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The Duplicitous Agenda Endorsed by the UN and NATO

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 4, 2019

To the undiscerning, the United Nations (UN) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) perform different roles in the international arena. Yet both organisations have a common aim – the promotion of foreign intervention. While the UN promotes its humanitarian façade, NATO provides the militarisation of the UN’s purported human rights agenda.

NATO’s participation at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in September provided an overview of the current collaboration the organisation has with the UN. Jens Stoltelberg, NATO’s Secretary-General, mentioned the organisations’ collaboration in “working closely to support Afghanistan and Iraq”.

Since the 1990s, the UN and NATO cooperation was based on a framework which included decision-making and strategy on “crisis management and in the fight against terrorism.” In 2001, US President George W Bush launched his ‘War on Terror’ which eventually expanded to leave the Middle East and North Africa in perpetual turmoil, as the coined euphemism morphed into the so-called Arab Spring.

While the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 were led by the US, it is worth remembering that the absence of the organisation at that time is not tantamount to the exclusion of warfare from NATO member states. Notably, the US invasion of Afghanistan invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which stipulates that an attack on a NATO member state constitutes an attack on all member states.

“For NATO-UN cooperation and dialogue to remain meaningful, it must continue to evolve.” The statement on NATO’s website is a bureaucratic approach which detaches itself from the human rights violations created and maintained by both parties, which form the premise of such collaboration.

UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001), upon which NATO based its collaboration with the UN, reaffirms, “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence as recognised by the Charter of the United Nations.” The resolution provides impunity for member-states and other collaborators with the UN, including NATO, to define what constitutes terrorism while eliminating foreign intervention as a terror act, despite the ramifications which last long after the aggression has been terminated or minimised.

The UN-NATO duplicity is exposed in Stoltenberg’s speech when he states, “NATO has also contributed to developing UN disposal standards to counter improvised explosive devices, which remain one of the greatest threats to peacekeepers.” Why are the UN and NATO selecting rudimentary forms of warfare over precision bombing which has killed thousands of civilians in the name of fighting terror or bringing democracy?

In 2011, the UNSC’s arms embargo was supposed to prevent the proliferation of weapons to the rebels in Libya – a contradiction given the UNSC’s authorisation for NATO to bomb Libya. France, however, defied the resolution by publicly declaring its proliferation of weapons to rebels in Libya, on the pretext of their necessity to protect Libyan civilians. NATO denied its involvement as an organisation in providing arms to the rebels, despite the fact that action was taken by a NATO member. With the UN endorsing foreign intervention and NATO implementing the atrocities, the UN can fall back on its alleged peace-building and humanitarian roles, of which there is never a decline due to the irreparable damage both organisations have wreaked upon exploited, colonised and ravaged countries. The cooperation lauded by NATO does not rest on a division of roles but rather on blurring the differentiation between war and humanitarianism, in order to generate both as a duplicitous agenda.

NATO maintains that the UNSC holds “primary responsibility” for maintaining international peace and security. What the statement evades is the individual interest of each member, as well as their collective framework as NATO members. To satisfy the UNSC, individual interests and NATO membership, a common denominator is imperative. For the perpetrators of foreign intervention, war constitutes the binding legacy.

October 4, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beware of blowback from Afghan policies

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 25, 2019

During an exclusive interview with the Associated Press this week, the former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has severely questioned the rationale behind the presidential election which is due to take place in his country on September 28. Those who drive the Afghan policy in the Indian establishment should take careful note.

Karzai’s opinion runs completely contrary to the Indian stance. Delhi must be probably the only world capital that is enthusiastic about the Afghan presidential election. Delhi has exhorted Afghan people (“brothers and sisters”) to turn out in large numbers to cast their ballots

The Indian calculus is that by rigging the election, the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani and his group will be able to secure another 4-years in power. What brings the Indian establishment and Ghani’s group on the same page is their common interest in preventing the Taliban from holding the levers of power in Kabul, no matter what it takes. India has emerged in the most recent years as the main patron of Ghani’s group.

Ghani’s group comprising figures like the country’s security czar Amarullah Saleh maintain a policy trajectory that is hostile toward Pakistan, which helps Delhi’s hardline policies toward Pakistan. In this ‘Chanakyan’ thinking, India stands to gain if Pakistan is bogged down in a seamless war of attrition, sandwiched between its two hostile neighbours.

A hostile regime in Kabul will never compromise on the Durand Line, which implies that Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will remain under challenge for the foreseeable future if Ghani and his group remain in power.

Delhi blithely overlooks that the Afghan situation also impacts regional security and stability and that India’s medium and long term interests lie in the stabilisation of Afghanistan. Hopefully, the views expressed by Karzai, who is a close and longstanding friend of India, would have a salutary effect on the Indian establishment and prompt it to rethink.

Karzai is spot on in his assessment that the prevailing politico-security situation in Afghanistan is not at all conducive to the holding of a free and fair election. Ironically, the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir is nowhere near as precarious as in Afghanistan and yet the elections in the Indian state have been postponed indefinitely.

The outcome of Saturday’s election will be severely contested by the other Afghan (non-Taliban) groups and we are going to witness a replay of the 2014 charade when Ghani’s ‘victory’ under extremely controversial circumstances marred by cheating on an industrial scale stalled the transition. Washington finally deputed then US senator John Kerry to Kabul to cajole the warring factions to accept the idea of a so-called national unity government.

The spectre that is facing Afghanistan is a highly problematic political transition. Considering that more than half the country is under Taliban control and that the Taliban are viscerally opposed to the charade of election on Saturday, Ghani’s legitimacy to rule for another term is in serious doubt. Delhi should ponder over the emergent scenario.

Only through an inclusive democratic process can the Afghan transition be peacefully managed. And that is only possible if the transition is predicated on a peace agreement with the Taliban, followed by inter-Afghan dialogue (including with representatives of Ghani’s ‘government’) on a political settlement, which would be put before a Loya Jirga for approval. The elections should be held only thereafter.

On the contrary, the US President Trump’s impetuous decision to call off the negotiations with the Taliban (although a draft agreement was initialed in Doha) has been seized by Ghani’s group to front-load the presidential election. This is like putting the cart before the horse.

What will happen now is that Ghani’s group will rig the election and win it and proceed to claim a mandate to rule for another 4 years, while other Afghan groups — Taliban and non-Taliban — will not accept Ghani and his coterie for a second term.

There are signs that even Washington has distanced itself from Ghani’s government by withholding assistance to the tune of $160 million. The US state department statement announcing this was highly critical of the Ghani government.

Equally, the USG-funded Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in a commentary on Monday was frankly skeptical of the entire exercise of Saturday’s election. It sounded a warning that “many Afghans remain wary of the landmark presidential vote, fearing Taliban violence aimed at disrupting the vote and disillusioned at the widespread fraud and corruption that has tainted other elections since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

“Analysts say voter fatigue and safety concerns could depress turnout to undermine the legitimacy of the vote and give any winner only with a weak mandate to rule a country reeling from economic turmoil, an escalating war, and political infighting.”

Where does all this leave India? Clearly, Delhi’s backing for Ghani’s group is a cynical, self-serving attempt to exploit an unstable Afghanistan to India’s advantage. It does not constitute an Afghan policy. It reflects a pitiless mindset to keep Afghanistan in civil war conditions for as long as possible. It is indifferent towards the long-suffering Afghan people (here and here.) How is such a ‘policy’ any different from Pakistan’s?

Surely, the Indian embassy in Kabul would have reported on the meeting in Kabul on Monday of prominent Afghan political figures including Mujahideen leaders and erstwhile Northern Alliance stalwarts — former President Karzai, former Vice President Yunus Qanooni, former Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, former Minister of Energy and Water Mohammad Ismail Khan, former National Security Advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta and so on — which issued a formal statement calling for the deferment of the presidential election and an immediate resumption of the US-Taliban negotiations.

The statement highlighted that the Afghan people do not trust in the electoral management organisations to prevent “widespread manipulation” of the presidential election. It said, “There are many realities which show that the election will not reduce the crisis in the country, instead it will double the crisis, fuel division among the people, weaken institutions and affect the trust in democracy and political partnership.”

September 25, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

War is imposed on us by US, we can fight it for 100 years, Taliban tells RT after talks cut off

RT | September 13, 2019

Talks with the Taliban to put an end to the longest of America’s forever wars were killed off by the US last week. The Afghan militant movement is prepared to fight a hundred more years, its chief negotiator told RT.

The peace negotiations between the US and the Taliban were called off by President Donald Trump days ahead of a planned signing of a formal agreement. The draft has even been initialed by both parties and Qatar, which mediated in the talks, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who headed the Taliban’s delegation, told RT. As far as the Taliban is concerned, the US decision can be easily reversed and the agreement put into force as agreed, he said.

“We are still committed to the negotiations. Our stance is that there is no solution to the conflict except negotiations and except peace on the table. We hope that Mr. Trump rethinks his announcement and comes back to where we were,” the official said.

Trump cited an attack by the Taliban, which killed a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan, as the reason for the surprise cancellation of the talks. The militants say their attacks were well justified by attacks against them by the US and the Afghan security forces. They see the Americans as a foreign occupying force and themselves as freedom fighters and protectors of the Afghan civilians, who are injured and killed when the US attacks the Taliban, which regularly conducts terrorist attacks.

“The war was imposed on us. It is American soldiers who are in Afghanistan. It’s not our mujahedeen in Washington,” he said. He added that Trump’s justification for stopping talks clashed with statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who appeared on TV the following day and said the US killed “over 1,000 Taliban” over ten prior days, as negotiations were under way.

“Mr. Pompeo admitted that they have killed a thousand Taliban,” Stanikzai pointed out. “If they can kill a thousand of us, why can we not kill one or two of them? This is our right. We have to defend ourselves and defend our people.”

The Taliban representative said the Trump administration proved to be no different to that of Barack Obama, which also held peace talks with the Afghan militants before ending them at the last moment. He questioned Washington’s commitment to resolving the situation and ending what is now a 19-year-long anti-insurgency war that the US apparently cannot win through military force.

“If the American side is not willing to negotiate and they do not want peace on the table, we will be compelled to defend ourselves,” he said.

“We can do it for a hundred years.”

Stanikzai reiterated that only after a formal agreement is signed and US troops are pulled out of Afghanistan would the Taliban be able to settle its differences with other political forces in Afghanistan, including the US-backed government in Kabul.

“We need a practical thing. When it is signed, there will be [a] ceasefire between us and the American forces. We will give safe passage to the American forces,” he said. “When they go out, inter-Afghan talks can start and a comprehensive ceasefire and other domestic issues can be discussed.”

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Trump Didn’t Start the War in Afghanistan, But He Owns It

By Thomas L. Knapp | Garrison Center | September 11, 2019

National Security Advisor John Bolton became the latest American casualty of Washington’s 18-year war in Afghanistan on September 10, fired by US president Donald Trump shortly after Trump announced that he had planned, but was canceling, a meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David to ink a “peace deal.”

Firing Bolton is a good start. Nobody sane wants a guy who looks like Captain Kangaroo but talks like Dr. Strangelove whispering foreign policy advice in a president’s ear. The main effect of his departure from the White House is to shift perceived responsibility for America’s ongoing fiasco in Afghanistan back where it belongs: Squarely on the shoulders of Donald J. Trump.

Before Trump became a presidential candidate, his views on the war made sense. “We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives,” he tweeted on March 1, 2013. In November of that same year, he urged Americans to “not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024.”

Unfortunately his position on the war became “nuanced” (read: pandering and weaselly) as he became first a presidential candidate and then president.

As president, he increased US troop levels in Afghanistan and dragged out the war he once said he wanted to end. In fact, the notional Camp David “peace deal” would merely have reduced those troop levels back to about where they were as of his inauguration. Some “peace deal!”

Throughout Trump’s presidency, his non-interventionist supporters have continuously made excuses for his failure to end US military adventures in Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere.

It’s always John Bolton’s fault, or Mike Pompeo’s. It’s always this general, or that bureaucrat, or the “fake news media,” or the “deep state” undermining poor, powerless little Donny Trump, thwarting his sincere desire to do the right thing and bring the troops home.

Oddly, those same supporters would have us believe that Trump is a bold and commanding genius, scattering his opponents before him as he  maneuvers 5D chess pieces around their tiddlywinks with his abnormally small hands, Making America Great Again.

It can’t be both. Nor is it necessarily either of those things. Whatever it is, this is necessarily part of it:

“The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States …” — Article II, Section 2, US Constitution

Trump can pick up his phone any time, call the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and order the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. If his order is disobeyed, he can relieve the generals who fail to follow it and replace them with others who’ll do their jobs.

John Bolton didn’t stop him from doing that. Mike Pompeo can’t stop him from doing that. The “fake news media” and the “deep state” don’t get to countermand presidential orders to the armed forces.

Donald Trump owns this war. If he doesn’t end it, that’s on him and no one else.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

September 11, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Condoleeza Rice wants the US to stay in Afghanistan, and this time it’s for ‘the women’

RT | September 11, 2019

Former National Security Advisor and State Secretary Condoleeza Rice appeared on a late-night comedy show, calling for a continued US presence in Afghanistan, this time for apparently feminist reasons. She was swiftly called out.

After some de-rigeur Trump-bashing, host Stephen Colbert and Rice got down to the topic at hand: President Donald Trump’s decision to host, and then cancel, a meeting with the Afghan Taliban at Camp David last week.

Speculating that Trump might cut a deal with the Islamic militants to wrap up the war in Afghanistan –which turns 18 next month– by any means necessary, Rice made the case for continued American involvement in the country. “I hope we’re not going to abandon the women of Afghanistan,” she proclaimed, to cheers from the audience.

“We’ve gone a long way toward helping to create a decent place for the Afghan people to live,” she continued, without mentioning that an estimated 38,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, along with more than 2,400 US troops, 4,000 US contractors and 58,500 Afghan military and police personnel.

While she trumpeted the fact that women may now join Afghanistan’s military and police force, Rice did not mention the near-weekly attacks on these forces, like the Taliban bombings that killed at least 179 security personnel in one week at the beginning of this month.

Commenters were quick to call out the former Bush administration official. “‘Women of Afghanistan’ is a strange euphemism for defense contractors,” one wrote. “[I] Love late night comedy,” another sarcastically quipped.

And while life for these women under the Taliban was certainly repressive and cruel, life with American boots on the ground and drones in the sky can be nasty, brutish and short, too. A joint American/Afghan airstrike killed seven civilians on Monday, obliterating a crowd reportedly on their way to a wedding party in the Sayed Abad district. Furthermore, a UN report revealed in July that Afghan government forces and their US and international partners had killed more civilians in the first half of 2019 than the Taliban, Islamic State, and other anti-government fighters.

Colbert, however, did not press Rice on any of this. Instead he took a moment to plug Rice’s new book, unironically entitled ‘To Build a Better World.’ Colbert’s show was just one stop on a recent media blitz for Rice, who told CBS on Tuesday that “No one but the US” can guarantee stability in Afghanistan.

September 11, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Zarif reminds Trump: Did you know Netanyahu pushed you into Afghan war, too?

Press TV – September 10, 2019

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reminds the United States that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contributed to the launch of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan before he tried bringing about the Washington-spearheaded war on Iraq.

“Did you know, realDonaldTrump (the name of the US president’s Twitter account), that Netanyahu was also instrumental in pushing the US into the Afghanistan quagmire?” Zarif tweeted on Tuesday.

The tweet incorporated a video showing the Israeli premier’s promoting the Afghan invasion before its realization in 2001 during a congressional hearing in the US.

“His (Netanyahu’s) motto since 1986: Fight to the last American soldier,” Zarif added. He was citing a remark made by the Israeli politician in a book written by him that year, to which Netanyahu himself is seen referring during the hearing.

About 18 years on, Zarif said, the United States is now bogged down in Afghanistan and unable to “get out,” referring to Washington’s inability to strike a peace deal with the Afghan militant group Taliban, which the US overthrew through the invasion but failed to eliminate.

On Monday, Zarif had posted another tweet indicating Netanyahu’s influence in realization of the US-led invasion of Iraq two years after the invasion of Afghanistan.

In that tweet, he pointed to Netanyahu’s remarks back in 2002, during which the Israeli premier promoted a US-led military aggression against the Arab country by claiming that it would hugely benefit the region.

The United States led its allies in the invasion a year later. The war was ensued by devastating chaos in Iraq and elsewhere in the region. The tumultuous aftermath also paved the way for the emergence of Takfiri terrorists in the Middle East.

“Remember his “GUARANTEE” of “positive reverberations” in ’02?” the tweet read, and also incorporated a video of Netanyahu’s giving the pledge.

September 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Bulgarian journalist reveals how US-purchased arms end up with ISIS in Yemen

‘It’s a tip of an iceberg’

RT | September 5, 2019

Mortar shells shown in an Islamic State propaganda video have put a Bulgarian journalist on the scent of an alleged US-run arms shipping network supplying militants in the Middle East, she told RT in an exclusive interview.

This story began back in June, when Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists in Yemen demonstrated several Serbian-made 82mm mortar shells in their propaganda video. Independent investigative journalist, Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, believes that the deadly munitions ended up with the jihadists after going through US hands.

Tracing origins

Clearly visible on one of the shells is a mark that reads ’82 mm M74HE mortar shells KV lot 04/18.’ The letters KV stand for the Serbian state arms manufacturer Krusik, located in the town of Valjevo, while the digits 04/18 refer to lot 04 produced in 2018. One should not jump to any conclusions, however, as it is not the Serbs who were responsible for the shells suddenly appearing in the hands of terrorists, according to Gaytandzhieva.

A trove of “explosive” leaked documents she said she received from an “anonymous source” shows that the lot in question was part of a deal between the Serbian arms factory and a Pentagon contractor, Alliant Techsystems LLC. It was part of a purchase of more than 100,000 such shells “for the needs of the US government.”

“In the shipping documentation and on the labels on the mortar shells’ containers, there is a name of… the importer… that purchases the weapons on behalf of the US government,” the journalist told RT, citing the documents.

“There are indications and information about a US federal contract, under which these weapons were purchased, and this is absolutely verifiable in the case of Alliant Techsystems LLC, the company, which purchased the mortar shells and this particular lot of weapons pictured in the ISIS video in Yemen.”

Some leaked documents published by Gaytandzhieva do indeed mention a contract between Alliant Techsystems LLC and the Pentagon, which was allegedly aimed at supplying the Afghan National Army. “This lot was purchased under a $50 million contract between Alliant Techsystems and the US DoD for the delivery of non-standard US weapons to Afghanistan,” the journalist said.

Gaytandzhieva believes, however, that this case is just the tip of the iceberg. It could be a part of a far-reaching arms supply scheme involving up to “three million pieces of weapons – rockets and mortar shells – that have been diverted either to Syria or to Yemen.”

‘Corporate international weapons shipment network’

The leaked documents, which include emails, internal memos, photos and correspondence between the American arms dealers and the Serbian arms factory Krusik, have helped Gaytandzhieva to “expose the existence of a secret US special command unit code-named “Task Force Smoking Gun.” That unit has allegedly operated an arms depo since at least 2017, which is used in shady arms shipping operations by the US and its allies.

“I found that four private American companies were US government contractors and they were commissioned by the Pentagon to deliver non-US standard weapons to different destinations. According to the other leaked documents, I found that one of these destinations was Syria.

“This is a whole international weapons shipment network,” the journalist explained to RT, adding that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also using it for its operations alongside the US. “The scheme is using different routes and diplomatic flights diverting weapons via a third party to their final destination, which appears to be Syria or Yemen.”

Gaytandzhieva said that she investigated at least “350 diplomatic flights carrying weapons for the last three years” by the same Azeri state-run company that delivered the mortar shells to Afghanistan in 2018. “They made technical landings with stays varying from a few hours to up to a day in intermediary locations without any logical reasons such as needing to refuel the planes,” she wrote in a separate report investigating this particular issue.

“That means that this international weapons shipment network has never [ceased to exist] and continues [it operations] to this date.”

RT has managed to independently verify parts of Gaytandzhieva’s report by finding the contracts between Alliant Techsystems LLC and the Pentagon that she mentions in the US Federal Procurement Data System. It has also been established that the company has regularly worked for the US Department of Defense since at least 2016.

Also on rt.com:

Al Qaeda team plays on the same side as the US in Yemen

Weapons ending up with terrorists is OK, as long as Obama did it: The world according to CNN

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moratorium on US oil sanctions to open talks with Iran

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 2, 2019

The diplomatic manoeuvrings over the situation around Iran are entering a crucial phase with an Iranian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi leaving from Tehran for Paris today to pick up the threads of the 3-way discussions involving France, Iran and the United States at Biarritz a week ago on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

Araqchi is Iran’s chief negotiator with the E3 — France, UK and Germany — on the nuclear issue. Interestingly, Araqchi openly acknowledged on Saturday that the US has “shown some flexibility on the licensing of Iranian oil sales.”

The formula that was tossed around in Biarritz that the US will not oppose income being generated for Iran through oil sales is being finessed and linked to the working of the European Union’s trade mechanism for legitimate trade with Iran known as INSTEX. In essence, the formula is based on the French proposal of “freeze for freeze” — US freezing oil sanctions against Iran while Iran will freeze its steady pullback from the JCPOA commitments.

Araqchi said Iran and its European partners in the nuclear deal faced “difficult and complex” talks towards salvaging the pact. But a note of cautious optimism is apparent in Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s remark in Tehran following a meeting of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee at the Iranian parliament on Sunday afternoon that Iran may review the decision to further reduce JCPOA commitments if the European countries take action on INSTEX to live up to their own obligations. Tehran expects the Europeans to take a final decision by Thursday.

In the above backdrop, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani telephoned French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday to convey Tehran’s interest in resuming the discussions under the latter’s mediation. Macron welcomed the move. Rouhani also assured Macron that Iran is supportive of a political settlement in Yemen and is willing to guarantee the security of the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

Perhaps, in an indirect alert to the US President Trump, Rouhani conveyed to Macron Iran’s misgivings that Israel is pulling all stops to derail the current negotiations which are at a delicate stage. Rouhani specifically referred to the Israeli attempt to provoke a flare-up involving Iran somehow, as evident in its recent air attacks on Lebanon, Syria and Iraq successively. The Hezbollah retaliated on Sunday by attacking Israel’s military vehicles, leaving a number of Israeli forces reportedly dead or injured.

In a sure sign that a broad settlement of the situation around Iran is under discussion, Zarif has travelled to Moscow with a high-level delegation aimed at coordinating the Iranian and Russian positions. Iran’s special envoys for Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria are accompanying him. (Interestingly, Zarif referred to “serious developments” in Afghanistan, hinting at imminent US-Taliban deal this week.) Indeed, Iran is across the board addressing the western disquiet over Iran’s role in the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. Tehran’s diplomatic priority will be to underscore that it can be a factor of regional security and stability.

From all appearance, Macron is steering the negotiations along three parallel tracks: a) forestall any precipitate crisis in the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal by enabling Tehran to generate income out of oil sales that helps alleviate the hardships in the Iranian economy; b) persuade the Trump administration to concede Iran’s prerogative to resume trade relations with Europe and generate income through oil sales; and, c) defuse and de-escalate the various ‘hotspots’ in the Middle East where Iran’s role is regarded as critical — principally, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan.

A convergence of the three tracks can be expected to lead to a new understanding between Tehran and Washington, possibly even a near-future summit involving the US and Iranian presidents. The clock is ticking and there is urgency to generate momentum for Macron’s efforts, as Trump and Rouhani are due to attend the UN General Assembly in September. A meeting is entirely conceivable as things stand.

Indeed, a deeply troubled relationship such as the Iranian-American is bedeviled with a lot of signalling and grandstanding, especially on the part of Tehran where Rouhani has to overcome significant resistance to the very idea of engaging with the US. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has not said a word so far on Zarif’s visit to Biarritz or the 3-way France-Iran-US discussions under way. Tehran keeps repeating the demand on the lifting of the US sanctions as a pre-requisite for a face-to-face meeting between Rouhani and Trump.

However, it is possible to discern that Tehran is open to negotiations without preconditions and to strive for a meaningful breakthrough by optimally resorting to creative and flexible diplomacy. This flexibility factors in the assessment that Washington too is in a chastened mood.

Trump will not brook disruption by “hardliners”. Several Israeli attempts to have a phone conversation between PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump at Biarritz failed to materialise. Trump understands that all attempts by the US to create an international coalition against Iran have failed.

The law of diminishing returns is at work. The maximum pressure strategy against Iran is opening the window for an unprecedented expansion of Russian and Chinese influence in Tehran which may damage American regional interests in the long-term. The planned first-ever naval exercises between Iran and Russia in the Persian Gulf has rattled the US.

All in all, we may expect a moratorium on US oil sanctions in exchange for Iran’s compliance with its JCPOA obligations, which would be followed by direct negotiations for a historic thaw in the US-Iran relations.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia Furthers Its Cooperation With NATO

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 29, 2019

In 2001, Australia became involved in the US “war on terror”, coined by former US President George W Bush as the pretext for invading Afghanistan. The rationale behind Australia’s decision was the ANZUS Treaty – a non-binding security between Australia, New Zealand and the US purportedly in line with the principles of the UN Charter.

Despite the treaty relating to possible attacks on either party in the Pacific, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard invoked Article VI to justify Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, which states, “This treaty does not affect and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations of the Parties under the Charter of the United Nations or the responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Since 2001, Australia has maintained a presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. Adopting US rhetoric on security and terrorism, the Australian Defence Ministry described its presence in Afghanistan thus: “Our fundamental objective in Afghanistan is to combat a clear threat from international terrorism to both international security and our own national security. Australia cannot afford, and Australians cannot afford, to let Afghanistan once again become a safe haven and training ground for terrorist organisations.”

Needless to say, the war on terror accomplished a continuation of the terrorism fomented by the US in its plans to permanently destabilise the region. Following its involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, Australia has also cooperated with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) since 2005, thus prioritising security discourse at a national level.

In 2012, the Australia-NATO Joint Political Declaration established the foundations for cooperation and strategy – in other words, the prolongation of intervention abroad upon pretexts of security. The document recognises Australia as “one of the leading contributors to the NATO-led ISA mission in Afghanistan, which works under a UN Security Council mandate.”

Additionally, the declaration whitewashes foreign intervention through security concerns: “We understand the need to manage effectively risks and threats to our mutual interest, such as political instability from failed states, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and cyber-attacks.” This statement has been reflected in the recent partnership agreement signed by NATO and Australia earlier this month.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described Australia’s role as “helping us to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.” Days later, US President Donald Trump spoke about US presence in Afghanistan as a purported deterrent to prevent the country from becoming “a laboratory for terror.”

Far from deterring terrorism, international involvement in Afghanistan has created networks of terror which cannot be dissociated from foreign intervention. Dismantling terrorism in a failed state created by foreign intervention is the pretext for prolonged international presence.

Australia’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as a non-NATO member has been one of the most prominent and reportedly in relation to training missions, although it was also involved in capturing and detaining alleged terror suspects.

As early as 2003 while working in close cooperation with the US, Australia not only was knowledgeable about the torture and abuse meted out at Abu Ghraib in Iraq – it was also a participant. Documents reveal that Australia’s representative at Abu Ghraib, officer and military lawyer George O’Kane, blocked the International Committee of the Red Cross access to detainees undergoing torture sessions. The Australian Government’s response to the revelations refuted responsibility, stating that the techniques applied against detainees were in concordance with the Geneva Conventions.

Australia was also one of the countries, among them NATO members and allies, participating in the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) extraordinary rendition program, which involved the transfer of individuals suspected of terrorism to secret US detention and torture centres.

Speaking about the recently agreed framework, Stoltenberg highlighted Australia’s cooperation with NATO as focusing on preventing terrorism. “Training local forces is the best thing we can do in fighting terrorism; helping countries to stabilise their own countries.”

False premises instigated the war on terror. Maintaining it requires the regurgitation of past, dangerous lies. The West’s appropriation of what constitutes “individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law” has fomented perpetual war and subjugation to imperialist powers.

In the words of Australian Defence Minister as to the level of involvement of Australia in the region, “what we’re doing at the moment is assessing the ask from the United States, assessing what other allies are doing and how they’re considering this.” A simple statement that shows the Australian government has no consideration for the countries invaded by NATO, the mutating violence, dispossession of people and permanent instability. Neither, for that matter, will Australia assess its own involvement in terms of the human rights violations it helped to propagate. Dropping bombs in Iraq? Australia seems to have no problem with furthering an oppressive legacy.

August 29, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump fine-tunes peace deal with Taliban

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | August 22, 2019

The US President Donald Trump’s remarks at the Oval Office in the White House on August 20 regarding the Afghan peace talks and related issues exuded an overall sense of satisfaction that the “endless war” is finally ending —although issues still remain to be sorted out before the deal is closed.

This was also Trump’s first public assessment of the meeting he took last week with top officials, including the secretaries of state and defence, CIA director and US special representative on Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad who leads the American team of negotiators at the Doha talks with the Taliban.

Trump said more than once during his remarks to the media on Tuesday that the talks with the Taliban are going well, and he made it a point to acknowledge publicly that the Taliban genuinely want to stop fighting with the US troops. As he put it,

“I will say this: The Taliban would like to stop fighting us.  They would like to stop fighting us.  They’ve lost a lot.”

Trump threw light on what to expect. Clearly, the status quo is untenable and Trump intends to withdraw troops. But he is also convinced that the US should “always have somebody there.” Trump left it vague. Is Eric Prince preparing to walk in through that door?

On the other hand, Trump didn’t mince words about the US having a a strong intelligence presence in Afghanistan. That is because, as he put it, “Nobody can be trusted. Nobody can be trusted. In my world — in this world, I think nobody can be trusted.”

Trump has bought into the US military and security establishment’s plea that for ensuring that 9/11 type attacks do not repeat, a total American withdrawal from Afghanistan will be far too risky.

Interestingly, Trump taunted Russia (or any other country) to try to replace the US and NATO in Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires. He flagged that USSR shrunk to Russian Federation following its Afghan intervention. That was the nearest Trump came to admitting that the Afghan war cannot be won.

Significantly, in Trump’s estimation, Taliban does have the capability to prevent Afghanistan becoming a revolving door for international terrorists if it has the political desire to ply such a role. He seemed to imply that a peace deal that accommodates Taliban’s interests and concerns could incentivise the latter to be an ally in the fight against terrorism.

Trump never once disparagingly referred to the Taliban. On the contrary, Trump feels no particular commitment anymore to protect the Ashraf Ghani government. He even let it be known that he could “understand” why the Taliban has no respect for the Afghan government.

Does this mean that Trump may pull the plug on Ghani’s set-up? Most certainly, Trump’s remarks suggest that the US is distancing itself from the Kabul government and is gravitating toward neutral middle ground in the Afghan fratricidal strife.

This works fine for the Taliban and Ghani’s political opponents who have been demanding an interim government. Equally, the tenor of Trump’s remarks would suggest that the US no longer makes a fetish of “Afghan-led, Afghan controlled” dialogue between the Taliban and the Ghani government.

Trump carefully sidestepped any reference to Pakistan. But it goes without saying that Pakistani role is of crucial importance to his efforts in the coming weeks to reach a final agreement with the Taliban.

Looking ahead, it is inevitable that the US’ dependency on Pakistan is only going to increase, given the long-term American military and intelligence presence in Afghanistan and the imperative need to preserve good US-Taliban equations at the working level to counter terrorist threats.

Clearly, in Trump’s scheme of things, the US can learn to live with a Taliban government in Afghanistan.

In this backdrop of a US-Pakistan-Taliban triangle taking shape on the Afghan political chessboard, Pakistan is the big winner. No doubt, Pakistan will go the whole hog to install a friendly government in Kabul. The US is unlikely to put roadblocks.

Conceivably, Pakistan’s agenda includes a settlement of the Durand Line question. The US and western allies as well as China and Russia (and Iran) will be supportive of the resolution of the dispute over Durand Line, without which the lawless Pakistan-Afghan border regions would continue to be a sanctuary for terrorist groups.

Pakistan can hope to leverage the preponderant hold of the Taliban in the southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan. In turn, friendly, cooperative local governments in the Afghan border regions can be a factor of stability.

All in all, a favourable situation is at hand for Pakistan for the first time since independence in 1947. A big improvement in Pakistan’s internal security situation can be expected once a friendly government in Kabul stops promoting cross-border terrorism.

While big-power rivalries are a fact of life in world politics, the great game also allows convergence of interests between protagonists. The chances of China or Russia torpedoing the implementation of an Afghan peace settlement piloted and negotiated by the US under Trump’s watch are virtually zero.

In fact, Trump expressed no misgivings whatsoever on that score. On the other hand, the US is well aware that both China and Russia have direct links to the Taliban. The bottom line is that Afghanistan’s stabilisation is in everyone’s interests. Trump’s optimism is well-grounded that the endless war in Afghanistan is actually ending.

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Daesh Is Curiously Pursuing The Same Strategic Goal As India In Afghanistan

By Andrew Korybko | EurasiaFuture | 2019-08-18

Daesh claimed credit for a suicide bombing at a Pakistani mosque on Saturday that ended up killing the Taliban leader’s younger brother, briefly raising fears that the organization would pull out of its ongoing peace talks with the US in response. Those concerns were quickly dismissed after one of the group’s unnamed representatives told Reuters that “If someone thinks martyring our leaders would stop us from our goal they’re living in a fool’s paradise”, which was met with a sigh of relief by practically everyone in the world, that is, except India. The South Asian state doesn’t support the US’ decision to engage in peace talks with the Taliban, as the author elaborated upon earlier this year in his piece about “Reading Between The Lines: India Has Sour Grapes Over America’s Afghan Peace Talks“, which explained that New Delhi wants Washington to remain in Afghanistan indefinitely since its partner’s military presence guarantees that the landlocked country could be used to expand its “strategic depth” by functioning as a Hybrid War staging ground against the global pivot state of Pakistan.

It’s therefore curious that Daesh’s latest suicide attack in Pakistan could have fulfilled India’s political fantasy of sabotaging the US-Taliban peace talks and thus keeping the Pentagon indefinitely in Afghanistan. One would be inclined to believe that Daesh would prefer for the US to leave the country as soon as possible, yet the world’s most notorious terrorist group defied expectations through its brazen action that could have resulted in the opposite. While Daesh’s rivalry with the Taliban is well known, it’s difficult to believe that it would do what it did at this specific time given the ultra-sensitive context involved relating to the US’ possible withdrawal from Afghanistan if the peace talks succeed, so it certainly makes one wonder whether Indian intelligence might have had a hand in guiding events, at the very least. It wouldn’t exactly be unprecedented either since detained Hybrid War operative Kulbhushan Jadav admitted to organizing terrorist attacks in the Pakistani region of Balochistan, which is where Daesh’s latest one occurred.

There’s no way to know for sure whether this was the case or not, but it’s nevertheless a plausible theory when considering the aforementioned strategic variables at play. Indian intelligence has connections with terrorist groups and is using them as proxies for waging a Hybrid War on Pakistan that’s hitherto mostly been with the intent of sabotaging CPEC, so it’s not inconceivable that some of those same assets could be used to target the Taliban’s younger brother with the intent of provoking the group to pull out of its peace talks with the US. Should that have been the case, then this operation definitely failed, but it would reveal just how desperate India is to keep the American military in Afghanistan that it would resort to orchestrating a carefully calibrated terrorist attack that could have ended up being a global game-changer. It would also speak to just how distrustful India is of its new American military-strategic ally and represent an escalation of the incipient Hybrid War being waged by both of them against the other, albeit with India taking the step to make it kinetic whereas the US had kept it purely within the economic and diplomatic realms for now.

August 18, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Will Mercenaries Fight America’s Wars?

By Philip Giraldi | American Free Press | August 6, 2019

President Donald Trump’s pre-election pledge to end America’s useless wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan just might turn out to be somewhat less than what was promised if some political allies of the president have their way. For the past year there have been rumors circulating in Washington about the possibility of using mercenaries rather than American soldiers to keep the lid on a volatile Afghanistan and to arrange for regime change in countries like Venezuela.

It perhaps should surprise no one that a country dedicated to “free markets” should at least somewhat embrace the idea of using mercenaries to fight its wars. The concept is already embedded in the federal government, increasingly so since 9/11. A majority of the workers in the intelligence community as well as in the civilian ranks of the Pentagon are already paid contractors who work for the “Beltway bandit” firms that specialize in national security. A substantial number of those hires are armed paramilitaries operating in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Mideast and Africa.

The logic for going with contractors rather than employees has been that budgets go up and down, so it is the smart thing to have a lot of people working for you who are on one-year contracts and can be let go if the money to pay them is not authorized. The downside is that the average federal employee costs roughly $125,000 per year in pay and benefits. A contractor costs three times as much, which means that the taxpayer pays the piper for something that is a convenience for the government.

The most prominent advocate for mercenary armies is Erik Prince, an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump and the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater. Blackwater was a major private military contractor in Iraq, where it provided security for State Department operations and facilities. Notoriously, in 2007, Blackwater employees shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians at Nisour Square in Baghdad. One of Prince’s employees was eventually convicted of murder and three others have been convicted of manslaughter. Prince subsequently renamed the Blackwater security company and then sold it in 2010.

Prince, the scion of a wealthy Midwestern family that made its money selling auto parts, is himself a former Navy SEAL. Many of his Blackwater employees were drawn from the special operations community. His sister is Betsy DeVos, the conservative secretary of education, which certainly helps make sure that his views will be conveyed to the White House.

Two years ago, Prince was lobbying heavily in Washington in support of his plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan. He claimed that mercenaries operating in the special ops mode and not requiring a huge logistical tail could be more cost and manpower effective at fighting the similarly armed Taliban. But Prince did not see that as their primary mission, which would be training Afghan national forces while at the same time running the key elements in the country’s government that would support the effort, namely the treasury and national security team. In other words, it would be the foreign mercenaries in charge with the Afghan government going along for the ride until the situation would improve. Having the paid soldiers and their administrators in charge would also eliminate the pervasive Afghan government corruption, which has to this point crippled the war and training efforts.

It was a neat and also creative package that would at a stroke end direct U.S. involvement in the Afghan war, in a manner of speaking. It would also be quite lucrative for the company providing the mercenaries and the other support. Empirically speaking, however, it was always a nonstarter. The ability of a group of mercenaries to multitask in a difficult environment like Afghanistan has never been tested at this level, and it is impossible to imagine that the Afghan government would cede its authorities to a band of Americans and Europeans.

More recently, Prince has been supporting something similar, a private mercenary army of a few thousand men that would bring down the government of Venezuela’s socialist President Nicholas Maduro. Having learned from the Afghan experience that it is necessary to come up with the money before coming up with a plan, Prince has been discussing Venezuela with conservative Republican donors as well as with Miami-based Venezuelan millionaires, the so-called “bankers and oligarchs” that ran the country before the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998 forced many of them to go into exile. He has been seeking $40 million in seed money for the operation.

In private meetings in the United States and Europe, Prince sketched out a plan to field up to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. He has argued that a dramatic step is necessary to break through the standoff between Guaido and Maduro. Prince’s pitch detailing how he would accomplish a change in government features intelligence operations preceding deployment of those 5,000 mercenaries recruited in Latin America to conduct “combat and stabilization operations.”

The White House is cool to the plan, particularly in the wake of the poor intelligence that led to the badly bungled and embarrassing Venezuelan coup in May. It is currently more inclined to tighten sanctions to create more unrest, particularly as there are already reports of starvation in some parts of the country.

There also has been concern in Washington policy circles that the introduction of foreign soldiers in Venezuela could lead to civil war, something like a replay of what has been experienced in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Libya. But the most interesting aspect of the discussion is the fact that it is taking place at all. The United States of America, hostile to the ability of kings to initiate wars on their own authority, was founded in part in opposition to any permanent standing army beyond what was necessary for self-defense.

Now, the U.S. may be considering major military operations using mercenary armies to deal with undeclared and illegal wars thousands of miles away that do not even threaten the homeland. It is, unfortunately, just one more indication of how the United States has been changed beyond all recognition in the past 20 years.

August 7, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 3 Comments