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Russia Reminds US Its Presence in Syria is Illegal After Washington Charges Moscow With ‘Violations’

By Ilya Tsukanov – Sputnik – 06.05.2021

The Russian Embassy in Washington has reminded the US that its troops have no legal mandate to be in Syria.

The reminder comes following the publication of the quarterly report to Congress by the Pentagon, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development on the state of the US-led coalition’s operations in the Syrian Arab Republic.

“We would like to remind: The US military presence in Syria is illegal in the first place. So the US does not have any right to criticise the legitimate actions of the Russian Armed Forces, which operate in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian Government,” the Embassy tweeted, accompanying its post with a screenshot of part of the report.

In its report to Congress, US officials accused Russia of “continu[ing] to violate the de-confliction processes that the Coalition and Russia established in northeastern Syria to prevent inadvertent escalations”, citing a “slight” increase in incidents such as “the addition of an extra vehicle to pre-arranged patrols and not providing proper notification of military transport and fighter aircraft moving from Russia to Syria”.

The report admitted that Russian actions “did not pose a threat to Coalition forces”, and went on to indicate that Russian forces had increased their numbers and were operating in “closer proximity to Coalition forces” in Syria’s northeast following the 2019 Turkish invasion of the country’s north. The report cited information by the US Defence Intelligence Agency accusing Russia of seeking to “harass and constrain US forces, with the ultimate goal of compelling US forces to withdraw from northeastern Syria”.

US Occupation of Syria

The United States and its European and Gulf State allies began a military operation in Syria in 2014, flying thousands of sorties ostensibly aimed at destroying Daesh (ISIS)* and other terrorist groups in the country’s east. By 2017, the ‘caliphate’ was crushed, and US forces occupied large swathes of territory in Syria’s south and northeast, including the at-Tanf border region near Jordan and Iraq, as well as oil, gas and agriculturally-rich territories east of the Euphrates River.

Damascus and its allies have accused Washington of using its presence at at-Tanf to train ‘former’ terrorists to fight the Syrian government, and have charged the US and Turkish-backed forces with illegally occupying the country’s northeastern territories and pillaging its energy and food resources. Washington has rejected these claims, and formally continues to assert that its presence in Syria is aimed strictly at preventing Daesh’s resurgence and supporting local self-governance initiatives.

However, in a series of candid statements in recent months, Jim Jeffrey, former US special representative for Syria, revealed that he and members of his staff had deliberately misled President Trump about the true size of the US military footprint in the country, and stopped him from withdrawing from the country. Jeffrey also admitted that the US mission in Syria was about preventing the Syrian government from regaining its territories, not stopping Daesh. Last month, Jeffrey even suggested that al-Nusra,* the al-Qaeda* spinoff in Syria which now goes by the name Hayat Tahrir al-Sham*, was “an asset” to the US strategy in Syria. Jeffrey encouraged President Biden to continue Trump’s policy on Syria and the Middle East in general.

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

Will Biden Have Blood on His Hands in Afghanistan?

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | May 6, 2021

President Biden has announced that America’s forever war in Afghanistan is finally coming to an end. He says that U.S. forces will exit the country by next September 11. 

That’s a good thing. And it is long overdue. 

But there is one big problem with Biden’s timetable: It violates an agreement that the U.S. government entered into with the Taliban to exit the country by May 1 of this year.

Under that agreement, the Taliban agreed not to attack U.S. troops prior to their scheduled departure on May 1. With Biden’s decision to deliberately violate the agreement by unilaterally extending the withdrawal to September 11, he is knowingly placing the lives of the 3,500 American servicemen still in Afghanistan at risk.

In fact, the Taliban has implied as much. According to the Washington Post, a Taliban spokesman declared back in April, “If the agreement is breached and foreign forces fail to exit the country on the specified date, problems will certainly be compounded and those whom failed to comply with the agreement will be held liable.”

What’s the point of extending the departure? Is an extension to September so important that it’s worth risking the lives of American servicemen still in Afghanistan? If some soldiers are killed or maimed because Biden cavalierly decided to violate the agreement, will their sacrifice have been worth it? What about the lives of innocent Afghan civilians caught in a crossfire or in a bomb explosion designed to kill U.S. troops? 

Take a look at this article in USA Today. It’s by a quadruple amputee who lost his arms and legs in Afghanistan. He says it’s time to leave. He says, “I don’t need any soldier to honor me by doing the same thing.”

But that’s exactly what Biden is risking by intentionally, knowingly, and deliberately violating an agreement that the U.S. government willingly entered into. 

Moreover, as Elliot Ackerman, a former Marine and intelligence officer who served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, pointed out in an article in the New York Times, 

[R]emoving the 3,500 American troops from Afghanistan is, in military terms, what’s called a “fighting withdrawal,” in which an army leaves the field while still in contact with the enemy. Of all the maneuvers an army can perform (advance, flank, defend, etc.), it is widely accepted that a fighting withdrawal is the most complex and difficult because you are neither attacking nor defending, and so are exceedingly vulnerable.

Unlike the withdrawal from Iraq, in which U.S. troops could drive through the desert into Kuwait as they did in 2011, and unlike the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, in which they could drive across a then-shared border, U.S. troops are currently marooned in Afghanistan, reliant on three principal U.S.-controlled airstrips (Bagram, Jalalabad, Kandahar), making their journey home all the more perilous.

If the Taliban decide to attack U.S. troops from now until September, Biden will have their blood on his hands. He should never have breached the agreement that U.S. officials willingly entered into with their enemy.

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

Biden to uphold Western Sahara recognition for sake of Israel

Press TV – May 1, 2021

US President Joe Biden has reportedly decided to uphold the Trump administration’s controversial decision to recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The recognition came as part of a deal with the despotic North African country to normalize relations with the Israeli regime.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita during a Friday phone call that the Biden administration would not, “for the time being,” reverse his predecessor’s pro-Israeli move in the waning days of his presidency, US-based Axios news website reported, citing “two sources familiar with the call.”

“The secretary welcomed Morocco’s steps to improve relations with Israel and noted the Morocco-Israel relationship will bring long-term benefits for both countries,” according to a readout of the call released by the State Department.

Responding to inquires about the issue during a Friday press briefing, State Department deputy spokesperson Jaline Porter tried to dodge the issue.

“When it comes to Western Sahara, we are consulting privately with parties on how to best halt the violence there… We would also talk about having the goal to achieve a lasting settlement,” she said.

Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco reversed decades of Washington’s policy regarding the disputed territory. It was part of a wider agreement with Rabat’s ruler that included the renewal of diplomatic ties between the Israeli and the Moroccan regimes that triggered massive protests in Palestine and Morocco.

The US thus became the only Western country to recognize Morocco’s alleged sovereignty over Western Sahara, which was annexed by the Rabat regime in 1975 after the former colonial government of Spain surrendered control.

The report further revealed that 10 days ago Biden’s Middle East advisor Brett McGurk “spoke to Bourita and gave the impression that there would be no change in the US policy on Western Sahara.”

It report said both Morocco and Israel had become concerned that the Biden administration may reverse Trump’s contentious decision, solely intended to press more Arab dictatorships to recognize Israel.

Last December, Morocco became the fourth US-backed Arab kingdom to strike a deal aimed at establishing ties with Israel. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

The move sparked protests across the North African country, opposing the deal and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause while condemning the Israeli regime’s persisting atrocities against Palestine’s native population.

Later, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to Tel Aviv in a “warm and friendly” phone conversation, agreeing to continue contacts in order to advance the normalization agreement.

Trump’s controversial decision, which contradicts UN resolutions on the issue, has been challenged by US lawmakers.

In February, half the US Senate signed a bipartisan letter led by Republican Jim Inhofe and senior Democrat Patrick Leahy calling on Biden to reverse Trump’s “illegitimate” decision.

“The abrupt decision by the previous administration on December 11, 2020, to officially recognize the Kingdom of Morocco’s illegitimate claims of sovereignty over Western Sahara was short-sighted, undermined decades of consistent US policy, and alienated a significant number of African nations,” the senators wrote.

“The Sahrawi people deserve the right to freely choose their own destiny. We hope that we can count on you to be a partner in this effort,” they added.

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Why Can’t We ‘Just March Out’ Of Afghanistan?

By Ron Paul | April 19, 2021

Last week President Biden announced a “full” US withdrawal from Afghanistan – the longest war in US history – by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States. While this announcement is to be welcomed, the delayed US withdrawal may result in Americans and Afghans dying needlessly for good PR optics back home. We all remember how many Americans died after President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” stunt in Iraq.

The war has been a disaster from day one. So why wait to end it?

The previous Trump Administration had negotiated an agreement for the US to be out of Afghanistan by the first of May, but in its obsession with tossing out anything associated with Trump, President Biden will continue to keep US troops in harm’s way in this pointless war.

The Taliban have kept their end of the “Doha Agreement” signed under then-President Trump: no Americans have been killed in Afghanistan for more than a year. However, the US side under President Biden will formally violate the Agreement by keeping US troops in-country after May 1st. The Taliban has announced that it will hold the US “liable” for remaining in-country after the agreed-upon departure date. That means more Americans may be killed.

The outcome of the war will not be altered in the slightest by keeping US troops in Afghanistan four additional months. The withdrawal is already announced and no one paying attention expects the corrupt US-backed Kabul government to survive. It is another Saigon moment, proving that the intellectually bankrupt US foreign policy and military established has learned absolutely nothing from history. So if another American is killed, who is going to explain to the grieving family why their loved one had to remain in harm’s way for a good 9/11 photo-op?

A recent article in the Military Times lays out the massive disaster of the US two-decade war on Afghanistan: more than two trillion dollars spent – much of it going to fund crooked practices in Afghanistan and here at home. And even worse, the Cost of War Project has estimated that a quarter of a million people have been killed in the war.

We do applaud President Biden’s decision to ignore the demands of all the neocons who have flocked to support his Administration, but as is most often the case, when it comes to Washington you have to really read the fine print when something sounds too good to be true. In this case, the fine print is that the US will not actually be leaving Afghanistan at all. As a recent article in The Grayzone points out, the Afghan war will continue with US special forces, CIA paramilitaries, and guns-for-hire taking the place of US soldiers. The war is not going to end, it’s just going to be “privatized.”

My philosophy has always been simple: we just marched in, so we can just march out. As we have learned recently, that is exactly what President Trump tried to do in the final days of his presidency, only to get cold feed after his military and national security “experts” told him it was a terrible idea. When the history of the Trump Administration is written, it will sadly be filled with stories of Trumps’ excellent instincts tossed aside by his inability to demand that those working for him follow his orders. It’s tragic.

We need to be completely out of Afghanistan. Yesterday.

Copyright © 2021 by RonPaul Institute

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 3 Comments

Trump Condemns Biden’s Delay in Ending Afghan War to 9/11

Sputnik – 18.04.2021

Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo signed the peace agreement with the Afghan Taliban on behalf of the Trump administration on February 29, 2020. But new president Joe Biden has already broken the terms of the deal by delaying the US troop pull-out until September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that prompted the US invasion.

Former US president Donald Trump has laid into his successor Joe Biden’s delay in withdrawing troops from Afghanistan to September 11 this year.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the property tycoon laid out his reasons why postponing the pull-out was a mistake.

“First, we can and should get out earlier. Nineteen years is enough, in fact, far too much and way too long,” Trump said.

“I made early withdraw possible by already pulling much of our billions of dollars of equipment out and, more importantly, reducing our military presence to less than 2,000 troops from the 16,000 level that was there,” he stressed.

​Native New Yorker Trump also objected to Biden conflating the solemn 20th anniversary of the World Trade Centre suicide airliner attacks by Saudi al-Qaeda terrorists with the “wonderful and positive” peace deal.

“September 11th represents a very sad event and period for our Country and should remain a day of reflection and remembrance honoring those great souls we lost. Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do,” he said.

Trump also criticised his successor for reneging on the peace treaty his own administration agreed with the Taliban, under which all US forces were meant to leave the country by May 1st this year.

“I planned to withdraw on May 1st, and we should keep as close to that schedule as possible,” he insisted.

Biden claimed at his belated first press conference as president in March that sticking to the May 1 deadline would be “tough” — even as new Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin focuses on purging right-wingers from the military.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that the US might actually deploy more forces to Afghanistan ahead of the delayed pull-out, while a senior government official told the media that Washington will maintain enough “military and intelligence capabilities” in and around the country to strike at the al-Qaeda terrorist group if it re-emerges.

But the Taliban has warned it will cease to observe the ceasefire and resume attacks on foreign troops if they stay beyond May 1.

April 18, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 2 Comments

The Big Whopper on Afghanistan

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | April 15, 2021

In December 2019, the Washington Post published an article detailing many of the lies that U.S. officials have issued throughout their entire war on Afghanistan. The article was based on “a confidential trove of government documents.”

Perhaps the biggest whopper though was the one emitted by President George W. Bush and that is now being repeated by President Biden — that the reason that Bush launched his war on Afghanistan was because the Taliban regime had knowingly “harbored” Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

That was a lie, a flagrant lie. Neither Bush nor any other U.S. official ever provided even a scintilla of evidence that the Taliban regime was somehow complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

The real reason that Bush launched his war was over the concept of extradition. Bush demanded that the Taliban regime deliver bin Laden into the custody of U.S. officials. However, Afghanistan and the U.S. did not have an extradition treaty. Therefore, the Afghan government was under no legal obligation to accede to Bush’s demand.

Nonetheless, the Taliban regime announced its willingness to deliver bin Laden to a neutral third party nation for trial. That’s because it feared, with some justification, that bin Laden would end up in the clutches of the U.S. national-security establishment, where he would be subjected to torture, indefinite detention, assassination, extra-judicial execution, or a kangaroo military tribunal.

The only condition that the Taliban imposed for doing this was that the U.S. provide evidence of bin Laden’s guilt, much as it would be required to do in a regular extradition proceeding.

Bush declined to do that. He made it clear that his extradition demand for bin Laden was unconditional. Afghanistan needed to comply with his extradition demand or else be invaded and regime-changed.

If U.S. officials had had evidence that the Taliban regime was complicit in the 9/11 attacks, does anyone think for a moment that they would have been jacking around with an extradition demand? Not on your life. They would have gone on the attack immediately. Moreover, it is clear that if the Taliban had complied with Bush’s unconditional extradition demand, there never would have been a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, which means that Afghanistan wasn’t guilty of anything except failing to accede to Bush’s extradition demand.

Thus, today, when Biden says that the decades-long war on Afghanistan has ensured that Afghanistan will never again serve as a “haven” for anti-American terrorists, he is being disingenuous because there was never any evidence that the Taliban regime was complicit in the 9/11 attacks in the first place.

April 16, 2021 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

How a US-led Unholy Alliance is Preventing Syria’s Normalisation

By Salman Rafi Sheikh – New Eastern Outlook – 14.04.2021

If there is major stumbling block to Syrian unification and normalisation back to the pre-war years, it is the continuing presence of foreign forces inside Syria and the support they continue to provide to jihadi elements and militias that continue to seek to overthrow Assad’s government. Their presence, therefore, not only dovetails pretty closely with the underlying logic of the US and Turkish military interventions in Syria, but they continue to be the main instruments of a geo-political game the interventionist force, being led by the US, are playing in Syria against Syria and its principal allies, Iran and Russia. This was recently confirmed by a former US ambassador and special representative for Syria engagement, James Jeffrey, in an interview given to the US government’s Public Service Broadcasting (PBS) channel, where he was quoted to have said that militant and jihadi outfits like Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham remain an “asset” for America’s overall Syria strategy, currently territorially focused on Idlib, against Iran and Russia.

“They are the least bad option of the various options on Idlib, and Idlib is one of the most important places in Syria, which is one of the most important places right now in the Middle East,” Jeffrey said in an interview on March 8.

It is also a well known fact that Turkey has been supporting such elements in Syria with the sole objective of denying Assad regaining complete control of his country.

Nicholas Heras, Senior Analyst and Program Head for Authoritarianism at the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy recently said in an interview that “HTS cannot survive without Turkish support, it’s that simple,” adding that “Turkey’s significant military investment to protect Idlib is the key factor that protects that region from collapsing back into the control of Assad and his allies.” Accordingly, were Idlib to fall back to Assad, this will fundamentally shake Turkish position in Syria, and further curtail the US ability to use its military forces to control parts of Syrian territory.

