Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

‘UK firm helps Israel kill Palestinians’

Protesters slam UK firm over profiting from Israeli war crimes

Press TV – April 9, 2016

Scores of pro-Palestinian activists in the UK have demonstrated outside the headquarters of an arms manufacturing company, accusing it of benefiting from Israel’s deadly crackdown against Palestinians.

The protesters gathered in front of the UK headquarters of aerospace manufacturer Thales, in Crawley, on Friday and expressed their anger against the company’s partnership with Israel’s Elbit Systems to develop a surveillance drone, nicknamed Watchkeeper, used by the regime against Palestinians.

The rally was held by the Sussex Stop Arming Israel campaign and was supported by other human rights groups, including the Inminds. The main messages of the protest were “Stop Arming Israel” and “Thales profits from Israeli war crimes.”

“Thales UK has a billion pound contract with Israel’s largest arms company Elbit Systems to develop a fleet of drones. Human Rights Watch has documented [the drones] as being used by Israel to deliberately target Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” said Inminds chair Abbas Ali.

“It’s sickening that Elbit markets this killer drone as being extensively ‘field tested’ in ‘real life’ situations — using the slaughter of Gaza’s people as a marketing ploy to gain a competitive advantage,” he added.

The Watchkeeper drone, which is produced through a joint venture dubbed UAV Tactical Systems, is modeled on Elbit’s Hermes 450, a UAV that has been used in action by the Israeli military. According to the Sussex group, the drone is developed under a contract awarded by the UK’s Ministry of Defense.

Thales UK is a subsidiary of the French company Thales, and is currently considered as the UK’s second largest military company.

Tel Aviv is under fire by rights groups for its indiscriminate attacks against Palestinian civilians. In one instance of Israel’s brutality, at least 2,140 Palestinians, including 557 children, lost their lives during the regime’s offensive against the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014.

The aggression also left 11,100 Palestinians wounded, including 3,374 children and 2,088 women, and displaced over 170,000 others.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Al-Aqsa imam arrested by Israeli occupation forces after Friday prayers; 6 Jerusalemites arrested in Silwan

salim-3

samidoun – Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | April 8, 2016

Israeli occupation forces arrested imam Sheikh Mohammed Salim as he left the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Friday, 8 April, accusing him of “incitement” in his speech delivered today at Friday prayers before 70,000 worshipers.

Feras al-Dabas, press spokesperson of the Islamic Waqf, was quoted in Al-Resalah as saying that despite the intervention of the director of the Waqf, Sheik Azzam al-Khatib, the occupation forces insisted on arresting Salim and had taken him to a detention center, without revealing his whereabouts.

This came as occupation forces arrested six Palestinian Jerusalemites from Silwan, confiscating a protest tent, in an attempt to stop a public Friday prayer in protest of ongoing Israeli occupation policies of repression against the people of Silwan, in particular a decision to demolish 50 homes in Silwan under the pretext of the construction of a garden. Occupation forces arrested Jalal Abbasi, Firas Abbasi, Musa Abbasi, Mohammed Abu Tayeh and Khaled Abu Tayeh and detained two vehicles, which were warned against delivering any plastic chairs to the protest tent.

silwan2

Jawad Siyam, Director of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center was briefly arrested after attempting to stop the arrest of the five Palestinian youths, and later released. Despite the arrests and the confiscation of the protest tent, the public prayer in rejection of arrests, home demolitions and land confiscation went forward.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces carry out predawn raids, detain 2 students

Ma’an – April 8, 2016

salhab-shalaldehBETHLEHEM – Israeli forces detained six Palestinians including two university students from the occupied West Bank during predawn detention raids Friday, locals and Israel’s army said.

Locals told Ma’an that two members of Palestine Polytechnic University’s student council were detained in the raids, identified as Ibrahim Salhab from Doha and Salsabil Shalaldeh from Sair, both villages located near Bethlehem.

Locals added that Salsabil is the daughter of prisoner Sheikh Zawadi Shalaldeh who is currently held in Israeli prison.

Israeli forces also raided the town of Silwad in the Ramallah district and delivered an interrogation summons to former prisoner Malik Hamed.

Clashes erupted when Israeli military forces raided al-Duheisha refugee camp also near Bethlehem, with no initial injuries reported.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that four Palestinians were detained from al-Arrub refugee camp, one of whom was a suspected Hamas operative.

One suspected Hamas operative was also detained from Qalqilya, the spokesperson said, adding that the Palestinian detained from Sair was suspected for “illegal activities.”

Around 7,000 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer.

The majority were detained in predawn detention raids carried out by the Israeli military, including in areas under full Palestinian jurisdiction according to the Oslo Accords.

Such raids often lead to clashes between locals and Israeli military forces entering their communities, regularly resulting in injury and sometimes death of Palestinian residents.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinian fishermen off Gazan coast

Ma’an – April 8, 2016

GAZA CITY – Israeli naval forces on Thursday detained four Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Rafah City in the southern Gaza Strip and seized their fishing boats.

Fishermen told Ma’an that Israeli forces opened fire on the fishing boats before detaining them, although no injuries were reported. They said the incident took place within the designated nine nautical mile fishing zone.

An official with the Agricultural Work Union, Zakariya Bakr, identified the detainees as brothers Iyad and Ahmad Omar al-Bardawil and brothers Bilal and Muhammad Jihad Musleh. He said two fishing boats were confiscated.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into the reports.

On Thursday, another two Palestinian fishermen were detained off the coast of Khan Younis after they allegedly passed beyond the designated fishing zone.

As part of Israel’s near-decade long blockade of the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited “designated fishing zone” off the coast, which was extended to nine nautical miles last week.

Israeli forces regularly detain Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Gaza working within the fishing zone, generally for alleged security reasons. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Israeli forces detained 71 fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats throughout 2015.

The center said that Israeli naval forces also opened fire on Palestinian fishermen at least 139 times over the course of the year, wounding 24 and damaging 16 fishing boats.

“These attacks occurred in a time where the fishers did not pose any threat to the Israeli naval troops, as they were doing their job to secure a living,” the center said.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

DCI: “Israeli Soldiers Abuse Children During Home Invasions, Arrests”

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC | April 7, 2016

dci-1Defense for Child International – Palestine Branch has reported that Israeli soldiers are systematically abusing Palestinian children, especially during invasions of their homes and while abducting them.

DCI said it documented many cases of abuse targeting Palestinian children after the soldiers stormed their families’ homes without any cause or justification, for both the invasions and the excessive use of force.

One of the cases is that of Ahmad Tamimi, 16, from Betunia town west of Ramallah, who was repeatedly beaten and assaulted by the soldiers after they invaded his family’s home to kidnap his uncle.

In a sworn affidavit, Tamimi told DCI that, on March 17, he was awakened by the very loud noise, shortly after midnight, to find eight Israeli soldiers surrounding his bed, in his own bedroom.

“For the first few seconds, I thought I was dreaming, but reality started sinking in when a soldier stared violently pulling me out of my bed, to drop me on the ground,” Tamimi said, “The soldiers then started kicking and beating me, and hitting me with their weapons while shouting in Hebrew. I started screaming and calling for my dad, while also trying to fend for myself, using my arms in an attempt to block their kicks and punches.”

“They tied my arms behind my back using plastic cuffs, and ordered to me to stand up and walk with them,” the child added, “I said I was unable to do so, and that is when one of the soldiers pulled me from my hair to force me to stand, then two soldiers grabbed me and forced me out of the room.”

The child also stated that one of the soldiers hit him with his rifle on his left cheek; he started feeling dizzy when the soldiers dragged him through the bedroom’s door, and started suffering severe pain.

After invading the home, the soldiers held the entire family in one room, and later moved Ahmad to the same room while handcuffed and his legs shackled, then they left the property after abducting his uncle, 30 years of age.

The family then untied their child and directly headed to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah; after examination, the doctors found various cuts and bruises to his head, forehead, left shoulder and right arm.

Since that incident took place, Tamimi has been afraid to sleep in his room alone, and constantly feels that the soldiers will surround and attack him again. He is always thinking about what they did to him, and is terrified of leaving home after dark.

On March 3, at least fifteen Israeli soldiers invaded, approximately at 3 at dawn, a home in the northern West Bank city of Jenin after smashing the front door.

The soldiers the grabbed Ahmad ‘Arqawi, 17, and his brother, 21, and started repeatedly pushing their striking against the walls.

“A soldier asked me about my name, I said Ahmad,” he said, “The soldier then slammed my head against the wall. I was in severe pain, and the soldiers forced my eight family members in the bathroom.”

“The soldiers dragged me out of my bedroom, tied my hand behind my back using plastic cuffs, and I could hear sounds of furniture being broken and destroyed by other soldiers searching our home,” he added, “Then three soldiers started kicking and punching me, and hitting me with their rifles, mainly on my head, chest and back. I started feeling dizzy, but they continued to shout and scream at me in Hebrew.”

One of the soldiers also pushed Ahmad’s head against every mirror in the bedroom, causing various cuts, especially on the right side of his head in addition to severe pain.

“They dragged me out of my bedroom to the living room, there; I saw many masked soldiers, and one of them forced me against the wall while strangling me,” the child added, “Another soldier brought a cup filled with water, and started pouring it in my mouth while the second soldier continued to strangle me while punching me with his other hand.”

The soldiers later dragged the child to the bathroom, where his family was held, and told him “look how your family members are screaming and crying, look at what we did to your family and your home – we wrecked it!”

They then forced him into the bathroom, with his family, and kidnapped his brother while repeatedly kicking, punching and beating him.

After the soldiers left the family home, and withdrew, the family called for an ambulance that took Ahmad to the Jenin governmental hospital, where he was treated for serious cuts and bruises in various parts of his body, including his head, face, shoulders and back.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Al-Qaeda gaining power & money from Saudi-led intervention in Yemen – report

RT | April 8, 2016

Al-Qaeda has made major financial gains as a result of the war in Yemen, running its own mini-state and pocketing $100 million in looted bank deposits and revenue from running the country’s largest port, a Reuters investigation has revealed.

The group’s deep pockets and increased power are down to the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, which has reportedly helped it become stronger than at any time since its emergence almost 20 years ago.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has a major presence in Mukalla, a city of 500,000 people, where it runs the third largest port in Yemen. As part of its port “management,” the group operates speedboats manned by armed fighters who impose fees on ship traffic.

Yemeni government officials and local traders estimate that the group earns up to US$2 million every day in taxes on goods and fuel coming into the port. In addition, it is believed the group has managed to extort $1.4 million from the national oil company.

The group also looted Mukalla’s central bank branch, gaining an estimated $100 million, according to two senior Yemeni security officials.

The economic empire of Mukalla was described to Reuters in detail by more than a dozen diplomats, Yemeni security officials, tribal leaders, and residents.

AQAP has abolished taxes for local residents in Mukalla, and group members have integrated themselves with southern Yemenis who have felt marginalized by their northern counterparts for years. The group has also made propaganda videos in which they have boasted about paving local roads and stocking hospitals.

In doing so, the group has managed to win over many locals.

“I prefer that Al-Qaeda stay here, not for Al Mukalla to be liberated,” said one 47-year-old resident. “The situation is stable, more than any ‘free’ part of Yemen. The alternative to Al-Qaeda is much worse.”

AQAP has managed to expand its territory by using many of the tactics used by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). It boasts 1,000 fighters in Mukalla alone, and controls 600km (373 miles) of coastline. The group also claimed responsibility for the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack, which left 12 people dead at the satirical magazine’s Paris office.

‘Easier to expand’

According to a senior Yemeni government official, AQAP’s expansion is due to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which is supported by the US.

The coalition, which has been bombing Houthi rebels since March 2015, sides with the exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, while the Houthis are aligned with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who resigned in 2012 following a popular uprising against his rule.

The official told Reuters that the war has “provided a suitable environment for the… expansion of Al-Qaeda.”

He said the withdrawal of government army units from their bases in the south allowed AQAP to acquire “very large quantities of sophisticated and advanced weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles and armed vehicles.”

In addition, the coalition’s pre-occupation with fighting the Houthis “made it easier for Al-Qaeda elements to expand in more than one area,” the official said. “And this is why Al-Qaeda has today become stronger and more dangerous.”

But despite claims that the intervention has made it easier for AQAP to expand, a recent statement from the Saudi embassy in Washington stated that the campaign had “denied terrorists a safe haven in Yemen.”

Still, AQAP continues to grow and prosper amid a civil war which has so far led to the deaths of 6,000 people. Among the death toll are 3,218 civilians, according to the UN Human Rights Office. An additional 5,778 civilians have been injured in the violence.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Terror Bombing in Brussels and Paris: Europe’s Islamist Legionnaires Come Home to Fight

By James Petras :: 04.08.2016

Introduction: The terror bombings in Paris and Brussels have raised a cacophony of voices, ranging from state officials, Prime Ministers and Presidents, to academics, journalists and media consultants. Tons of ink and print have focused on the psychology, networks and operations of the alleged perpetrators – radicalized young Muslim citizens of the EU.

Few have examined the long-term, large-scale policies of the EU, US and NATO, which have been associated with the development and growth of the worldwide terror networks. This essay will discuss the historical links between Islamist terrorists and the US-Saudi Arabian-Pakistani intervention in Afghanistan, as well as the consequences of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. In Iraq, the US implemented a deliberate policy of destroying all secular state structures and promoting the Balkanization of the country via ethnic-religious and tribal wars – a policy it has followed in subsequent areas of intervention.

The last section will focus on the US-EU-Gulf Petrol-Monarchy proxy invasions and ‘regime change’ bombings of the secular republics of Libya and Syria with the further cultivation and growth of international Islamist terrorism.

Historical Origins of International Islamist Terrorism: Afghanistan

In 1979, President James Carter and his National Security Chief, Zbigniew Brzezinski, launched Operation Cyclone, a major Islamist uprising against the Soviet- aligned secular Afghan regime. The US coordinated its campaign with the rabidly anti-Soviet monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which provided the funding and mercenaries for ‘international jihad’ against secular governance. This brutal campaign ‘officially’ lasted 10 years until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. It produced millions of casualties and decades of ‘blow-back’ when the CIA-Pakistani-Saudi trained Arab mercenaries (the ‘Afghan-Arabs’) returned to their home countries and elsewhere. The US intelligence agencies, Special Forces Commands and military directorates (especially Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service) trained and armed terrorists with US-Saudi funding. The American covert financial contribution mushroomed over the years rising to over $670 million dollars a year by 1987. Tens of thousands of Islamist mercenaries and adventurers were recruited from the Middle East, North Africa, the Gulf States, the Soviet Union (Chechens), Yugoslavia (Bosnians and Kosovars), China (Uigurs) and Western Europe.

With the defeat of the secular regime of President Najibullah in 1992, the Islamists and tribal factions then fought among themselves, converting Afghanistan into the world’s best-equipped training ground for International Islamist terrorists. Eventually, the Pashtun-based Taliban faction (with Pakistani arms and support) prevailed and established an extreme Islamist regime. The Taliban, despite its rhetoric, settled down to consolidating their brand of ‘Islamism in one country’, (1995-2001), a largely nationalist project. In its quest for respectability, it successfully destroyed the opium poppy fields, earning the praise of US President GW Bush in spring 2001. It also hosted a variety of Saudi princes and warlords, eventually including the jihadi-internationalist Osama bin Laden, who had been driven from North Africa.

Following the terrorist attack on the US in September 2001, the US and NATO invaded Afghanistan on October 2001 and overthrew the nation-centered Islamist Taliban regime. The subsequent chaos and guerrilla war opened up a huge new inflow and outflow of thousands of international extremists who came to Afghanistan, trained, fought and then departed, fully prepared to practice their terrorist skills in their countries of origin in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The US interventions and invasion of Afghanistan provide some of the context for the subsequent bombings in Europe and the US. The Islamist ‘returnees’ to Europe and elsewhere had received funds from Saudi Arabia and training from the CIA and Pakistani intelligence. They began their work among a very ‘available’ constituency of potential recruits in the marginalized Muslim youth of the ghettos and prisons of Europe.

The Middle Period: the US-Zionist Invasion and Destruction of Iraq

The turning point in the growth and internationalization of Islamist terrorism was the US invasion, occupation and systematic reign of terror in Iraq. Largely under the guidance of key US Zionist policymakers (and Israeli advisers) in the Pentagon, State Department and the White House, the US dismantled the entire secular Iraqi army and police forces. They also purged the administrative, civil, educational, medical and scientific institutions of nationalistic secular professionals, opening the field to warring Islamist tribal factions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and millions fled in a regime of ethnic cleansing – which Washington touted as a model for the rest of the Middle East. However, thousands of experienced, but jobless Iraqi military officers, who had survived the US-orchestrated purges, regrouped and eventually joined with tens of thousands of nationalist and internationalist Islamist extremists to form ISIS. Their motives were arguable less ethno-religious and more related to revenge for their displacement and the destruction of their own society.

The deliberate US (Zionist)-EU-Saudi strategy to divide and conquer Iraq initially involved working closely with Sunni feudal tribal leaders and other extremists to counter the rising power of pro-Iranian Shia. They promoted a policy of fragmenting the country with the Kurds dominating in the North, the Sunnis in the center and the Shia in the south (the so-called Joseph Biden-Leslie Gelb Plan of national dismemberment and ethnic cleansing). The rationale was to create a weak central authority completely under US-EU tutelage and a loose group of fragmented subsistence fiefdoms in what had been the most advanced secular Arab republic.

Despite pouring billions of dollars in arms from the US to create a puppet-colonial Iraqi ‘national army’, the Saudis and Israelis pursued their own policy of financing sectors of the Kurds and violent Sunni opposition – with the latter forming the original mass base of ISIS.

As the US-client Shia regime in Baghdad focused on stealing billions while killing or exiling hundreds of thousands of educated Sunnis, Christians and other secular Iraqis from the capital, the morale of its US-puppet troops plummeted. With the entire experienced and nationalist Iraqi officer core purged (slaughtered or driven into hiding), the new puppet officers were cowardly, corrupt and incompetent – as openly acknowledged by their US ‘advisers’. ISIS, meanwhile had acquired hundreds of thousands of US weapons and was financed by the Shia-hating Saudi Royal Family and other Gulf Monarchs. Armed Sunnis soon launched major, lightning-quick offensives under the leadership of ex-Baathist army officers, supported by thousands of terrorists, suicide bombers and foreign mercenaries. US and European ‘military experts’ expressed ’shock’ at their effectiveness.

ISIS routed the Baghdad-controlled army, their US advisers and Kurdish allies from northern Iraq, capturing major cities, including Mosul, thousands of productive oil wells and drove their forces to within a few dozen kilometers of Baghdad. Territorial conquest and military successes attracted thousands more Islamist volunteers from the Middle East, Europe, Afghanistan and even North America. ISIS provided the military training; Saudi Arabia paid their salaries; Turkey purchased their captured oil and antiquities and opened its borders to the transfer of jihadi troops and weapons. Israel, for its part, purchased captured ISIS petrol at a discount from corrupt Turkish traders. Each regional player had its snout in the bloody trough that had once been Iraq!

ISIS successes in Iraq, led it to expand its operations and ambitions across the border into Syria. This occurred just as the US and EU were bombing and destroying the secular government of Colonel Gadhafi in Libya, in another ‘wildly successful’ planned campaign of ‘regime change’ (According to US Secretary of State Clinton as she gleefully watched the captive wounded Gadhafi ’snuff film’ by unspeakable torture – ‘WE came and HE died’.).

The chaos that ensued in Libya led to an exponential growth of extremist Islamist groups with tons of weapons of ‘liberated’ Libyan weapons! Islamist terrorists in Libya gained territory, took over oil wells and attracted ‘volunteers’ from the marginalized youth of neighboring Tunisia, Egypt, Mali and as far away as Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Flush with more guns, money and training. Many graduates went on to Syria and Iraq.

The Contemporary Period: EU-US-Turkey-Saudi-Israeli Sponsored War in Syria

In 2011, as ISIS rolled across the Iraqi border into Syria and terrorist Islamist bands seized cities in Libya, the US-EU-Turkish-Saudi and Israeli regimes financed and armed Islamist (and the mythical ‘moderate’) forces in Syria to overthrow the nationalist-secular Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad.

Thousands of Islamist extremist volunteers heeded the call (and the fat paychecks) of the Saudi regime and its Salafist propagandists. These constituted the Saudi Royal Family’s own ‘Foreign Legion’. They were trained and armed and shipped into Syria by Turkish intelligence. The US armed and trained hundreds of its own so-called ‘moderate rebels’ whose fighters quickly defected to ISIS and other terrorist groups turning over tons of US arms, while the ‘moderate rebel leaders’ gave press conferences from London and Washington. ISIS seized swaths of Syrian territory, sweeping westward toward the Russian naval and air bases on the coast and upward from the south, encircling Damascus. Millions were uprooted and minority populations were enslaved or slaughtered.

The news of ISIS territorial gains with their plundered oil wealth from sales to Turkey and the flow of arms from Saudi Arabia, the EU and the US attracted over 30,000 ‘volunteer’ mercenaries from North America, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

These new terrorists received military training, including bomb making and logistical planning in Syria. Many were citizens of the EU, Islamist extremists, numbering over five thousand. These young fighters trained and fought in Syria and then returned to France, Belgium, Germany and the rest of the EU. They had gone to Syria with the tacit support and/or tolerance of their own European governments who had used them, rather than NATO troops, in the US-EU campaign of ‘regime change’ against Damascus.

The European governments were sure they had ‘their’ Muslim recruits under control as they joined the US in a reckless policy of overthrowing independent secular governments in the Middle East and North Africa. They happily encouraged their marginalized young Muslim citizens to flock to Syria and fight. They hoped they would remain in Syria (fighting on the ground or buried under the ground). Officially, EU leaders claimed to support ‘moderate rebels’ (the bland term Western media used to sanitize Islamist terrorists) fighting the Assad ‘dictatorship’. European regimes were not prepared to detain the battle hardened ‘returnees’, who had been trained in Iraq and Syria. These young European Muslims (children of immigrants or converts to Islam) had been heavily indoctrinated and incorporated into international terrorist networks. They easily melted back into their marginalized European urban ghettos – beyond the control of Europe’s bloated intelligence services.

In practice, the EU regimes saw the thousands of Europe’s Muslim youth flocking to Syria as an ‘EU Foreign Legion’, a glorified wastebasket for unemployed young thugs and ex-prisoners, who would advance NATO’s imperial goals while solving the domestic social problem of the marginalized children of North African migrants. Europe’s Muslim youth were viewed as convenient cannon fodder by NATO planners and the governments of France, Belgium and the UK. For public relations, it was better for these young men and women to die overthrowing the secular government in Syria than to send in European soldiers (white Christians) whose deaths would have domestic political repercussions.

The EU underestimated the depth of antagonism these ‘volunteers’ felt about US-EU intervention in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as their anger at Europe’s continued support for Israeli land grabs in Palestine. In its racist arrogance, EU leaders underestimated the capacity of ISIS to indoctrinate, train and organize these marginalized kids from Europe’s slums into effective international cells able to carry the war back to Europe.

CTxVkmVUsAI9fqGThe EU smugly overlooked the active roles of Turkey and Saudi Arabia who had their own independent, regional ambitions. Ankara and Riyadh trained and financed the ‘volunteers’, and facilitated their flow into Syria from camps in Turkey and Jordan. The wounded were treated in Turkey and sometimes even in Israel. Thousands, many EU citizens, would flow back into Europe or to their countries of origin in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Russia.

The EU had slavishly and blindly followed Washington’s lead in all its Middle East wars. Now it is now paying a big price: Thousands of trained terrorists have returned; bombings and attacks on European civilians and civil structures have occurred, while the European government leaders trip over each other in a mad rush to dismantle civil and constitutional citizen rights and impose wide ranging police state measures (States of Emergency).

These new Saudi-funded terrorist recruits (Riyadh’s Legionnaires) are active in all the countries where the US and EU have launched proxy wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan . . . Turkey funds ISIS terrorists in Syria, Iraq and Kurdish territories to advance its own expansionist ambitions – oblivious to the clucking disapproval of EU leaders. Now Turkey receives over 6 billion Euro’s from the EU in what amounts to blackmail: In return, Turkey will ‘contain’ the flood of regional refugees in barely disguised concentration camps out of European sight.

Conclusion

Ever since the US-EU policymakers decided to implement a war against Arab and West Asian secular nationalism in the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Iran and North Africa through serial ‘regime change’ campaigns they have relied on Islamist Salafist mercenaries and volunteers to do most of the killing on the ground, while the West operates from the air. Washington and its NATO allies operated on the assumption that they could use and then discard their recruits, mostly from marginalized urban youth and criminal gangs, once they had served imperial military purposes. A few with requisite talent and ruthlessness could be turned into puppet ‘leaders’ to unleash on the Russians and other ‘obstacles’ in future engagements.

The EU-US totally misunderstood the volunteers’ high level of independence, their organizational autonomy and their own understanding of the tactical nature of their alliance with Western imperialism. Islamist extremist leaders, like their Western counterparts, believe there are no permanent alliances – only permanent interests.

The EU and US have pursued a policy of overthrowing independent Muslim and secular Arab nations and returning them to the status of pre-independence semi-colonies. The rollback policy against secular nationalism (with its deep roots in the Dulles era) has extended from North Africa, through the Middle East to Southwest Asia. For its part, ISIS and its allies envision a return to a pre-colonial Islamic caliphate over the same lands and people to counter Western imperialism. Millions are caught in the middle.

ISIS views the Westernized secular elites in the Muslim countries as a fifth column for the spread of empire, while it has re-socialized and trained young Islamists from the EU to serve as networks of terrorists ‘behind enemy lines’ sowing mayhem in the West.

The political repercussions of this internationalized war are profound. Millions of civilians in the war zones have been and will be killed, uprooted and converted into desperate refugees flooding the EU. Police-state emergency rule, arbitrary searches, arrests and interrogations have become the norm in the highly militarized European airports, train and metro stations, as well as markets and cultural centers. The EU has increasingly undergone an ‘Israelization’ of its society, with its population polarized and resembling Israel- Palestinian . . . its Muslim community marginalized and confined into little Gaza’s.

In this charged atmosphere, Israeli high tech security companies and advisers flourish, mergers and acquisitions of police state technology multiply. Israeli Prime Minister Benny Netanyahu embraces the French Prime Minister Hollande in the club of electoral authoritarians.

Meanwhile the refugees and their children flow to and fro, the bombs come and go. We line up to place flowers on our latest dead and then pay our taxes for more wars in the Middle East. More young ‘volunteers’ will become cheap fodder to fight in our wars; some will return and plant more bombs, so we can mourn some more at patriotic vigils -protected by armed battalions…

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US drone strikes kill 17 Afghan civilians: Paper

Press TV – April 8, 2016

US airstrikes in Afghan province of Paktika have killed at least 17 civilians, local officials and elders say, rejecting official American and Afghan claims that only militants had been killed.

They were killed during three drone strikes carried out by the US in the area of Nematabad on Wednesday, former Afghan senator Hajji Muhammad Hasan said, quoted by The New York Times.

The first raid struck a vehicle carrying a local elder, Hajji Rozuddin, who was on his way to mediate a land dispute in a tribe with four bodyguards and seven other people, the report said.

“Hajji Rozuddin was strongly anti-Taliban,” said Hasan. “He carried bodyguards because the Taliban were trying to kill him.”

“The car was completely destroyed, and there was little of the bodies left,” he said.

Soon after the attack, another strike killed two people who had come to help recover the bodies from the truck after the first attack, said Hasan.

A third attack also killed three other civilians on top of a small hill. They were trying “to see what had happened and why the previous two men had not returned already,” he explained.

Governor Shaista Khan Akhtarzada also confirmed that an investigation team had determined that “the people killed were civilians.”

The US military had said on Thursday that two Wednesday airstrikes in Paktika killed 14 militants.

“There was no evidence to indicate that there were any civilian casualties at all,” Charles Cleveland, a spokesman for the United States military in Afghanistan, said.

Cleveland claimed that most of the “just under a hundred” US strikes in Afghanistan from January 1 to March 31 were focused on Daesh militants in eastern Nangarhar Province.

Officials and residents said that such airstrikes have been relatively rare in Paktika in recent months, even as the United States has intensified its air operations elsewhere in the country.

In January, US President Barack Obama authorized American forces to target Daesh terrorists emerging in Nangarhar.

Although Taliban leaders have warned Daesh against “waging a parallel insurgency in Afghanistan,” the Takfiri group has been trying to expand its outreach there and is reported to have between 1,000 to 3,000 terrorists on its payroll.

Afghanistan is gripped by insecurity 14 years after the United States and its allies attacked the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Hybrid Wars 4. In the Greater Heartland (III)

By Andrew KORYBKO | Oriental Review | April 8, 2016

(Please read Part I and Part II prior to this article)

Turkmenistan:

The threat facing Turkmenistan is less of a Color Revolution than an Unconventional War. The catalyst for this conflict would be a terrorist invasion coming from Afghanistan that unexpectedly sweeps northwards along the Murgab River. Such an offensive doesn’t even have to reach the national capital in order to be successful, since all that it really needs to do is capture the city of Mary, the capital of the resource-rich Mary Region. This part of the country contains the lion’s share of Turkmenistan’s gas reserve, which includes the massive and decades-long functioning Dauletabad Field and the newly discovered Galkynysh Field, the latter being the world’s second-largest find.

It wouldn’t be all that difficult for terrorists to take over this plot of land either, since the Murgab River is scattered with tiny villages along its banks that could provide cover from government airstrikes and places to provoke pitched battles from. The fertile land nearby is endowed with agricultural potential that’s surely being stored somewhere closely accessible, and this could help feed the occupying forces until greater conquests are made. In short, the Murgab River is the most militarily and logistically sustainable route for an ISIL-like invasion of Turkmenistan, and it leads straight to the gas heart of Eurasia that’s critically connected to China and will possibly be linked to India in the coming decade as well.

The risk of terrorists gaining control of the largest source of China’s gas imports and possibly even destroying the facilities is too much for multipolar strategists in Beijing and Moscow to bear, and it’s assured that they’ve already engaged in some sort of unofficial contingency planning with their counterparts in Ashgabat. An anti-terrorist Chinese intervention is largely precluded due to geographic distances and a lack of support and logistics facilities en route, but the Russian military has no such hindrances and would be much more likely to assist the Turkmen authorities if called upon to do so. This is of course a last resort and would only be commissioned if Turkmenistan proves itself unable to stem the terrorist tide and defend its gas infrastructure, but such an event is most assuredly being planned for just in case the Turkmen-Afghan border proves to be just as fragile of a defense against terrorists as the Syrian-Iraqi one was before it.

Туркмения-нефть-и-газ

Kazakhstan:

Kazakhstan and the other three remaining states of former Soviet Central Asia are greatly at risk of a “Central Asian Spring” breaking out in the Fergana Valley, and Part IV of the Greater Heartland series will focus exclusively on this ever likely scenario. Accordingly, the rest of this section will explore the other Hybrid War vulnerabilities facing these four countries.

The geographically largest state in the Greater Heartland region is surprisingly immune from many of the conventional socio-political factors that lead to Hybrid Wars (excluding the variables that will later be discussed about the “Central Asian Spring”). If one was blind to the domestic and international contexts pertinent to Kazakhstan, then they’d be inclined to believe that the Russian population constitutes the greatest threat to the country’s sovereignty, although this couldn’t be anywhere further from the truth. Theoretically speaking, this demographic satisfies all of the criteria necessary for sparking a Hybrid War, but Kazakhstan’s multipolar alignment with the Eurasian Union and respectful treatment of this influential minority group precludes any chances that they or Russia would ever try to move forward with this scenario. On the reverse, the very inclusion of such a large Russian minority within Kazakhstan ties Astana and Moscow closer together than just about any other state in the former Soviet Union and works to enhance, not deteriorate, relations between them.

The only vulnerability in this relatively secure setup is if the US and its proxy NGO affiliates succeed in brainwashing the Russian-Kazakh population with Pravy Sektor- and Navalny-esque extreme nationalism, which could then create a delicate geopolitical situation where the raucous Russian minority agitates against Astana and attempts to drive a wedge between Kazakhstan and Russia. Security officials in both states are likely well aware of this obvious scenario and can be predicted to have rehearsed coordinated contingency measures for responding to it. Nonetheless, if such a virulent, discriminatory, and destructive ideology as “Greater Russian Nationalism” is allowed to fester in multicultural Kazakhstan and parts of the Russian Federation itself, then a scandalous outbreak in the Near Abroad could provoke a simultaneous cross-border event inside of Russia, especially if ‘sleeper sympathizers’ organize anti-government protests against Moscow’s “betrayal” of its compatriots out of its refusal to replicate the Crimean scenario in Northern Kazakhstan.

Another destabilization possibility that mustn’t be discounted in Kazakhstan is a repeat of the Zhanaozen riots, the ‘localized’ Color Revolution attempt that was sparked by a simmering labor dispute in 2011. The oil field workers were fed up with what they complained to be poor working conditions, low wages, and unpaid salaries, and this created an attractive atmosphere for Color Revolutionaries to exploit. Keeping with Color Revolution tradition, the riots started on 16 December, the 20th anniversary of Kazakh independence, and were presumably expected to signal the beginning of the regime change attempt to other cells across the country, almost one year to the day that the “Arab Spring” Color Revolution first broke out in Tunisia.

Seething with preexisting anger, the workers were extraordinarily easy to exploit, and the carnage they committed killed over a dozen people and injured more than 100 before a state of emergency and necessary military intervention restored order. The authorities’ decisive reaction and the multicultural, patriotic identity of most Kazakhs can be credited with preventing the spread of the Color Revolution virus from the distant Turkmen border all the way to centrally located capital, but the strategic lessons that can be learned from this episode are that: labor disputes and organizing could be both a cover and spark for a Color Revolution; and that destabilizations could start outside of the major cities and originate in the far-flung provinces.

Kyrgyzstan:

This tiny mountainous republic is notably split along a steep North-South divide, with the capital of Bishkek being located along the northern plains while the major population centers of Jalal-abad and Osh reside in the southern Fergana Valley. The clan-based nature of Kyrgyz society has played a strong role in influencing the political system, and this has consequently created identity resentment among whichever group was disproportionately underrepresented at the given moment. Although the situation has relatively stabilized and become somewhat more ‘equitable’ since the 2010 Color Revolution, clan-based tension and its geographic affiliations are still deeply ingrained in the national psyche, and any visible calmness simply belies the aggravating tensions that lay just beneath the surface. As confirmation of this assessment, one need only remember the misleading “stability” that many had inaccurately judged to be prevalent in the country just prior to the 2005 and 2010 Color Revolutions, and after witnessing the ferocious clan-based and ethnic violence that exploded after each of them, it’s improbable to assume that the individual drivers of such identity conflicts simply disappeared on their own after only half a decade.

What really happened is that they went underground as usual and abstained from the national discourse, while still remaining psychologically mobilized and ready to act the moment a future destabilization distracts or dissolves the security forces and provides another strategic opening for settling unresolved blood feuds that still linger from last time. The most violent-prone area of Kyrgyzstan is its southern Fergana region that abuts Uzbekistan, and it’s here where radical Islamic elements have taken root. The difficulty in forcibly eradicating them is that any major Kyrgyz security operation so close to the Uzbek border, let alone one that potentially targets ethnic Uzbeks, could create a hostile impression towards much-stronger Uzbekistan, which in turn could use the events as a pretext for activating a prearranged plan to mobilize in response to the ‘human rights violations’ allegedly being committed against its ethnic compatriots. Tashkent’s geopolitical loyalty has always been nebulous and ill-defined, and the country’s been working more closely with the US ever since the 2014 drawdown in Afghanistan. Washington needs a Lead From Behind partner in Central Asia, and it’s possible that Uzbekistan has been designated this role, which if it doesn’t comply with, could lead to the “Central Asian Spring” scenario that will soon be discussed.

To return to the Hybrid War threats facing Kyrgyzstan, it’s important to highlight that the country’s mountainous terrain is very accommodating to guerrilla warfare. The southern mountain ranges are sparsely populated and the government barely has any presence in some of the more isolated areas. Looking at the regional geography at play, it’s conceivable that Fergana-based terrorists could receive weapons and fighters from Afghanistan by taking advantage of the lack of governance present in Southern Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. After all, this route is already used to smuggle tons of drugs, so it’s certainly possible that it could be used to transport terrorists and weapons along the way as well (if this isn’t being done already). It’s very difficult for the Kyrgyz authorities to exert full control over this region because of tight financial and human resources, a current prioritization on the more populated areas, and the inhibitive geography involved.

To emphasize the last point, wintertime typically renders all of the few north-south roads impassable and strands the mountainous southern-based citizens in their villages for the duration of the season. This effectively splits the country into two, and if timed to coincide with a Hybrid War, then it could give the regime change insurgents active in that region enough time to consolidate their gains and prepare for the hostilities that would inevitably recommence after the snow melts in spring. When one thinks of a terrorist-driven “caliphate”, the last thing that probably comes to mind is a mountainous, snow-covered retreat, but this is exactly what ISIL or any likeminded group could feasibly create in Southern Kyrgyzstan if they played their cards ‘right’. It would be extremely challenging to dislodge the terrorists in such a scenario, and the danger in doing so would critically spike if it were revealed that they had access to anti-aircraft weapons. The Kyrgyz military would obviously be unsuited for such a difficult task and would have to resort to their Russian partners in the CSTO for assistance, with Moscow predictably helping through a combination of drone surveillance and air strikes just as it’s currently doing in Syria at the moment.

Tajikistan:

The threat facing Tajikistan is structurally similar to the one in Kyrgyzstan, and it’s that the country’s large swath of mountainous geography could be exploited by terrorist groups in facilitating smuggling routes or providing cavernous shelter. It goes without saying that Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan is perhaps its greatest vulnerability, but some respite could be found in the fact that there are more ethnic Tajiks in Afghanistan than in Tajikistan, and that if this community were properly mobilized to its fullest extent, then it could provide an effective bulwark against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. At the moment, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case, since the Taliban was able to briefly capture the northern provincial capital of Kunduz at the end of September and achieve their greatest military success since 2001.

Up to this point, it had been largely assumed that this part of Afghanistan was the least welcoming to the Taliban owing to the valiant history of the Northern Alliance and the relatively secular Tajik community that inhabits the region. What Kunduz taught observers is that these two factors are no longer the strongest determinants of regional security, and that the Taliban has succeeded in the past decade and a half in proselytizing their ideology, gaining sympathizers, and infiltrating enough fighters into the area so as to set up an effective base of operations. The converts that they’ve claimed, the supporters that they’ve acquired, and the terrorists that they’ve relocated to Northern Afghanistan all played an integral role in the Taliban’s capture of Kunduz, and just because they had to conventionally retreat from the city doesn’t mean that their soft infrastructure had to withdraw as well. The reason that this is relevant to Tajikistan is that it proves that the Taliban have a strong presence right along the Amu Darya river border and that fears about their cross-border militant potential are not misplaced.

More domestically, however, the greatest threat comes from the Islamic Renaissance Party, the newly banned organization that represented the last legal party of political Islam in the region. The process was in the works for a while, but ultimately it was decided that the group was full of terrorists and needed to be shut down as soon as possible, with the decision being spurred by rogue former Deputy Defense Minister Abdukhalim Nazarzoda’s coup attempt earlier that month. He and a group of followers slaughtered over 30 soldiers in the capital of Dushanbe before fleeing into the mountains where they were finally hunted down and killed a week later. The subsequent investigation revealed that the deputy head of the Islamic Renaissance Party, Mahmadali Hayit, had consorted with the coup plotters earlier in the year and that 13 members of the party were suspected of being involved in the attacks, so it makes absolute sense that the organization would be outlawed soon thereafter in the interests of national security. At the same time, however, the proclamation came so abruptly that the authorities didn’t have time to completely extinguish the organization, and countless sympathizers and probable sleeper cells can be assumed to be embedded in society. Whether they’ll make the transition to militant action on behalf of the terrorist organization or repent for their prior allegiance to it and disown its ideology remain to be seen, but the actionable threat remains nonetheless and is obviously a destabilizing factor that could be leveraged in any coming Hybrid War against Tajikistan.

Uzbekistan:

Aside from the “Central Asian Spring” scenario that will be detailed in Part IV, there are still quite a few other Hybrid War threats facing the region’s largest country. Uzbekistan is first and foremost threatened by a complete breakdown in law and order stemming from a succession crisis after the passing of Islam Karimov. The author previously explored the contours of these chilling possibilities in his piece “Uzbekistan’s Bubbling Pot Of Destabilization”, but to concisely summarize, the clan-based nature of Uzbek society coupled with the competition between the National Security Service and the Interior Ministry creates a cataclysmic scenario where a black hole of disorder arises in the heart of Central Asia and rapidly spreads throughout the rest of the region.

The only thing that could stop the previously held-together society from dramatically decentralizing down to Somalian-style warlordship would be the rapid reconsolidation of power under one of the two competing security agencies, but since their rivalry could predictably intensify in the days following Karimov’s death (and with the resultant security breakdown this would entail if they focus more on one another than on their designated subjects), it can’t be precluded that Uzbekistan could unravel before anyone realizes what even happened. Of course, if Karimov publicly designates a successor prior to his death or steps down and allows his designee to rule before then, this could potentially assuage the risks inherent in this scenario, but it doesn’t look too likely that this would happen, nor would these steps prevent the rival agency from attempting a major power play the moment the ‘head honcho’ inevitably dies anyhow.

Parallel with this possible tumult could be an explosion of terrorism from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Hizb ut Tahrir, ISIL, the Taliban, some yet-to-be-named organization, and/or a combination of these groups, which would exacerbate the already deteriorating security situation in the country and divide the security services’ focus even more. There’s also the likelihood that the Taliban or ISIL might even make a conventional move on Uzbekistan amidst the greater breakdown of regional order, which in that case would usher in a global crisis similar to the one that transpired when ISIL crossed into and began conquering Iraq.

Therefore, true to the theory of Hybrid War, any type of social disruption in the tightly controlled Uzbek society, be it through a Color Revolution, succession crisis, or a combination of factors, would create a tantalizing opportunity for Unconventional Warriors to rise up against the state and increase the odds of regime change. In this case, if there’s no real government in power at the moment, then it would prolong the “regime vacuum” and amplify country’s disorder until it reaches the critical point of spreading to its neighbors. Therefore, in such a scenario as the one previously described, it’s important for some leader or leading entity (e.g. military junta) to assume power as soon as possible in order to preempt a regional breakdown. In hindsight, it was precisely this quick emergence of leadership, however weak and fragmented, that emerged in Kyrgyzstan after the 2010 Color Revolution that helped to miraculously contain the chaos and prevent it from turning into a “Central Asian Spring”.

Before addressing this curious concept that’s been alluded to a few times already, it’s necessary to briefly touch upon a minor socio-political factor in Uzbekistan that shouldn’t be overlooked when discussing forthcoming disorder there. The autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan is a little-known administrative entity in the former Soviet Union that handsomely sits atop rich oil and gas reserves and provides transit to two energy pipelines to Russia. The dried-up majority of the Aral Sea has endowed the region even more oil and gas than was previously accessible, meaning that Karakalpakstan will likely become more important than ever to the Uzbek state.

Still, its energy potential isn’t the exact reason why the autonomous republic is brought up when discussing Hybrid War scenarios, since there lately have been whispers of a Karakalpakstan “independence” movement that provocatively wants to join Russia. In all probability, this isn’t a genuine movement but rather a proxy front controlled by the US to advance the objective of straining the already frayed ties between Russia and Uzbekistan. The appearance of a “pro-Russian” separatist organization at the crossroads of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan isn’t incidental, and its’ designed to destabilize the entire region if ever given the opportunity. On its own, the Karakalpakstan “independence” movement is powerless to do anything to upset the Central Asian balance, but in the event that the eastern more populated part of the country descends into bedlam following one or some of the abovementioned scenarios, then it’s likely that this group will emerge from the shadows (or more likely, be parachuted or infiltrated into the theater) to violently lay stake to its secessionist claim so that it can then transform into an American protectorate.

UZ_map

To be continued…

Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently working for the Sputnik agency. He is the post-graduate of the MGIMO University and author of the monograph “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change” (2015). This text will be included into his forthcoming book on the theory of Hybrid Warfare.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Media Unmoored from Facts

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 7, 2016

Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh who had seen one of my recent stories about Syria and wanted to commiserate over the state of modern journalism. Hersh’s primary question regarding reporters and editors at major news outlets these days was: “Do they care what the facts are?”

Hersh noted that in the past – in the 1970s when he worked at The New York Times – even executive editor Abe Rosenthal, who was a hard-line cold warrior with strong ideological biases, still wanted to know what was really going on.

My experience was similar at The Associated Press. Among the older editors, there was still a pride in getting the facts right – and not getting misled by some politician or spun by some government flack.

That journalistic code, however, no longer exists – at least not on foreign policy and national security issues. The major newspapers and TV networks are staffed largely by careerists who uncritically accept what they are fed by U.S. government officials or what they get from think-tank experts who are essentially in the pay of special interests.

For a variety of reasons – from the draconian staff cuts among foreign correspondents to the career fear of challenging some widely held “group think” – many journalists have simply become stenographers, taking down what the Important People say is true, not necessarily what is true.

It’s especially easy to go with the flow when writing about some demonized foreign leader. Then, no editor apparently expects anything approaching balance or objectivity, supposedly key principles of journalism. Indeed, if a reporter gave one of these hated figures a fair shake, there might be grumblings about whether the reporter was a “fill-in-the-blank apologist.” The safe play is to pile on.

This dishonesty – or lack of any commitment to the truth – is even worse among editorialists and columnists. Having discovered that there was virtually no cost for being catastrophically wrong about the facts leading into the Iraq invasion in 2003, these writers must feel so immune from accountability that they can safely ignore reality.

But – for some of us old-timers – it’s still unnerving to read the work of these “highly respected” journalists who simply don’t care what the facts are.

For instance, the establishment media has been striking back ferociously against President Barack Obama’s apostasy in a series of interviews published in The Atlantic, in which he defends his decision not to bomb the Syrian government in reaction to a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.

Though The Atlantic article was posted a month ago, the media fury is still resonating and reverberating around Official Washington, with Washington Post editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt penning the latest condemnation of Obama’s supposed fecklessness for not enforcing his “red line” on chemical-weapon use in Syria by bombing the Syrian military.

Remember that in 2002-03, Hiatt penned Post editorials that reported, as “flat fact,” that Iraq possessed hidden stockpiles of WMD – and he suffered not a whit for being horribly wrong. More than a dozen years later, Hiatt is still the Post’s editorial-page editor – one of the most influential jobs in American journalism.

On Thursday, Hiatt reported as flat fact that Syria’s “dictator, Bashar al-Assad, killed 1,400 or more people in a chemical gas attack,” a reference to the 2013 sarin atrocity. Hiatt then lashed out at President Obama for not punishing Assad and – even worse – for showing satisfaction over that restraint.

Citing The Atlantic interviews, Hiatt wrote that Obama “said he had been criticized because he refused to follow the ‘playbook that comes out of the foreign-policy establishment,’ which would have counseled greater U.S. intervention.” Hiatt was clearly disgusted with Obama’s pusillanimous choice.

The No ‘Slam Dunk’ Warning

But what Hiatt and other neocon columnists consistently ignore from The Atlantic article is the disclosure that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper informed Obama that U.S. intelligence analysts doubted that Assad was responsible for the sarin attack.

Clapper even used the phrase “slam dunk,” which is associated with the infamous 2002 pledge from then-CIA Director George Tenet to President George W. Bush about how “slam dunk” easy it would be to make the case that Iraq was hiding WMD. More than a decade later, brandishing that disgraced phrase, Clapper told Obama that it was not a “slam dunk” that Assad was responsible for the sarin attack.

In other words, Obama’s decision not to bomb Assad’s military was driven, in part, by the intelligence community’s advice that he might end up bombing the wrong people. Since then, evidence has built up that radical jihadists opposed to Assad staged the sarin attack as a provocation to trick the U.S. military into entering the war on their side.

But those facts clearly are not convenient to Hiatt’s neocon goal – i.e., how to get the United States into another Mideast “regime change” war – so he simply expunges the “slam dunk” exchange between Clapper and Obama and inserts instead a made-up “fact,” the flat-fact certainty of Assad’s guilt.

Hiatt’s assertion of the death toll – as “1,400 or more people” – is also dubious. Doctors on the ground in Damascus placed the number of dead at several hundred. The 1,400 figure was essentially manufactured by the U.S. government using a dubious methodology of counting bodies shown on “social media,” failing to take into account the question of whether the victims died as a result of the Aug. 21, 2013 incident.

Relying on “social media” for evidence is a notoriously unreliable practice, since pretty much anyone can post anything on the Internet. And, in the case of Syria, there are plenty of interest groups that have a motive to misidentify or even fabricate images for the purpose of influencing public opinion and policy. There is also the Internet’s vulnerability as a devil’s playground for professional intelligence services.

But Hiatt is far from alone in lambasting Obama for failing to do what All the Smart People of Washington knew he should do: bomb, bomb, bomb Assad’s forces in Syria – even if that might have led to the collapse of the army and the takeover of Damascus by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and/or the Islamic State.

Nationally syndicated columnist Richard Cohen, another Iraq War cheerleader who suffered not at all for that catastrophe, accused Obama of “hubris” for taking pride in his decision not to bomb Syria in 2013 and then supposedly basing his foreign policy on that inaction.

“In an odd way, Obama’s failure to intervene in Syria or to enforce his stated ‘red line’ there has become the rationale for an entire foreign policy doctrine – one based more on hubris than success,” wrote Cohen in a column on Tuesday.

Note how Cohen – like Hiatt – fails to mention the relevant fact that DNI Clapper warned the President that the intelligence community was unsure who had unleashed the sarin attack or whether Assad had, in fact, crossed the “red line.”

Cohen also embraces the conventional wisdom that Obama was mistaken not to have intervened in Syria, ignoring the fact that Obama did, in violation of international law, authorize arming and training of thousands of Syrian rebels to violently overthrow the Syrian government, with many of those weapons (and recruits) falling into the hands of terror groups, such as Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. [See Consortiumnews.com’sClimbing into Bed with Al Qaeda.”]

Neocon Ideologues

So, it appears that these well-regarded geniuses don’t appreciate the idea of ascertaining the facts before charging off to war. And there’s a reason for that: many are neocon ideologues who reached their conclusion about what needs to be done in the Middle East – eliminate governments that are troublesome to Israel – and thus they view information as just something to be manipulated to manipulate the public.

This thinking stems from the 1990s when neocons combined their recognition of America’s unmatched military capabilities – as displayed in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91 and made even more unchallengeable with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991– with Israel’s annoyance over inconclusive negotiations with the Palestinians and security concerns over Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.

The new solution to Israel’s political and security problems would be “regime change” in countries seen as aiding and abetting Israel’s enemies. The strategy came together among prominent U.S. neocons working on Benjamin Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign for Israeli prime minister.

Rather than continuing those annoying negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s neocon advisers — including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and Mevray Wurmser — advocated a new approach, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”

The “clean break” sought “regime change” in countries supporting Israel’s close-in enemies, whether Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria under the Assad dynasty or Iran, a leading benefactor of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Two years later, in 1998, the neocon Project for the New American Century called for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. PNAC was founded by neocon luminaries William Kristol and Robert Kagan. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

After George W. Bush became president and the 9/11 attacks left the American people lusting for revenge, the pathway was cleared for implementing the “regime change” agenda, with Iraq still at the top of the list although it had nothing to do with 9/11. Again, the last thing the neocons wanted was to inform the American people of the real facts about Iraq because that might have sunk the plans for this war of choice.

Thus, the American public was consistently misled by both the Bush administration and the neocon-dominated mainstream media. The Post’s Hiatt, for instance, was out there regularly reporting Iraq’s WMD threat as “flat fact.”

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and months of fruitless searching for the promised WMD caches, Hiatt finally acknowledged that the Post should have been more circumspect in its confident claims about the WMD. “If you look at the editorials we write running up [to the war], we state as flat fact that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction,” Hiatt said in an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review. “If that’s not true, it would have been better not to say it.” [CJR, March/April 2004]

Yet, Hiatt’s supposed remorse didn’t stop him and the Post editorial page from continuing its single-minded support for the Iraq War — and heaping abuse on war critics, such as former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson who challenged President Bush’s claims about Iraq seeking yellowcake uranium from Niger.

The degree to which the neocons continue to dominate the major news outlets, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, is demonstrated by the lack of virtually any accountability on the journalists who misinformed their readers about an issue as consequential as the war in Iraq.

And, despite the disaster in Iraq, the neocons never cast aside their “clean break” playbook. After Iraq, the “regime change” strategy listed Syria next and then Iran. Although the neocons suffered a setback in 2008 with the election of Iraq War opponent Barack Obama, they never gave up their dreams.

The neocons worked through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Iraq War supporters who managed to survive and even move up through the government ranks despite Obama’s distaste for their military solutions.

While in office, Clinton sabotaged chances to get Iran to surrender much of its nuclear material – all the better to keep the “regime change” option in play – and she lobbied for a covert military intervention to oust Syria’s Assad. (She also tipped the balance in favor of another “regime change” war in Libya that has created one more failed state in the volatile region.)

But the most disturbing fact is that these war promoters – both in politics and the press – continue to be rewarded for their warmongering. Hiatt retains his gilded perch as the Post’s editorial-page editor (setting Official Washington’s agenda); Cohen remains one of America’s leading national columnists; and Hillary Clinton is favored to become the next President.

So, the answer to Sy Hersh’s question – “Do they care what the facts are?” – is, it appears, no. There is just too much money and power involved in influencing and controlling Washington and – through those levers of finance, diplomacy and war – controlling the world. When that’s at stake, real facts can become troublesome things. For the people who wield this influence and control, it is better for them to manufacture their own.



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).

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US-Turkey-Saudi Arabia Arm Terrorists With Surface-to-Air Missiles in Syria

Sputnik – April 7, 2016

On Tuesday, Islamist rebels shot down a Syrian plane, the second such incident in less than a month, and captured the pilots. Inquiries are being made at the highest level as to how the al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, has come into possession of advanced Western surface-to-air missiles.

Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker sat down with Institute of Islamic Thought director Zafar Bangash on Thursday to discuss the developing situation in Syria and whether access to this weaponry will undermine Syrian air superiority.

Where are al-Qaeda affiliates getting these advanced weapons?

“According to the information that has emerged, it was al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria,” explained Bangash. He speculated that the missiles were sold to the extremist group by Turkey and paid for by Saudi Arabia, in a continuing effort to overthrow the Assad regime. He suggested that the Americans have a hand in it as well, saying, “the United States has always been involved in providing these weapons, even if not directly.”

The plane shot down on Tuesday was over Aleppo, an al-Nusra and Daesh stronghold. Why is that significant?

“Aleppo is the only major city that has been under the control of al-Nusra or Daesh,” explained Bangash. “The Syrian Army was making progress along with Hezbollah fighters and Iran’s revolutionary guards backed by the Russian Air Force and have been inching towards Aleppo.”

Bangash elaborated that the capture of Aleppo by rebel forces is significant, due to it being the largest city in Syria, and formerly the country’s financial hub. “It is even larger than Damascus, so obviously the terrorist groups and their backers will put up a tough fight not to lose it,” said Bangash.

Does terrorist access to anti-aircraft technology deprive the Syrian army of air supremacy?

“Not completely. I don’t think it will prove a game-changer because Russia is still there,” said Bangash. “These terrorists can cause some damage and some threat to the Syrian air force, and I am sure that the Syrian air force will change their tactics.”

Nonetheless, Russia’s continued presence in the fight against extremist militants will continue to keep rebel groups on their heels as allied forces march towards Aleppo. “Russian air force planes carried out a number of operations last week,” said Bangash. “Further, per the ceasefire agreement between Russia and the US, the terrorist groups were specifically excluded from the ceasefire, so Russia has no obligation whatsoever to avoid attacking these groups.”

Has the US presence in Syria benefitted the extremist organizations?

“Yes,” said Bangash who explained that, since 2005, the Americans along with Saudi Arabia and Turkey have had their eyes on ousting Assad from controlling Syria. “If the Syrian people don’t want Assad, that is for the Syrian people to decide, it isn’t for the United States or any other country to decide.”

He said that he “thinks it is very clear that the US wants to bring down the government of Bashar al-Assad, and that is why the Americans are talking about increasing their special forces in Syria.” Bangash said that the US presence has never been welcomed by the Syrian government. “They have not been given permission by the Syrian government and that is in violation of international law and the UN Charter.”

In contrast, Bangash says that the Russian government came in to maintain the stability of the current Syrian regime, and prevent the country from becoming a failed state, similar to Libya following the ouster of Muammar Gadhafi. “Russia went there with permission of the legitimate government, but the US is there illegally,” he stressed.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lebanon is being forced to collapse

By Andre Vltchek | RT | April 8, 2016

Lebanon cannot stand on its feet anymore. It is overwhelmed, frightened and broke.

It stands at the frontline, facing Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) in the east and north, hostile Israel in the south and the deep blue sea in the west. One and a half million (mostly Syrian) refugees are dispersed all over its tiny territory. Its economy is collapsing and the infrastructure crumbling. ISIS is right on the border with Syria, literally next door, or even with one foot inside Lebanon, periodically invading, and setting up countless “dormant cells” in all the Lebanese cities and all over the countryside. Hezbollah is fighting ISIS, but the West and Saudi Arabia apparently consider Hezbollah, not ISIS, to be the major menace to their geopolitical interests. The Lebanese army is relatively well trained but badly armed, and as the entire country, it is notoriously cash-strapped.

These days, on the streets of Beirut, one can often hear: “Just a little bit more; one more push, and the entire country will collapse, go up in smoke.”

Is this what the West and its regional allies really want?

One top foreign dignitary after another is now visiting Lebanon: the UN chief Ban Ki-moon, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. All the foreign visitors are predictably and abstractly expressing “deep concern” about the proximity of ISIS, and about the fate of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees now living in Lebanon. “The war in neighboring Syria is having a deep impact on tiny Lebanon”, they all admit.

Who triggered this war is never addressed.

And not much gets resolved. Only very few concrete promises are being made. And what is promised is not being delivered.

One of my sources who attended a closed-door meeting of Ban Ki-moon, Jim Yong Kim and the heads of the UN agencies in Beirut, commented: “almost nothing new, concrete or inspiring was discussed there.”

The so-called international community is showing very little desire to rescue Lebanon from its deep and ongoing crises. In fact, several countries and organizations are constantly at Lebanon’s throat, accusing it of “human rights violations” and of having weak and ineffective government. What seems to irritate them the most, though, is that Hezbollah (an organization that is placed by many Western countries and their allies in the Arab world on the “terrorist list”) is at least to some extent allowed to participate in running the country.

But Hezbollah appears to be the only military force capable of effectively fighting against ISIS – in the northeast of the country, on the border with Syria, and elsewhere. It is also the only organization providing a reliable social net to those hundreds of thousands of poor Lebanese citizens. In this nation deeply divided along sectarian lines, it extends its hand to the ‘others’, forging coalitions with both Muslim and Christian parties and movements.

Why so much fuss over Hezbollah?

It is because it is predominantly Shia, and Shia Muslims are being antagonized and targeted by almost all the West’s allies in the Arab world. Targeted and sometimes even directly liquidated.

Hezbollah is seen as the right hand of Iran, and Iran is Shia and it stands against Western imperialism determinately, alongside Russia, China and much of Latin America – countries that are demonized and provoked by the ‘Empire’ and its client states.

Hezbollah is closely allied with both Iran and Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria. It combats Israel whenever Israel invades Lebanon, and it wins most of the battles that it is forced to fight. It is openly hostile towards the expansionist policies of the West, Israel and Saudi Arabia; its leaders are extremely outspoken.

“So what?” many people in the region would say, including those living in Lebanon.

Angie Tibbs is the owner and senior editor of Dissident Voice who has been closely watching events in the Middle East in recent years. She believes a brief comparison between events of 2005 and today is essential for understanding complexity of the situation:

“In a country where, since the end of civil wars in 1990, outward civility masks a still seething underbelly wherein old wounds, old wrongs, real and imagined, have not been forgotten or forgiven, the military and political success of Hezbollah has been the most stabilizing influence. Back in 2005, following the bomb explosion that killed former Premier Rafiq al Hariri and 20 others, the US and Israel proclaimed loudly that “Syria did it” without producing a shred of evidence. The Syrian army, in Lebanon at the request of the Lebanese government, was ordered out by the US, and UN Resolution 1559 stated in part that all Lebanese militias must be disarmed. The plan was clear. With Syrian forces gone, and an unarmed Hezbollah, we had two moves which would leave Lebanon’s southern border completely vulnerable, and then – well, what would prevent Israel from barging in and taking over?”

Ms Tibbs is also convinced the so-called international community is leaving Lebanon defenseless on purpose:

“A similar devious scenario is unfolding today. Hezbollah is busy fighting ISIS in Syria; the Lebanese army, though well trained, is poorly armed. Arms deals are being cancelled, the UN and IMF, and, in fact, the world community of nations are not providing any assistance, and little Lebanon is gasping under the weight of a million plus Syrian refugees. It’s a perfect opportunity for ISIS, the proxy army of Israel and the West, to move in and Lebanon’s sovereignty be damned.”

Indignant, several Lebanese leaders snapped back. The Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil refused to meet with Ban Ki-moon during his two-day visit of Beirut and the Bekaa Valley.

One of Lebanon’s major newspapers, the Daily Starreported on March 26, 2016:

“Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Saturday accused the international community of approaching the Syrian refugee crisis with a double standard; hours after UN chief Ban Ki-moon departed Beirut following a two-day visit. ‘They create war, and then call on others to host refugees in line with human rights treaties,’ he said in a televised news conference from his residence in Batroun.”

Lebanon is collapsing. Even its once lavish capital Beirut is experiencing constant blackouts, water shortages and garbage-collection dramas. Economically the country is in a sharp decline.

Dr. Salim Chahine, Professor of Finance, at the American University of Beirut, is usually at least moderately upbeat about the country. Recent developments have worn down his optimism.

“Although the Coincident Indicator issued by the Lebanese Central Bank, BDL, has recently suggested a slight enhancement in economic activity, several officials are sending clear warnings about further deterioration in the situation. The regional geopolitical tensions, the civil conflict in Syria, as well as their implications internally have impacted tourism, trade, and the real estate sectors. According to HSBC, deposits from Lebanon’s largest expatriate population – that usually provide the necessary liquidity for government borrowing – may grow at a slower rate in the near future given the worsening conditions in the Gulf. As the country enters into its sixth year of economic slump, HSBC remains skeptical about a short-term recovery. The public deficit is currently rising by around 20 percent per year, and the GDP growth rate is close to zero.”

Yayoi Segi, an educationalist and the Senior Program Specialist for UNESCO’s Arab Regional Office based in Beirut, works intensively in both Syria and Lebanon. The education sector is, according to her, struggling:

“The public education sector is very small in terms of its coverage in the country, reaching only about 35 percent of the school age population. The state allocation to education is less than 10 percent while the world average or benchmark is 18-20 percent. The situation is further compounded by the current ongoing crisis in the region whereby Lebanon has had to accommodate a large influx of refugees. The public provision of education has expanded and continues to expand. However, it is impacting on quality and contributes to an increasing number of vulnerable Lebanese students dropping out of school, while it can only reach 50 percent of Syrian refugee children.”

Nadine Georges Gholam (not her real name), working for one of the UN agencies, says that lately she feels phlegmatic, even hopeless:

“What has been happening to Lebanon particularly these past five years is really depressing. I used to actively take part in protests to voice my anger and frustration. But now I don’t know if they make any difference or change anything at all. There is no functioning government in sight. Three hundred thousand tons of unprocessed trash accumulated in just eight months. There is sectarian infighting. Regional conflicts… What else? Lebanon can’t withstand such pressure, anymore. All is going down the drain, collapsing…”

“But worse is yet to come. Recently, Saudi Arabia cancelled a $4 billion aid package for Lebanon. It was supposed to finance a massive purchase of modern weapons from France, something urgently needed and totally overdue. That is, if both the West and the KSA are serious about fighting ISIS.”

“The KSA “punished” Lebanon for having representatives of Hezbollah in the government, for refusing to support the West’s allies in the Arab League (who define Hezbollah as a terrorist group), and for still holding a Saudi prince in custody, after he attempted to smuggle two tons of narcotics from Rafic Hariri International Airport outside Beirut.”

These are of course the most dangerous times for this tiny but proud nation. Syrian forces, with great help of Russia, are liberating one Syrian city after another from ISIS and other terrorist groups supported by Turkey, KSA, Qatar and other of the West’s allies.

ISIS may try to move into Iraq, to join its cohorts there, but the Iraqi government is trying to get its act together, and is now ready to fight. It is also talking to Moscow, while studying the great success Russia is having in Syria.

For ISIS or al-Nusra, to move to weaken and almost bankrupt Lebanon would be the most logical step. And the West, Saudi Arabia and others are clearly aware of it.

In fact, ISIS is already there; it has infiltrated virtually all the cities and towns of Lebanon, as well the countryside. Whenever it feels like it, it carries out attacks against the Shia, military and other targets. Both ISIS and al-Nusra do. And the dream of ISIS is blatant: a caliphate with access to the sea, one that would cover at least the northern part of Lebanon.

If the West and its allies do nothing to prevent these plans, it is because they simply don’t want to.

Tiny Lebanon is finding itself in the middle of a whirlwind of a political and military storm that is consuming virtually the entire Middle East and the Gulf.

In recent decades, Lebanon has suffered immensely. This time, if the West and its allies do not change their minds, it may soon cease to exist altogether. It is becoming obvious that in order to survive, it would have to forge much closer ties with the Syrian government, as well as with Iran, Russia and China.

Would it dare to do it? There is no united front inside Lebanon’s leadership. Pro-Western and pro-Saudi fractions would oppose an alliance with those countries that are defying Western interests.

But time is running out. Just recently, the Syrian city of Palmyra was liberated from ISIS. Paradoxically, the great Lebanese historic cities of Baalbek and Byblos may fall soon.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment