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Who Is REALLY Behind ISIS?

September 26, 2014

SHOW NOTES AND MP3: http://www.corbettreport.com/?p=12386

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blocking Democracy as Syria’s Solution

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 12, 2015

The solution to the crisis in Syria could be democracy – letting the people of Syria decide who they want as their leaders – but it is the Obama administration and its regional Sunni “allies,” including U.S.-armed militants and jihadists, that don’t want to risk a democratic solution because it might not achieve the long-held goal of “regime change.”

Some Syrian opposition forces, which were brought together under the auspices of the Saudi monarchy in Riyadh this past week, didn’t even want the word “democracy” included in their joint statement. The New York Times reported on Friday, “Islamist delegates objected to using the word ‘democracy’ in the final statement, so the term ‘democratic mechanism’ was used instead, according to a member of one such group who attended the meeting.”

Even that was too much for Ahrar al-Sham, one of the principal jihadist groups fighting side-by-side with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, the two key elements inside the Saudi-created Army of Conquest, which uses sophisticated U.S.-supplied TOW missiles to kill Syrian government troops.

Ahrar al-Sham announced its withdrawal from the Riyadh conference because the meeting didn’t “confirm the Muslim identity of our people.” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sought to maintain a secular government that protects the rights of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities, but Sunni militants have been fighting to overthrow him since 2011.

Despite Ahrar al-Sham’s rejection of the Saudi-organized conference, all the opposition participants, including one from Ahrar al-Sham who apparently wasn’t aware of his group’s announcement, signed the agreement, the Times reported.

“All parties signed a final statement that called for maintaining the unity of Syria and building a civil, representative government that would take charge after a transitional period, at the start of which Mr. Assad and his associates would step down,” wrote Times’ correspondent Ben Hubbard.

But the prospects of Assad and his government just agreeing to cede power to the opposition remains highly unlikely. An obvious alternative – favored by Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin – is to achieve a ceasefire and then have internationally supervised elections in which the Syrian people could choose their own leaders.

Although President Barack Obama insists Assad is hated by most Syrians – and if that’s true, he would presumably lose any fair election – the U.S. position is to bar Assad from the ballot, thus ensuring “regime change” in Syria, a long-held goal of Official Washington’s neoconservatives.

In other words, to fulfill the neocons’ dream of Syrian “regime change,” the Obama administration is continuing the bloody Syrian conflict which has killed a quarter million people, has created an opening for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, and has driven millions of refugees into and through nearby countries, now destabilizing Europe and feeding xenophobia in the United States.

For his part, Assad called participants in the Saudi conference “terrorists” and rejected the idea of negotiating with them. “They want the Syrian government to negotiate with the terrorists, something I don’t think anyone would accept in any country,” Assad told Spanish journalists, as he repeated his position that many of the terrorists were backed by foreign governments and that he would only “deal with the real, patriotic national opposition.”

Kinks in the Process

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Friday that he was in contact with senior Saudi officials and noted, “there are some questions and obviously a couple of – in our judgment – kinks to be worked out” though expressing confidence that the problems could be resolved.

A key problem appears to be that the Obama administration has so demonized Assad and so bought into the neocon goal of “regime change” that Obama doesn’t feel that he can back down on his “Assad must go!” mantra. Yet, to force Assad out and bar him from running in an election means escalating the war by either further arming the Sunni jihadists or mounting a larger-scale invasion of Syria with the U.S. military confronting Syrian and now Russian forces to establish what is euphemistically called “a safe zone” inside Syria. A related “no-fly zone” would require destroying Syrian air defenses, now supplied by the Russians.

Obama has largely followed the first course of action, allowing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Sunni “allies” to funnel U.S. weapons to jihadists, including Ahrar al-Sham which fights alongside Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front as the two seek to transform Syria into a Islamic fundamentalist state, a goal shared by Al Qaeda’s spin-off (and now rival), the Islamic State.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has termed Obama’s choice of aiding the jihadists a “willful decision,” even in the face of DIA warnings about the likely rise of the Islamic State and other extremists.

In August 2012, DIA described the danger in a classified report, which noted that “The salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISI or ISIS and then the Islamic State] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The report also said that “If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria” and that “ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Despite these risks, Obama continued to insist that “Assad must go!” and let his administration whip up a propaganda campaign around claims that Assad’s forces launched a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. Though many of the U.S. claims about that attack have since been discredited – and later evidence implicated radical jihadists (possibly collaborating with Turkish intelligence) trying to trick the U.S. military into intervening on their side – the Obama administration did not retract or clarify its initial claims.

By demonizing Assad – much like the demonization of Russian President Putin – Obama may feel that he is deploying “soft power” propaganda to put foreign adversaries on the defensive while also solidifying his political support inside hawkish U.S. opinion circles, but false narratives can take on a life of their own and make rational settlements difficult if not impossible.

Now, even though the Syrian crisis has become a tsunami threatening to engulf Europe with a refugee crisis and the United States with anti-Muslim hysteria, Obama can’t accept the most obvious solution: compel all reasonable sides to accept a ceasefire and hold an internationally supervised election in which anyone who wants to lead the country can stand before the voters.

If Obama is right about the widespread hatred of Assad, then there should be nothing to worry about. The Syrian people will dictate “regime change” through the ballot box.

Democracy – supposedly one of the U.S. government’s goals for Middle East countries – can be the answer to the problem. However, since democracy can be an unpredictable process, it might not guarantee “regime change” which apparently makes democracy an unsuitable solution for Syria.


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Insidious Relationship between Washington and ISIS: The Evidence

By Prof. Tim Anderson | Global Research | September 3, 2015

Reports that US and British aircraft carrying arms to ISIS have been shot down by Iraqi forces have been met with shock and denial in western countries. Few in the Middle East doubt that Washington is playing a ‘double game’ with its proxy armies in Syria, but some key myths remain important among the significantly more ignorant western audiences.

A central myth is that Washington now arms ‘moderate Syrian rebels’, to both overthrow the Syrian Government and supposedly defeat the ‘extremist rebels’. This claim became more important in 2014, when the rationale of US aggression against Syria shifted from ‘humanitarian intervention’ to a renewal of Bush’s ‘war on terror’.

A distinct controversy is whether the al Qaeda styled groups (especially Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS) have been generated as a sort of organic reaction to the repeated US interventions, or whether they are actually paid agents of Washington.

Certainly, prominent ISIS leaders were held in US prisons. ISIS leader, Ibrahim al-Badri (aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) is said to have been held for between one and two years at Camp Bucca in Iraq. In 2006, as al-Baghdadi and others were released, the Bush administration announced its plan for a ‘New Middle East’, a plan which would employ sectarian violence as part of a process of ‘creative destruction’ in the region.

According to Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, ‘The Redirection’, the US would make use of ‘moderate Sunni states’, not least the Saudis, to ‘contain’ the Shia gains in Iraq brought about by the 2003 US invasion. These ‘moderate Sunni’ forces would carry out clandestine operations to weaken Iran and Hezbollah, key enemies of Israel. This brought the Saudis and Israel closer, as both fear Iran.

While there have been claims that the ISIS ‘caliph’ al-Baghdadi is a CIA or Mossad trained agent, these have not yet been well backed up. There are certainly grounds for suspicion, but independent evidence is important, in the context of a supposed US ‘war’ against ISIS . So what is the broader evidence on Washington’s covert links with ISIS?

Not least are the admissions by senior US officials that key allies support the extremist group. In September 2014 General Martin Dempsey, head of the US military, told a Congressional hearing ‘I know major Arab allies who fund [ ISIS ]‘. Senator Lindsey Graham, of Armed Services Committee, responded with a justification, ‘They fund them because the Free Syrian Army couldn’t fight [Syrian President] Assad, they were trying to beat Assad’.

The next month, US Vice President Joe Biden went a step further, explaining that Turkey, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia ‘were so determined to take down Assad … they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad … [including] al Nusra and al Qaeda and extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world … [and then] this outfit called ISIL’. Biden’s admissions sought to exempt the US from this operation, as though Washington were innocent of sustained operations carried out by its key allies. That is simply not credible.

Washington’s relationship with the Saudis, as a divisive sectarian force in the region, in particular against Arab nationalism, goes back to the 1950s, when Winston Churchill introduced the Saudi King to President Eisenhower. At that time Washington wanted to set up the Saudi King as a rival to President Nasser of Egypt. More recently, British General Jonathan Shaw has acknowledged the contribution of Saudi Arabia’s extremist ideology: ‘This is a time bomb that, under the guise of education. Wahhabi Salafism is igniting under the world really. And it is funded by Saudi and Qatari money’, Shaw said.

Other evidence undermines western attempts to maintain a distinction between the ‘moderate rebels’, now openly armed and trained by the US, and the extremist groups Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS. While there has indeed been some rivalry (emphasised by the London-based, Muslim Brotherhood-aligned, Syrian Observatory of Human Rights), the absence of real ideological difference is best shown by the cooperation and mergers of groups.

As ISIS came from Iraq in 2013, its Syrian bases have generally remained in the far eastern part of Syria. However Jabhat al Nusra (the official al Qaeda branch in Syria, from which ISIS split) has collaborated with Syrian Islamist groups in western Syria for several years. The genocidal slogan of the Syrian Islamists, ‘Christians to Beirut and Alawis to the Grave’, reported many times in 2011 from the Farouk Brigade, sat well with the al Qaeda groups. Farouk (once the largest ‘Free Syrian Army’ group) indeed killed and ethnically cleansed many Christians and Alawis.

Long term cooperation between these ‘moderate rebels’ and the foreign-led Jabhat al-Nusra has been seen around Daraa in the south, in Homs-Idlib, along the Turkish border and in and around Aleppo. The words Jabhat al Nusra actually mean ‘support front’, that is, support for the Syrian Islamists. Back in December 2012, as Jabhat al Nusra was banned in various countries, 29 of these groups reciprocated the solidarity in their declaration: ‘We are all Jabhat al-Nusra’.

After the collapse of the ‘Free Syrian Army’ groups, cooperation between al Nusra and the newer US and Saudi backed groups (Dawud, the Islamic Front, the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm) helped draw attention to Israel’s support for al Nusra, around the occupied Golan Heights. Since 2013 there have been many reports of ‘rebel’ fighters, including those from al Nusra, being treated in Israeli hospitals. Prime Minister Netanyahu even publicised his visit to wounded ‘rebels’ in early 2014. That led to a public ‘thank you’ from a Turkey-based ‘rebel’ leader, Mohammed Badie (February 2014).

The UN peacekeeping force based in the occupied Golan has reported its observations of Israel’s Defence Forces ‘interacting with’ al Nusra fighters at the border. At the same time, Israeli arms have been found with the extremist groups, in both Syria and Iraq. In November 2014 members of the Druze minority in the Golan protested against Israel’s hospital support for al Nusra and ISIS fighters. This in turn led to questions by the Israeli media, as to whether ‘ Israel does, in fact, hospitalize members of al-Nusra and Daesh [ISIS]‘. A military spokesman’s reply was hardly a denial: ‘In the past two years the Israel Defence Forces have been engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded Syrians, irrespective of their identity.’

The artificial distinction between ‘rebel’ and ‘extremist’ groups is mocked by multiple reports of large scale defections and transfer of weapons. In July 2014 one thousand armed men in the Dawud Brigade defected to ISIS in Raqqa. In November defections to Jabhat al Nusra from the Syrian Revolutionary Front were reported. In December, Adib Al-Shishakli, representative at the Gulf Cooperation Council of the exile ‘ Syrian National Coalition’, said ‘opposition fighters’ were ‘increasingly joining’ ISIS ‘for financial reasons’. In that same month, ‘rebels’ in the Israel-backed Golan area were reported as defecting to ISIS, which had by this time began to establish a presence in Syria’s far south. Then, in early 2015, three thousand ‘moderate rebels’ from the US-backed ‘Harakat Hazzm’ collapsed into Jabhat al Nusra, taking a large stock of US arms including anti-tank weapons with them.

ISIS already had US weapons by other means, in both Iraq and Syria , as reported in July, September and October 2014. At that time a ‘non aggression pact’ was reported in the southern area of Hajar al-Aswad between ‘moderate rebels’ and ISIS, as both recognised a common enemy in Syria: ‘the Nussayri regime’, a sectarian way of referring to supposedly apostate Muslims. Some reported ISIS had bought weapons from the ‘rebels’.

In December 2014 there were western media reports of the US covert supply of heavy weapons to ‘Syrian rebels’ from Libya, and of Jabhat al-Nusra getting anti-tank weapons which had been supplied to Harakat Hazm. Video posted by al-Nusra showed these weapons being used to take over the Syrian military bases, Wadi Deif and Hamidiyeh, in Idlib province.

With ‘major Arab allies’ backing ISIS and substantial collaboration between US-armed ‘moderate rebels’ and ISIS, it is not such a logical stretch to suppose that the US and ‘coalition’ flights to ISIS areas (supposedly to ‘degrade’ the extremists) might have become covert supply lines. That is precisely what senior Iraqi sources began saying, in late 2014 and early 2015.

For example, as reported by both Iraqi and Iranian media, Iraqi MP Majid al-Ghraoui said in January that ‘an American aircraft dropped a load of weapons and equipment to the ISIS group militants at the area of al-Dour in the province of Salahuddin’. Photos were published of ISIS retrieving the weapons. The US admitted the seizure but said this was a ‘mistake’. In February Iraqi MP Hakem al-Zameli said the Iraqi army had shot down two British planes which were carrying weapons to ISIS in al-Anbar province. Again, photos were published of the wrecked planes. ‘We have discovered weapons made in the US , European countries and Israel from the areas liberated from ISIL’s control in Al-Baqdadi region’, al-Zameli said.

The Al-Ahad news website quoted Head of Al-Anbar Provincial Council Khalaf Tarmouz saying that a US plane supplied the ISIL terrorist organization with arms and ammunition in Salahuddin province. Also in February an Iraqi militia called Al-Hashad Al-Shabi said they had shot down a US Army helicopter carrying weapons for the ISIL in the western parts of Al-Baqdadi region in Al-Anbar province. Again, photos were published. After that, Iraqi counter-terrorism forces were reported as having arrested ‘four foreigners who were employed as military advisors to the ISIL fighters’, three of whom were American and Israeli. So far the western media has avoided these stories altogether; they are very damaging to the broader western narrative.

In Libya, a key US collaborator in the overthrow of the Gaddafi government has announced himself the newly declared head of the ‘Islamic State’ in North Africa. Abdel Hakim Belhaj was held in US prisons for several years, then ‘rendered’ to Gaddafi’s Libya, where he was wanted for terrorist acts. As former head of the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, then the Tripoli-based ‘Libyan Dawn’ group, Belhaj has been defended by Washington and praised by US Congressmen John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

Some image softening of the al Qaeda groups is underway. Jabhat al-Nusra is reported to be considering cutting ties to al Qaeda, to help sponsor Qatar boost their funding. Washington’s Foreign Affairs magazine even published a survey claiming that ISIS fighters were ‘surprisingly supportive of democracy’. After all the well published massacres that lacks credibility.

The Syrian Army is gradually reclaiming Aleppo, despite the hostile supply lines from Turkey, and southern Syria, in face of support for the sectarian groups from Jordan and Israel. The border with Lebanon is largely under Syrian Army and Hezbollah control. In the east, the Syrian Army and its local allies control most of Hasaka and Deir e-Zour, with a final campaign against Raqqa yet to come. The NATO-GCC attempt to overthrow the Syrian Government has failed.

Yet violent destabilisation persists. Evidence of the covert relationship between Washington and ISIS is substantial and helps explain what Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad calls Washington’s ‘cosmetic war’ on ISIS. The extremist group is a foothold Washington keeps in the region, weakening both Syria and Iraq . Their ‘war’ on ISIS is ineffective. Studies by Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgent database show that ISIS attacks and killings in Iraq increased strongly after US air attacks began. The main on the ground fighting has been carried out by the Syrian Army and, more recently, the Iraqi armed forces with Iranian backing.

All this has been reported perversely in the western media. The same channels that celebrate the ISIS killing of Syrian soldiers also claim the Syrian Army is ‘not fighting ISIS’. This alleged ‘unwillingness’ was part of the justification for US bombing inside Syria. While it is certainly the case that Syrian priorities have remained in the heavily populated west, local media reports make it clear that, since at least the beginning of 2014, the Syrian Arab Army has been the major force engaged with ISIS in Hasaka, Raqqa and Deir eZour. A March 2015 Reuters report does concede that the Syrian Army recently killed two ISIS commanders (including Deeb Hedjian al-Otaibi) along with 24 fighters, at Hamadi Omar.

Closer cooperation between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah is anathema to Israel, the Saudis and Washington, yet it is happening. This is not a sectarian divide but rather based on some clear mutual interests, not least putting an end to sectarian (takfiri) terrorism.

It was only logical that, in the Iraqi military’s recent offensive on ISIS-held Tikrit, the Iranian military emerged as Iraq’s main partner. Washington has been sidelined, causing consternation in the US media. General Qasem Suleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force is a leading player in the Tikrit operation.  A decade after Washington’s ‘creative destruction’ plans, designed to reduce Iranian influence in Iraq, an article in Foreign Policy magazine complains that Iran’s influence is ‘at its highest point in almost four centuries’.

——

Select references

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya (2006) Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a ‘New Middle East’

http://www.globalresearch.ca/plans-for-redrawing-the-middle-east-the-project-for-a-new-middle-east/3882

Seymour Hersh (2007) The Redirection

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

Al Akhbar (2011) Syria: What Kind of Revolution?

http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/540

The New Yorker (2013) Syrian Opposition Groups Stop Pretending

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/syrian-opposition-groups-stop-pretending

RT (2014) Anyone but US! Biden blames allies for ISIS rise

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11l8nLZNPSY

Iraqi News (2015) American aircraft dropped weapons to ISIS, says MP

http://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/american-aircraft-airdropped-weapons-to-isis-says-mp/

Washington Post (2015) Syrian rebel group that got U.S. aid dissolves

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrian-fighter-group-that-got-us-missiles-dissolves-after-major-defeat/2015/03/01/286fa934-c048-11e4-a188-8e4971d37a8d_story.html

David Kenner (2015) For God and Country, and Iran, Foreign Policy

http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/05/for-god-and-country-and-iran/

Reuters (2015) Syrian air strike kills two Islamic State commanders

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/07/us-mideast-crisis-syria-islamicstate-idUSKBN0M30F720150307

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Slaying of Chicago Teen Casts Doubt on Body Cams Holding Police Accountable

Sputnik – 12.12.2015

Although President Barack Obama has pledged $263 million in federal grants to fund body cameras for police departments throughout the country, some still feel the effort will do little to hold officers accountable if they engage in suspicious or unlawful activity.

Lisa Schreibersdorf, executive director of Brooklyn Defender Services, points to the recent case of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old who was fatally shot last year by a police officer after he responded to a call about a man with a knife.

An officer’s dashboard camera captured footage of that incident. However, Chicago’s mayor and police commissioner struggled to keep those recordings away from the eyes of the public arguing the footage could interfere with the court case.

Following the efforts of journalists and lawyers, however, a judge finally forced city officials to release the video in November leading to the prosecution of Officer Jason Van Dyke for murder more than a year after the shooting.

“Many have suggested that the prosecution would never have come if the City had succeeded in keeping the video under wraps — an allegation that Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alverez denies, but nevertheless casts doubt on the ability or willingness of the police, prosecutors or even the City administration to hold individual officers accountable unless forced to do so,” Schreibersdorf explained to the Huffington Post.

In many instances, city officials can fight to keep police body-camera footage from being seen by the public and defense attorneys.

In New York City, for example, body-camera recordings legally are categorized as an officer’s file making it difficult for defense attorneys to access it. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has said that body camera footage would not be released to the public under any circumstances.

“That leaves us in the potential situation of receiving body camera footage only when it serves the NYPD and the prosecution, not when it exonerates our clients or incriminates an officer,” said Schreibersdorf. “Such a scheme favors neither justice nor accountability and is one that we, as public defenders, often the last line of defense against executive power, could never support.”

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel prevents Tulkarem university from building protective wall

Ma’an – December 12, 2015

aimfireTULKAREM – Israeli forces prevented the administration of Tulkarem’s Palestine Technical University – Khadoorie from building a wall around the campus intended to both protect students and stop clashes, a university administrator said.

A head administrator of the university, Dirar Elayyan, told Ma’an Saturday that Israeli forces prevented the university from erecting the wall, which administrators hoped would prevent non-students from entering the campus.

Following student-organized marches that started in October to protest Israeli violations and raids onto the university campus, campus administrators reported that Israeli forces had positioned themselves at a temporary base on the university’s campus.

Non-students then began to enter the campus and throw stones at the Israeli base, prompting violent clashes that have severely interrupted normal campus life and left several students injured.

The university reportedly began preparations to build the wall to prevent the entrance of outsiders last month, however Israeli forces stopped the construction and confiscated a bulldozer, assaulting workers, Elayyan said.

Violence on the occupied West Bank campus has been near-daily over the past month, with nine students injured by live Israeli fire on Friday alone.

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ceasefire in Yemen to take effect on December 14: Houthis

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Muhammad Abdul Salam, Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement spokesman
Press TV – December 12, 2015

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement says a ceasefire is to take effect in the country on December 14, ahead of the UN-brokered peace talks.

“Based on what has been agreed upon, there will be a halt to the aggression on the 14th of this month,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam said on Saturday, referring to the deadly Saudi campaign against Yemen.

The Ansarullah official, who was briefing journalists in the capital, Sana’a, said the Houthis and their allies are determined to attend the December 15 negotiations in Switzerland to press for the demands of the Yemeni nation in talks with representatives of the fugitive former president of Yemen, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who is a staunch ally of the regime in Riyadh.

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said on December 7 that both the Houthis and the supporters of Hadi have agreed to attend the talks in Switzerland in a bid to end the Saudi-imposed war.

Sources in Hadi’s office have confirmed that Riyadh would halt the deadly airstrikes against Yemen before the opening of the UN talks.

On March 26, the Saudi military launched its campaign in an attempt to undermine the Houthis and bring Hadi back to power. More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 others injured ever since.

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

US Air Force reveals $3bn drone expansion plan

RT | December 11, 2015

Doubling the number of pilots and support staff and expanding to more bases around the US are two parts of the Air Force’s plan to meet the Pentagon’s goal of expanding drone operations. The $3 billion wish list still needs congressional approval.

The plan was announced on Thursday, after months of soliciting feedback from the USAF’s drone pilots and support staff, who have complained about being overworked and under-appreciated. It envisions adding 75 MQ-9 Reaper drones to the current fleet of 175 Reapers and 150 MQ-1 Predators, increasing the number of squadrons from eight to 17, and adding up to 3,500 new pilots and support staff, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Currently, most of the USAF drone operations are flown out of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. The base, about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, has no housing facilities, so the 3,325 military personnel and civilian contractors working round-the-clock shifts must commute.

Another reason for the expansion is the rising need for surveillance flights, according to General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, head of USAF’s Air Combat Command (ACC), which oversees drone operations.

“Right now, 100% of the time, when a MQ-1 or MQ-9 crew goes in, all they do is combat,” said Carlisle. “So we really have to build the capacity.”

Another part of the plan would see the command structure in the largely improvised drone program brought in line with the more traditional chain of command within the USAF.

Of the planned 3,500 additional airmen, 600 to 700 will be officers and the rest will be enlisted, ACC spokeswoman Major Genieve David told Defense News. The expansion will include pilots, sensor operators, maintenance crews and intelligence analysts.

Rather than concentrating all drone operations at Creech AFB, the Air Force is considering splitting the program to multiple facilities around the US and maybe even overseas. Matching shifts to time zones would reduce the stress on the operators, USAF officials have told reporters.