To avoid this eventuality, the US continues to send reinforcements and fully loaded trucks with weapons to the Syrian region of Jazirah in northeast. That these weapons could be used to strengthen jihadi outfits is entirely possible, given that the US continues, as mentioned above, to treat groups like HTS as “assets.”

In a separate interview given to the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the head of HTS, Abu Mohammad Jolani, confirmed how the group continues to work to overthrow Assad, and how it repeatedly engages the Syrian and the Russian forces. Jolani confirmed that his group poses no threat to the US.

The PBS report also noted that that for the last couple of years, Idlib has come under attack from Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces, with Turkey backing opposition groups, including, sometimes, Jolani’s.

Turkey’s support for HTS explains why it has so far refrained from targeting the group in a region that has been under its control for quite some time. The US calculations are crude & simple: benefits that emerge from a direct support for groups like HTS outweigh the benefits that more regular and non-radical militias like the Syrian Democratic Forces/Kurdish militias can yield. Maintaining strong ties with groups like the HTS also prevents the US-Turkey alliance from falling into hot water, since Turkey has its own reservations with respect to the presence of Kurdish militias closer to its border regions.

In addition, given the fact that the US-Turkey alliance aims to turn Syrian into a quagmire for Iran and Russia, support for such radical groups remains the key.

In other words, it remains that the Biden administration intends to stick to the erstwhile policy of weakening Damascus in favour of its “assets” based in Idlib. This is evident from the sudden flurry of US establishment media interest in the HTS and Abu Mohammed al-Jolani and the way he and his outfit are not only been appropriated, but also being presented as a “non-threatening” entity that could actually serve the US interests better than other available options.

Controlling the Economy

Whereas the US is using these “assets” to prevent Syria’s territorial unification and its return to normalisation, it also continues to control about 90 per cent of Syria’s oil and other economic resources to hurt its economic recovery as well.

The Syrian oil minister recently said that “The oil sector has been targeted chiefly because it is the main source of income for the Syrian economy.”

Continuing economic crisis, as it stands, makes it easier for outfits like the HTS to find fresh recruits from within the rank and file.

As irony would have it, Syria’s oil that was previously stolen by Daesh is now being stolen under the aegis of an occupying power, causing the Syrian state to lose billions of dollars in revenue.

By controlling 90 per cent of Syria’s oil production, the US not only aims to keep the war-torn country impoverished, but also prevent Russia from stepping into the oil exploration industry in Syria and thus establish itself firmly in the Middle East. Last year in September 2020, Syria’s parliament approved contracts for oil exploration with two Russian companies in an effort to boost production hit industry and generate revenue for post war reconstruction.

However, the fact that the US forces in combination with Kurdish militias continue to control most of the oil means that Syria’s post war recovery through locally generated, albeit scant, resources cannot be possible.

In many ways, therefore, the US & its allies continue to play the same sinister “regime change” game that had actually caused the war to start in Syria in 2011.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs.

April 16, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

State Lawmakers Attack Federal Misuse of National Guard

By Brian McGlinchey | Stark Realities | April 6, 2021

Fed up after years of relentless National Guard deployments in undeclared wars, state lawmakers across the country are pushing legislation that would prohibit the use of Guard units in combat zones without a formal declaration of war by Congress.

The bills are being promoted by BringOurTroopsHome.US, a self-described organization of “right-of-center” veterans working to end American involvement in “endless wars” and restore congressional authority over war-making. The libertarian 10th Amendment Center is also backing the cause.

The proposed laws would require governors to determine the constitutionality of orders that place Guard units on federal active duty; where they’re deemed unconstitutional, the governor is required to take action to prevent the unit from being surrendered to federal control and sent into harm’s way.

The first “Defend the Guard” bill was conceived and introduced by Air Force veteran and West Virginia state legislator Pat McGeehan. While no state has enacted the law yet, interest is spreading widely, with legislators now pushing the measure in 31 states.

Conservative Veterans Taking Point

BringOurTroopsHome.US is led by Dan McKnight, a 13-year veteran of the Marine Corps Reserve, active duty Army and Idaho Army National Guard whose military service ended after he was injured in Afghanistan.

McKnight and many other veterans leading the drive against the War on Terror are from the right side of the political spectrum. That’s a sharp contrast to the typical antiwar veteran of the Vietnam era, but McKnight says vets from both wars share a common experience.

Today’s veterans “are coming home and saying the same thing (Vietnam vets did): ‘What was the point of that? What was our mission? We have no mission, we have no definition of success, we have no clear path to victory, we have no idea what victory means and we’re there without a constitutional authority to send us there’,” he says.

“Every one of us raised our hands and swore an oath to the Constitution…and when it says Congress shall be the only body to declare war, we take that to heart. And when Congress doesn’t do it, we understand bad things can happen: long, endless foreign misadventures,” says McKnight.

In a 2019 Pew Research poll, 64% of veterans said the war in Iraq wasn’t worth fighting; 58% said the same of Afghanistan. A January Concerned Veterans for America/YouGov poll found two-thirds or more of veterans support full withdrawals from both countries.

“The right-of-center veterans are now echoing the message of left-of-center veterans, and it’s hard to ignore when veterans from the entire political spectrum are saying the same thing: Enough already—if you want us to go and bleed and die and spend our lives and your treasure in a foreign land, then Congress should put their name on the line before we put our boots on the ground,” McKnight says.

That’s what the Constitution demands. In an impassioned speech at the West Virginia legislature last month, McGeehan quoted James Madison: “The Constitution supposes what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war and most prone to it. It has accordingly, with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature.”

Deployments’ Steep Toll

The National Guard has played a major role in America’s post-9/11 militarism: As recently as December, more than 57,000 Guard members were deployed around the world.

The federal government’s reliance on the National Guard makes state legislatures an intriguing second front in the drive to curtail the War on Terror. “Defend the Guard” laws also give state lawmakers a rare chance to influence foreign policy—and to impose consequences for the executive branch’s usurpation of war powers.

The heavy reliance on the Guard takes a toll on soldiers, families, neighborhoods and states. The intense pace of National Guard deployments was underscored at a recent Defend the Guard hearing in South Dakota: While opposing “Defend the Guard,” the state adjutant general acknowledged that, during the entire Global War on Terrorism to date, the state has had all its troops home for just 42 days.

McKnight has friends who’ve done a staggering 12 or 13 overseas National Guard deployments. Beyond the risk to life and limb, and the hardships imposed on individuals, families and marriages, he says communities also pay a price.

Guard members “are police officers, tradesmen, mechanics, schoolteachers, attorneys. (When) they have to leave that job behind, it puts a burden on the community,” says McKnight. Upon their return, Guard members are generally guaranteed the option to reclaim their jobs—but that sometimes means displacing those who filled their positions while they were away, compounding the disruptive effect.

Deployments also prevent National Guard units from responding to crises at home—their primary reason for existing. For example:

  • When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, thousands of the states’ National Guard soldiers were deployed to Iraq. Mississippi’s 223rd Engineer Battalion returned to repair hurricane damage—but was ordered to leave its equipment in Iraq for use by other units.
  • In 2020, as Oregon endured some of its worst wildfires ever, half the state’s National Guard helicopters were in Afghanistan, including all its CH-47 Chinooks—dual-rotor choppers capable of carrying 26,000-pound payloads and ideal for use in firefighting. The Oregon Guard did what it could with Blackhawk helicopters that have one tenth the lifting power.

The Empire Strikes Back

When Defend the Guard measures are introduced in state legislatures, the national security establishment and its allies emerge to defend the status quo—by hook or by crook.

In South Dakota, McKnight says, “the military-industrial complex…sent a two-star general to testify…and made all kinds of threats, and insinuated the state would lose their National Guard if they passed this bill, which is simply not true.”

Weeks ago, Republican Idaho Representative Joe Palmer, who chairs the state’s Transportation & Defense Committee, seemed to resort to underhanded tactics to kill a Defend the Guard bill.

He put the measure to an initial procedural vote in the committee, and declared it to have failed by voice vote. Video of the proceedings, however, shows the result of the voice vote to be unclear at best, and McKnight says his group’s post-vote polling of members suggests the measure would have advanced had Palmer taken a recorded vote.

If Palmer didn’t already know he should play fair with veterans who are trying to prevent fellow citizen-soldiers from dying in unconstitutional wars, he may be learning that lesson now: McKnight says his group facilitated an emergency meeting of the GOP committee in Palmer’s home town, which is now considering a resolution censuring Palmer for his conduct.

“If you want to play parliamentary tricks and the price of your tricks is the blood of my brothers and sisters who (deploy) over and over again, then we’re going to take some blood of our own, and we’re going to do that the way politicians understand, and that’s with voters in the primary and the general election,” says McKnight.

Sometimes, the establishment’s machinations are done away from cameras. In a 2015 interview, West Virginia’s McGeehan said he was summoned to a meeting in the Speaker’s office with the commander of the state National Guard. The general said he’d received a call from the Pentagon, threatening that, if Defend the Guard became law, West Virginia bases would find their way onto the list of installations targeted for closure.

Liz Cheney Intervenes to Thwart Wyoming Bill

McKnight says “the most offensive opposition that we’ve faced” came from U.S. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney.

“When we pushed the Defend the Guard bill in Wyoming last year, she or her staff contacted members of the Wyoming legislature and said, ‘If this passes in Wyoming, I will personally see to it that two C-130 aircraft are stripped from Wyoming and sent to Texas’,” says McKnight, who was in Cheyenne to support the bill, along with U.S. Senator Rand Paul.

Bethany Baldes, Wyoming state director of BringOurTroopsHome.US, was also on hand. She too says lawmakers told her they received calls from Cheney’s office that included threats to send new C-130 cargo planes to Texas. (Cheney’s communications director has not replied to an invitation to comment on this story.)

The measure failed, 35-22. A statement signed by a group of Wyoming senators opposing the measure seemed to turn logic on its head by claiming the bill “calls into question Wyoming’s support for our soldiers and airmen in the National Guard.”

That episode was McKnight’s second jarring encounter with Cheney, whom he describes as a “warmonger heiress of a military-industrial fortune.” Months before, he and other veterans met with Cheney in Washington to urge her to support the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

“We went into Liz Cheney’s office and we asked her, ‘What conditions must be met on the ground for you to support ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing our troops home?’ And she said, ‘I don’t think I could ever support that position’.”

Pressing the issue, the veterans asked Cheney how long troops should remain. “She looked us stone-faced in the eye and said, ‘Forever. American troops will be in Afghanistan forever’,” says McKnight. “That’s when we decided it was time to step away from the swamp and work in the states, and force the states to force Congress’s hand.”

April 12, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | | Leave a comment

Armed Iraq groups threaten to strike US forces if no withdrawal date is set

MEMO | April 8, 2021

The Coordinating Body of the Iraqi Resistance Factions yesterday warned that it would direct large and accurate strikes against US forces in Iraq if no clear date is set for their final withdrawal from the country, Anadolu reported.

“Today, the resistance finds itself obliged (…) to direct large and precise blows if this dialogue does not include a clear and explicit declaration of the final withdrawal date for the occupation forces: by land, air, and completely,” the body, which includes Iran- backed militia groups such as the Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, said in a statement.

Iraqi and US officials held the third round of strategic dialogue to discuss a number of issues including cooperation in combating terrorism yesterday.

In a joint statement after the talks, the two governments said the mission of US forces was now focused on training Iraqi troops to fight Daesh and as a result US combat troops wouldn’t be needed in the country.

They added that they had agreed on the eventual withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq and that the two governments would hold further talks to work out the timing.

The Iraqi Resistance Factions said the meeting’s final statement was “vague.. and does not contain any indication of the implementation of the Parliament’s decision to expel American occupation forces from Iraq.”

In January 2020, the Iraqi parliament voted on a resolution to remove all foreign forces from the country after the US assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a drone attack near Baghdad airport.

Some 2,500 American soldiers are stationed in Iraq as part of the anti- ISIS international coalition.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

The Endless War: Afghanistan Goes On and On

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | April 1, 2021

Given the present atmosphere in Washington in which there is no lie so outrageous as to keep it out of the mainstream media, a great deal of policy making takes place without even key players in the government knowing what is going on behind their backs. Of course, there is a long tradition of government lying in general but most politicians and officials have probably convinced themselves that they are avoiding the truth because complicating issues might lead to endless debate where nothing ever gets done. There may be some truth to that, but it is a self-serving notion at best.

The real damage comes when governments lie in order to start or continue a war. The Administration of George W. Bush did just that when it lied about Iraq’s secular leader Saddam Hussein seeking nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists and developing delivery systems that would enable Iraq to attack the U.S. with the nukes. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice knew she was not telling the truth when she warned that “the problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” She also was a key player in the Bush team approval of the CIA’s use of torture on captured al-Qaeda.

Rice is, by the way, not in jail and is currently a highly esteemed elder statesman serving as Director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Likewise for her friend and patron Madeleine Albright who famously declared that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. imposed sanctions were worth it. In the United States the only ones who are ever punished are those who expose the crimes being committed by the government, to include a number of whistleblowers and journalists like Julian Assange.

The active American military role in lying probably started at Valley Forge but it came into prominence with the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which was an alleged attack by the North Vietnamese on U.S. Navy ships that led to an escalation in Washington’s direct role in what was to become the Vietnam War, which produced 58,000 American dead as well as an estimated three million Vietnamese. No one was punished for faking the casus belli and today Vietnam is a communist state in spite of the martial valor of the U.S. Army.  Overall commander of US forces in Vietnam General William Westmoreland, who died in 2005, repeatedly advised the media and the White House that the American military was “winning” and there would be victory in six more months. General Westmoreland knew he was lying, as the Pentagon Papers subsequently revealed, and he also proved reluctant to share his plans with the White House. He even developed a contingency plan to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam without informing the president and Secretary of Defense.

Prize winning investigative reporter Gareth Porter has written an article “Trump Administration Insider Reveals How US Military Sabotaged Peace Agreement to Prolong Afghan War” that describes how the brass in the Pentagon currently are able to manipulate the bureaucracy in such a way as to circumvent policy coming out of the country’s civilian leadership. The article is based in part on an interview with retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor, a decorated combat arms officer who served as an acting senior adviser to the Secretary of Defense during the last months of Donald Trump’s time in office.  He would have likely been confirmed in his position if Trump had won reelection.

Porter describes the negotiations between the Taliban and Trump’s Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, which began in late 2018 and culminated in a peace agreement that was more-or-less agreed to by both sides in February 2019. The Pentagon, fearing that the war would be ending, quickly moved to sabotage a series of confidence building measures that included disengagement and cease fires. In short, US commanders supported by the Pentagon leadership under Secretary of Defense Mike Esper as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued to attack Taliban positions in spite of the agreements worked out by the diplomats, blaming all incidents on the Taliban. They also used their “perception management” media contacts to float fabricated stories about Taliban activity, which included the false account of Russians paying Taliban fighters bounties for every American they could kill.

After the 2020 election, which Donald Trump appeared to have lost, Esper, Central Command chief General Kenneth McKenzie and the senior field commander General Scott Miller took the offensive against any withdrawal by sending a memo to the president warning that no troops should be removed from the country until “certain conditions” had been met. An enraged Trump, who believed that the disengagement from Afghanistan was the right thing to do, then used his authority to order a withdrawal of all US troops by the end of the year. He also fired Esper, replacing him with Christopher Miller as SecDef and brought in Macgregor, who had openly expressed his belief that the war in Afghanistan should be ended immediately as well as the wars in the Middle East.

Macgregor and Miller reasoned that the only way to remove the remaining troops from Afghanistan by year’s end would be to do so by presidential order. Macgregor prepared the document and President Trump signed it immediately. On the next day November 12th, however, Colonel Macgregor learned that Trump had subsequently met with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Acting Secretary Miller. Trump and Miller were told by Milley and O’Brien that the orders he placed in the memorandum could not be executed because a withdrawal would lead to a surge in violence and would damage chances for an eventual peace settlement. Trump was also told that an ongoing US presence in Afghanistan had “bipartisan support,” possibly a warning that he might be overruled by Congress if he sought to proceed. Trump later agreed to withdraw only half of the total, 2,500 troops, a number that has continued to remain in place under President Joe Biden. A current agreement has the US withdrawing those last soldiers, together with allied NATO troops, by May 1st but it is under attack from Congress, think tanks, the mainstream media and the military leadership for the same reasons that have been cited for staying in Afghanistan over the past twenty years and predictably Biden has folded. Last week he announced that some American soldiers will remain in country to maintain stability after the deadline.

The story of Trump and Afghanistan is similar to what took place with Syria, where plans to withdraw were regularly reversed due to adroit maneuvering by the Pentagon and its allies. It remains to be seen what Joe Biden will do ultimately as he is being confronted by the same forces that compelled Trump to beat a retreat. The more serious issue is, of course, that the United States of America portrays itself as a nation that engages only in “just wars” and which has a military that is under control and responsive to an elected and accountable civilian government. As Afghanistan and Syria demonstrate, those conceits have been unsustainable since the US went on a global dominance spree when it launched its War on Terror in 2001. All indications are that the Pentagon will be able to maneuver more effectively in Washington than on the battlefield. It will continue to have its pointless wars, and its bloated “defense” budgets.

April 2, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Crashing Saudi Oil Economy Explains Urgent Yemeni Peace Offer

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 26, 2021

After six years of blowing up Yemen and blockading its southern neighbor, the Saudi rulers are now saying they are committed to finding peace. The move is less about genuine peace than economic survival for the oil kingdom.

The Saudi monarchy say they want “all guns to fall completely silent”. Washington, which has been a crucial enabler of the Saudi war on Yemen, has backed the latest “peace offer”. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week endorsed the initiative from the Saudi rulers, saying he had spoken with them “on our work together to end the conflict in Yemen, facilitate humanitarian access and aid for the Yemeni people”.

The Saudi foreign ministry stated: “The initiative aims to end the human suffering of the brotherly Yemeni people, and affirms the kingdom’s support for efforts to reach a comprehensive political resolution.”

Can you believe this sickening duplicity from the Saudis and the Americans?

So, after six years of relentless aerial bombing in Yemen causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, the Saudis and their American military supplier, seem to have developed a conscience for peace and ending suffering.

The real reason for trying to end the conflict is the perilous state of the Saudi oil-dependent economy. Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil, gas and petroleum industry, recently announced that its profits have slumped by nearly half in 2020 compared with the year before. Down from $88 billion to $49 billion.

Given that its oil economy provides nearly 90 per cent of state budget that is a stupendous hit on the Saudi finances. The Saudi rulers rely on hefty state subsidies to keep its 34 million population content. With income from the oil industry nosediving that means state deficits will explode to maintain public spending, or else risk social unrest from dire cutbacks.

Saudi Arabia remains the biggest oil exporter, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and world economies going into recession crude oil prices have plummeted. At one point oil prices fell to around $20 a barrel. The Saudi economy needs an oil price of around $70 a barrel to reel in a profit.

The upshot is the Saudi war in Yemen has become a critical drain on state finances and potentially jeopardizing the superficial stability of the absolute monarchy.

Of further alarm is the increasing missile and drone attacks by the Houthi rebels in Yemen on key Saudi locations, including the capital Riyadh.

The Yemeni rebels are escalating airstrikes on Aramco installations at its headquarters in Dhahran and Dammam in Eastern Province, as well as in the cities of Abha, Azir, Jazan, and Ras Tanura. The targets include oil refineries and export terminals. The Saudis claim they have intercepted a lot of the missiles with U.S.-made Patriot defense systems. Nevertheless, the mere fact that the Yemenis can hit key parts of the Saudi oil economy over a distance of 1,000 kilometers is a grave security concern undermining investor confidence.

The first major strike was in September 2019 when Houthi drones hit the huge refinery complex at Abqaiq. That caused Saudi oil production to temporarily shut down by half. It also delayed an Initial Public Offering of Aramco shares on the stock market as investors took fright over political risk.

At a time when the Saudi oil economy is contracting severely due to worldwide circumstances, an additional debilitating threat is the intensifying campaign of Houthi airstrikes. They are taking the war into Saudi heartland.

The Biden administration has condemned the Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia as “unacceptable”. Such American concern is derisory given how Washington has been providing warplanes, missiles and logistics for the Saudis to indiscriminately bomb Yemen causing tens of thousands of deaths. The Americans also enable the Saudis to impose a blockade on Yemen’s sea and airports, which has prevented vital food and medicines from being supplied to the country. Nearly 80 per cent of Yemen’s 30 million population are dependent on foreign aid deliveries. The blockade is a war crime, a crime against humanity, and the Americans are fully complicit.

President Joe Biden has said he is ending U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. It was an election promise. However, it is not clear what military support the U.S. has actually stopped, if at all. The Saudi bombing of food depots continues and the blockade on the country could not be maintained without essential American logistics.

More cynically, the Biden administration realizes that the Saudis started a war back in March 2015, when Obama was president and Biden was vice-president, that has turned into an un-winnable quagmire whose horrendous human suffering has become a vile stain on America’s international image.

That’s why Biden and his diplomats have been urging the Saudi rulers to sue for peace. Now it seems the Saudi monarchy realizes that the reckless war launched by “defense minister” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come with a price that they can’t afford to sustain if they want to preserve their rickety house of cards, known as the House of Saud.

On the latest peace proposal, the Yemeni rebels have rejected it out of hand. They say it contains “nothing new”. The Houthis say the only way to end the war is for the Saudis and their American sponsors to end the aggression on their country. There is no “deal”. It is a case of the Saudis and the Americans just getting out.

Meantime, the airstrikes on Saudi oil infrastructure are going to continue with ever-increasing damage to the royal coffers. Thus, the Saudi rulers have no choice but to unconditionally surrender in this criminal war. They are facing a humiliating defeat as the Yemenis take revenge and Uncle Sam washes his hands of blood.

March 27, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

US-Led Western/Israeli Aggression Against Syria

By Stephen Lendman | March 25, 2021

A decade of war on Syria and its long-suffering people isn’t enough for US hardliners.

Perhaps they intend forever war they’re losing but won’t end.

Former French diplomat Michele Rimbaud slammed a decade of US-led war on Syria, using terrorists as proxy fighters, along with waging economic war on its people — aiming to suffocate them into submission.

Like Afghan and Yemeni civilians, Syrians suffered more greatly than what their counterparts endured in two world wars — with no end of their ordeal in prospect.

“Should we wait 30 years in order to discover the outcome of the war in Syria, whether it is a military or economic war,” Rimbaud asked?

“When time comes for settling accounts and justice, it will be appropriate to remind the governments that have participated until today in this aggression of the seriousness of their criminal project, and we in the first place will condemn the three Western member states at the Security Council (the US, UK and France) who demand the implementation of the international law and claim to be its guardians, while they are the first to violate it.”

“The political or military officials, the intellectuals and media outlets who decided, organized, supported, or justified the crime of the international aggression against Syria and other countries must know that they will remain responsible for this crime regardless of what they did or didn’t do, and they must be held accountable.”

Where has the UN been for the last decade on Syria, for the last two decades on endless US war in Afghanistan and Yemen, for aggression against Libya in 2011 — for wars by other means against nations free from its control?

The world body consistently fails to denounce US wars of aggression, time and again blaming victimized nations for high crimes committed against them.

With rare exceptions, UN secretaries general serve US-led Western interests, supporting aggression by failing to denounce it, disgracing the office they hold, breaching UN Charter principles.

Since installed as UN secretary general by Washington in January 2017, Antonio Guterres was silent about US-led aggression in Syria and elsewhere — supporting the imperial state instead of denouncing its criminality and demanding accountability.

In mid-March, the UN noted the “grim 10-year anniversary of” war in Syria.

Its special envoy Geir Pedersen said the following without laying blame where it belongs, as follows:

“I want to commemorate Syrian victims and remember Syrian suffering and resilience in the face of unimaginable violence and indignities that (they) have faced over ten long years, including unspeakable horrors of chemical weapons.”

“Syrians had been injured, maimed and killed in every way imaginable – their corpses even desecrated.”

They’ve been “denied humanitarian assistance, sometimes under sieges in which perpetrators deliberately starved the population.”

They’ve “faced human rights violations on an enormous and systematic scale.”

“Those responsible for actions that may amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes enjoy near-total impunity, which not only undermines a peace agreement but perpetuates the living nightmare that has been life in Syria.”

The US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners bear full responsibility for the highest of high crimes against Syria and its people.

Yet in his above remarks and more of the same, Pedersen was silent about US-led aggression.

What Obama/Biden launched in March 2011, Trump continued, Biden/Harris going the same way — with no resolution in prospect because US dark forces reject it.

On Wednesday, Russia reported that US-supported jihadists launched 25 terrorist attacks in the past 24 hours, much the same going on daily against Syrian forces seeking to liberate the country and civilians caught in harm’s way.

When CW incidents occur, Damascus is always blamed for what it had nothing to do with — high crimes committed by US-supported jihadists.

While most Syrian territory was liberated by its armed forces — greatly aided by Russian airpower — US-supported terrorists control most of Idlib province.

They’re active elsewhere in the country — heavily armed with US, Western, and Israeli weapons.

Pentagon forces illegally occupy northern and southern parts of Syria with no intention of leaving.

Turkish forces illegally occupy northern Syrian territory. Allied with jihadist fighters, they’re at war with Damascus like the US, NATO and Israel.

The Pentagon and CIA continue to deploy ISIS jihadists to parts of Syria where they attack government forces and civilians.

Russian airpower is key — the difference between US dark forces gaining control over Syria or handing them an embarrassing defeat.

On Wednesday, Southfront reported the following:

In response to Russian airstrikes on Turkish-supported jihadists and sites they control in northern Syria, Ankara “summoned Russian ambassador Alexei Yerkhov to express its concerns…”

Ignoring its repeated breaches of the deescalation agreement reached with Moscow, Turkey falsely accused Russia of violations.

“At the same time, Ankara has no concerns regarding funding and supporting Al-Qaeda-styled groups in the region to promote its own interests,” Southfront reported.

The Erdogan regime is also concerned about Russian airstrikes disrupting its smuggling of stolen Syrian oil and gas.

Separately on Tuesday, rockets struck an illegal US base near a Conico oil field in Deir Ezzor, Syria.

Reportedly, US forces guarding and facilitating the theft of Syrian oil suffered casualties.

Southfront reported on what it called impunity in Syria being punished, saying:

“Turkish-backed militants in Greater Idlib, and in northeastern Syria in general are being given no quarter” by Russian airstrikes.”

The headquarters of Turkish-backed al-Sham Corps terrorists was struck.

So was Saramada in northern Syria near Turkey’s border. A factory operated by Hayat Tahir al-Sham terrorists was targeted.

So were other terrorist targets, elements backed by Turkey’s Erdogan in defiance of the deescalation zone agreement with Moscow.

Southfront called the latest Russian operation “one of the most severe since the ceasefire agreement was implemented.”

“It is likely an attempt to deter the Turkish-backed factions, as well as HTS from carrying out any more expansive operations.”

Despite Syrian army advances and the latest Russian aerial operations, Erdogan is highly unlikely to cease his cross-border aggression.

The same goes for Biden regime hardliners. US aggression continues with no signs of cessation.

March 25, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments