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The Syria Deception, Part 1: Al-Qaeda Goes to Hollywood

Grayzone Project | September 15, 2018

This exclusive Grayzone investigative mini-doc by Dan Cohen exposes the cynical deceptions and faux humanitarianism behind the campaign to sell the dirty war on Syria. It will demonstrate the lengths that the US and its allies have gone to develop new ploys to tug at Western heartstrings and convince even liberal minded skeptics of war that a US intervention was necessary — even if it meant empowering Al Qaeda’s largest franchise since 9/11 and its theocratic allies among the insurgency. Big lies and little children have formed the heart of what is perhaps the most expensive, sophisticated, and shameless propaganda blitz ever conducted. Welcome to the Syria Deception.

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September 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon to present its own plan of ‘effective war on terror’ in Syria – without Russia

RT | September 8, 2018

Washington has its own plan on how to “effectively” combat terrorism in Syria, the Pentagon has said, adding that the US is not planning to cooperate with Moscow on the issue.

The US military strategists have found what they call a “better, more focused way” to do counterterrorism operations in Idlib, the US Department of Defense said in statement on Saturday. The US military revealed almost no details of its plan as the statement said only that it would involve “using the US capabilities to spot the terrorists – even in an urban environment – and take them out with a minimum of civilian casualties.”

Washington also apparently plans to go at it alone, without working with other actors present in the area as the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, “was not talking about cooperating,” the statement added. He also said that he had not spoken with his Russian counterpart, Army General Valery Gerasimov, since the tensions around the Syrian northern militant-held Idlib province began to rise, adding that the two military officials are also “not scheduled” to talk in the near future.

Instead, the US military once again warned against a government offensive on the province, which is largely controlled by extremists, including the Al Qaeda affiliate known as Tahrir al-Sham (former Al Nusra Front), which it claimed would lead to a “humanitarian disaster.”

“The consequences of a major offensive operation in Idlib will almost certainly be the suffering of a large number of innocent civilians,” Dunford told journalists.

The head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff also slammed the results of the summit between the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran on Syria, which was recently held in Tehran, by saying that the “meeting … failed” without going into further details.

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani discussed the situation in Syria and in the Idlib province in particular as part of the Astana peace process on Friday. All three nations agree that the threat of radical Islamists in Syria must be eliminated, but differed as to how this should be achieved.

While Iran advocated a strong-arm approach, Turkey objected to such an idea as it feared that a large-scale military operation could provoke a mass exodus of refugees to the neighboring Turkish regions. Eventually, a call for all armed groups in Idlib to lay down arms and seek a political transition was included in the final communique of the meeting. Both Turkey and Iran were, however, critical of the US presence in Syria.

Ankara was also persistent in its opposition to any potential offensive against extremists in Idlib. Turkey plans to stop any “anticipated attacks” on the militant-held province, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday, warning that any operation in Idlib could possibly lead to a “serious humanitarian tragedy.”

“Our aim is to stop airstrikes [in Syria’s Idlib]. We were anticipating attacks, which could have happened,” Cavusoglu said, adding that the clashes in the province “should stop” and the whole issue should be “resolved in line with the agreement and the spirit of Astana.”

September 8, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

VIPS Tells Media Support for Brennan is Not Unanimous

Consortium News | August 29, 2018

TO: The Media

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Support for Brennan Far From “Unanimous”

As former members of the intelligence community, we feel compelled to add our voice to the public debate surrounding President Trump’s revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance. This action is being falsely portrayed as an assault on Mr. Brennan’s right to free speech.

We note that some of our former colleagues, a number of whom have held prominent intelligence posts, joined the protest against the President’s actions — a phenomenon that provides stark reminder that the United States intelligence community is not a monolith but rather a collection of diverse individuals with a range of opinions on many issues, including what is right and wrong, We the undersigned veteran intelligence professionals agree with President Trump’s decision to strip Mr. Brennan of his clearance.

We also note with irony that several of the former officials protesting the President’s action have themselves been associated with significant misconduct. David Petraeus, who was convicted of sharing highly classified material with his mistress/biographer, is a case in point. As experienced intelligence officers, we believe security clearances should be granted as a sacred trust and not simply a permanent entitlement that comes with a high level job.

Anyone who has read VIPS memos knows we have often expressed opposition to this President’s actions — as we have to those of previous Presidents — on important substantive issues when the intelligence was faulty.

The issue for us is broader than the clearances of Mr. Brennan. We are appalled by the willful misreading by pundits and much of the media of the nature of security clearances. They are certainly not a constitutionally protected right, but a highly conditional privilege. Its granting comes with personal acceptance of restrictions on speech and association: among other things obligating one-time holders to a lifetime pre-publication review of writings that rely on information acquired in performing their official duties.

All of us signed secrecy agreements and accepted the burden of holding a clearance. We surrendered a part of our assumed right to free speech in service of our country’s welfare and safety. Those of us under cover kept secrets from family and friends. We no longer associated freely with foreign nationals; an active clearance carries the requirement to report contacts with them.

Moreover, security classification is provided by Executive Branch authority and is expressed with orders that are subject to change at the will of the current president (the exception to this being the so-called “Q” clearance established by law to protect nuclear weapons secrets, though this is also subject to presidential authority in granting or withdrawing clearance). Federal judges do not have automatic security clearances. Nor do members of Congress. They have access to secret information by virtue of their constitutional office and a presumed “need to know” in order to do their job.

Once a person separates from the intelligence community they can continue to hold a clearance provided they are employed as a contractor working on specific classified programs. There is simply no basis in law entitling anyone to permanent clearance. This includes John Brennan. It goes without saying that individuals who are granted continued clearance out of courtesy to their former high position remain accountable in their conduct, and that the Executive can revoke such clearances at will.

Mr. Brennan’s own record is clearly tarnished. When he was Chief of Station in Saudi Arabia prior to and after the bombing of Khobar Towers in June of 1996, rather than uphold the integrity of existing intelligence he went along with the decision to avoid creating problems with the Saudis. After the attack (which was carried out by Saudi elements linked to Bin Laden and Al Qaeda), Brennan helped push the meme that the culprits were Iran and Hezbollah.

As head of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center in 2003, Mr. Brennan failed to give the State Department complete statistics for terrorist attacks. The initial publication of “Patterns of Global Terrorism” in April 2004 touted a decline in terrorist attacks in 2003 as vindication of Bush Administration policies. The publication later had to be recalled and revised when it was discovered that the CIA had left out a month and a half of data. John Brennan was in charge of that process. Instead of receiving a reprimand, however, he ended up being promoted.

Mr. Brennan has assumed the role of passive spectator in building the fraudulent case to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He has claimed only vague awareness of the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation” program. Physical records tell a different story. Brennan was “cc-ed” on “a minimum of 50 memos” dealing with waterboarding and other torture techniques. Senator Saxbe Chambliss noted that Brennan’s boss, A. B. “Buzzy” Krongard, told the Wall Street Journal that Mr. Brennan had a role in setting the parameters of the program and “helping to seek Justice Department approval for the techniques.”

Mr. Brennan also attempted to cover up the truth about the CIA torture. Senator Mark Udall denounced his actions in a floor speech on December 10, 2014, the day after the Senate Intelligence Committee published the Executive Summary of the conclusions of its four-year investigation of CIA torture based on original CIA documents.  The investigation not only revealed almost unbelievably heinous practices, but also demonstrated that senior CIA officials were untruthful in claiming that “enhanced” techniques produced actionable intelligence that could not have been obtained by traditional interrogation practices.  With strong support from President Obama, Brennan, who was the CIA Director, aggressively fought publication of the Senate report.  Here’s Senator Udall:

“The CIA has lied to its overseers and the public, destroyed and tried to hold back evidence, spied on the Senate, made false charges against our staff, and lied about torture and the results of torture. And no one has been held to account. … There are right now people serving at high-level positions at the agency who approved, directed, or committed acts related to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.”

Mr. Brennan is now publicly insisting that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. What, however, was CIA Director Brennan saying when the alleged Russian meddling was taking place? Did he warn President Obama? Did he warn the leaders of the Congress? According to press reports Mr. Brennan did brief Democrat Senator Harry Reid on ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and Reid then wrote FBI Director James Comey demanding an investigation. However, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee has said he was not given the same briefing as Senator Reid. Introducing the weight of national intelligence into partisan politics, as Mr. Brennan appears to have done in his official capacity, is forbidden activity.

We have all held clearances and deeply believe in the importance of intelligence officers conducting themselves with professional integrity, particularly with regard to remaining unentangled in party politics. VIPS is comprised of men and women of highly diverse political views, from Republican to Democrat to Independent. We agree on one thing: when a professional intelligence officer obtains classified information they accept an obligation to appropriately report facts without regard to political leanings. This is not about being a Democrat or a Republican. It is about doing the job of unbiased intelligence analysis. That is why VIPS has, over the years, written memos challenging the intelligence basis for policies and decisions of George W. Bush and Barack Obama as well as Donald Trump.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:  

William Binney, Technical Director, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Richard H. Black, Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret.); Former Chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Larry C. Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counter Terrorism officer

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, USA (ret) (associate VIPS)

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Sarah G. Wilton, Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.); Commander, US Naval Reserve (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers. The organization, founded in 2002, was among the first critics of Washington’s justifications for launching a war against Iraq. VIPS advocates a US foreign and national security policy based on genuine national interests rather than contrived threats promoted for largely political reasons. An archive of VIPS memoranda is available at Consortiumnews.com.

August 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Neocons Demand ‘Crushing’ Sanctions on Russia

By Ron Paul | August 6, 2018

You can always count on the neocons in Congress to ignore reality, ignore evidence, and ignore common sense in their endless drive to get us involved in another war. Last week, for example, Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-NC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and others joined up to introduce what Senator Graham called “the sanctions bill from hell,” aimed at applying “crushing” sanctions on Russia.

Senator Graham bragged that the bill would include “everything but the kitchen sink” in its attempt to ratchet up tensions with Russia.

Sen Cory Gardner (R-CO) bragged that the new sanctions bill “includes my language requiring the State Department to determine whether Russia merits the designation of a State Sponsor of Terror.”

Does he even know what the word “terrorism” means?

Sen Ben Cardin (D-MD) warns that the bill must be passed to strengthen our resolve against “Vladimir Putin’s pattern of corroding democratic institutions and values around the world, a direct and growing threat to US national security.”

What has Russia done that warrants “kitchen sink” sanctions that will “crush” the country and possibly designate it as a sponsor of terrorism? Sen. Menendez tells us: “The Kremlin continues to attack our democracy, support a war criminal in Syria, and violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

There is a big problem with these accusations on Russia: they’re based on outright lies and unproven accusations that continue to get more bizarre with each re-telling. How strange that when US Senators like Menendez demand that we stand by our NATO allies even if it means war, they attack Russia for doing the same in Syria. Is the Syrian president a “war criminal,” as he claims? We do know that his army is finally, with Russian and Iranian help, about to defeat ISIS and al-Qaeda, which with US backing for seven years have turned Syria into a smoking ruin. Does Menendez and his allies prefer ISIS in charge of Syria?

And how hypocritical for Menendez to talk about Russia violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. The unrest in Ukraine was started by the 2014 US-backed coup against an elected leader. We have that all on tape!

How is Russia “attacking our democracy”? We’re still waiting for any real evidence that Russia was involved in our 2016 elections and intends to become involved in our 2018 elections. But that doesn’t stop the propagandists, who claim with no proof that Russia was behind the election of Donald Trump.

These Senators claim that sanctions will bring the Russians to heel, but they are wrong. Sanctions are good at two things only: destroying the lives of innocent civilians and leading to war.

As I mentioned in an episode of my Liberty Report last week, even our own history shows that sanctions do lead to war and should not be taken lightly. In the run-up to US involvement in the War of 1812, the US was doing business with both France and the UK, which were at war with each other. When the UK decided that the US was favoring France in its commerce, it imposed sanctions on the US. What did Washington do in response? Declared war. Hence the War of 1812, which most Americans remember as that time when the British burned down the White House.

Recent polls show that the majority of Americans approve of President Trump’s recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among Republicans, a vast majority support the meeting. Perhaps a good defeat in November will wake these neocon warmongers up. Let’s hope so!

August 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi-led coalition ‘victories’ achieved by striking deals with Al-Qaeda in Yemen – AP report

RT | August 6, 2018

An investigation has found that the US-backed, Saudi-led intervention in Yemen has cut secret deals with jihadists from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), paying them to leave cities rather than dislodging them by force.

The startling revelations come in stark contrast to the long-running US policy of trying to eliminate the jihadist organization with the help of allies from the Arabian peninsula, however, the more pressing aim of defeating Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen has seen AQAP effectively be on the same side as the Saudi-led coalition — and, by extension, the US, according to Associated Press (AP).

AP based their findings on reporting from the war-torn nation and interviews with two dozen officials, including Yemeni security officers, militia commanders, tribal mediators and four members of al-Qaeda’s branch. All but a few of those sources spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. Emirati-backed factions, like most armed groups in Yemen, have been accused of abducting or killing their critics.

The US and their allies have maintained that the last two years has seen them dislodge AQAP from their strongholds in Yemen and limiting their capability to launch attacks on the West.

What the investigation reveals, however, is that this was often done without firing a shot, with key participants saying the US was aware of the arrangements and held off on any drone strikes.

Due to the lack of reliant and effective partners on the ground, coalition partners have also reportedly hired al-Qaeda militants, or at the very least recent members, to fight in militias due to their reputation as “exceptional fighters,” AP said. They added that AQAP members have intertwined with the “dizzying mix of militias, factions, tribal warlords and tribes with very local interests.”

While there is no evidence to suggest that the US itself has given money to AQAP militants, partners involved in the Saudi-led coalition have. The aide of one militia commander recently added to Washington’s terrorism watch list for al-Qaeda ties told AP that the UAE continues to fund his operation.

Another militia commander who has an al-Qaeda figure as his closest aide was recently given $12 million by Yemen’s President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

While the US does not fund the Saudi-led coalition, it along with the UK, have sold billions of dollars in weapons to Arab partners, as well as providing logistical and targeting support.

While there is awareness and “angst” by “elements of the US military” that its activities in Yemen is strengthening AQAP, “supporting the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against what the US views as Iranian expansionism takes priority,” Michael Horton, a fellow at the analysis group Jamestown Foundation, told AP.

In an email to AP about their investigation, a Pentagon spokesperson denied any US support for AQAP or that they have been soft on drone strikes, and backed up its Arab allies’ commitment to tackling extremism.

“Since the beginning of 2017, we have conducted more than 140 strikes to remove key AQAP leaders and disrupt its ability to use ungoverned spaces to recruit, train and plan operations against the US and our partners across the region,” spokesman Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson wrote.

“Our regional partners have a proven track record of aggressively pursuing terrorist organizations and denying them safe haven in Yemen and DOD does not have any reason to doubt their resolve,” he added.

Saudi Arabia meanwhile says it has continued its commitment to combating extremism and terrorism. The UAE did not respond to AP’s request for comment.

August 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

The UK Government – and Not Russia – is the Real Threat to UK Security

By Neil Clark | Sputnik | April 2, 2018

Here we go again. In the UK government’s latest 52 page ’National Security Capability Review’, guess who’s right there at the top of the threats Britain faces? Yes – those dastardly Russians!

‘The resurgence of state-based threats, intensifying wider state competition and the erosion of the rules-based international order, making it harder to build consensus and tackle global threats’, the report says. ‘The erosion of the rules-based international order’? Excuse me? Didn’t that happen when the UK and its NATO allies bombed Yugoslavia- without UNSC approval in 1999- and when the UK and its allies illegally invaded Iraq — again without UNSC approval- in 2003?

According to the report, those events just didn’t happen. Instead ‘Russian State Aggression’ is the thing we should all be worried about. The long litany of alleged Russian crimes include ‘supporting the Assad regime‘ and the ‘illegal annexation of Crimea’. Never mind that the so-called ‘Assad regime‘ requested Russian assistance in fighting ISIS [Daesh]/al-Qaeda linked jihadists whose co-ideologists have brought terror to the streets of Britain.

Nor that the predominately Russian people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly in a democratic referendum to return to Russia following a western-backed regime change operation in Ukraine in which virulently anti-Russian nationalists and neo-Nazis provided the cutting edge. Let’s not let little things like facts get in the way shall we?

Despite the British government providing no proof that Russia was responsible for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, or indeed that the Novichok nerve agent was definitely used, the report states boldly: The indiscriminate and reckless use of a military-grade nerve agent on British soil was an unlawful use of force by the Russian State.

The truth is that the official government narrative on Salisbury has more holes in it than a slab of Swiss cheese.

And that was before we were told last week that the oh-so-deadly nerve agent was probably on the Skripal’s front door- the door which police officers had been touching on a regular basis as they came in and out of the house.

As in 2003, with the UK government’s Iraqi WMD claims, a conspiracy theory is being presented as 100% established fact.

Everything is back to front. We’ve entered the ‘Through the Looking Glass’ world of Lewis Carroll- where we‘re being asked by Theresa May and co to believe six impossible things before breakfast.

Far from posing a threat to British security, Russian actions in the Middle East are actually making British citizens safer. It’s the UK government which has been putting our lives at risk- not the ‘evil Putin‘.

The UK‘s neo-conservative foreign policy — which has been followed by Labour and Conservative governments over the past 20-or so years, has involved targeting independently-minded secular states for violent regime change. None of these states threatened Britain or the British public. On the contrary, they were actually opposed to the extremist terror groups who DO pose a threat. By working to destabilise countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria, the UK government has greatly boosted the cause of global terrorism.

Saddam Hussein may have been a dictator but he was never going to attack Britain. By toppling the Iraqi strongman, and dismantling the entire state apparatus, Britain facilitated the rise of the Islamic State [Daesh] — a group whose adherents have carried out attacks against UK citizens.

In Libya, Britain — and NATO acted as the air-force of radical jihadist groups — as part of their strategy to oust Muammar Gaddafi. Members of the so-called Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were able to travel freely between Britain and Libya. ‘The evidence points to the LIFG being seen by the UK as a proxy militia to promote its foreign policy objectives,’ writes Mark Curtis. ‘Both David Cameron, then Prime Minister, and Theresa May — who was Home Secretary in 2011 when Libyan radicals were encouraged to fight Qadafi — clearly have serious questions to answer.’

The first major ‘blowback’ to British citizens of the UK government‘s Libya policy came in 2015, when British tourists were killed by terrorist attacks in neighbouring Tunisia. One was killed in an attack on the Bardo National Museum in March 2015, while three months later, 30 British tourists lost their lives in the holiday resort of Port El Kantaoui. Among those killed was Denis Thwaites, a former professional footballer with Birmingham City. Tunisia had been a safe place for British tourists — before Cameron and co set about ‘regime-changing’ Libya and turning the country into a jihadists playground. It was reported that the Port El Kantaoui terrorist, Seifeddine Rezgui, had trained in an ISIS camp in ‘liberated’ Libya.

Then in May 2017, 22 people were blown up when leaving a pop concert in Manchester by Salman Abedi. The radicalised bomber had only returned from ‘liberated’ Libya a week earlier and is believed to have fought with his father with the LIFG, against Gaddafi — (and on the same side as NATO), six years earlier.

Again, remind me who is the biggest threat to UK security — the UK government — or Russia?

Having ticked off Libya from their ‘To Do’ list, the neocons in the UK government turned their attentions to Syria. Again, here was a country whose secular government posed no threat to the UK. President Bashar al-Assad, who trained as an eye doctor in London and whose wife Asma was born in England and brought up in Acton, could have been an ally, if the UK had been genuinely interested in fighting Islamist terrorism. But instead the UK supported hardcore Islamists, euphemistically referred to as ‘rebels‘ to try and bring down the Assad government.In June 2015, Seumas Milne reported how a trial in London of a man accused of terrorism in Syria had collapsed — when it emerged that British Intelligence had been backing the very same ‘rebel‘ groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

‘Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much,’ Milne noted. But it was not an isolated case.

The government is now talking about a new ‘Fusion Doctrine’ to ‘strengthen our collective approach to national security’. But here’s a better strategy. Let’s change our foreign policy. Let’s stop regime-change wars and destabilisation campaigns against countries which mean us no harm. Let’s stop supporting jihadist ‘rebels’ abroad in pursuance of neo-conservative objectives. Let’s start respecting international law. And let’s stop blaming Russia for problems which have been created at home.

April 3, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

UK, US De Facto Confirmed Support of Syria Terrorists – Russian Diplomat

Sputnik – 05.03.2018

The United Kingdom and the United States de facto confirmed their support of terrorists in Syria by rejecting Russian amendments for the UN Human Rights Council resolution on the situation in Eastern Ghouta, Russian permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva Gennady Gatilov told Sputnik.

“The amendments which we introduced should have been supported by all states which do not want the conflict to escalate, and those who sincerely want to achieve the resolution of the Syrian crisis and elimination of the terrorist threat. But the conclusion may be drawn that those who initiated this resolution are not interested in the resolution of the Eastern Ghouta crisis, and de facto continue supporting militants turning a blind eye to their crimes,” he said.

In a separate comment, Aleksei Goltiaev, a Senior Counselor at the Russian mission to the UN Office Geneva, said Monday that Moscow considers the UN HRC statement on the situation in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta “disconnected from the situation on the ground.”

The council voted in favor of adopting the UK-proposed draft resolution, rejecting amendments proposed by Russia. As many as 29 members of the council voted in favor of adopting the document, four officials voted against and 14 abstained.

Moscow proposed adding clauses to the resolution that states condemn all terrorist acts in Syria, including those in East Ghouta, and refuse to provide any support for terrorists on the territory of the country. Therefore, the refusal of the HRC members to accept Russia’s amendments shall be regarded by Moscow as an outright demonstration of support for terrorists.

In addition, Moscow had appealed to the states participating in the vote to add to the text of the resolution a paragraph on the crimes of militants against civilians in East Ghouta and to include a clause on humanitarian corridors to ensure the safe evacuation of civilians.

The draft resolution set forth by the UK condemns the massive violation of human rights in Syria. In particular, London proposed condemning attacks on medical facilities and civilian infrastructure, “airstrikes against civilians,” and the “alleged use of chemical weapons in East Ghouta.”

The vote in the HRC on the UK-proposed draft comes after, on February 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2401 introducing a 30-day truce on the entire territory of Syria to ensure the safety of humanitarian aid and the medical evacuation of those injured. However, the ceasefire regime does not cover military operations against the Daesh, al-Qaeda, and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) terrorist groups.

The humanitarian situation in the suburb east of the Syrian capital has drastically deteriorated since February 18, when Syrian government forces launched an operation codenamed “Damascus Steel,” in a bid to clear the region of militants. According to the Russian military, the terrorist groups in the region are purposely struggling to escalate the situation in East Ghouta, preventing civilians from leaving the area and provoking retaliatory fights against the Syrian government.

READ MORE:

What Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You About Eastern Ghouta

March 5, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Authoritarians Who Silence Syria Questions

By Jonathan Cook | CounterPunch | February 28, 2018

I am loath to draw more attention to the kind of idiocy that passes for informed comment nowadays from academics and mainstream journalists. Recently I lambasted Prof Richard Carver for his arguments against BDS that should have gained him an F for logic in any high school exam.

Now we have to endure Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, using every ploy in the misdirection and circular logic playbook to discredit those who commit thought crimes on Syria, by raising questions both about what is really happening there and about whether we can trust the corporate media consensus banging the regime-change drum.

Whitaker’s arguments and assumptions may be preposterous but sadly, like Carver’s, they are to be found everywhere in the mainstream – they have become so commonplace through repetition that they have gained a kind of implicit credibility. So let’s unpack what Whitaker and his ilk are claiming.

Whitaker’s latest outburst is directed against the impudence of a handful of British academics, including experts in the study of propaganda, in setting up a panel – the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media – to “provide a source of reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policymakers” on Syria. The researchers include Tim Hayward of Edinburgh University and Piers Robinson of Sheffield University.

So what are Whitaker’s objections to this working group? Let’s run through them, with my interjections.

Whitaker: They dispute almost all mainstream narratives of the Syrian conflict, especially regarding the use of chemical weapons and the role of the White Helmets search-and-rescue organisation. They are critical of western governments, western media and various humanitarian groups but show little interest in applying critical judgment to Russia’s role in the conflict or to the controversial writings of several journalists who happen to share their views.

Western governments and western corporate media have promoted a common narrative on Syria. It has been difficult for outsiders to be sure of what is going on, given that Syria has long been a closed society, a trend only reinforced by the last seven years of a vicious civil-cum-proxy war, and the presence of brutal ISIS and al Qaeda militias.

Long before the current fighting, western governments and Israel expressed a strong interest in overthrowing the government of Bashar Assad. In fact, their desire to be rid of Assad dates to at least the start of the “war on terror” they launched after 9/11, as I documented in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations.

Very few corporate journalists have been on the ground in Syria. (Paradoxically, those who have are effectively embedded in areas dominated by al Qaeda-type groups, which western governments are supporting directly and through Gulf intermediaries.) Most of these journalists are relying on information provided by western governments, or from groups with strong, vested interests in Assad’s overthrow.

Should we take this media coverage on trust, as many of us did the lies promoted about Iraq and later Libya by the same western governments and corporate media? Or should we be far more wary this time, especially as those earlier regime-change operations spread more chaos, suffering and weapons across the Middle East, and fuelled a migrant crisis now empowering the far-right across much of Europe?

Whitaker and his ilk are saying we should not. Or more disingenuously, Whitaker is saying that the working group, rather than invest its energies in this supremely important research, should concentrate its limited resources on studying Russian propaganda on Syria. In other words, the researchers should duplicate the sterling efforts of Whitaker’s colleagues in daily attributing the superpowers of a James Bond villain to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s a counter-proposal: how about we leave well-funded western governments and media corporations to impugn Putin at every turn and on every pretext, while we allow the working group to check whether there is a large (larger?) mote in the west’s eye?

Whitaker: The worrying part, though, especially in the light of their stated intention to seek ‘research funding’, is their claim to be engaging in ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of media reporting on Syria.

Is this really so worrying? Why not allow a handful of academics to seek funds to try to untangle the highly veiled aid – money and arms – that western governments have been pumping into a war tearing apart Syria? Why not encourage the working group to discern more clearly the largely covert ties between western security services and groups like the White Helmets “search-and-rescue service”? One would think supposedly adversarial journalists would be all in favour of efforts to dig up information about western involvement and collusion in Syria.

Whitaker: But while members of the group are generally very critical of mainstream media in the west, a handful of western journalists — all of them controversial figures — escape similar scrutiny. Instead, their work is lauded and recommended.

More of Whitaker’s circular logic.

Of course, the few independent journalists (independent of corporate interests) who are on the ground in Syria are “controversial” – they are cast as “controversial” by western governments and corporate journalists precisely because they question the consensual narrative of those same governments and journalists. Duh!

Further, these “controversial” journalists are not being “lauded”. Rather, their counter-narratives are being highlighted by those with open minds, like those in the working group. Without efforts to draw attention to these independent journalists’ work, their reporting would most likely disappear without trace – precisely the outcome, one senses, Whitaker and his friends would very much prefer.

It is not the critical thinkers on Syria who are demanding that only one side of the narrative is heard; it is western governments and supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and the Guardian’s George Monbiot. They think they can divine the truth through … the corporate media, which is promoting narratives either crafted in western capitals or derived from ties to groups like the White Helmets located in jihadist-controlled areas.

Again, why should the working group waste its finite energies scrutinising these independent journalists when they are being scrutinised – and vilified – non-stop by journalists like Whitaker and by big-budget newspapers like the Guardian ?

In any case, if official western narratives truly withstand the working group’s scrutiny, then the claims and findings of these independent journalists will be discredited in the process. These two opposed narratives cannot be equally true, after all.

Whitaker: The two favourites, though, are Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley — ’independent’ journalists who are frequent contributors to the Russian propaganda channel, RT. Bartlett and Beeley also have an enthusiastic following on ‘alternative’ and conspiracy theory websites though elsewhere they are widely dismissed as propagandists.

“Widely dismissed” by … yes, that’s right, Whitaker’s friends in the corporate media! More circular logic. Independent journalists like Bartlett and Beeley are on RT because Whitaker’s chums at British propaganda outlets – like the Guardian and BBC – do not give, and have never given, them a hearing. The Guardian even denied them a right of reply after its US-based technology writer Olivia Solon (whose resume does not mention that she was ever in Syria) was awarded a prominent slot in the paper to smear them as Kremlin propagandists, without addressing their arguments or evidence.

Whitaker: [Bartlett and Beeley’s] activities are part of the overall media battle regarding Syria and any ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of the coverage should be scrutinising their work rather than promoting it unquestioningly.

There is no “media battle”. That’s like talking of a “war” between Israel, one of the most powerful armies in the world, and the lightly armed Palestinian resistance group Hamas – something the western corporate media do all the time, of course.

Instead there is an unchallenged western media narrative on Syria, one in favour of more war, and more suffering, until what seems like an unrealisable goal of overthrowing Assad is achieved. On the other side are small oases of scepticism and critical thinking, mostly on the margins of social media, Whitaker wants snuffed out.

The working group’s job is not to help him in that task. It is to test whether or how much of the official western narrative is rooted in truth.

Returning to his “concerns” about RT, Whitaker concludes that the station’s key goal:

is to cast doubt on rational but unwelcome explanations by advancing multiple alternative ‘theories’ — ideas that may be based on nothing more than speculation or green-ink articles on obscure websites.

But it precisely isn’t such “green-ink” articles that chip away at the credibility of an official western consensus. It is the transparently authoritarian instincts of a political and media elite – and of supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and Monbiot – to silence all debate, all doubt, all counter-evidence.

Because at heart he is an authoritarian courtier, Whitaker would like us to believe that only crackpots and conspiracy theorists promote these counter-narratives. He would prefer that, in the silence he hopes to impose, readers will never be exposed to the experts who raise doubts about the official western narrative on Syria.

That is, the same silence that was imposed 15 years ago, when his former newspaper the Guardian and the rest of the western corporate media ignored and dismissed United Nations weapons experts like Scott Ritter and Hans Blix. Their warnings that Iraq’s supposed WMD really were non-existent and were being used as a pretext to wage a disastrous colonial war went unheard.

Let’s not allow Whitaker and like-minded bully-boys once again to silence such critical voices.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chlorine attack reported in Syria after Russian warning

Press TV – February 26, 2018

A suspected new chemical attack has reportedly hit the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta just after Russia warned that militants were planning a gas attack there to pin it on the Syrian government.

Militant sources were quoted as saying that several people suffered symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine gas in the al-Shayfouniya area on Sunday, and one child was killed.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is sympathetic to militants, said 14 civilians had suffered breathing difficulties after a Syrian warplane struck the village in the Eastern Ghouta region.

The London-based center quoted victims, ambulance drivers and others as saying that they had smelt chlorine after “an enormous explosion” in the area.

“At least 18 victims were treated with oxygen nebulizing sessions,” Reuters news agency quoted an unidentified militant source as saying.

The Syrian government has consistently denied using chemical weapons in the war that will soon enter its eighth year.

For years, foreign-backed militants have appeared to release chemical substances in the areas close to the site of government airstrikes and capture the aftermath on videos.

On Sunday, videos released by militants depicted a child’s corpse wrapped in a blue shroud, and several bare chested men and young boys appearing to struggle for breath, with some holding nebulizers to their mouths and noses.

The suspected gas attack came just after the Russian Defense Ministry warned Sunday that militants were preparing to use toxic agents in Eastern Ghouta so they could later accuse Damascus of employing chemical weapons.

Last April, the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria in response to what it claimed was a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 100 people.

The Syrian army is currently in the midst of an operation to drive violent Takfiri militants out of Eastern Ghouta from where they launch mortar attacks on Damascus.

A ceasefire announced by the UN Security Council on Saturday does not apply to the areas held by Daesh, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front along with “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities” associated with the terrorist groups.

On Sunday, Iran’s Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri said that the architects of the ceasefire had it passed at the UN in order to forestall the Syrian army’s eradication of terrorists in the Damascus suburbs.

“The West and supporters of the terrorists insisted that this ceasefire be put in place,” he said of the resolution which demands a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

“We will adhere to the ceasefire resolution; Syria will also adhere,” Baqeri said, while noting that parts of the suburbs of Damascus, which are held by the terrorists, are not covered by the ceasefire and clean-up operations will continue there.

The Syrian government surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

Western governments and their allies however have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack has taken place.

In April, a suspected sarin gas attack hit the town of Khan Shaykhun in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, taking at least 80 lives. Accusing Damascus, the US then launched several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base.

Earlier in February, French President Emmanuel Macron said if the use of chemical weapons against civilians were proven in Syria, “France will strike.”

February 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

US-Russia rivalry surges in Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 20, 2018

A major speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday at an international conference on the Middle East turned into the strongest Russian denunciation to date of the shift in the US policies under the Trump administration towards Syria, where the Pentagon now intends to keep a military presence indefinitely. (here and here)

The overall impression Lavrov conveyed is three-fold. One, in immediate terms, a spurt in fighting in Syria can be expected, as the US attempts to create new facts on the ground by using local proxies — Kurdish militia plus al-Qaeda affiliates and ISIS fighters — as well as to push back at Russia, Iran and the Syrian government.

Two, Russia concludes that the shift in the overall US strategy aims at balkanizing Syria. (Later on Monday, while speaking to the media in Moscow, Lavrov also drew attention to the presence of mercenaries and the Special Forces of France and Britain in northeastern Syria working in league with the US forces in implementing the American agenda to create zones of influence.)

Three, the conversation between Moscow and Washington regarding Syria is at a dead end. Lavrov specifically warned Washington that it is “playing with fire” in Syria, implying that the US strategy will run into resistance.

Two other features of the Moscow conference in Moscow are that, first, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif took part in it, and, second, the event also talked up a Russian mediatory role to calm down the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Zarif told Lavrov at a meeting in Moscow on Monday that Tehran seeks Russia’s help in resolving the intra-regional rifts in the Muslim Middle East. Later, Zarif posted on his official Tweeter account: “With Russia’s sober strategic perspective and its growing influence in West Asia, it can play an instrumental role to help a paradigm shift in the Persian Gulf to one based on dialogue and inclusion.”

The conference was attended by non-official delegates from several Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, King Abdullah of Jordan had paid a ‘working visit’ to Moscow on February 15 and met Putin. On the previous day, Lavrov had spoken to his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Hassan Shoukry on phone. Yesterday, Putin also telephoned Turkish President Recep Erdogan. The focus was on Syria in all these exchanges.

The Russian strategy will be to persuade important regional states who have been the US’ key regional allies – Saudi Arabia and Jordan, in particular – not to rejoin the conflict in Syria by fueling a new round of fighting. If the approach succeeds, the US may find itself at a disadvantage in lacking regional support for pressing ahead with the military track.

However, although Russia’s ties with Saudi Arabia have appreciably strengthened in the recent years, Moscow’s capacity to mediate a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement remains to be seen. Syria continues to be a major source of rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And, the irony is that, finally, the Trump administration is doing what Saudi Arabia had wanted the previous Obama administration to do by pushing upfront the ‘regime change’ agenda in Syria through coercive methods.

In the Saudi perception, Russia suffered a series of setbacks in Syria recently. Summing up the Syrian situation, Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of the influential Saudi establishment daily Asharq Al-Awsat wrote on Monday, “ Never before have all these flags, interests, dangers, armies, militias, internal divisions and regional and international clashes come together on its (Syria’s) territories. From the South to Idlib to Hmeimem to Afrin, Syria is like a powder keg. It is at the heart of a complex and vast geo-strategic conflict that is impossible to resolve with force and where losses and rewards will be difficult to predict… The regional and international circumstances do not appear ripe for… talks to happen. The Syrian tragedy is open to the most dangerous possibilities.”

The Saudi inclination will be to wait and watch which way the winds are blowing. On the other hand, the war in Yemen remains Saudi Arabia’s number one priority today and Riyadh seeks a Russian role in ending the war in Yemen by leveraging its influence with Iran.

February 20, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Al-Qaeda Ended Up With Anti-Aircraft Missiles: Here Is The Congressional Authorization

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | February 6, 2018

After the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a rebrand of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the dramatic downing of a Russian Su-25 fighter jet over Idlib in northwest Syria on Saturday – the first Russian plane downed in Syria since 2015 – a number of analysts have published articles asking the obvious million dollar question: where did al-Qaeda get the portable anti-aircraft missile system used in the attack?

Once such article in Al Monitor speculates on the following: “The three immediate questions that arose from the attack were how the downing was made possible, how the militants acquired the arms and whether there was a bigger-level player behind the attack.”

MANPADS are heat seeking shoulder fired missiles capable of hitting targets flying at anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 feet.

And Al Monitor seems to answer its own question in the following when listing the array of allied groups now operating under the leadership of al-Qaeda (HTS) – among them groups previously “vetted” and approved to receive advanced weaponry by the CIA (specifically the TOW anti-tank missile):

Dozens of miles of Idlib province are contested among an array of groups, including the terrorist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a rebrand of Jabhat al-Nusra, which was affiliated with al-Qaeda; the Free Syrian Army; and its affiliate Jaish al-Nasr, which is considered a “moderate opposition group” that received weapons from the United States. Minutes after the downing of the Su-25, Alaa al-Hamwi, the military commander of Jaish al-Nasr’s aid defense battalion, claimed responsibility for the attack. Alaa argued that Jaish al-Nasr’s command supplied weapons to protect against the Russian air assault.

Later, however, HTS claimed responsibility for downing the plane.

Though US intelligence and defense officials have long denied that so-called “vetted” groups in Syria were recipients of anti-aircraft systems, rumors to the contrary have been persistent for years. The latest denial came immediately on the heels of Saturday’s Russian jet shoot down, which resulted in the death of the pilot on the ground as he came under fire by jihadists. Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway told Russia’s TASS: “The United States have not provided any of its allied forces in Syria with anti-aircraft weapons.”

The Pentagon spokesman further said, according to RT, that the US-led coalition is currently not engaged in any operations in the area where the jet was downed Saturday, indicating the coalition’s combat efforts are “geographically orientated on the current fight with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) in eastern Syria.” Yet the statement clearly avoided any reference to past US programs to arm so-called “moderates” – whether through the secretive CIA program or DoD program. And this is to say nothing of allies like Saudi Arabia who worked closely with US intelligence for years in supplying weapons to anti-Assad militants.

But does anyone remember this? …from The Wall Street Journal all the way back in February of 2014, headlined Saudis Agree to Provide Syrian Rebels With Mobile Antiaircraft Missiles – U.S. Also Giving Fighters Millions of Dollars for Salaries

Washington’s Arab allies, disappointed with Syria peace talks, have agreed to provide rebels there with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, according to Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures.

Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition for the first time Chinese man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads, and antitank guided missiles from Russia, according to an Arab diplomat and several opposition figures with knowledge of the efforts. Saudi officials couldn’t be reached to comment.

The U.S. has long opposed arming rebels with antiaircraft missiles for fear they could fall into the hands of extremists who might use them against the West or commercial airlines. The Saudis have held off supplying them in the past because of U.S. opposition.

And also this March 2014 report from US government-funded Voice of America news:

Saudi Arabia reportedly is offering to provide Syrian rebels more sophisticated weapons, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that can take down fighter planes and helicopter gunships. They could be a game changer in the Syrian civil war. Known as MANPADS or man-portable air defense systems, the shoulder-fired missiles are a highly-effective weapon.

Now, Saudi Arabia is offering to supply moderate rebels with these weapons. That could tip the balance on the battlefield.

… President Barack Obama is said to be rethinking U.S. strategy toward Syria. No doubt arming the Syrian rebels will be on the agenda when Obama travels to Saudi Arabia in late March.

Meanwhile, in February 2018 there’s this to consider…

Al-Qaeda controls a strip of land (Idlib province) not far from the Mediterranean coast, and has now clearly demonstrated the capability of shooting down aircraft. 


In 2014 a historical first was reached: al-Qaeda established a foothold on the Mediterranean coast after it took the Syrian town of Kessab, but has since been pushed back into Idlib.

However, al-Qaeda still remains a very short drive to the Mediterranean coast, with Syrian government territory in between. 

MANPADS (“man-portable air-defense system”) have appeared on the Syrian battlefield in recent years in the hands armed opposition groups supported by the West and Gulf states, including various FSA and Islamist factions – some of which, as Al Monitor confirms, operate today in Idlib.

These groups have at various times filmed and demonstrated themselves to be in possession of these externally supplied MANPADS long before last weekend’s Russian jet downing. The portable systems are believed by analysts to have entered Syria in multiple waves via different routes and external sponsors, including old Soviet models shipped out of Libya, Chinese FN-6’s provided by Qatar, and through NATO member Turkey’s porous border with Syria. Some supplies were also likely gained through opposition takeovers of Syrian government storehouses as well as ISIS seizures of Iraqi government bases and equipment.

Most likely, United States intelligence operatives simply allowed its close allies like the Saudis and Turks to introduce MANPADS early on in the conflict to the Syrian battlefield. In this way the US could maintain “plausible deniability” as it is likely doing now after last weekend’s attack.

But a detail which has gone largely unnoticed since the Russian fighter downing is that Congress had already quietly laid the legal framework for US transfer of MANPADS to groups in Syria over a year ago as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (the NDAA passed the House and Senate in the opening weeks of December 2016). The leading military news site SOFREP reported the authorization at the end of 2016, and described at the time that “Congress for the first time authorized the Department of Defense to provide vetted-Syrian rebels with anti-aircraft missiles.”

Concerning procedural rules, the NDAA requires that the Secretaries of Defense and State submit a formal request to Congress requesting the transfer of the anti-aircraft missiles systems to Syria, which must include the following according to the SOFREP report:

  • A detailed description of each element of the vetted Syrian opposition receiving MANPADS
  • The justification for providing those elements with MANPADS
  • The number and type of MANPADS provided
  • The logistics plan for resupplying approved elements with MANPADS
  • The duration of support

And SOFREP included the following observation:

The inclusion of the provision represents a departure from previous versions of the NDAA. The original House bill specifically prohibited the transfer of MANPADS to “any entity” in Syria, while the Senate bill did not address it.

Though there was an attempt in March 2017 to roll back the authorization, nothing appears to have changed regarding MANPADS and Syria in the 2018 NDAA, which was signed into law by President Trump.

Here’s the law authorizing US transfer of MANPADS to Syria as contained in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):

However, long before this formal NDAA legal framework was put into effect, it appears anti-aircraft systems were already being handed out among Syrian militant groups – again, likely through the Saudis or a third party US ally. In May 2016 we featured the following commentary:

Dr. Christina Lin, a leading scholar on jihadist groups, opens her April 8th commentary at Asia Times: “In a blunder reeking of the fallout caused by supplying Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to 1980s mujahideen in Afghanistan, civilian airline passengers are now under threat from Syrian jihadists armed with portable surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS).

Reports say some American-backed jihadi groups are being equipped with US-made MANPADS. Indications are they’re obtaining these advanced weapons either directly or indirectly from the US or its Mideast allies in connection with a recent escalation in the fighting in Syria.”

And further:

Dr. Lin quotes a Saudi official as saying (in Germany’s Spiegel), “We believe that introducing surface-to-air missiles in Syria is going to change the balance of power on the ground… just like surface-to-air missiles in Afghanistan were able to change the balance of power there.” He was referring there to this in 1979, where Obama’s friend Zbigniew Brzezinski explained why the Americans and the Saudis were supplying SAMs to the mujahideen who became al-Qaeda, and he was also referring to this in 1998, where Brzezinski, when asked whether he thought that arming those fundamentalist Sunnis had been a mistake, said that it certainly was not.

And an unpleasant reminder which bears repeating…

The threat of MANPADS taking out civilian passenger jets is very real, as history proves. The US Department of State counted that 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by MANPADS since the 1970s, which includes the complete downing of 28 civilian airliners resulting in over 800 fatalities. The State Department’s official report on MANPADS and civilian aircraft provides the following partial list of attacks on civilian aviation:

  • March 12, 1975: A Douglas C-54D-5-DC passenger airliner, operated by Air Vietnam, crashed into Vietnamese territory after being hit by a MANPADS. All six crew members and 20 passengers were killed in the crash.
  • September 3, 1978: An Air Rhodesia Vickers 782D Viscount passenger airliner crash landed after being hit by a MANPADS fired by forces from the Zimbabwe Peoples Revolution Army. Four crew members and 34 of the 56 passengers were killed in the crash.
  • December 19, 1988: Two Douglas DC-7 spray aircraft en route from Senegal to Morocco, chartered by the U.S. Agency for International Development to eradicate locusts, were struck by MANPADS fired by POLISARIO militants in the Western Sahara. One DC-7 crashed killing all 5 crew members. The other DC-7 landed safely in Morocco.
  • September 22, 1993: A Tupolev 154B aircraft operated by Transair Georgia was shot down by Abkhazian separatist forces, crashed onto the runway and caught fire, killing 108.
  • April 6, 1994: A Dassault Mystère-Falcon 50 executive jet carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and its French flight crew was shot down over Kigali, killing all aboard and sparking massive ethnic violence and regional conflict.
  • October 10, 1998: A Boeing 727-30 Lignes Aeriennes Congolaises airliner was downed over the Democratic Republic of the Congo jungle by Tutsi militia, killing 41.
  • December 26, 1998: A United Nations-chartered Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport was shot down over Angola by UNITA forces, killing 14.
  • January 2, 1999: A United Nations Lockheed L-100-30 Hercules transport was shot down by UNITA forces in Angola, killing 9.
  • November 28, 2002: Terrorists fired two MANPADS at an Arkia Airlines Boeing 757-3E7 with 271 passengers and crew as it took off from Mombasa, Kenya. Both missiles missed.
  • November 22, 2003: A DHL Airbus A300B4-203F cargo jet transporting mail in Iraq was struck and damaged by a MANPADS. Though hit in the left fuel tank, the plane was able to return to the Baghdad airport and land safely.
  • March 23, 2007: A Transaviaexport Ilyushin 76TD cargo plane was shot down over Mogadishu, Somalia, killing the entire crew of 11.

February 7, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 5 Comments

Declassified Files Reveal Britain’s Secret Role in the Soviet-Afghan War

By Kit Klarenberg | Sputnik | January 29, 2018

Newly published declassified files reveal the UK provided financial, material and practical support to jihadist fighters before and during the Soviet campaign, in what may well represent the country’s largest covert overseas operation since 1945.

On December 27 1979, the Soviet Union started a campaign in Afghanistan at the request of the country’s government, in response to a violent rebellion by extreme Islamic opposition elements. The conflict quickly became an international effort, with thousands flocking from the Middle East and North Africa to assist Afghan Muslims in a “holy war” against the Soviet Army.

American support for these fighters, under the auspices of Operation Cyclone, is well-documented. While supportive of these efforts, then-UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and other officials either did not mention, or actively denied, the country’s involvement in the conflict.

However, newly published declassified files reveal Britain played a significant role in the financing, arming and training of mujahideen fighters before and during the Soviet operation, going so far as to help execute sabotage missions in the Soviet Union itself.

On July 3 1979, US President Jimmy Carter signed a covert directive that provided secret aid to violent opposition fighters in Afghanistan. As Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s National Security Advisor, later explained, the aid was sent in the full knowledge it would prompt the government to request Soviet military assistance.

“That secret operation was an excellent idea. It [drew] the Russians into the Afghan trap. The day the Soviets crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: we now have the opportunity of giving the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow [carried[ on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire,” Brzezinski told Counterpunch in 1998.

However, the files indicate the US was not alone – Britain likewise covertly supported the Afghan rebels before the Soviet invasion.

On December 17 1979, 10 days prior to the Soviet Army’s entrance to the country, US Vice President Walter Mondale convened a meeting in the White House – officials agreed to discuss with Britain “the possibility of improving the financing, arming and communications of the rebel forces to make it as expensive as possible for the Soviets to continue their efforts.”

The UK duly agreed to train the jihadist resistance in Afghanistan, and send military specialists to support their efforts.

While the operation was carried out entirely in secret, Thatcher effectively acknowledged the policy – and its motivations – on January 28 the next year, during a parliamentary debate.

“If [the Soviet] hold on Afghanistan is consolidated, the Soviet Union will have vastly extended its borders with Iran, acquired a border over 1,000 miles long with Pakistan, and advanced to within 300 miles of the Straits of Hormuz, which controls the Persian Gulf.”

The files reveal while the US provided far more in financial and material terms to the Afghan jihad, the UK played a direct combat role, with covert British forces – in particular the SAS – practically supporting resistance groups.

Current and former SAS officers trained numerous jihadi forces at MI6 and CIA bases in Saudi Arabia and Oman, teaching them sabotage, reconnaissance, attack planning, arson, and how to use explosive devices, heavy artillery such as mortars, and attack aircraft, among other things.

The SAS also, in conjunction with US special forces, training Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG), which led insurrectionary operations in Afghanistan, in the hope officers could impart their learned expertise directly to jihadists in Afghanistan.

Mujahideen were also trained in the UK – snuck into the country as tourists, they spent three-weeks at a time in camps situated in Scotland and the North of England. A key trainer was Brigadier General Rahmatullah Safi, former senior officer in the royal Afghan army who, who’d lived in the UK since the 1970s.

He trained as many as 8,000, continuing to live in the UK well into the 1990s, when he was regarded by the United Nations as the Taliban’s key representative in Europe, by then the undisputed rulers of Afghanistan.

Another key individual supported by the UK was Hadji Abdul Haq, of the Hizb-i-Islami group. He was provided 600 ‘Blowpipe’ anti-aircraft missiles missiles and maps of Soviet military positions by MI6, and introduced to the CIA.

Unlike many other jihadist groups, Haq had no qualms about targeting innocent civilians, arranging the infamous September 1984 bombing at Kabul airport, which killed 28, and attacks on hotels.

Despite this, in March 1986 he was welcomed to the UK as a guest of Thatcher. An official spokesperson explained at the time the Prime Minister had “a degree of sympathy with the Afghan cause” as they were “trying to rid their country of invaders, which you cannot say of the ANC or PLO.”

In reality, far in excess of a “degree of sympathy” with Afghan fighters, by that point the UK’s role in the conflict entailed directly military involvement not only in Afghanistan, but the Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union.

MI6 organized and executed “scores” of terror strikes in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, on the basis Soviet Army troop supplies flowed from these areas – the first direct Western attacks on the Soviet Union since the 1950s. MI6 also funded the spread of extremist Islamic literature in the Soviet republics.

Soviet forces would eventually leave Afghanistan February 15 1989, leaving the government of Mohammed Najibullah to be overthrown in 1992. By 1996, the Taliban had taken control of the country, during which time strong restrictions were imposed on women, public executions were reinstituted, and international aid was prevented from entering Afghanistan, leading to thousands of deaths through starvation.

Consequences Ignored

The US/UK policy had significant ramifications not only for the future of Afghanistan, but the world. During the conflict, many individuals funded, armed and trained by the West formed militant groups, which in years to come would carry out terrorist attacks across the Middle East, Europe and North America.

For instance, the globally infamous Al-Qaeda was led and peopled by former members of the anti-Soviet jihadist resistance – in a July 8 2005 column for The Guardian, former UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook noted the group’s leader, the now-slain Osama Bin Laden, was “throughout the 1980s” armed by “the CIA, and funded by the Saudis, to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.”

“Al-Qaeda, literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians,” Cook wrote.

Missing from Cook’s list of culpable parties were the British, and MI6. While there is no evidence of direct financial or material support given to Bin Laden by London in the files, he is known to have been granted entry to the UK on many occasions through the 1980s, speaking at several mosques and Islamic centers.

Moreover, several camps used by the mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan war, such as the infamous Tora Bora,were constructed with British funding – these camps would subsequently serve as training centers and planning hubs for domestic and international terror strikes by Al-Qaeda.

The weaponry supplied by the UK to extremist forces also assisted the efforts of extremist groups in Afghanistan and elsewhere. For instance, Blowpipe missiles have regularly been found in Taliban and Al-Qaeda arms-caches across the country since the 2001 US-led invasion – as late as 2010, the mainstream media was reporting the shoulder-fired missiles were a major threat to US troops.

In essence, the UK both directly and indirectly assisted in the global rise of Islamist terrorism in the wake of the conflict – were it not for their arms, supplies, training and funding, scores of extremists would lack the means and infrastructure to plan and conduct major atrocities.

January 29, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment