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Joe Biden and Terrorism

By Daniel Lazare | Strategic Culture Foundation | November 28, 2020

As Joe Biden unveils his hawkish cabinet picks, it’s hard not to get the sense that we’re all hurtling back in time to those glorious days of regime change when the United States believed it had a sacred right to topple any government that got in its way. It also seems like we’re returning to the days that when jihadi terrorism aimed at America and its allies was horrible, terrible, a crime against humanity, and so on, while terrorism aimed at people the US didn’t like was, well, distasteful and unpleasant but not something to bring up in polite company.

While no one wants to blow up innocent civilians, in other words, what really counts is which civilians and in whose behalf.

With that in mind, it’s worth revisiting a talk that then-Vice President Biden gave at Harvard’s Kennedy School in October 2014. If you enjoy listening to an empty-headed politician spouting endless clichés, you can access all ninety minutes of it here. But if you’re not a glutton for punishment, you can jump to the 53:35 mark and zero in on Sleepy Joe’s specific thoughts regarding America’s Mideast partners and their inordinate fondness for ISIS and Al Qaeda.

The topic was the US-Saudi effort to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and here’s what the veep had to say, run-on sentences and all:

“The Saudis, the emirates, etc. what were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. … So now what’s happening? All of a sudden everybody is awakened because this outfit called ISIL, which was Al Qaeda in Iraq when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space and territory in … eastern Syria, worked with Al Nusra, who we declared a terrorist group early on, and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them. So what happened? Now all of a sudden, I don’t want to be too facetious, but they have seen the Lord. … Saudi Arabia has stopped funding, Saudi Arabia is allowing training on its soil… the Qataris have cut off their support for the most extreme elements of terrorist organizations, and the Turks, President Erdogan told me, he’s an old friend, he told me, you were right, we let too many people through. Now he’s trying to seal their border….”

Words like these are worth savoring because they undermine years of propaganda about American exceptionalism and the US as a force for good. Obama, for instance, claims to oppose sectarianism. Yet here was his second-in-command saying that US allies didn’t merely want to topple Assad, but that they wanted to topple him by fomenting “a proxy Sunni-Shia war.”

In other words, they wanted to mobilize thousands of bigoted Sunni head-choppers in order to topple the Alawite president of one of the most religiously diverse countries in the Middle East.

Obama also claims to oppose terrorism and, of course, vehemently objects to any suggestion that Al Qaeda is a western creation. Yet here was Biden stating in the very next sentence that Saudi Arabia & Co. had “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into … Al Nusra and Al Qaeda” and that “we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.”

So they did supply Al Qaeda despite US protests, which, in any event, were strictly private. While Biden went on to say that the Saudis have seen the light thanks to the dramatic rise of the Al Qaeda offshoot known as ISIS or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), his wording was curious. Qatar, he said, had cut off support for “the most extreme elements,” while adding that Turkey, after admitting that it had let too many fighters traverse its border, was now trying to close the barn door after the horse had left.

But what does “most extreme” mean? That Qatar was still funding some Al Qaeda elements providing that they were not too outré? As for letting “too many people through,” was Biden suggesting that Turkey was right to let some Al Qaeda fighters cross, but that too many were spoiling the stew?

So it seems, and so numerous other reports attest. So not only did the Saudis fund Al Qaeda and ISIS to the hilt, they cut off aid to the latter only when they finally figured out, as Biden went on to say, “that ISIL’s target wasn’t Ramadi” in northern Iraq, but Mecca and Medina in their own kingdom. Killing thousands of people, raping and enslaving hundreds of Yazidi women, imposing a terrifying theocracy – such activities are permissible as long as they remain confined to Syria and Iraq. But once they threaten the House of Saud, well, that’s more than any civilized nation can bear.

The fresh-faced Harvard students who listened to such nonsense did not respond by booing, jeering, or tossing buckets of red paint. Amazingly, they instead responded with polite applause. Even more striking was the reaction when word got back to Washington. Instead of congratulating Biden for his forthrightness, Obama ordered him to go on what the New York Times described as “a Middle East apology tour” by phoning up Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Ankara, etc. and conveying his personal regrets – not for being incorrect, that is, but for being indiscreet. Vice presidents are supposed to know what they can and cannot say in a public place.

All of which calls to mind something known as the Bush Doctrine. In case no one can remember that far back, it goes like this:

“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

So George W. Bush told a joint session of Congress just a few days after 9/11, and since no subsequent administration has expressly repudiated those words, presumably they’re still in effect. If so, then the next time reporters get an opportunity, they should ask the president-elect if he still supports the doctrine and whether he plans to sever ties with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the UAE if he does.

They might also ask Hillary Clinton whether she would recommend a cut-off since, right around the time Biden was holding forth at Harvard, she was confiding in an email that “the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia … are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.” It’s yet another example of top US officials saying one thing in public and the opposite when they think no one is listening.

Of course, the chances of severing ties with the Saudis are zero, while the chances of America’s fearless press corps posing such a question in the first place are nil as well. The Saudis may be terrorists, but they’re America’s terrorists, and that’s all that counts.

November 28, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Acting US Def Sec Miller Formally Announces Plans to Cut Troops in Afghanistan, Iraq to 2,500 Each

By Daria Bedenko – Sputnik – 17.11.2020

Earlier on Monday, CNN reported, citing two US officials, that Pentagon anticipated President Donald Trump to issue an order this week regarding troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan by 15 January.

Acting Defence Secretary Christopher Miller announced on Tuesday that President Trump will cut the number of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,500 each by 15 January 2021.

“By 15 January, 2021, our forces, their size in Afghanistan will be 2,500 troops. Our force size in Iraq will also be 2,500 by that same day,” Miller told reporters during a Defence Department briefing.

The decision falls in line with Trump’s intention to finish “endless wars”, as Miller said the moves were announced to “bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a successful and responsible conclusion and to bring our brave service members home”.

“This is consistent with our established plans and strategic objectives, supported by the American people, and does not equate to a change in US policy or objectives”, Miller outlined.

Reaction to Troop Reduction Announcement

Shortly after the decision was announced, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Trump hopes to bring all US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan home “safely and in their entirety” by May.

Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnel, reacted to the announcement moments later, warning against any major changes in the US foreign or defence policy, including the troops drawdowns, in the coming months.

“It is extremely important here in the next couple of months not to have any earthshaking changes in regard to defense or for policy”, McConnell said.

Reports about the order to reduce troops in Afghanistan and Iraq emerged earlier on Monday, saying that a “warning order” to start planning the troops reduction was already released by Pentagon, despite warnings by then-Defence Secretary Esper against rapid withdrawal of the US forces from the countries.

Esper was replaced with Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christopher Miller by Trump earlier this month.

Trump vs ‘Endless Wars’

It has been one of the key Trump’s pledges in his campaign to put an end to American “endless wars” in foreign countries, as he vowed to reduce the number of the US military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In October, Trump tweeted that all US troops should be home by Christmas, with US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien later saying that thousands of American servicemen were “on path” to, on the contrary, remain there.

In Iraq, there are estimated 3,000 US troops, and roughly 4,500 American military forces are stationed in Afghanistan.

After Washington reached a deal with the Taliban* in February, Trump began to withdraw troops from the country, with further withdrawal coinciding with September peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Qatar.

November 17, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Sorry, Google and World Bank, but Middle Eastern Crops Keep Thriving

By H. Sterling Burnett | ClimateRealism | November 4, 2020

Google News today is promoting articles (see the Google-promoted PhysOrg article here, for example) about a speculative World Bank “study” claiming climate change is threatening crop production in the Middle East. The World Bank study is full of speculation but short on facts. Real-world data show crop yields per acre and total crop production are consistently and dramatically rising in each of the Middle East countries examined by the World Bank study.

In its study, titled “Water in the Balance,” the World Bank says, “[w]hile information about water scarcity at present and in the future is available there is little knowledge of what this increasing scarcity means for Middle Eastern … food security. Agriculture will suffer because of climate change and water scarcity….”

In particular the World Bank asserts water scarcity caused by climate change will reduce farm production in Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. The available evidence strongly suggests that will not happen.

Had the study’s authors examined real-world data concerning crop production in the Middle Eastern countries, they would have found, even amidst substantial strife in the region, crop yields and overall production have increased dramatically. More food is being produced even as thousands of acres of agricultural lands have been abandoned during regional conflicts.

Data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization show during the period of modest warming since 1989:

It is clearly good news – and not a climate crisis – that Middle Eastern countries have increased crop production despite the fact that many of them have been embroiled in internal political strife, outright civil warfare, and external conflicts. That good news is ignored in the World Bank’s doom-and-gloom report.

Global warming lengthens growing seasons, reduces frost events, and makes more land suitable for crop production. Also, carbon dioxide is an aerial fertilizer for plant life. In addition, crops also use water more efficiently under conditions of higher carbon dioxide, losing less water to transpiration. The latter fact should have allayed the World Bank’s concern about climate change induced water shortages leading to crop failure.

The benefits of more atmospheric carbon dioxide and a modestly warming world have resulted in 17 percent more food being available per person today than there was 30 years ago, even as the number of people has grown by billions. Indeed, the last 20 years have seen the largest decline in hunger, malnutrition, and starvation in human history.

Sorry, World Bank, Google, and PhysOrg, but that does not equate to a climate crisis.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is managing editor of Environment & Climate News and a research fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute. Burnett worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis for 18 years, most recently as a senior fellow in charge of NCPA’s environmental policy program. He has held various positions in professional and public policy organizations, including serving as a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Task Force in the Texas Comptroller’s e-Texas commission.

November 5, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq Forms Committee to Develop Timeline for Withdrawal of US Troops

Sputnik – 15.10.2020

The Iraqi authorities have formed a committee that will coordinate with the United States to develop the timeline for the withdrawal of US troops from the Middle Eastern country, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

“The meeting took place at the Foreign Ministry headquarters today, Thursday, October 15, 2020, in which a technical committee emerged to undertake the task of coordinating with the US side to schedule the redeployment of US forces outside Iraq,” the Iraqi Foreign Ministry wrote in a press release.

The decision was taken during a meeting involving Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, National Security Adviser Qassem Al-Araji, and a range of other security officials.

The establishment of the committee follows a series of meetings between US and Iraqi officials over the summer. In August, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhmi travelled to Washington for talks with US President Donald Trump, and a three-year timeline was established for the US withdrawal.

In early January, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel all foreign forces from the country following the US decision to launch a drone attack near Baghdad International Airport that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

Iran to use funds in Iraq for basic goods imports: CBI governor

Press TV – October 12, 2020

Iraq has agreed to release Iranian funds blocked in the Arab country because of American sanctions for Iran’s purchase of staples and basic goods, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) governor Abdolnasser Hemmati said after meetings with senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad on Monday.

Hemmati said in a post on his Instagram page that some “good agreements” had been reached on the issue in a trilateral meeting involving him and his Iraqi counterpart as well as the CEO of Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) where the Iranian funds are blocked.

Iran has billions of dollars in a TBI account which processes Iraq’s payments for imports of natural gas and electricity from Iran.

However, the funds have been blocked because of US sanctions on Iran which restricts the use of dollar for transactions involving Tehran.

Hemmati said Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi had welcomed the agreement to use the funds to reimburse Iran’s basic goods imports.

“In the meeting with the Iraqi premier … he issued the required orders to the Iraqi central bank and the TBI to speed up the implementation of the agreement,” said Hemmati, adding that Kadhimi had vowed to personally follow up the case on a weekly basis.

Hemmati made a first visit to Baghdad in June to pursue the case of blocked funds in Iraq. The CBI governor had expressed optimistic remarks about the release of funds in Iraq on that occasion but a final decision on the issue has been waiting reportedly because of growing American pressure on Baghdad.

A high-ranking trade and banking delegation accompanied Hemmati in his Monday trip to Iraq. The top banker said the visit would bolster the already growing trade relations between the two countries.

Iraq is only second to China in purchase of goods and services from Iran with recent figures showing Iranian exports to the Arab country reached $565 million in value terms in the Persian calendar month to September 21.

October 12, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

US forces must leave Iraq or will be forcibly expelled: Kata’ib Hezbollah

Press TV – October 10, 2020

Iraq’s anti-terror Kata’ib Hezbollah group, which is part of the country’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), has warned American forces against remaining in the Arab country, saying they will be forcibly expelled by means of resistance if they insist on maintaining their presence much to the dismay of Iraqis.

Muhammad Mohi, spokesman for Kata’ib Hezbollah, told Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network on Saturday that the resistance will become stronger if the US insists on its obstinacy regarding its exit from Iraq.

Kata’ib Hezbollah is an anti-US unit operating under Hashd al-Sha’abi – an Iraqi umbrella group also known as PMU, which includes more than 40 militia groups fighting Takfiri terrorism.

He further slammed the US for making attempts to dissolve the PMU, saying Washington will fail to limit the role of the anti-terror forces.

The Iraqi forces, he said, are able to counter any possible threat against the country, adding that by remaining in the region, the US wants to guarantee the security of Israel and implement US President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century.

“The cause of the crises in the region is the American arrogance and its attempt to dominate the world,” he said, adding that the US” must respect the will of Iraq,” and immediately leave the country.

Reiterating the military capabilities of Iraqi resistance groups, Mohi called on the country’s parliament to implement its decision to expel American forces from Iraq.

Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters have played a major role in the liberation of areas held by Daesh terrorists ever since the Takfiri group launched an offensive in the country, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

In November 2016, the Iraqi parliament voted to integrate the PMU, which was formed shortly after the emergence of Daesh in Iraq in 2014, into the military.

The popular group, however, is a thorn in the side of the United States, which is widely believed to be managing an array of militant groups, including Daesh, to advance its Israel-centric agenda in the region.

In 2009, the US State Department blacklisted Kata’ib Hezbollah and imposed sanctions on the group, which has been the frequent target of American airstrikes in Iraq.

Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill on January 5, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign troops following the US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s PMU, and their companions.

Later on January 9, former Iraqi prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the move.

The 78-year-old politician said Iraq rejected any violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military’s violation of Iraqi airspace in the assassination airstrike.

The US has refused to withdraw its troops, with Trump balking at the idea with the threat to seize Iraq’s oil money held in bank accounts in the United States.

October 10, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Israel and the World Refugee Crisis

If Americans Knew | October 4, 2020

There are 26 million people worldwide who have fled to other countries as refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18. Israel plays a role in over 80% of the world’s refugees. This 3 minute video explains how. For a short video with basic information on Israel by author Alison Weir see:

https://youtu.be/IPpFIKC0Fo0

For information on the $38 billion to Israel see:

https://israelpalestinenews.org/congr…

https://israelpalestinenews.org/senat…

https://ifamericansknew.org/stat/cost…

SOURCES: Israel’s Arms Sales and Clients

https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/f…

https://jacobinmag.com/2018/11/israel…

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion…

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/01/18/p…

https://www.972mag.com/israeli-weapon…

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/i…

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/1…

https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-isra…

https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-6-80…

https://www.finalcall.com/artman/publ…

https://theconversation.com/kashmiris…

October 4, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Dark Side of the 1991 Gulf War

Tales of the American Empire | November 22, 2019

The 1991 Gulf war is remembered as a great war. In reality, worldwide sanctions would have forced Iraq to peacefully withdraw. The Gulf war cost billions of dollars, killed or sickened a million people, left the region much worse off, assisted Iran, and caused a worldwide economic recession.

________________________________________

The creation of oil-rich Kuwait by Britain; Keesing’s; July 8, 1961; http://web.stanford.edu/group/tomzgro…

“Gulf War Documents: Meeting between Saddam Hussein and US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie”; Wikileaks/Global Research; March 5, 2012; https://www.globalresearch.ca/gulf-wa…

Stephen C. Pelletiere’s Jan 31, 2003 New York Times OpEd on the evidence that Iran was responsible for the gassing of 5000 Kurds at Halabja, not Iraq: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/31/op…

“Overwhelming Force – What happened in the final days of the Gulf War?”; Seymour Hersh; New Yorker; May 22, 2000; http://cryptome.org/mccaffrey-sh.htm

“Lucky War; Third Army in Desert Storm”; Richard M. Swain; US Army Command and General Staff College Press; 1994; https://history.army.mil/html/bookshe…

Video of tons of foreign munitions blown up at the Iraqi Khamisiyah storage area in 1991: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzrqj…

September 27, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

US warns it is shutting down Baghdad embassy: WSJ

Press TV – September 27, 2020

The US has reportedly said it is closing its embassy in Baghdad unless Iraq prevents rocket attacks.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly called Iraqi President Barham Salih and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Sunday.

“What we’re being told is that it is a gradual closure of the embassy over two to three months,” an Iraqi official was cited as saying in a Wall Street Journal report.

A State Department official also took the chance to point the finger at Iran.

“The Iran-backed groups launching rockets at our embassy are a danger not only to us but to the government of Iraq, neighboring diplomatic missions,” the official was cited as saying.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday condemned any assaults on diplomatic places, saying such attacks in Iraq must be stopped.

He touched upon attacks carried out against Iran’s diplomatic locations and highlighted the necessity of guaranteeing the dignity and security of Iranian diplomats in Iraq.

The heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, which hosts foreign diplomatic sites and government buildings, have been frequently targeted by rockets and explosives in the past few years.

September 27, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 2 Comments

Canadian Troops in Saudi Arabia a Legacy of Support for Iraq War

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | September 9, 2020

The revelation that Canadian soldiers have been in Saudi Arabia for 17 years highlights Canada’s ties to the repressive monarchy, contribution to the Iraq war and hollowness of Canadian foreign policy mythology.

Recently researcher Anthony Fenton tweeted, “raise your hand if you knew that there was a ‘Detachment’ of Canadian soldiers serving under US auspices operating AWACS spy planes out of a Saudi Arabian air base since the war on Iraq began in 2003 to THE PRESENT DAY.”

The Canadian soldiers stationed at Prince Sultan Air base near Riyadh represent another example of Canada’s military ties to the authoritarian, belligerent monarchy. Canadian naval vessels are engaged in multinational patrols with their Saudi counterparts in the region; Saudi Air Force pilots have trained in Alberta and Saskatchewan; Montreal-based flight simulator company CAE has trained Saudi pilots in numerous locales; Canadian-made rifles and armoured vehicles have been shipped to the monarchy, etc.

According to DND, Canada’s deployment to Saudi Arabia began on February 27, 2003. That’s four weeks before the massive US-led invasion of Iraq. The Canadians stationed in Riyadh were almost certainly dispatched to support the US invasion and occupation.

In another example of Canadian complicity in a war Ottawa ostensibly opposed, it was recently reported that Canadian intelligence agencies hid their disagreement with politicized US intelligence reports on Iraq. According to “Getting it Right: Canadian Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, 2002-2003”, Canada’s intelligence agencies mostly concluded that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, which was the justification Washington gave for invading Iraq. While CSIS delivered a report to their US counterparts claiming Iraq was seeking nuclear weapons capabilities, more serious analyses, reported the Canadian Press, were “classified ‘Canadian Eyes Only’ in order to avoid uncomfortable disagreements with the U.S. intelligence community which would exacerbate the sensitivities affecting relations at the political level.”

As Richard Sanders has detailed, Canada supported the US-led invasion of Iraq in many ways: Dozens of Canadian troops were integrated in US units fighting in Iraq; US warplanes en route to that country refueled in Newfoundland; Canadian fighter pilots participated in “training” missions in Iraq; Three different Canadian generals oversaw tens of thousands of international troops there; Canadian aid flowed to the country in support of US policy; With Canadian naval vessels leading maritime interdiction efforts off the coast of Iraq, Ottawa had legal opinion suggesting it was technically at war with that country.

As such, some have concluded Canada was the fifth or sixth biggest contributor to the US-led war. But the Jean Chrétien government didn’t do what the Bush administration wanted above all else, which was to publicly endorse the invasion by joining the “coalition of the willing”. This wasn’t because he distrusted pre-war US intelligence or because of any moral principle. Rather, the Liberal government refused to join the “coalition of the willing” because hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets against the war, particularly in Quebec. With the biggest demonstrations taking place in Montréal and Quebecers strongly opposed to the war, the federal government feared that openly endorsing the invasion would boost the sovereignist Parti Québecois vote in the next provincial election.

Over the past 17 years this important, if partial, victory won by antiwar activists has been widely distorted and mythologized. The recent National Film Board documentary High Wire continues the pattern. It purportedly “examines the reasons that Canada declined to take part in the 2003 US-led military mission in Iraq.” But, High Wire all but ignores Canada’s military contribution to the war and the central role popular protest played in the “coalition of the willing” decision, focusing instead on an enlightened leader who simply chose to do the right thing.

The revelation that Canadian troops have been stationed in Saudi Arabia for 17 years highlights our military ties to the Saudi monarchy and warfare in the Middle East. It also contradicts benevolent Canada foreign policy mythology.


Yves Engler is the author of 10 books, including A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Film Review | , , , | Leave a comment

At Least 37 Million People Displaced by US War on Terror, Study Finds

Sputnik – 08.09.2020

A new report by the Costs of War Project has found that at least 37 million people have been displaced by the US War on Terror; however, the group warns that the estimate is conservative and the real total could be far higher.

According to a report published on Tuesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, at least 37 million people have been displaced, either internally or been forced to become refugees, in eight different countries as a result of the US War on Terror, begun in 2001.

For comparison, the population of the US state of California is 39.5 million, and the population of Canada is 37.59 million. However, the researchers warn that is a “very conservative” estimate, as the true number could be closer to between 48 and 59 million people.

The report focused on eight conflicts, including declared and undeclared war zones, where the US has carried out military operations under the guise of destroying international terrorism: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines.

The group’s data was compiled from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In Afghanistan, some 5.3 million people have been displaced in total since 2001, although this number is in considerable dispute, as the researchers concluded that 2.1 million Afghans had fled the country since 2001, but they also found evidence that as many as 2.4 million had fled just between 2012 and 2019. Another 3.2 million have been displaced internally. The researchers noted, however, that war and civil turmoil in the Central Asian country has continued almost nonstop since the late 1970s.

In neighboring Pakistan, the US war near the Afghan border has displaced some 3.7 million people, including 360,000 refugees abroad and 1.56 million from the border area.

Meanwhile in Libya, where the US supported the 2011 overthrow of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, at least 1.2 million people have been displaced in what the IDMC called a “state collapse trigger[ed] mass displacement.” At the start of 2020, the report notes, 451,000 remained internally displaced, and the civil war continues to rage.

Iraq has the largest total number, with 9.2 million people displaced by several wars. In March 2003, the US launched a massive invasion of Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and the brutal counterinsurgency war that erupted afterward had displaced some 4.7 million people by 2007. While the US war in Iraq officially ended in 2011, war erupted again just three years later in 2014, when Daesh roared into existence, and the US once again became involved in major combat operations in Mesopotamia. By 2020, 650,000 Iraqis remained refugees abroad, and 1.4 million had been internally displaced.

In neighboring Syria, where Daesh first established its would-be caliphate amid a civil war raging since 2011, the US became involved at several distinct levels over the years. The report was very truncated in its analysis, looking just at the five provinces where US forces fought on the ground – Aleppo, al-Hasakah, al-Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and Homs – and only since 2017.

By those criteria, 7.1 million had been displaced, including 470,000 internally. However, 220,000 of those have been just since October 2019, when the Turkish invasion of eastern Syria pushed 220,000 Kurds from their homes, including 17,900 who crossed the border into Iraq for safety.

However, the report notes that if a different metric were used – one including all of Syria beginning in 2013, when the US started arming Syrian rebel militias – the number of displaced persons increases massively to between 44 and 51 million people.

In Somalia, where the US has waged or supported wars for decades, “virtually all Somalis have been displaced by violence at least once in their life,” the Norwegian Refugee Council is quoted as saying in the report. From a population of 15 million, some 4.2 million have been displaced by US operations, including 80,000 refugees and 3.4 million internally displaced persons.

Like Somalia, Yemen has seen war rage for decades. The US began airstrikes in Yemen in 2002, pursuing al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but conditions deteriorated catastrophically in 2015, when Saudi Arabia and several of its allies, including the US, launched a war against the Yemeni Houthi movement.

The ongoing war, in which Saudi, Emirati and Moroccan aircraft have bombarded the country and supported militias on the ground as well as forces loyal to ousted Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, has displaced 4.4 million people. In 2019 alone, 400,000 more people were displaced. According to the OCHA, 100,000 Yemenis have been killed by combat operations since 2015, and another 130,000 have died from hunger and disease.

The Philippines is the only country on the list not located in southwestern Asia or northern or eastern Africa. However, the US-supported military operations in Mindanao against groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group have displaced some 1.7 million Filipinos, nearly all of them internally.

“In documenting displacement caused by the US post-9/11 wars, we are not suggesting the US government or the United States as a country is solely responsible for the displacement. Causation is never so simple,” the authors note in the report. “Causation always involves a multiplicity of combatants and other powerful actors, centuries of history, and large-scale political, economic, and social forces. Even in the simplest of cases, conditions of pre-existing poverty, environmental change, prior wars, and other forms of violence shape who is displaced and who is not.”

September 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Troop Withdrawal from Iraq isn’t an ‘American Retreat’

By Salman Rafi Sheikh – New Eastern Outlook – 04.09.2020

The US president is reportedly in talks with Iraq’s Prime Minister to bring the current level of US troops in Iraq down to the level of 2015. This change will see troop number coming down from the current 5200 to about 3500, indicating a US ‘drawdown’ from Iraq following the Iraqi parliament’s resolution to force all US troops out of the country. While, on the face of it, these talks indicate a massive ‘respect for the Iraqi sovereignty’ and Trump’s resolve to end the US’ ‘endless wars’, a deep look at the wider regional and American core strategic interests indicates that not only America’s wars are not ending, the ‘drawdown’ does not mean ending region’s militarization too, although it does have some significance for Trump’s own domestic political interests ahead of elections.

For Trump supporters, he is fulfilling yet another of the promises he made during his previous campaign. He is withdrawing from Afghanistan, is bringing home thousands of troops from Germany and has already withdrawn 500 troops from Syria. While this may bode well politically, strategically he is still continuing America’s wars, particularly against Iran. This was indeed what Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, said in a virtual conference organized by the United States Institute of Peace. To quote him:

“As I look at the theater, we remain focused on Iran as our central problem. This headquarters focuses on Iran, executing deterrence activities against Iran, and doing those things”, adding that “The threat against our forces from Shiite militant groups has caused us to put resources that we would otherwise use against ISIS to provide for our own defense and that has lowered our ability to work effectively against them.”

McKenzie’s comments are very much consistent with what the Trump administration has been trying to do against Iran in the form of re-imposition of arms embargoes, a stubborn insistence that has already become a fiasco, indicating how fast the US is losing its ability to unilaterally design global scenarios.

It is, therefore, imperative to understand that bringing US troops level down does not indicate a step towards an imminent US-Iran normalization. For instance, even if the US troops were there to check Iran’s influence, the US is still very much into establishing its political and economic tentacles in Iraq through non-military means. This is evident from the expanding US economic presence in Iraq to supposedly reduce Iraq’s dependence on Iran for meeting its energy needs.

Five US firms, including Chevron Corp, have already signed agreements with the Iraqi government. These agreements were signed on the sidelines of Kadhimi’s recent visit to the US where he discussed with Trump the future of US troops in Iraq and the continuing need for the training of Iraqi troops. Chevron has already been drilling oil in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. With the second largest US oil company now set to establish itself in the mainland Iraq as well, there remains little gainsaying that the US is rapidly allowing for replacing Iraq’s dependence on Iran with Iraq’s dependence on the US. This is a straightforward case of adding Iraq’s economic dependence to its already military dependence on the US.

According to US officials, this move towards increasing Iraq’s indigenous energy and electricity capacity is a part of the larger plan to wean the country away from Iranian influence and connect it more deeply with Arab countries. “It is vital that Iraq’s electricity grid be connected to the GCC. We’ve been working on this, as I’m sure you know, and there’s more work to be done.  And so that will continue,” a US official was quoted to have said.

Doing this is crucial for the US as Iraq’s dependence on Iran is seen as the key to the latter’s influence in the former. Iraq’s energy sector is dependent on imports from Iran, and even after the US slapped sanctions on Iran’s energy exports, Iraq continues to import natural gas and electricity from Iran under a special waiver that the US has regularly extended. The US wants to change it.

The US State department has already affirmed that “The Government of Iraq, Gulf Cooperation Council, and United States have renewed their full support for the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority (GCCIA) project to connect the electricity grids of Iraq and the GCC. The United States is committed to facilitating this project and providing support where needed. This project will provide much-needed electricity to the people of Iraq and support Iraq’s economic development, particularly in the southern provinces.”

Accordingly, while announcing commercial agreements worth as much as US$8 billion between US energy companies and the Government of Iraq, the US Secretary of Energy Brouillette emphasized the critical role U.S. private investment will continue to play in Iraq’s energy future and stressed the need for “rapid progress towards energy independence from Iran.”

There is no denying that the US presence in Iraq, military or otherwise, remains Iran-centric. A troop drawdown does in no way indicate a US ‘retreat’ from Iraq because of continuous military tensions and rocket attacks by Iran backed militias. While Iran’s influence in Iraq goes way beyond the Iraqi regime, an enhanced US presence indicates that the US will continue to push against Iranian influence through military (the US would still have more than 3000 troops in Iraq) and politico-economic means.

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

September 4, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment