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ACTION ALERT: House Committee Votes to Repeal Act that Allows Presidents to Start Wars without Congressional Consent

June 30th, 2017 - by admin

AntiWar.com & The Hill & Rep. Barbara Lee – 2017-06-30 00:43:08

House Committee Votes to Repeal AUMF, Ruled ‘Out of Order’

House Committee Votes to Repeal AUMF,
Ruled ‘Out of Order’

Republican Leaders Argue Vote
Cripples Terror War, Shouldn’t Count

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

WASHINGTON (June 29, 2017) — In a stunning move, the House Appropriations Committee today approved an amendment to the massive military spending bill offered by Rep. Barbara Lee (D – CA). The amendment, passed in a voice vote, and would repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Rep. Lee has long been pushing amendments and bills trying to end America’s assorted wars. That one actually passed committee this time is nothing short of newsworthy, though the House Republican leadership was also quick to insist the vote doesn’t actually count.

The 2001 AUMF authorizes the president to wage war on those directly involved in 9/11, the interpretation of which at this point is that the president can declare wars pretty much at will and this amounts to Congressional authorization for all of them.

This AUMF was used to justify the Afghan War, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the re-invasion of Iraq after that first war ended, and the invasion of Syria both to fight against ISIS, and potentially to pick a fight with the Syrian government.

It was also presented as justification for the 2016 US intervention in Libya, though ironically not the US-led regime change war in Libya, which was itself “justified” by a vaguely worded UN resolution.

House Republicans are steaming about the Lee Amendment, insisting it cripples the legal basis for all of America’s many, many wars, not just at present but in the future. They’re going for a do-over on the amendment, insisting the vote was “out of order” and therefore didn’t really count.

This argument is based on the House Foreign Affairs Committee arguing that they have “sole jurisdiction” over all AUMFs, and that it was therefore impossible for the Appropriations Committee to repeal it, like the vote did.

Rep. Lee’s Amendment was [supported] by several House Republicans on the Committee, who argued that the US wars are “against an enemy that did not exist” back in 2001, and that it’s time to repeal the old AUMF and pass a new, modern version.

Repeal-and replace-for the AUMF has been a cause embraced by many, but mostly shunned by the leadership, which has concerns that a new AUMF that’s deliberately applicable to current wars might include explicit limits on the scope of those wars, infringing on the president’s newfound power from the old AUMF to launch wars worldwide and totally unilaterally.


Foreign Affairs Say War
Authorization Amendment Was ‘Out of Order’

Ellen Mitchell / The Hill

(June 29, 2017) — The House Foreign Affairs Committee is crying foul over an amendment to a defense spending bill that would revoke the 2001 law giving the president authority to undertake war against terrorist threats.

“This provision should have been ruled out of order,” GOP House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesman Cory Fritz said in a statement to The Hill.

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday surprisingly approved the amendment — introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) — in a voice vote on Thursday.

The measure would repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was initially approved to authorize the response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It has since been used by the George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations to justify a number of military actions, including the Iraq War and the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Under Lee’s amendment, the authorization would be revoked eight months after the passing of the defense act, forcing Congress to vote on a new AUMF in the interim.

The Foreign Affairs Committee however, argues the provision violates the House’s rules, suggesting it may be stripped from the bill.

“House Rules state that ‘a provision changing existing law may not be reported in a general appropriation bill.’ The Foreign Affairs Committee has sole jurisdiction over Authorizations for the Use of Military Force,” Fritz said.

The remarks set up a potential battle between the two committees as the legislation moves forward.

Although only one lawmaker objected when the Lee language was added by voice vote to the defense bill, several Republican lawmakers have expressed their displeasure since that vote.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said he was “shocked and deeply troubled” by the amendment. “While I certainly support the passage of a new, unrestrictive Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), this amendment sends a devastating message to our allies and gives a vote of confidence to our enemies. I will regretfully oppose the Defense Appropriations Bill in its current form,” he said in a statement.

Defense Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), meanwhile, spoke out against the amendment before it was adopted.

“The amendment is a deal breaker and would tie the hands of the U.S. to act unilaterally or with partner nations with regard to al Qaeda and … affiliated terrorism,” she said. “It cripples our ability to conduct counterterrorism operations.”

Lee has attempted for years to repeal the 2001 AUMF, but this is the first time Republicans have backed her attempt. Those who spoke in favor of the move included former Navy SEAL Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.), and Air Force veteran Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah).

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services Chairman Tom Cole, (R-Okla.) also supported the amendment, arguing that the time is now for Congress to debate a new measure.

“We’ve had leadership on both sides that have put off this debate again and again and again,” Cole said. “We’re at war against an enemy that did not exist in a place that we did not expect to fight. How an AUMF that was passed 16 years ago — before I was in Congress — could possibly be stretched to cover this is just beyond belief to me.”

Following the amendment’s adoption, Lee told reporters she was sure there was no jurisdiction issue with such authorization language being added to the appropriations bill, but she will discuss it with leadership.

“We went and checked this out. We’ve been doing this every year. It’s never been raised as a technical issue or jurisdiction issue so I’m confident we’re going to move forward,” Lee said.

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


ACTION ALERT:
My Amendment Passed to Repeal the 2001 AUMF

Hon. Barbara Lee / US Congress

WASHINGTON (June 29, 2017) — Earlier today, the House Appropriations Committee passed my amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

This is a big deal. As you know, I was the lone vote back in 2001 when this overly broad war authorization was passed. I’ve been working to repeal it ever since, and today marks an enormous step forward in that effort.

The amendment would require Congress to finally do its job and hold a floor debate and vote on a new AUMF. If it is enacted, the 2001 AUMF would be repealed 240 days later.
Right now there is nothing more important to me than knowing I have you with me in this fight. With your help, we will show that there is broad support for my amendment.

This is about our country. This is about our brave service members. This is about Congress and our constitutional responsibility to do our jobs and authorize war.

Given the nature of the threats our country faces, it’s past time for Republicans and Democrats to come together to support my amendment to repeal the 2001 AUMF.

I voted against the 2001 AUMF because I knew it would provide a blank check to wage war anywhere, anytime, for any length by any president. I hope you’ll join me today to demand that Congress take up this debate.

Thank you for being a part of this fight. It’s been a long time coming, and we are showing what is possible when we keep at it.

Add your name to say you support my amendment to repeal the 2001 AUMF that gives any president a blank check for endless war.

How the Conflict Between the US and Iran Is Fast Escalating Toward War

June 29th, 2017 - by admin

Jefferson Morley / AlterNet – 2017-06-29 23:56:03

http://www.alternet.org/six-degrees-escalation-trumps-coming-war-iran

6 Trigger Points: How the Conflict Between the United States and Iran Is Fast Escalating Toward War
Jefferson Morley / AlterNet

(June 23, 2017) — The long-simmering conflict between the United States and Iran is fast escalating toward war. The battlefield is the desert expanse of eastern Syria where civil war has raged for the last five years. Tehran wants to keep US forces out of the area, while Washington wants to use the region to wage war against Iran’s ally, Syria.

After 15 years of unsuccessful war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the Trump administration is pursuing a policy of “regime change” in Iran that might lead to a third US ground war in the Middle East since 2001.

Restraint is breaking down. While President Obama resisted US involvement in the Syrian civil war, Trump has approved it. While Obama pursued dialog with Iran, Trump has embraced the new Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who laid down his country’s new, harsher line in April. ‘We will not wait until the battle is in Saudi Arabia,” he said, “but we will work so the battle is there in Iran.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, while resisting White House pressure for rapid escalation, has given battlefield commanders more leeway to attack Iranian-backed forces. The result is a series of unprecedented incidents that have Washington experts asking “Is Trump preparing for a conflict with Iran?”

* On May 18, the United States attacked a convoy of Iranian-backed militiamen in southern Syria, reportedly killing eight fighters.

* On June 7, ISIS struck inside Iran for the first time, with a pair of suicide attacks that killed 18 people. One top Iranian official said the United States, by supporting Saudi Arabia, effectively supports ISIS.

* On June 18, Iran fired ballistic missiles at ISIS positions in eastern Syria, in retaliation for the two terror attacks. It was the first time Iran has used such heavy weaponry on the Syrian battlefield.

* That same day US forces shot down a Syrian fighter jet, the first time the US has attacked the air force of Iran’s ally.

As the United States and Iran compete for battlefield advantages, here are six places their struggle might erupt into war.

1. Raqqa
After ISIS is defeated the Syrians, backed by Iran, want to reestablish the authority of the President Bashar Assad’s regime throughout the area. The US-backed forces want to pivot from the fight against ISIS to take on the Syria government directlyRaqqa is where these ambitions will collide.

2. Eastern Syria
As the sway of ISIS shrinks, Assad and his allies have launched an operation to “take control of the eastern desert in Syria,” which borders on Iraq. They want to drive out the Sunni extremists, but also prevent other rivals — namely the United States — from filling the void.

Iran fears that that US-backed Kurdish fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces will seize northern Syria while other US-backed rebels take control of the rest of the Iraqi border.

Iran wants to deny the United States and its allies a sanctuary, while the US military seeks freedom to operate in the area. Both sides hope to benefit from the changing status quo in eastern Syria to their advantage. Only one can prevail.

3. Unfriendly Skies
American, Iranian, Syrian, Russian, and Turkish air forces are all active in the airspace over Syria — and all are becoming less tolerant of the others.

When the US shot down a Syrian jet last week, Russia warned it would target all foreign aircraft west of the Euphrates River. When the Iranians sent drones over US-controlled territory, the United States shot down two of them.

The conflict is escalating vertically, as well as horizontally.

4. Missiles
Iran compensates for its weak army and air force with a potent ballistic missile force that the United States regards as a threat to Israel and the region. The US Congress just voted to increase sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program.

Iran’s decision to use the missiles in eastern Syria was more than a message to ISIS, said Iranian Gen. Ramazan Sharif in a television interview.

“The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message,” Sharif said. “Obviously and clearly, some reactionary countries of the region, especially Saudi Arabia, had announced that they are trying to bring insecurity into Iran.”

If the United States is threatening Iran with regime change, and Iran uses missiles when it feels most threatened, then missile warfare is more likely.

5. Hostages
Americans of a certain age will never forget that the Iranians took 52 Americans hostages in 1979 and held them for more than a year. Another hostage situation would inflame American public opinion and be used to justify escalation.

When the Iranian navy detained 10 US sailors whose patrol boats strayed into Iranian waters in January 2016, the sailors were released within 24 hours. Secretary of State John Kerry used his working relationship with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to secure their freedom.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has no such communication channel with the Iranians, and no interest in having one. If such an incident occurred again, opened-ended escalation is much more likely than quick resolution.

6. Special Forces
Both Iran and the United States have deployed elite military forces to the Syrian battlefield.

More than 500 US Special Operations forces are advising and training anti-Assad forces in Syria. An equally big contingent of Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces, under the command of legendary general Qasem Soleimani, are advising and fighting with pro-Assad forces.

In a crisis, military and civilian commanders on both sides are less likely to back down, compromise or negotiate if their most prestigious forces are fighting and dying.

Ali Vaez, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, has noted, if the US ends up going to war against Iran, it would “make the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts look like a walk in the park.”

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017).

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

Make No Mistake, We Are Already at War in Syria

June 29th, 2017 - by admin

Philip Giraldi / The American Conservative – 2017-06-29 23:49:02

Make No Mistake, We Are Already at War in Syria

Make No Mistake, We Are Already at War in Syria
Trump’s anti-war promises were
just glib campaign rhetoric

Philip Giraldi / The American Conservative

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2017) — Something peculiar happens to American presidents after they take office on January 20.

Campaign promises to right the easily perceived misdirections in foreign policy are abandoned, and the new program for dealing with the rest of the world winds up looking very much like the old one.

Bill Clinton was an anti-Vietnam War draft dodger who preached the moral high ground for going to war before he turned around and got involved in the Balkans while also bombing Sudan and Afghanistan.

George W. Bush promised non-interference and no nation-building overseas, but 9/11 converted him into an exemplar of how to do everything wrong as he sank into the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barack Obama’s margin of victory in 2008 was likely due to the perception that he was the peace candidate, particularly in contrast to his opponent Senator John McCain, but he wound up deeper in Afghanistan, out of, and then back into Iraq, interfering in Syria, and bringing about disastrous regime change in Libya while also allowing relations with Moscow to deteriorate.

Donald Trump has surrounded himself with generals after promising no deeper involvement in foreign wars and the generals are telling him that winning wars only requires more soldiers on the ground and just a little more time and effort to stabilize things, all of which are self-serving formulae for policies that have already failed.

And then there are the perennial enemies, with Iran at the top of the list while Russia and China play supporting roles. Some would blame the foreign policy orientation on the Deep State, which certainly is suggestive, but I rather suspect that the flip-flops of recent presidents are also based on some other elements.

First, none of them has been a veteran who experienced active duty, which makes war an abstraction observed second hand on PowerPoint in a briefing room rather than a reality. And second, the shaping of their views can be directly attributed to the pervasiveness of the establishment view on the appropriate role for the United States in the world.

Sometimes referred to as America’s “civil religion,” one can also call it “American exceptionalism” or the “leadership of the free world” or even “responsibility to protect” but the reality is that a broad consensus has developed in the United States that enables serial interventionism with hardly a squeak of protest coming from the American people.

Donald Trump has been in office for five months and it would appear that at least some of the outlines of his foreign policy are beginning to take shape, though that may be exaggeration as no one seems to be in charge.

The “America First” slogan seemingly does not apply to what is developing, as actual US interests do not appear to be driving what takes place, and there does not seem to be any overriding principle that shapes the responses to the many challenges confronting Washington worldwide.

The two most important observations that one might make are both quite negative. First, lamentably, the promised détente with Russia has actually gone into reverse, with the relationship between the two countries at the lowest point since the time of the late, lamented Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State.

Second, we are already at war with Syria even though the media and Congress seem blissfully unaware of that fact. We are also making aggressive moves intended to create a casus belli for going to war with Iran, and are doubling down in Afghanistan with more troops on the way, so Donald Trump’s pledge to avoid pointless wars and nation-building were apparently little more than glib talking points intended to make Barack Obama look bad.

The situation with Russia can be repaired as Vladimir Putin is a realist head of state of a country that is vulnerable and willing to work with Washington, but it will require an end to the constant vituperation being directed against Moscow by the media and the Democratic Party.

That process could easily spin out for another year with all parties now agreeing that Russia intervened in our election even though no one has yet presented any evidence that Russia did anything at all.

Syria is more complicated. Senators Tim Kaine and Rand Paul have raised the alarm over American involvement in that country, declaring the US military intervention to be illegal. Indeed it is, as it is a violation of the United Nations Charter and the American Constitution.

No one has argued that Syria in any way threatens the United States, and the current policy is also an affront to common sense: like it or not Syria is a sovereign country in which we Americans have set up military bases and are supporting “rebels” (including jihadis and terrorists) who are seeking to overthrow the legitimate government.

We have also established a so-called “de-confliction” zone in the southeast of the country to protect our proxies without the consent of the government in Damascus. All of that adds up to what is unambiguously unprovoked aggression, an act of war.

The war began in earnest when the Obama administration began building bases and sending Special Ops into Syria in the late summer of 2015, after the White House announced that it would “allow airstrikes to defend Syrian rebels trained by the US military from any attackers, even if the enemies hail from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”

That policy guaranteed escalation and direct American involvement in the conflict. In the last month, for the first time since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, the United States has directly attacked Syrian government forces or proxies four times, including two air attacks against Iranian militiamen allied to Damascus.

Those moves were preceded by the April US Navy launch of 59 cruise missiles in an attack directed against a Syrian air base. The recent escalation has produced a response from Russia, which decried in the strongest terms the latest of these incidents, in which a US F-18 Hornet shot down a Syrian SU-22 fighter-bomber.

Moscow has now threatened to act against any US-led coalition aircraft flying over western Syria, a step that could in short order lead to a Russian-US war in the Middle East.

Syria is currently under attack from the air forces of sixteen nations operating within its airspace loosely affiliated with the US effort to bring about regime change. When Syria resists, it is routinely accused of using “forbidden” weapons by the mouthpieces of the terrorist groups operating inside the country under the American umbrella.

Yemen is also experiencing American “boots on the ground” in a horrific war in which Washington has no conceivable interest. The death of a Navy Seal in a botched raid also produced the usual White House lying about what had occurred and why. And one should not forget that Syria and Yemen are ultimately all about Iran, with the US ratcheting up pressure that is just short of open hostilities.

New sanctions were recently approved by the Senate and all of the Trump advisers who have spoken on the issue have stressed that Iran is enemy number one. An incident at sea two weeks ago could have easily turned into a shoot-out between an Iranian patrol vessel and a US warship.

Much of this acting against actual US interests has come about due to the “worthless ally” syndrome which has been prevalent in Washington for several decades. In the Middle East, where many of the problems begin, there is no coherent policy that has evolved beyond unconditional support for local “allies” Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Israel.

This has meant in practical terms that the US defers to Riyadh, Ankara, Cairo, and Tel Aviv in nearly all regional matters while it is also the guarantor of a feckless Afghan government.

So in spite of pledges to disengage from the cycle of warfare in the Middle East, the United States seems to be on course for direct involvement in a series of local conflicts with no clear “victory” and exit policy in place.

Remove al-Assad and what comes next? What will the Russians do? Will America’s so-called allies Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia be satisfied with dismemberment of the Syrian state or will they insist on pushing on to Tehran? Who would fill that vacuum?

There are certainly other foreign policy black holes, to include the awful decision to rollback normalization with Cuba and the hot-then-cold moves against North Korea. Venezuela, a major US oil supplier, is about to implode and it is not clear if the State Department has any contingency plan in place to deal with the crisis.

But Russia and Syria are in a class by themselves as they have the potential to turn into Class A disasters, like Iraq or possibly even worse. And then there is Iran lurking, apparently hated by all the talking heads in Washington and inextricably linked to what is happening in Syria.

It is more than capable of becoming the next catastrophe for a White House that is apparently staggering from crisis to crisis. What will Trump do? I am afraid that the lesson learned from the cruise missile attack on a Syrian base in April was that using force is popular, repeat as necessary.

That would be a major mistake, but there is every sign that some of the people around Trump have their eyes on escalating and “doing something” in Syria and also against Iran for starters, and if Russia gets in the way we can deal with them too.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

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

House Panel Votes to Finance Wars in Space

June 29th, 2017 - by admin

Jared Serbu / Federal News Radio & AntiWar.com – 2017-06-29 23:41:42

https://federalnewsradio.com/defense-news/2017/06/house-panel-votes-to-split-air-force-create-new-u-s-space-corps/

House Panel Votes to Split Air Force,
Create New US Space Corps

Jared Serbu / Federal News Radio

(June 29, 2017) — As part of its version of the 2018 Defense authorization bill, the House Armed Services Committee voted late Wednesday night to create a sixth branch of the US armed forces: the US Space Corps, which would absorb the Air Force’s current space missions.

You could be forgiven if you haven’t been closely following the debate about creating the nation’s first new military service since 1947. Several members of the panel said they themselves were blindsided by the proposal, and staged an unsuccessful effort to block the change until it could be studied further — or at least until the full committee had held at least one hearing on the subject.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) said he only learned about the proposal last week, when it first came before the subcommittee on strategic forces.

“I chastised my staff and said, ‘How could I not know that this was happening?’ They said, ‘Well, they had a meeting about it and you missed it,'” Turner said. “A meeting is certainly not enough. Maybe we do need a space corps, but I think this bears more than just discussions in a subcommittee. We have not had Secretary Mattis come before us and tell us what this means. We have not heard from the secretary of the Air Force. There’s a whole lot of work we need to do before we go as far as creating a new service branch.”

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a retired Air Force colonel, was similarly surprised by the Space Corps proposal. She said she had not been aware of it until it appeared in the bill the full committee debated on Wednesday.

“This is honestly the first time I’ve heard about a major reorganization to our Air Force,” she said Wednesday evening. “This is sort of a shocking way to hear about a very major reorganization to our military, and I think it deserves at least a couple hearings and discussions on the matter at the full committee level.”

But the measure, which would also establish a new US Space Command and make the new chief of the Space Corps the eighth member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has the support of both Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the chairman of the full committee, and its ranking Democrat, Adam Smith (D-Wash.)

The bill language was developed by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the top Republican and Democrat on the strategic forces subcommittee.

All of them argued Wednesday that the creation of a dedicated service for space had been studied for years, and that the idea’s time had come.

“There’s been nothing shortsighted about this,” Rogers said. “We started working on it vigorously in September, and we’ve had countless meetings with a number of experts who have advised us as to how this should be construed. In fact, this idea for a space corps as one of the solutions to Air Force space came from the Rumsfeld Commission in 2001.

GAO has done three studies on this, all of which tell us that you cannot maintain the current organizational construct of the Air Force and solve the acquisition problems and the operational problems that we have. The Air Force is like any other bureaucracy. They don’t want to change.”

Cooper agreed, saying the creation of the new service would properly reflect space’s importance as a new war-fighting domain, “whether we like it or not.”

“And space has not been given adequate priority by our friends in the Air Force,” he said. “They do many things wonderfully well, but this is a new area, a new responsibility that a corps would help us address more effectively.

“We could wake up one morning and be blinded and deafened by adversary powers, because so many of our most precious assets are up in space. The chairman has had countless meetings about this over 10 months. I don’t know where my friend from Ohio has been.”

The bill would order the Defense Department to establish the new corps by January 2019. It would be a distinct military service within the Department of the Air Force, in much the same way the Marine Corps operates as a service within the Department of the Navy.

The Secretary of the Air Force would oversee both the Air Force and the Space Corps, but the new chief of staff of the Space Corps would be a new four-position, co-equal with the chief of staff of the Air Force. DoD would have to deliver reports to Congress in both March and August of next year on the details of how it plans to set up the new service.

Smith, the full committee’s top Democrat, said that schedule left plenty of time to iron out any unanswered questions about the plan.

“I think it’s being done in a deliberate and intelligent manner,” he said. “Space has changed. We’ve already taken for granted for too long that we dominate space, and we don’t anymore. We need to be ready to confront this, and yes, buried deeply within the Air Force, you could do that, but it doesn’t get the priority it deserves, given how important it is and how it impacts everything that we do.”

Although the Air Force’s top leadership has not testified before the House on the proposed reorganization, the service’s secretary and chief of staff have both expressed opposition.

“My sense is that we have an opportunity being placed in front of us right now to take a look at what is the way we fight in the air, on land, at sea, and we take those processes, procedures, tactics, techniques, and actually apply them across the space domain,” Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month. “And so right now, to get focused on a large organizational change would actually slow us down. I think it would actually move us in the wrong direction.”

But Thornberry said opposition from the Air Force is no reason for delay, pointing out that the Pentagon has a long history of fighting changes to its own organizational structures.

“It was Congress that created the Air Force and the Department of Defense in 1947 when it became time to force the Army and the Navy together, it was Congress that did Goldwater-Nichols,” he said. “There are times when an issue becomes ripe and it is our responsibility to act. I believe this is the time for us to act.”


Air Force Shuffles Leadership,
Creates Post to Oversee Space Wars
Establishes Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(June 16, 2017) — With an eye toward fighting major future wars in space, the US Air Force today has announced a reshuffle of its senior leadership posts, including the establishment of the new Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations post.

There is no word yet on who will fill this new post, which will be a three-star general’s position, but Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson insists it was necessary to create the post “to integrate, normalize, and elevate space operations in the Air Force.”

The Pentagon has been keen to significantly increase spending on space warfare in recent months, and it was likely inevitable that a post would be created within the Air Force to formally oversee this increased focus on spending, even if no other nation is really investing the sort of money needed to make a war in space plausible.

Secretary Wilson insisted that “the United States is dependent on space, and our adversaries know it,” claiming that any future conflict could “extend into space,” but offering no examples of who this adversary might be, or how they might turn it into a war in space.

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

Why Do Deficit Hawks Ignore War?

June 29th, 2017 - by admin

Adam H. Johnson / The Los Angeles Times – 2017-06-29 01:37:26

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-johnson-deficit-welfare-military-20170626-story.html

Why Don’t Deficit Hawks Care
About the Cost of Military Adventurism?

Adam H. Johnson / The Los Angeles Times

(June 26, 2017) — Crippling deficits and a nightmarish national debt are popular, recurring tropes in American politics: Every few months, politicians and the pundit class seem to recall that we’re broke. While some are no doubt sincere in their concern, our pocketbook cops are wildly inconsistent.

They complain that America is running out of money when it comes to helping the poor, people of color, the disabled and the elderly. Their worries miraculously disappear whenever the military wants to start a new war.

Let’s begin with a recent editorial in the Washington Post alleging that single payer in the US is simply unaffordable. It cited studies showing it would cost “$32 trillion over 10 years.” Yet in the past 20 years of editorials on US wars — every one of which the paper has supported — the Post has never framed the issue of bombing and occupying as one of cost.

Most glaringly, its 2003 editorials in support of invading Iraq never mentioned dollars and cents, even though that war ended up costing the US more than $2 trillion (not including the subsequent costs of fighting Islamic State). Never in any of its cheerleading did it stop to consider the war’s affordability.

In the Democratic primary debates and in press conferences, Sen. Bernie Sanders was grilled on “how he would pay” for his free college and healthcare plans over and over again. Putatively liberal publications including the New Yorker and Vox decried Sanders’ “vague and unrealistic” price projections.

But nobody asked his challenger, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, how she would pay for the “no-fly zone” in Syria she championed that, according to the Pentagon, would require at least 70,000 servicemen and dozens of aircraft.

Similarly in the presidential debates, billionaire Pete Peterson’s pro-Social Security privatization group, the “bipartisan” Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, was mentioned twice by the moderators (that’s twice more than climate change) in the context of deficits and the alleged impending insolvency of Social Security.

Yet none of the 178 mentions of Russia, 71 mentions of Syria, or 67 mentions of Iran had anything to do with costs to the US Treasury. War and agitation and the routine functions of empire are “factored in.” Like gravity, they’re a universal constant that politicians don’t have to “account for.” They just are.

One common rejoinder to this complaint is that military spending is about national security and protecting lives and is thus sheltered from such calculus. Even if you believe that’s true (it’s not), it’s still a bad answer.

An estimated 44,000 Americans die a year because they don’t have access to healthcare, whereas you’re more likely to die taking a bath than at the hands of a terrorist. Why is spending on the latter existential and beyond cost-cutting, but working urgently to address the former a budget-buster we can’t afford?

Politics is priorities, and ours align with a specific class whose interests are far out of line with the collective good.

The same ideological scam is used on the topic of government shutdowns. The parts of the government that benefit the poor and middle class — labor and safety regulators, libraries, environmental regulators, national parks, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (which oversees the derivatives market), financial regulators, welfare, and WIC — are suddenly unable to operate and must be shuttered, but the cogs that feed the war machine are deemed essential and remain untouched, defended by everyone from Democrats to alleged “small government” conservatives.

Rep. Paul Ryan somehow got a reputation as a deficit hawk despite voting for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and every one of their supplemental budgets (current total $5 trillion and counting). Defense budgets and those that pad them operate in an alternate universe where military spending, somehow, isn’t spending.

In the same vein, the media’s most consistent deficit scold, Charles Lane, constantly hand-wrings about “entitlement reform” but the only time he brings up excess cost in the context of defense spending is when he wants to privatize the healthcare system for veterans.

A $1.45 trillion F-35 program is A-OK; it’s Afghanistan war veterans’ medical costs that are going to cripple the economy.

If editorial boards and op-ed writers and debate moderators were genuinely concerned about us “running out of money” they would show concern across the board – especially on matters of US military adventurism — and not just when it comes to programs that help the vulnerable.

Adam H. Johnson is a media analyst for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

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

Why Does Donald Trump Insist on More Military Spending?

June 29th, 2017 - by admin

Medea Benjamin and Kate Harveston / Nation of Change – 2017-06-29 01:29:33

Why does Donald Trump insist on more military spending?

Why Does Donald Trump
Insist on More Military Spending?

Medea Benjamin and Kate Harveston / Nation of Change

(June 24, 2017) — If you think we spend too much on our military as it is (more that the next eight countries combined), you might be shocked to hear President Trump has asked for an increase in military spending by 10%, or $54 billion. Where is all this money going to come from? What will it be used for? Since Republicans are not known for wanting to raise taxes, the money has to come from cuts to other allocations in the budget.

On the chopping block are funds that would go to the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal programs — agencies that serve the needs of the American public.

If Donald Trump really wants to take an “America First” approach, why is he slashing our domestic budget and putting money into a war machine that only continues to inflame tensions around the world? We engage in wars that never seem to end, are tax dollars are squandered, innocent lives are lost in the process and these military interventions are certainly not making us more safe at home.

We are involved in military operations all over the world. Many of these conflicts are not easily summarized, but let’s take a look at some of America’s conflicts and where they stand, through the prism of this proposed military spending increase.

Iraq
What did we get out of invading Iraq? Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. For that, we lost almost 4,500 American lives, and over 30,000 were wounded. We don’t keep track of the Iraqis we killed, but the estimates.

Major combat operations ended in 2011, but our service members still get killed there and for the Iraqi people, the war rages on. Under Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime, sectarian violence was minimized. When we removed him it exploded, and the unintended consequence is that we unleashed sectarian violence.

Another unanticipated result of our invasion of Iraq was the creation of ISIS. It was at the US prison in Iraq called Camp Bucca where embittered Sunni prisoners, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, created ISIS. Now we are spending billions trying to defeat the very force we helped to create.

Afghanistan
We invaded in late 2001 and are still there. It is America’s longest war, and there is no end in sight. We removed the Taliban government, eventually killed Osama bin Laden — found in “allied” Pakistan — and set up a government that is at least officially friendly toward us, but there is now a resurgence of the Taliban.

For that, we lost 2,300 service members with about 17,600 wounded. It is not uncommon for our service members to be killed by Afghan soldiers who are supposed to be working with us. Again, this is all paid for by the United States taxpayer. And the bill is about the shoot up even more, with the Trump administration sending another 4,000 troops to join in this endless war.

Syria
Syria has been reduced to ruins by not only us, but also by Russia, ISIS, the Syrian government and other warring factions within and without.

The Trump administration’s recent cruise missile attack on the Assad regime forces, followed by the US shooting of a Syrian fighter jet and Iranian drones, puts the US military at even greater risk of direct confrontation not only with Assad but Iran and Russia.
The number of Syrians killed, wounded and forced to flee their homes is astronomical, while the idea of a political solution seems more and more remote.

Lost Blood and tTeasure
The National Priorities Project, using information obtained from the United States budget, has drawn some conclusions about how much we pay for these wars. We pay $615,482 per hour for ongoing operations against ISIS.

Afghanistan costs us $4 million per hour (without counting the new troops being sent there), and the remaining operations in Iraq cost us $117,000.00 per hour. It has concluded we pay $8.36 million per hour for all the wars since 2001.

What else could we do with all that money? The National Priorities Project illustrates how it could be spent to help our own people and our own economy:

* Millions of teachers could be hired.
* Millions of jobs could be created in poverty-stricken communities.
* Our ailing infrastructure could be remodeled and rebuilt.
* Scholarships could be funded for students who can’t afford college.
* Our military veterans could receive the care they deserve.

The list goes on.

Americans are tired of war, yet Donald Trump’s budget sends an unfortunate but clear message. He is willing to cut funds that help the poor, protect the environment, and promote the arts — things that generally keep us happy and safe — in order to fund a never-ending, ever-growing war machine. He’s taking money from Meals on Wheels to buy billion-dollar bombers.

Fortunately, Trump’s budget is only a request. Congress has to approve it, and even though the president enjoys a Republican-majority House and Senate, it does not mean his budget will go through.

Yes, Congressmembers gets pressure from the administration, the Pentagon and the companies that profit from making weapons. But they also get pressure from their constituents, who are demanding that our money goes to community needs, not down a black hole of endless war. You can sign a petition to Congress here. Let’s see who they listen to.

SIGN THE PETITION!
End the US policy of perpetual war

For every 1,000 signatures, NationofChange will send a letter to President Trump, telling him to end the US policy of perpetual war. Learn more.


End the US Policy of Perpetual War
Nation of Change Staff

(September 24, 2016) — As Michael Payne puts it, “The War on Terror is not a war unto itself; it is just one facet of the larger agenda of perpetual war that this government, filled with bloodthirsty war hawks, has conducted for far too long.”

For the last 15 years America, has been engaged in perpetual war.

Our government tells us to be afraid, and that terrorist groups pose a great threat to our country. But America has played the largest role in the origin, spread, and cultivation of these terrorist groups with our constant aggressive military policies.

It is time for the United States to end this state of perpetual war, to bring our troops home, and to cease our aggressive military policies.

Please join us in telling President Trump to stop the war on terror. We need to promote peace and communication between countries, not aggressive foreign policy and military practices.

Click here for a fact sheet on America’s wars from The Department of Veterans Affairs.

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

Dozens of Civilian Prisoners Killed in ‘US-led Strike’ in Syria

June 29th, 2017 - by admin

Al Jazeera – 2017-06-29 01:20:12

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/dozens-dead-led-strike-syria-al-mayadeen-170627125208464.html

Dozens Dead in ‘US-led Strike’ in Syria’s al-Mayadeen
Al Jazeera

(June 27, 2017) — A suspected US-led coalition air raid on an ISIL-run prison in eastern Syria has killed at least 57 people, according to a monitoring group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that most of the dead in the town of al-Mayadeen in Deir Az Zor province were civilian inmates.

At least 15 ISIL fighters were also killed in the raid, said the UK-based monitor, which tracks developments in Syria’s long-running conflict via a network of contacts on the ground.

Al-Ikhbariya, a Syrian state-run TV station, also cited its Deir Az Zor correspondent as saying coalition fighter jets had destroyed a building in al-Mayadeen used as a prison by ISIL to hold a “large number of civilians”.

An activist-run media outlet in Deir Az Zor also reported the hit, which it said took place at dawn on Monday.

The US Central Command confirmed to the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday that it struck ISIL facilities in al-Mayadeen on June 25 and 26, but made no direct reference to the alleged ISIL prison.

CENTCOM said it would assess the allegations that civilian prisoners were killed, and it would publish the results of its assessment in its monthly civilian casualty report.

It said the Mayadeen mission was “meticulously planned and executed to reduce the risk … to non-combatants”.

The US-led coalition is supporting an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters in their assault on ISIL in its de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria.

“The removal of these facilities disrupts ISIS’s ability to facilitate and provoke terrorist attacks against the coalition, our partner forces and in our homelands,” Colonel Joe Scrocca, coalition director of public affairs, said in an email to Reuters news agency.

ISIL is believed to have moved most of its leadership to Mayadeen, southeast of Raqqa, according to US intelligence officials.

Among operations reportedly moved to Mayadeen, about 80km west of the Iraqi border, are its online propaganda operation and its limited command and control of attacks in Europe and elsewhere, they said.

What’s Behind Trump’s Unsupported Claim that Syria Is Planning a Chemical Attack?

June 29th, 2017 - by admin

Sputnik News – 2017-06-29 01:18:29

https://sputniknews.com/world/201706281055037087-syria-washington-chemical-attack-united-nations/

Trump Resorts to “Fake News” to Justify His Threats to Syria
Sputnik News

Statements’ From US on Syria Could
Top UN Security Council’s Agenda

Sputnik News

MOSCOW (June 28, 2017) — The Trump administration’s statements that it will not give proof of its allegations that the Syrian government is preparing a chemical attack are out of line with norms of international relations, Russian political analyst Lev Klepatsky told Sputnik.

Earlier this week, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer claimed that the United States allegedly “observed potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime . . .”

According to Spicer, “the activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, for her part, said during a press briefing on Tuesday that that she could not provide evidence of the Syrian government ‘s alleged chemical attack preparations because that “would be considered an intelligence matter.”

“So as you all are aware, there are a lot of these things that will pop up sometimes, that we just can’t get into the details about this, but this has obviously gotten the attention of the United States government at the highest level,” she said.

These remarks may be put on the table of the UN Security Council, Professor Lev Klepatsky of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy said in an interview with Sputnik.

“Such a statement does not comply with the norms of international relations. Washington’s reluctance to give proof of its groundless statements about the Syrian government’s preparations for a chemical attack can be seen as a declaration of war,” Klepatsky said.

“This is why the UN Security Council may deal with this statement during its upcoming meeting. This should take a toll on the US and its international clout,” he added.

Meanwhile, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the United States believes that their signal on Syria is “extremely understandable.” She did not elaborate.

Asked about what signal the White House wanted to send to the international community and the Americans by issuing allegations about the Syrian government’s chemical attack preparations, Sanders said that “the signal from the White House is very clear,” RIA Novosti reported.

At the same time, Sanders refused to explain how the US Administration had come to this conclusion.

The Independent, for its part, quoted sources in the Pentagon and the Central Command, which oversees the country’s military operations in Syria and Iraq as saying that they “have no idea” why the White House made the statement on Damascus’ alleged plans to launch a chemical attack.

On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, supported by the United States, blamed the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province which claimed the lives of dozens of civilians.

Reacting to the incident, Washington, which had not presented any proof that Damascus had used chemical weapons, launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha’irat on April 6.

Damascus has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident and said that the Syrian government doesn’t possess chemical weapons as the full destruction of Damascus’ chemical weapons stockpile was confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in January 2016.

In an interview with Sputnik on April 21, Assad characterized the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun as a provocation to justify the US strike on Ash Sha’irat. The Syrian leader also warned of the possibility of new provocations similar to the one in Khan Sheikhoun.


What’s Behind US Statement on
Damascus’ ‘Plans of Chemical Attack’

Sputnik News

(June 27, 2017) — While the White House claims that Damascus is preparing for a “new chemical attack,” referring to the Idlib incident of April 4, American investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh insists that the US military on the ground in Syria were aware that the alleged gas strike never took place.

A lot of controversy is surrounding the White House’s recent statement regarding the “possibility” of Damascus launching “yet another” chemical attack against its civilians.

“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime . . . The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack,” White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said Tuesday.

Dropping no hint where such an idea could have come from, Spicer added that “if . . . Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons he and his military will pay a heavy price.”

Meanwhile, BuzzFeed News drew attention to a peculiar detail related to the statement: “many officials across the Pentagon did not know what the White House was referring to until Tuesday morning.”

“Usually such statements are coordinated across the national security agencies and departments before they are released,” the media outlet highlighted, citing five US defense officials including one US Central Command official.

The media outlet added that the officials said that they had no idea where the potential chemical attack would come from, although the White House insisted that “that all relevant agencies, including State, DoD, CIA and ODNI,” were aware of the issue “from the beginning.”

Amid the confusion sparked by the White House’s statement, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley not only rushed to lambast the Assad government for “further attacks” but also pointed the finger at Russia and Iran.

“Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people,” Haley tweeted.

Still, the problem is that there is no evidence that the April 4 chemical incident in the Khan Sheikhoun area of Idlib province was the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) “attack.”

Quite the contrary, according to Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour M. Hersh, the American military personnel on the ground in Syria were aware that the alleged chemical strike never took place.

The American investigative journalist shed new light on the incident providing Welt Am Sonntag newspaper with an alleged “chat protocol of a security advisor and an active American soldier on duty at a key base” in Syria concerning the alleged attack on Khan Sheikhoun.

“We KNOW that there was no chemical attack. The Syrians struck a weapons cache (a legitimate military target) and there was collateral damage. That’s it. They did not conduct any sort of a chemical attack,” the American soldier wrote.

“There has been a hidden agenda all along. This is about trying to ultimately go after Iran. What the people around Trump do not understand is that the Russians are not a paper tiger and that they have more robust military capability than we do,” the security adviser answered.

The American personnel expressed concerns over potential retaliation on the part of Russia after the Trump administration authorized a Tomahawk strike on the Shayrat Airfield, used by the SAA to launch air attacks against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, on April 7.

“Russians are being extremely reasonable. Despite what the news is reporting they are still trying to deconflict and coordinate the air campaign . . . They’re showing amazing restraint and been unbelievably calm. They seem mostly interested in de-escalating everything. They don’t want to lose our support in the help with destroying Isis,” the American soldier wrote on April 8.

The two military servicemen also raised the question whether President Trump had been familiar with the intelligence on the matter before he authorized the strike.

“What happened? Is it Trump ignoring the Intel and going to try to hit the Syrians? And that we’re pissing on the Russians? . . . You may not have seen Trump’s press conference yesterday. He’s bought into the media story without asking to see the Intel,” the security adviser underscored.

The White House statement prompts concerns whether the US is preparing for yet another strike against the SAA.

“In any case, it is Washington that looks very unsavory in this story: they either know about the upcoming attack and are not trying to prevent it, but knowingly put the uncomfortable Syrian leader in the wrong for that . . . . Or the United States is preparing its own preemptive strike on Syrian troops and appeals to the topic that is already ‘famous’ on a global level and will definitely justify any preventive action,” Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament’s international affairs committee, said.

Previously, the US-led coalition has conducted at least four attacks against the pro-Damascus forces in Syria including the Syrian Su-22 fighter bomber shot down by an American F18 Super Hornet on June 18.

The reference to the Idlib chemical incident on the part of the White House evokes strong memories of Colin Powell’s UN speech ahead of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.

On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces said the Syrian government had carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Khan Sheikhoun area of Idlib province.

For its part, Damascus denied any involvement in the incident referring to the fact that the SAA does not possess any chemical weapons as they had been destroyed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The incident was used by the United States as pretext for a missile strike against a Syrian military airbase on April 7.


Syrian Minister Calls White House
Chemical Attack Claim Preparation for ‘New Aggression’

Sputnik News

MOSCOW (June 27, 2017) — Syrian Information Minister Mohammad Ramez Tourjman called the White House’s statement about the alleged preparation of a chemical weapon attack by the Syrian government a “show” with the goal of eventually carrying out aggression against the country similar to the US April Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian airfield.

Earlier in the day, the press service of the White House claimed that Syrian President Bashar Assad is allegedly preparing a new chemical attack, and promised that if it is implemented, the Syrian authorities will “pay a heavy price.”

“This American show — not the first and not the last one — is a series played by the US administration, with threats of aggression against Syria. Trump’s administration uses the pretext of a chemical attack to save its American-Zionist project in the region,” Tourjman said.

“We all know that the American administration is shaping public opinion for a new aggression against Syria, just as we saw in the preparation of public opinion through the media in connection with Khan Shaykhun — it ended with an attack on the airfield Ash Sha’irat. We must take this campaign seriously, for, as is known, the Trump administration will not miss the opportunity to do anything,” the minister added.

The Kremlin commented on the White House’s claim and said that it considers US’ threats against Syrian legitimate leadership to be “unacceptable.” Damascus also deniedthe information.

On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces supported by the United States blamed the Syrian government for an alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan Sheikhounin Syria’s Idlib province.

Reacting to the incident, Washington, which had not presented any proof of the chemical weapons use by Damascus, launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian governmental military airfield in Ash Sha’irat on April 6.

Damascus has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident and said that the Syrian government doesn’t possess chemical weapons as the full destruction of Damascus’ chemical weapons stockpile had been confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in January 2016.

In an interview with Sputnik on April 21, Assad characterized the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun as a provocation to justify the US strike on Ash Sha’irat. The Syrian leader also warned of the possibility of the new provocations similar to the one in Khan Sheikhoun.

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

Chain Reaction of Antagonism in Middle East Should Be Stopped

June 28th, 2017 - by admin

Editorial / The Yomiuri Shimbun – 2017-06-28 14:53:20

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003757583

Chain Reaction of Antagonism in
Middle East Should Be Stopped

Editorial / The Yomiuri Shimbun

TOKYO (June 13, 2017) — The turmoil in the Middle East has been exacerbated. The latest developments may have an adverse impact on the campaign to stamp out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group and even on the world economy. There must be an early end to the turmoil.

Saudi Arabia, leader of the Sunni Muslim world, together with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. All four countries belong to the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is deeply linked with the United States. It is unusual for their unity to fall apart.

Saudi Arabia has suspended all flights to and from Qatar and closed its land border. Egypt and other states have taken a series of actions to isolate Qatar, acting in concert with Saudi Arabia’s breaking ties with Doha. Qatar’s adoption of a conciliatory stance toward Iran, a Shiite power, and its supporting terrorist groups are cited as reasons for these actions.

Qatar is expanding its individual diplomacy, apparently from a viewpoint of security. As Qatar shares with Iran one of the world’s largest underwater natural gas fields, the country is working to maintain conciliatory ties with Iran in expectation of cooperating with Tehran to develop the field.

For Saudi Arabia, which had been in conflict with Iran and severed its diplomatic ties with Tehran in January last year, this stance and actions by Qatar may appear to be acts of hostility.

Protect Gas Supply
Another cause for conflict is Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that has expanded its influence through pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and even once held the reins of government in Egypt.

The current administration of Egypt considers the Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization. Saudi Arabia and the UAE also criticize that “Qatar is destabilizing the regional situation by wielding its influence across the region through the Brotherhood.”

US President Donald Trump may also have been partly responsible for widening the rift. In a meeting with GCC leaders during his visit to Saudi Arabia last month, Trump’s unilateral call for the reinforcement of group pressure on Iran might have prompted Saudi Arabia to take such a hard-line stance.

Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are important allies to the United States. Qatar hosts the largest base for the US Air Force in the Middle East, which is also used for the coalition of allied nations trying to wipe out ISIL. There must not be any split in the cooperation of the US-led coalition.

Qatar holds the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves, also exporting natural gas to Japan. If its natural gas supplies to other countries are restricted, it could send gas prices soaring. Turmoil over a protracted period of time is a serious risk factor for the world economy.

In Iran, terrorist attacks were simultaneously carried out against Iran’s parliament building and one other place, with the ISIL claiming responsibility for the attacks. It is feared that hard-line conservatives in Iran may increase their influence, thus further intensifying Tehran’s antagonism against Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Countries concerned, such as the United States and Turkey, must accelerate their mediation diplomacy and stop the chain reaction of sectarian conflicts and terrorism that would destabilize the Middle East.

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

US Criticized for Using White Phosphorous Weapons Against Syria

June 28th, 2017 - by admin

Reuters & The New York Post – 2017-06-28 14:49:36

http://nypost.com/2017/06/14/us-forces-under-fire-for-using-white-phosphorous-weapons-against-isis/

US Forces under Fire for Using
White Phosphorous Weapons against ISIS

Reuters & The New York Post

(June 14, 2017) — Human Rights Watch expressed concern on Wednesday about the use of incendiary white phosphorous weapons by the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, saying it endangers civilians when used in populated areas.

A campaign to oust Islamic State militants from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa began last week by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by a US-led coalition.

Iraqi forces also supported by the coalition have been trying since October to oust the militants from Iraq’s Mosul city, the other main city controlled by Islamic State.

White phosphorus munitions can legally be used on battlefields to make smoke screens, generate illumination, mark targets or burn bunkers and buildings.

Because it has legal uses, white phosphorus is not banned as a chemical weapon under international conventions, but it can cause serious burns and start fires.

“No matter how white phosphorus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm in crowded cities like Raqqa and Mosul and any other areas with concentrations of civilians,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch.

“US-led forces should take all feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm when using white phosphorus in Iraq and Syria,” he said.

Also on Wednesday in Geneva, United Nations war crimes investigators said intensified coalition air strikes supporting an assault by US-backed forces on Islamic State’s stronghold of Raqqa in Syria were causing a “staggering loss of civilian life”.

Human Rights Watch said it was not able to independently verify whether the use of the munitions resulted in any civilian casualties, but said it was concerned about its use in populated areas.

The international human rights organization said white phosphorus causes severe and often fatal burns.

“White phosphorus fragments can exacerbate wounds even after treatment and can enter the bloodstream and cause multiple organ failure. Already dressed wounds can reignite when dressings are removed and they are re-exposed to oxygen,” Human Rights Watch said.

US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State, said the coalition does not discuss the use of specific weapons, when asked about phosphorus use by Reuters.

“In accordance with the law of armed conflict white phosphorus rounds are used for screening, obscuring, and marking in a way that fully considers the possible incidental effects on civilians and civilian structures,” Col. Dillon said in an emailed statement.

“However, ISIS continues its blatant disregard for innocent human life by killing civilians trying to flee the fighting and the Coalition will not stand idly by and allow civilians to die needlessly if we can help protect them,” he said.

On Wednesday, United Nations war crimes investigators said that the intensified coalition air strikes on Raqqa were causing a “staggering loss of civilian life”.

Residents as well as the campaign group Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor also say air strikes have killed significant numbers of civilians.

The US-led coalition says it investigates any allegations of civilian deaths and is careful to avoid civilian casualties in its bombing in Syria and Iraq.

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

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