The bases currently considered for the drone program expansion are Beale AFB near Sacramento, California; Davis-Monahan AFB near Tucson, Arizona; Langley AFB near Newport News, Virginia and the joint base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu, Hawaii. The Pentagon is also considering placing a drone operations center at Lakenheath, a Royal Air Force base in Suffolk, England, the LA Times reported. However, that would require a basing agreement with the UK authorities.

In August, the Pentagon revealed plans to significantly expand its drone operations by 2019, going from 61 flights a day to around 90. The USAF would fly 60 flights a day by itself, with the Army flying up to 16 flights. The Special Operations Command would be responsible for four flights and contractors for as many as ten. These numbers do not include the drone flights operated by the CIA.

In October, a whistleblower from inside the drone program revealed the tactics and targeting methods used by the US military in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, protesting the reliance on unreliable signal intelligence and the civilian death tolls. During one five-month period of operations in Afghanistan, for example, nearly 90 percent of people killed were not the intended targets – but the Pentagon would still classify them as “enemy killed in action (EKIA),” unless there was specific proof that the male casualties were not terrorists.

“Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association,” the whistleblower said.

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

US Nukes Leave ‘Legacy of Death on American Soil’

Sputnik – 12.12.2015

The US nuclear program poses an abstract threat to global stability, but it has also had direct repercussions for those working in atomic weapons facilities. A new investigative report reveals the staggering risks of radiation exposure from the Pentagon’s aging arsenal.

America’s nearly 70-year-old nuclear program has left an indelible mark on the world. But the Pentagon’s massive stockpile of atomic weapons, rotting away in bunkers, has also gradually poisoned the bombs’ caretakers.

In addition to the roughly 200,000 people killed during the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a new investigative report from McClatchy has found that at least 33,480 Americans have been killed from radiation exposure during the last seven decades.

The report is based on over 100 interviews with individuals who have worked in and lived near weapons plants, as well as the analysis of over 70 million federal records.

In 2001, the US government created a special fund to quietly pay out compensation for those affected by nuclear radiation. Officials initially estimated that the program would only need to serve 3,000 people, but that number has soared in 14 years.

While over 33,000 of the individuals on that list are dead, they represent only a fraction of the 107,394 people who have been diagnosed with cancer after working with the nation’s nuclear stockpile. Through the program, American taxpayers have spent $12 billion covering medical expenses, and that amount only covers half of those affected.

Over 50,000 people have gone without compensation, despite their debilitating illnesses.

“I thought I was approved and shared it with my wife,” George Smith Anderson Jr., a former worker at a nuclear weapons plant in Georgia, told McClatchy, “and within no time at all it was disapproved.” He died of multiple myeloma last month.

The report comes as the United States is about to spend an estimated $1 trillion upgrading its nuclear stockpile of 4,700 weapons. The plan has drawn fierce criticism on a number of fronts. Many have questioned the need to spend such exorbitant sums, especially as the world works toward nuclear disarmament.

The upgrades have also come under fire for potentially breaching a pledge made by the Obama administration. While Washington is not supposed to develop any new weapons, many have criticized the modifications being made to the current arsenal. Adding new tail kits, the Pentagon aims to make its “dumb” nukes precision guided. The upgrades will also give the bombs an adjustable yield.

“If I can drive down the yield, drive down, therefore, the likelihood of fallout, etc, does that make it more usable in the eyes of some – some president or national security decision-making process?” former head of US Strategic Command General James Cartwright told PBS.

“And the answer is, it likely could be more usable.”

But McClatchy’s report also raises health concerns over the upgrades, as stronger safety standards have not prevented radiation exposure. Faced with questions over the program’s hefty price tag, officials have also been looking for ways to cut costs. Much of those savings will come from workers’ health benefits.

“Whenever you work at a nuclear plant and you deal with nuclear material, the most important thing to you is going to be your medical benefits,” Roger Richard, a production technician at a warhead reassembly plant, told McClatchy.

“It’s not prejudiced,” Clarence Rashada, the president of Amarillo Metal Trades Union, told McClatchy, speaking of the illnesses nuclear workers take on.

“If you’re on the plant…you’ll get something eventually.”

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment