressed outrage in a subsequent phone call with police over one US strike in particular:

“Yo, the air strike that killed Abu Wahid a few weeks ago . . . That’s what triggered it, okay? . . . They should have not bombed and killed Abu Wahid.”

Abu Wahid, also referred to as Abu Waheeb, was a prominent ISIS leader killed by a US drone strike in May. Based on the full transcripts, it appears Mateen was increasingly agitated and radicalized by US attacks on the people of Iraq and Syria, and the final straw was the death of Wahid, who he apparently considered an important force in his tirade against the American military.

Mateen’s pledge to ISIS indicated to many he was a radical Islamic extremist. However, reports from his ex-wife painted him more as a volatile, mentally unstable, potentially gay man who was not particularly religious. He wanted to be a police officer and wore shirts emblazoned with the New York Police Department’s logo.

Considering these varying factors, the full transcripts shed light on just how powerfully US foreign policy factored into the clearly unstable man’s decision to murder dozens of innocent people.

Whether the FBI withheld the full transcripts out of a genuine desire to discourage further attacks or did so for nefarious reasons, Mateen’s repeated references to air strikes should not be discounted.

As the US continues to wage air campaigns in Syria and Iraq and the messy, perpetual war continues, the Orlando shooter’s sentiments suggest these bombardments will continue to inspire blowback in the form of hatred and retaliatory violence.

As Mateen continued to stress in his phone calls with police:

“This went down, a lot of innocent women and children are getting killed in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, okay?”

He told the negotiator to tell authorities “[t]o stop, tell them to stop.”

“Tell — tell the f*cking — the air strikes need to stop.”

This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Carey Wedler and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article to edits@theantimedia.org.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Wholesale Failure of American Foreign Policy

September 30th, 2016 - by admin

Daniel L. Davis / The American Conservative – 2016-09-30 22:06:15

The Wholesale Failure of American Foreign Policy

The Wholesale Failure of American Foreign Policy
How Long Will the People Permit It?

Daniel L. Davis / The American Conservative

(September 29, 2016) — One has to wonder just how much longer the American people will silently permit the categorical failure of American foreign policy, both in theory and in practice. The evidence confirming the totality of our failure is breathtaking in scope and severity. Changes are needed to preserve US national security and economic prosperity.

Recent headlines have captured the character of this failure. Fifteen years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released findings that “corruption substantially undermined the US mission in Afghanistan from the very beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. . . . We conclude that failure to effectively address the problem means US reconstruction programs, at best, will continue to be subverted by systemic corruption and, at worst, will fail.”

Earlier this month, a British Parliament study found that the result of Western military intervention in Libya “was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.”

Airstrikes and drone attacks are accidentally killing thousands of civilians, aid workers, wedding parties, and now even the troops of a nation against whom we are not at war. Each of these mistakes, repeated hundreds of times over the past 15 years, creates more antagonism and hatred of the United States than any other single event. Whatever tactical benefit some of the strikes do accomplish, they are consumed in the still-worsening strategic failure the misfires cause.

Bottom line: The use of military power since 2001 has:

* Turned a previously whole and regionally impotent Iraq that balanced Iran into a factory of terrorism and a client of Tehran;

* Turned Afghanistan from a country with a two-sided civil war — contained within its own borders — into a dysfunctional state that serves as a magnet for terrorists.

* Turned a Libya that suffered internal unrest, but didn’t threaten its neighbors or harbor terrorists, into an “unmitigated failure” featuring a raging civil war, serving as an African beachhead for ISIS and a terrorist breeding ground;

* Contributed to the expansion of al-Qaeda into a “franchise” group, spawned a new strain when ISIS was born out of the vacuum created by our Iraq invasion, and seen major terrorist threats explode worldwide;

* Joined other nations in battles in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other areas within Africa whose only result has been the expansion of the threat and the deepening of the suffering of the civil populations.

These continued and deepening failures kill unknown numbers of innocent civilians each year, intensify and spread the hatred many have of America, and incrementally weaken our national security. But these military failures have another, less obvious but more troubling cost.

Perpetual fighting dissipates the fighting strength of the armed forces. The non-stop employment of the US Air Force in flying sorties, bombing runs, and strategic airlift has been orders of magnitude higher than what it was in the 15 years prior to 9/11, dramatically cutting short the lifespan of each aircraft, increasing the maintenance requirements, and depleting stocks of bombs and missiles.

The US Army and Marine Corps have put thousands of miles of grueling use on their tanks and other armored vehicles and worn out countless weapons. The refurbishing and replacement costs for these vehicles has been enormous, and — like the Air Force — the Army has severely shortened the lifespan of its armored fleet. But not only have these permanent military operations degraded the vehicles, the damage has come at the expense of conventional military training.

This might be the most alarming cost. The Army has recognized this problem and has belatedly begun to reorient some of the training time to high-end conventional battle. But it will take many years of focused training to rebuild the strength the military had prior to Desert Storm or even the opening operations of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

Entire generations of leaders and troops at every level have grown up training almost exclusively on small-scale counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare.

As one who has fought in both high-end armored warfare and small-scale COIN, I can tell you that creating effective battle units for conventional war is far, far more difficult and time consuming.

Likewise, the Air Force has not fought against a modern adversary with fleets of effective fighter jets, bombers, and potent air-defense capabilities. Such operations are orders of magnitude more difficult than attacking insurgents on the ground who pose no threat to aircraft.

It is critical to understand that no insurgency or terror group represents an existential threat to viability of the United States. Failure in a conventional battle to a major power, however, can cripple the nation.

It is discouraging to see the administration, Congress, and the Department of Defense fully tethered to the perpetual application of military power against small-scale threats. Terrorism definitely represents a threat to US interests, and we must defend against it.

But the obsession with using major military assets on these relatively small-scale threats has not only failed to stem the threat, it has in part been responsible for expanding it. Meanwhile, the unhealthy focus on the small-scale has weakened — and continues to weaken — our ability to respond to the truly existential threats.

If the incoming administration does not recognize this deterioration of our military power and take steps to reverse it, our weakness may one day be exposed in the form of losing a major military engagement that we should have won easily.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. A change in foreign policy is critically needed. We will either change by choice or we will change in the smoldering aftermath of catastrophic military failure. I pray it is the former.

Daniel L. Davis is a foreign-policy fellow and military expert at Defense Priorities. He retired from the US Army as a lieutenant colonel after 21 years of active service. He was deployed into combat zones four times in his career, beginning with Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and also to Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan twice (2005, 2011).

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Mystery Sponsors of Weapons And Money To Syrian Mercenary : Qatar and Saudi Arabia

September 30th, 2016 - by admin

Tyler Durden / ZeroHedge – 2016-09-30 01:21:39

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-16/mystery-sponsor-weapons-and-money-syrian-rebels-revealed

(May 16, 2013) — Previously, when looking at the real underlying national interests responsible for the deteriorating situation in Syria, which eventually may and/or will devolve into all out war with hundreds of thousands killed, we made it very clear that it was always and only about the gas, or gas pipelines to be exact, and specifically those involving the tiny but uber-wealthy state of Qatar.

Needless to say, the official spin on events has no mention of this ulterior motive, and the popular, propaganda machine, especially from those powers supporting the Syrian “rebels” which include Israel, the US and the Arabian states tries to generate public and democratic support by portraying Assad as a brutal, chemical weapons-using dictator, in line with the tried and true script used once already in Iraq.

On the other hand, there is Russia (and to a lesser extent China: for China’s strategic interests in mid-east pipelines, read here), which has been portrayed as the main supporter of the “evil” Assad regime, and thus eager to preserve the status quo without a military intervention.

Such attempts may be for naught especially with the earlier noted arrival of US marines in Israel, and the imminent arrival of the Russian Pacific fleet in Cyprus (which is a stone throw away from Syria) which may catalyze a military outcome sooner than we had expected.

However, one question that has so far remained unanswered, and a very sensitive one now that the US is on the verge of voting to arm the Syrian rebels, is who was arming said group of Al-Qaeda supported militants up until now.

Now, finally, courtesy of the Financial Times we have the (less than surprising) answer, which goes back to our original thesis, and proves that, as so often happens in the middle east, it is once again all about the natural resources.

From the Financial Times:
The tiny gas-rich state of Qatar has spent as much as $3 billion over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government, but is now being nudged aside by Saudi Arabia as the prime source of arms to rebels.

The cost of Qatar’s intervention, its latest push to back an Arab revolt, amounts to a fraction of its international investment portfolio. But its financial support for the revolution that has turned into a vicious civil war dramatically overshadows western backing for the opposition.

In dozens of interviews with the FT conducted in recent weeks, rebel leaders both abroad and within Syria as well as regional and western officials detailed Qatar’s role in the Syrian conflict, a source of mounting controversy.

Just as Egypt and Libya had their CIA Western-funded mercenaries fighting the regime, so Qatar is paying for its own mercenary force.

The small state with a gargantuan appetite is the biggest donor to the political opposition, providing generous refugee packages to defectors (one estimate puts it at $50,000 a year for a defector and his family) and has provided vast amounts of humanitarian support.

In September, many rebels in Syria’s Aleppo province received a one off monthly salary of $150 courtesy of Qatar. Sources close to the Qatari government say total spending has reached as much as $3bn, while rebel and diplomatic sources put the figure at $1bn at most.

For Qatar, owner of the world’s third-largest gas reserves, its intervention in Syria is part of an aggressive quest for global recognition and is merely the latest chapter in its attempt to establish itself as a major player in the region, following its backing of Libya’s rebels who overthrew Muammer Gaddafi in 2011.

That, sadly, is not even close to half the story. Recall from Qatar: Oil Rich and Dangerous, posted nearly a year ago, which predicted all of this:
Why would Qatar want to become involved in Syria where they have little invested? A map reveals that the kingdom is a geographic prisoner in a small enclave on the Persian Gulf coast.

It relies upon the export of LNG, because it is restricted by Saudi Arabia from building pipelines to distant markets. In 2009, the proposal of a pipeline to Europe through Saudi Arabia and Turkey to the Nabucco pipeline was considered, but Saudi Arabia that is angered by its smaller and much louder brother has blocked any overland expansion.

Already the largest LNG producer, Qatar will not increase the production of LNG. The market is becoming glutted with eight new facilities in Australia coming online between 2014 and 2020.

A saturated North American gas market and a far more competitive Asian market leaves only Europe. The discovery in 2009 of a new gas field near Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Syria opened new possibilities to bypass the Saudi Barrier and to secure a new source of income. Pipelines are in place already in Turkey to receive the gas. Only Al-Assad is in the way.

Qatar along with the Turks would like to remove Al-Assad and install the Syrian chapter of the Moslem Brotherhood. It is the best organized political movement in the chaotic society and can block Saudi Arabia’s efforts to install a more fanatical Wahhabi based regime.

Once the Brotherhood is in power, the Emir’s broad connections with Brotherhood groups throughout the region should make it easy for him to find a friendly ear and an open hand in Damascus.

A control centre has been established in the Turkish city of Adana near the Syrian border to direct the rebels against Al-Assad. Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud asked to have the Turks establish a joint Turkish, Saudi, Qatari operations center. “The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations” a source in the Gulf told Reuters.

The fighting is likely to continue for many more months, but Qatar is in for the long term. At the end, there will be contracts for the massive reconstruction and there will be the development of the gas fields. In any case, Al-Assad must go. There is nothing personal; it is strictly business to preserve the future tranquility and well-being of Qatar.

Some more on the strategic importance of this key feeder component to the Nabucco pipeline, and why Syria is so problematic to so many powers. From 2009:
Qatar has proposed a gas pipeline from the Gulf to Turkey in a sign the emirate is considering a further expansion of exports from the world’s biggest gasfield after it finishes an ambitious programme to more than double its capacity to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“We are eager to have a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey,” Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruler of Qatar, said last week, following talks with the Turkish president Abdullah Gul and the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the western Turkish resort town of Bodrum.

“We discussed this matter in the framework of co-operation in the field of energy. In this regard, a working group will be set up that will come up with concrete results in the shortest possible time,” he said, according to Turkey’s Anatolia news agency.

Other reports in the Turkish press said the two states were exploring the possibility of Qatar supplying gas to the strategic Nabucco pipeline project, which would transport Central Asian and Middle Eastern gas to Europe, bypassing Russia. A Qatar-to-Turkey pipeline might hook up with Nabucco at its proposed starting point in eastern Turkey.

Last month, Mr. Erdogan and the prime ministers of four European countries signed a transit agreement for Nabucco, clearing the way for a final investment decision next year on the EU-backed project to reduce European dependence on Russian gas.

“For this aim, I think a gas pipeline between Turkey and Qatar would solve the issue once and for all,” Mr Erdogan added, according to reports in several newspapers. The reports said two different routes for such a pipeline were possible. One would lead from Qatar through Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq to Turkey.

The other would go through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey. It was not clear whether the second option would be connected to the Pan-Arab pipeline, carrying Egyptian gas through Jordan to Syria. That pipeline, which is due to be extended to Turkey, has also been proposed as a source of gas for Nabucco.

Based on production from the massive North Field in the Gulf, Qatar has established a commanding position as the world’s leading LNG exporter. It is consolidating that through a construction programme aimed at increasing its annual LNG production capacity to 77 million tonnes by the end of next year, from 31 million tonnes last year.

However, in 2005, the emirate placed a moratorium on plans for further development of the North Field in order to conduct a reservoir study. It recently extended the ban for two years to 2013.

Specifically, the issue at hand is the green part of the proposed pipeline: as explained above, it simply can’t happen as long as Russia is alligned with Assad.

So there you have it: Qatar doing everything it can to promote bloodshed, death and destruction by using not Syrian rebels, but mercenaries: professional citizens who are paid handsomely to fight and kill members of the elected regime (unpopular as it may be), for what? So that the unimaginably rich emirs of Qatar can get even richer.

Although it is not as if Russia is blameless: all it wants is to preserve its own strategic leverage over Europe by being the biggest external provider of natgas to the continent through its own pipelines. Should Nabucco come into existence, Gazpromia would be very, very angry and make far less money!

As for the Syrian “rebels”, who else is helping them? Why the US and Israel of course. And with the Muslim Brotherhood “takeover” paradigm already tested out in Egypt, it is only a matter of time.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms transfers, Qatar has sent the most weapons deliveries to Syria, with more than 70 military cargo flights into neighbouring Turkey between April 2012 and March this year.

Perhaps it is Putin’s turn to tell John Kerry he prefer if Qatar was not “supplying assistance to Syrian mercenaries”?

What is worse, and what is already known is that implicitly the US – that ever-vigilant crusader against Al Qaeda – is effectively also supporting the terrorist organization:
The relegation of Qatar to second place in providing weapons follows increasing concern in the West and among other Arab states that weapons it supplies could fall into the hands of an al-Qaeda-linked group, Jabhat al-Nusrah.

Yet Qatar may have bitten off more than it can chew, even with the explicit military Israeli support, and implicit from the US. Because the closer Qatar gets to establishing its own puppet state in Syria, the closer Saudi Arabia is to getting marginalized:
But though its approach is driven more by pragmatism and opportunism, than ideology, Qatar has become entangled in the polarised politics of the region, setting off a wave of scathing criticism. “You can’t buy a revolution,” says an opposition businessman.

Qatar’s support for Islamist groups in the Arab world, which puts it at odds with its peers in the Gulf states, has fuelled rivalry with Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s ruling emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, “wants to be the Arab world’s Islamist (Gamal) Abdelnasser,” said an Arab politician, referring to Egypt’s fiery late president and devoted pan-Arab leader.

Qatar’s intervention is coming under mounting scrutiny. Regional rivals contend it is using its financial firepower simply to buy future influence and that it has ended up splintering Syria’s opposition. Against this backdrop Saudi Arabia, which until now has been a more deliberate backer of Syria’s rebels, has stepped up its involvement.

Recent tensions over the opposition’s election of an interim prime minister who won the support of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood has also driven Saudi Arabia to tighten its relationship to the political opposition, a job it had largely left in the hands of Qatar.

What Saudi Arabia wants is not to leave the Syrian people alone, but to install its own puppet regime so it has full liberty to dictate LNG terms to Qatar, and subsequently to Europe.

Khalid al-Attiyah, Qatar’s state minister for foreign affairs, who handles its Syrian policy, dismissed talk of rivalry with the Saudis and denied allegations that Qatar’s support for the rebels has splintered Syria’s opposition and weakened nascent institutions.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he said every move Qatar has made, has been in conjunction with the Friends of Syria group of Arab and western nations, not alone. “Our problem in Qatar is that we don’t have a hidden agenda so people start fixing you one,” he says.

Sadly, when it comes to the US (and of course Israel), it does have a very hidden agenda: one that involves lying to its people about what any future intervention is all about, and the fabrication of narrative about chemical weapons and a bloody regime hell bent on massacring every man, woman and child from the “brave resistance.”

What they all fail to mention is that all such “rebels” are merely paid for mercenaries of the Qatari emir, whose sole interest is to accrue even more wealth even if it means the deaths of thousands of Syrians in the process.

A bigger read through of the events in Syria reveals an even more complicated web: one that has Qatar facing off against Syria, with both using Syria as a pawn in a great natural resource chess game, and with Israel and the US both on the side of the petrodollars, while Russia and to a lesser extent China, form the counterbalancing axis and refuse to permit a wholesale overthrow of the local government which would unlock even more geopolitical leverage for the gulf states.

Up until today, we would have thought that when push comes to shove, Russia would relent. However, with the arrival of a whole lot of submarines in Cyprus, the games just got very serious. After all the vital interests of Gazprom — perhaps the most important “company” in the world — are suddenly at stake.

Finally, one wonders just what President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan were really talking about behind the scenes.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Pentagon Report Reveals US Created ISIS As A “Tool” To Overthrow Syria’s Government

September 30th, 2016 - by admin

Tyler Durden / ZeroHedge & Nafeez Ahmed / Medium – 2016-09-30 01:20:35

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-23/secret-pentagon-report-reveals-us-created-isis-tool-overthrow-syrias-president-assad

Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US “Created” ISIS As A “Tool” To Overthrow Syria’s President Assad
Tyler Durden / ZeroHedge

(May 24, 2015) — From the first sudden, and quite dramatic, appearance of the fanatical Islamic group known as ISIS which was largely unheard of until a year ago, on the world’s stage and which promptly replaced the worn out and tired al Qaeda as the world’s terrorist bogeyman, we suggested that the “straight to beheading YouTube clip” purpose behind the Saudi Arabia-funded Islamic State was a simple one:
use the Jihadists as the vehicle of choice to achieve a political goal:
depose of Syria’s president Assad, who for years has stood in the way of a critical Qatari natural gas pipeline,
one which could dethrone Russia as Europe’s dominant — and belligerent — source of energy, reaching an interim climax with the unsuccessful Mediterranean Sea military build up of 2013, which nearly resulted in quasi-world war.

The narrative and the plotline were so transparent, even Russia saw right through them. Recall from September of last year:
If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, LiveLeak reports that the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s forces, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Clearly comprehending that Obama’s new strategy against ISIS in Syria is all about pushing the Qatar pipeline through (as was the impetus behind the 2013 intervention push), Russia is pushing back noting that the it is using ISIS as a pretext for bombing Syrian government forces and warning that “such a development would lead to a huge escalation of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.”

But it’s one thing to speculate; it’s something entirely different to have hard proof.

And while speculation was rife that just like the CIA-funded al Qaeda had been used as a facade by the US to achieve its own geopolitical and national interests over the past two decades, so ISIS was nothing more than al Qaeda 2.0, there was no actual evidence of just this.

That may all have changed now when a declassified secret US government document obtained by the public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.

According to investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed in Medium, the “leaked document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.”

And not just that: as we reported last week, now that ISIS is running around the middle east, cutting people’s heads of in 1080p quality and Hollywood-quality (perhaps literally) video, the US has a credible justification to sell billions worth of modern, sophisticated weapons in the region in order to “modernize” and “replenish” the weapons of such US allies as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iraq.

But that the US military-industrial complex is a winner every time war breaks out anywhere in the world (usually with the assistance of the CIA) is clear to everyone by now. What wasn’t clear is just how the US predetermined the current course of events in the middle east.

Now, thanks to the following declassified report, we have a far better understanding of not only how current events in the middle east came to be, but what America’s puppermaster role leading up to it all, was.

From Nafeez Ahmed: Secret Pentagon report reveals West saw ISIS as strategic asset Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to ‘isolate’ Assad, rollback ‘Shia expansion’, originally posted in Medium.

Hypocrisy
The revelations contradict the official line of Western government on their policies in Syria, and raise disturbing questions about secret Western support for violent extremists abroad, while using the burgeoning threat of terror to justify excessive mass surveillance and crackdowns on civil liberties at home.

Among the batch of documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal lawsuit, released earlier this week, is a US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document then classified as “secret,” dated 12th August 2012.

The DIA provides military intelligence in support of planners, policymakers and operations for the US Department of Defense and intelligence community.

So far, media reporting has focused on the evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria.

Some outlets have reported the US intelligence community’s internal prediction of the rise of ISIS. Yet none have accurately acknowledged the disturbing details exposing how the West knowingly fostered a sectarian, al-Qaeda-driven rebellion in Syria.

Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism intelligence officer, said:
“Given the political leanings of the organisation that obtained these documents, it’s unsurprising that the main emphasis given to them thus far has been an attempt to embarrass Hilary Clinton regarding what was known about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012.

However, the documents also contain far less publicized revelations that raise vitally important questions of the West’s governments and media in their support of Syria’s rebellion.”

The West’s Islamists
The newly declassified DIA documentfrom 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies.

Noting that “the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria,” the document states that “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” while Russia, China and Iran “support the [Assad] regime.”

The 7-page DIA document states that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the precursor to the ‘Islamic State in Iraq,’ (ISI) which became the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,’ “supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.”

The formerly secret Pentagon report notes that the “rise of the insurgency in Syria” has increasingly taken a “sectarian direction,” attracting diverse support from Sunni “religious and tribal powers” across the region.

In a section titled ‘The Future Assumptions of the Crisis,’ the DIA report predicts that while Assad’s regime will survive, retaining control over Syrian territory, the crisis will continue to escalate “into proxy war.”

The document also recommends the creation of “safe havens under international sheltering, similar to what transpired in Libya when Benghazi was chosen as the command centre for the temporary government.”

In Libya, anti-Gaddafi rebels, most of whom were al-Qaeda affiliated militias, were protected by NATO ‘safe havens’ (aka ‘no fly zones’).

‘Supporting Powers Want’ ISIS Entity
In a strikingly prescient prediction, the Pentagon document explicitly forecasts the probable declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar)”:

“. . . 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 secret Pentagon document thus provides extraordinary confirmation that the US-led coalition currently fighting ISIS, had three years ago welcomed the emergence of an extremist “Salafist Principality” in the region as a way to undermine Assad, and block off the strategic expansion of Iran. Crucially, Iraq is labeled as an integral part of this “Shia expansion.”

The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, the DIA document asserts, is “exactly” what the “supporting powers to the [Syrian] opposition want.” Earlier on, the document repeatedly describes those “supporting powers” as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”

Further on, the document reveals that Pentagon analysts were acutely aware of the dire risks of this strategy, yet ploughed ahead anyway.

The establishment of such a “Salafist Principality” in eastern Syria, it says, would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi.” Last summer, ISIS conquered Mosul in Iraq, and just this month has also taken control of Ramadi.

Such a quasi-state entity will provide:
“. . . a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of territory.”

The 2012 DIA document is an Intelligence Information Report (IIR), not a “finally evaluated intelligence” assessment, but its contents are vetted before distribution. The report was circulated throughout the US intelligence community, including to the State Department, Central Command, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI, among other agencies.

In response to my questions about the strategy, the British government simply denied the Pentagon report’s startling revelations of deliberate Western sponsorship of violent extremists in Syria. A British Foreign Office spokesperson said:

“AQ and ISIL are proscribed terrorist organisations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.”

The DIA did not respond to request for comment.

Strategic Asset for Regime-change
Security analyst Shoebridge, however, who has tracked Western support for Islamist terrorists in Syria since the beginning of the war, pointed out that the secret Pentagon intelligence report exposes fatal contradictions at the heart of official pronunciations:

“Throughout the early years of the Syria crisis, the US and UK governments, and almost universally the West’s mainstream media, promoted Syria’s rebels as moderate, liberal, secular, democratic, and therefore deserving of the West’s support. Given that these documents wholly undermine this assessment, it’s significant that the West’s media has now, despite their immense significance, almost entirely ignored them.”

According to Brad Hoff, a former US Marine who served during the early years of the Iraq War and as a 9/11 first responder at the Marine Corps Headquarters in Battalion Quantico from 2000 to 2004, the just released Pentagon report for the first time provides stunning affirmation that:

“US intelligence predicted the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), but instead of clearly delineating the group as an enemy, the report envisions the terror group as a US strategic asset.”

Hoff, who is managing editor of Levant Report — an online publication run by Texas-based educators who have direct experience of the Middle East — points out that the DIA document “matter-of-factly” states that the rise of such an extremist Salafist political entity in the region offers a “tool for regime change in Syria.”

The DIA intelligence report shows, he said, that the rise of ISIS only became possible in the context of the Syrian insurgency — “there is no mention of US troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst for Islamic State’s rise, which is the contention of innumerable politicians and pundits.” The report demonstrates that:

“The establishment of a ‘Salafist Principality’ in Eastern Syria is ‘exactly’ what the external powers supporting the opposition want (identified as ‘the West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey’) in order to weaken the Assad government.”

The rise of a Salafist quasi-state entity that might expand into Iraq, and fracture that country, was therefore clearly foreseen by US intelligence as likely — but nevertheless strategically useful — blowback from the West’s commitment to “isolating Syria.”

Complicity
Critics of the US-led strategy in the region have repeatedly raised questions about the role of coalition allies in intentionally providing extensive support to Islamist terrorist groups in the drive to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria.

The conventional wisdom is that the US government did not retain sufficient oversight on the funding to anti-Assad rebel groups, which was supposed to be monitored and vetted to ensure that only ‘moderate’ groups were supported.

However, the newly declassified Pentagon report proves unambiguously that years before ISIS launched its concerted offensive against Iraq, the US intelligence community was fully aware that Islamist militants constituted the core of Syria’s sectarian insurgency.

Despite that, the Pentagon continued to support the Islamist insurgency, even while anticipating the probability that doing so would establish an extremist Salafi stronghold in Syria and Iraq.

As Shoebridge told me, “The documents show that not only did the US government at the latest by August 2012 know the true extremist nature and likely outcome of Syria’s rebellion” — namely, the emergence of ISIS — “but that this was considered an advantage for US foreign policy. This also suggests a decision to spend years in an effort to deliberately mislead the West’s public, via a compliant media, into believing that Syria’s rebellion was overwhelmingly ‘moderate.'”

Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer who blew the whistle in the 1990s on MI6 funding of al-Qaeda to assassinate Libya’s former leader Colonel Gaddafi, similarly said of the revelations:
“This is no surprise to me. Within individual countries there are always multiple intelligence agencies with competing agendas.”

She explained that MI6’s Libya operation in 1996, which resulted in the deaths of innocent people, “happened at precisely the time when MI5 was setting up a new section to investigate al-Qaeda.”

This strategy was repeated on a grand scale in the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, said Machon, where the CIA and MI6 were:
“. . . supporting the very same Libyan groups, resulting in a failed state, mass murder, displacement and anarchy.

So the idea that elements of the American military-security complex have enabled the development of ISIS after their failed attempt to get NATO to once again ‘intervene’ is part of an established pattern. And they remain indifferent to the sheer scale of human suffering that is unleashed as a result of such game-playing.”

Divide and Rule
Several US government officials have conceded that their closest allies in the anti-ISIS coalition were funding violent extremist Islamist groups that became integral to ISIS.

US Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, admitted last year that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Turkey had funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Islamist rebels in Syria that metamorphosed into ISIS.

But he did not admit what this internal Pentagon document demonstrates — that the entire covert strategy was sanctioned and supervised by the US, Britain, France, Israel and other Western powers.

The strategy appears to fit a policy scenario identified by a recent US Army-commissioned RAND Corp report.

The report, published four years before the DIA document, called for the US “to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.”

The US would need to contain “Iranian power and influence” in the Gulf by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.” Simultaneously, the US must maintain “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government” despite its Iran alliance.

The RAND report confirmed that the “divide and rule” strategy was already being deployed “to create divisions in the jihadist camp. Today in Iraq such a strategy is being used at the tactical level.”

The report observed that the US was forming “temporary alliances” with al-Qaeda affiliated “nationalist insurgent groups” that have fought the US for four years in the form of “weapons and cash.” Although these nationalists “have cooperated with al-Qaeda against US forces,” they are now being supported to exploit “the common threat that al-Qaeda now poses to both parties.”

The 2012 DIA document, however, further shows that while sponsoring purportedly former al-Qaeda insurgents in Iraq to counter al-Qaeda, Western governments were simultaneously arming al-Qaeda insurgents in Syria.

The revelation from an internal US intelligence document that the very US-led coalition supposedly fighting ‘Islamic State’ today, knowingly created ISIS in the first place, raises troubling questions about recent government efforts to justify the expansion of state anti-terror powers.

In the wake of the rise of ISIS, intrusive new measures to combat extremism including mass surveillance, the Orwellian ‘prevent duty’ and even plans to enable government censorship of broadcasters, are being pursued on both sides of the Atlantic, much of which disproportionately targets activists, journalists and ethnic minorities, especially Muslims.

Yet the new Pentagon report reveals that, contrary to Western government claims, the primary cause of the threat comes from their own deeply misguided policies of secretly sponsoring Islamist terrorism for dubious geopolitical purposes.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award, known as the ‘Alternative Pulitzer Prize’, for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was selected in the Evening Standard‘s ‘Power 1,000’ most globally influential Londoners.

Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the sci-fi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

October 1: A Global Plea to End the Bombing in Aleppo

September 30th, 2016 - by admin

The Campaign for Peace and Democracy & the Global Campaign of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution – 2016-09-30 00:56:22

https://www.facebook.com/Global-Campaign-of-Solidarity-with-the-Syrian-Revolution-147353662105485/

Syrians evacuate a toddler from a destroyed building following a reported air strike on Aleppo

October 1: “A Global Day of Outrage for Aleppo”
And a Call to End War and Tyranny in Syria

Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison / The Campaign for Peace and Democracy & the Global Campaign of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution

The strategy of combating violent sectarianism through drone strikes and bombing results in the death of innocent civilians and is a recipe for a never-ending war.

(September 29, 2016) — We are supporters of the democratic Syrian Revolution and opponents of military intervention from the outside. We oppose all attacks on civilians in Syria, whether committed by the Assad regime and its allies, by ISIS, by other jihadist groups, or by anyone else.

We support the call for the removal of all foreign fighters from Syria: the anti-regime jihadis, the US special ops forces, and the Turkish army, but also the Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah, and numerous Shiite militias backing Assad. It is a humanitarian and political imperative that the horrific bloodletting in Syria be brought to an end.

A cease-fire deal was recently negotiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The cease-fire, however, has collapsed, following what Washington called its accidental strike on Syrian government soldiers and then what was most likely an intentional bombing by Russian or Syrian aircraft, or both, of an aid convey trying to get supplies to one of the many areas besieged by regime forces.

But the Kerry-Lavrov arrangement was flawed from the start. It failed to address the underlying political issues of the crisis, and was therefore doomed to failure. Worse, had it been consummated, it would have meant joint bombing by the United States, Russia, and the Syrian government of many thousands of the people now being bombed by the Russians and Assad.

In the name of fighting terrorists, innocent civilians and democratic rebels would have been bombed along with ISIS and other jihadists, the latter located near Free Syrian Army units — as they are being bombed now — but the bombing would have taken place with the seal of approval and participation of the US government.

As it stands, the assault by Assad and his various foreign allies on Aleppo is shaping up as a humanitarian catastrophe of the first order. The current ferocious bombardment of civilian targets there is just the beginning.

On October 1, there will be a “Global Day of Rage for Allepo,” with worldwide demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Aleppo and against the sieges, the barrel-bombing and missiles, the intentional targeting of rescue and healthcare facilities and workers — and the lies and diplomatic charades.

In New York City, a demonstration will be held on Saturday, October 1, 1:00 pm, at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 48th Street and & 1st Avenue.

In Chicago, demonstrators will gather at 1:00pm on Saturday at the plaza just south of the Tribune Media Building, on Michigan Avenue, at the north east end of the Dusable Bridge across the Chicago River.

In Washington DC at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, at noon on Saturday. Check here for other events in the US and around the world.

We are also writing to draw your attention to two recent statements about the Syrian crisis (included below): “An Open Letter about Syria: the Russia-US Bombing Deal Will Bring Neither Peace Nor Justice,” and “Syrian Writers, Artists, and Journalists Speak Out Against US and Russian Policy,” published by The Nation. Both statements are signed by individuals, not organizations.

In peace and solidarity,
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy


An Open Letter about Syria:
The Russia-US Bombing Deal Will Bring
Neither Peace Nor Justice

Revive Peace Movement

(Signers listed at bottom.
If you would like to add your name, please create an email with the subject “agree to letter on Russia-US deal.” Include your full name and a line of identification.
Send to: 2rpm@mail.com)

(September 21, 2016) — There can be no doubt that the Syrian people have paid a terrible price for their struggle for freedom. They know the pain and suffering of being unable to feed their children, of being the targets of relentless and merciless bombing. We share their desire to see peace with justice in Syria. Unfortunately, the Kerry-Lavrov negotiations have thus far brought neither.

The “agreement” being sold as a “peace deal” for Syria has thus far been a rotten bargain that extends the bombing. The wanton destruction of the aid caravan on September 19th brought the sorely unsuccessful “ceasefire” phase to a barbaric conclusion, and what is proposed to follow will be even worse — far worse.

The Assad regime’s forces continued their attacks throughout the so-called “ceasefire” of September 12th-18th. The day after the deal was announced, a hundred people died from regime attacks. On September 16th, regime warplanes targeted and bombed the White Helmets’ Head Quarters in Al Tamanna, rendering it inoperable.

The sieges that seek to impose submission to the regime through starvation still affect hundreds of thousands, and promises to allow aid convoys to reach the besieged areas during the “ceasefire” never materialized. This demonstrates beyond all doubt that only air-drops of food will prevent the mass starvation of entire populations under siege.

Millions have been driven from their homes as a result of Putin and Assad’s bombing campaign. Tens of thousands rot in Assad’s torture-to-death prisons.

These issues must be addressed to bring peace through justice to Syria. An expansion of the targets to be bombed by the US Coalition, and cooperation in bombing these targets between the US and Russia, which objectively means cooperation with the Assad regime, cannot bring Syrians peace nor justice.

We say:
Stop the bombing! Don’t expand it!
End the sieges! #DropFoodNotBombs!

Immediate airdrops of food to the besieged! UN Aid must reach the people, not be diverted to supply a war criminal regime! Aid to the hungry is non-negotiable!

The peace and antiwar opposition can offer a real alternative to the expansion of the militaristic, never-ending and phony “War on Terror” by calling for an end to all bombing, including US bombing, and calling upon Russia and Iran to withdraw all support for the brutal Assad regime.

Support for this regime enables ethnic cleansing and merciless attacks on unarmed civilians, on a nightmarish scale that is experienced by Syrians living in areas outside of regime control as a targeted genocide of Sunni populations within the opposition — an experience which is amplified by Assad’s subsequent sectarian re-population of areas from which the besieged have been driven from their homes. This strategy can do nothing but breed sectarian division within Syria.

Assad and Putin’s campaign of collective punishment of civilian populations has produced a terrible humanitarian crisis. Peace activists have an ethical responsibility to oppose these crimes against humanity. Our commitment to justice demands we challenge all attacks on the dignity and human rights of the Syrian people. To be silent is only to facilitate the attacks.

The peace and antiwar opposition can further promote a just solution to the terrible war in Syria by insisting that legitimate negotiations must include representatives from the Syrian democratic opposition, and these negotiations should have as their goal the ending of the bombing, the lifting of the sieges, and the freeing of all political prisoners.

The Obama administration is leading a military intervention in Syria, and more broadly in the Middle East under cover of the War on Terror. The War on Terror is not only a cynical cover for US intervention in the Middle East; experience has demonstrated that it is counterproductive as a strategy to fight terrorism.

In Syria, the violent sectarian forces have grown in strength directly as a result of the devastation wrought by relentless bombing. The democratic opposition to both the dictatorship and the violently sectarian forces is being crushed under barrel bombs, cruise missiles, cluster and phosphorus munitions, napalm and chemical weapons attacks.

The peace and antiwar opposition can stand in solidarity with the democratic struggle by demanding an end to all bombing by all parties.

The strategy of combating violent sectarianism through drone strikes and bombing results in the death of innocent civilians and is a recipe for a never-ending war.

Without a single bomber dropping a single bomb, a major blow could be struck against violent sectarian forces by ending all military aid to the dictatorship in Egypt and to Israel, whose militaries should not be recipients of aid, and in an urgently needed display of human solidarity, redirecting the aid to provide for besieged Gaza and the Syrian refugees.

Across the region external powers have been working to support undemocratic and oppressive regimes, whether in Yemen, Egypt, or Palestine. Under the Kerry-Lavrov deal, Washington and Moscow will be collaborating to maintain Assad in power. Solidarity with the democratic struggles is the alternative to occupations, war, dictatorships and violent sectarianism.

In solidarity,
Note: Organizations mentioned for identification only:

Ann Eveleth, freelance journalist and activist,
David Finkel, managing editor AGAINST THE CURRENT,
Dan Fischer, Dragonfly Climate Collective,
Bill Fletcher, Jr., talk show host, writer & activist,
The Rev. David W. Good, Minister Emeritus for The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme
President, Tree of Life Educational Fund,
Thomas Harrison, Co-Director Campaign for Peace and Democracy,
Howie Hawkins, Green Party Syracuse,
New York, Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace, Middle East Crisis Committee,
Joanne Landy, Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy,
Lama Abu Odeh, Georgetown Law Professor,
Fred Mecklenburg, News and Letters Committees,
Yasser Munif, Global Campaign in Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution,
Andrew Pollack, MENA Solidarity Network-US,
Bishop John Selders, Jr.,
Bishop Presider, Amistad UCC, Pastor, Moral Monday,
Stephen R. Shalom, New Politics,
Ashley Smith, International Socialist Organization (ISO),
Gar Smith, co-founder, Environmentalists Against War,
David Turpin, Jr., Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Self Determination,
Ella Wind, New York University, MENA Solidarity Network

And additional signers:
Ian Sherwood, Citizen of Connecticut,
Tanya M. Monforte, O’Brien Fellow, McGill Law School,
Gloria Careaga, professor at National University of Mexico, UNAM,
Sonia Correa, research associate at the Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association, for AIDS, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Dennis van Wanrooij, Red Umbrella Fund,
Oishik Sircar, Lawyer and Academic, India,
Amina Ali, New York, NY,
Jenny Peek, a Candidate for Ministry with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA),
Scott Long, Human rights activist,
Terry Burke, Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria (CISPOS),
Andrew Berman, US Army 1971-73, member Veterans for Peace,
Jumana Shammout, MD, Pediatric gastroenterologist,
Neha Sood, activist and consultant,
Joe Kelly, Toronto, ON,
Joseph Daher, Swiss-Syrian activist, editor SyriaFreedomForever site,
Cheryl Seelhoff, writer and activist,
Joyce C. Rawitscher, Co-Clerk, Witness Support Committee, Storrs (CT) Friends Meeting Convener, Israel/Palestine Peace Group of Northeastern Connecticut,
Nefous Nabulsi, MD, Pediatrician,
Kimberly Stoner, Secretary of the Board, Promoting Enduring Peace,
Yasmeen Mobayed, New York University,
Dan La Botz, Co-Editor, New Politics,
Samuel Farber, Professor Emeritus Political Science Brooklyn College of CUNY,
Ken Hiebert, Palestine solidarity activist, Ladysmith, BC, Canada,
Farouk Belal, Independent activist based in Washington DC

To add your name to this letter create an email with the subject “agree to letter on Russia-US deal”. Include your full name and a line of identification. Send to: 2rpm@mail.com

Note: This is a statement on behalf of its signers, not of identifying organizations.


Syrian Writers, Artists, and Journalists
Speak Out Against US and Russian Policy

Syrian Writers, Artists, and Journalists Against US and Russian Policies in Syria / The Nation

A man carries an injured child after airstrikes on a rebel-held neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, September 21, 2016. (Reuters / Abdalrhman Ismail)

A group of 150 Syrian intellectuals, composed mostly of writers, artists, academics, and journalists, all identifying themselves as secular democratic opponents of the Syrian regime, have issued the statement below to express their condemnation of the role played by both Washington and Moscow in their country.

The signatories include globally known figures such as Paris Sorbonne professor Burhan Ghalioun, who was the first chairperson of the Syrian National Council in 2011-12; award-winning novelist Samar Yazbek, whose works are published in many languages; famous Syrian intellectual Sadik Jalal Al-Azm; Farouk Mardam-Bey, a writer who edits the most important collection dedicated to the Arab world in France; playwright Mohammad Al-Attar; and Yassin al-Haj Saleh, a prominent independent voice in the Syrian opposition.

We the undersigned are democratic and secular Syrian writers, artists, and journalists who have opposed the tyrannical Assad regime for years, even decades. We are participants in the struggle for democracy and justice in our country, our region and in the world.

We unreservedly, and in the strongest language, condemn the Russian and US approach of intervening in our internal Syrian affairs. At least since 2013, these two powers have been working to co-opt the Syrian liberation struggle under the rubric of the “war against terror.” This is a war that has failed to score a single success since its outset, and has led instead to the destruction of a number of countries.

Three years ago the two imperialist nations signed a reprehensible deal on chemical weapons that resolved a problem for the United States, Israel, and Russia, and even for the Assad regime, which had just murdered 1,466 of its subjects.

The deal however did not resolve any of the problems facing the Syrian people. Rather it gave free rein to an extremely criminal regime that kills Syrians, destroys their villages and communities, and drives them into exile. The deal has also proved to be a priceless gift to Islamist nihilistic groups like Daesh and Jabhat an-Nusra.

Three years into this contemptible deal — with the death count now at around half a million Syrians — Russians and Americans have agreed to freeze the current situation so that the two military powers can carry on their endless war against terror.

The agreement remains silent on the untold number of detainees held in brutal conditions, and includes no call for lifting the blockade on besieged areas, or the withdrawal of Iran, the Hezbollah militia, or any other sectarian militia.

It is also devoid of any reference to the concept of a new and democratic Syria. Nor are the warplanes of Bashar al-Assad restrained from bombing areas that will ultimately be the subject of a later agreement between Russia and the United States.

Not only does this show complete lack of a moral sense of justice on the part of the Russian and American negotiating teams, it also exposes the degradation of politics and the lowly level of officials in the two most powerful nations in the world today.

Our feelings of anger over these agreements and their authors know no bounds. And we reject them absolutely. We are also disappointed in the United Nations, angered that, as was recently revealed, it has been financing the criminal oligarchy of Assad and his cronies throughout their war against the Syrians.

As Syrian writers, artists, and journalists, we see the world today heading toward an unprecedented numbing of ethics. Levels of fear and hatred escalate in parallel with the increasing visibility of politicians who invest in the same feelings of fear, hatred, and isolationism.

We see democracy in retreat around the world, while surveillance, control, and fear are rife and advancing. We do not believe that our fate is defined by these conditions, but rather that these are a result of dangerous choices taken by dangerous political elites, and that we must work together to voice our opposition to them, right now and wherever we may be.

A destroyed Syria is the symbol of the state of the world today. The Syrian revolution was broken against the solid wall of the international community, and not only against the wall of the forces aligned with Assadist fascism.

This international community allows politicians like Obama and Putin, along with their agents and clones — people lacking all sense of humanity — to take decisions that violate our right to self-determination, as individuals and groups but also as a nation. We have not elected them, and we have no access to any mechanism that can call them to account. This is an unfair system that fiercely opposes democracy. Therefore it must change.

Unfortunately, there seems to be too little awareness of how hazardous reality has become. Many, especially in the West, prefer to hide behind fatalistic theories steeped in religion or culture — when they do not attribute events to climate change.

This explains why a bad situation has become much worse, but it also absolves the powerful elite, including Bashar al-Assad and his gang, of their political responsibilities.

This world must change. In just five and a half years, it has allowed the destruction of one of the most ancient cradles of civilization. The world today is a Syrian problem, just like Syria today is a world problem.

And for the sake of this world, for all our sakes, we call for the condemnation of the politicians responsible for this disaster and for their exposure as nihilistic murderers and terrorists, similar to their arch-rivals in the Islamist nihilistic camp.

The Signatories
Ibrahim al-Jabin, Novelist, journalist
Ahmad Barqawi, Philosopher
Ahmad Hasso, Journalist
Ahmad Omar, Writer
Ahmad Isha, Translator
Usama Muhammad, Film director, screenwriter
Usama Nassar, Journalist, activist
Assaad al-Ashi
Islam Abu Shakir, Story-teller
Anas Yusef, Physician
Anwar al-Omar
Anwar Omran
Aws al-Mubarak, Writer
Iyad Hayatleh, Poet
Iyad Abdullah, Writer
Ilaf Yassin, Journalist
Iman Shaker
Aya al-Atassi, Journalist
Basil al-Awdat, Journalist
Badr al-Din Arudaki, Writer, translator
Burhan Ghalioun, Writer, academic
Bakr Sidqi, Writer, journalist
Tammam Hunaydi, Poet
Jamal Said, Writer
Jamil Nahra, Novelist
Jihad Yaziji, Economist
Hazem Kamal al-Din
Hazem Nahar, Writer
Hizam Zohur Uday, Writer, journalist
Husam al-Saad, Academic
Husam al-Din Muhammad, Writer, journalist
Hasko Hasko, Artist
Hasan Shahut, Poet
Hala Omran, Actress
Hikmat Shata, Engineer, artist
Khaled Sulayman al-Nasseri, Poet, filmmaker
Khodor al-Agha, Writer
Khatib Badla, Writer
Khaldun al-Shamaa, Literary critic
Khalaf Ali al-Khalaf, Poet
Khalil al-Haj Saleh, Translator
Khayri al-Zahabi, Writer, novelist
Dara al-Abdullah, Writer
Durayd al-Bayk, Journalist, engineer
Dima Wannous, Writer, journalist
Raed Wahsh, Poet
Rateb Shabo, Writer, translator
Rashid Issa, Journalist
Rustom Mahmud, Syrian writer, researcher
Rasha Abbas, Story-teller
Rasha Omran, Poet
Rashid al-Haj Saleh, Writer
Rosa Yassin Hasan, Writer
Rima Flayhan, Writer, activist
Zahir Omareen, Writer
Zoya Bustan, Journalist
Samer al-Ahmad, Journalist
Saad Haju, Caricaturist
Said Ghazul, News editor
Samar Yazbek, Novelist
Samih Shuqair, Artist
Samih al-Safadi, Writer
Salam al-Kawakibi, Writer, researcher
Salam Muhammad, Screenwriter
Sulayman al-Buti,
Charbel Kanoun, Photographer
Sadik Jalal al-Azm, Thinker
Sadik Abdul Rahman, Writer
Safi Ala al-Din, Publisher
Subhi Hadidi, Writer, literary critic
Subhi Halima, Writer, journalist
Dahir Ita, Writer
Duha Hasan, Writer
Duha Ashour, Writer
Talib al-Ali, Writer
Talal Daqmaq, Photographer
Adil al-Ayed, Journalist
Asim al-Basha, Sculptor
Asim Hamsho, Writer
Abdul Rahman Matar, Writer
Abdul Rahim Khalifa, Political and human rights activist
Abdul Aziz al-Tammo, Syrian Kurdish writer, politician
Abdullah Turkmani, Researcher
Abdullah Maksur, Novelist
Urwa al-Ahmad, Journalist, actor
Assaf al-Ê¿Assaf, Writer
Ali Diab
Ali Safar, Writer, journalist
Ali al-Ayed, Journalist
Imad Huriyyah, Theater critic
Imad Obaid, Artist
Ammar al-Jumaa, Poet
Ammar Qat, Journalist
Omar al-Asaad, Journalist
Omar Kaddour, Novelist
Omar Kush, Writer
Ghassan al-Muflih, Journalist
Ghayyath al-Madhoun, Poet
Fadi Dioub, Activist
Fares el-Helou, Actor
Farouk Mardam-Bey, Writer, publisher
Fayez al-Basha, Physician
Fayez al-Abbas, Poet
Fadwa Kilani, Poet
Faraj Bayrak dar, Poet
Fuad Muhammad Fuad, Professor, poet
Qusay Assef al-Shuwaikh, Engineer
Karim al-Afnan, Journalist
Luay Skaff, Engineer
Laila Safadi, Journalist
Lina Atfa, Poet
Majid Rashid al-Ouayd, Novelist, writer
Majid Matrud, Poet, critic
Mazen Haddad, Engineer
Mazen Darwish, Human rights activist
Malik Daghistani, Writer
Mamoun al-Shari, Writer
Mahir Junaydi, Writer, journalist
Mahir Massud, Writer
Muhammad Haj Bakri, Economic researcher, writer
Muhammad al-Haj Saleh, Writer
Muhammad Khalifa, Writer, researcher
Muhammad al-Abdullah, Syrian lawyer, activist
Mohammad al-Attar, Playwright
Marwan al-Atrash, Engineer
Mustafa Suleyman, Artist
Mubid al-Hassun, Writer
Mufid Najm, Poet
Malaz al-Zoabi, Journalist
Mansour al-Sulti, Theater actor, director
Munhil Barish, Journalist
Munir al-Khatib, Writer
Maurice Ayiq, Writer
Musa Rammo, Artist
Maya Sharbaji, Artist
May Skaf, Actress
Michel Shammas, Lawyer, human rights activist
Mikhail Saad, Writer
Nahed Badawia, Writer
Najat Murshid, Teacher
Nashwan Atassi, Writer
Nouri al-Jarrah, Poet
Hala Mohammad, Poet, film director
Hala Alabdalla, Filmmaker
Hind Muri
Hushang Usi, Writer
Haytham Abdallah, Translator
Wael Tamimi, Journalist
Wael Marza, Writer
Wijdan Nassif, Writer
Wafai Layla, Poet
Yara Badr, Journalist
Yasser Munif, Academic
Yassin Suwayha, Writer
Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Writer
Yamin Hussein, Journalist
Yusef D uays, Writer, journalist

Campaign for Peace and Democracy
2808 Broadway, #12
New York, New York 10025
Email: cpd@igc.org
Web: www.cpdweb.org
Twitter: @CampPeaceDem

Militarized Police Threaten and Arrest Dakota Pipeline Water Protectors

September 30th, 2016 - by admin

The Daily Kos & teleSURtv – 2016-09-30 00:16:28

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/9/29/1575932/-N-D-militarized-police-force-back-Water-Protectors-with-armored-vehicles-tear-gas-and-rifles

Alternative media outlet Unicorn Riot captured footage of the menacing confrontation.

North Dakota Militarized Police Push Back Water Protectors
With Armored Vehicles, Tear Gas and Rifles

By Navajo / The Daily Kos

(September 29, 2016) – Regardless of where our Water Protectors travel in North Dakota to conduct a peaceful prayer event against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (that threatens the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s drinking water), you would think that they wouldn’t be met with armored vehicles and assault rifles. But they were.

Ever since North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to protect the pipeline, our Water Protectors don’t know what they’ll face.

They have been pushed back by private security guards armed with attack dogs and pepper spray. Some were bitten and sprayed as a newly reported ancestral burial site was deliberately bulldozed to destroy evidence.

Wednesday, September 28, the Water Protectors’ caravan was met with armored vehicles, helicopters dropping tear gas and police armed with military-style rifles.

Video shows that as the resisters are confronted, the militarized force starts locking and loading their weapons. Our people immediately raise their hands in unison and yell that they are not armed, that they are praying!

The arrests begin, tear gas goes off and one videographer flees to get his footage out. Twenty-one are arrested.

Thomas H. Joseph II’s video account (below) caught some of the action:

North Dakota authorities using heavy handed tactics on Water Protectors

BACKGROUND

April 2016: Tribal members began protesting the 1,172-mile, four-state, Dakota Access Pipeline construction by setting up camp along the banks of Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

August 2016: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed suit in federal district court in Washington, DC, against the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is the primary federal agency that granted permits needed for construction of the pipeline. Background here — Sacred tribal sites still in danger from DAPL by Earthquake Weather

September 2016: The small Sacred Stone Camp grows supporters there by the thousands with 280 tribes represented.

National attention grows from the next two events.

* The Dakota Access Pipeline guards unleash attack dogs on our American Indian water protectors by navajo (23,515 Facebook shares)

* North Dakota activates National Guard to protect the pipeline instead of our tribes by navajo (40,061 Facebook shares)

* The Vicious Dogs of Manifest Destiny Resurface in North Dakota by Jacqueline Keeler

* North Dakota v. Amy Goodman: Arrest Warrant Issued After Pipeline Coverage

Federal court denies the Standing Rock Tribe’s request for injunction. However, a joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior asked for construction to voluntarily be ceased on federally controlled lands.

* Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request to stop Dakota Access Pipeline denied, Dept. of Justice steps in by navajo

* Partial Victory for Standing Rock Sioux by EarthquakeWeather

* Sacred Stone Camp is feeling this: Erased By False Victory: Obama Hasn’t Stopped DAPL

Sept. 13-22: Water Protectors are arrested and jailed without bond after locking themselves to construction machinery.

* North Dakota’s Governor Declared a State of Emergency to Deal With Peaceful Oil Pipeline Protesters. We Call It a State of Emergency for Civil Rights by Jennifer Cook, Policy Director, ACLU of North Dakota

Sept. 14: Morton County Sheriff pursues felony charges on those arrested. Twenty-three people and their charges are named. As of 9/14 a total of 69 individuals have been arrested for illegal protest activities.

* Judge drops injunction against tribal leaders allowing them to protest lawfully

* Cherokee give $50,000 to oppose North Dakota pipeline

Sept. 16: US Army Corps of Engineers grants Special Use Permit to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to use Federal lands managed by the Corps near Lake Oahe for gathering to engage in a lawful free speech demonstration.

* Appeals court halts Dakota Access Pipeline work pending hearing that will give the court more time to consider the tribes’ request for an injunction.

Sept. 20: Standing Rock Sioux Chairman asks the United Nations for protection of the tribe’s sovereign rights by navajo

Sept. 23: 1,200 archeologists denounce desecration of Standing Rock burial grounds by DAPL, UN agrees by navajo

Sept. 26: N.D. pipeline activism sparks White House to plan consultations with Native tribes on infrastructure by Meteor Blades

* Earthjustice’s FAQ on Standing Rock Litigation on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit.

YOU Can Help:
ACTION — Click here: OFFICIAL SUPPORT FOR STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE AGAINST DAPL Organized by: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

BOHICA has more discussion about how our government gives law enforcement surplus military vehicles here: 9/28/16 Standing Rock – Riot Gear, Tear Gas, MRAP.


What You May Not Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline
Robin Martinez / teleSURtv

A detailed analysis provided by attorney Robin Martinez — who is coordinating legal advice and representation for protesters at the North Dakota camps.

(September 11, 2016) — The Dakota Access Pipeline has been drawing national attention for threatening Native American ways of life and land. As protesters hailed a victory on Friday handed down by three federal departments, a slew of legal issues remain at hand.

Between what the tribes have already dealt with and what they have yet to face, attorney Robin Martinez — who is coordinating legal advice and representation for protesters at the North Dakota camps — had answers.

What is the status of the land where the camps are located?
The Sacred Stone Camp, the main traditional protest site created by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in April, is on land that used to belong to the tribe but was “in effect stolen” through eminent domain by the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, said Martinez.

The Army Corps of Engineers began building the Oahe Dam in 1948, flooding over 160,000 acres to create the Oahe Lake, where protests are clustered. A quarter of tribe members had to relocate.

Martinez said that a tribe member once told him that, “What flood control really means is that the whites control the water and the Indians get flooded.”

Another camp, the Red Warrior Camp, is on private land in order to be closer to the construction sites, where nonviolent direct actions is organized. Work on private land was not affected by Friday’s joint announcement to halt building on federal land.

Is the state of North Dakota acting illegally?
The state of emergency to access resources from the Department of Homeland Security was made on the basis that organizers are violent and fighting with pipe bombs and hatchets, which they deny.

The protesters can’t challenge the governor’s move, but they are highlighting the unjust use of roadblocks to reroute supporters trying to enter the camps, an issue which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe brought to the United Nations. Reports have also come out of law enforcement taking pictures of passersby and using facial recognition which, Martinez said, will likely be used for an upcoming mass arrest. The Morton County Sheriff justified the roadblocks as a safety precaution.

Some have suspected that officials have also cut off telecommunications, but Martinez said that poor reception is likely because there is one phone tower in the area serving thousands of cell phones. He added, though, that he would not be surprised if authorities did try to cut power and “would be shocked” if they weren’t already intercepting all communications from the tower, which is owned by Verizon.

Why did the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lose its case to stop construction?
The tribe’s case stood on two points.

First, they found the Army Corps of Engineers in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires the Corps to solicit and gain the consent of the tribe. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe argued that just contacting a few individuals did not constitute meaningful consent.

Judge James Boasberg found it was sufficient according to current law, which the Departments of Justice, the Army and the Interior said they would consider revising after discussions with tribes.

Second, the tribe was unsatisfied with the cursory environmental assessment the Corps conducted before granting the permit. After a brief study, the Corps filed a finding of “no significant impact,” precluding further study because of the procedure dictated in the Nationwide Permit 12, which allows for minimal review — a permit originally intended for public projects like power lines and sewage, said Martinez.

The tribe argued that the finding was understated and should have instead initiated a procedure to conduct a full environmental impact study. Boasberg did not challenge the Corp’s review.

The tribe had to prove that “irreparable injury” would be caused by construction as they await a decision on a lawsuit against the permit altogether. Boasberg wrote that they did not make the claim on land and water, but rather on sites of cultural and archaeological significance, which was not a strong enough case.

Are any other tribes involved in the lawsuit and what are they adding to the case?
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is appealing the judge’s rejection of their preliminary injunction, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is intervening in the appeal. They filed an amended complaint on Friday, referencing a treaty that obligates the US government to ensure tribal land is permanent and livable, including protecting the right to clean water.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe filed a separate lawsuit against both the Corps and the US Fish and Wildlife Service the day before the Standing Rock ruling. The claims are similar but also reference wider international obligations for “free, prior and informed consent” guaranteed under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the responsibility to “ensure the civilization” of the Lakota people under the Fort Laramie Treaty.

The suit also makes an argument based on environmental justice, which every federal agency has the duty to respect. Martinez said that the pipeline was originally planned to run upstream of Bismarck, the “almost all white” state capital, but following complaints they rerouted upstream of the Standing Rock reservation. The “very astounding” racism would make a strong environmental justice case, he said.

If the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe wins its suit against the Army Corps of Engineers, is the project called off?
If the tribe manages to strike down the Corps permit for construction under federal waterways, Dakota Access can reroute the pipeline and, if it can’t win the powers of eminent domain, it can negotiate with individual landowners for the right to cross their property.

Many have already signed easements with the company, which effectively coerced landowners, who thought they had no choice, said Martinez. If they did not voluntarily agree to an easement and accept the money for the Dakota Access’s use of their land, he said, the company could threaten to use eminent domain and pay them nothing.

Now that the pipeline is gaining international attention, though, it may have a similar fate as the Keystone XL Pipeline, which was rejected by President Barack Obama because it would “not serve the national interest.”

Should a similar scenario happen, or should Dakota Access decide to call off the project, it would have to take the pipes out of the ground and dismantle the construction that has already taken place. Martinez, who represented South Dakota farmers and ranchers against the Keystone 1 Pipeline, said that while the company is required to restore their property to how it was before construction, they rarely fulfill their promise.

Oil leaks aside, the pipeline often damages the land and prevents crops from growing again: oil from tar sands, for instance, must be heated up to flow through the pipeline, burning the land around it.

What about the rest of the pipeline on non-federal land?
The announcement to halt construction on federal land affected a small percentage of the total pipeline. The vast majority goes through the land of farmers and ranchers.

North Dakota isn’t alone in challenging construction.

In Iowa, farmers and ranchers have banded together with environmental groups to overturn Dakota Access’s power of eminent domain. They have a case pending in court and organized several actions against the Iowa Utilities Board as part of a “growing backlash on the part of farmers and landowners to that concept” which, Martinez said, was originally meant for public projects.

Dakota Access will argue that its pipeline serves a public purpose, but Iowa echo Keystone XL resisters in arguing that the oil, meant for export, is only extracted for private gain. While the tribes in North Dakota have already laid their cards on the table, the Iowa case may be a real “stumbling block down the line,” said Martinez.


National Guard to Called in to
Support Police at North Dakota Pipeline Protests

teleSURtv

(September 8, 2016) — The North Dakota National Guard will be on standby to provide assistance to the local police government in response to the ongoing protests over the Dakota Access pipeline, which critics say threatens water and the environment of Native American communities.

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple said that he asked the “North Dakota National Guard to support law enforcement and augment their public safety efforts,” at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

“For public safety, the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Morton County Sheriff’s Department are enhancing their law enforcement presence over the coming weekend,” Dalrymple said.

He said that the National Guard they will help in “support roles” such as security and traffic in the area, adding that the move will help free up extra officers to patrol the area.

“The guard members will provide valuable personnel, resources and equipment necessary to support local tribal and state officials,” adding that the guard would help to “protect the constitutional rights of those who want to protest peacefully.” He asked that pipeline protesters demonstrate in a “respectful and lawful way.”

Native American groups are protesting against the pipeline on a camp, saying that the US$3.8-billion pipeline carries heavy Bakken crude oil that would contaminate the drinking water of millions of people and destroy the environment. In addition, protesters say the pipeline goes through treaty-protected sacred lands.

A number of protesters have been arrested for their ongoing action, with some spray painting and strapping themselves to pipeline equipment.

Major General Al Dohrman also said in the announcement that he was negotiating with community leaders to find a peaceful solution to the protests, but added that there was a group of “agitators” in the protests.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

How Nuclear Power Causes Global Warming

September 29th, 2016 - by admin

Harvey Wasserman / The Progressive & Solartopia – 2016-09-29 01:24:28

http://www.progressive.org/news/2016/09/188947/how-nuclear-power-causes-global-warming

(September 21, 2016) — Supporters of nuclear power like to argue that nukes are the key to combatting climate change. Here’s why they are dead wrong.

Every nuclear generating station spews about two-thirds of the energy it burns inside its reactor core into the environment. Only one-third is converted into electricity. Another tenth of that is lost in transmission.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:
Nuclear fission is the most water intensive method of the principal thermoelectric generation options in terms of the amount of water withdrawn from sources. In 2008, nuclear power plants withdrew eight times as much freshwater as natural gas plants per unit of energy produced, and up to 11 percent more than the average coal plant.

Every day, large reactors like the two at Diablo Canyon, California, individually dump about 1.25 billion gallons of water into the ocean at temperatures up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the natural environment.

Diablo’s “once-through cooling system” takes water out of the ocean and dumps it back superheated, irradiated and laden with toxic chemicals. Many U.S. reactors use cooling towers which emit huge quantities of steam and water vapor that also directly warm the atmosphere.

These emissions are often chemically treated to prevent algae and other growth that could clog the towers. Those chemicals can then be carried downwind, along with radiation from the reactors. In addition, hundreds of thousands of birds die annually by flying into the reactor domes and towers.

The Union of Concerned Scientists states:
The temperature increase in the bodies of water can have serious adverse effects on aquatic life. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water, thus discharge from once-through cooling systems can create a “temperature squeeze” that elevates the metabolic rate for fish.

Additionally, suction pipes that are used to intake water can draw plankton, eggs and larvae into the plant’s machinery, while larger organisms can be trapped against the protective screens of the pipes. Blocked intake screens have led to temporary shut downs and NRC fines at a number of plants.

And that’s not all.

All nuclear reactors emit Carbon 14, a radioactive isotope, invalidating the industry’s claim that reactors are “carbon free.” And the fuel that reactors burn is carbon-intensive. The mining, milling, and enrichment processes needed to produce the pellets that fill the fuel rods inside the reactor cores all involve major energy expenditures, nearly all of it based on coal, oil, or gas.

And of course there’s the problem of nuclear waste. After more than a half-century of well-funded attempts, we’ve seen no solution for the management of atomic power’s intensely radioactive waste.

There’s the “low-level” waste involving enormous quantities of troublesome irradiated liquids and solid trash that must be dealt with outside the standard civilian waste stream. And that handling involves fossil fuels burned in the process of transportation, management, and disposal as well

As for the high-level waste, this remains one of humankind’s most persistent and dangerous problems. Atomic apologists have claimed that the intensely radioactive spent fuel rods can somehow be usable for additional power generation.

But after a half-century of efforts, with billions of dollars spent, all attempts to do that have utterly failed. There are zero successful reactors capable of producing more reactor fuel than they use, or able to derive more energy from the tens of thousands of tons of spent fuel rods they create.

Some reactors, like Fukushima, use “mixed-oxide” fuels that have proven to be extremely dirty and expensive. It’s possible some of this “MOX” fuel containing plutonium, actually fissioned at Fukushima Unit Three, raising terrifying questions about the dangers of its use.

The mushroom cloud that appears on video as Fukushima Unit Three exploded stands as an epic warning against further use of these impossible-to-manage fuels.

The MOX facility under construction near Aiken, South Carolina, is now projected to require another ten years to build with another ten possible after that to phase into production. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said on September 13, 2016, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that the mismanaged project was “impossible” to carry out and that it could cost $30 billion to $50 billion.

Even the current pro-nuclear Congress won’t fully fund the project and the Department of Energy DOE continues to recommend abandoning it.

There are no credible estimates of the global warming damage done by the intensely hot explosions at the four Fukushima reactors, or at Chernobyl, or at any other past and future reactor meltdowns or blowups.

Atomic apologists argue that the disposal of high-level reactor wastes should be a relatively simple problem, lacking only the political will to proceed. The industry touts New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project, or WIPP, which has long been the poster child for military attempts to deal with high-level trash from the nuclear weapons program.

Accepting its first shipment of waste in 1999, WIPP was touted as the ultimate high-tech, spare-no-expense model that proved radioactive waste disposal “can be done.”

But a series of disastrous events in February, 2014, led WIPP to stop accepting wastes — the sole function for which it was designed. Most significant was the explosion of a single barrel of highly radioactive waste materials (it was mistakenly packed with organic rather than clay-based kitty litter). About a dozen WIPP workers were exposed to potentially harmful radiation. The entire facility remains closed.

In a phone interview, facility management told me it may again accept some wastes before the end of this year. But at least part of the cavernous underground labyrinth may never be reopened. The Los Angeles Times estimated the cost of this single accident at $2 billion.

Overall, the idea that atomic power is “clean” or “carbon free” or “emission free” is a very expensive misconception, especially when compared to renewable energy, efficiency, and conservation.

Among conservation, efficiency, solar and wind power technologies, there are no global warming analogs to the heat, carbon, and radioactive waste impacts of nuclear power. No green technology kills anywhere near the number of marine organisms that die through reactor cooling systems.

Rooftop solar panels do not lose ten percent of the power they generate to transmission, as happens with virtually all centralized power generators. S. David Freeman, former head of numerous large utilities and author of All Electric America: A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future, says: “Renewables are cheaper and safer. That argument is winning. Let’s stick to it.”

No terrorist will ever threaten one of our cities by blowing up a solar panel. But the nuclear industry that falsely claims its dying technology doesn’t cause global warming does threaten the future of our planet.

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH . He edits nukefree.org . You can find his GREEN POWER & WELLNESS SHOW at www.prn.fm

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Pentagon Plan to ‘Divide and Rule’ the Muslim World

September 29th, 2016 - by admin

Nafeez Ahmed / Middle East Eye – 2016-09-29 01:17:43

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/pentagon-plan-divide-and-rule-muslim-world-1690265165

LONDON (April 3, 2015) — Yemen is on the brink of “total collapse” according to the UN high commissioner for human rights. Saudi Arabia’s terror from the air, backed by Washington, Britain and an unprecedented coalition of Gulf states, has attempted to push back the takeover of Yemen’s capital Sanaa by Shiite Houthi rebels.

As Iran-backed Houthi forces have pressed into Aden, clashing with Yemeni troops loyal to exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, the US has provided live video feeds from US surveillance drones to aid with Saudi targeting. The Pentagon is set to expand military aid to the open-ended operation, supplying more intelligence, bombs and aerial refuelling missions.

Yet growing evidence suggests that the US itself, through its Gulf allies, gave the northern Houthis a green light for their offensive last September.

US Advanced Warning
As David Hearst reported in October 2014, the Houthi offensive was “conducted under the nose of a US military base in Djibouti” from where CIA drones operate. “The Houthis are even protecting the US embassy in Sanaa.”

Hearst revealed that the Houthis had been emboldened by a quiet nod from Saudi Arabia, under the watchful eye of US intelligence.

A year earlier, then Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar met with Houthi leader Saleh Habreh in London. The Saudis wanted to mobilise the Houthis against the Islah Party, Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood branch that shared power with President Hadi, so that they “cancel each other out” in conflict.

But Islah refused to confront the Houthis, and Riyadh’s green light backfired, allowing the militia to march unhindered to the capital.

The US was involved. Sources close to Hadi say they were told by the Americans about a meeting in Rome between Iranian officials and the son of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, to secure his assurances that government units loyal to Saleh would not oppose the Houthi advance.

Three years ago, Ali Abdullah Saleh was replaced by Hadi in US-Saudi-backed negotiations that granted him immunity from prosecution. Audio leaks and a UN Security Council report prove Saleh’s extensive collusion with the Houthis to the extent of supervising their military operations.

Yet President Hadi, who fled in the wake of the Houthi offensive, “said he was informed of the meeting in Rome by the Americans, but only after the Houthis had captured Sanaa.” [emphasis added]

The US, in other words, despite being aware of the impending Iran-backed operation, did not pass on intelligence about this to its own asset in Yemen until after the Houthis’ success.

Double Game
According to another source close to President Hadi, the UAE also played a key role in the Houthi operation, providing $1 billion to the Houthis through Saleh and his son Ahmad.

If true, this means in sum that US intelligence had advanced warning of the Houthi offensive and Saleh’s role in it; the UAE had reportedly provided funding to Saleh for the operation; and the Saudis had personally given the Houthis the green light in hope of triggering a fight to the death with Yemen’s Brotherhood.

According to Abdussalam al-Rubaidi, a lecturer at Sanaa University and chief editor of the Yemen Polling Center’s “Framing the Yemeni Revolution Project,” local reports in Yemen refer to “an alliance . . . between the Houthis, the United States, and Saleh’s Republican Guard,” to counter Ansar al-Sharia, the local al-Qaeda branch. Some Yemeni politicians also said that “the Americans gave a green light to the Houthis to enter the capital and weaken Islah”.

Why would the US do nothing to warn its Yemeni client regime about the incoming Houthi offensive, while then rushing to support Saudi Arabia’s military overreaction to fend off the spectre of Iranian expansion?

Divide and Rule
The escalation of the crisis in Yemen threatens to spiral into a full-scale Sunni-Shia regional war-by-proxy.

Since 9/11, every country in the region touched by major US interference has collapsed into civil war as their social fabric has been irreversibly shattered: Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya.

The ensuing arc of sectarian warfare bears uncanny resemblance to scenarios explored in a little-known study by an influential Washington DC defence contractor.

Unfolding the Future of the Long War, a 2008 RAND Corporation report, was sponsored by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Army Capability Integration Centre. It set out US government policy options for prosecuting what it described as “the long war” against “adversaries” in “the Muslim world,” who are “bent on forming a unified Islamic world to supplant Western dominance”.

Muslim world adversaries include “doctrinaire” Salafi-jihadists; “religious nationalist organisations” like “Hezbollah and Hamas that participate in the political process” but are also “willing to use violence”; secular groups “such as communists, Arab nationalists, or Baathists”; and “nonviolent organisations” because their members might later join “more radical organisations”.

The report suggests that the US Army sees all Muslim political groups in the region that challenge the prevailing geopolitical order as “adversaries” to be countered and weakened.

Among the strategies explored by the US Army-sponsored report is “Divide and Rule,” which calls for “exploiting fault lines between the various SJ [Salafi-jihadist] groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts,” for instance between “local SJ groups” focused on “overthrowing their national government” and transnational jihadists like al-Qaeda.

This appears to be the strategy in Libya and Syria, where local insurgents, despite affiliations with al-Qaeda, received covert US aid to overthrow Gaddafi and Assad.

The RAND report recommends that the US and its local allies “could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO [information operation] campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists . . . the United States and the host nation could even help the nationalist jihadists execute a military campaign to stamp out al-Qaeda elements that are present locally.”

US support for such “nationalist jihadists” would, however, need to be packaged appropriately for public consumption. “Because of the nature of the nationalist terrorist groups, any assistance would be mainly covert and would imply advanced IO capabilities.”

This illustrates the confusion in US defence circles about the complex relationship between transnational and national jihadists. According to Dr Akil Awan, an expert in jihadist groups at Royal Holloway, University of London, before 9/11 the concerns of national jihadist groups were “often very local and parochial”. This changed after 9/11, as al-Qaeda’s “brand value became irresistible to many local groups, who then pledged allegiance to bin Laden in savvy PR campaigns”.

“Funding national jihadist groups is not a particularly bright idea,” said Dr Awan. “Yes it might undermine support for global jihadist groups like al-Qaeda, but whoever proposed it has a very poor memory in terms of recent US foreign policy by proxy warfare and the inevitable blowback effect — case in point: Afghanistan. Supporting violent groups for your own foreign policy objectives is also incredibly damaging to local democratic or peaceful voices, and other civil society actors.”

The US Army-backed report did show awareness of this risk of “blowback,” noting that the “divide and rule” strategy “may inadvertently empower future adversaries in the pursuit of immediate gains”.

Capitalising on Dectarianism
According to Dr Christopher Davidson of Durham University, author of After the Sheikhs: the Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies, the current crisis in Yemen is being “egged on” by the US, and could be part of a wider covert strategy to “spur fragmentation in Iran allies and allow Israel to be surrounded by weak states”.

He suggests that the Yemen war serves US interests in three overlapping ways. It tests whether or not Iran will “ramp up support for Houthis”. If not, then Iran’s potential role “as a reliable, not expansionist regional policeman (much like the Shah) will seem confirmed to the US.”

The war could also weaken Saudi Arabia. Pushing the House of Saud into a “full-on hot war,” said Dr Davidson, would be “great for the arms industry, [and] gives the US much needed leverage over increasingly problematic Riyadh . . . If the regime in Saudi Arabia’s time is up, as many in the US seem to privately believe, in the post-$100 a barrel era, this seems a useful way of running an ally into the ground quite quickly”.

The Yemen conflict also “diverts global attention from IS [Islamic State] in Levant and the increasingly obvious uselessness or unwillingness of the US-led coalition to act against it”.

Davidson points out that there is precedent for this: “There have been repeated references in the Reagan era to the usefulness of sectarian conflict in the region to US interests.”

One post-Reagan reiteration of this vision was published by the Jerusalem-based Institute for Strategic and Political Advanced Studies for Benjamin Netanyahu. The 1996 paper, A Clean Break, by Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and Richard Perle — all of whom went on to join the Bush administration — advocated regime-change in Iraq as a precursor to forging an Israel-Jordan-Turkey axis that would “roll back” Syria, Lebanon and Iran. The scenario is surprisingly similar to US policy today under Obama.

Twelve years later, the US Army commissioned a further RAND report suggesting that the US “could choose to capitalise on the Shia-Sunni conflict by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes in a decisive fashion and working with them against all Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world . . . to split the jihadist movement between Shiites and Sunnis.”

The US would need to contain “Iranian power and influence” in the Gulf by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan”. Simultaneously, the US must maintain “a strong strategic relationship with the Iraqi Shiite government” despite its Iran alliance.

Around the same time as this RAND report was released, the US was covertly coordinating Saudi-led Gulf state financing to Sunni jihadist groups, many affiliated to al-Qaeda, from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon. That secret strategy accelerated under Obama in the context of the anti-Assad drive.

The widening Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict would “reduce the al-Qaeda threat to US interests in the short term,” the report concluded, by diverting Salafi-jihadist resources toward “targeting Iranian interests throughout the Middle East,” especially in Iraq and Lebanon, hence “cutting back . . . anti-Western operations”.

By backing the Iraqi Shiite regime and seeking an accommodation with Iran, while propping up al-Qaeda sponsoring Gulf states and empowering local anti-Shia Islamists across the region, this covert US strategy would calibrate levels of violence to debilitate both sides, and sustain “Western dominance”.

The Pentagon’s Neocon Fifth Column
The concept of “the long war” was first formulated years earlier by a little-known Pentagon think-tank known as the Highlands Forum. The Forum regularly brings together senior Pentagon officials with leaders across the political, corporate, business and media sectors in secret meetings.

Formally founded under the authority of Bill Clinton’s then defence secretary William J Perry, the Pentagon Highlands Forum was established to coordinate interagency policy on information operations.

Originally run through the Office of the Secretary of Defence, the Forum now reports to the Office of the Undersecretary of Defence for Intelligence, the Defence Advanced Research and Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), among other agencies.

The Highlands Forum also works closely with the Pentagon federal advisory committee, the Defence Policy Board, of which arch-neocon Richard Perle (co-author of the “Clean Break” strategy) was a member from 1987 to 2004.

Under the Obama administration, Defence Policy Board members have included leading neocon statesmen such as William Perry and Henry Kissinger.

RAND Corp in particular is a longstanding Forum partner.

Despite its bipartisan pretensions, the Pentagon Highlands Forum is an overwhelmingly neoconservative network. Its acolytes, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, Deputy Defence Secretary Robert Work, and DoD intelligence chief Mike Vickers, hold the reigns of Obama’s military strategies.

Today, they are busily executing the US Army’s “divide and rule” strategy to forcibly reconfigure the Middle East by proxy sectarian violence. How much of the chaos is “blowback,” and how much of it is intended, is difficult to determine.

In any case, the latest casualty of this doomed strategy is Yemen.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award, known as the ‘Alternative Pulitzer Prize’, for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was selected in the Evening Standard‘s ‘Power 1,000’ most globally influential Londoners.

Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the sci-fi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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